Private Email Servers And Hillary Clinton’s Judgment, Or Lack Thereof

Hillary Clinton's own campaign admits she "didn't think it through" when she decided to use a private email server as Secretary of State.

Clinton Shrug

Hillary Clinton’s campaign continues with it’s hamfisted response to the ongoing questions regarding the former Secretary of State’s use of a personal email server while in office, this time in the form of an interview with the campaign’s chief communications person in which the excuse given seemed to undermine one of the central messages of Clinton’s campaign for the Presidency:

When it comes to using a private server for her e-mails when she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton “didn’t really think it through,” according to her communications director.

“I’ve encountered this a lot in politics where people think that the answer is a lot more complicated than it really is,” Jennifer Palmieri told With All Due Respect co-host John Heilemann in an interview on Wednesday. “She’s answered this many times and she did have her own e-mail account. Others had done it before and it was just more convenient and she kept it like that, and she didn’t really—that’s the thing, she didn’t really think it through.”

“She has said, had she, she would have done it differently,” Palmieri added.

Palmieri’s interview comes a day after the Democratic presidential front-runner faced a barrage of questions during a tense news conference in the Las Vegas area about her server, which she says was recently turned over to the FBI. When pressed about whether she wiped the server clean, Clinton replied, “What, like with a cloth or something?” She added, “I don’t know how it works digitally at all.”

After Palmieri was pressed on what exactly Clinton ordered to be done with the e-mails, she offered a similar response to the candidate’s, throwing in a reference to the so-called Deflategate professional football controversy.

“To be deleted and beyond that I don’t know and beyond that I don’t understand—this is like, everyone’s an expert on inflating footballs and now everybody’s an expert on wiping servers. Like, I don’t know how that all works,” Palmieri said.

Palmeiri’s response to the question about whether or not the server was wiped is, of course, as absurd as the one that Clinton gave in response to a similar question just  day before during a press conference At that time, you’ll recall, Clinton was asked whether she had asked for the server to be wiped, or whether she was even aware that it was going to be wiped. Rather than actually answering the question, Clinton continued her apparent strategy of dismissing the story entirely by making a joke and asking reporter Ed Henry, who had asked the question, whether she had meant if she wiped “with a cloth” and then going on to feign ignorance regarding any of the technological aspects of what might happened. Several days before, Clinton had referred to the email story in a similarly joking manner when she talked about her campaign’s new Snapchat account and it’s ability to make messages disappear automatically. I will grant that Clinton is not a computer expert, and that she’s from a generation that isn’t necessarily as familiar with technology as younger people are. That being said, I don’t believe that Clinton is so ignorant of technology that she has no idea what it means to “wipe” a server as opposed to simply deleting specific emails or files. Moreover, the fact that Clinton’s own attorney has already stated that the server was wiped belies her claim that she has no idea what happened, unless one believes the implausible tale that Clinton’s attorney is ordering things done without consulting his client.

Beyond the absurd dismissiveness of Palmeiri’s response to the question, though, it strikes me that what she actually said tends to undermine what most people had seen as the Clinton campaign’s biggest selling points, namely the candidate’s preparedness to make the important decisions required of a President. On it’s face the answer that Clinton decided to use a private email server, notwithstanding the fact that anyone in her position should have anticipated the problems that would arise especially if and when she ran for President, because “she didn’t think it through” is even more silly than Clinton’s original justification for the decision that she didn’t want to use more than one mobile device. From the beginning of this campaign, and indeed, reaching all the way back to Clinton’s first campaign for President, one of the former Secretary of State’s overriding themes has been that she would be ready to be President because she has a record of ‘making the tough decisions.’ Leaving aside the fact that there was little in her record in 2008 to substantiate this claim, and not very much this time around either, this proved to be a compelling argument for her supporters, as evidence by the effectiveness of the “3am phone call” ad that attacked then Senator Obama for his apparent lack of preparedness. Palmieri saying that Clinton “didn’t think things through” when the decided to start using a private email server rather than the State Department’s system doesn’t exactly say very much for her judgment skills in that instance in particular, or in general.

In the long run, it’s still not clear that this email story will matter very much to Clinton’s campaign. In the short term at least, it does seem to be hurting her to some extent, though. A new round of polls from Quinnipiac, for example, shows her trailing several Republicans in important battlegrounds states and her favorability numbers continuing to look bad compared to pretty much any other candidate in the race except Donald Trump. At the same time, though, Clinton has the advantage of facing a opponents both in her own party and on the other side of the aisle that are as deeply flawed as she is, if not more so. By the time we get to the actual election, it may well turn out that voters won’t care so much about all of this, and that’s certainly their choice. That doesn’t mean it’s not relevant, though, especially to the extent that this decision to evade government email servers seems to demonstrate the Clinton’s historic penchant for secrecy and protecting their own interests above all else. That, combined with a person who is prone to make bad judgments like the one she did in this case or to “not think it through” to use Palmieri’s phrase, doesn’t strike me as something that would make a good President.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Hillary Clinton, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. Facebones says:

    In the long run, it’s still not clear that this email story will matter very much to Clinton’s campaign. In the short term at least, it does seem to be hurting her to some extent, though

    And there we have it. While people argue if she broke the law, was careless, or did nothing worse than other Secretaries of State have done, the media gets to gleefully shout “SCANDAL! SCANDAL! SCANDAL!”

