Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Clinton’s email past is catching up to her
Last week, the U.S. Department of State released an Inspector General’s report on the use of private email accounts for official business, concentrating on former Secretaries Powell and Clinton as well as an ambassador. It was a condemnation of the current Democrat presidential frontrunner that demolished her attempts to wave away her misdoings and provided another picture of a person possessed by the idea that rules are for little people, not her.
Background first: Since 2002, the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM), the Department of State’s voluminous rulebook, has made it mandatory to use “OpenNet,” the Department’s own node, to establish internet connections. Use of auto-forwarding of email to private email addresses has been prohibited, to preclude exposure of classified information. About which: FAM also clearly states classification does not depend on “markings” but on content and provides detailed instructions about what is “classified.”
Important for those who originate material, such as Mrs. Clinton, who was briefed at least twice in 2009 about this.
Since 2007, FAM has indicated all non-State PCs and other electronic devices in use at the Department of State must be registered with the Office of Security and (in 2009) with the Office of Information Resource Management. In 2009, memos re-emphasied the need to use “OpenNet” when connecting with the internet. Hillary couldn’t be bothered with these rules.
According to testimony by Lewis Lukens, a Department of State IT worker, days after Clinton took office, her Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills asked him about ways the Secretary could access her email without going through the State system — “So she could communicate with family and friends.” Shortly after this, a “clintonemail.com” domain was established on her private server, and direct, automatic forwarding of mail began — violating written regulations.
Despite Clinton’s assurances to staff who raised concerns, and to the public, the system was neither reviewed nor approved by anyone with the responsibility of doing so. According to the OIG report, there was “no evidence that the Secretary requested or obtained guidance or approval to conduct official business via a personal email account on her private server. According to the current CIO and Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, Secretary Clinton had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business with their offices, who in turn would have attempted to provide her with approved and secured means that met her business needs. However, according to these officials, DS and IRM did not — and would not — approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct Department business because of the restrictions in the FAM and the security risks in doing so.”
Questions about Sec. Clinton’s continuing use of unauthorized devices triggered a re-briefing in 2009 and a memo from State’s Department of Security (DS), advising her that use of such equipment, particularly in secure areas, was prohibited. Quoting the OIG report: “shortly after the memorandum was delivered, Secretary Clinton approached the Assistant Secretary and told him she “gets it.” But evidence says otherwise: Her staff was admonished never to discuss Clinton’s Blackberry or private server again.
On Jan. 11, 2011, two hacking attacks on Clinton’s private server were detected, resulting in a system shutdown. Following this, her staff was advised “not to mail anything sensitive” to her. On May 13, 2011, at least one email with a suspicious link was received, causing her to ask the putative sender “Was this really you?” Neither event was reported to the Office of Information Resources or to DS — a violation of regulations in place since 2007.
There is much more in the OIG report, including concerns about further hacking of the Secretary’s server, her use of political appointments to bring IT people from the Clinton 2008 presidential campaign into the State Department and the bad judgement shown by use of a private server to conduct all official government business, given explicit prohibitions against this. The picture it paints is more than its parts.
What we see once more is a woman who thinks rules are for everyone else: One so obsessed with having her way that she will get it, even through wrongdoing and in the face of repeated warnings; so egotistical she places her personal need for secrecy above that of her country; so impervious to correction she will dismiss any underling who reminds her that what she is doing is both dangerous and probably illegal.
If one liked the ego and paranoia, the obsession for secrecy and disdain for others that characterized Pres. Nixon, congratulations: Hillary’s a double dose. Plus, there’s the extras we haven’t discussed: the unbridled avarice, the open corruption and her nails-on-the-chalkboard speaking voice. But, if these qualities provoke queasiness, not excitement …
It’s not yet too late. Not yet.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily.
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