Hillary’s Email Server, or Our Hypocrisy is not like Theirs, Part 10

There’s a famous saying that goes “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get me.”[1] When it comes to Hillary Clinton, this could serve as her personal motto.

Yesterday we looked at the issue of the Benghazi investigations. Today we’ll be looking at the only damaging information that the Republicans have been able to unearth through their multiple investigations: that Hillary Clinton used a personal email server while serving as Secretary of State.

The Hunting of Hillary

hillary_huntingIn 2004 authors Gene Lyons and Joe Conason wrote a book entitled “The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton.” The title of the book pretty much speaks for itself. [2] More recently the same authors have written a corollary book entitled “The Hunting of Hillary.” This book is available in PDF format from the National Memo website. It is a densely-packed 148 pages. Truthfully, I tried to read the whole thing, but only got about 75% of the way through. What the booklet demonstrates, in agonizing detail, is that Hillary is mostly correct when she claimed that she and Bill have been the victims of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

What a lot of people don’t remember is that Ken Starr’s Independent Counsel investigation, which was originally supposed to look into the alleged “Whitewater” scandal, ended up being focused almost exclusively on Bill Clinton’s sexual escapes. Although uncovering Monica Lewinsky, so to speak, the investigation Starr investigation found no wrongdoing with respect to Whitewater. In addition, Monica Lewinsky only came to light because of the allegations made by Paula Jones in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill Clinton, and never should have come to light because Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky was clearly consensual, and thus not at all relevant to what Paula Jones was alleging.

In summary, the Clintons have a lot of reason to be wary of the people who are out to get them.[3] As the Daily Banter has forcefully argued, if you’re liberal and you think Hillary Clinton is corrupt and untrustworthy, you’re rewarding 25 years of smears by the Republican party.

Why Did Hillary Use a Private Email Server?

If there’s one thing that we can be pretty sure of, it’s that Hillary Clinton is no technophile. Hillary Clinton still uses a Blackberry, so I doubt that Hillary Clinton even knew what an email server is before somebody suggested to her that she set one up. Who made that suggestion? That has never been determined, so far as I know.

Hillary has said that part of the reason that she set up her own email server – or rather had it set up for her – is that she didn’t want to carry two cell phones around. I’ll buy that as part of the reason. I also suspect that Hillary liked the idea of having control over the release of her own emails, once somebody had explained to her what a private email server is. If so, Hillary’s paranoia has come back to bite her in a big way. Clearly having a private email server, while giving her control over her own email, did not give her control over the political fallout that derived from her having her own server. Now she knows.

Finally, it should also be pointed out that government computers tend to be terribly antiquated, including those at the State Department. A recent story from the Associated Press was entitled “Feds spend billions to run museum-ready computer systems.” It’s well known that part of the problem with the Veteran’s Administration or the Social Security Administration or even the Internal Revenue Services are their hopelessly outdated computer systems.[4] It’s these systems that also motivated Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, Hillary’s predecessors as Secretary of State to use private email accounts.

What About Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice?

As Factcheck has pointed out, the analogy between Hillary’s use of a private email server and Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice’s use of private emails is not a perfect analogy. So first, it should be acknowledged that Powell did use private email, although the same cannot be said for Rice. Colin Powell, on the other hand, did use private email – although not a private email server – to conduct government business, and like Clinton, he “did not comply with policies on preserving work-related emails” according to a report issued by the Inspector General. It is also true, however, that the rules about using State Department have email have become more specific in the years since Powell was the Secretary.

What about General Patreaus?

General David Patraeus was a highly regarded four star General and the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency who led the Iraqi “surge”in 2007. He subsequently got into a heap of trouble as the Director of the CIA when he had an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, to whom he provided classified information in order to help her write her rather flattering biography. This got Patraeus indicted, when it came to light, and got him a sentence of two years’ probation plus a fine of $100,000. At the time, a number of critics complained that Patraeus got off lightly, and that if he had been a lower level officer, he certainly would have seen jail time.

When James Comey, the current FBI Director, announced that the FBI was not recommending charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server, he made a clear distinction between the intentionality of General Patraeus’ behavior and the carelessness of Hillary Clinton with respect to her email server. Patraeus knew that he was doing the wrong thing, and lied to the FBI about it when they came to investigate. In addition, Patraeus engaged in strategies like setting up a joint email account with Paula Broadwell and writing draft messages that the other could read.[5]

Although Clinton’s private email server could have been hacked, there is actually no evidence that it was ever hacked, unlike the servers of the Democratic Party. While the server could have been hacked, there is no evidence that it actually was.

What About Jeb Bush?