    Whether or not an actual scandal has occurred is irrelevant. All the republicans care is that the words “Clinton” and “scandal” get mentioned in the same sentence. This is the game with Benghazi. This was the game with Whitewater. This is the game here.

    Then, all the little pundits can write pieces about the “scandal-plagued” Clinton, and do we really want eight more years of Clinton shenanigans.

    These really are the Clinton Rules. Republicans cry scandal, media jumps. If nothing is found, the media scolds her because she should’ve known better than to create the appearance of a scandal.

    I’m a fairly lukewarm Hillary supporter, but damn if the media treatment of her isn’t pushing me firmly in her camp.

  2. DrDaveT says:

    anyone in her position should have anticipated the problems that would arise

    I know that you desperately need this to be true, but it isn’t. It would have taken remarkable foresight to realize that business as usual was fraught with peril.

    Your 20/20 hindsight is duly noted, however.

  3. CrustyDem says:

    @DrDaveT:

    How dare she do things exactly like her predecessor!! And most other public officials! Had she done as most claim she should have we would now be hearing claims about “maintaining separate emails” and “using personal email for official business”. How can we know? She won’t release her personal emails!!

  4. gVOR08 says:

    I look at all the cr*p the right wing character assassination machine has thrown at Obama and sometimes I think it was premature to elect a Black president. Then I realize they’d have thrown as much at Hillary. And I fully expect that by Nov next year they will have proven me right.

    Oh well, it’s not like they can run on policy.

  5. Pharoah Narim says:

    Hillary Clinton’s situation is NOT analogous to Colin Powell….. Colin Powell’s DOS rarely used email and their existing system was antiquated and outdated. He actually is the person that normalized using email to conduct daily business within the Department. He used existing COMMERCIAL email as a necessity.

    This is not the same as the DOS HRC was appointed to lead—she CHOSE to purchase and install a private server using a private domain. Why is this so hard for water carriers to understand? [Que my downvotes because I don’t excuse stupidity based on who does it.]

  6. michael reynolds says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    I think this is about 90% bullshit. The realities of the online world shift very, very rapidly and its not easy to keep up with the state of play. She could legitimately have believed it made sense. And given the permeability of IRS databases (and many others besides) the notion that a USG site was secure is laughable. The funny thing is she seems not to have been dragged into the Snowden mess, unlike half the rest of government. So as a practical matter, I’m not sure she was wrong.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    In fact, now that I think of it that should be her counterattack: hey, at least Edward Snowden wasn’t able to hand everything over.

  8. Grewgills says:

    It appears that Condoleezza Rice exclusively used her State Dept email for State Dept business, so arguments that Hillary was simply following precedent fall flat. Jumping back to Colin Powell doesn’t make it continuing precedent. That said, nothing illegal was done and the ‘scandal’ shouldn’t amount to much, but calling what she did established precedent is quite a stretch.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    I think it’s absurd to talk about precedent in what is still an emerging technology. We’re acting like we know Hillary endangered national security which is absurd in the age of Snowden, IRS hacks and Ashley Madison. The security situation is in constant flux and the majority of people bitching about Hillary still have 1-2-3-4 as their password.

  10. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    “didn’t think it through”
    how many examples of actual presidents who are guilty of this?

    Nixon – Watergate tapes
    Bush – Iraq war
    B. Clinton – assignation with Monica

    and on and on……

    “didn’t think it through” — doesn’t that pretty much describe much of humanity?

    On the same topic, I suppose it was predictable, but Trump is now saying very clearly that if Hillary is not indicted it’s because the FBI and the Federal Prosecutors are corrupt.

  11. CrustyDem says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Oh damn. Thanks for the reminder. “1-2-3-5”. Fixt.

  12. DrDaveT says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    she CHOSE to purchase and install a private server using a private domain. Why is this so hard for water carriers to understand?

    I understand it fine. What I don’t understand is why you think it’s a terrible unforgivable crime against humanity.

    If this is the worst thing Hillary Clinton has done, she would be the purest, saintliest President we’ve had at least since Calvin Coolidge, and perhaps ever. At which point, why are we even talking about it? Why is it even a thing?

    (For those of you old enough to remember, it’s Bad Stuff About the Mets, by Chico Esquela…)

  13. bookdragon says:

    @Facebones: THIS

    “These really are the Clinton Rules. Republicans cry scandal, media jumps. If nothing is found, the media scolds her because she should’ve known better than to create the appearance of a scandal. ”

    Yep, the classic wife-beater argument: It’s all her fault. They only beat on her because she doesn’t behave the way she ought to…

  14. Todd says:

    I’m not going to assume what anybody else’s job or background is. But perhaps it’s just those of us who have actually worked with classified or otherwise sensitive data on a regular basis who find the idea of a cabinet level government official using anything other than the secure government network to conduct official business so absurd. In 2009 there was absolutely no legitimate technological reason for the SoS to conduct official business on anything other than government systems.

    Look, if Secretary Clinton had chosen to use her private server to conduct personal/political communications, separate from work related emails, and now the Republicans wanted the server, I’d be right with the rest of you telling them to go pound sand. But from my perspective, the moment she chose to mix the official communications with the personal, she forfeited the right to assert privacy. Every single one of those emails by rights probably should have been deemed to be an official record (http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/faqs/federal.html), and therefore subject to the FOIA, and yes Congressional supoena.

