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Ron Fink: Should We Care What Email System Hillary Clinton Used?

Over the past few days we found out that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who may run for president next year, exclusively used a private email account to conduct her government business.

Just so you don’t think that this is some sort of “right-wing conspiracy,” a theory advanced by none other than James Carville, who is a loyal supporter of all things Clinton, it was the New York Times that broke the story. The NYT is not known for its support of conservative views.

Should any of this bother us? Well, yes, on many fronts.

First are the many dubious tales she and her team have put forward to justify her actions. Chief among them are her claim that “the server contains personal communications from my husband and me,” to which her husband and alleged receiver of the emails replied that he has only sent two messages ever using the technology. So who one is telling the truth?

Then there is the “I heard it on the news” response of President Barack Obama to questions about what he knew and when he knew it. Does anyone believe that in the four years Clinton worked for him that he never got an email from her?

Another claim that lacks credibility is that she said she had never emailed classified material to anyone. Now you have to wonder how a person in her position could effectively do their job without discussing state secrets using email. Even talking about anything that is classified in other than a secure environment is a huge breach of security protocols.

Of course, how did she read classified communications and reports if she didn’t have a government account? Are we to believe that in this electronic age that this kind of information was only provided to her on paper? She must have had a really big filing cabinet.

I watched most of her press conference last week. It was clearly designed to put this issue to rest but I doubt that she was successful. First was the venue — the United Nations, which provided some insulation from the press but not enough. Then there was the manner used to select the few reporters allowed to attend by limiting attendance and only allowing 24 hours for media to acquire credentials.

But that didn’t slow down the reporters who showed up — there were some tough questions, and a clearly distressed Clinton cut off questions after only 15 minutes.

Her answers didn’t appear to satisfy reporters. Following the interview, the Associated Press immediately filed a lawsuit against the State Department to release all documents related to her service. Apparently the AP didn’t buy her story.

According to many commentators, Clinton appears to have misled Congress and news organizations that requested specific information concerning actions she took on a variety of issues. It appears that a substantial amount of information may have been withheld even after the court ordered her to produce the documents. So, it’s likely that legal action could also follow.

So why should any of this bother us? Well, I think it’s important to have full confidence that the president of the United State is telling the truth. She wants to be president so she should demonstrate that she can be trusted, and considering her lengthy history that’s going to be a tough sale.

The other issue is national security. Many in the world would like nothing better than to see the United States conquered and all of us subjected to some other form of government. Our enemies need to know what we are doing, what we are planning to do and how we plan to do it. What better way than to read our government’s most private communications.

Other government officials have been removed from office and severely punished for allowing classified information to slip into the hands of people who weren’t directly involved with the issue at hand.

One was a retired four-star general and head of the Central Intelligence Agency, David Petraeus, who was convicted of providing several notebooks of classified information to a lady friend for use in a book she was about to publish. While this case was an overt violation of security requirements, it demonstrates the seriousness of the issue.

Is it plausible that Clinton didn’t know it was a bad idea to use unclassified email systems maintained on privately managed servers? Well, here is what the White House press secretary Josh Earnest said last week: "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."

So, it appears that the right guidance was given, but of course that’s only for the little people and not Clinton.

Not only did she fail to follow the guidance, she didn’t even take the correct precautions for the iPad she relied on. Fox News reported that a “security source said efforts to bring the device in line with security requirements could not be met, but she went ahead anyway.”

Before she is anointed by Democrats as their presidential candidate, Clinton has a lot of questions to answer.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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