Keeping Hillary Straight
Ben Shapiro: Hillary Clinton Lies... A Lot
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It's time for Congress to put some teeth into federal recordkeeping laws.
Hillary Clinton: Transparent as a brick wall.
It isn't really a shock that Hillary used her own email server to conduct official State Department business. It's also no surprise that, as several news outlets have reported, some of Hillary's top aides used the private email server, as well. What is surprising is that anyone in the Clinton camp thought that America would buy Hillary's excuse that she used a home-baked email server simply as a matter of "convenience."
This is what Hillary claimed in her press conference, where she laid on the big spin:
First, when I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two. Looking back, it would've been better if I'd simply used a second email account and carried a second phone, but at the time, this didn't seem like an issue.
Now, there are thousands - perhaps even millions - of Americans who carry two phones with them every day - one for work, and another for personal use. Sometimes it's for security reasons, other times it's simply because companies provide a phone for business use. In the government, it's mostly for security. Government employees are typically issued Blackberry devices meant to make calls and send emails over encrypted connections. The technology isn't always perfect, but it's much, much better than BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), which would allow sensitive government data to be transmitted over any number of non-secure networks.
If the "convenience" excuse wouldn't work for some mid-level bureaucrat, who would be fired for much, much less than what Hillary did, how much worse is it that it was the cabinet-level Secretary of State doing all of this? And if running two devices is too arduous a task for Hillary Clinton, why would anyone think she would be qualified to run the United States government? If she was too lazy to take her role as Secretary of State seriously, then why even take the job?
Second, the vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.
Frankly, I'm not sure how this is a relevant answer to any of the questions surrounding Hillary's use of a private email server for her official government business. As Secretary of State, she would be corresponding not only with State Department employees, but with foreign leaders and ambassadors and God only knows who else. With the Clintons' sketchy history, particularly on little things like campaign finance, the big questions aren't about the emails that were sent to government employees, the big question is about those emails that were sent outside the government, and weren't archived on any government servers. Hillary Clinton isn't trustworthy enough that allowing her to self-select which emails are turned over to the State Department is anywhere near an acceptable option.
On top of this, her excuse that emails she sent to government employees are archived on government servers doesn't hold water as far as federal recordkeeping regulations are concerned. In records management terms, any work-related email in Hillary's outbox is considered a record, and the same email in another government employee's inbox is considered a separate record. Under the law, Hillary is responsible for maintaining the emails she sent and received; she cannot just shift that responsibility to other government employees simply because it's more convenient that way. This doesn't seem like a big deal, until you're trying to track down some of Hillary's emails for a FOIA request or a Congressional investigation.
Third, after I left office, the State Department asked former secretaries of state for our assistance in providing copies of work- related emails from our personal accounts. I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work-related, which totaled roughly 55,000 printed pages, even though I knew that the State Department already had the vast majority of them. We went through a thorough process to identify all of my work- related emails and deliver them to the State Department. At the end, I chose not to keep my private personal emails -- emails about planning Chelsea's wedding or my mother's funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes.
No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy.
How comforting it is to know that sweet, innocent, trustworthy Hillary turned over so many emails to the State Department. I mean, 55,000 pages of emails is, like, a lot!
But this, again, is completely irrelevant. In fact, it's just as irrelevant at 55,000 pages as it would be had that number been two million pages. For starters, throwing out the figure of 55,000 printed pages is misleading - for all we know, that could represent a grand total of five emails, if they jacked the font size up high enough. The issue isn't about the 55,000 pages of emails Hillary did turn over to the State Department. The issue is about the 20, or 15, or even 5 pages that were withheld.
As it turns out, the only method used to identify Hillary's work-related emails was a keyword search. They apparently started with all emails with a ".gov" email address - you know, all of the emails no one is particularly worried about, because they're already backed up on government servers. Then, they searched on a series of keywords to identify other work-related emails...but it was Hillary's own lawyers who performed these searches, which leaves many questions open to just how thorough they were. Allowing Hillary's own people to decide which emails would be provided to the State Department and which would be withheld is a supremely idiotic method for making sure all of the relevant emails were turned over.
Congressman Trey Gowdy, who has been charged with investigating the 9/11/2012 Benghazi attack, has already stated that there are "huge gaps" in Hillary's emails, which begs the question of just what Hillary is trying to hide.
When it comes to the NSA gathering massive amounts of data on Americans' phone calls and online activity, we are told over and over again that if we aren't doing anything wrong, then we shouldn't be worried about the government gathering all kinds of data on us. Well, if Hillary wasn't doing anything wrong during her tenure as Secretary of State, then she shouldn't be worried about turning over all of her emails to the State Department. While she's right that no one wants their personal emails to be made public, if she is truly so concerned about her privacy, she shouldn't have played fast-and-loose with federal recordkeeping regulations.
Fourth, I took the unprecedented step of asking that the State Department make all my work-related emails public for everyone to see.
The only thing about any of this that was "unprecedented" is the Secretary of State exclusively using a private email server for official government business.
In going through the e-mails, there were over 60,000 in total, sent and received. About half were work-related and went to the State Department and about half were personal that were not in any way related to my work. I had no reason to save them, but that was my decision because the federal guidelines are clear and the State Department request was clear.
For any government employee, it is that government employee's responsibility to determine what's personal and what's work-related. I am very confident of the process that we conducted and the e-mails that were produced.
This is what this entire scandal really gets down to: Hillary took a look at federal recordkeeping rules to see just what, exactly, she could get away with without landing behind bars. I'm sure she was tickled pink to discover that there were no criminal penalties for running all of her emails through her own private server - not that her exclusive use of a private server didn't violate the rules, it absolutely did. The National Archives and Records Administration has regulations regarding the creation and maintenance of federal records, and the exclusive use of a private email server - especially by a cabinet-level official - is a clear violation.
It's high time for Congress to revise federal recordkeeping laws to get rid of these ad-hoc department-by-department regulations, and to put some teeth into the law. Combine Hillary's malfeasance with the fact that Lois Lerner and several other IRS officials are still walking free, despite attempting to destroy evidence and repeatedly lying to Congress, and those teeth should include some long, sharp fangs.
Robert Cleveland, Senior Conservative Editor: Robert Cleveland is the IT Director for a document management services company. When he isn't working on computers and scanners, he's spending time with his wife and kids, or writing about just how jacked-up Washington politics is. He is a strong believer that hard work and freedom are what make America the greatest nation on the planet, and it is of the utmost importance that we never lose those values. Robert's other writing can be found at his blog, more...)