The recent revelation that Hillary Clinton used a homebrew e-mail address to avoid disclosure requirements regarding e-mails–a home-brew e-mail address that was not secure and likely exposed communications to surveillance by foreign espionage agencies, mind you–should absolutely disqualify her from any consideration for the presidency. Clinton sought to evade transparency requirements, and she put the national security of the United States at risk in the process. No one who does either one of those things–let alone both of them–has any business occupying the big chair in the Oval Office.
Don’t believe me when I write that Clinton’s e-mail habits likely compromised confidential information? Read this:
So the whole Hillary Clinton email story is getting worse and worse for Clinton. We already noted that there was no way she couldn’t have known that she had to use government email systems for government work, as there was a big scandal from the previous administration using private emails and within the early Obama administration as well. This morning we discovered that Clinton also gave clintonemail.com email addresses to staffers, which undermines the argument made by Hillary’s spokesperson that it was okay for her to use her own email address because any emails with staffers would still be archived by the State Department thanks to their use of state.gov emails. But that’s clearly not the case when she’s just emailing others with the private email addresses.
As we noted yesterday, there are two separate key issues here, neither of which look good for Clinton. First, is the security question. There’s no question at all that as Secretary of State she dealt with all sorts of important, confidential and classified information. Doing that on your own email server seems like a pretty big target for foreign intelligence. In fact, Gawker points out, correctly, that Hillary’s private email address was actually revealed a few years ago when the hacker “Guccifer” revealed the inbox of former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal. So it was known years ago that Clinton used a private email account, and you have to think it was targeted.
As the story makes clear, Clinton was not the only one using a homebrew e-mail account. Her staffers did as well, thus ensuring that any of their communications with Clinton would also not be disclosed via transparency requirements, and that foreign intelligence agencies would be able to read those communications too. More:
In 2012, congressional investigators asked the State Department for a wide range of documents related to the attack on the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. The department eventually responded, furnishing House committees with thousands of documents.
But it turns out that that was not everything.
The State Department had not searched the email account of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton because she had maintained a private account, which shielded it from such searches, department officials acknowledged on Tuesday.
It was only last month that the House committee appointed to investigate Benghazi was provided with about 300 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails related to the attacks. That was shortly after Mrs. Clinton turned over, at the State Department’s request, some 50,000 pages of government-related emails that she had kept on her private account.
It was one of several instances in which records requests sent to the State Department, which had no access to Mrs. Clinton’s emails, came up empty.
The shadiness of this kind of behavior is absolutely extraordinary and appalling. And again, let’s emphasize that homebrew e-mail accounts are not secure:
But homebrew email servers are generally not as reliable, secure from hackers or protected from fires or floods as those in commercial data centers. Those professional facilities provide monitoring for viruses or hacking attempts, regulated temperatures, off-site backups, generators in case of power outages, fire-suppression systems and redundant communications lines.
Much of the criticism of that in-house email strategy has centered on its violation of the federal government’s record-keeping and transparency rules. But as the controversy continues to swirl, the security community is focused on a different issue: the possibility that an unofficial, unprotected server held the communications of America’s top foreign affairs official for four years, leaving all of it potentially vulnerable to state-sponsored hackers.
“Although the American people didn’t know about this, it’s almost certain that foreign intelligence agencies did, just as the NSA knows which Indian and Spanish officials use Gmail and Yahoo accounts,” says Chris Soghoian, the lead technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “She’s not the first official to use private email and not the last. But there are serious security issue associated with these kinds of services…When you build your house outside the security fence, you’re on your own, and that’s what seems to have happened here.”
The most obvious security issue with Clinton running her own email server, says Soghoian, is the lack of manpower overseeing it compared with the State Department’s official email system. The federal agency’s own IT security team monitors State Department servers for possible vulnerabilities and breaches, and those computers fall under the NSA’s protection, too. Since 2008, for instance, the so-called Einstein project has functioned as an umbrella intrusion-detection system for more than a dozen federal agencies; Though it’s run by the Department of Homeland Security, it uses NSA data and vulnerability-detection methods.
Clinton’s email wouldn’t have the benefit of any of that expensive government security. If she had hosted her email with Google or even Yahoo! or Microsoft, there might be an argument that those private companies’ security teams are just as competent as the those of the feds. But instead, according to the Associated Press, Clinton ran her server from her own home. Any protection it had there—aside from the physical protection of the Secret Service—would have been limited to the Clintons’ own personal resources.
A more specific threat to Clinton’s private email relates to its domain name. Unlike the State Department’s State.gov domain, Clinton’s Clintonemail.com is currently registered with a private domain registrar, Network Solutions, as a simple Whois search reveals. The domain Clintonemail.com (and thus its registrar) was certainly known to at least one hacker: The notorious celebrity hacker Guccifer first revealed it in 2013 when he spilled the emails of Clinton associate Sydney Blumenthal.
Anyone who hacked Network Solutions would be able to quietly hijack the Clintonemail.com domain, intercepting, redirecting, and even spoofing email from Clinton’s account. And Network Solutions is far from the Internet’s hardest target: Hundreds of its domains were hacked in 2010, a year into Clinton’s tenure at the head of the State Department.
