The saga continues: the debate surrounding Clinton’s emails

Several weeks ago, I wrote a piece in The Echo entitled, “Why Hillary’s Emails Matter.” This engendered positive debate among my peers and professors, and enticed Co-Editor-In-Chief, Jake Bleich ’16, to weigh in on the issue. While critical of my assessment, Mr. Bleich’s contribution, “Political Theater: why Hillary’s emails are a non-Issue,” is a welcome addition to the debate.

The issue of Hillary Clinton’s private email server has been the primary reason why two-thirds of Americans question Clinton’s honesty, according to an Associated Press poll conducted in October of 2015. Voters question her motives for using a non-governmental email, whether or not they are related to the various scandals plaguing the Clinton dynasty, and what this reveals about the character of the Democratic frontrunner in the Presidential election of 2016.

As I laid out in my first article, there are three main concerns regarding Hillary’s use of a private email. First, the fact that Clinton was able to delete any emails exchanged during her tenure as Secretary of State, at her complete discretion, should raise concerns. This becomes especially important when you consider that an American ambassador was killed on her watch, after repeatedly emailing for increased security for months (Clinton claims she did not read those emails). Secondly, that these emails put some of our nation’s dearest diplomatic and strategic secrets in jeopardy, as the emails were controlled by a private server and not the U.S. government. Finally, that the motives behind her decision to bypass protocol and maintain complete control over her communications should bear tremendous importance when considering the plethora of other scandals Clinton is involved in.

Mr. Bleich readily concedes my second point, that this move on the part of Clinton puts national security secrets at risk. He does, however, add the caveat that the investigation has not yielded any evidence of a breach. He neglected to include the fact that the investigation is ongoing and has not released all of its findings yet. Furthermore, whether or not the server was hacked isn’t the only consideration. The fact that Clinton was willing to put such important secrets at increased risk for her own “convenience” is concerning in itself.

As to the first point in my article about the importance of recording Clinton’s tenure, Mr. Bleich responds by narrowly refuting my proposed contrast of Clinton and Powell. In the article I stated that Powell had not used his private email for official business, following statements he made on Meet the Press on September 6 of this year. Mr. Bleich quotes a conflicting statement from Powell’s biography, and cautions me to “do a little more fact checking in the future.” Not only is this an odd indictment seeing how Mr. Bleich is the editor-in-chief, tasked with preserving the factual accuracy of The Echo, but it also diverts attention from the real issues—much like the claim Mr. Bleich makes about the email scandal. I sympathize with Mr. Bleich and his efforts to make this a debate about semantics because, let’s face it, the facts are pretty damning:

Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State during the NATO-led invasion of Libya whereby Gaddafi was removed from power. Clinton spearheaded the effort by getting European allies on board. Consequently, taking out Gaddafi left an immense power vacuum in Libya—a vacuum the U.S. and its NATO allies failed to adequately fill. There was an assassination attempt on the British Ambassador, and an IED even blew a hole in the U.S. consulate’s perimeter wall. Why then, per State Department orders, was the number of combat forces protecting the embassy reduced from 38 to nine in that year? This is especially ludicrous when one considers how the United States spends over $600 billion on defense—more than the next seven countries combined. Why were repeated attempts by Ambassador Stevens to get increased security repeatedly declined? And why was the U.S. flag one of the last flags flying in Benghazi after the British and other allies had left their embassies?

While it may not be clear on the surface what the planned attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi has to do with Hillary Clintons’ emails, it actually bears tremendous importance. Clinton claims that she did not read Ambassador Steven’s emails pleading for extra security. But how are we to corroborate this if her entire correspondence as Secretary of State is unavailable to investigators because Clinton was able to delete any email at her discretion? This is not to say that Clinton in any way wanted the attack to ensue as it did. No responsible critic would argue this, and it is illogical to believe such, as the attack represents a firm foundation for critiques of her foreign policy record. The attack does, however, illuminate a severe form of mismanagement, miscommunication, and misallocation of resources on the part of the State Department—which was under the leadership of Clinton at the time.

To the third point in the original article—that the motive behind the private server was to obscure her involvement in other scandals—Mr. Bleich curtly dismisses the issue, claiming that it is “purely speculation on the part of Mansfield.” Well, I would urge all readers to look into the New York Times article chronicling the sale of Uranium One and Clinton’s involvement in it. And if that is not adequate, I would recommend a book that the article discusses at length, Clinton Cash, as it provides an extremely detailed and well-sourced account of the various ethical transgressions on the part of the Clintons and their eponymous foundation. The Clinton camp merely responded to the book’s release by pointing out “seven or eight factual inaccuracies” in the 250-page book, some of which are as minute as correcting the number of speeches given by Bill Clinton from three to one in a certain instance.

Mr. Bleich goes as far to say that neither the article nor the book offers a “shred of evidence” to support the claim. This is the precise terminology that the Clinton campaign representative uses to refer to the scandal when quoted in aforementioned the New York Times article. This is not even the Clinton Foundation’s representative, but rather someone from the Clinton campaign! And Mr. Bleich calls me “selective?” In fact, there is a prodigious amount of evidence supporting the claim. It simply requires an objective analysis of the facts detailed in the article and not the polished political pabulum of a campaign spokesperson.

If the Uranium One scandal does not demonstrate the importance of public and investigative scrutiny over Clintons’ emails, then another one might do the trick. Fortunately, the Clinton dynasty has a lot of relevant material. For instance, when President Obama appointed Clinton as Secretary of State, an agreement was struck between him and Clinton, whereby Clinton agreed to cease accepting donations from foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation. In February of this year, The Washington Post reported that the Clinton Foundation had “accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.”

What does all of this show? It demonstrates that Clinton is controlling and does not play by the rules. Does this mean she will not make a good President if elected? No, not necessarily; she is clearly qualified for the job. As Marco Rubio said in a Republican debate, “If this election were a résumé contest, then Hillary Clinton will be the President.” The question is whether or not Hillary meets the ethical standards required to be President. To many in this country it appears that she does. To some of us, however, who still believe that the President ought to be transparent and honest to the electorate, by every measure, Clinton does not meet this standard.

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