    This is a self-inflicted wound. Bad judgement. “Didn’t think it through”.

    And beyond that, it’s over a year away from the election. I don’t get the “circle the wagon” mentality at this point. If it was next year, and she was for sure the Democratic nominee already, then yes, makes sense. But at this point, still not knowing how this is all going to play out, I think there’s some danger for Democrats, especially elected officials, to be too vocal or public in defending Hillary Clinton. As I said in the other thread, I’m willing to entertain the possibility that I may be interpreting this all wrong, and it ends up being another much-ado-about-nothing “scandal”. But if you guys are wrong, and there does turn out to be some “there” there, it sure would be nice if she doesn’t take the whole Democratic party ship down with her.

  15. grumpy realist says:

    @Todd: My cranky opinion is that 90% of supposed “top secret” material is made that way to puff up the egos of the bureaucrats shuffling it around and that if it were made publicly available, the main response would be a big yawn. Given how cybercriminals (I’m looking at YOU, China) seem to waltz in and out of government servers, I really doubt that hillary keeping a handful of quasi-maybe-we’ll-classify-them-later emails on a private server to be the great whooping disaster of a crime that the crowd on the Right wants to make it seem.

  16. Ron Beasley says:

    The government has a tendency to classify everything. When I worked for the DIA in Europe my personal mail from my family was classified and had to be shredded.

  17. Scott F. says:

    Hey, Doug!!

    Hillary came out today with her plan to expand the AmeriCorps service program as part of her previously announced new college compact. She proposes a fiscally viable plan to deal with the huge national problem of crushing student debt. And it could become law, because though Mrs. Clinton may have not have the “charm” some demand from their Presidential candidates, but I’ll wager she’s learned a thing or two about getting preferred legislation through a hostile Congress from a close family member.

    Here’s a proposition. Before Doug posts his 30th or so OP on the email “scandal”, maybe he could comment even a little bit on a policy position. And until he does, maybe the OTB commentariat could just ignore his thrice daily updates on the inconsequential.

  18. Todd says:

    @grumpy realist: I don’t necessarily disagree with you. I’ve shared before that from my observations there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how or why information is deemed to be classified. In fact I’d be willing to bet that anything “classified” found in the emails that Secretary Clinton did turn over is likely relatively innocuous.

    That being said, and again at risk of being accused of “falling for the Republican’s game”, I still don’t see any good reason that she needed to have a private server in the first place. The only logical explanation is that she intended from the start to do exactly what she’s been trying to do … control the information, so that she can decide what gets released and what gets deleted.

    If she was a private citizen, that’s fine. But as Secretary of State, she was not a private citizen. That information is public property. It shouldn’t be in her purview to decide what was kept and what was discarded.

    I know the defense is that she wasn’t specifically in violation of any existing policies at the time in conducting business on a personal server. But just because you “can” do something, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea that you do it.

    Emotionally, I can understand how Democrats can view this as just another Bullshit Republican attack. But objectively, I can’t understand how anybody can defend her choice to use the private server in the first place. Even if by some chance it just turns out to be an “optics” problem in the long-run, when someone is running for President, optics freaking matter! Up until this point, Republicans have pretty much been firing blanks with all of their faux “scandal” accusations against this administration. But if they end up drawing blood with this one, Hillary Clinton will have no one to blame but herself; she supplied the ammunition.

  19. David M says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    Hillary Clinton’s situation is NOT analogous to Colin Powell….. Colin Powell’s DOS rarely used email and their existing system was antiquated and outdated. He actually is the person that normalized using email to conduct daily business within the Department.

    Except that his successor, Rice, did not regularly use email. The timeline is something like this:

    Albright: Did not use email
    Powell: Sometimes used email, including personal accounts. Not archived
    Rice: Rarely used email
    Clinton: Commonly used email from personal account, archived
    Kerry: Commonly used email from .gov account, archived

    To me it’s Rice that stands out. It’s kind of bizarre that Clinton can turn over the emails as required but somehow come out looking worse than Rice. (From a public records standpoint.)

  20. stonetools says:

    While I’ve been exasperated with Doug’s attempt to fap this into a real scandal, the bright side of this is that this is the best they’ve got on Clinton.
    Consider this: Over the last weeks the Republican presidential candidates have said:

    1. They will build a wall along the 3000 mile Mexican border and force Mexico to pay for it.
    2.The Iraq War was a pretty good deal
    3.They would force 11 year old rape victims to bear their rapist’s children.
    4.They would deport 11 million illegal immigrants.
    5.They would defund Planned Parenthood for the “crime” of paying the costs of fetal tissue donations.

    Compared to that farrago of nonsense, they have only Hillary’s awkward defense of her legal but unorthodox email policy? Heck, I’d fap on this email stuff too. Better that than the hopeless strategy of comparing and contrasting actual policy positions. Really, Doug’s problem is that he’s got nothing to attack Hillary on but this. Otherwise, he really can’t make a case for not voting for Hillary.

  21. MarkedMan says:

    I know it’s pointless to the “Clintons are total sleaze balls because everyone says Clintons are total sleaze balls [lather, rinse, repeat] crowds, but as far as I know everyone actually in on the investigation agrees that Clinton used secure systems and not any email system, personal or official, for classified documents. The only questions is did she use her personal account for unclassified documents. Which, being unclassified, could legally be sent to anyone’s account.

