The Real Clinton Email Scandal

It's not her server, it's that way too much government information is classified in the first place.

October 6, 2016

Cross-posted on U.S. News & World Report

There are many pressing national security issues the presidential candidates should discuss in their debate on Sunday. As someone who has spent years studying the classification system, I don't believe Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server is one of them. Here's why.

In a properly functioning classification system, officials would classify information only if its disclosure would likely harm national security. Not one insider or expert, however, believes the classification system works as it should. Republicans and Democrats seem unable to agree on what day of the week it is, but they agree that far too much information is classified. Former national security officials estimate that 50 to 90 percent of classified documents could safely be released.

The reasons are clear. The 2,000-plus officials designated as "original classification authorities" have near total discretion to classify information – and ample incentive to overreach. The culture within intelligence agencies encourages and nurtures secrecy, and classifying by rote saves considerable time. Most officials see little downside. As a former FBI agent put it, "no one ever got in trouble for overclassifying."

Read the full-length piece on U.S. News & World Report