Clinton Email Case Gets Nutty: Clinton Offers Faux Support For Faster Release… That She Could Have Done Herself

from the let's-try-this-again dept

The whole saga over Hillary Clinton’s emails is getting more and more bizarre. Last night, FOIA ninja (it beats the “FOIA terrorist” label some have given him), Jason Leopold revealed that in his FOIA lawsuit over the release of the emails, the State Department was claiming that it would take at least until January of 2016 to release the piles and piles of emails that Clinton gave them… in printed form. (In case you were living under a rock, Clinton used her own personal email server while Secretary of State, and only just recently handed over copies of the emails to the State Department — after her own staff vetted them — and then nuked the entire server).

The State Department went into great detail [pdf] explaining why it’s going to take so damn long. In large part, it’s because Clinton handed them all over in printed form, rather than digital form, and the State Department had to staff up just to go through all the emails.

As noted above, the Department received the 55,000 pages in paper form. The documents were provided in twelve bankers? boxes (approximately 24? x 15? x 10 ?? in size) with labels placed on the outside of the boxes that corresponded approximately to the timeframe of the documents within a given box. The Department initially performed tasks necessary to organize the records. This included foldering, boxing, and creating a box level inventory of the records. In consultation with the National Archives and Records Administration, the Department also conducted a page-by-page review of the documents to identify, designate, mark, and inventory entirely personal correspondence, i.e., those documents that are not federal records, included within the 55,000 pages.

Given the breadth and importance of the many foreign policy issues on which the Secretary of State and the Department work, the review of these materials will likely require consultation with a broad range of subject matter experts within the Department and other agencies, as well as potentially with foreign governments. These records are comprised of communications to or from the former Secretary of State, who was responsible for the overall direction and supervision of the full range of activities of the Department, which operates in approximately 285 locations around the globe. The Department is committed to processing the 55,000 pages as expeditiously as possible, while taking into consideration the Department?s other legal obligations.

The Department has taken multiple steps to facilitate its review of the 55,000 pages. It has developed an approach for addressing the review, upgraded the capabilities of the Department?s processing software, and dedicated staff. Currently, this project is staffed fulltime by a project manager and two case analysts, as well as nine FOIA reviewers who devote the entirety of their time at the State Department to this effort, plus other analysts and information technology specialists who provide collateral assistance to this review in addition to their regular duties. The team managing this project has met daily since early April to implement and oversee this large undertaking.

Each page of the 55,000 must be individually hand-processed in order to ensure that all information is being captured in the scanning process. The scanning process itself involves five steps that are time-consuming and labor-intensive. These are: (1) scanning (inserting barcode separator sheets between each document and its associated attachments and then scanning the documents, which includes converting them for optical character recognition [?OCR?], and then inputting the resulting OCR-ed files into the system in batches based on search segments); (2) scanning quality control (the scanned material is checked to ensure that each document is scanned properly and to flag documents that need to be re-scanned); (3) indexing (indexers review each scanned document to manually input bibliographic coding, such as the ?To,? ?From,? ?CC,? ?BCC,? ?Date Sent,? and ?Subject? fields associated with that document into the system); (4) indexing quality control (a senior indexer reviews the indexed documents to ensure that the bibliographic coding has been properly input into the system); and, (5) duplicate detection resolution (the computer analyzes the indexed documents to identify possible duplicates between the document being ingested and those documents that already exist in the system). Any possible duplicates that cannot be resolved (identified as an exact duplicate, near duplicate, not a duplicate) by automated means are pushed forward for individual review for manual adjudication. This process was made even more complicated by the fact that some, but not all, of the paper records that the Department received were double-sided. It took the Department five weeks to perform the scanning process, which was completed recently in May. There will be further work required to load these into a searchable database, which will be completed by mid-June.

When asked about it by reporters this morning, Clinton gave a really ridiculous answer, urging the State Department to speed up the work of releasing the emails, saying that she wanted them released:

?I have said repeatedly: I want those emails out. Nobody has a bigger interest in getting them released than I do,? she told reporters at a campaign stop in Iowa in a rare question-and-answer session. ?…[A]nything that [the State Department] might do to expedite that process, I heartily support.?

You know what would have expedited the release? First, using the State Department’s own email system while you were Secretary of State, so this wouldn’t have even been an issue. And, second, when all of this became an issue handing over the emails in electronic form, rather than in printed form in a bunch of boxes.

