Culture Of Corruption
The most corrupt administration that hasn't taken office yet
Before we get to the latest headlines, let's review some of the 'old news.'
Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server became a focus of national attention as the Congressional committee investigating the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya in 2012, during Hillary's stint as Secretary of State, started looking into just what Hillary knew about the security situation was in Benghazi at the time. This particularly involved several requests for additional security that Ambassador Stevens had made to the State Department.
Normally, government employees are required to use government email systems. This is the standard practice, especially when it comes to the secure email systems that are used when transmitting or receiving classified information. There are various laws and policies in place regarding the use of government email systems by government employees conducting government business, and Hillary violated every one.
When it comes to data retention for government employees, there is one basic rule: they keep everything. Especially when it comes to high government officials like the Secretary of State, each and every email sent or received is retained...or, at least, it's supposed to be. There are multiple reasons for this. Posterity is one: there is historical value in maintaining a record of what goes on under any administration. But there is another reason: accountability. It is important to retain those records in case something goes horribly wrong, as it did that on that night in Benghazi.
Now, before Hillary's private email account even came to light, the Obama administration didn't have a very good track record when it came to retaining officials' emails. When Congress investigated the IRS for its targeting of conservative groups, the emails from several officials key to the investigation were conveniently 'lost' when the agency had their hard drives shredded after the drives had failed.
The only part of this that made any sense at all was that the IRS shreds hard drives that contain confidential taxpayer data...but after that, we leave the rational world and enter the realm of the government cover-up. The IRS claimed that the only copy of these officials' emails that existed anywhere was on the individual employees' computer; once the hard drive was shredded, those emails were gone, forever. Personally, I don't know of any email system that works this way, and if it actually does exist, it is possibly the worst-designed email system on the face of the planet. According to the agency, IRS employees were supposed to follow government policies for retention by printing out their emails and storing the emails themselves. This is ridiculous on many levels, but what it basically gets down to is this basic principle: a policy is not a policy if no one follows it.
I like to call this "Policy vs. Practice." The agency may have had some words written on a page somewhere that defined how emails were supposed to be retained, but often, the legal standard lies not in what words are put down on paper, but in the actual practices that a company or agency lives by. When it comes to records and IT management, the best practice is to take things like email retention out of the hands of individuals, and to handle things like backups and retention on the back-end server. The blindingly obvious fatal flaw in a policy that requires hundreds (or thousands) of employees to print and store their own emails is this: they aren't going to do it.
The same issue of Policy vs. Practice comes into play with certain aspects Hillary's email scandal. There have been reports that Condoleezza Rice used a personal email account when she served as Secretary of State, and Hillary recently alleged that it was Colin Powell who gave her the idea to use a private email (though according to General Powell, she had already been using her private server for a year before he ever mentioned anything to her). We may never know how far back this goes, or how widespread it is in the federal government, but one thing is very clear: while the policy regarding the use of government email existed on paper at the State Department, it hasn't existed in practice for many years...and while any lower-level government employees would be stripped of security clearances, fired, and possibly imprisoned for mishandling classified data in much more innocent ways, exceptions are made for those at the top.
But while Hillary's use of a private email account may have been par-for-the-course for Secretaries of State, she took it to a whole new level.
Hillary contracted her private email out to an IT outsourcing firm. To hear FBI Director James Comey tell it, the firm was not the one of most competent providers of IT services, if even a free Gmail account would have better security and redundancy. Since she was passing classified information back and forth with this email system while travelling the world as Secretary of State, her emails were especially vulnerable to hacking by nations like Russia and China, both of which have more than enough cyber-warfare infrastructure to breach an unsecured system. In fact, Wikileaks claims to have thousands of Hillary's as-yet unreleased emails, which they are threatening to release as an "October Surprise."
There have been further reports that the server hosting Hillary's emails had no physical security, leaving it even more vulnerable - and the company hired to provide backups of Hillary's data were even more lax with security.
Add it all up, and it requires quite a leap of faith to believe that Hillary's emails weren't hacked.
When it was revealed that Hillary's lawyers had used keyword searches to identify the work-related emails they produced to the State Department, Republicans in Congress made quite a stink about it - after all, how would they know for certain which emails were work-related without reading all of them?
But as it turned out, they were asking the wrong question.
Keyword searches are pretty standard fare in e-discovery, especially when it means sifting through tens of thousands of records to find those records that are relevant.
There is one part of Director Comey's statement that pretty much proves that Hillary's lawyers weren't trying very hard to produce all of Hillary's work-related emails. When Director Comey stated that they found emails that had not been produced by Hillary and her lawyers, which were in other government employees' email accounts, that was proof positive that no one on Hillary's side of the equation was doing their due diligence.
When searching a government employee's work-related emails, the first two search terms that come to mind are ".gov" and ".mil," the email domains used by the United States government and military. I'm not sure what other search terms they might use to identify other work-related emails that Hillary might have sent or received, but as soon as I heard Comey's statement, it sounded fishy to me. Any honest, thorough e-discovery should have started there.
Based on Director Comey's statements alone, it is obvious that thousands of emails that should have been handed over to the State Department and FBI (and should never have been sent or received outside of a government email system) were deleted by Hillary and her lawyers. Employees with the Colorado IT firm that was managing her emails and backups reported concerns over instructions they received from someone affiliated with the Clintons regarding the frequency of the backups. The request just happened to come in not long after the FBI started its investigation.
And the latest controversy is over the manner of deletion - the firm used secure deletion software when they deleted Hillary's emails, making them unrecoverable. While there has been a lot of talk about this, it really isn't that uncommon in the IT business. I deal with sensitive, confidential records and data each and every day - not even rising anywhere near the level of classified national security info - and when we delete something, we use secure deletion software to ensure that the data is unrecoverable. It is our standard procedure, and I would hope that whomever has custody of records belonging to a former Secretary of State would at the least use secure deletion software when getting rid of something.
What's more suspicious than how the data was deleted is when. The fact that Hillary was able to delete large numbers of her emails with no legal consequences is egregious, and the blame really falls on Congress and the Department of Justice. Her emails should have been subpoenaed right away, and a legal hold placed on each and every email on her private server. Given that her use of a private server for official government business violated several federal laws, such an injunction should have been easy to obtain, but Congress delayed, and the DOJ obviously has no interest in doing anything that might impede Hillary's chances in the upcoming election. Since the big unknown in Clinton scandals is now the pay-for-play scheme that Bill and Hillary were (allegedly) running using speaking fees and donations to the Clinton Foundation, it is more egregious than ever that we will likely never know the contents of those missing emails.
Culture of Corruption
Put all of this together, and Hillary Clinton represents some of the most vile corruption in American history. Richard Nixon looks like a boy scout in comparison. She violated multiple federal laws just in the use of her private email server while she was Secretary of State. The same DOJ that let her off the hook has prosecuted many Americans for much less. Her lawyers failed to produce records relevant to ongoing Congressional and FBI investigations, and then scrubbed everything they didn't produce, so that investigators couldn't get at it later. Nearly every word she's spoken on the issue has been a blatant lie, and there is compelling evidence that she lied to Congress while under oath, as well.
And she will likely be the next President of the United States.