Hillary Clinton’s secret use of a private email account to conduct official State Department business raises questions as to whether the former secretary of state will face repercussions for what experts say is clear criminal activity.
According to a report in the New York Times, Clinton not only failed to use a government email address during her time at the State Department, but also ignored the Federal Records Act by not ensuring the preservation of her personal account’s emails.
“Under federal law… letters and emails written and received by federal officials, such as the secretary of state, are considered government records and are supposed to be retained so that congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find them,” the Times wrote.
Following the revelation, countless legal experts from across the spectrum voiced their concern over what many agreed to be nefarious activity.
“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” Jason R. Baron, former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration, told the Times. “I can recall no instance in my time at the National Archives when a high-ranking official at an executive branch agency solely used a personal email account for the transaction of government business.”
Aside from issues of legality, Clinton’s use of private email instead of a much more secure government account undoubtedly placed classified State Department information at risk.
“While one hopes that there was at least some attempt to better secure her personal account by government security experts, it’s still almost certainly less secure,” noted Tech Dirt‘s Mike Masnick. “Given how much sensitive information the Secretary of State has to deal with, it seems inexcusable that she was allowed to conduct official business via her personal account.”
In fact, Clinton’s private email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, first surfaced after noted hacker “Guccifer” accessed the email account of Sidney Blumenthal, senior adviser to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
“While Blumenthal, a longtime Hillary Clinton confidant, used her private e-mail to send personal messages… he also forwarded the Cabinet member a series of “Confidential” memos about foreign policy matters,” the Smoking Gun reports. “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.’”
Unsurprisingly, Clinton is not the first government official, or the first in the Obama administration, to use a private email address for official government business.
Everyone from the IRS’ Lois Lerner to former EPA Chief Lisa Jackson to Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin were caught using private emails and even “alter egos” before being shamed into early retirement.
So the question remains, will Hillary be forced to step out of the political spotlight given her behavior?
Although many analysts feel the disclosure will further cripple Clinton’s presidential aspirations for 2016, the former first lady is unlikely to abandon her role as self-proclaimed dynasty heiress unless the public demands transparency and the rule of law be upheld.