The *weak* case against Hillary Clinton
With Hillary Clinton the presumptive Democratic candidate for president in the 2016 race, I think it’s incumbent upon me to research the criticisms against her qualifications in order that I may reach a reasoned conclusion as to her eligibility. Listed below are each of the major objections I tend to hear against Ms. Clinton, along with the opinion I’ve gained as a result of my own investigation of each. Reference sources are cited at the end of the post.
There should have been more security on hand to protect Ambassador Stevens and the others at the compound in Benghazi. Mistakes made by Hillary Clinton and the State Department in the period leading up to the attack and in providing official details after the fact do not appear to constitute deception, gross incompetency or ill will. Investigations so far have not demonstrated any reason to believe otherwise.
- Email Server Scandal
Bad, bad bad. There’s nothing good about this situation. Even if she is not a technically savvy person, Secretary Clinton should have known better than to allow government email to be facilitated and stored on any email system not sanctioned by the State Department. On the other hand, document security and policy compliance are concerns easily neglected by many, and I imagine this is especially true of those in high-level positions who have little free time to mull over such details. The Clinton’s began using their private mail server during Hillary’s first run for president, and I suspect continued using it more as a matter of course than a deliberate attempt to foil State Department protocol. Was she warned of the danger by government security staff? Yes. Did she consciously decide to continue using her personal Blackberry and private server after she was warned? Yes. Very bad. Did she delete email she claims – yet cannot prove – were personal? Yes. A really bad decision. Did she lie about her early knowledge of the risk, and tacit State Department support of her private mail server? It looks that way. Did she state that none of the email on her server was confidential, which facts now reveal to be otherwise? Yes. Did she potentially compromise the security of Americans and our allies through the use of a private, relatively unsecured email server? I think so. Did she do these things with a conscious mind towards deceit and subterfuge? I don’t think so. Though if she intentionally lied then this was deliberate and a very poor reflection of character.
The report from FBI Director James Comey regarding that agency’s investigation into the email server case is very well written, and explains in clear detail the aims, conclusion and recommendations from the FBI to the State Department. The findings are summarized well in the following paragraph which I’m quoting from the report:
“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
In short, the FBI has found her guilty of negligence, but just that. Her actions didn’t even rise to the level of gross negligence which would have been a misdemeanor offense. With regard to precedence, the Director had this to say:
“In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.”.
- In bed with Wall Street
Hillary gave 92 speeches between 2013 and 2015, charging an average of $225,000 for each. Does it seems suspicious when a former civil servant cashes-in to the tune of almost 22 million dollars within two years of leaving office? Yeah, it does. Do I suspect there’s more to it than her outstanding wardrobe and speaking skills. Sadly, I do. On the flip side, I understand the sense of prestige wealthy companies and organizations seek to gain in showcasing a big name keynote speaker at one of their events, and her speaking fees during this time were on par with industry standards for someone with her name recognition. This is especially true coming immediately off her posting as Secretary of State. Of these 92 speeches, 8 were to big banks which combined fees earned her 1.8 million dollars. Banking engagements therefore made up a little under 9% of her speaking revenue for this period. Hillary also received a lot of money from campaign contributors. I researched the top 20 contributors to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to see how they compare and have listed the results below. I threw Ted Cruz in for perspective as Donald Trump has to-date been largely self-funded and the contributions he’s received are only a fraction of the other candidates.
My conclusion from the speaking engagements and contributions is that though Hillary’s support from Wall Street is great, it is not exceptional, and may even be on par with other candidates. And though I don’t like the fact that politicians can so easily gain from special interest groups (which must surely weigh in on their decision making) I think it’s up to the voters to reform the system rather than expecting politicians to hold themselves to a higher standard than we demand. That said, I wish I could still vote for Bernie solely on this point.
- War Crimes
The accusations leveled against Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for actions related to, or constituting war crimes, should be viewed in the context of United States Middle East policy during both the Bush and Obama administrations. These actions, and the position of the United States during this period, also need to be addressed both here and in the international community. The policy, decisions and support of the nation which have allowed our country to engage in, and largely ignore, activities such as the 2004 slaughter in Fallujah, which appear to fall under the ICRC definition of war crimes, is an issue far larger than the power or influence of any one politician or cabinet-level appointee. The very fact that Donald Trump recommended during his primary campaign “carpet bombing ISIS into oblivion” (a statement implicit of war crimes) reinforces the fact that the problem stems more from national perspective and ignorance of what constitutes war crimes, than from the agenda or initiative of any one political figure or government operative. Is Hillary Clinton guilty of war crimes during her tenure as head of the Department of State? This is a case that has yet to be proven, though if it is, the verdict of guilt is one which should be shared by all Americans.
Another long and complicated story and example of possible misdeed on the part of the Clintons, with no resulting charges, convictions or convincing accusations of guilt. In addition to little mention of the case in the Starr Report, we have this lackluster statement from United States Office of Independent Council investigator Robert Ray (Kenneth Starr’s successor in this office):
“This office determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either President or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in any criminal conduct.“.
- Vince Foster
Five separate official investigations have ruled this clinically depressed man’s death a suicide. Even Fox News is critical of Donald Trump for suggesting otherwise. Shall we not let his memory rest in peace at last, and be no longer used as a blunt instrument of political weaponry.
- Bad dresser
Anyone who posts comments teasing or complaining of Hillary Clinton’s wardrobe has clearly run out of good arguments against her record, professionalism or character, and may safely be removed from the discussion and recommended to the children’s table for the remainder of this political cycle.
Much of the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton relates to events which occurred during her tenure as Secretary of State. During this time, she was perhaps the busiest and most ambitious chief diplomat the country has ever known; visiting 112 countries, engaging in over 1700 meetings and logging more than a million miles of travel in six years. The responsibility for State Department activities and events, including the security of officials and staff on foreign assignment, conflict of interest between the State department, other governments and private sector businesses and institutions; as well as the secure and proper utilization of tools such as email, all rest squarely on the Secretary of State. This is a responsibility Hillary Clinton has publicly acknowledged and accepted. To date no evidence of malicious wrongdoing have been proven against the Secretary, though she does appear guilty of poor judgement in explaining her actions, and at times may have even lied. Is Hillary Clinton an ambitious, hard worker for a political party she believes in? Her life and career record certainly indicate this is the case. Has she shown herself to be susceptible to the siren song of compromised principals in service of one’s own image, reputation and legacy? Probably, though the evidence is still a bit cloudy and we may never know the truth in many cases. The reality we must deal with now is that there is almost no real and empirical evidence to support the above-listed claims of wrong-doing on the part of Hillary Clinton, and it’s time to let rumor and unfounded accusation slip aside in favor of assessing her true qualifications for the highest office in the land. On the case for character, the jury remains out. Though evidence to-date would seem to imply her character is less than what might be desired in a president, a neighbor or a friend.
- Email Server Scandal
- In bed with Wall Street
- War Crimes
- Vince Foster