The Iranian government executed one of its nuclear scientists, a man named Shahram Amiri, for treason and then returned his lifeless body to his mother with rope burns still around his neck. According to Sen. Tom Cotton, Hillary Clinton may have sealed Amiri’s fate by allowing an email to reside on her unsecured server that referred to him as “our friend.” The emails server is thought to have been hacked by a number of hostile governments, possibly including that of Iran.

The saga of Shahram Amiri began in 2009 when he vanished while on the Muslim Haj, a pilgrimage to Mecca.

A year later he showed up at the Iranian interest section at the Pakistani Embassy demanding to be sent home to Iran. He claimed that he had been kidnapped by Saudi and American agents and had been held against his will. However, some evidence suggests that he went willingly and was paid millions of dollars for information on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Some had speculated that he returned to Iran out of concern for his family which had been left behind.

Some rumors have been floated by the Iranian opposition that many of the scientists who work on Iran’s nuclear program are worried about what use the Islamic Republic would put to such a weapon. It is entirely possible that Amiri was a willing asset.

If so, the United States failed him on multiple fronts.

To be sure, Hillary Clinton’s allowing an email that mentioned Amiri and referred to him as “our friend” is the height of irresponsibility. The email likely provided the Iranian government the proof it needed that the scientist was not kidnapped but went willingly. In effect, the Democratic candidate for president got a valuable foreign intelligence asset killed through her negligence.

Second, it is the policy of intelligence organizations to get family members of assets who may have been blown out of harm’s way if at all possible. Amiri was certainly right that the Iranian government would punish his family for his passing along intelligence on its nuclear bomb program. The CIA should have gotten them out of Iran.

If Clinton thought she had put the email server scandal behind her, she likely had better think again.

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