Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden weighed in on the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s alleged sharing of classified information on her private server, saying that there is no coming back for the Democratic front-runner once she committed the “original sin.”
The “original sin” being referred to by Hayden was Clinton’s decision to operate her own email server out of her home. As the Secretary of State, Clinton had a pledged duty not to allow any sensitive information to be compromised, and yet, according to Hayden, the Democratic front-runner went out of her way to handle and store classified information in an unauthorized location.
Speaking at Disrupt NY 2016 on Wednesday, the former NSA and CIA chief told TechCrunch that it is this decision to set up a private server which might cost Clinton dearly.
“Once you have set this thing up this way, it is just going to a dark place. You have got the preservation of government records problem, that just tees up to be a crisis, a catastrophe.”
Moreover, Hayden name-dropped the Romanian hacker Gucifer, who has previously claimed that it was “easy” to gain access to all of Hillary Clinton’s emails. The former NSA and CIA chief went on to say that he would be surprised if foreign intelligence services had not snooped around Clinton’s emails.
“I would lose respect for scores for foreign intelligence services around the world if they were not already thumbing through all the emails that were kept on that server.”
Hayden’s remarks about Clinton’s alleged mishandling of classified information is consistent with what many higher ranking officials, security, and legal experts have had to say about the issue. Just last week, national security lawyer Bradley Moss told the Hill that whether or not Hillary Clinton knew that the material was classified is irrelevant, but what matters is whether the FBI can establish if Clinton is culpable of removing governmental information to a private server.
“The extent to which the person intended to remove classified documents is irrelevant. All that matters for strict legal purposes of culpability is whether the person, by virtue of their official position, came into possession of classified information and affirmatively removed the information to an unauthorized location (i.e., the private server).
“Whether the person knew or suspected the information was classified is irrelevant.”
Other federal officers, who have either being indicted or went on trial for far-less-serious charges than the ones Clinton has been accused of, say that they see a double-standard when it comes to investigating the wrong-doings of a politically powerful individual. John Kiriakou, a former CIA counter-terrorism operative who spent two years in federal prison for leaking the name of a CIA official in “enhanced interrogation techniques,” said that Hillary Clinton’s case is an example of the double-standard that governments display.
Thomas Drake, a former NSA official, concurred.
“I think [Clinton] is vulnerable, but whether she enjoys what I call ‘elite immunity,’ we don’t know. For much lesser violations people have lost their jobs. But when you get to the higher ranks, it’s like another set of rules.”
In fact, President Barack Obama’s former top military intelligence official, Michael Flynn, previously told CNN that Hillary Clinton should drop out of the Democratic race for nomination which, although not likely, is a viewpoint that could begin to trouble Hillary as she approaches the convention in July.
“If it were me, I would have been out the door and probably in jail. It was a lack of accountability, frankly, in a person who should have been much more responsible in her actions as the secretary of state of the United States of America.”
The questions, essentially, that were asked by former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden on Wednesday about Clinton’s role in the email scandal have been echoed by various military and security officers at various points during the course of the investigation.
According to all of these people, Hillary Clinton committed a serious error, or as Hayden put it, “an original sin” that could only lead to darkness. Do you agree?
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]