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Friday, March 6, 2015

Clinton emails are reflection of trust

Telegraph Editorial

For anyone inclined to support Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, the disclosure that she exclusively used a private email account to conduct government business when she was secretary of state is a very troubling matter.

Much more than a simple matter of convenience, that choice reflects a deliberate attempt by Clinton to hide her actions from public scrutiny. Now being called into question is not just her judgment on policy issues, but whether voters can trust her to lead the country. ...

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For anyone inclined to support Hillary Rodham Clinton for president, the disclosure that she exclusively used a private email account to conduct government business when she was secretary of state is a very troubling matter.

Much more than a simple matter of convenience, that choice reflects a deliberate attempt by Clinton to hide her actions from public scrutiny. Now being called into question is not just her judgment on policy issues, but whether voters can trust her to lead the country.

Clinton violated no laws, but her conduct contradicted Obama administration policy and flouted the president’s promise to lead a historically transparent government.

“Very specific guidance has been given to agencies all across the government, which is specifically that employees of the Obama administration should use their official email accounts when they’re conducting official government business,” Obama press secretary Josh Earnest said this week.

When personal email accounts are used for official business, he said, administration policy is that a copy should be sent to a government account so it can be preserved for future reference by the public, historians and Congress.

This was not done. And it wasn’t until last year, after a State Department request, that Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of her privately stored emails. The problem is that Clinton’s advisers, without government oversight, decided which of her emails would become part of the historical record. Were another 10,000 pages held back? Twenty thousand? Zero? Nobody knows, and Clinton isn’t telling.

As an indication of just how seriously she considers the issue, Clinton went to the effort this week of tweeting, “I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.”

However, she has yet to explain why she did not follow administration policy and conduct her government business with a government account in the first place.

Earnest also noted this week that the government runs a separate email system to exchange classified information to ensure sensitive information is never sent through an outside server. Did Clinton observe this policy or ignore it as well?

As computer security experts warn, emails kept on private servers are more vulnerable to hacker attacks than messages stored on government servers. So, while Clinton sought to limit public disclosure of government business, she actually made it more vulnerable to access from the nation’s enemies.

Not surprisingly, Clinton’s detractors have pounced, particularly the ones in search of Benghazi bogeymen. Even though the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Libya have been investigated ad nauseam with consistent findings that there were no intelligence lapses, a special House committee issued subpoenas Wednesday for Clinton’s emails from when she was secretary of state.

Clinton staffers said this week that her actions were in line with previous secretaries of state who also used private email addresses. But of course, “everybody did it” is not a legitimate excuse.

Jerome Reisman, a New York-based attorney experienced in government ethics, told The Associated Press that a private server gives the user more control over their communications and makes it more difficult to subpoena electronic records as part of investigations as well as being significantly less secure.

“This is not an issue necessarily of was it legal or was it illegal. It was wrong,” Reisman said. “It is very important. It reflects on her character. It reflects on her role. It reflects on the model she serves to the rest of public employees.”

Exactly.