How Hillary Clinton Exposed Her Emails To Foreign Spies… In Order To Hide Them From The American Public

from the how-hard-is-it-to-just-use-the-government's-email dept

So the whole Hillary Clinton email story is getting worse and worse for Clinton. We already noted that there was no way she couldn’t have known that she had to use government email systems for government work, as there was a big scandal from the previous administration using private emails and within the early Obama administration as well. This morning we discovered that Clinton also gave clintonemail.com email addresses to staffers, which undermines the argument made by Hillary’s spokesperson that it was okay for her to use her own email address because any emails with staffers would still be archived by the State Department thanks to their use of state.gov emails. But that’s clearly not the case when she’s just emailing others with the private email addresses.

As we noted yesterday, there are two separate key issues here, neither of which look good for Clinton. First, is the security question. There’s no question at all that as Secretary of State she dealt with all sorts of important, confidential and classified information. Doing that on your own email server seems like a pretty big target for foreign intelligence. In fact, Gawker points out, correctly, that Hillary’s private email address was actually revealed a few years ago when the hacker “Guccifer” revealed the inbox of former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal. So it was known years ago that Clinton used a private email account, and you have to think it was targeted.

Anonymous State Department “cybersecurity” officials are apparently shoving each other aside to leak to the press that they warned Clinton that what she was doing was dangerous, but couldn’t convince her staff to do otherwise:

?We tried,? an unnamed current employee told Al Jazeera. ?We told people in her office that it wasn’t a good idea. They were so uninterested that I doubt the secretary was ever informed.?

The AP has a somewhat weird and slightly confused article detailing the setup of the email system, but seems to imply things that aren’t clearly true.

It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches. Hoteham was listed as the customer at Clinton’s $1.7 million home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua in records registering the Internet address for her email server since August 2010.

The Hoteham personality also is associated with a separate email server, presidentclinton.com, and a non-functioning website, wjcoffice.com, all linked to the same residential Internet account as Mrs. Clinton’s email server. The former president’s full name is William Jefferson Clinton.

While Eric Hoteham may be a mysterious non-entity, as Julian Sanchez points out, an early Clinton staffer was named Eric Hothem. Of course, Stanford cybersecurity guru Jonthan Mayer also notes that Hillary’s old home server is still online and running Windows Server 2008 R2.

However, the AP reports that the email has moved around a bit over the past few years:

In November 2012, without explanation, Clinton’s private email account was reconfigured to use Google’s servers as a backup in case her own personal email server failed, according to Internet records. That is significant because Clinton publicly supported Google’s accusations in June 2011 that China’s government had tried to break into the Google mail accounts of senior U.S. government officials. It was one of the first instances of a major American corporation openly accusing a foreign government of hacking.

Then, in July 2013, five months after she resigned as secretary of state, Clinton’s private email server was reconfigured again to use a Denver-based commercial email provider, MX Logic, which is now owned by McAfee Inc., a top Internet security company.

That likely means the email was much more secure after July of 2013, but it certainly raises questions about how secure it was for years before that.

Though, we do know that it was secure from one thing: FOIA requests. That is the second of the two big issues raised by this whole thing. By using her own email setup, she was clearly able to hide important documents from FOIA requests. In fact, as Gawker notes, her staff’s defense of the use of her private email, actually now confirms emails as legit that the State Department denied existed back when Gawker made a FOIA request years ago.

That’s because following that Guccifer hack, Gawker filed a FOIA for those emails and was told they don’t exist. Yet, now Clinton staffers point to that old Gawker article to suggest that the private email address is “old news,” thus confirming that the emails were legit, even though the State Department denied them.

The Clinton camp?s claims about the email account being above-board is also contradicted by the State Department?s response to Gawker?s inquires two years ago. After we published the story about Blumenthal?s correspondence with Clinton, we filed a FOIA request with the agency for all correspondence to date between Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal, specifically including any messages to or from the hdr22@clintonemail.com account. The screenshots and other documents released by Guccifer?which have now been validated by Clinton?s spokesman?confirmed that such messages existed.

But the State Department replied to our request by saying that, after an extensive search, it could find no records responsive to our request. That is not to say that they found the emails and refused to release them?it is conceivable, after all, that the State Department might have attempted to deny the release of the Clinton-Blumenthal correspondence on grounds of national security or Blumenthal?s own privacy. Instead, the State Department confirmed that it didn?t have the emails at all.

Which is exactly why Clinton used a non-State Department email server to conduct her official business.

According to the NY Times, the State Department says that it won’t go back to correct the FOIA requests that it responded to in the past, saying that such records didn’t exist. Instead, it will only now search the emails that have been turned over by Clinton’s staff. That is another 50,000 emails, but no one knows what emails the staff removed or refused to turn over.

