Disqualifying: Clinton’s Demand that Her Classified Emails Be Disclosed

With this week’s caucus in Iowa, speculation finally has finally given way to actual voting results in the presidential campaign. That makes it as good a time as any to observe that the Clintons have done it again: They have so degraded our politics that criminality rather than unfitness for office appears to be the only potential disqualifier for Democrats.

Sadly, we must say “potential” because we cannot be confident that even an indictment would cause Hillary Clinton’s supporters to abandon her. They’d rather have the Oval Office run out of Leavenworth than have a Republican occupy it in Washington.

The evidence of Mrs. Clinton’s mishandling of classified information is mounting. In just the past few days, we’ve learned that several emails communicated through and stored on the private email system Clinton improperly used to conduct government business contained the most closely guarded categories of national-defense intelligence. They cannot be disclosed even in redacted form without endangering (I should say, further endangering) vital intelligence methods and sources.

Moreover, there is so much classified information strewn through Clinton’s thousands of emails that the State Department claims it cannot comply with a federal court’s disclosure schedule. Translation: State is carrying water for the Clinton presidential campaign, ensuring that, for the next several weeks, primary voters will go to the polls not knowing what other damaging information may compromise the Democrats’ frontrunner before the November election.

In the wake of these developments, the Hillary! campaign has taken a truly breathtaking position, showing yet again what a corruptive force the Clintons are: To salvage her reeling presidential bid, Mrs. Clinton is demanding that the intelligence community set aside its objections to the disclosure of classified information so that her emails can be released.

That is, while desperately seeking the office most responsible for protecting national security, Clinton is audaciously subordinating national security to her political ambitions.

Let’s be clear about how cynical this is: Clinton’s outrageous demand is theater through and through. Before she was secretary of state for four years, Hillary Clinton sat on the Senate Armed Services Committee for six years while the nation was at war. She knows full well that the intelligence community would never publicize the scads of national defense information she compromised over four years.

Remember, Clinton’s reckless handling of classified information occurred during the incumbent Democratic administration and, it is now clear, was known to President Obama and then-Senator (now, Secretary of State) Kerry, both of whom exchanged emails with Clinton through her private, non-secure system. It is a matter of great embarrassment to the administration that Clinton’s emails are rife with classified information. The intelligence agencies feel this heat and would like nothing better than to green-light the release of the emails and pretend there is no problem. But they know they cannot do that: Not only would they be revealing vital secrets, exposing critical intelligence-collection programs, and endangering covert intelligence agents. They would also be rupturing intelligence partnerships with foreign governments, whose agreement to share information with the United States is based on the assurance that the information, and its source, will remain confidential.

The Obama administration and the intelligence community are not going to risk all of that in order to protect the Clinton campaign, and Hillary knows that.

She also knows that, were the intelligence community to accede to her demand, it would be a disaster for her campaign. Sure, Clinton would try to run around saying, “See, there was nothing classified here!” But the public airing of the emails would further illustrate how utterly irresponsible she was in systematically conducting high-level government business on a private, unsecured email server. Full disclosure would intensify calls for a prosecution against her.

Thus, because Mrs. Clinton realizes the intelligence services will never agree to release all the emails, she knows there is no downside to making a righteously indignant demand that they do so. It is classic Clintonian spin: allowing Hillary to pretend that the real scandal is the government’s classification of too much information that should be publicly available, not her gross negligence in exposing vital intelligence secrets, methods and sources to the high likelihood of hacking by hostile foreign governments.

Let’s imagine, though, that Mrs. Clinton actually means for her demand to be taken seriously. After all, she certainly hopes voters will take it seriously.

Think what this means: The intelligence services on which the president depends to perform the most solemn of presidential duties, the protection of American lives, have indicated that the disclosure of Clinton’s emails would endanger American lives and damage American interests. They’ve concluded that publicizing these secrets could imperil foreign nations by exposing their confidential – and, for them, risky – cooperation with the United States, potentially inducing those nations to end intelligence-sharing arrangements.

Presented with such a dire analysis, any president who takes seriously the duties of the office says, “Of course, we must maintain our national defense secrets.”

Hillary Clinton, to the contrary, says, “To hell with national security. Do what’s best for my political campaign.”

You can almost forget about the substance of the email scandal. Clinton’s reaction to the scandal, her willingness to jeopardize the nation for the sake of her ambition, is itself disqualifying.