E-Mail, Shmee-Mail – Why Should We Care?

By Phil Erwin

We now know that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kept her own e-mail server, apparently at her residence, well beyond the reach of meddlesome Republicans. Whether that means beyond the reach of any hackers is not so clear, since it wasn’t behind a government firewall.

Who set it up? Who maintained it? Who checked the logs for break-in attempts? Since it was clearly not the State Department, who was responsible? She didn’t say. Apparently, she thinks we should just trust her that everything was kept from the prying eyes of the Russians and the Chinese.

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  1. So she kept her e-stuff hidden – at least, hidden from us. Why should we care?

We shouldn’t. “Same old, same old,” opines long-time Clinton attack-dog James Carville.  Lanny Davis, perennial apologist for the Clintons, vehemently proclaimed Hillary innocent of any lawbreaking.

But Republicans are livid; and even a few Democrats are aghast.

Here’s the problem: No one really knows what’s true about this server. Not the Hillary protectorate, who insist that She’s done nothing wrong, certainly nothing illegal. Not the Hillary bashers, who reflexively assume that Of course she’s done something wrong, and probably illegal!

Here’s what we do know:

  1. Hillary arranged to have private e-mail set up even before she was confirmed as Secretary of State.
  2. She used that server exclusively to transact public business during her tenure as Secretary of State. She did not even have an account on any “official” government server. All e-mail exchanges during her tenure were done via her own private server. That in itself is a violation of protocol and good sense, if not of then-existing law.
  3. She says it was for “convenience.” Does she mean, convenience in hiding stuff? Because that server, and everything on it, was not within the purview of any government agency (except her husband’s Secret Service detail.) In fact, it remains unavailable to government scrutiny. This despite the fact that every bit of her work product while at State is the property of the People of the United States.
  4. Few, apparently,noticed this unusual arrangement. Nobody, apparently, objected, despite the fact that midway through her tenure, Madame Secretary admonished her entire State Department staff to be certain to never conduct official government business on any private, non-governmental e-mail account. Her own glaringly contrary example notwithstanding.
  5. There are actually multiple e-mail accounts on that server. Several appear to be auxiliary accounts available for Hillary’s use. No details have been given as to what they have been used for.
  6. During and after Hillary’s stint at State, a number of FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, formal Congressional requests and lawsuits have been brought, seeking the release of State documents pertaining to specific national issues, such as the Benghazi terrorist attack. There is no question that at least some of Hillary’s e-mail pertained to these requests. And yet, no e-mail from Hillary’s account or server was ever turned over by the State Department in response to any of these requests, as required by law. That’s because no one in State had access to Hillary’s server.
  7. And yet, no one at State ever thought to inform any of the Congressional or legal requesters that State did not, in fact, have control of Hillary’s archived e-mail. (A rather glaring, unresponsive and unlikely oversight, one might note.)
  8. When Hillary left the State Department and government employ, she was obligated by law to turn over any and all government property, including her e-mail. She did not do that.

 

Server Farm

Data Storage: Server Farm—Mrs. Clinton’s server may be a little smaller

Now that her private e-mail server has become public knowledge, Hillary moved to turn over some 30,000 (her figure) e-mail documents to State, and “requested” that State cull through them and release them “as appropriate.” The way she did that was to have her staff print out 55,000 pages and hand them over to State. It’s not “e-mail” anymore; it’s snail-mail, unsearchable by electronic means unless and until State spends more money to re-scan it all.

Why? Why not just send it over to State on DVDs?

Hillary would very much like you to believe that those 30,000 mail messages are “everything” that she should have to turn over, for any reason, historical or otherwise. Just how reasonable is that notion? How likely is it that 30,000 represents “all” the messages that a loquacious, let-me-tell-you-buddy Secretary of State might send or receive during a 4-year tenure, while traveling the globe to every airport, heliport and airstrip on the planet, and making sure to be photographed en route using her Blackberry to “keep in touch” with… Well, with everyone?

Let’s see. I have roughly 20,000 messages on my own mail file, about 6 years’ worth, mostly electronic newsletters stashed just in case I ever get around to reading ‘em. They’re culled periodically by date; I’ve deleted far more than I have saved.

But I’m not Secretary of State. I don’t have thousands, or even hundreds, of correspondents. Maybe a few dozen. And yet I still have 20,000 messages.

So, what do you think? How likely is 30,000 to be all the messages S.O.S. Hillary ever sent or received in her 4-year stint as the Most Important Woman On The Planet?

Yeah. That’s what I think, too.

Even if you presume that 30,000 is a real attempt to provide everything that now exists on that server, you have to assume there was an awful lot of Delete going on. A big no-no in Government-land.

In fact, likely an illegal no-no.

Messages on a governmental server are eligible to be kept and archived even if they’re deleted by the user.   Housekeeping aside, the whole point is to keep everything, an e-mail trail, just in case it’s needed.

Hillary and crew hasten to point out that any e-mail she sent to anyone in State would have been maintained and archived under the normal rules. They point that out to quell any question as to whether something important got deleted from her private server. But that is only true of her mail exchanges within State or other government agencies. If she corresponded outside the government, it would not appear anywhere on a government server, unless she deliberately sent it in. (Which, by the way, is precisely what the laws, regulations and guidelines required of those transacting government business on private accounts. And yet… Hillary’s private server was “discovered” by a hacker tracking a private exchange between Hillary and someone outside of government, which did NOT reach government servers.)

So important questions remain, with significant legal ramifications, to say nothing of the implications for Hillary’s future residency – perhaps 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., perhaps behind a Big Fence in upstate New York. Here are a few that must be answered in order to determine which type of residence might be appropriate:

  • Is there a single message not yet produced that demonstrates Hillary suggested that the Benghazi debacle be blamed on an irrelevant video?
  • Is there any mention of the decision to “stand down,” or otherwise delay the response, for a tiny contingent of vulnerable Americans who were under fire in a foreign land?
  • Is there a shred of e-mail evidence showing Hillary knew how much danger she was forcing Ambassador Stevens to accept, even while reducing his security contingent?
  • Was there never any classified information on that server? She says No. Should we believe that? How can she prove it?
  • Were there never any e-mail messages between Hillary and any non-government person, agency or country that pertained to government business? Because there would still be no record of such e-mail traffic unless Hillary’s team decided to include it in the mail “dump.” (See above re: “Discovering” her server…)
  • Are there any documents explaining why foreign governments were so eager to provide millions to the Clinton’s foundation? Any smoking-gun messages detailing what those donors were expecting in return, or what they were saying Thank You for having already received?

And the trickiest question of all: Were any messages deleted with would answer those questions affirmatively?

You can bet that if there are any such documents, or have ever been any such documents, on Hillary’s Home Server, those documents are not included in the 30,000 so haughtily, ceremoniously proclaimed to be “All” of Hillary’s e-mail records.

The whole point of the Federal Records Act was to keep every document pertaining to our national public life intact, safe and categorized, so that if we ever need to know something about our national history, we can find the Truth about it in our National Archives.

You think you’ll ever get the Truth from Hillary?

Maybe a carefully-culled fraction of it. At best.

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Phil Erwin is an author, IT administrator and registered Independent living in Newbury Park. He sometimes wishes he could support Democrat ideals, but he has a visceral hatred for Lies and Damn Lies, and is none too fond of Statistics. If his writing depresses you, he recommends you visit Chip Bok’s site for a more lighthearted perspective.

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