Either way, there are two huge problems here. Clinton likely exposed her emails to foreign spies, while keeping them away from the American public.

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Comments on “How Hillary Clinton Exposed Her Emails To Foreign Spies… In Order To Hide Them From The American Public”

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60 Comments
zero-commercial radio (user link) says:

grammar bugaboo

Please do not begin sentences with “so”! I’m hoping that youth can be brought up to use English properly, which is getting quite difficult with this bizarre usage virus going around… especially prevalent amongst academics & intellectuals, interestingly. (BTW, Harry Shearer has done a great job in sampling this phenomenon in his weekly “Le Show” — surely the most censored (as in taken-off-air) NPR show ever.)
Other than that, thanks for some great, needed reporting as usual!

BentFranklin (profile) says:

Re: grammar bugaboo

Longtime listener of Harry Shearer’s Le Show. You can stream or download it here:

http://wwno.org/programs/le-show

On the one hand, many of his bits, including News from Outside the Bubble, News of the Warm, Apologies of the Week, Tales of Airport Security, and his comedic sketches are excellent. On the other hand, I find many others tired or way off the mark, including the aforementioned “So They Say” bit.

Plus, I was really taken aback recently when I heard him criticizing the use of nitrogen gas, of all things, in a chemical plant, insinuating that it’s toxic. Because of that I just decided to maybe not be such a dedicated listener any more. But if you can separate the wheat from the chaff, you’ll get some good wheat.

YMMV

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: grammar bugaboo

That sounds more like an Onion piece… “Scientists discover that 78% of the air in a chemical plant is Nitrogen!”

I’ve found Le Show to be a mixed bag, and all rehash. So I prefer to get my facts from the same sources, and sidestep the negative vitriol passed off as comedy.

I hope you see what I did there 😉

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: grammar bugaboo

Forsooth, thou hast struck thine nail on the head! The honourable English language, unmutable and nice, must be preserved!

So… the grammar you used in writing your post fails against multiple modern style guides, and yet you refuse to accept a turn of phrase that’s been common parlance for over fifty years? Say it ain’t so!

I’ll agree that it’s missing the ellipsis, but then you used an ampersand where the full written “and” was more appropriate, and ended that sentence with a preposition, and then followed THAT up by starting a bracketed clause AFTER the period, re-using curved braces inside curved braces, and then tossing a period inside the closure as if your bracketed clause was, in fact, its own sentence and not the clause the braces indicate it should be.

Of all these things, missing an ellipsis seems pretty forgivable, and hardly worth ranting about, especially in the context of a blog.

Kal Zekdor (profile) says:

Re: Re: grammar bugaboo

Though, I’d like to point out that the first parenthetical in his post follows a full stop, and encapsulates a discrete sentence. In informal grammar, this indicates an aside, a thought tangentially related to the current topic, but not fitting in the paragraph flow. (Yes, in case you were wondering, I am enjoying myself.) It is perfectly valid, though, again, less than formal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: grammar bugaboo

So maybe you could start with the praise and end with the unneeded criticism? But it looks like you needed an entire paragraph to express your hatred of the use of “so” at the beginning of a sentence, so maybe you can’t be bothered with human courtesies. So maybe just don’t comment at all?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Email itself is highly insecure. The important thing is whether emails sent between government officials are encrypted, or just naked plain text like normal email?

And if sent in plain text, it’s not inconceivable that countries like China or Russia might have had some noses to the ground sniffing it up. The Snowden revelations gave the world an extraordinarily detailed how-to book on digital snooping, so of course other countries are now going to be copying some of those NSA methods even if they were not previously.

Anonymous Coward says:

While all this is likely true, I don’t think many people will really care about this ‘scandal’, other then people who already hate Hillary and already won’t vote for her.

I mean, did you know that Mitt Romney and his entire staff bought their work computers before Romney left office as governor of Massachusetts? It was for the same reason, to keep records from the public, and it was just as illegal under Massachusetts state law.

Yet did you hear ANYONE from either party ever attack Romney for it the two times he ran for president? Nope. Most people are probably not even aware that this happened.

Anonymous Coward says:

So what?????

Of all the political scandals in the world over the years this is such a non-story. We already know how foreign spies, and even our own, access anything they want anyway. We also know that ALL politicians, gov’t officials, keep as much as possible out of the public eye. Do you really think she’s alone in all of this? This is a total non-story that will be forgotten in 3 months time!!

Anonymous Coward says:

“people who already hate Hillary and already won’t vote for her.”

This country needs a second Clinton president as much as it needed a second (or perhaps a third) Bush. The Constitution’s ban on 3rd presidential desparately terms needs to be extended to close family members — and hopefully before 2016, when the likely presidential election will be between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. Or do some people favor bringing back the Monarchy?

