If Hillary Goes Down It’ll Be For Secrets Lost

If Hillary Clinton goes down next Tuesday, it will be because of hubris, arrogance: she thinks she is above the rules and the law. Most Americans hate that attitude, and detest members of their elite, their aristocracy, their “leaders,” who are publicly exposed for having an egregious level of UNPATRIOTIC arrogance.

Hillary Clinton’s chickens are coming home to roost, and they are CLASSIFIED E-MAILS. Hillary and then Huma Abedin really, really blew it. Because so many of you are fans of Hillary Clinton (“the first US woman president”), I will explain why she has a very good chance of losing next Tuesday (to Donald Trump no less!) so you have some possibility of coming to terms with that disappointment, should it occur.

I spent 29 years working in a classified environment: a US nuclear weapons laboratory. I had safes filled with highly classified documents, and computers with highly classified files: nuclear bomb blueprints and nuclear bomb performance (details of the complete course of the explosions and release of radiation). I also had copies of classified documents describing programs and activities (classified of course) about the use of energy (lots of energy) for purposes of “national defense.”

Needless to say, these documents and computer files would be of interest to every one of the USA’s allies, friendly competitors, unfriendly competitors, and enemies. The only types of “secret” US documents that are considered even more sensitive than nuclear weapons documents are Executive Branch documents (the US policies in action now), that is to say the “Top Secrets” of the President and his cabinet and staff, such as at the State Department. It is more damaging if “the enemy” learns of your leadership’s intent, than if “the enemy” learns technical details about items in your country’s war-making technology.

As part of my security training, I was reminded (more than once) that in 1953 American citizens Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed by the electric chair after being convicted of passing nuclear weapons documents to the U.S.S.R during World War II. The stuff I had in my safes was way more detailed than what the Rosenbergs were fried for passing on. Now, in actuality up to 90% of the information in documents and files that are marked classified is unclassified and often very boring. But, the fact that the rules and procedures mandated for the running of the nuclear weapons labs (and generally any US government classified environment) required these documents and computer files to be marked and handled as “classified,” put on us workers the burden of doing just that: use handle and store according to classified procedures.

This is the key point. It was not up to us to “judge” whether a classified item really was secretly “significant” or not. It could in fact be worthless gibberish (to proud advanced-degree scientific minds), but we were not being paid to make such judgements. Our job was to use classified information as needed for the scientific job, and to handle it as required by the security procedures (which I detested, but obeyed).

To be clear, there are procedures to have documents and files reviewed to determine if they can be declassified, or if they should be destroyed. I used these procedures a number of times in order to publish “pure physics” papers. What I never ever did was to move classified “privately,” or take it home to have it conveniently available when I wanted to work on a problem. It is ALWAYS much more inconvenient and time-consuming to follow classified procedures. I was always frustrated by the slowness and waste associated with working with classified information, and I was very glad to leave the whole classified arena. But I never ever forgot the basic commandment of classified work: absolute security of classified information is more important than solving any problem or achieving any useful result. Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but it really is “the prime directive” of classified work. Security is more important that results.

During my career in the classified arena, I saw numerous individuals play fast and loose with the rules because they were lazy, and because they had decided they were important enough to “deserve” to define their own work style. In every case, once security lapses were discovered such individuals were tumbled from their pedestals. Nobody is that important, the powers-that-be can ALWAYS find an equivalent (or better) talent who can also follow classified procedures. Realize that every boss, and the entire chain of command, would feel vulnerable (in the bureaucratic court politics of the organization) should an underling commit a security lapse. So, cowardly higher up muckity-mucks covering their asses could self-protectively come down hard on lower level security lapses, and put on the “patriotic” act of “being resolute,” for public relations (“protecting the nation is our highest priority”).

Now, what Hillary Clinton has done with her very fast-and-loose use, insecure transport, and all-too easily hackable storage of a mountain of State Department “secrets” (even if it is only a small percentage of really significant “Top Secret” data buried in 90+% of worthless drivel) is egregious beyond belief to the millions of Americans who are or were ever in a classified environment. This is like the Rosenbergs times thousands. Hillary’s arrogant disregard of classified procedures was so extensive that she caused a number of her employees, like Huma Abedin, to be drawn into this illegal activity, and now into significant legal jeopardy. And, because of the porosity of her private little “bypass the classified rules” e-mail system, we now know from the hacks of that system that she had even tarred her very own muckity-muck, POTUS himself, who carelessly allowed himself to send e-mails to Hillary outside the secure government channels.