Meanwhile, the judge in the case, Judge Rudolph Contreras, is not impressed. This morning he issued a minute order telling the State Department that waiting until January of next year was unacceptable, and ordering the State Department to set a renewed schedule with rolling releases every 60 days:

As stated on the record at today’s status conference, Defendant shall file a notice to the Court on or before May 26, 2015, that includes the following: (1) a new production schedule for the Secretary Clinton e-mails that accounts for rolling production and updates from counsel every 60 days, (2) a proposed deadline for production of the Secretary Clinton e-mails relating to Benghazi, and (3) a proposed order that encapsulates the parties’ agreement on the narrowing of Plaintiff’s request concerning searches for records beyond the Secretary Clinton e-mails. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Rudolph Contreras

In the end, there may turn out to be nothing much of interest in all of those emails (though, of course, the fact that Clinton’s own staff went through them and got rid of a bunch first will keep conspiracy theorists in business for ages), but the way that Clinton has handled this whole thing is really ridiculous. Who the hell thinks it’s a good idea to print out 55,000 pages of records that were original electronic unless you’re trying to hide stuff and make life difficult for those going through it?

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Comments on “Clinton Email Case Gets Nutty: Clinton Offers Faux Support For Faster Release… That She Could Have Done Herself”

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92 Comments
anony says:

Re: Re: Who cares?

She will become President almost guaranteed, even the republicans have admitted they have nobody that can win against her. She is not incompetent she is playing the political game and just making her enemies do a lot more work than they expected to have to do.Clever woman , much more intelligent than most republicans who cannot see how they are being played, same as the birthers that accused Obama of being an illegal president even after courts had proven he was legally president and had told the birthers they were wrong they still went on and on and on about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Who cares?

I am “championing” nothing. Everyone before her has done the same thing. This is a non story that will make no difference in the end. Jeb just said last week that he would do what his idiot brother did in Iraq even knowing what we know now. THERE is incompetence and stupidity. I am not going on about this because because I think Hillary is the best choice… it’s because it’s not going to matter, no one is going to care next November, and because not one single candidate is fit for the position of POTUS!!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Who cares?

Now here’s the dumbest thing I’ve read this week so far. The stupidity in this comment start with the word “I” and ends with the word “job”.
I am more qualified than anyone the GOP has simply because I am not in anyone’s pocket and I would do what’s best for the people of this country, not what’s best for my paymasters who stuff all the campaign money in my pocket… and whether or not someone uses email (which is so 20th century just like everyone on Capital Hill) is something that you think determines qualification?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Who cares?

“I am more qualified than anyone the GOP has”

Since in Washington DC speak “well qualified” means “deeply entrenched in the established system”, by their terms, you are (probably) not.

However, by the common-sense meaning of the term, I agree with you. I would argue that any random person you pick off the street is probably better qualified than 95% of the candidates or potential candidates from either the Democrats or Republicans.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Who cares?

If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged. — Cardinal Richelieu

So how much easier would it be to hang a man (or woman) given the entire corpus of their email work to date? Take something out of context, blow it out of proportion, apologize when called on it, watch the original complaint live on (despite corrections), job done. Smear campaigns are easy and they work.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Who cares?

Everyone before her has done the same.

And? Does that somehow make it right? Does the fact that others have done the same suddenly shield her of criticism? I don’t care if every single person in her position had done the same before her, it would still deserve to be called out when she did it, just like if those who came after her also did the same.

‘Other people have done it too’ does not make it better, it makes it worse, as it means she should have known better, and yet did it anyway.

This is a non story!!

Correction, it could have been a non-story, had she used the proper email address, or handed over the requested emails in digital format, but her actions in using personal email for professional business, and acting like a child by handing over reams of printed documents instead of the digital format of them is what made it a story.

The only one to blame for this being notable story is her.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Working in education I can say that I highly think that the submission was required in paper form. Administration loves paper copies. I tried to move to a paperless system but found out they needed a physical copy of all data. It boggles my mind. One of the older retired administrators used to have all of his emails printed out to read them.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

One of the most important facts missing from this post/story is that the law requires paper submission and they will not accept electronic copies.

This is incorrect. The actual rules (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/85696.pdf) say that:


Until technology allowing archival capabilities for long-term electronic storage and retrieval of E-mail messages is available and installed, those messages warranting preservation as records (for periods longer than current E-mail systems routinely maintain them) must be printed out and filed with related records.

In other words, it is saying that the State Department has the responsibility to print out those it wishes to preserve. Nowhere does it come close to saying that electronic records cannot be submitted. In fact, it’s pretty clear that electronic records can and should be submitted, and in the process of review, the State Department can then print out those records it wishes to preserve.

Your statement is flat out wrong, and the original point in the article stands. They absolutely will accept digital records — that is how MOST email records are initially preserved. They may later be printed out for long term preservation, but the idea that they could not be delivered digitally is completely incorrect. It’s just that, in most cases, the State Department already has the digital records, because the people in question USED THE STATE DEPT’S EMAIL SYSTEM.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

This interpretation ignores that Clinton and those subject to preserving emails is responsible for picking and choosing which emails get preserved and which do not. It also ignores whom is receiving the paper copies.

