The following op-ed was submitted to The Capitolist by Todd Wilcox, a decorated combat veteran with the U.S. Army Special Forces, former CIA officer, and former candidate for the U.S. Senate.
An Open Letter to Florida’s Independent Voters
Polls, experts and pundits have rarely agreed on much since the race for the White House began well over a year ago. As journalists remove the “presumptive” label from the nominees, as the party conventions draw near and yards signs begin to litter neighborhoods across our state, independent Florida voters have become the prize that campaigns on both sides of the isle are hoping to find in the bottom of this Cracker Jack box known as the 2016 election cycle.
So, for that reason, I want to directly address Florida’s more than 3 million independent voters who identify with neither major political party, yet stand to profoundly impact our country in ways we will only fully comprehend in hindsight.
Here’s what I know: It is a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligible way.
I know this, because as a CIA Case Officer I recruited sources of intelligence and collected, originally marked and disseminated classified information in support of our nation’s national security.
FBI Director James Comey laid out in detail how Secretary Hillary Clinton and her staff were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” There is no difference between his designation of “extremely careless” and the more appropriate designation, “grossly negligent” – the classification that would make this offense a felony. One is literally the definition of the other.
Furthermore, Director Comey’s formal recommendation to the Department of Justice not to pursue a criminal indictment of Secretary Clinton calls into question the very principles of our justice system and the integrity of the FBI at a time when public trust in government is at an all time low.
Director Comey acknowledged that “seven email chains contained information that was classified at the Top Secret Special Access Program (SAP) level at the time that the emails were sent and received” and that “there is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation”.
Chain of Custody
Florida’s independent voters need to understand the enormity of Hillary Clinton’s national security offenses while she was Secretary of State before going to the voting booth on November 8th. To do so, it is important to define the chain of custody by which intelligence is handled. Classified information is marked by the originator based on a complex system of derivative authorities and justifications. Properly marked classified information can only be created on a classified system. These classified information technology (IT) systems have robust safeguards that prohibit the accidental migration of classified information from the classified to an unclassified system.
That’s a very technical way of explaining the fact that it is physically impossible to accidentally transfer information marked classified to an unsecure and unclassified IT system. Participants in those email chains would have had to knowingly scan, photocopy or reconstitute the marked classified information onto an unclassified system. This can only be done through gross negligence or intent to migrate classified information to an unclassified system.
Suffice it to say, the security culture of the State Department under Secretary Clinton was “generally lacking” in protection of classified information, according to the report, and easily determined by anyone who’s followed this disaster from the beginning. I’ve led men into combat and I’ve built a business from the ground up, and I can tell you from experience that every organization’s culture reflects the example its leadership sets.
“Based on her pattern of failed leadership, poor judgement, reckless disregard for protecting classified information and a cavalier attitude about how her actions impact our nation’s security, Hillary Clinton is not fit to be President of the United States.”
Let me be perfectly clear. The fact that I disagree with Hillary Clinton most of the time on both foreign and domestic policy is not the basis of my argument against her fitness for the highest office in the greatest nation on earth. Hillary Clinton is not fit to be President of the United States because she is solely and directly responsible for:
- Implementing and overseeing the failed foreign policy and national security strategy of the Obama administration during her tenure as Secretary of State;
- Failing to provide adequate leadership of the Department of State and force protection resulting in American lives lost on her watch during the Benghazi attacks; and
- Failing to follow proper protocol for protecting classified information that can, and most probably will, lead to even more catastrophic intelligence failures and additional loss of American lives.
Why it “Matters”
The “exceptionally grave damage to national security” resulting from the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, as outlined in the FBI report, has long lasting effects on the ability of those in the intelligence and military communities to protect the American people. This isn’t about emails. It isn’t even about a rogue server housed in a closet. This is 100% about the safety and security of the American people and those who put their lives on the line to protect us here at home and around the world. Mishandling classified information that results in its unauthorized disclosure jeopardizes both the sources of the information and the methods by which it is collected; and it compromises intelligence programs as well as the broader strategic plans and intentions at play.
“It matters because every man and woman committed to serving this great nation in the armed forces is less safe as they work to make our families safer.”
To use Secretary Clinton’s own words: “What does it matter?” It matters because Secretary Clinton’s arrogant disregard for highly classified, sensitive information can cost men and women serving our country in the intelligence community their lives – a fact she has yet to acknowledge. It matters because every man and woman committed to serving this great nation in the armed forces is less safe as they work to make our families safer. It matters because Hillary Clinton has proven that protecting ‘we the people’ would come second to protecting herself.
Photo provided by Todd Wilcox. Used with permission
Follow Todd Wilcox on Twitter: @ToddWilcox2016.