Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton spoke to campaign reporters yesterday and took responsibility for the controversy surrounding his email-server-management issue. She apparently adopted a tone many of her critics wanted to hear.
“I know people have raised questions about my email use as secretary of state, and I understand why,” the former Secretary of State said. “I get it. So here’s what I want the American people to know: My use of personal email was allowed by the State Department. It clearly wasn’t the best choice. I should’ve used two emails: one personal, one for work.”
She added, “I take responsibility for that decision, and I want to be as transparent as possible, which is why I turned over 55,000 pages, why I’ve turned over my server, why I’ve agreed to – in fact, been asking to – and have finally gotten a date to testify before a congressional committee in October.”
The response coincided with an interesting report from the Associated Press, which raised the question of whether the controversy should even exist in the first place.
The transmission of now-classified information across Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email is consistent with a State Department culture in which diplomats routinely sent secret material on unsecured email during the past two administrations, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.Clinton’s use of a home server makes her case unique and has become an issue in her front-running campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. But it’s not clear whether the security breach would have been any less had she used department email.
The AP report noted that these practices were ordinary for many years, including in the Bush/Cheney State Department.
The AP article quoted Leslie McAdoo, a lawyer who frequently represents government officials and contractors in disputes over security clearances and classified information, saying the slippage of classified information into regular email is “very common, actually.”
I seriously hope we’re not approaching the point at which Clinton critics expect an investigation into hundreds of officials, spanning two administrations, who may have harmlessly sent these emails.
And, of course, the same piece added, “There is no indication that any information in Clinton emails was marked classified at the time it was sent.”
I argued last week that it’s still unclear why, exactly, the political world considers this story a “scandal,” since even the allegations themselves are murky. These additional details only cast further doubts on why Clinton’s email-server management has been deemed so very important.
If this boils down to a security issue, and the fear that Clinton put sensitive materials at risk by skipping the State Department’s unclassified email system, the same AP article added that there was no real difference between the department’s system and her home server: “Neither would have been secure from hackers or foreign intelligence agencies, so it would be equally problematic whether classified information was carried over the government system or a private server, experts say.”
I’m perfectly willing to believe there’s a real story here, but so far, it’s awfully thin.