Friday, September 9, 2016

Hillary Clinton is like that bad Commanding Officer I had...

Some of you may know that I'm a former US Navy Submarine Sailor.  Also a Nuclear Operator and Master Chief.  This gives me some unique insight on the whole classified email, private server gobbledygook.  Like many of my nuke friends, I found it laughable that HC could be unaware that her emails were classified, that her private server was an incredible security risk, and that no one told her these things.

You don't get access to classified material without being briefed on it.  Period.  I thought.  Your staff should tell you the rules and make sure you understand the seriousness of what you are doing.  Should.

Then I read some more.  I'm starting to get a better picture of HC and her relations to her staff.  Seems she doesn't like being told she's wrong, doesn't like being lectured to, and FULLY understands what plausible deniability is.  One sentence (paraphrased here) was that you don't bring up the private server to HC.  You just don't.  That's what her staff knew.  Whether she fostered this environment intentionally, out of a shrewd understanding that it would protect her later, or because she's an asshole, is unclear.

I've had a Commanding Officer (CO) like that.  In fact a few and not just CO's, but we'll stick with them.  I've had each kind (simply arrogant and conniving arrogant).  One CO was so arrogant and power hungry that you just didn't tell him he was wrong.  You just didn't.  Once he made a decision, that was it.  Now I'll leave aside all the military stuff that SHOULD happen in this case, and simply point out that it didn't work out well.

I had another CO who was the shrewd type.  I can't say for sure how much was arrogance and how much was planned.  I can tell you that he had not a shred of honesty in his bones (but he sure could get mad when someone else was dishonest - we called this a double standard).  He even once sort of admitted that he was the only one who could approve lying in an official document, but he would deny ever saying it.  This CO cared about one thing - HIM.  It was all about HIS success, HIS reputation, HIS advancement and HIS power.  He would do or say anything to make sure HE advanced.

Now I'll say this was arguably the most successful boat I was on - at least on paper.  Submarines are ideally suited to a CO with a ton of brains, and no scruples.  I would even have to say that his leadership style was effective in other ways, we never failed a mission and never missed an underway.  This is a big deal in the submarine world.  That said, it was a miserable place to work.  We ground up people and spit them out.  Senior staff called it quits (some retiring and some tapping out medically) and our retention of junior sailors was abysmal (though the reports were tweaked to make it look better.)  The ship also fell apart toward the end, and the new CO was crippled by a lot of the prior CO's methods.

It "worked" temporarily, on a submarine.  It MIGHT be okay in a President, but I doubt we'll enjoy it, and it will have serious long term repercussions.

For those I know and worked with, you might think you know who I'm talking about, I will say that I took a LOT of poetic license (for obvious reasons), and blended a few personalities together.  The principle of the story is true, and will ring that way with many a Submariner, but don't think you can dredge up a specific violation or person from the story.  A lot of the framework for this occurred when I was junior, and I only put the pieces together later as I gained experience.  I of course never saw any confirmable integrity violation that wasn't dealt with appropriately.

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