It’s disconcerting to watch what passes for politics as usual during this election year, where one political party disparages the criticism of a candidate as being wholly partisan and unworthy of consideration. After all, “there’s really nothing there” and “we’ve moved on.”

Needless to say I’m referring to her highness Madam Secretary Clinton, Presidential candidate and former Secretary of State who, until Monday night, advanced unchallenged towards a coronation in November. We are told to ignore “the man behind the curtain” from Vermont, as being eccentric and not to be taken seriously. The Senator from Vermont aided this travesty early on by declaring “we don’t give a d—- about your e-mails.” Maybe he should have; perhaps all of us should care about Madam Clinton’s e-mails and the implications for the security and survival of the nation. She put your children at risk as surely as a lunatic discharging a firearm on a school playground and she really doesn’t seem to care.

In the world of intelligence, handling classified documents becomes routine and often deadly to one’s career if you become lax. In Iraq, a promising young infantry captain was careless, mixing classified documents on his personal, non-secure computer. The computer never went anywhere but during the routine course of his duties it became obvious that the laptop he used in a secure space wasn’t supposed to be there. It was revealed that he’d routinely placed classified documents on an unclassified device. The highest classification of materials involved was Secret with a caveat or two, considered “collateral” in sensitivity and security requirements. That might be unclear but suffice it to say that it could have been a lot worse, especially if it involved what is termed Special Compartmented Information. This is a category of information all by itself requiring extremely special handling and security precautions.

Unfortunately for the captain, the senior intelligence officer of his unit took his duties very seriously, especially in a war zone where men were dying. The captain was court martialed, facing imprisonment for several years. His career was ended and the court was merciful, sparing him prison, but his ten year career was destroyed along with future prospects in government service.

Compare the young captain’s treatment with that of Secretary Clinton. She deliberately set up a non-secure computer system to handle her official communications as Secretary of State. Diplomatic espionage is the oldest type of espionage and Madam Clinton received numerous briefings on the handling of the highly classified and sensitive information she routinely encountered as the third highest official in government. She signed special indoctrination forms, non-disclosure agreements and attended mandatory security briefings before she was “read on,” intelligence parlance for receiving access to the most closely guarded secrets and communications of the nation. She was thoroughly briefed on the efforts of hostile intelligence services to penetrate the walls of secrecy required to protect sensitive operations within the State Department, including protection of human sources (spies) and methods of collection. Sometimes the latter involved investment of hundreds of millions of dollars (or billions) and take years to achieve success, only to be “blown” by carelessness, traitors or an often vindictive press. Once lost, these sources are seldom recovered and sometimes, people die.

Of the thousands of documents Clinton broadcast over her unsecure and illegal computer system, nearly 1500 have been identified as classified, including Top Secret documents with special access provisions. In Europe, I handled many such documents and was responsible for Top Secret special access programs. They required two persons present to read, some so sensitive that failing to account for a single page guaranteed five years in prison. Clinton mishandled thousands of such documents but has been given a Teflon pass for political reasons.

In WWII, the Polish Resistance smuggled an Enigma coding machine to Britain which duplicated German codes. With that machine and enormous effort, the British eventually broke the German Naval codes. From that source, combined with development of special radars and shallow depth charges, they broke the back of the Nazi submarine fleet in 1943, allowing the Allies to win the Battle of the Atlantic. Thus, millions of American troops crossed the Atlantic unmolested to defeat the Nazi juggernaut. In the Pacific, we broke the Japanese Naval code and sank four of their aircraft carriers at Midway, three of them within 15 minutes. In the 1980’s a traitor within NATO revealed special access documents to the Soviet KGB. From this they developed war plans to pre-empt our nuclear deterrent, planning to launch 400 nuclear weapons across Europe in the event of war. They knew where we would be and what codes indicated NATO imminent use of tactical nuclear weapons. Millions would have died. In Madam Clinton’s case, she’s admitted her convenience was more important than National Security. You decide.

By Al Fonzi, RPSLO Chairman

First published in the Atascadero News on February 5 2016