May 7, 2016

JOHN SCHINDLER: The Double Standard Of Donald And The Spies: Trump will be briefed on classified information, but it’s Clinton who walks free for major crimes.

Predictably, the news that Mr. Trump will soon be getting intelligence briefings has driven his critics to gloating on social media about what a security risk the likely GOP nominee is, based on his tendency to speak freely on almost any subject. It’s clear that few of Mr. Trump’s social media critics have any experience with intelligence briefings or secrecy rules themselves.

More seriously, Mr. Trump’s political opponents have joined the fray, deriding him as a security risk. Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, denounced Mr. Trump as having “no moral or ethical grounding,” adding, “he wouldn’t think twice of taking classified information and putting it out in the public realm if he thought it served his political purposes.”

There is no small irony in this, given that the Democrats’ likely nominee, Hillary Clinton, is a proven security risk of a serious kind. This column has reported in detail on Ms. Clinton’s troubles with our nation’s secrecy laws, the year-long scandal known as EmailGate that is currently under far-reaching investigation by the FBI. More than a thousand of the “unclassified” emails on Ms. Clinton’s private server of bathroom infamy were actually classified, with at least 22 of them being top secret, the highest official classification level.

Some of those top secret emails include incredibly sensitive information about intelligence sources and methods, such as details about our spies operating abroad under deep cover. Other emails Ms. Clinton and her staff considered unclassified actually included top secret-plus intelligence reports, including verbatim lifting of highly classified information, a felonious sort of plagiarism.

There is every reason to think that multiple foreign intelligence services had access to Ms. Clinton’s unencrypted email. The Romanian hacker who was extradited to the United States for his successful cracking into Ms. Clinton’s email in 2013 stated, “it was easy… easy for me, for everybody.” If a lone Balkan hacker was able to do this, imagine how simple a task this would have been for the Russian and Chinese intelligence services, with their thousands of highly trained cyber experts.

Nevertheless, the mainstream media continues to low-ball the national security implications of EmailGate, resorting to wordsmithing to obfuscate what Ms. Clinton and her staff we really up to at the State Department. The Obama White House has followed suit, insisting that, despite the FBI investigation into EmailGate, Ms. Clinton represents no security risk, and she should receive intelligence briefings as the putative Democratic nominee—while they seem less certain that Mr. Trump should get them too.

The Washington Post has now joined the fray, with assertions that Mr. Trump may represent an unacceptable security risk, bolstered by comments from former top intelligence officials indicating that giving Mr. Trump access to any secrets may be a bad idea.

Furthermore, The Daily Beast has alleged that the Intelligence Community is up in arms about giving classified presentations to Mr. Trump, based on his well-honed tendency to speak off the cuff, plus his occasional indulgence of conspiracy theories. There’s no doubt that plenty of individuals in the Intelligence Community loathe Mr. Trump and hope he never becomes president. However, there’s nothing like a consensus among our spies that the putative GOP nominee is a security risk.

Hillary is an insider. For insiders, almost anything is forgivable.