Hillary Clinton has a credibility problem. As cascading revelations emerge of her mishandling Top Secret classified information in emails, current polling indicates that most American voters—50%-60%—don’t consider her honest or trustworthy.
To many, Hillary’s relationship with the truth resembles her relationship with her husband: though sometimes useful for the sake of appearances, they mostly operate independently of each other and with some distance between them. Evidently, however, a sizeable minority—and a solid majority of Democrats—still consider Mrs. Clinton honest and trustworthy.
Fair enough. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton has indeed been entirely truthful throughout her public life on the edge of scandal. But if she truly believes her often far-fetched explanations for her innumerable controversies, then her sound judgment and decision-making must be called into question.
In other words, it’s even worse if she thinks she’s been telling the truth. Never has this been more apparent than now: as investigations confirm that her email decisions compromised national security secrets, even her long-time believers must conclude that her judgment is too consistently terrible for her to be President.
When she became Secretary of State, Clinton set up her own private email and server on which she conducted all of her government business, beyond all official oversight and security. By never using her secure government email account, none of her emails were accessible, preserved or archived as required—or protected from hacking by hostile entities.
The State Department has long-advised against transmitting even non-confidential sensitive information by private email. In fact, Clinton herself issued a June 2011 cable warning that hackers were targeting the private email of U.S. government employees, admonishing: “Avoid conducting official Department business from your personal e-mail accounts.”
In October 2014, complying with the Benghazi investigation, the State Department discovered it had no Clinton email, and requested she turn over emails in her possession. Clinton responded by printing out some 30,000 emails, but deleting over 31,000 she unilaterally decided were “personal”—then “wiping” her server, preventing any challenge to her self-serving document purge.
Hillary’s explanations for this questionable conduct have evolved as quickly as they have been refuted. She initially maintained that there was never classified information on her server. Then, over 1,300 (and counting) emails containing classified information were discovered from just a portion of what she released, including inherently classified Top Secret spy satellite imagery and Special Intelligence from intercepted communications. So, she amended that explanation to a Clintonesque “I did not send nor did I receive material marked classified.”
Last week, it was revealed that the Intelligence Community Inspector General—an Obama appointee—discovered in her emails “SAP” (special access programs) information, the kind of material dealing with ongoing covert operations or secret human sources—information so beyond Top Secret that even the Inspector General himself needed to obtain special clearance just to view it.
Taking Clinton at her word, it means that she could not recognize that the information emailed was intelligence of the utmost secrecy and sensitivity, the kind of information that, if revealed, would compromise ongoing American operations or even get intelligence assets killed. Furthermore, she was willing to store this information on her private non-secure server at a time her own directive warned against the hacking risk of using personal email for official business.
Apparently, it was more important for Mrs. Clinton to keep her own secrets from the American people than to keep American secrets from hostile foreign intelligence. The English language lacks the adjective to describe such gross recklessness, incompetent judgment and disregard for national security.
Nuggets from some disclosed emails raise further alarm about her judgment, particularly relating to the Middle East. Emails show Clinton received real-time intelligence indicating that the Benghazi attacks were a planned terrorist operation. Yet, she later advanced the narrative that the attacks were a spontaneous outburst against an obscure anti-Muslim video. Assuming the sincerity of her belief, what does that say about her acumen?
Some Israel-related emails are equally disturbing. A 2011 email from former Ambassador Thomas Pickering to Clinton suggested the U.S. secretly foment Palestinian unrest and widespread Israeli anti-Netanyahu protests, in order to pressure Israel. Hillary could have politely dismissed this devious, lunatic proposal; instead, she instructed an aide to print the emailed proposal for her.
Also, Clinton received numerous emails from informal aide Sidney Blumenthal, many including unhinged anti-Israel articles by his son, Max—a man so pathologically hateful of Israel as to be disavowed even by the hard left. Hillary often requested printouts of Max’s work, and responded with praise and positive feedback. After one rant connecting Benghazi with “Ultra-Zionist Jews,” Hillary emailed Sidney: “Your Max is a Mitzvah”—demonstrating judgment as horrid as her misuse of Hebrew.
Clinton always had her sillier fibs—that she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary (who conquered Mt. Everest when Clinton was six); that she ran for cover landing under sniper fire in Bosnia (when video emerged showing her greeted by a young girl on a peaceful tarmac, Hillary recalled “a different memory” of the event); that “all my grandparents were immigrants” (when refuted, her campaign said Hillary’s “grandparents always spoke about the immigrant experience”; therefore, she “always thought of them as immigrants.”) Such tall tales may seem harmless; but they betray her questionable judgment in thinking she could get away with them in the age of Google.
And Clinton has her troubling record of inflated claims of deep policy involvement as First Lady, such as “I was deeply involved in the Irish peace process.” White House schedules indicate that her “involvement” consisted primarily of ceremonial handshaking. Again, assuming she actually believes what she says, she has a delusional sense of self-importance. David Trimbell, Nobel Prize winner for his role in the Good Friday Agreement, politely denounced Mrs. Clinton as “a wee bit silly for exaggerating the part she played.”
Of course, “deeply involved” Hillary proclaimed utter cluelessness about dubious pardons granted by her husband, including those for which her brothers lobbied in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars, or those which were followed by remarkably coincidental contributions to her Senate campaign. Or, about how suspiciously-missing subpoenaed billing records from her law firm, which contradicted her Whitewater-related statements, were discovered on a table next to her White House office—with her fingerprints on them.
Perhaps this sampling of past Clintonian dishonesty and/or failed judgment is something ardent Hillary fans can look past. But these national security compromises being discovered from investigation of Clinton’s email dwarf any previous scandal, and scream of Clinton’s incompetent judgment—especially if she’s being truthful.
So, is Hillary Clinton is a dishonest, untrustworthy serial liar? Or, does she tell the truth, but have colossally terrible judgment? Well, Clinton-voters: which is it?
Abe Katsman is American attorney and political commentator residing in Israel. He serves as Counsel to Republicans Overseas Israel.