    There is a secondary question of whether she should use her personal email to conduct official, but unclassified, business. And to that I say, ‘Who the h*ll cares?” if she violated some regulation that is the equivalent of whether she always used her turn signal when changing lanes.

  22. ElizaJane says:

    @Scott F.:

    Would that I could upding this ten times. What about Clinton’s plans to make college affordable? How does it compare to the plans/statements/gestures of other candidates on both sides? This is an issue that effects millions of Americans. So let’s hear about it. Whose plan would work? Who is most likely to be able to get a workable plan enacted?
    Discuss.

  23. Stonetools says:

    @Todd:

    Look, I get you think it’s a bad idea. HL92, coming from the point of a view of a lawyer who is concerned that the Republicans would have otherwise trawled through her email archive to find quotes to use against her, thought it was a good idea. Regardless what she did was legal which is why this “scandal” isn’t going anywhere.
    I think your problem is that you are not looking at the alternate scenario where outfits like Judicial Watch use FOIA requests to do oppo research on Clinton by going through her .gov email. Looked at from that perspective, this might not be the bonehead ploy you think it is. Just sayin’.

  24. Lit3Bolt says:

    Donald Trump breaks a Hispanic baby’s neck on live television and drinks its blood.

    Hillary Clinton forgets to file sales tax receipts for out-of-state purchases.

    Which one will Doug Mataconis breathlessly report on? Oh, which one?

  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    I am so excited to read about this topic for the 900th time this week …

    Thanks Doug 😀

  26. Todd says:

    @Stonetools:

    I think your problem is that you are not looking at the alternate scenario where outfits like Judicial Watch use FOIA requests to do oppo research on Clinton by going through her .gov email. Looked at from that perspective, this might not be the bonehead ploy you think it is. Just sayin’.

    Oh, I understand exactly what you’re saying.

    To me, purposely putting official emails on a private server with the specific intent of flouting the FOIA is at the very least highly unethical.

    I do lean left, but I guess I’m just not partisan enough to play this “the ends justify the means” bullshit.

    In the great majority of cases, the lament that “both sides do it” is a totally false equivalency. But in some instances, especially when it comes to overlooking “minor lapses” in defense of a prominent member of our chosen “tribe”, well yes, both sides do apparently do it.

  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Todd:

    purposely putting official emails on a private server with the specific intent of flouting the FOIA

    Those emails have been tendered to the State Department for analysis and determination of classification for eventual release / restriction, which is not a decision that Clinton would ever have been the one to make.

    She hasn’t flouted FOIA. All of those emails which can be released eventually will be made available for FOIA response by the DoS.

    Clinton hasn’t blocked access to anything. She has simply delayed the process of gaining access to it., and in doing so minimized the period of time in which it can be used against her. I’m fine with that. It’s how the game is played these days.

    With 3, possibly 4 Supreme Court seats on the line, truthfully I honestly do not care what she may have done. I need her in office to fill those seats instead of (any) Republican, and that’s legitimately the only factor in this analysis that (IMO) has any weight.

    I’ll take Republican Congressional posturing about this (invented) issue more seriously when they make themselves subject to the same retention and disclosure requirements that executive branch personnel are subjected to. At present, there is no legal recourse for the public to employ in gaining access to congressional emails. FOIA doesn’t apply to them. What few congressional records are turned over to the Archives are sealed fora minimum of 20 years in the case of the Senate, and a minimum of 30 years with respect to the House of Representatives, so I’m left a little underwhelmed at the faux outrage on the part of Gowdy and Friends when they don’t think that their own emails should be subjected to the same public scrutiny. It’s just another example of Republican / Congressional hypocrisy.

  28. Todd says:

    @Stonetools: From a purely political standpoint too, I still think it’s boneheaded. Whatever Judicial Watch may have found in the actual emails wouldn’t be nearly as bad as what a significant portion of Americans (and not all of them conservatives) are going to imagine might have been in the emails which were deleted and will never be seen.

    You can come up with whatever justifications you want for why she might have had that server wiped. But when it comes to the “vast right-wing conspiracy”, doing something like that is merely feeding the beast … while simultaneously causing relatively more reasonable people (like me), to also also decide her actions are not worth defending.

  29. Todd says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I don’t want a Republican to win the White House in 2016. But that’s part of the reason I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee. I honestly think she’ll lose .. not because she’ll be “unfairly” attacked, but because of the inept ways that she will respond to those inevitable unfair attacks.

  30. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Note: that Congressional tendering of records only occurs every two years, at the end of a Congressional session. It applies only to committee chairs and elected officers of the Congress in question (clerk, etc.), and applies only to “non-current” records. Note well that the two houses of Congress get to decide, entirely within their own discretion, what is and is not “non-current”.

    There is also no restriction – NONE – in place on members of Congress utilizing private email accounts for public business.

    The degree of hypocrisy involved is just astounding …

  31. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Todd:

    There is nobody else electable in a general election on our side of the fence. Sanders is a non-starter, and O’Malley (who I actually like) is a nobody in terms of the name recognition and fundraising prowess which are necessary to compete at this level.

