Clinton email row: 'Allies won’t share intel' if US can't protect classified information

Clinton email row: ‘Allies won’t share intel’ if US can’t protect classified information

Christina Lin August 3, 2016 12:11 AM (UTC+8)
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Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld says Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information while she was secretary of state is inexcusable and will have lasting consequences.

In recent interviews with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren and the Daily Mail, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressed grave concern that given Hillary Clinton’s carelessness and questionable judgement regarding protecting highly sensitive classified information, allies would now think twice before sharing intelligence with the US.[1]

Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld

He assessed “other countries will be less likely to share information with us,” now that it’s clear the US Government is incapable of maintaining standards of secrecy in an age where cyber warfare is moving to the forefront. This in turn would severely degrade US ability to protect Americans and countering terrorism and Islamic extremist groups both at home and abroad.

“What she has done with classified information I think is inexcusable and puts at risk people’s lives [and] not just ours,” Rumsfeld said, and predicts that Clinton’s haphazard handling of classified information and lack of prosecution will have lasting consequences.

Federal records reveal that Clinton posted and shared names of concealed U.S. intelligence officials on her unprotected email system, and according to Intelligence Community Inspector General I Charles McCullough III, her emails contained intelligence from the most secretive, classified programs or SAP, “special access program”.[2]

Intelligence from SAP is even more sensitive than that designated as “top secret”, and access to a SAP is restricted to those with a “need-to-know” because exposure of the intelligence would likely reveal the source, putting a method of intelligence collection — or a human asset — at risk.

Although ultimately the FBI exonerated Clinton over the emails and merely rebuked her for “extreme carelessness”, nonetheless the perception of US descending further into a lawless nation wherein the rule of law does not apply to the rich and powerful political establishment, is reverberating both at home and abroad.

Already there is a barrage of protests such as National Review’s “This Bananas Republic” on how “America is a lawless state”,[3] The Washington Examiner’s “Fearful Americans want law and order”,[4] other articles with titles of “Hillary Clinton is Above the Law”, [5] “Hillary Clinton broke law with private email server: top US govt watchdog”, and “Hillary Clinton’s Law and Order Problem”.[6]

Internationally, perception of corruption, DNC rigging the system and Clinton’s email scandal are plastered all over the Chinese press and social media—in a country that is usually the target of US accusations for corruption and disregard for the rule of law.[7]

A scholar from Shanghai Academy of Social Science even exhorted, “I think Americans should take this as importantly as what Edward Snowden revealed”, and that Americans should call out “not only Hillary but review this ‘money-and-vote’ driven system seriously.”

Realizing the irony that he’s from an autocratic China, the scholar continued: “The interesting part is what gives the right to a person under ‘communist dictatorship’ to judge the ‘beacon of democracy’, and Hillary answers it.” He said the Chinese are tired of perceived US double standard and hypocrisy over its own western values.

Clinton’s animosity towards China while being Secretary of State is well known, and polls indicate the Chinese prefer a Trump presidency. However, Chinese intelligence and their cyber warriors may perhaps prefer Clinton to Trump.[8] As another former defense secretary Robert Gates assessed, “odds are pretty high’ that Russia, China, and Iran accessed Hillary’s emails.”

Zimmermann Telegram

John Schindler, former National Security Agency (NSA) analyst, also expressed alarm at how poor communications security by diplomats can lead to awful outcomes. [9]

He cited the well-known case of Arthur Zimmermann, Germany’s foreign minister who in 1917 sent a secret cable to his ambassador in Mexico City, ordering him to convey an offer for Mexico to recover its “lost provinces” of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona in exchange for the Mexicans declaring war on the US.

However, British intelligence intercepted his missive that later became known as the “Zimmermann Telegram”, shared it with President Woodrow Wilson, and brought America into the First World War on the side of the ailing allies.

telegram

map
Mexican territory in 1916 (dark green), territory promised to Mexico in the Zimmermann telegram (light green), and the pre-1836 original Mexican territory (red line)

Schindler hoped Hillary Clinton’s carelessness would not cause anything as momentous as Arthur Zimmermann’s folly and assessed “it’s too soon to know.”  But interestingly, the risk of the “lost territories” such as Texas and California breaking from the US now seems to be playing out once again.

After years of corruption and incompetence by the federal government, some states are so disgruntled over the state of the union that the Brexit vote inspired five US independence movements in Texas, California, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Vermont.