Back in March of 2015 the Washington Post reported that Jeb Bush “used his private e-mail account as Florida governor to discuss security and military issues such as troop deployments to the Middle East and the protection of nuclear plants, according to a review of publicly released records.” The e-mails include “two series of exchanges involving details of Florida National Guard troop deployments after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” At the time aides to Bush explained that “none of the e-mails contained sensitive or classified information, and that many of the events mentioned in them were documented in press accounts, either contemporaneously or later.”[6]

I don’t think this is a comparable violation to what has been alleged against Hillary, but it does show that any number of politicians are pretty casual about their use of email and whether they are doing enough to maintain security.

What about Trey Gowdy and Jason Chaffetz?

Representatives Trey Gowdy and Jason Chaffetz have been at the forefront of the Benghazi and Email server investigations. It is Gowdy who chairs the House Select Committee that was looking into Benghazi. The publication Daily News Bin reported last fall that Trey Gowdy was running his own “info@treygowdy.com” email server and giving that address out as an official point of contact. Around that same time it was discovered that Jason Chaffetz, the Republican Congressman from Utah, had been giving out a Gmail address on his official congressional business card.

While it’s not unusual for a member of Congress to maintain their own campaign-related email server, in Gowdy’s case questions have been raised about whether he has used that campaign email to conduct official congressional business.[7] As for Chaffetz, he should clearly know better than to use a Gmail address for congressional business.

Again, I don’t think this is a comparable violation to what has been alleged against Hillary. However, these two guys in particular should know the rules about the use of private emails and private domains.

What about the RNC Emails deleted during the Bush Administration?

Back in March 2007, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was under congressional investigation after the Bush administration unexpectedly fired eight U.S. attorneys. The then-Democratic Congress alleged that the administration had fired the prosecutors for political reasons. Over the course of the investigation, it was established that that as many as fifty White House officials had conducted business over private email accounts set up on a server through the Republican National Committee. The White House later admitted that as many as 22 million internal White House emails conducted on the RNC server might have been lost.

Let me say that again, because maybe you think you didn’t read that correctly.

  • Fifty White House officials.
  • As many as 22 million emails.

There is too much information about this issue that needs to be addressed for me to post it here. Look for tomorrow’s edition of “Our Hypocrisy is not like Theirs” for more detailed information.

[1] This saying might have originated with Joseph Heller in his novel Catch 22, although that’s not completely clear.

[2] From the publisher’s own description, the book reveals “how notable right-wingers like Richard Mellon Scaife and Jerry Falwell bankrolled the muckraking that led to scandals like Whitewater and Troopergate, neither of which ever produced evidence of Clinton misconduct.” Conason and Lyons also point out the “ultraconservative credentials of Paula Jones’s supporters, including Kenneth Starr, who privately abetted the harassment suit before he was appointed as a supposedly independent counsel.” Most disturbing to the authors is that that “their colleagues at the New York Times, Washington Post and elsewhere colluded with the right wing to bring unverified and essentially libelous claims into the center of the mainstream media.”

[3] The conservative news aggregator World Daily Net has published a list of Hillary’s “22 biggest scandals ever,” which sets forth a pretty good example of how Hillary is still demonized on the right to this day. In fact, they are still dredging up the allegations about Vince Foster, even though no scintilla of supporting evidence has ever emerged.

[4] I’ve had my own private experience with government computers systems, albeit on the state instead of the federal level. Last year I was recently hired as a consultant to the Commonwealth’s juvenile justice agency. I found that the Commonwealth’s computer system was still based on Windows XP — an operating system that Microsoft no longer supports — and that the browser used by the Commonwealth’s system was Internet Explorer 6, which is not usable on any websites that that have sophisticated script programming. The system also used “roving” profiles, which theoretically enabled me to log in from anywhere on the Commonwealth’s network. In reality, when I logged in it would take about 15 minutes for my computer to go through it’s log in routine. I would come in, turn on the computer, provide my credentials, and then go to the bathroom, get a cup of tea, say hello to a few people, and by the time I returned, the computer usually was still not complete with its setup routine. Now, unlike Hillary Clinton, I am a technophile, and the laptop I use for my consulting uses Windows 10 and a solid state hard drive. It literally takes about three seconds for the computer to boot, and maybe 10 seconds for it to complete its log in routine. Compare that to the 15 minutes it took my Commonwealth computer to complete logging in.

[5] This is actually a strategy used by terrorists, and is designed to insure that the emails are never actually “sent.”

[6] The Post noted that “security experts say private e-mail systems such as the one used by Bush are more vulnerable to hackers, and that details such as troop movements could be exploited by enemies.”

[7] It should be noted that as of this writing, nothing definitive has yet been proven against Gowdy.

About a1skeptic

A disturbed citizen and skeptic. I should stop reading the newspaper. Or watching TV. I should turn off NPR and disconnect from the Internet. We’d all be better off.
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3 Responses to Hillary’s Email Server, or Our Hypocrisy is not like Theirs, Part 10

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