    The polling makes it clear that, for better or worse, the primary electorate pretty overwhelmingly wants Clinton. I would be more worried if I thought that the GOP was going to get its act together, control the crazy and coalesce around a message that doesn’t alienate half of the country. Fortunately for us, none of those things will happen. They’ll spend their primary season pandering to the crazies and alienating everyone else. It’s as predictable as the sun rising in the East.

    What I know is that Clinton will be the Dem nominee, and the GOP will produce another damaged Republican nominee who will spend the general campaign playing defense against the positions he (Fiorina has no chance, so the eventual nominee will be a he) had to take in order to survive the GOP primary gauntlet. Our biggest strength in this cycle isn’t Clinton’s positives. It’s their negatives.

  32. Todd says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I’m not in total disagreement with you. She just makes me nervous. Hillary Clinton has all the baggage (again fair or unfair) that her husband does, without the political skills and/or “gift of the gab” that Bill possessed.

    If the election really will be about Republican negatives (and I agree that’s very likely), I’d actually be more comfortable with this rumor of Joe Biden getting into the race … and campaigning with President Obama on the theme of a “third term”.

    I know what the conventional wisdom is about “crazy uncle Joe”, but if you go back and look at the Vice Presidential debates in both 2008 and 2012, I think he’s a much better politician than Hillary Clinton (especially in a year when “authenticity” seems to be so valued). I admit to being a little biased towards him, as I’ve previously confessed that if I’m a “one issue voter” at all, I view foreign policy as above all else … and Joe Biden has the experience and judgement (at least in my opinion) to do well in that area of the Presidency. I don’t trust Hillary Clinton in the same way.

  33. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    Not a Hillary fan at all. That being said, Hillary is a superior choice to anyone that the GOP has running at this juncture. My objection to Hillary as President is that her election will promote another 4-8 years of “one term President as our goal” by the GOP leadership. It would be nice if we could elect someone else and avoid this clown show, but, as I noted to a friend decades ago, our problem isn’t the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (the years 2001-2008 being an exception) it’s the 535 guys down the street.

  34. Grewgills says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    My objection to Hillary as President is that her election will promote another 4-8 years of “one term President as our goal” by the GOP leadership.

    Any president with a D after their name will have that same exact effect.

  35. stonetools says:

    @Todd:

    Whatever Judicial Watch may have found in the actual emails wouldn’t be nearly as bad as what a significant portion of Americans (and not all of them conservatives) are going to imagine might have been in the emails which were deleted and will never be seen.

    I’m not sure about that. I think that out of context quotes can be pretty devastating, since they would be spun as “her words”. Think of what the right wing propaganda machine did with Al Gore’s (accurate ) statements that he helped pave the way for the adoption of the Internet, John Kerry’s (actual) Purple Hearts, and Obama’s “you didn’t build that” remark. Of course, those things can be ” explained” but those explanations tend not to work, and its better that the opposition doesn’t have them to use at all.
    As to being unethical, liberals have complained, long and loudly, about the tactics of the right wing propaganda machine-to no effect whatsoever. If that’s how they are going to play the game, then we have to play the game too, or we’ll be pure and lose-again. Eff that

  36. gVOR08 says:

    @Todd: I love Biden. I think he’d be a great President. I also think he’s 5 years older than Reagan was and has been successfully tarred as ‘crazy old uncle Joe’ by the GOP character assassination machine.

  37. Sherparick says:

    My concern about Secretary Clinton is really the judgement question and her lack of political antenna, which I am afraid the E-mail story illuminates (both keeping a private account for her official e-mail and then not having a State Department FOIA and someone from the National Archives review it to determine what was official Government related e-mail and what was not). . (Obviously, she did it for “convenience” of control and, I speculate, because she did not want be accused of using a Government e-mail account for private or political business. Having a private account and server will at least mean no is going to charge her with that and ultimately, I don’t see any actual wrong doing. However, it is a piece of her bad judgment to recommend to President Obama a Syrian Intervention and her vote as Senator for the Iraq war resolution.

  38. Tyrell says:

    This another diversion to keep the attention of the people off of the real issues.

  39. Stonetools says:

    @Sherparick:

    Much of the judgment issue is based on 100 per cent hindsight. Could Clinton really have foreseen a Benghazi incident, which the Republicans would unfairly blame on her and which would result in the Republicans convening a series of committees engaging in an ongoing witch hunt involving Republicans and right wing outfits wanting to trawl through her emails in search of ” evidence” of a mythical “stand down” order? These things always look inevitable-in hindsight.
    I also want to object to the prevailing attitude that unfair Republican attacks on the Democrats are somehow inevitable, if not ” accepted practice” , and that the onus should be on the Democrats to do perfect damage control, always observing the highest ethical standards, from which the Republicans are exempt. Screw that. If the Republicans are going to do no holds barred smear campaigns, then the Democrats should able to defend themselves by any legal means necessary. And if the means that “independent” pundits clutch their pearls over the liberals not fighting “fair” , while excusing Republican smear tactics, well so be it.

  40. humanoid.panda says:

    My objection to Hillary as President is that her election will promote another 4-8 years of “one term President as our goal” by the GOP leadership

    Basically, what you are saying is that the only way to stand up to Republican obstruction is to vote for a Republican for president, right ? That seems to me a rather problematic position to take.