They are in paper form as they’ve been determined to meet the guidelines for long term storage.

Once they’ve determined which emails are to be preserved then following regs the emails will be preserved for long term storage…..which means as quoted it must be in paper form.

There is no agency that reviews government emails and is tasked with picking and choosing which emails to retain for long term storage that is up to the person subject to the rules

andy says:

Seriously!!!

Ok i think that the author should maybe do a little research before posting a story, maybe then he will not be as confused as he seems to be here.

The republicans have been hounding Clinton for years trying to pin anything on her and even going so far as to ignore any investigation by their own people that say she did absolutely nothing wrong when it comes to the Benghazi debacle, where the republicans are screaming she did wrong but to unable to say what she is supposed to have done wrong.

This is a blatant attack on her and nothing more , one of many requesting her to provide details of her every action.

So as can be understood by any idiot she is making the republicans job as hard as she can, and using a little sarcasm at the same time by saying she wants them to release the documents asap.

What would you do if you had a bunch of idiots requesting information from you every other day and demanding you appear before commissions for questioning but then not asking any relevant questions or asking questions that just don’t have an answer.

I am happy Clinton has done this , although it is a bit petty she is just getting them back for the idiotic things they have done, also why would a Judge ask for specific emails about Benghazi when the courts and many many investigations have done investigations that have not found her at fault in any way.

Clinton is being hounded by the republicans because they are searching for something, anything to use during her presidential run and win, damn even the republican hierarchy have admitted that thy do not have anyone in their party that can succeed in the fight for Presidency, no wonder they are giving her as much hassle as they can , just as they have done during the whole of Obamas Presidency when they became birthers, even when their republican leaders who would have loved to have been able to prove fault said there is nothing wrong with his birth or his ability to run for president, damn even today there are many many websites that still say he had no right to be president and his birth certificate is forged, even when proved completely legal and correct…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Seriously!!!

I entirely agree that many in the Republican sphere have been pushing investigations and hearings and what not for purely partisan reasons. In my opinion, that’s indefensible and wrong.

But I also believe that Clinton was wrong to have used personal email during her time in office. In my opinion that was also indefensible and wrong. Even if every last email was sent and received solely for official purposes, the appearance of impropriety should have been obvious to everyone involved.

As far as I’m concerned, without staking out any position on the actual contents of any emails, whatever the motivations are of the people pushing for information Clinton brought this “controversy” on herself by her own actions and her responses to them.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Seriously!!!

Ok i think that the author should maybe do a little research before posting a story, maybe then he will not be as confused as he seems to be here.

I did lots of research.

The republicans have been hounding Clinton for years trying to pin anything on her and even going so far as to ignore any investigation by their own people that say she did absolutely nothing wrong when it comes to the Benghazi debacle, where the republicans are screaming she did wrong but to unable to say what she is supposed to have done wrong.

I recognize that and I agree that the hounding over Benghazi is nothing but political charades. But that is unrelated to the issue at hand. If there is nothing in the email, then it would have been better to do what she was supposed to do and used the State Dept’s system so that that could be revealed quickly and easily and we could all move on with our lives.

This is a blatant attack on her and nothing more , one of many requesting her to provide details of her every action.

And the easy way to deal with that is to follow the proper protocols showing she did nothing wrong and moving forward. Prolonging it, this way, actually GIVES MORE AMMO to those making political hay out of this.

So as can be understood by any idiot she is making the republicans job as hard as she can, and using a little sarcasm at the same time by saying she wants them to release the documents asap.

I don’t see how that’s accurate at all. Instead, she’s making it easier for them to dream up conspiracy theories about what happened by hiding the evidence.

What would you do if you had a bunch of idiots requesting information from you every other day and demanding you appear before commissions for questioning but then not asking any relevant questions or asking questions that just don’t have an answer.

I would not hide information, not use the official system, and then delete my entire server before handing over 55,000 sheets of paper.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

She hasn’t even done that. Paper print out copies of self selected emails is so far from legal it isn’t even funny. The only reason someone would do this is because of damning evidence contained within the email server. She is not in jail because she has access to blackmail on powerful people. That is the same reason why she thinks she will get to become president in her own name this time. She might even be right.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

…why she’s not in a cell awaiting trial for this?…

What crime did she commit?

And even if she did commit a crime there’s still bail, bond, and release-on-recognizence. Considerations that everybody else gets.

Typically those who are deemed a ‘flight risk’ are jailed until trial. Does anybody think this lady can disappear into a crowd?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That was my first thought too… but the answer is that Ladar Levison had the information requested for a time sensitive purpose with regards to a federal criminal case.

Hillary Clinton on the other hand did the same thing in regards to a FOIA request; no criminal investigation.

