Former intelligence and military officials were swift to reply Friday to Hillary Clinton’s contention that government over-classification of materials are “the real problem,” not her use of an unsecured private email server to conduct official business during her four years as secretary of state.
“Our ridiculous classification rules” are “the real problem,” she tweeted this morning, quoting a former Justice Department official.
Senior military and intelligence officials immediately fired back.
“It’s not up to her to decide what level it’s classified at. It’s up to her to obey the law, and clearly she did not,” Lt. Col. Col James Williamson told The Daily Caller News Foundation. Williamson entered Special Forces in 1988 and retired in 2012.
“If someone doesn’t have the sense to recognize classified material, they shouldn’t be in such a sensitive position, much less the secretary of state,” Williamson said.
Similarly, Brig. Gen. Kenneth Berquist said “she jeopardized every piece of information that went across her private server line. This is a very good example of how her ‘inconvenience’ put us at risk in the United States.”
Berquist added that “this is hubris. This is an example where people say, ‘I don’t play by the rules.'”
Clinton originally argued during a March 10 news conference that she had one private domain name and server because it was “inconvenient” to carry two separate cell phones. Her comments were in response to the New York Times’ March 3 revelation about her use of a private email account.
Berquist is a former CIA intelligence officer who was hand-picked by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the first president of the Joint Special Operations University, which trains intermediate and senior commanders in special operations. He also served as special operations staff director for the U.S. Central Command during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Berquist was among a group of military and intelligence officials calling in an Aug. 5 letter for John Kerry, Clinton’s successor at the State Department, to suspend her current security clearance, as TheDCNF reported earlier this week.
“There needs to be an administrative action against Secretary Clinton,” Berquist told TheDCNF.
“First she was blaming Republicans,” noted Scott Taylor, president of the Special Operations Education Fund, which filed the letter to Kerry.
“Now she’s blaming the intelligence community for over-classyifying? She was the nation’s top diplomat,” Taylor said. “Any conversations she had about troop movements, drone strikes, foreign policy, our allies range from sensitive to Top Secret. That is the job that she signed up for.”
Fred Rustman, who was in the elite CIA Senior Intelligence Service and spent 24 years in the intelligence agency, said “the fact is that anyone who communicates classified material or stores classified material in an unsecure location is violating the rules of security. And obviously she did this.”
Rustman added that “when you parse all of this which she has, and say there weren’t any ‘classified’ documents, none of that amount to a hill of beans. As far as the intelligence community is concerned, they’re the guardians of secrets, and she was a Cabinet-level official.”
William Cowan, a retired Marine Corps colonel who was a founding member of a secret U.S. intelligence program called the Intelligence Support Activity that represents DELTA Force and Navy Seals, told TheDCNF that Clinton’s statements and behavior are “outrageous. It’s absolutely outrageous behavior and total disregard, not only for the law and the policies and procedures, but also for the safety and security of our nation.”
By using an unsecured private server, she took it upon herself to automatically declassify hundreds of materials, Cowan said.
“Did she unilaterally decide to declassify all these things? If that’s the case, then it’s even worse. It puts people’s lives in jeopardy. It puts American foreign policy and national security in jeopardy,” Cowan said.
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