Columnist: Hillary is still not off the hook on her emails

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hillary Clinton may have escaped being indicted for her unsecure server holding classified information. But she’ll be forever marked by this incident, the same way Bill Clinton escaped being removed from office, but will always be remembered for his shameful behavior.

Last year, I provided a contrast between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Gen. David Petraeus, whereby Clinton remained stubborn in her insistence that the she did no wrong, and Gen. Petraeus humbly apologized for his transgressions in meeting with Congress.

I received a ton of email about that, as well as being cited in the Los Angeles Times, although most of the commentary was strongly disagreeing with me. Some were Clinton defenders, of course, but others were folks — many in the military — who thought I was being too easy on Gen. Petraeus for his actions. Even President Donald Trump picked up my refrain that Clinton was getting a pass while Petraeus was punished.

I get that Petraeus was being charged with something more severe. I get that there’s a stronger case against him, that he lied in his congressional testimony while the FBI has much less on Hillary Clinton. And I understand that many of the controversial Clinton emails were classified after she sent them, and not before.

But here’s the point I was trying to make in my critique of the Democratic Party nominee.

First, Petraeus is apologizing, profusely. He was wrong. He concedes that. Admitting one was wrong is such a rare thing these days, and I am sure the general could throw around all kinds of hubris, blaming someone else, claiming he did no wrong, or was doing his own sting operation, or was misquoted, or whatever you hear about in Washington, D.C., today. But at a Capitol Hill hearing about an unrelated matter, he offered an unsolicited additional apology. I am sure I am not the only one who appreciates this.

Second, Clinton really isn’t accepting that what she did was incredibly bad judgment. I trust the investigation of FBI Director James Comey, George W. Bush’s deputy attorney general and donor to the McCain and Romney campaigns.

If he had something criminal on her, we’d have an indictment. But his report does document her errors and failure to take adequate measures to protect sensitive material.

Third, classified information matters. All across the world, we have a lot of spies who are sticking their necks out because they believe in us. They trust us to keep their identities and information protected. Other intelligence agencies have to decide whether to share such data with us and not have it leak out.

Our enemies know they can penetrate our emails far easier than they can pierce an M-1 Abrams Tank. America does a lot of things well, but cybersecurity isn’t one of them. And we need real leadership on this issue, which starts at the top.

None of us will have any confidence in her ability to lead, until she explains what she did was a bad decision, and tells us how she’s learned from her mistake, so we know that such errors won’t be repeated. Otherwise, there’s no way we can trust her on this issue.

By John A. Tures

Contributing columnist

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College. He may be reached at