Candidate #2: Secretary Hillary Clinton: Now I wish to discuss Secretary Hillary Clinton. As I mentioned previously, I also refuse to vote for Secretary Hillary Clinton. Serious policy differences aside, I take the matter of her private email server seriously. For those who have not read it for themselves, here is the link to the actual OIG report from the Department of State: https://oig.state.gov/reports/9926. I would strongly encourage anyone to read the OIG report for themselves, and to draw their own conclusions about Secretary Clinton’s activities, and about her honesty in this affair. If nothing else, they owe it to themselves to be as informed about the candidates as possible before casting their votes for them.
Although I admit there were significant deficiencies within the Department of State and with previous Secretaries and their staffs about using private emails to conduct official government business going all the way back to Madeleine Albright’s tenure as Secretary of State, I am most concerned now about the actions taken by the person currently running for the President of the United States now; Secretary Hillary Clinton. There are several areas mentioned in the Inspector General’s report that have troubled me deeply about Secretary Clinton’s actions while serving as the head of the State Department.
1). “Secretary Clinton used mobile devices to conduct official business using the personal email account on her private server extensively, as illustrated by the 55,000 pages of material making up the approximately 30,000 emails she provided to the Department in December 2014. Throughout Secretary Clinton’s tenure, the FAM stated that normal day-to-day operations should be conducted on an authorized AIS,147 yet OIG found no evidence that the Secretary requested or obtained guidance or approval to conduct official business via a personal email account on her private server. According to the current CIO and Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, Secretary Clinton had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business with their offices, who in turn would have attempted to provide her with approved and secured means that met her business needs. However, according to these officials, DS and IRM did not—and would not—approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct Department business, because of the restrictions in the FAM and the security risks in doing so” (Office of the Inspector General Report: Office of the Secretary: Evaluation of Email Records Management and Cybersecurity Requirements, p. 36-37).
When compared to what Secretary Clinton says on her own website, https://www.hillaryclinton.com/briefing/factsheets/2015/07/13/email-facts/, “Her usage was widely known to the over 100 State Department and U.S. government colleagues she emailed, consistent with the practice of prior Secretaries of State and permitted at the time,” this statement from the Office of the Inspector General clearly contradicts what Secretary Clinton has said. She was not approved for using her private email and private server for frequent government business. And even if 100 State Department and/or other US government officials knew about this practice, the appropriate personnel for electronic communications inside the State Department seemed to have not been consulted and appeared unaware of this practice, specifically from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and the Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM). To me, this is a dishonest and misleading statement from the Clinton campaign, and calls into question Clinton’s integrity and her ability to be transparent on important matters of state. To me, it is almost as if Secretary Clinton did not expect anyone to read the Inspector General’s report.
Another statement from the report also seems to highlight the fact that Secretary Clinton or her staff deliberately tried to mislead people in the State Department about her personal email server: “Two staff in S/ES-IRM reported to OIG that, in late 2010, they each discussed their concerns about Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email account in separate meetings with the then-Director of S/ES-IRM. In one meeting, one staff member raised concerns that information sent and received on Secretary Clinton’s account could contain Federal records that needed to be preserved in order to satisfy Federal recordkeeping requirements. According to the staff member, the Director stated that the Secretary’s personal system had been reviewed and approved by Department legal staff and that the matter was not to be discussed any further. As previously noted, OIG found no evidence that staff in the Office of the Legal Adviser reviewed or approved Secretary Clinton’s personal system. According to the other S/ES-IRM staff member who raised concerns about the server, the Director stated that the mission of S/ES-IRM is to support the Secretary and instructed the staff never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.” (Office of the Inspector General Report: Office of the Secretary: Evaluation of Email Records Management and Cybersecurity Requirements, p. 40). That last line, of them never speaking of the personal email system again, strikes me as a punch line from a skit from Saturday Night Live, not something you would want your government officials to be saying. To me, this illustrates a pattern of deceptive practices and malfeasance within the State Department by Secretary Clinton and her staff, as they continued to try and cover up this personal server from the rest of the State Department that would have informed her that conducting business in this way was improper and should not be done.
