Hillary Clinton’s email

■■■■Hillary Clinton Is Criticized for Private Emails in State Dept. Review http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/05/26/us/politics/state-department-hillary-clinton-emails.html?smid=fb-share&referer=http://lm.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F20

This was written by Clay Johnson, a former director at the Sunlight Foundation. He says pretty much what I thought. Federal IT systems are antiquated and insecure:

I love this story from the New York Times about Hillary Clinton using her personal email account for official Secretary of State business because it points to a serious fracture in transparency’s goals, it’s implementations and IT policy in Government. Take choice quote:

“Personal emails are not secure,” he said. “Senior officials should not be using them.”

Are you serious? Let’s be clear, that personal email was probably far more secure than her state.gov email account. The State Department’s email system has been compromised for months. It’s highly likely that it’s been compromised since forever: remember, during her tenure, Wikileaks released the State Department’s classified communications.

A better question is: why would she use the State Department’s email system to conduct official business? It’s probably the case that if Hillary Clinton was focusing solely on security, using her personal email with 2 Factor Authentication was probably way *more* secure than using the honeypot mess of IT that is the State Department’s email servers.

But more importantly, let’s talk about records. As the former director of Sunlight Labs at the Sunlight Foundation, it’s a cause I care about. That’s the important bit. I don’t believe Hillary Clinton was actively working to hide her communication from the public. I think she was looking for the easiest way to do her job. The one thing you have to understand about people in public service is people down to the lowest levels of public service understand open records laws, and they all know one thing: if you don’t want something on the record, don’t use email. Pick up the phone. Hillary Clinton knows that, too.

Hillary Clinton was trying to use what she wanted to use in order to do her job. As a former fed, I’m empathetic. When you start at the Federal Government, it’s often like stepping in a time machine. You’re handed technology from years ago and (especially at her level) you’re expected to do tomorrow’s work. Often faced with a choice: do I do the job I was hired to do, or do I uphold and obey the archiving laws. And usually (thankfully) “do the job” wins.

This is because the way our Federal IT shops tend to implement IT policy isn’t through service, it’s through the prescription of antiquated technology. Rather than investing in cloud managed solutions, the feds prefer you to carry around a laptop that can log into a virtual desktop computer that’s often located inside of the basement of an agency. Then, if you’re not in the office, as the Secretary of State often isn’t, you can crank up Outlook, and check your mail. Maybe. If you’ve got the right authentication token with you.

And so you sit there and go “golly, this person needs to hear from me right now, before I go into my next meeting,” and more often than not, you just pop open your gmail, and bang out your quick email because it’s easier and you need to get the job done.

I hope as a result of this, a crackdown doesn’t happen (but it will). The right solution here isn’t to get more stringent on the archiving stuff, it’s to make the archiving and sunlight stuff in service to the job. The IT department should be saying “what tools do you need in order to do your job in the best way that you see fit” and working backwards from that in order to prevent this sort of thing from becoming as common as it actually is.

Instead of forcing people to use a 2010 blackberry and lotus notes to check their email through a VNC firewall that takes 10 minutes to log into (that, by the way, is demonstrably insecure anyway, compromising not only national security, but also the integrity of the archives in the first place), why not fix that policy, make it easy for people to use the tools they need to use in order to do their jobs, and use some archiving technology from, say, 2010 in order to handle it. The trick here isn’t “make people comply with strong authority,” it’s “make compliance easier, and of service to the people that need to do a job other than recordkeeping”

One final thought: I’d imagine Secretary Clinton at some point emailed the White House. I made the mistake of emailing the White House from my personal account once (!) during my term, and managed to get back a nastygram from Counsel about it. How or why didn’t the White House tell Hillary to use her official .gov email account?

It could be that they knew the entire classified and unclassified email system was compromised and decided that the smartest thing to do was for her to use her personal email instead.

5 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton’s email

  1. Clay Johnson like Nick Merrill is a Clinton apologist.
    One unnamed progressive group labeled questions about the (Clinton’s) practice a “right-wing attack.” That group was John Podesta’s Center for American Progress. Clay Johnson is tied to that group and that group strongly supports a Clinton candidacy. So what Johnson “thinks” is of no consequence to any open-minded person.
    “If the secretary was doing what she was suppose to be doing under the law, why would the State Department have to ask her for her emails back?” asked Trey Gowdy. That’s a great question regardless of who asked it.
    When quized by a reporter if anyone in the WH suspected Clinton wasn’t using an official email address Josh Earnest replied “I’d be surprised if anyone did.”
    Clinton’s personal email was set up just days before her confirmation as Secretary of State. It was a stand alone system installed at her Chappaquiddick, NY home and maintain by her own personal IT techs.
    If anyone thinks that either this story or the Clinton Foundation story are going away they are sorely mistaken.

  2. Right on Im!
    What is the difference between Hillary’s data dump back to the State Department archives and Nixon’s summary of the White House tapes? None.

  3. Weren’t there something like 25,000? 75000? Cheney and other Bush White House emails that were done on personal accounts and NOT saved? When they were needed for investigations of the million and a half illegalities of Shrub & Co. they were not only not saved, but every backup had been carefully disappeared too.

    Anyway. As you say, the notion that it’s some huge scandal that she wasn’t following a regulation implemented after she left says it all.

    What I really don’t understand is why there are so many insiders who are so bilious about the Clintons, both him and her. What is it? What do these people think they have done? Or not done? What’s going on here? I mean, yes, the Clintons are politicians, very good ones, but they don’t hate other politicians for that. Why all the animus against a couple of what seems, for my distance, like two normal professionals?

  4. quixote: you begin by pointing out that the Bush administration acted covertly. Do you support their right to have done so? If not, why do you proceed to defend Clinton’s having done so?
    I was unalterably opposed to such behavior when Bush & Cheney did it and I am unalterably opposed to it when Clinton does it.

  5. Since I’m already working three jobs, I don’t have the mental energy to address your projections. Try Google. I’ve read all the articles, and I know bullshit when I see it.

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