Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Okay, Let's Talk About Hillary's Damn Emails a Little Bit More

Reading today's screaming headlines, you might think the State Department inspector general's report on Clinton's email usage is simply devastating. But the reality is rather...boringly bureaucratic, actually.

For instance, this is the title of the report:
Office of the Secretary: Evaluation of Email Records Management and Cybersecurity Requirements
Feel the excitement? Me neither. 

And here is the entirety of the report's conclusion (page 42):
Longstanding, systemic weaknesses related to electronic records and communications have existed within the Office of the Secretary that go well beyond the tenure of any one Secretary of State. OIG recognizes that technology and Department policy have evolved considerably since Secretary Albright’s tenure began in 1997. Nevertheless, the Department generally and the Office of the Secretary in particular have been slow to recognize and to manage effectively the legal requirements and cybersecurity risks associated with electronic data communications, particularly as those risks pertain to its most senior leadership. OIG expects that its recommendations will move the Department steps closer to meaningfully addressing these risks.
Essentially: The problems with email records management go back almost 20 years, no Secretary of State since then has been immune, and we need to fix the issues going forward. 

Sure, why not? Sounds like a great idea. 

The report is quite critical of Secretary Colin Powell's practices (see pages 21-22), but since he isn't running for president, no one seems to care. Here's what the report has to say on page 23 regarding Secretary Clinton:
Former Secretary Clinton did not use a Department email account and has acknowledged using an email account maintained on a private server for official business. As discussed above, in December 2014, her representative produced to the Department 55,000 hard-copy pages of documents, representing approximately 30,000 emails that could potentially constitute Federal records that she sent or received from April 2009 through early 2013. Secretary Clinton’s representative asserted that, because the Secretary emailed Department officials at their government email accounts, the Department already had records of the Secretary’s email preserved within its recordkeeping systems.

As previously discussed, however, sending emails from a personal account to other employees at their Department accounts is not an appropriate method of preserving any such emails that would constitute a Federal record. Therefore, Secretary Clinton should have preserved any Federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary. At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.
It sounds like she didn't exactly follow the email record-keeping regulations...but then again, check out the next part:
NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) agrees with the foregoing assessment but told OIG that Secretary Clinton’s production of 55,000 pages of emails mitigated her failure to properly preserve emails that qualified as Federal records during her tenure and to surrender such records upon her departure. OIG concurs with NARA but also notes that Secretary Clinton’s production was incomplete. 
So both the OIG and NARA are in agreement that she did the proper thing by turning over her work emails, but some are still missing from early in her term because of a transition period and difficulties with...oh, I give up. This is simply too boring. I'm just so sick and tired of hearing about her damn emails, and hopefully this is just one more step toward never hearing about them again.

For more, read the whole report and more analysis from Correct the Record and Mother Jones.


  1. Thanks so much for this, Scott. Eases my mind considerably.

    1. No problem. I hope you were less bored reading it than I was researching it!

  2. she thought they were preserved on the government site, because if they were business they originated there and if she answered she answered there.