Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants to talk about his book, A Passion for Leadership.
Among the topics he discussed on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show was Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Gates says “the odds are pretty high” Clinton’s system was hacked by foreign intelligence services.
The exchange began with Hewitt referring to a previous guest on his program, former Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell, who agreed with Hewitt during a May interview that Clinton’s unsecure mail server had likely been raided by foreign intelligence services.
Hewitt repeated his assertion that “almost certainly, Russians, Chinese and Iranians had compromised the home brew server of the former Secretary of State,” and asked Gates if he also agreed.
“Well, given the fact that the Pentagon acknowledges that they get attacked about 100,000 times a day, I think the odds are pretty high,” Gates replied.
As to the damage such access might have done to U.S. national security, Gates said “it would depend entirely on what she put on there.”
“I haven’t read any of these emails, so I don’t know what was on those servers,” Gates added.
It seems slightly odd that the former Secretary of Defense would not keep up on the details of the Clinton scandal, including the latest revelations that she had not only Top Secret, but beyond Top Secret, information on her homebrew mail server.
It’s a subject he surely knows he’ll be asked about during media appearances, especially when the interviewer is not one of Clinton’s friends, donors, or former employees. Then again, steering clear of the details means Gates doesn’t end up spending most of his interview time discussing the Clinton scandal instead of his book.
It should be noted that damage to American national security does not have to be demonstrated in order for Clinton to face indictment for her activities. As former New York City mayor and prosecutor Rudy Giuliani noted on Fox & Friends earlier this week, “This is about as clear as it gets. It is a crime to negligently handle top secret material.”
The prosecution doesn’t have to prove foreign spies obtained the material, or did something indisputably harmful to American national security with the information. Both of those propositions would be very difficult to prove in a court of law, and setting such a standard would defeat the core purpose of having the strict policies for handling secure material that Clinton and her staff wantonly ignored.
The point is to keep people, including inept Secretaries of State, from thinking they can make personal judgment calls about which material “really needs” classification, no matter what the paranoid spooks over at the CIA and NSA think. Giuliani saw at least 13 possible violations of federal law in Clinton’s email scandal, and thought it was unlikely she could avoid an indictment.
The bulk of the Gates interview concerned military appropriations and the role of the Defense Secretary, and the nature of leadership, which are topics Gates discusses at length in his book. The full transcript is available here.