Information is a weapon. From the first time I fired a .22 rifle at camp the summer after second grade, to my first read-in and access to classified information, and then to advanced weapons training and combat deployments with various NAVSOF elements, there was never a doubt that I was being entrusted with weapons that, when used improperly or negligently, could severely wound or kill the innocent. Like handling a M4 SOPMOD, access to classified information represents an understanding of the responsibilities that come with being entrusted with a weapon and the concept of personal accountability.

I held a Top Secret/Special Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) security clearance for more than 26 years. My time at NSA, NAVSPECWAR units, and other programs also required Special Access Program (SAP) briefs and acknowledgements. Some programs required counter-intelligence or full-scope polygraphs. Along with this restricted access came yearly refresher training and the acknowledgement of what classified information consisted of, how to identify it, and the proper storage and handling of this information, regardless of rank. Why is the former secretary of defense and candidate for president held to a lower standard than an E-3 in military service?

While there may be a legal technicality regarding the private Clinton email server, there is no excuse, legal or moral, for not possessing and demonstrating the most important quality that comes with these privileges and responsibilities: sound judgment.

Judgment is the major quality that separates the special warfare/SPECOPs operators from conventional forces. Simply knowing when not to shoot is as important as knowing when to fire. In this capacity, not recognizing sensitive information, regardless of header markings or a staff member’s role, provides no cover for Mrs. Clinton’s disregard for and complete lack of judgment. All personnel that have access to highly classified material are taught to recognize and identify improperly marked items.