(/sites/default/files/uploads/2015/03/Msc2012_20120204_408_Clinton_Hillary_Frank_Plitt.jpg)In yet another damning revelation underscoring her unfitness for the presidency, Hillary Clinton exclusively used a private email account to conduct government business during her four-year tenure as Secretary of State. According to State Department officials, Clinton may have violated the Federal Records Act requiring correspondence by government officials to be retained as part of the agency’s records.
A National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) bulletin issued in 2013 makes it even clearer. Explaining that there may be times when the use of a personal email account is necessary, “such as in emergency situations when Federal accounts are not accessible or when an employee is initially contacted through a personal account,” the bulletin notes that employees “should not generally use personal email accounts to conduct official agency business.” However, if they do, they must “ensure that all Federal records sent or received on personal email systems are captured and managed in accordance with agency recordkeeping practices.” Clinton never had a government email address during her stint as Secretary of State, and her aides did nothing to preserve those personal emails on State Department servers.
Two months ago her aides did review tens of thousands of pages of those emails in response to a new departmental effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices. But it was the aides themselves who determined what emails to turn over to the State Department. Furthermore, as the New York Times explains, the total number of emails contained in Clinton’s account “is not clear and neither is the process her advisers used to determine which ones related to her work at the State Department before turning them over.” The aforementioned NARA bulletin also warns that Federal agency heads must “notify employees that there are criminal penalties for the unlawful removal or destruction of Federal records…and the unlawful disclosure of national security information[.]” This would seem to suggest Clinton’s aides are required to turn over all of the emails they had. Whether they did or not is anyone’s guess at this point in time.
Nonetheless, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill defended her conduct, insisting she complied with the “letter and spirit of the rules.” Yet he wouldn’t explain why she chose to use a personal account to conduct official business. He tried to rationalize it by saying that since she was conducting such business with other Department officials over their government accounts, she had “every expectation they would be retained.” However, Merrill offered no explanation regarding emails sent to foreign leaders, private entities, or officials outside the Department of State.
Jason R. Baron, former director of litigation at NARA, who worked at the agency from 2000 to 2013, wasn’t buying it. “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,” he contended. “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,” he added.
Thomas S. Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, a group of government transparency advocates based at George Washington University, thought it was a shame that such record-keeping didn’t take place automatically, “as it should have.” “Someone in the State Department deserves credit for taking the initiative to ask for the records back,” he contended. “Most of the time it takes the threat of litigation and embarrassment.” Blanton also offered the best rationale for avoiding the use of personal email accounts. “Personal emails are not secure,” he explained. “Senior officials should not be using them.”
The Times reports that Clinton’s email account was discovered by the committee investigating Benghazi, in the midst of seeking correspondence between Clinton and her aides regarding the attack there that cost Ambassador Chris Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith and Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty their lives. Yet the Smoking Gun insists a March 2013 report they published reveals that Marcel Lazar Lehel, aka “Guccifer,” a Romanian computer hacker currently serving time in a Bucharest prison for his attacks against public figures, accessed the email account of Sydney Blumenthal, who was senior advisor to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. During that breach Lehel discovered several pieces of correspondence sent to Hillary Clinton at the e-mail address [email protected]. Those emails were sent via the web domain “clintonemail.com,” which was registered in 2009, just prior to Clinton’s nomination for Secretary of State.
Emphasizing the security breach involved, Lehel sent that correspondence to Russian news channel RT, an organization that is essentially a mouthpiece for Russian President Vladimir Putin. RT published several of those emails, including one with the following all-cap warning: “THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION COMES FROM EXTREMELY SENSITIVE SOURCES AND SHOULD BE HANDLED WITH CARE.”
That no such care was taken is transparently clear, and the National Journal’s Ron Fournier derisively illuminates the implications. “Clinton exposed confidential and potentially dangerous information to a nonsecure, commercial email system,” he writes. “She gave Chinese spies a better shot at reading her emails than U.S. taxpayers.”
Fournier further explains Clinton’s aides “quickly funneled through friendly media channels examples of Republicans who used private emails, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.” Yet as the Times points out, Powell did so before the current restraints went into effect, and Jeb Bush voluntarily released “a trove” of emails last December, chronicling his eight-year tenure as Florida’s governor. “This is another Clinton trope: Deflect attention from their wrongdoing by pointing fingers at others—as if two wrongs make a right and they had never promised to set a higher standard,” Fournier adds.
The Clintons’ efforts to deflect attention pale in comparison to those of the mainstream media. Last Thursday, Judicial Watch released a batch of critical State Department emails they obtained via a Freedom of Information Act. Those emails make it clear that top Clinton advisors not only knew the assault on Benghazi was an armed attack as early as 4:07 PM EST on September 11, 2012, but knew terror group Ansar al-Sharia claimed credit for it less than two hours later. These stunning and highly incriminating emails completely undermine Clinton’s first official statement, made at approximately 10PM that same night, linking the attacks to “inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
In other words Clinton told a bold-faced lie, and yet almost a week later, not a single mainstream media source has reported the story. With regard to Clinton’s private email account, Breitbart News’s John Nolte remarks on the equally corrupt level of media disinterest that attends it. “Not only did the media fail, over 4 full years, to discover the only email account Hillary Clinton used as Secretary of State, this same worthless, partisan media has spent 4 full years alternately mocking, ignoring, and dismissing as Old News! the ongoing Republican investigation into the fatal September 11th anniversary attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya,” he writes.
As if on cue, that media has already risen to Clinton’s defense, and the central theme is that her womanhood transcends her liabilities. ”It seems that Hillary has found her outer woman, which is to say, she’s found the person that she wants to present on the campaign trail, and that person is resolutely female,” gushes former Al Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile in an article for CNN. “This time she seems to have decided to fully embrace her womanhood as an asset in her quest for the White House and to trust that the voters will do the same.”
Politico notes that “Clinton and company are hoping to skate through the February ice patch with a series of upcoming events that underscore the historical nature of her candidacy — her expected graduation from 2008 also-ran to the first woman who wins a major-party presidential nomination.”
Apparently the reality that she is an inveterate liar with a private email account she used for government business, as well as the recipient of millions of dollars in donations from foreign governments made to the Clinton Foundation while Clinton was Secretary of State—donations the State Department initially claimed were thoroughly vetted before backing off that claim—are irrelevant. Or worse, they will be characterized as misogynistic, in the same way reams of legitimate criticism of the current White House occupant is routinely dismissed as racist.
As of now the Benghazi committee and Clinton have declined to offer any comment on the content of Clinton’s emails, or whether they will be made public. Fournier puts that reticence in the proper perspective. “Those are our emails, not hers,” he writes. “What is she hiding?” As it always is with regard to Hillary Clinton, the answer to that question is simple: the truth.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.