And yes, people who want to hold government officials (of all stripes) for their wrongdoings will always be branded as partisan haters … or worse (sometimes much worse).

Anonymous Coward says:

Let it go, Mike...

This is a non-story.

“But maybe Clinton’s approach was more secure than using the government’s e-mail. During Clinton’s second year on the job in 2010, WikiLeaks posted online several thousand state.gov e-mails. None were from the clintonemail.com handle.”

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/03/hillary-clinton-ran-private-e-mail-system-while-us-secretary-of-state/

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Let it go, Mike...

I think this is a real story for two reasons:

1) It’s really freaking scary in an intelligence- / surveillance-minded civilization that our nation’s top administrative offices can’t get their email system in order.

2) It’s really freaking scary that the office of a public agent is more interested in securing its communication from the public by way of legitimate channels than securing it from foreign threats by way of illegitimate ones.

The first can be attributed to incompetence, which is yet another recent blow to our democratic process as a means to keep tyrants out of power. The second raises questions of the office’s interest in serving the public. When she’s hiding her actions from people who have a right to know, isn’t that more or less an indication of subversion?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Let it go, Mike...

This is a non-story.

How so?

“But maybe Clinton’s approach was more secure than using the government’s e-mail. During Clinton’s second year on the job in 2010, WikiLeaks posted online several thousand state.gov e-mails. None were from the clintonemail.com handle.”

So because that leak didn’t include her emails, it proves her emails were secure? That’s hilarious.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Let it go, Mike...

It’s a non-story because she’s not the only one and 3 months from now nobody is going to care about any of this.

No, it doesn’t prove anything about her email security in itself, but they were more secure in the fact that they were in a place that was much less of a target than a official gov’t system.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Sexism is still an issue.

I’m sorry, but that’s a card that Hillary gets to use. When she was campaigning, it would have been appropriate for them to criticize her lack of scruples. They didn’t and instead criticized her lack of penis.

If you’re running for office, personally I could care less whether or not you have a penis. But some scruples would be nice.

Just because she’s a 21st century politician doesn’t make it less wrong when sexism guns are brought to bear in her direction.

MikeinKC says:

This is just one more negative for the GOP to use against Hillary, and perhaps Hillary would be a bad president, but what worries me is what happens when the Republicans control Congress, the Presidency, the Supreme Court, and majority of state governors? There’s something to be said for the checks and balances of multi-party government. (And yes I would be raising the same concerns if the Dems were in control.)

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re:

We actually need a GOP All The Things government in all branches because it’s the only cure for Partisan Nitwit Disease. When there aren’t any Dems to blame, who will they bash? I’m half expecting a witch hunt followed by “Nobody expects the US Inquisition!” Pose

Yes indeed, a good strong dose of political chemotherapy might just break the stranglehold the two main parties have on the country. Shame it’ll wreck the economy, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, and you sure as hell can’t fix stupid.

No, I’m not looking forward to it but that’s where we’re headed.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Who would make a good president? Or an adequate president?

I think the presidential elections are at this point moot. Sure, it will affect the agenda for their term regarding some controversial issues, but those issues are trivial in contrast to the ones we cannot change.

I’m pretty sure the average American doesn’t want intelligence agencies spying on their communications. Even at risk of a terrorist infestation.

I’m pretty sure the average American doesn’t want the US to have policies that condone torture, much less actually implement a torture program.

I’m pretty sure the average American doesn’t want the police, the Department of Justice, an awful lot of US agents and elected representatives to be above the law, where they aren’t even tried for crimes that would send the rest of us to prison for life.

No president is going to change these. No referendum is going to change these. No elected representative is going to change these.

Anonymous Coward says:

News Cycle

Clinton aside – and i’m glad this is being covered – the news cycle is playing us all like a fiddle. Can any of you see how coordinated this and stories like it are across the entire journalism spectrum?

Someone is in control of a big leash of media attack dogs to be released whenever they choose on whoever they deem worthy. This week it’s Clinton, a few weeks ago it was Brian Williams. Who will it be next?

The fiddle plays on.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

It would be if I paid attention to mainstream US news, maybe.

But yes, news sources get to not only decide what to cover, but its priority and spin, and that’s too much power I’d want to give to any mainstream news source.

To be fair, it does mean that I sometimes qualify as living under a rock when I completely miss the zeitgeist on Oscar snubs or Left Sharks or who played against who in the Superbowl. Frankly, it’d be hard for me to care less anyway.

It’s possible that I’m a rarity in this regard, but given our accessibility to the internet (which is in some places more available than cable channels), I’d hope that there’s a significant subculture of people choosing news sources off the web, rather than the standard channels 2, 4 and 7 defaults.

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