The average citizen is revolted by the now-revealed flouting of the rules – without penalty (so far) – and puts this down to a surfeit of arrogance coupled with a deficit of patriotism. A high government official disregarding classified protocols so blatantly is betraying millions of classified workers, by failing to set a good example. To the simple-minded public the entire affair is just unpatriotic: despite high position, power and wealth, Hillary Clinton did what was good for just her, with complete disregard “for the security of the nation.”

If Hillary Clinton fails to achieve the presidency, it will be a well deserved failure. The irony here is that had she followed classified procedures, and not allowed her employees to violate them (nor entrap POTUS into violating them also), her State Department e-mails would never have been hacked, and she would have been able to maintain the fiction of being much more reputable – and patriotic – than she actually is.

4 thoughts on “If Hillary Goes Down It’ll Be For Secrets Lost

  1. Manuel: I hope that my writing finds you and family to be well.

    You left out a few tidbits. Here they are. First, there were, as you say, some who were careless at the Lab with classified. One story that I recall hearing was of someone whose briefcase came open in a parking lot and the contents, including classified, went flying all over. The person wasn’t prosecuted for mishandling classified that I can recall. Nor, were any who you loosely described as having done so at the Lab.

    Second, let me just say something about creating a work product that was not “born classified” as the technical stuff was. Something that even someone working outside the classified zone had to be concerned with in questions asked of me about support systems and performance. What that was included a process of having someone review items that were written to determine if anything in them might be or should be classified. Persons tasked with doing that, to my recollection, were annointed with the handle “Authorized Derivative Classifier.” (I remember one anointed nepot nephew of an associate director who was chosen to receive the training to do that) To be the “after the fact reviewer of what was written.” So, not to belabor this more than it needs to, discussions of all manner between government policy groups at high levels likely do get perused by ADC’s after the fact. After the communications have taken place. Otherwise, the pace of government function would be much slower than the snail’s pace that it currently is.

    I’m not forgiving Mrs. Clinton for use of a private computer. But, our government systems are or were so safe that someone in China took some 20 million of our personal security clearance files and could some day use that to steal our identities. Perhaps to even enter the country using forged identities created from that data if we were of Asian ancestry. Oh, well, I haven’t lost any sleep. But, frankly, to have had my data stolen some 15 years after my clearance was last active is what makes me most angry about it. And, no one in our government has been publicly chastized or prosecuted for mishandling that sensitive data. Yes, taken from a government computer system. Because government systems were the target of interest. Perhaps even those same servers contained departmental emails. Amazing.

    So, if there was no separate classified-only system for routine emailing back and forth, then how were they to make sure that all was safe and secure? You’ve got me. I surely don’t know. And, Mrs. Clinton knows or knew that other people had maintained their own private email accounts. At least her predecessor once removed, General Colin Powell, and maybe others. So, I’m not so sure that she intentionally created classified materials on her personal account. Should she have used a government server which may have been more vulnerable to Russian or Chinese probing? Perhaps, yes, to at least preclude the stream of partisan attacks designed to prevent her from achieving her goal of seeking the presidency.

    I think many consider her eloquent manner of speaking to be arrogant and draw conclusions from it that she is just that: arrogant. Arrogance? I think that’s a moniker hard form me to conceive from someone who has done what she has over her lifetime to benefit others in need. Contrast that with one Donald Trump. Someone who has screwed so many out of so much: Their savings, their businesses, and their person. Is their really much more to say? Probably, but I will let others say it.

    In closing, if one were to cast personality traits from manner of speech presentation and delivery, I would have to place every Briton I’ve ever heard on a list of “the arrogant” as their spoken words are so, so much smoother than ours that it does seem a tad lofty..

    Best to you,

    W. Lee McVey
    Leeds, AL

    • It’s great to hear from you Lee, hope all is well with you. Yes, no doubt all computer systems are vulnerable these days, and US government ones are favorite targets of would-be hackers. I’m less of a fan of Hillary’s than you, and I also don’t like Trump any more than you do. I’m guaranteed not to get what I want out of this election. Your mention of Hillary Clinton as “someone who has done what she has over her lifetime to benefit others in need” made me recall the many Haitians who have vivid memories of what the Clintons and their foundation accomplished in Haiti after its large earthquake in 2010.

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