The Clintons: Security Risks Squared
Hillary Clinton seems to be standing on quicksand. Her every attempt to extricate herself from the burgeoning email scandal only seems to sink her prospects deeper and faster. Now, even Joe Biden is beginning to look hungrily at an entry into the race.
The latest round of revelations – significantly headlined by the New York Times – shows that Madam Secretary's private email server housed top-secret emails. This is directly contrary to what she has been assuring the world all along. She will find it harder to dismiss the Times as the house organ of the "vast right-wing conspiracy." Might there actually be a vast left-wing conspiracy to deny Her Inevitability her rightful place in the succession? It's beginning to look that way.
With her cover stories daily unraveling, it might be useful to note here that putting America's security at risk is something of a Clinton family project. In 1998, President Bill Clinton found himself enmeshed in a widening pool of scandal as he denied having "sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky." Because it was a sex scandal, too many in official Washington failed to see the even more dangerous side of the affair.
Presidents have secure lines of communication so that even their private conversations cannot be intercepted by hostile – or even friendly – foreign intelligence services. Military personnel were taught at that time to answer non-secure telephones by alerting callers: "This is not a secure line."
Knowing that his slimy phone conversations with his young mistress could be intercepted, and that recordings could be used by our enemies to blackmail him, Bill Clinton actually joked about it all. He was that heedless of our national security.
Who cares? Well, Egyptian journalist Mohammed Wahby cared. Wahby told Jim Lehrer of the PBS Newshour that the Clinton sex scandal was worrisome. Why? Because it would convince Muslim fundamentalists in his region that the U.S. was weak because it was decadent.
President Clinton should have known this. He had sent his vice president, Al Gore, to Saudi Arabia in 1998 to gain access to al-Qaeda's finance chief, Madani al Tayyib. The Saudis had al Tayyib in custody. The official 9/11 Report would later conclude that "the United States could not get direct access" to the man who might have unraveled the al-Qaeda cash nexus.
Beleaguered by her husband's scandal in 1998, Hillary dismissed the whole thing as "a vast right-wing conspiracy." When, in August of that year, Bill Clinton admitted the truth, Hillary Clinton was never faced with probing questions. She was never asked, for example: "Mrs. Clinton, were you the last of 315 million Americans to realize that President Clinton was not telling the truth about his involvement with a 21-year-old intern?"
House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) also failed to work the national security angle in this disturbing imbroglio. Americans in 1998 suspected – they told pollsters – that Gingrich simply wanted to drag the whole thing out so that Republicans might pick up House seats in the midterm elections. As it happened, voters were disgusted by the scandal and they held the GOP responsible for putting them through this ordeal. The Republicans actually lost seats in the House.
Hillary Clinton is now apologizing on an almost daily basis for her indiscretions. She now says she "didn't think" about what email system to use. Let's see: Her Rube Goldberg health care plan crashed and burned in 1994. Her eight-year tenure (2001-2009) in the U.S. Senate was marked only by her vote in favor of the invasion of Iraq. She has been apologizing to her fellow liberals for that vote ever since.
Her time at State was notable for her attack on the pro-life policies of Canada's Prime Minister Harper. She launched that particular assault in 2010 while on an official visit to Ottawa. It was the worst example of ugly Americanism in two hundred years of U.S.-Canadian relations.
Most famously, she initiated the "reset" of U.S. relations with Russia. She later told the BBC that everything went swimmingly until that meanie Putin came back into power. She actually thinks there has been a minute since midnight 1999-2000 when Putin was not in power? No one in Europe is so naïve. And surely no one in Russia doubts who rules the Kremlin roost.
Future generations will marvel at the thought of someone who admits to being thoughtless and who, when she does give thought to a subject, invariably gets it wrong. "I didn't think. And I'm sorry." Now, there's a winning campaign slogan.
With Bill and Hillary, we got two for the price of one. With their disregard for the safety of our nation, that's security risks squared.
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison are veteran public policy writers in Washington, D.C.