Has Hillary Clinton created a national security disaster?

Most coverage of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server (including mine) has focused on whether she lied about her usage and whether she violated the law. This focus is natural because Clinton is running for president. Presumably, only partisan Democrats are likely to support a liar and even some of them might balk at backing a criminal.

But Stanley Kurtz looks at a different and vital question, namely the nature and scale of the damage to American national security caused by Hillary’s mishandling of classified information.

This issue has been difficult to assess because we don’t know whether (or which) foreign intelligence agencies intercepted communications on Clinton’s private system. Nor until recently have we had much of a sense of the content of emails on that system.

However, Stanley argues that we now have good reason to believe that Hillary’s email scandal constitutes one of the most serious American national security disasters on record. He quotes the Daily Beast:

There’s a widely held belief among American counterspies that foreign intelligence agencies had to be reading the emails on Hillary’s private server, particularly since it was wholly unencrypted for months .….Senior counterintelligence officials are assuming the worst about what the Russians and Chinese know

The mere assumption of the worst — rightly or wrongly — by our intelligence community makes this affair a disaster. As Stanley explains:

Even if we got lucky and the Russians and Chinese didn’t actually intercept some or all of Hillary’s emails, our intelligence agencies now have to behave as if they did. Doesn’t that mean that we are now making massive changes to the sources and methods of our intelligence?

Are we now withdrawing valuable agents? Are we trying to replace methods that cannot be easily replicated? Are we now forced to rebuild a good deal of our intelligence capabilities from the ground up?

Are we not suffering tremendous intelligence damage right now, regardless of what foreign intelligence services did or did not manage to snatch from Hillary’s server—simply because we are forced to assume that they got it all?

Chances are that the answer to all of these questions is yes.

This would help explain why folks within the intelligence community seem so incensed about Clinton’s use of the private server. Their outrage is manifested, it seems to me, by leaks adverse to Clinton and by the fact that she doesn’t seem to be getting any slack from those who are reviewing her emails and making classification decisions.

Clinton’s misleading and downright dishonest statements on the issue have probably helped fuel the outrage. But I get the sense that there’s more to it than that.

Think about it. What intelligence official wouldn’t be fuming if, in fact, we are withdrawing valuable agents, replacing reliable methods, and rebuilding a good portion of our intelligence capabilities all because Madame Hillary decided, for her own purposes and in violation of policy, to use a problematic server?