  41. Tillman says:

    @Todd: it is always worth reiterating that it would be called just “wisdom” instead of “conventional wisdom” if knowing it made you wise instead of conventionally wise. It was the same conventional wisdom that ruled out Howard Dean in ’04 and gave the country John Kerry.

    Can I just say that I also love people shitting on hindsight, literally the ability that allows us as a species to understand our mistakes? But no, judging from hindsight isn’t fair. I get that.

  42. dmhlt says:

    How many hundreds or thousands of documents has WikiLeaks published culled from government servers?

    How many have they published culled from Hillary’s?

  43. Todd says:

    Maybe we’ve reached such a point of partisan polarization in our country, that’s it’s time to just let the “most representative” candidates from the ends of each side duke it out …

    Trump vs. Sanders

    Which will America choose, the billionaire loudmouth, or the feisty socialist ???

    😀 😀 😀

    I’m sort of joking, but as much eye rolling as it may cause, that exact matchup is not entirely inconceivable.

  44. bookdragon says:

    @Todd: The only thing that could make that debate more entertaining is if Jon Stewart really does get drafted to moderate the debate. 🙂

  45. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Grewgills: I think that the fact that the person is named “Hillary” increases the phenomenon by orders of magnitude. But I may be wrong.

  46. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @humanoid.panda: Read what I said again. It does not represent what you have decided to hear in any way, shape, or form. I distinctly noted that NONE, ZERO, ZIP, NADA, RIEN, EOPSAYO (are you catching the theme???????) of the clowns that the GOP are running are acceptable choices! I said that in so many word and did not equivocate one iota! But just so I can be sure that you can get it past your ears, NO, I DON’T BELIEVE THAT ELECTING A REPUBLICAN IS STANDING UP TO REPUBLICAN OBSTRUCTION! DO YOU GET IT NOW!

    (cleansing breath) I guess that what I am saying (that Grewgills may see but you apparently don’t) is that it is possible that the only choice that we have is accepting 4-8 more years of dysfunctional government. It would be nice to have a better choice.

    Or don’t you think so?

  47. Grewgills says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:
    I thought that would be the case when I went for Obama 7 years ago. I was wrong.

  48. stonetools says:

    @Grewgills:

    I thought that would be the case when I went for Obama 7 years ago. I was wrong.

    Indeed. Didn’t we all think, “Oh, the Clintons were so polarizing and had so much baggage. Let’s start with a nice, clean candidate with a compelling life story who wants to engage in reasonable bipartisan compromise with Republicans. There will be no witch hunts and scandal mongering and government will function much more smoothly than in the bad old days of WJC.”
    Well, we were dreamers once-and young.

  49. JohnMcC says:

    @dmhlt: Indeed. And it is not completely immaterial to note that apparently thousands of e-mail addresses logged in at Ashley Madison were ‘dot-gov’ and’dot-mil’.

  50. mannning says:

    By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times – Tuesday, August 11, 2015

    “Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails contained “top secret” material, the government’s top spy watchdog said Tuesday, revealing that the messages were even more sensitive than previously disclosed.

    I. Charles McCullough III, the inspector general for the intelligence community, said he has concluded two of Mrs. Clinton’s emails met the standard of “top secret/SCI level,” while other messages are still being scrutinized to see how secret they should have been.”

    There are thousands yet to go.

  51. mannning says:

    It seems that those two emails, and perhaps a lot more to come, were supposed to be classified: TS/SI/TK/NOFORN !

    There are not too many classification levels that are higher, as some here might recognize. This is not your folksy email problem.

  52. John425 says:

    Clinton supporters apologists gloss over the fact that at least two e-mails were labeled Top Secret. Additionally, as SoS it is likely that her server was hacked by unfriendlies.
    Then too, these e-mails were reviewed by her attorney who is not vetted to deal with classified material. Gen. Petraeus was convicted of a misdemeanor for essentially mishandling classified items and there are at least two enlisted soldiers facing prison time for the same thing that Hillary ignores. But then, Hillary believes that laws are for little people.

  53. DrDaveT says:

    @John425:

    Clinton apologists gloss over the fact that at least two e-mails were labeled Top Secret.

    Can you really not read?

    None of the emails were labeled (or marked, to use the correct term) Top Secret.

    After the fact, an IG from the intel community has decided that two of them (which is to say, .0000001% of them) might have merited such marking, and the person who sent them to Hillary should have known better.

    Does that distinction still elude you?

  54. mannning says:

    @DrDaveT:

    You are trying with all of your might to find an out for Clinton. That these emails were not marked when she read them is absolutely no excuse. The contents themselves tells the fact of their classification, and as SOS she was very thoroughly briefed on these sources and their classification. There is a precedent for convicting a man for that very sin; that of having unmarked but TS data in his possession unsecured. If you do not know what that classification means then you are simply ignorant of the facts in the case, so your statements can be ignored. I cannot go any further than I have to spell it out to you. If it weren’t Clinton, the person would be in jail right this minute.

  55. mannning says:

    The IG did not use the word “might”. He concluded…

  56. mannning says:

    The SOS had to have signed an oath regarding total non-disclosure of this particular type of intel, and to safeguard it properly at all times. She did not do that, obviously. It will be interesting if more and more come out that were Secret or higher. She is dead meat.

  57. Thomas Weaver says:

    If the FBI finds ‘one’ clearly marked classified document on the server, you can stick a fork in Hildabeast and call her done.

