Washington Has Been Obsessed With Punishing Secrecy Violations — until Hillary ClintonHad someone who was obscure and unimportant and powerless done what Hillary Clinton did – recklessly and secretly install a shoddy home server and worked with Top Secret information on it, then outright lied to the public about it when they were caught – they would have been criminally charged long ago, with little fuss or objection. But Hillary Clinton is the opposite of unimportant. She’s the multi-millionaire former First Lady, Senator from New York, and Secretary of State, supported by virtually the entire political, financial and media establishment to be the next President, arguably the only person standing between Donald Trump and the White House.
Harvey's secretsTwenty-four hours after the Bieber video came in, the newsroom learned that Levin had decided not to run the story. He did not destroy his copy of the video, however, and Bieber’s camp was aware that Levin could reverse his position and post it. Celebrity secrets are treated like commodities at TMZ, not unlike the way they were treated by J. Edgar Hoover’s F.B.I. “The power of secret information was a gun that Hoover always kept loaded,” Tim Wiener writes, in “Enemies,” a 2012 book about the bureau. A former writer for TMZ told me that, for Levin, there was more to gain by sitting on the clip, and earning Bieber’s good will, than by running it and ruining his career. (Older gossip publications followed this strategy as well. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, the “dark genius” of William d’Alton Mann, the publisher of Town Topics, was his realization that “stories that came into his possession were perhaps worth more untold than told.” In the nineteen-fifties, Confidential gained access to the head of Columbia Studios by leveraging tapes of Rock Hudson that referred to his homosexuality.)
The secret “anti-languages” you’re not supposed to knowAll borrow the grammar of the mother language but replace words (“London”, “purse”, “money”, “alehouse”) with another, elliptical term (“Rome”, “bounge”, “lower”, “bowsing ken”). Often, the anti-language may employ dozens of terms that have blossomed from a single concept – a feature known as “over-lexicalisation”. Halliday points to at least 20 terms that Elizabethan criminals used to describe fellow thieves, for instance: “prigger of prancers”, “doxy”, “dell”, “counterfeit crank”, “jarkman” and “bawdy basket”, to name just a handful.
Hillary‘s private ISP was OKed?One final thought: I’d imagine Secretary Clinton at some point emailed the White House. I made the mistake of emailing the White House from my personal account once (!) during my term, and managed to get back a nastygram from Counsel about it. How or why didn’t the White House tell Hillary to use her official .gov email account?It could be that they knew the entire classified and unclassified email system was compromised and decided that the smartest thing to do was for her to use her personal email instead.
I’d never been with a person who had such a good cause and such a poor ear, nor had I met a head of an organisation with such an unending capacity to worry about his enemies and to yawn in one’s face.
But I would argue that a culture of secrecy is bound to end up harming the institution itself, especially when it’s firmly under the control of one leader, as Amazon is under Jeff Bezos. Without some permeability to the outside world, groupthink takes over, bad habits become entrenched, and a company, like a government, is slow to recognize problems that are apparent to everyone else. I saw this happening with American officials in Iraq, holed up in the Embassy in the middle of the Green Zone and beguiled by their own data points while the country outside spiraled down in flames. To Amazon, any piece of information could give its competitors an advantage. But what if those competitors’ main advantage is the walled-off, impenetrable nature of the company?
In Vienna, Poitras was eventually cleared to board her connecting flight to New York, but when she landed at J.F.K., she was met at the gate by two armed law-enforcement agents and taken to a room for questioning. It is a routine that has happened so many times since then — on more than 40 occasions — that she has lost precise count. Initially, she said, the authorities were interested in the paper she carried, copying her receipts and, once, her notebook. After she stopped carrying her notes, they focused on her electronics instead, telling her that if she didn’t answer their questions, they would confiscate her gear and get their answers that way. On one occasion, Poitras says, they did seize her computers and cellphones and kept them for weeks. She was also told that her refusal to answer questions was itself a suspicious act. Because the interrogations took place at international boarding crossings, where the government contends that ordinary constitutional rights do not apply, she was not permitted to have a lawyer present.
Let that sink in: a 50-year, top-secret restriction on tax-reform proposals. Not reports on the whereabouts of al-Qaeda goons, not strategy documents for countering a Chi-Com invasion in the Pacific, but some senator’s thoughts on whether you should be able to deduct your mortgage interest. If you are wondering why men such as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden enjoy a substantial degree of public support despite the gentlemen in Washington stamping their feet and shouting about spies and traitors, there’s your answer. It’s axiomatic that a government power that can be abused will be abused, and secrecy powers are a leading source of abuse.