2). “Similarly, the FAM contained provisions requiring employees who process SBU information on their own devices to ensure that appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards are maintained to protect the confidentiality and integrity of records and to ensure encryption of SBU information with products certified by NIST.149 With regard to encryption, Secretary Clinton’s website states that “robust protections were put in place and additional upgrades and techniques employed over time as they became available, including consulting and employing third party experts.”150 Although this report does not address the safety or security of her system, DS and IRM reported to OIG that Secretary Clinton never demonstrated to them that her private server or mobile device met minimum information security requirements specified by FISMA and the FAM.” (Office of the Inspector General Report: Office of the Secretary: Evaluation of Email Records Management and Cybersecurity Requirements, p. 37).
The quote used in the report about the security for that private server can be found on Secretary Clinton’s own fact sheet on her campaign website, which I linked to earlier in this post. Again, it is clear the Office of the Inspector General is contradicting explicitly what Secretary Clinton is claiming in her ‘fact sheet.’ And between the Office of the Inspector General and Secretary Clinton as to whose account I believe, I choose to believe the Office of the Inspector General on this matter. If the Department of State wasn’t informed on how secure this private server was, how can we be sure the data was secure? Which brings up the third issue I have with Secretary Clinton’s presentation of facts in this matter; hacking attempts on the private server.
3). “On January 9, 2011, the non-Departmental advisor to President Clinton who provided technical support to the Clinton email system notified the Secretary’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations that he had to shut down the server because he believed “someone was trying to hack us and while they did not get in i didnt [sic] want to let them have the chance to.” Later that day, the advisor again wrote to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, “We were attacked again so I shut [the server] down for a few min.” On January 10, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations emailed the Chief of Staff and the Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning and instructed them not to email the Secretary “anything sensitive” and stated that she could “explain more in person.”159
This suggests Secretary Clinton’s private server was vulnerable to hacking. These were only two instances of attacks that were discovered. Given how this was not connected to the government infrastructure, there is no telling if there were any other hacking attempts or whether they were successful. And yet, on her fact sheet, Secretary Clinton answers the question, “Was there ever an unauthorized intrusion into her email or did anyone else have access to it?” with a simple answer of “No.” Is there any evidence that can be provided to back up this answer? Assuming that Secretary Clinton is accurate that her private server was not compromised (which I highly doubt, given how many times a day the U.S. Government incurs hacking attempts), she still jeopardized that sensitive government information by placing it on an unauthorized server with unverified security measures, whether or not the data was classified, or whether that data was what the State Department deems to be “Sensitive but Unclassified” (SBU). To me, the OIG report shows that this activity from Secretary Clinton was malfeasance, and showed a willful disregard for the proper handling of sensitive government information, and Secretary Clinton has done nothing to take responsibility for these acts, but instead, has done everything in her power to obfuscate the truth with what I consider to be misleading statements.
As a former public servant myself, I will not give Secretary Clinton my vote, as I see it as condoning malfeasance while in public office. And I will not be a part of giving Secretary Clinton a promotion to President of the United States in light of this misbehavior. Doing so actually sends the wrong message to the country; that if you are powerful enough with Washington connections, you do not have to be held accountable for your actions; that you are above the law. This is not a message I want to be a part of sending to the American people about our political leadership. Our nation has enough troubles as it is, and this frankly is a very dangerous message to be sending. I also believe our nation is looking for someone who can be an honorable and trustworthy president; someone to look up to. Character must matter when it comes to the presidency. Secretary Clinton simply is not that person to fill that role.
Some may criticize me for attacking a person who might be the first female president of the United States, and may wonder if my criticisms of her are based on her gender. They are not. For over five years, I proudly served under a Congresswoman, Representative Heather Wilson. My district director, my immediate supervisor, was also a woman. I have no problems with a woman serving as president, or serving in positions of power. The problem I do have is with Secretary Clinton’s character and judgment, and for me, along with the policy issues I disagree with her, are specifically what makes her unfit for the presidency.