It was revealed today that the State Department is now counting 37 pages of e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server as “Top Secret.” I’ve not commented on this issue previously as I wanted to see what else happened with the investigation, but here’s some facts people need to know.

If you, as a federal employee with a Top Secret clearance, disclose such items as what is talked about in these reports, the following would happen to you:

1) Your clearance would be revoked;

2) In front of your co-workers, you would be swiftly escorted by security out of your office and out of the building where you worked;

3) You would (most likely) be suspended without pay as an investigation commenced on what you did or did not do;

4) You would not be able to get another job given your employment suspension because who is going to hire someone who is accused of mishandling classified/Top Secret materials and is under a federal investigation?

5) As the investigation commenced, you would probably find yourself under indictment by the Inspector General’s Office or the Justice Department, meaning you would have to incur a boatload of attorney’s fees, thereby plunging your family further towards the abyss of bankruptcy and personal ruin;

6) Upon receipt of the indictment, you could either negotiate a guilty plea and incur monster fines, a jail sentence, followed by years of probation and a ruined reputation OR, you could go to court, incur more attorney’s fees, further bankrupting your family, find yourself convicted (the Feds have a 95% conviction rate), incur even bigger fines, get a jail sentence, subsequent probation and ruined life for you or your family (if you still have one at this point).

There are too many people who look at this story about Sec. Clinton as “no big deal” or chalk it up to “just politics.” Let’s be frank: that’s bullsh*t.

It is a big deal, and when you have a security clearance, it is constantly reinforced—if not pounded into you—what you can and cannot do with it. Sharing such information is not a matter of convenience or something nice to have. It is one of the gravest responsibilities any public official/servant can possess.

In this case, Sec. Clinton mishandled the information and responsibilities entrusted to her. She chose to use a means of convenience (private, unsecure e-mail) to do her job and communicate with people who either had, or did not have, such clearances.

If this were anyone else, what do you think would happen to them?

Well, this is the Clintons. And if we have learned anything about the Clintons, the rules (no matter what they are) do not apply to them in any shape or form. Those are for everyone else, but not them.

That really ticks me off. I’ve watched friends and former colleagues ruined, if not outright destroyed, for lesser infractions than what is detailed in these reports. None of them were offered free passes, platitudes or a promotion to higher office. Many of them are still trying to rebuild their lives, finances and reputations.

But again, the rules don’t apply to the Clintons. They don’t ever have to worry about these type of situations. They just smile, wave to the cameras, and go to the next opportunity because that is just what they do.

I find that wrong.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More