  58. An Interested Party says:

    It will be interesting if more and more come out that were Secret or higher. She is dead meat.

    If the FBI finds ‘one’ clearly marked classified document on the server, you can stick a fork in Hildabeast and call her done.

    Oh keep hoping darlings, keep hoping…what with the dismal GOP field, this “scandal” is the only straw you have left to grasp…

  59. Stephen Bloom says:

    Classified security related information is kept on US gov’t intra-nets. To get classified material to Mrs. Clinton’s server would require someone to move it across an ‘air gap’. I wonder who or whom performed this act? Classified information moved across this air gap would then have to be stripped of its classification indicators. I wonder who performed this act? I would think that any e-file discovered on the Clinton server would contain clues to its origin. Also, I would think that the classified intranets would have record of who downloaded information from it.

  60. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    @mannning:

    There is a precedent for convicting a man for that very sin; that of having unmarked but TS data in his possession unsecured.

    Kindly remind us of the precedent.

    What I can’t understand is how does a person know that a document is classified without that document being marked?

    Is your argument that if the person in possession SHOULD suppose that the document OUGHT to be classified, but is unmarked as such, it has now become classified without the benefit of marking?

    Now, if that person in possession treats the document as if it were classified, haven’t they just “self-classified” the document? Should that person now mark the document as classified?

    What I’m getting at here is this question: Does everyone have the authority to classify (or for that matter to declassify) a document based on their own convictions or analysis.

    Isn’t there an agency or department that has the responsibility to classify and declassify, or is it all based on personal supposition?

  61. DrDaveT says:

    @mannning:

    The contents themselves tells the fact of their classification, and as SOS she was very thoroughly briefed on these sources and their classification.

    Yeah, you’ve said this several times. It’s nonsense.

    The reason we mark classified material is precisely because it is NOT possible for users of those materials — even knowledgeable ones — to guess the correct level of classification just by reading them. This is especially true of materials classified under ‘mosaic’ rationales, in which each of the component bits of information is unclassified (and unnecessary to classify) by itself, but the combination in close proximity needs to be protected.

    I’ve had the relevant briefings. None of them presume that I should be able to recognize the correct classification level of the material I receive, even if it’s material I work with every day and know a great deal about. They do talk about procedures to be followed in the rare case that I suspect that the material I receive has been improperly classified, but none of them imply any duty on my part to recognize improperly marked materials.

    In particular, if I receive an email from a cleared individual over a network that is not approved for classified materials, and none of the contents of that email or its attachments are marked as classified, it is in no way my fault if it turns out those materials should have been marked. (The sender, as others have noted, is in big trouble.)

  62. DrDaveT says:

    @Bob @ Youngstown:

    Isn’t there an agency or department that has the responsibility to classify and declassify, or is it all based on personal supposition?

    Within each agency that deals with classified materials, there is a subset of people who are designated original classification authorities. These people have the authority to declare new or unmarked materials to be secret, top secret, etc.

    The Secretary of State has original classification authority for Top Secret, so it is true that Hillary (had she felt it to be appropriate or necessary) could have classified the contents of any email sent to her. For all I know, she actually did this — any subsequent handling of that material would not have been on her private email server, so it would not show up in the current investigation.

  63. John425 says:

    @DrDaveT: What part of Top Secret do you not understand or are you trying to parse it like Bill Clinton defining what “is” is ?

    The inspector general for the Intelligence Community notified senior members of Congress that two of four classified emails discovered on the server Clinton maintained at her New York home contained material deemed to be in one of the highest security classifications – more sensitive than previously known.

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article30714762.html#storylink=cpy

  64. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Thanks DrDave,
    It’s what I expected, that classification is not (as manning would propose), a free-for-all largely dependent on the mood of the person receiving it.

  65. mannning says:

    @DrDaveT:

    You have not indicated that you know the specific classification of info I am referring to, which has a very characteristic source and content that is highly recognizable by its very content. It is virtually impossible not to know it. Even a textual report based on this source usually has unmistakable markings within the text, and any recipient would immediately know the real classification, even with the classification markings removed. Having dwelled in this medium for over 25 years I do know what I am talking about, but I do hesitate to go a step or two deeper in this unclassified medium simply because I want to save my skin.

    “The Intercept” by Glenn Greenwald states:
    Aug. 12 2015, 11:47 a.m.

    “It turns out that at least two of the emails which traversed Hillary Clinton’s personal email account and server were “top secret,” according to the inspector general for the Intelligence Community as reported by McClatchy. To describe that as reckless is an understatement given that, as AP notes, “There is no evidence she used encryption to shield the emails or her personal server from foreign intelligence services or other potentially prying eyes.” The FBI has now taken possession of that server.

    When it comes to low-level government employees with no power, the Obama administration has purposely prosecuted them as harshly as possible to the point of vindictiveness: It has notoriously prosecuted more individuals under the Espionage Act of 1917 for improperly handling classified information than all previous administrations combined.

    NSA whistleblower Tom Drake, for instance, faced years in prison, and ultimately had his career destroyed, based on the Obama DOJ’s claims that he “mishandled” classified information (it included information that was not formally classified at the time but was retroactively decreed to be such). Less than two weeks ago, “a Naval reservist was convicted and sentenced for mishandling classified military materials” despite no “evidence he intended to distribute them.” Last year, a Naval officer was convicted of mishandling classified information also in the absence of any intent to distribute it.”

