Three veterans of American intelligence are horrified by the havoc that they believe former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton caused through her epic abuse of state secrets in the E-Mailgate scandal.
“If there really were SAP [special-access programs] material on her server, consider the implications,” a former U.S. intelligence officer tells me. He refers to the “several dozen” messages marked TOP SECRET/SAP that I. Charles McCullough III, inspector general for the intelligence community, reports were on the private server at Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, N.Y., 267 miles north of the State Department. Special-access programs are America’s most clandestine activities. Their revelation could damage national security severely and possibly get people killed.
- Intel officers responsible for those programs must be alerted.
- Once alerted that SAP was mishandled and on a system that has been attacked, it is only prudent to end those programs.
- What does ending those programs mean? Depending on the SAP involved, it could mean redoing war plans, terminating ongoing covert actions, rethinking how the exposed covert actions must be done and executing on that new plan, or, if it reveals a source, removing that source from his environment.
- That has a significant impact. Presume, if you will, that it was a source. If that source were providing intel of such value that it rose to the SecState, now we’ve lost that source.
- Intel officers care about their sources, and for two reasons. One, we’re human beings. We don’t want those assisting us and our country to be hurt, even though we recognize the danger in which they are placing themselves. Two, the business model doesn’t work very well if sources think they’ll be outed. The US intel community already has so much trouble in that regard due to Edward Snowden and Bradley [now Chelsea] Manning. This just compounds it. Think about the next meeting between a prospective source and a CIA case officer trying to recruit that source to risk his/her life for the United States: “Are you sure a high-level official won’t out me?”
So, since Clinton and her illegal, off-site server contained evidence of these beyond-top-secret initiatives, the safest course for the CIA and other agencies is to assume that these efforts were compromised and then to wind them down. Once terminated, these activities stop yielding information that keeps America secure and Americans alive.
Also, if Clinton’s server contained the identities of American agents, that could mean that, say, an undercover “diplomat” here and a “businesswoman” there might be ordered back to the United States at once. While these people might wind up stuck behind desks at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., at least they would be safe.
But how about their contacts in Somalia, Ukraine, or Venezuela? The friends and associates of American agents exposed via Clinton’s at-best gross negligence might awaken to loud knocks at their doors at 4:00 a.m., followed by one-way rides to Third World dungeons.
“To me, it’s offensive,” the former spook tells me. “If it were really SAP, Clinton was undoing all the hard work that my friends were doing. This is oftentimes intensive, painstaking, costly work, and her carelessness has now undone it. That pisses me off.”
This source uses an analogy from American industry to put Clinton’s misdeeds into everyday language.
“Imagine that you work at Pepsi, your 401K is tied to the performance of the company, and that performance is inextricably linked to the secret ingredient for Pepsi,” this intelligence specialist explains. “How would you feel if one of your superiors were just casual with that most sensitive of information? I think it would upset you. Now, for intel, multiply that by at least ten. We can have arguments over whether confidential material is unnecessarily classified; we generally don’t in mishandling cases, but I’d potentially be open to it. But with SAP, no way. This is so grossly negligent that either it is false or Hillary Clinton doesn’t care.”
“As for damage done, my suspicion is that it is much worse than it looks,” he says, also anonymously.
“We need to consider that everything that was on that server has been compromised.”
“We need to consider that everything that was on that server has been compromised. There isn’t an intelligence service out there that isn’t interested in the actions of our senior people,” he continues. “Outside the president, the two most important targets for collection are SecDef and SecState. And that means everyone. Russia and China, certainly. Germany, France, South Korea, Japan, Iran, and Israel — I would guess — would all be interested as well. Very interested.”
The former military-intelligence man outlines how foreign spy agencies would handle the most sensitive information, after capturing it.
“The SecState is seeing a whole bunch of stuff. Virtually everything she does is classified — honest. There are all sorts of stuff that would fit under the generic heading of SAP. . . . Let’s assume this is a program about some particularly well-placed individual somewhere who is feeding us information. If I were a bad guy, and I got hold of this kind of information, the last thing I would do would be to roll the guy up.” He adds: “If it were one of my people, I might start feeding him, the source, slightly skewed information so as to mislead the U.S. But that is only the beginning. No matter what, the last thing I want to do is let the U.S. know that I know of this source. . . . So, from the U.S. side, everything that remotely touches that material, from the date of the compromise, should now be considered tainted.”
The former military spy echoes the first source: Breaches, such as what likely befell Clinton’s private server, are not just technical glitches. They hammer real people.
“More to the point, it affects other folks,” the ex-military-intelligence operative tells me. “Everyone who was remotely associated with the source is now on shaky ground. Compromises are expensive. They mean everyone who was derived from one source is also tainted. If the compromise happened a while ago, and we just found out, it could mean years of not only being misled by some other organization, but by now virtually all the people in a given network have been compromised and either turned by the other side or are under close observation, and they are waiting to roll them up when we start acting. If this compromise, and it was a compromise, took place in 2012, then more than three years have passed since the compromise. That’s really a mess.”
This veteran thinks that Hillary Clinton cannot have it both ways: She’s either too brilliant to be as innocent as she asserts or too innocent to be as brilliant as she professes.
“Secretary Clinton has been seeing this kind of thing for a long time,” he says. “If she is competent to handle major decisions, if she is the highly capable person she claims to be, she would know what all this material was, without having some label stating it was secret.”
“If, on the other hand, someone could put reports in front of her describing these various things, again and again, without the appropriate labels, and she was not smart enough to recognize that this material was from classified sources, then she isn’t competent to be the president, or a departmental secretary. Or, of course, this is all lies. There are no other options.”
One retired intelligence officer did comment on the record — and how.
‘The fact that she had a completely separate system for her chats with Sid Blumenthal and others is outrageous.’
“I assume that the messages discussing SAP programs were known instantaneously by the Russians and the Chinese and were likely shared to some degree with other really bad actors — Iran?” Martha Sutherland tells me. She spent 19 years as an operations officer in the Central Intelligence Agency. “The only saving grace, in some weird way, is that Bibi and the Mossad probably had their eyes all over them as well!”
Sutherland is appalled by what we already know about Hillary Clinton’s behavior.“The fact that she had a completely separate system for her chats with Sid Blumenthal and others is outrageous,” this former CIA agent observes. “And then the tie-in to the Clinton Foundation and the quid pro quo is another felony count. If I had cut and pasted classified documents and put them in an e-mail on my unclassified server to avoid a written record, I would have been frog-walked in handcuffs out of Langley, no questions asked.”
People keep demanding a smoking gun in this scandal. Sutherland explains that Hillary’s unencrypted, do-it-yourself server is, ipso facto, the smoking gun. It never should have been purchased. Its mere presence is the crime.
“It goes beyond having classified stuff without markings,” Sutherland says. “It is the fact that she maintained a shadow communications system, separate from the government-mandated, secure system. And she was the BOSS! Its existence, the now damning news of SAP info on it, and her continued denial that she did anything wrong are proof positive that Hillary and the Clintons still think they are above the law! Enough already — the BIG HOUSE for Hillary, not the White House, for goodness sakes!”
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.