A stunning report by the New York Times reveals that as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not have a government email account, she used a personal email account which was not only a security violation but her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.
Not only did she use a personal account but “coincidentally” that personal account was set up the day of her Senate confirmation.
It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department. Mrs. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013.
The operative words are “decided which ones to turn over,” which leaves the question which ones did they keep from the State Dept.?
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Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.
“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” said Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath who is a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration.
A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, Nick Merrill, defended her use of the personal email account and said she has been complying with the “letter and spirit of the rules.”
The “rules” say that all letters and emails sent and received by federal officials are supposed to be kept by their department so, “congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find them. There are exceptions to the law for certain classified and sensitive materials.”
(…) Her exclusive use of her private email, for all of her work, appears unusual, Mr. Baron said. The use of private email accounts is supposed to be limited to emergencies, experts said, such as when an agency’s computer server is not working.
“I can recall no instance in my time at the National Archives when a high-ranking official at an executive branch agency solely used a personal email account for the transaction of government business,” said Mr. Baron, who worked at the agency from 2000 to 2013.
Hillary and her aides ignored National Archives and Records Administration regulations which required “that any emails sent or received from personal accounts be preserved as part of the agency’s records.”
“It’s a shame it didn’t take place automatically when she was secretary of state as it should have,” said Thomas S. Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, a group based at George Washington University that advocates government transparency. “Someone in the State Department deserves credit for taking the initiative to ask for the records back. Most of the time it takes the threat of litigation and embarrassment.”
Mr. Blanton said high-level officials should operate as President Obama does, emailing from a secure government account, with every record preserved for historical purposes.
“Personal emails are not secure,” he said. “Senior officials should not be using them.”
Come on, Rules? Hillary believes rules are for little people.
The revelation about the private email account echoes longstanding criticisms directed at both the former secretary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for a lack of transparency and inclination toward secrecy.
And others who, like Mrs. Clinton, are eyeing a candidacy for the White House are stressing a very different approach. Jeb Bush, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, released a trove of emails in December from his eight years as governor of Florida.
It is not clear whether Mrs. Clinton’s private email account included encryption or other security measures, given the sensitivity of her diplomatic activity.
When one considers that the Obama administration, which promised to be the most transparent in history, may have been one of the most secretive (remember the Joe Biden meeting on gov. transparency which was closed to the press?), just imagine how secretive a Clinton presidency would be? She didn’t even follow existing rules.