Michael Hayden has waded into the 2016 presidential election, with some choice words for Hillary Clinton. At the TechCrunch Disrupt event in New York on Wednesday, the former director of both the NSA and CIA said that he would “lose respect for scores of foreign intelligence services” if they had not rifled through Clinton’s personal emails.
Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, is currently under investigation by the FBI for storing emails that contained classified information on a personal server. The server, stored at her house in Chappaqua, New York, was linked to her BlackBerry.
“If there’s a sin here, it’s the original sin,” Hayden said. The original sin, in this case, is setting up a personal email server in the first place.
The problem, as Hayden sees it, is that in a busy day people write out emails all the time. Those emails will sometimes cross over into information that may be later considered classified. Without the protection that comes with a government email server, that poses a security risk.
“I would lose respect for scores of foreign intelligence services if they were not already thumbing through all the emails on that server,” he said.
Interviewer Matt Burns asked Hayden whether Clinton was a traitor, like how Hayden had described Snowden as a traitor. Hayden denied calling Snowden a traitor, but he said that the two situations were not the same.
Hayden said that the difference came down to scale. Whereas Snowden released over a million classified documents, Clinton’s actions more centered around “the lazy inadvertent inclusion of classified information in otherwise unclassified correspondence.”
Whether it was lazy is up for debate. According to The Washington Post, Clinton began using her personal server in the first place because she insisted on using her BlackBerry that she’d grown accustomed to. Clinton was warned by authorities that the device may not be secure, but the authorities were unaware the device was linked to Clinton’s Chappaqua server.