Maybe Trump’s Right–So was Hillary

May 16, 2017–The latest escapade of this dysfunctional White House is the admission that, during the recent visit of Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, President Donald Trump told the visitors secrets shared with us by our spy allies. Evidently in haste to defend the president, national security adviser H. R. McMaster insisted that no operation had been revealed that was not already known, and that no sources or methods were mentioned. Earlier today Mr. Trump himself, relying upon the power of the president to “declassify” information, insisted he had the “right” to divulge the secrets he did. This mess brings us full circle to where we were a year ago when Donald J. Trump’s minions persecuted Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server, chanting “lock her up!”

There’s quite a bit to unpack here. First, the Hillary investigation, conducted by James B. Comey’s FBI, helped fuel the Trump political campaign as it gathered momentum. As discussed here and elsewhere, Comey’s re-opening of the investigation just before Election Day affected the outcome. So did Mrs. Clinton’s wooden handling of the issue. In this space I argued repeatedly that the movement of classified emails–and the excesses alleged by certain government agencies–were less than simple press bulletins made it appear. Not only was that correct, but recently it turns out that FBI Director Comey exaggerated his claims of the dimensions of the potential leak.

In terms of transgressions, Hillary Clinton’s offense was moving message traffic across a medium (a private server) that had not been approved at a time when the State Department had yet to set its policy for handling this kind of information. There is no evidence the server was ever penetrated or read, hence no indication of a national security breach. By contrast, Mr. Trump personally and physically disclosed secrets to representatives of a nation long our adversary. They were secrets given by an ally. Although U.S. classification policy permits a president to release secrets, foreign government information is typically protected in our system. At a minimum Mr. Trump breached that confidence. National security damage was done.

When the Clinton email scandal first arose, the instant reaction here was not just to show how the issue had been blown out of proportion but to argue that current policy on secrecy makes it virtually impossible for senior officials to do their jobs without violating classification regulations. The Donald Trump faux pas just demonstrates that anew. It’s time to change the policy!

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One Response to Maybe Trump’s Right–So was Hillary

  1. Alvin Burk says:

    You sir don’t live in the real world, I am reading your book Valley of Decision. On page 121 you talk about a Vietnamese chopper pilot, Moustacio holding his fist in a bullet hole in his neck to stop the bleeding, while flying. It requires both hands and both feet to fly a helicopter, feet on the pedals, one hand on the collective and one on the stick !

    [Thank you very much for this comment. I recognize the immense difficulty of what the South Vietnamese pilot seems to have accomplished. It was feats like that which made him a legend in the VNAF. I am an historian, I was not there, but my co-author Ray Stubbe was–and he personally knew all these people, kept a diary, and spent decades after the war going back to his comrades through the veterans’ associations. I trust the source material that Ray gathered. You are welcome to your own opinion on the content. Personally, I believe that VALLEY OF DECISION continues to be the most authoritative account of the Khe Sanh campaign.]

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