Friday, May 27, 2016

Game Over: EmailGate Just Crippled the Clinton Express

From the Observer:
... there’s the troubling matter of EmailGate, the long-running scandal that this column has covered in great detail. 
That Ms. Clinton and her senior staff misused email during her tenure as secretary of state has long been crystal-clear. Refusing to use government email for government work was a violation of policy, while Team Clinton’s routing of said emails through a private server, then putting classified information on it—including above top secret information from the Intelligence Community—looks like a violation of several federal laws.
Early denials from the Clinton camp tried to make the entire matter go away, insisting there was no “there” there. Once that folded in the face of massive evidence that something indeed had gone very awry with Secretary Clinton’s emails at Foggy Bottom, the excuses shifted to ones familiar to those who experienced the 1990s. Everybody does it. It’s not really a big deal. Above all, this is politically motivated. These false accusations are the machinations of a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. 
Such dodges held water for months among Hillary fans, aided by parts of the mainstream media which, long accustomed to running interference for the Clintons, continued to do so, attempting to muddy waters that to those familiar with laws and regulations on the handling of classified materials are actually decidedly clear. 
That all fell apart yesterday with the release of the long-anticipated State Department Inspector General’s special report on how Foggy Bottom handles email records and cybersecurity. A shoe has dropped for Team Clinton—a very big shoe—and there will be no going back now. 
The Office of the Inspector General at State, as in all federal departments, exists to ferret out internal fraud, waste and illegalities. However, State had no real IG boss from 2009 to 2013, with an acting director heading up the office. Neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton were in any hurry to find a permanent director for State’s IG shop. Now we know why. 
The State IG report, weighing in at over 80 pages, is crammed full of bureaucratese yet paints an indelible and detailed portrait of things going very wrong at Foggy Bottom—especially under Hillary Clinton. It can charitably be termed scathing, and it leaves no doubt that Team Clinton has lied flagrantly to the public about EmailGate for more than a year. 
That said, only Hillary Clinton simply refused to use government email for government work—she repeatedly denied requests from State security and IT to use email—and she systematically dodged federal regulations on electronic communications and records preservation by setting up her private email server of bathroom infamy. 
Damningly, while several former secretaries of state cooperated with the IG in this important investigation, Ms. Clinton refused to. 
As secretary of state, Ms. Clinton attempted a novel experiment of trying to avoid using any information systems that create records that can be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The IG report includes painful details, including how she flatly refused to use email for anything, ever, citing privacy grounds. State IT was concerned because Ms. Clinton’s work emails—all being sent via her address—were winding up in the spam folders of State officials. Important information was not getting where it needed to go. She needed to use official email for official business. Except she refused. 
What was so important, so sensitive that Hillary had to dodge FOIA altogether? Clearly protecting her private life—whatever that might be—was valued more highly by Ms. Clinton than actually heading the Department of State. 

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