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OIG criticism of Clinton and Powell is appropriate

Caricature of SteveThe Office of Inspector General (OIG) today released its investigation of how the Department of State (DOS) and former Secretaries of State have handled official communications including highly controversial email accounts.

The examination covers the period from 1997 to the present and the tenures of Secretaries Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

Clinton and Powell are singled out for their imperious disregard of established procedures

I read all 83 pages. The evidence is compelling.

Key Findings

The OIG notes that federal law since 1943 defines any document “regardless of physical form or characteristics” as a record—that includes email. (p. 7) Furthermore, OIG states that government offices linked to external email systems must keep all those messages in the “appropriate record keeping system.” (p. 9)

OIG concludes that DOS has failed to keep abreast of technological advances in electronic communication and to employ prudent measures to minimize risk to their security or to maintain communication records as mandated. (p. 47).

Although paper and electronic documents exist for Secretaries Kerry back to Albright, they are poorly indexed, which significantly impeded the OIG investigation. (p. 22)

Sloppy record keeping is endemic among federal agencies. (p. 15) And the DOS Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS) is harshly criticized for its failure to review record-keeping practices over the tenure of the last five Secretaries. (p. 17)

Former Secretaries

Madeleine Albright (1997-2001)

Email and electronic communication were in their embryonic stage during Albright’s tenure and she concedes she was not expert at it and did not use it. (p. 23)  The study supports her contention.

Colin Powell (2001-2005)

DOS began using departmental email during Powell’s years in office but he ignored it—electing to use his private email account instead. (p. 24)

Powell and his staff took few steps to abide by existing record keeping policies or to preserve material when he left office.

Condoleezza Rice (2005—2009)

Rice asserted that she never used either personal or departmental email accounts and there is no evidence she did. (p. 25)

Hillary Clinton (2009—2013)

Clinton eschewed departmental email in favor of a personal account and server she kept at home. (p. 26). The OIG criticized Clinton for her failure to comply with federal requirements both during and after her years in office.

DOS was concerned when Clinton was secretary by her insistence on using her BlackBerry inside DOS headquarters when BlackBerry vulnerability to hacking was well known within the agency of (p. 36) OIG further documents what appears to be nothing less than a campaign of obstruction and obfuscation by the Secretary as well as her present and past staff to the OIG investigation. (27)

John Kerry (2013—present)

The OIG finds no evidence that current Secretary Kerry has violated or ignored federal guidelines for using email and preserving records. Although Kerry acknowledges he occasionally uses his personal account, OIG concludes that Kerry  uses his DOS account most of the time and complies with mandated government regulations. (p. 28)

The OIG finds that three former DOS employees used non-department email accounts for official business—Powell, Clinton and Jonathan Scott Gration, former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya under Secretary Clinton. Gration blatantly ignored pleas by DOS against using his personal email account. (p. 44)

DOS has been the target of a growing number of cyber attacks dating back at least ten years. The threat was the stimulus for initiating and using only DOS-approved communication software and policies. (p. 35)

Breaking the law

The investigation documents a persistent pattern by Hillary Clinton and Colin Powell of flouting protocol by using their personal email instead of their department accounts.

OIG clearly debunks Clinton and staff claims that her personal email account was ever reviewed or approved. Furthermore, a staff member who raised concerns about Clinton’s practice was warned not to discuss it in the future (p. 43)

All too familiar

Clinton especially clearly disregarded mandated procedures. The OIG investigation reminds us why so many people dislike and mistrust her.

She ignored DOS guidelines for secure use of email because it was inconvenient. She risked exposure to sensitive communication because she wanted the comfort of her home server.

She and her staff failed to cooperate with the OIG investigation because she doesn’t want anyone to know what she’s up to.

She lied about her email practices once the story broke and continued to lie and change her story as the truth emerged.

Once again we see that it’s all about the Clintons—Bill and Hillary. Their arrogance and disdain for the rules never ceases.

To those who ask, “But what about Colin Powell? He did it, too.”

Yes, but he’s not running for president.   Hillary is and her words and actions will have consequences if she’s the next occupant of the White House.  The pattern is clear.

What laws will she ignore once she walks into the Oval Office?   We should consider that carefully before election day in November.

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