Even if Clinton used the account only for personal messages rather than those of international importance (say, something along the lines of: “Let’s go ahead and drop those bombs, Bibi”) the notion that they could be both intercepted and spoofed through a common hacking vector is particularly troubling. “Even the most mundane of communications can be interesting to an intelligence service,” says the ACLU’s Soghoian. The NSA, he points out, thought it was worthwhile to monitor German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal cell phone, for instance.
Naturally, and in keeping with efforts to frustrate transparency, Clinton won’t talk about this issue at all:
Hillary Clinton reportedly will not be taking any questions at an event honoring excellence in journalism.
Organizers of the March 23 Toner Prize Celebration, which is named after the late New York Times reporter Robin Toner, told the Center for Public Integrity the event would be open to reporters. However, the keynote speaker, Clinton, does not plan to take their inquiries.
Business Insider reached out to Clinton’s office to confirm the report. A Clinton spokesman referred the question back to the event’s organizers.
Equally naturally, there is the hypocrisy:
Fox News has confirmed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prohibited her employees from conducting official government business via their personal email addresses—even though Clinton herself flagrantly broke this rule, in violation of federal policy.
Of course, we now know that Clinton’s employees were actually allowed to use her homebrew e-mail address, which means that there was hypocrisy layered on top of hypocrisy in this case.
It should be noted that Ambassador Scott Gration was forced to resign his post recently, in part because
The audit by the State Department Office of Inspector General found that Gration repeatedly violated diplomatic security protocols at the embassy by using unsecured Internet connections despite warnings, according to a former State Department Africa Bureau official who has seen a draft of the report.
If we can’t tolerate ambassadors violating security protocols–and to be sure, we can’t–why should we tolerate it when the former secretary of state violates security protocols? And shouldn’t we be even more outraged by the violation of security protocols when we consider that the former secretary of state wants to be the next president of the United States?
Jacob Heilbrunn has it right:
Here we go again. Just when it looked as though Hillary Clinton was set to roll to the Democratic nomination, fresh peccadilloes involving her and Bill are surfacing. They may be waved off as manifestations of CDS—Clinton derangement syndrome—but that would be a mistake. The fact is that that the Clintons have a penchant for skirting not just the spirit but also the letter of the law when it comes to their own perks and prerogatives.
Recall, for example, Bill and Hillary looting the White House, during the last days of his presidency, sending $28,000 of furnishings, registered to the National Park Service, to their New York home before they had to depart the place. Or there was Hillary piously announcing that the Clintons, after they left the White House, were “dead broke”—even though she had just signed an $8 million book deal.
The Clintons, in other words, don’t get caught up in difficulties. They are surrounded by a miasma of scandal, both real and imagined. The latest one was broken by the New York Times and is engulfing the nascent Clinton presidential campaign, just as it was trying to deal with one broken a few days earlier by the Washington Post about allegations of malversation at the Clinton Foundation. In short, the new Hillary turns out to be the old one, and not a few Democrats are suffering their personal political version of PTSD over it all.
Hillary Clinton serenely says, in a twitter message, from on high: “I want the public to see my email.” No, she doesn’t. But the bad publicity surrounding her extensive effort to conceal her messages from the public by, in effect, running her own email exchange out of her Chappaqua home is forcing her to cough them up. The House Select Committee, which is investigating Benghazi, has now subpoenaed the State Department for her emails.
Whether they contain anything embarrassing or even scandalous is an open question. If anything they will likely reveal further evidence of her good points, such as they are (humorless drudge), and bad ones (petty and peevish), but no major bombshells. The attempted cover up is more interesting, to put it another way, than what she was actually covering up.
Still, the question of what she was trying to conceal exists because of her own furtiveness. As Sam Tanenhaus pointed out at a luncheon at the Center for the National Interest on Wednesday, historians rely on a reliable and accurate record of documents such as the State Department’s distinguished Foreign Relations of the United States series. Clinton’s actions violate both the spirit and letter of the law that cabinet officials leave behind a clear and comprehensible documentary record.
And Danny Vinik has it right as well:
Clinton herself isn’t speaking. As a still-unofficial presidential candidate, she doesn’t feel compelled to answer questions about this latest damaging report. But she should—because it’s starting to appear that Clinton is far less prepared for a presidential run than anyone expected.
First, she made multiple gaffes about her own wealth, saying her family was “dead broke” after Bill Clinton left office. At the same time, she has given numerous speeches for hundreds of thousands of dollars. And over the past few weeks, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reported in separate investigations that the Clinton Foundation had accepted donations from foreign countries both during and after her time as secretary of state. Many of those countries, like Saudi Arabia, do not have stellar records on human rights.
For a would-be presidential candidate with her deep experience in Washington, that’s a lot of unforced errors. The foundation shouldn’t have accepted donations from foreign countries so that no one could ever accuse Clinton of being influenced by that money. She should have stopped giving paid speeches a long time ago. And she should have used a government email address at the State Department. These should all be easy decisions to make, and yet Clinton got them all wrong. (And, in the case of the paid speeches, continues to get wrong.)
This should frighten Democrats. Who knows what other past mistakes might surface, or ones yet to come? It hasn’t taken much digging from journalists to find these stories. Republican opposition researchers are surely going into overdrive now that they smell blood in the water.
So, back to my original statement: Hillary Clinton has no business being president of the United States, and has no business being considered for the presidency by any serious-minded person. If recent stories don’t convince you of that fact, I don’t know what would.