So a story about Hillary Clinton broke over the weekend that I didn’t comment on or post. I waited to chime in because frankly, I had more questions than I had a basis upon which to form an opinion. That hasn’t changed. I’m still flummoxed by what is going on here, but we did get some more information that I want to comment on.
In case you missed the story, Hillary apparently used a personal email address for all of her communications as Secretary Of State. She didn’t even have an official government email account. Wtf? I mean seriously, wtf? Is there no HR department to coordinate with IT to set up an email account? Did Hillary not know that she, of all people will never be able to get away with anything, ever in her life? Other than the fact that this was deliberately done (by the administration) in order to hide communications, nothing else about this makes sense to me. Why would someone who is potentially going to run for president leave themselves so open for accusations of corruption?
I don’t know. But the new information is that the New York Times left out some very relevant context in this story. The first important piece of information the Times left out, is something that Michael Tomansky from The Daily Beast discovered when he reached out to the State Department for clarification on something in the Times piece. The Times piece referenced "new regulations" at State, but they didn’t disclose when the new regulations went into effect. Tomansky got an answer to that question. From his piece:
A senior State Department official emailed me to say that “in October 2014, a Department-wide notice was sent out which explained each employee’s responsibilities for records management. Consistent with 2013 NARA guidance, it included instructions that generally employees should not use personal email for the transaction of government business, but that in the very limited circumstances when it is necessary, all records must be forwarded to a government account or otherwise preserved in the Department’s electronic records systems.”
Okay, that’s a pretty big piece of information to omit. This piece of information is so relevant, that it completely contradicts the title of the Times piece:
Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email Account at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules
Ummmm, no. You can’t break a rule that didn’t take effect until after you left your position.
The second piece of information left out of the Times piece is that Colin Powell also used a personal email account. John Kerry is the first secretary of state to (ostensibly) primarily use his State Department email account. Context is important, and leaving it out in this case was done to make it seem as if Hillary was being extra, super shady and behaving in an unprecedented way. She clearly wasn’t.
Before you assume that this piece is a defense of Hillary, let me stop you. Let me repeat; the only reason to use personal email accounts to conduct government business, is to hide things. She knew what she was doing and why she was doing it, just as Colin Powell (and probably all of their predecessors) did. And while they didn’t break any laws or departmental rules, they did behave in a nefarious way by hiding things from the public.
To be clear, this isn’t being done to hide things from us. This practice is designed to hide things from history. These communications can be classified so that we don’t see them anytime soon. Insuring that they’re not archived at all, means there’s no chance that they will be declassified in the future.
No, Hillary didn’t technically do anything wrong, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t wrong. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out why she would take the extra step of not getting a State Department email address at all.
The Times piece should have been about the record keeping practices at the State Department. But since the "reporter" decided to do a hack hit piece in Hillary, we will once again be having the wrong conversation.
So close to informative journalism, and yet so far away.