Editorial: Transparency is key

Posted Friday, February 27, 2015 in Opinion

Editorial: Transparency is key

This is a lesson for everyone who assumed that the repeated Benghazi hearings were entirely political.

The hearings should have been not about four guys, one an ambassador, who died in Libya, and the attempt or lack thereof to save them.

But that doesn't mean there wasn't a good reason for a hearing. Today, the New York Times broke a story about the fact that while Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was bound by the National Records Act to use a State Department email that would have been encrypted and ultimately, placed in the Archives as part of the national record. She didn't, using instead a Blackberry that was less likely to be subject to listening or other sorts of eavesdropping, for all State Department business.

When Daryl Issa was bleating about obtaining "personal emails" throughout the interminable hearings, no one knew that personal emails were all there were.

Issa was right to ask for them, and it shouldn't have been up to Clinton and her aides to decide which ones he got.

Ultimately, Clinton turned over about 300 emails from the Benghazi period. But we should have seen every email from that period. If she asked Bill to pick up hamburgers for supper, that email should have been included. It should not have been up to Clinton to determine how relevant a document was, or is.

Clinton's aides are turning over some 50,000 emails to the government now. That's a good start, but it's not enough. If Clinton's Blackberry was the communication device, the whole thing should be turned over. No deletions should be allowed.

When Nixon's secretary erased several minutes of the infamous Watergate tapes, it was considered a crime, even though Nixon himself hadn't been accused of anything at that point. When Ollie North and his secretary smuggled documents out of the White House in their underpants, he went to jail.

No one is accusing Clinton of any wrongdoing other than flauting the National Records Act requirements, but this obvious misstep, on top of revelations that she solicited funds from foreign governments while Secretary of State for the Clinton Foundation, is staggering. We should expect our high government officials to hold transparency as a top priority.

Hillary Clinton may not be the best choice for the Democratic nomination in 2016. How she deals with this new revelation will be critical. But if she cannot create and maintain a completely transparent campaign, Democrats would be foolish to put all their electoral eggs in her basket.

 

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