While Americans are familiar with the independent spirit of the Lone Star State and the notion of Texas’s “Texit”, independent movements of other states such as California’s “Calexit” or “Caleavefornia” may surprise them.[10] The California National Party and Independent California Party are attempting to register for November under the banner of California independence.

texit

Separatists from these states voiced their displeasure with “an over-bloated bureaucracy that doesn’t know us, doesn’t love us, doesn’t care for us and does not have our best interests at heart,” with New Hampshire’s pro-independence group citing “disregard for the rule of law as embodied in its [US] founding Constitution must inevitably lead to the dissolution of our own once-great nation.”

Secession is illegal in the US without federal permission, and the 1869 Supreme Court case Texas vs White established that a state cannot leave the union unilaterally. While secession movements are also unlikely to gain momentum, they may serve as effective warnings to the Washington establishment to change course after years of obfuscation, unaccountability, subterfuge, and law evasion.

Except, now should some foreign powers promise to help Mexico recover “lost territories” again as payback for destabilizing Crimea or Tibet, as Rumsfeld assessed, this time’ it’s not sure if allies would share their intelligence with the US.

Dr. Christina Lin is a Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University where she specializes in China-Middle East/Mediterranean relations, and a research consultant for Jane’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Intelligence Centre at IHS Jane’s.

(Copyright 2016 Asia Times Holdings Limited, a duly registered Hong Kong company. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

[1] “Rumsfeld: If Hillary were in the Military, ‘She’d be Prosecuted’ Over Emails”, Fox News, 22 June 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3655132/Donald-Rumsfeld-says-ll-vote-Trump-s-not-close-call-9-11-era-defense-secretary-says-Hillary-Clinton-probably-indicted-emails-soldier-sailor.htmlhttp://popularmilitary.com/former-secdef-says-hillary-clinton-prison-military/

[2]  Patrick Howley, “Exclusive: Hillary Clinton Posted Names of Hidden Intelligence Officials On Her Email”, Breitbart, 2 June 2016; “Exclusive: Hillary Clinton posted info on private email that endangered ‘life or physical safety’ of individuals, Breitbart, 5 June, 2016; Catherine Herridge, Pamela Browne, “Inspector General: Clinton email had intel from most secretive, classified programs.” Fox News, 19 January 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/01/19/inspector-general-clinton-emails-had-intel-from-most-secretive-classified-programs.html

[3] http://www.nationalreview.com/article/437597/hillary-clinton-email-scandal-fbi-decision-america-lawless-state; Andrew McCarthy, “FBI Rewrites Federal Law to Let Hillary Off the Hook”, National Review, 5 July 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/437479/fbi-rewrites-federal-law-let-hillary-hook

[4] http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/fearful-americans-want-law-and-order/article/2597803

[5] http://thefederalist.com/2016/07/05/hillary-clinton-is-above-the-law/; http://ijr.com/2015/03/264655-3-federal-laws-hillary-may-violated-secret-email-accounts/

[6]http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/05/26/inspector_general_clinton_broke_law_private_email_server/; http://nypost.com/2015/09/27/yes-hillary-clinton-broke-the-law/

[7]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vf5ZkGKk9SM 

[8] John Schindler, “How Emailgate Weakened America’s National Security”, Observer, 1 June, 2016, http://observer.com/2016/06/how-emailgate-weakened-americas-national-security/ ; Ari Melber, Brad Gold, Marti Hause, Jonathan Berger, “How Hillary Clinton’s Email Case Compares to Similar FBI Probes”, NBC News, 6 July 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/how-hillary-clinton-s-email-case-compares-similar-fbi-probes-n604856

[9] Steve Guest, “Former Sec Def Robert Gates: ‘Odds Are Pretty High’ Russia, China, and Iran Accessed Hillary’s Server” The Daily Caller, 21 January 2016.

[10] Meg Wagner “And now Texit: Texans consider seceding after Brexit—especially if Donald Trump loses election”, New York Daily News, 24 June 2016; Valerie Richardson, “Brexit inspires Texas, California secession movements”, Washington Times, 26 June 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jun/26/texas-california-secession-movements-boosted-brexi/; https://www.rt.com/op-edge/349437-texas-california-independence-texit-calexit/

 

Christina Lin
Dr. Christina Lin is a Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University where she specializes in China-Middle East/Mediterranean relations, and a research consultant for Jane’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Intelligence Centre at IHS Jane’s.
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