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Lotz: Clinton’s email is non-scandal, Big Lie

Hillary Clinton won the South Carolina Democratic presidential preference primary overwhelmingly over Sen. Bernie Sanders and appears to be on the path to securing the Democratic nomination in Philadelphia in July.

Sanders will remain in the race because he has garnered across-the-board support, particularly among liberals and young, perhaps first-time, voters. If Clinton wins the nomination, she will have to reach out to those young voters. She will also have to convince liberals that her agenda is progressive and can actually be enacted.

Republicans find themselves in total chaos. From crude and vulgar locker-room talk in the debates and in the media to lack of any specificity on how the candidates will make their dreams come true, Republican voters must be embarrassed by the interaction among the candidates. Imagine the remaining Republicans piling on Donald Trump as totally unfit for the presidency, followed by their pledge to vote for him in the election. Unbelievable. What must American voters think, not to mention the governments and citizens overseas?

Some Republicans continue to howl about the Clinton email scandal. They are employing what is known as the Big Lie — something that began during the McCarthy era of the early 1950s: Tell a lie often and loudly enough, and soon some people will believe it.

Here’s where it seems we are on the email non-scandal: Clinton set up a personal email account and used it for official State Department business, contrary to department policy but consistent with what previous secretaries and other senior government officials had done, with no evidence that she had broken any laws. She has admitted this was a mistake and has apologized multiple times.

Clinton has indicated that none of the emails on this personal account were marked as classified when she received them, or when, in some cases, she forwarded them to others. A number of these e-mails received and sent from this personal email account have, after-the-fact, been classified.

During the time I served in certain intelligence and leadership positions in uniform and as a career civilian in the Defense Department, I was granted original classification authority. This meant that I could provide various levels of appropriate classification (e.g., confidential, secret, top secret, etc.) to material that I originated. Other originators, like me, were the individuals responsible for this classification; those who received the material had no authority to change the classification. Over-classification has been a longstanding issue in the intelligence community and every effort has been made to ensure that material is classified at the lowest level appropriate to the rules of classification.

It was not Clinton’s responsibility to examine the emails she received to make certain they were properly classified. Furthermore, she would not be authorized to make a change to the original classification. Now that some of these unmarked emails have been marked classified, retroactively, I am certain that well-meaning but overzealous classifiers are at work. This is what likely happened in the case of some 104 unclassified emails that Clinton originated and which were subsequently classified by others.

The contractor who set up her server has apparently provided security logs to investigators indicating that there was no evidence of hacking into her account. If this turns out to be the case, classification level will be irrelevant since no hacking likely occurred.

Clinton did not knowingly receive or transmit classified information. Let’s retire the Big Lie to the McCarthy dustbin of history.

Blaine Lotz of Hilton Head Island may be reached at gblotz@yahoo.com.

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