by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The influence that Colin Powell has over Hillary Clinton is something to behold. His word is her command. When he tells her to break the law and endanger the nation’s secrets, she doesn’t hesitate. She salutes smartly and does as she is told.
Clinton has been desperate for the moral cover of Colin Powell for her e-mail arrangement since the scandal first broke last year. Now we’ve learned that Clinton told the FBI that Powell advised her to use private e-mail as secretary of state at a dinner in 2009. This escalates Clinton’s e-mail defense from “Hey, Colin Powell did it, too,” all the way to “Colin Powell made me do it.”
The Powell defense has given Clinton shills something to say on TV, but it doesn’t make much sense. While the former general used a private e-mail as secretary of state, it was at a time when the department didn’t have a robust email system of its own. And he obviously didn’t set up his own private server. After Powell left State, the department’s rules steadily got stricter about using official e-mail for State Department business and preserving e-mail records — and Clinton blew through them all.
On the advice, we are supposed to believe, of none other than Colin Powell, the Professor Moriarty of Clinton’s illicit e-mail practices. The New York Times reported last week that at a dinner party hosted by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright that included other former secretaries of state, Albright asked Clinton’s predecessors what counsel they would give her. Allegedly, Powell didn’t advise Clinton (channeling Winston Churchill) that “diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions,” or (channeling Will Durant) that “to say nothing, especially when speaking, is half the art of diplomacy,” or even to avoid a land war in Asia. He told her to use private e-mail.