The political left may want the media to let the Clinton email server story die but I think it highlights some of the more troubling aspects of our experience with the Clinton legacy.
While the most obvious reason Hillary Clinton would run her own email would be to gain control over archiving and public disclosure requests such as FOIAs and subpoenas, another possibility is that she wished to avoid snooping by right wing conservative activists within the NSA, such as a right wing Edward Snowden type.
Since there was nothing super secret about her use of the domain name clintonemail.com, why not just use a discrete gmail account as others have done? It’s very possible Clinton’s team knew of NSA’s ability to snoop gmail. If true, it would mean that Clinton wanted to opt out of the domestic spying for which the Obama administration has continued to subject all of us to.
The best technical reporting I’ve seen thus far is, Clinton’s E-Mail Built for Privacy Though Not Security (Bloomberg), which seems to indicate that she may have used Microsoft products. Some expect that Microsoft’s products are also susceptible to NSA snooping – so it may be that the Clintons understandably wanted to minimize fallout from future right wing witch-hunts.
Yet, running her email privately shows arrogance for transparency and the public’s right to know the government’s business. Her team’s arrogance is clear in this week’s emails between her longtime aide Phillip Reines and journalists.
Her tweet that she wants the state department to release her emails is disingenuous at best and an attempt to deliberately mislead the public at worst:
I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 5, 2015
Clearly, by running its own email server, the Clinton team had full control over which emails to turn over for public disclosure to the State Department.
Her tweet is so intellectually dishonest that it brings back to mind President Clinton’s famous, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
Further, her decision to run state department business over private email servers shows a lack of sensitivity and political judgment to how Americans might perceive this action. It’s mind-boggling to me that anyone in the Clinton team would ever have thought this could be a good idea.
Worse yet, it shows a lack of technical acumen on her team. They thought they had the technical capacity to easily secure her server better than the U.S. government, which apparently they clearly didn’t. Political leaders like Clinton remain weak at grappling with the challenges and intricacy of technology – and it weakens their leadership and hurts all of us. Ultimately, there’s no way to know if she put state secrets at risk – this from a leader who advocated for prosecuting Chelsea Manning for leaking state department cables.
This story invokes many of the worst aspects of the Clintons and that’s why it has legs.