So that’s part of the reason why they’re being treated differently.

Really, Levison should have run for president… then he would have been just as protected.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Furthermore the time it takes to scan the documents is literally negligible.

I tend to agree. Surely the state department has high-speed document scanners that will take an entire ream of paper in one batch.

The real time consuming part will be in the vetting of each message for sensitive information that is exempted from FOIA like SS#’s and such. That can’t be automated – even if Clinton did a bullshit job of grepping the original messages to decide what to exclude on her end. Doing it ‘right’ will take forever.

JBDragon says:

Re: Re:

They do the same for Obama!!! For a Example The Dropping Bombs on Terrorists that BUSH did. CODE PINK for example was all over his for that. Even going so far as Hanging out near his ranch. Obama has dropped 10 times as many and where are they? I just hear Crickets.

The Patriot Act. Bush signed into existence. People don’t like it. It was set to Expire and OBAMA not only extended it, but expanded it. Does anyone go after him for it? No! I can go on and On. Clinton is no different. Both Clinton’s seem pretty corrupt. I sure wasn’t a fan of BUSH. He was a HUGE RINO which is why OBAMA has tripled down on most everything BUSH did and no one seems to care that Obama is doing it.

Anonymous Coward says:

> In fact, it’s pretty clear that electronic records can and should be submitted, and in the process of review

Citation required. Really.

All you’ve done is quote something that can arguably be interpreted in a way other than CNN how interpreted it. But you have not provided anything that goes the additional step of backing up what you claim is “pretty clear.”

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

All you’ve done is quote something that can arguably be interpreted in a way other than CNN how interpreted it. But you have not provided anything that goes the additional step of backing up what you claim is “pretty clear.”

Holy shit. If you are honestly arguing that the rules require State Department officials to all print out all of their emails, that are already electronically stored, JUST SO the State Department can then scan them back into their electronic system, you are so far gone that I cannot help you.

You are wrong. The State Department can and does make use of electronic records all the time. It will then print out a copy for preservation IN ADDITION to the electronic copies.

Nowhere does it require only paper copies nor does it say it will not accept electronic copies. You are wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I can’t tell if you are just ignorant of the way government works – where literalism in process reigns supreme – or too ideological to care.

The passage you quoted is literally titled “How to Preserve E-Mail Records” and is explicitly instructions to users, not admins. Clinton was an email user, she delivered the emails for preservation, she followed the process in the directive.

But hey, lets say I really am too far gone for help. Could you help CNN instead? Explain why they retracted the very accusation you are hanging your hat on now? Is it a conspiracy by CNN to avoid impugning holy Hillary? Or is there more here than you have been willing to admit?

Anonymous Coward says:

Why would Clinton have a problem and even care if the emails get released as soon as possible….

….after all we already know she deleted a bunch of emails….so if she did what Republicans are contending then every “bad” email would already be deleted thus making paper or electronic submission a non issue.

And wouldn’t she want all the drama surrounding her emails over with sooner rather than later and closer to the election

Bubo Sibiricus (profile) says:

Ya know.....

I tend to vote D more than anything (I will vote R if an R is not a complete nutjob, and this is getting more difficult over the years), and Hillary has been pissing me off. From carpetbagging NY, to bullying Warren out of the running (but demonstrating how Warren is spineless, thanks I guess?) to this stupidity, and to the hawkishness she has cultivated over the years, and the forever drifting right or “whatever”, I’m just plain tired of her shit.

She’s /not/ a tech-illiterate. She thinks she can play dumb and the people will buy it, but she is tech savvy and a lot of us know it. There was no excuse for what she’s done. It’s slimy.

I will not be donating to her campaign, nor do any legwork. Bernie Sanders, even if he is a long-shot, is more worthy of my time, vote, and money. He actually has some integrity, which is a lot more than I can say for H.

wodun says:

“Who the hell thinks it’s a good idea to print out 55,000 pages of records that were original electronic unless you’re trying to hide stuff and make life difficult for those going through it?”

Oh certainly not the State Department who is taking those emails and splitting them up into different categories so that it is harder to piece them all together.

No_Rush says:

On the one hand, Ms. Clinton’s process is ridiculous.

On the other hand, it’s actually the State Department that comes out looking stupid here. Any decent litigation shop in New York or D.C. could have 55K documents scanned and uploaded to a database in a week. If they really have nine people and a project manager at work daily for months on this project–well, it’s our tax dollars at work, but not very hard at work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

i come to this site for the tech news,
you should loose the political articles, or you may loose a reader

It’s kind of a pain, but I’ve discovered a trick: with the proper selection of browser add-ons, VPNs, and cryptographic tools, it’s possible to access TechDirt in a manner that allows you to choose which articles you read, and which ones you don’t.

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