  66. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    @mannning:
    I personally consider Greenwald and anything he touches as tainted as Eric Snowden.

    A core problem here is that everyone (excepting those with TS clearance) are talking about an abstraction. When you or I say that:” the evidence is plain, but I can’t show it to you”, it’s pretty much useless as evidence.

    I’m perfectly willing to let the DOJ and the FBI investigate and then render a conclusion. I have that faith that they will do the right thing.

    Unlike Trump, who has already said that if the DOJ doesn’t indict HRC, it shows that they are corrupt democrats.

    For the time being since neither you nor I should ( or are) able to examine Hillary’s documents, maybe we should just adopt a “innocent till proven guilty” attitude. Would that be the American way?

  67. DrDaveT says:

    @John425:

    What part of Top Secret do you not understand

    The part where you assert that an original classification authority, when presented with unmarked material, may not use her own judgment to decide whether that material deserves to be marked or not.

    The IG thinks it should have been. Clinton apparently did not. She has (at least) equal legal authority to make that decision for unmarked materials.

    (I also want to see the IG’s actual language — I don’t trust McClatchy’s paraphrase, and “deemed to be [Top Secret]” is ambiguous. Deemed by whom, and when, and what action taken? It matters to whether Hillary misbehaved or not.)

  68. DrDaveT says:

    @mannning: You continue to conflate three different categories of offense.

    Mishandling of marked classified materials is irrelevant to this particular case. Citing examples of how that has been treated in other cases is a red herring. It didn’t happen here.

    Handling of unmarked materials by people who are not Original Classification Authorities is also irrelevant to the question of what Hillary might be guilty of. She was an OCA; those are the rules she was working under.

    If, as you seem to be asserting, there were examples of emails that (for instance) clearly identify a covert HUMINT asset, or detailed technical capabilities of an SI/TK asset — things that anyone would know must be classified — then yes, Hillary would be guilty of making the wrong call about whether to classify, and subject to (probably administrative) penalties for that.

    I have not seen any assertions from any of the investigators involved that such materials have been found. The ones I speculated about above would need to be marked higher than TS; the IG seems to think that TS was the appropriate level for the ones he found. If you have a credible source that specifies the type of information and why you think its classification level is self-identifying, by all means post the link. The McClatchy story doesn’t say that, and is misquoted by Greenwald in your snippet.

  69. mannning says:

    @DrDaveT:

    If, as you seem to be asserting, there were examples of emails that (for instance) clearly identify a covert HUMINT asset, or detailed technical capabilities of an SI/TK asset — things that anyone would know must be classified — then yes, Hillary would be guilty of making the wrong call about whether to classify, and subject to (probably administrative) penalties for that.

    On that point we are in agreement. The rest is besides the point.

  70. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Bob @ Youngstown: You know information is Classified based on how the information relates or expounds upon a subject you already know the classification of. So if I know subject X is classified and I get an unmarked email discussing subject X….I know the email has not been properly marked and should have been because the information is classified. Gov email servers don’t let you send email without marking its classification anyway…..to avoid poor security practices caused by hobby shopped IT operations like HRC had. If the subject has NOT been classified before–there are general guidelines that instruct on how different bits of info should be classified. Only the Original Classifying Authority however, can make the OFFICIAL classification. There isn’t alot of subjectivity in it to be honest.

    People here seem to think that the first instinct of attacker is to leak information they hack into the public domain…. That’s the exception not the rule. If you have a high value information source the LAST thing a Professional would do is divulge that the data source is compromised. Despite what people think–a good part of the Gov actually does a good job protecting data..the problem is: If you foil 100,000 attempt in a year and the 100,001st attempt is successful then people think Gov IT is a sieve. In most agencies it is not. The high profile attacks this year were basically against soft target agencies that for whatever reason didn’t believe they needed to place a high premier on data security. They paid the price.

    Most of the comments in this thread are by people ignorant of data security and the handling of classified information. The people in it that have shared with their actual experience with how it works are pretty much spot on. HRC was/is not ignorant of what she was doing. She did it in deference to future political aspirations.

  71. the Q says:

    Marked Man wrote…”the Clintons are total sleaze balls because everyone says Clintons are total sleaze balls [lather, rinse, repeat]”

    I guess getting a blow job in the Oval office then lying about it, putting the nation through an impeachment process isn’t’ Sleaze in your book. No wonder you are a Hillary bootlicker.

    When is HRC going to ask “It depends on what IS top secret?”

    I just hope the HRC sycophants are just as quick to condemn her gross behavior when the facts come out and not give another round of horseschitt excuses about the Republican got cha machine, or that everybody does it too or whatever.

    The defenders here, like H92, are like the Pentagon during the “commies are everywhere” Cold War period….we end up backing the most compromised and corrupted officials because they were “anti communist” and just glossed over the most pernicious of human rights offenses because of our paranoid response to Soviet takeover or the domino effect taking place.

    It was a bankrupt policy then and everyone pandering to HRC’s shrill defense are doing the same thing.

    “Yes she’s a corrupt shrew, but gosh darnit, I sure don’t want the next SCOTUS appointments to be made by a wingnut.”

    We get it. Machiavelli in full. HRC will get my vote, but can we have a real discussion of the true Clinton plutocracy and corruption?