Hillary Clinton’s Private Emails

Hillary Clinton sending confidential information through her personal emails is unethical in addition to being bad for her personally and legally. Because the safety of all American residents is crucial, it is immoral for a state secretary to disclose sensitive information through her personal emails. Some have likened this to Colin Powell, but Clinton's situation is worse because she kept her computer. It is ironic that Clinton won't experience any repercussions because it is regulated by civil law rather than criminal law. Some of the important ethical issues include disregard to her office and the safety of the citizens, hacking of her server, and mishandling of classified information.

It is important to note that Hillary Clinton violated the policies of the secretary of state department by using private email accounts to conduct official business. From a formal letter she wrote to the ethics official of the secretary of the state Department, James Thessin, it is clear that she violated the ethics of the office. The letter read, “For the duration of my appointment as Secretary if I am confirmed, I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which The William J. Clinton Foundation (or the Clinton Global Initiative) is a party or represents a party, unless I am first authorized to participate.” Hillary Clinton apparently mishandled classified information by using private emails for important government work. The information contained in the emails were classified and remained classified and critical until the time they were released. It is unethical to use private emails for official purposes and having lawful control of information that relates to national defense is unethical (Morais, 2011). Whether or not Clinton did deliberately structure her email servers systems to allow official emails to be stored in her personal server that was not in any capacity able to handle classified information is a question of law and ethics. Accidental or deliberate people in the office have the responsibility of upholding integrity at all levels and ensuring that their office remains ethical at all times, an issue that Clinton failed to handle.

The uniqueness of her private server was a critical point since it violated the rules. On several occasions, Hillary Clinton has noted that other state secretaries had the same arrangement and that what she did was right by the laws and regulations of the office. It is important to point out that her arguments are not in any way true. Investigations and reports from media found out that none of the former secretaries of state had a private server where they received emails that were supposed to be received on official servers. Colin Powell is the only former secretary of state to admit to sending emails from personal email accounts. Clinton was also wrong in her second argument since her office regulations require her to provide all official communications before vacating office, which she did not. It was after negotiations between her lawyers and the state department that she agreed to hand over emails that were already tampered with and this was over a year after leaving office. It is obnoxious that a person of such stature can claim to have not violated any rules while being learned and having advice from her council. This makes many believe that she did not care about any consequences and she was not even sorry for her actions. Claiming that what she did was reasonable opens her up to scrutiny concerning ethical boundaries that relate to the state laws and policies. Additionally, the fact that she did not submit all official communications after leaving her office leads many questions regarding how she handles power as a leader and what she regards as morally right.

Whether or not Clinton's emails had classifications is not a matter of concern. The main issue is that official information was transferred using her private emails. However, Inspector General of the Department of Justice pointed out that the handling of classified information in Hillary's emails was poor. Also, the Inspector General indicated that four out of forty emails contained classified information. Other emails were not released because they provided classified contents and the Inspector General pointed out that one of the emails that were released contained classified information. Hillary Clinton has continued to argue that none of the information contained in her emails was classified at the time of sending or receivership. Her statement is not at all right since it contradicts reports released by the state department through the inspector general after investigations had been already carried out. The report from the Inspector General said, the four emails, "were not retroactively classified by the State Department; rather these emails contained classified information when they were generated” (Sexton, 2005). The mere fact that Hillary Clinton was able to deny publicly claims on the classification of information contained in the emails was unethical of her. Hillary handling of the state's classified information is wrong since this information would have put or had already put the citizens in danger. Those that have defended Hillary Clinton have pointed out that the classified emails did not contain security markings, but this does not matter according to a former employee of the state Department Peter Van Buren. He stated that "if an employee were to be handed information sourced from an NSA intercept of a foreign government leader, somehow not marked as classified, she would be expected to recognize the sensitivity of the material itself and treat it as classified. In other cases, an employee might hear something sensitive and be supposed to treat the information as classified. The emphasis throughout the classification system is not on strict legalities and coded markings but judgment. In essence, employees are required to know right from wrong. It is a duty, however, subjective in appearance, one takes on in return for a security clearance. ‘Not knowing' would be an unexpected defense from a person with years of government experience” (Sexton, 2005). Hillary Clinton ought to have known the material’s sensitivity since she had experience and had received or sent hundreds of emails with secret information. It is her fault, and it defines ethics that a person holding such an office could not recognize the sensitivity of the information for the mere reason that it was not marked. Additionally, for her to choose a system that is not made for handling classified data in the first place defies all the moral and ethical backgrounds of an officer in her power.

Claims exist that Hillary's server was hacked, that is unethical since accessing one's private information is not right but why was classified information there in the first place. Whether or not the server was hacked is beside the main point. Peter Van Buren who was at the state department for more than twenty years explains that handling of classified information has rules that are not based on no harm no foul (Sexton, 2005). There might be no evidence that the information has fallen into the wrong hands, but this is irrelevant regarding the legal nature of the case. Failing to handle the information safely is the main issue regarding law and ethics. For an ethical violation to occur it is not a necessity to provide proof that the information reached the wrong people or if the information has already caused harm. The primary ethical standard is the failure of the officer to protect the classified information (Gilliland, Steiner & Skarlicki, 2007). Every officer has a moral and ethical obligation to protect his or her office, and Hillary Clinton failed to do this.

In conclusion, Hillary Clinton can escape being legally accountable for her actions, but the public will still hold it against her concerning trust and ethics. The security of all the citizens of the United States is important, and it, therefore, undermines any moral grounds for a state secretary to share secret information using her private emails. It is evident that Clinton disregarded her office and its policies and regulations. For any officer, this is an apparent failure concerning ethics and law. The hackers that accessed her account are also unethical, but this is beside the main point of the information being there in the first place. Finally, her inability to submit all official communications while she was vacating office is another ethical violation.


Gilliland, S., Steiner, D., & Skarlicki, D. (2007). Managing social and ethical issues in organizations. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Pub. Inc.

Morais, C. G. J. (2011). Ethical issues and social dilemmas in knowledge management: Organizational innovation. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Sexton, John. (2005, August 3). 5 Reasons Why Hillary Is in Trouble over Private Email Server. Breitbart.

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