Editorials

Hillary Clinton’s misuse of email undermines her candidacy

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton in Exeter, N.H.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton in Exeter, N.H. AP

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign is premised on her intelligence, her abilities and her experience. That’s why revelations about her misuse of government email during her time as U.S. secretary of state are so troubling.

As secretary of state, Clinton was this nation’s top diplomat. For four years, she was in regular contact with the world’s leaders. Almost all of her exchanges and contacts would have been sensitive and subject to some level of confidentiality.

And yet she depended on her private email, hdr22@clintonemail.com, and on Platte River Networks, a small private Internet server in Colorado, to handle the traffic.

What possibly could go wrong?

Evidently, the story began unraveling when a Romanian hacker who went by the name Guccifer wormed his way into the email account of longtime Clinton confidante and partisan Sidney Blumenthal, who was working as a consultant.

Once in, the Romanian found that Blumenthal had sent Secretary of State Clinton emails related to Libya and bandied about phrases such as “comprehensive intel report” and “speaking on condition of absolute secrecy.”

Seeing such phrases, the hacker did what any hacker would do. He plastered them on the Web for the world to see. Who should run across them but the Internet publication Gawker, of course.

Gawker proceeded to circulate them further and wider in 2013, and sought more detail by filing Freedom of Information Act requests.

The sorry story reached the broader public in March when The New York Times, ProPublica, Gawker and other publications bored in deeper. Clinton says she is cooperating and has turned over emails, but also says she has deleted personal email. In other words, trust her.

As a lawyer, a former first lady, a former U.S. senator, a secretary of state and a perpetual target of opposition researchers, Hillary Rodham Clinton should have known better than to use private email for diplomatic business.

Clinton’s apologists have pointed to reporting mistakes and enemies’ hyperbole to avoid confronting questions raised by her conduct. That will go only so far. The New York Times wrote this weekend that FBI agents are asking questions about Platte River’s security measures.

We agree in concept that the government classifies too many documents. But until the law is changed, it’s not up to any one official to determine who can see what, even if that official is the nation’s top diplomat.

Clinton says she regrets that she kept control of her official messages. But as a lawyer, a former first lady, a former U.S. senator, a secretary of state and a perpetual target of opposition researchers, she should have known better.

Clinton partisans will glibly brush off the questions as being driven by Republican partisans. Clearly, Republicans are hot on her trail. But because of Clinton’s apparent belief that regular rules don’t apply to her, she opened herself up to the attack.

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