Hillary Clinton defended her use of a private email server for State Department correspondence at a presser at the U.N. on Tuesday, saying she used a system set up for her husband because it was convenient and “proved to be effective and secure.” That was her first lie.
Going through the text of her press conference, I found eight statements that are demonstrably false:
1) She didn’t want two devices: First, she claimed that she used private email and a private server for “convenience.” She just didn’t want to use two devices, which is an odd thing to say for someone who just weeks ago admitted to using four devices: an iPhone, a Blackberry, an iPad, and a mini iPad.
On top of that, I can’t believe that one of her aides didn’t tell her it is possible to have more than one email account on your phone.
2)There are email conversations with her husband on the server: She said that the server was needed for her husband’s email. But President Clinton’s aides told the Wall Street Journal he hasn’t emailed since leaving office, and even while president he sent only two emails. The server, moreover, was also set up just as she was starting her job as secretary of state. Curious timing.
3) Her email account followed all the rules: She violated at least three rules, one of which came from her own hand. In 2005, according to the Washington Post, the State Department updated “the Foreign Affairs manual to state that ‘sensitive but unclassified’ information should not be transmitted through personal e-mail accounts.” In 2009, federal regulations were updated to require employees using non-government email to “ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency record-keeping system.In 2011, a State Department cable bearing her signature warned employees to “avoid conducting official Department business from your personal e-mail accounts.”
4) Everyone did it: If everyone jumped off the Empire State Building…. Secretary Colin Powell served during a period that predates the rules in question. Secretary Condoleezza Rice used a .gov email account, and so does current Secretary John Kerry. Although emailing practices varied among her predecessors, Clinton is the only secretary of state known to have conducted all official unclassified government business on a private email account. Years earlier, when emailing was not yet as widespread a practice as it has become, Powell used both a government and a private account. It’s a striking departure from the norm for top officials to rely exclusively on private email for official business.
5) And there were no security breaches: Actually she could never know if her email was hacked or not. According to Wired magazine:
A nice thought, but one that Clinton didn’t back up today. The internet protocols we use to zap email about the globe were largely written during the early freewheeling days of the net, and they’re still vulnerable to a wide range of attacks. Emails can be spoofed; they can be read in transit; and servers can be hacked.
Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensic scientist, concurs. “Email is one of the least secure services you can run,” he said, adding that “[Clinton’s] people might be very good, but no one who really is at the top of their game is going to try to make the claim that they can catch 100 percent of the attacks.”
Finally, Clinton’s job as secretary of state would have made her “a target of some the most well-funded adversaries,” says Dan Guido, the CEO of security consultancy Trail of Bits. In the years since Clinton was sworn in as secretary of state, we’ve learned that those attackers are capable of some very sneaky and technologically accomplished attacks. Knocking over a home-brew email server doesn’t seem so far-fetched, given the break-ins we’ve seen at RSA, Sony, and the U.S. government itself.
6) And there were no security breaches (part 2): Ever hear of Gruccifer? Gruccifer, later identified as Marcel Lazar Lehel, was caught hacking into the email account of White House Adviser to Bill Clinton, Sidney Blumenthal. According to the Smoking Gun, when “Guccifer” breached Blumenthal’s account, he discovered an assortment of correspondence sent to Hillary Clinton at the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. The “clintonemail.com” domain was registered in 2009, shortly after her nomination to become Secretary of State.
While Blumenthal, a longtime Hillary Clinton confidant, used her private email account to send personal messages (like a get-well note after she fell at home and suffered a concussion in December 2012), he also forwarded the cabinet member a series of “Confidential” memos about foreign policy matters.
The memos to Clinton carried titles like “Comprehensive Intel Report on Libya,” and included all-cap warnings that “THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION COMES FROM EXTREMELY SENSITIVE SOURCES AND SHOULD BE HANDLED WITH CARE.”
If Gruccifer could do it, the Russians, Chinese, and North Koreans could have done it also.
7) 90% or 50%: Hillary Clinton inexplicably reduced the percentage of emails sent from a private account that she claims were associated with her work at the State Department from 90% to 50%. Clinton told reporters during her presser at the United Nations that half of her 60,000 emails were work-related, while the other half were personal. Those personal messages “were not in any way related to my work,” she said. “I had no reason to save them, but that was my decision because federal guidelines are clear and the State Department request was clear.” A Clinton spokesman told ABC News last Thursday, however, that she turned over around 90% of the emails she wrote as secretary of state and only withheld personal emails not covered by State Department policy.
8) When asked about Ambassador Scott Gration being forced to resign for using a personal email account, Clinton said “that’s not an accurate representation of what happened”: Ambassador Gration was pushed out for a lot of reasons, but one huge one was refusing to use government email (he would lock himself in the bathroom to use his personal email account for business. Indeed the bottom of page 43 of the Inspector General’s critical report begins:
Very soon after the Ambassador’s arrival in May 2011, he broadcast his lack of confidence in the information management staff. Because the information management office could not change the Department’s policy for handling Sensitive But Unclassified material, he assumed charge of the mission’s information management operations. He ordered a commercial Internet connection installed in his embassy office bathroom so he could work there on a laptop not connected to the Department email system. He drafted and distributed a mission policy authorizing himself and other mission personnel to use commercial email for daily communication of official government business. During the inspection, the Ambassador continued to use commercial email for official government business. The Department email system provides automatic security, record-keeping, and backup functions as required. The Ambassador’s requirements for use of commercial email in the office and his flouting of direct instructions to adhere to Department policy have placed the information management staff in a conundrum: balancing the desire to be responsive to their mission leader and the need to adhere to Department regulations and government information security standards.
Even more than her lying husband, Hillary Clinton has used disinformation and deception as a political tool throughout her career. Her answers at press conference are simply the latest example. And before she asks, yes, Hillary, it makes a huge difference.
Cross-posted at The Lid