Federal Judge Not Amused By State Department's Continued Withholding Of Hillary Clinton's Emails

from the and-not-even-HE-can-force-it-to-work-faster dept

A federal judge has expressed his displeasure at the State Department's ongoing foot-dragging over the release of Hillary Clinton's emails.

US District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras told lawyers in a Washington, DC courtroom that "the government put me between a rock and a hard place" by failing to meet the deadline and asking for more time. Contreras didn't want the emails released without being properly vetted for sensitive information — State says it needs more time for the vetting process — but postponing the release was also to the detriment of the American public.

"To state the obvious, these documents have a lot of public interest, and the timing is important," Contreras said.
Contreras undersells the public interest -- which has been high ever since it was discovered Clinton had been conducting official (and sensitive) business using a private email server. Now that Clinton is a presidential candidate, the release of the emails could adversely affect her campaign.

I don't believe the State Department has a personal stake in Clinton's potential presidency, but it's operating in a way that would encourage people to come to that conclusion. Instead, this is likely business as usual for the agency.

For one, government agencies protect their own. Clinton's use of a private server makes the State Department look bad because no one with the power to do so ever made an effort to shut her down. Released emails show Clinton dealt with classified material, something that should never have been routed to a private email account. The State Department's lackadaisical handling of this matter would only be highlighted further by additional releases.

That's one aspect of it. The other is that the State Department is just generally terrible at handling FOIA responses. The agency's Inspector General released a report in January that showed the agency was more than just merely inept. Its FOIA response system is almost completely broken.
The report from State Department Inspector General Steve Linick points to a series of failures in the procedures the office of the secretary used to respond to public records requests, including a lack of written policies and training, as well as inconsistent oversight by senior personnel. The report also faulted the secretary’s office for a practice of not searching for emails responsive to FOIA requests unless the request specifically asked for emails or demanded “all records” on a topic.

“These procedural weaknesses, coupled with the lack of oversight by leadership and failure to routinely search emails, appear to contribute to inaccurate and incomplete responses,” the report says.

[...]

The report also points to extreme delays in other cases, such as an Associated Press request for Clinton’s schedules that was pending without substantive response for five years.
The outcome, however, is indiscernible from an active effort to shore up a candidate's presidential race. Judge Contreras is aware of this. He's attempting to set another hard deadline for the release of still-withheld emails, but there's only so much he can do when the State Department has casually rolled past other deadlines it's been given.
"Explain to me again why something that's gone through the legal reviews could not be posted until a week from Thursday," Contreras responded. "This seems like an unreasonably long period of time to post, or give access to, something that has already passed clearance."

The judge ordered State to provide "a very specific description" the following day of why the cleared files couldn't be released sooner. He also told State to consider alternative methods of disclosing the emails that might give VICE News access to them sooner, such as allowing the pages to be viewed on a screen without actually delivering them.
As it stands now -- even without malice aforethought by the State Department -- four states will have concluded their primaries before the agency has to produce the documents.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2016 @ 2:14pm

    She is shown just how well she respects any laws and regulations that restrict what she wants to do, and is still a candidate for protecting the constitution!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      rw (profile), 10 Feb 2016 @ 2:21pm

      Re:

      Instead of "protecting" shouldn't you have said "circumventing"?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2016 @ 5:05am

        Re: Re:

        Always amazes me, people happily stand aside and let their leaders decide their rights don't apply in some situations instead of taking charge and forcing them to acknowledge they always apply.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2016 @ 6:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          What have you done to let your "leaders" know that you are taking charge and will be forcing them to acknowledge your rights?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      That One Other Not So Random Guy, 10 Feb 2016 @ 2:44pm

      Re:

      Consti-whaaa? Oh, that little thing. Pfft. Why are we still acting like ANYONE in a public position gives a shit about it? Why are we still expecting them to? They've trampled on so much of it without a peep from the Amerikan Sheeples. So it's no wonder they don't respect it. We certainly don't appreciate it. If we did, there would be a million bodies descending on capital hill. What's that? American Idol's last season!!! Maybe the revolution can wait until the next commercial.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2016 @ 5:35pm

        Re: Re:

        Well it's quite clear when there's Bernie Sanders leading the Democrats. A Clear Socialist. It's out in the open and people just don't care! A even bigger Government and stealing more money from one group to give to others. Free Collage, because Public Education has worked so well,...NOT! Since government doesn't have money, it steals it from others, who in the end will this effect? The ever shrinking Middle class. Because that's the largest group of people. You can tax 100% of the money form the so called RICH and it would only be a drop in the bucket of the money needed NOW, let alone this crap.

        To pay off the Debt now would cost every single Man,Woman and Child $40,000 and it's climbing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2016 @ 4:41am

          Re: Re: Re:

          A Clear Socialist

          It is very sad that the best the Dems can do is put up a Socialist and a criminal.

          You can tax 100% of the money form the so called RICH and it would only be a drop in the bucket of the money needed NOW,

          Don't confuse people with facts. Dems are emotional and thus are drawn to Bernie and his ilk. Who doesn't want free stuff?

          To pay off the Debt now would cost every single Man,Woman and Child $40,000 and it's climbing

          All we heard about when Bush was in office was the war and the debt. Obama has ridden the debt to a level that may break us with no slowdown in sight and yet not a peep from the liberal media. He has done nothing for jobs and has created racial tension where little existed. But there are still people wishing he could do 4 more years.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2016 @ 6:44am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You sound very confused, perhaps a better understanding of the issues is in order.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2016 @ 8:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Free Collage, because Public Education has worked so well,...NOT!

          Now I have no choice but to agree.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2016 @ 11:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            College used to be subsidized heavily, it no longer is.

            Public education has worked very well in many areas for many decades. Inner city slums not so much, you think funding has anything to do with it? Remove funding like congress and the states have been doing for some time and guess what ... you reap what you sow. Private schooling in not the panacea as some claim, there are many problems with the so called reform they are pushing.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2016 @ 2:03am

          Re: Re: Re:

          ...Free Collage...

          Yes please - I'll have one - you can make it out of anything :)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    That One Other Not So Random Guy, 10 Feb 2016 @ 2:39pm

    Its FOIA response system is almost completely broken

    Works as designed, closes ticket.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mark Harris (profile), 10 Feb 2016 @ 2:50pm

    Keep in mind, she was doing nothing unusual for a Secretary of State. Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powel did the exact same thing. Not saying it was right for any of them, but it was BAU for State by the time Clinton came along.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2016 @ 3:56pm

    New to be Recognized Disease

    Let's call it 'Positional Arrogance'. It seems to become virulent when governmental positions are attained, whether elected or appointed or just plain hired on. It does not infect all governmental employees or elected, but it appears that the percentage is really high, like potentially upper 90's. The symptoms are but not excluded to:

    * Expressing verbally or via behavior the perception that laws are not there for them to follow, but for others.

    * Speaking in a tone that denotes some sort of lower position to the listener.

    * Ignoring legitimate communication from appropriate interested parties or simply responding in a dismissive manner, or answering a different question altogether possibly because the stock answers don't fit the question in question.

    * Working at a not very workmanlike pace since efficiency and productivity are actually frowned upon.

    * Hiding behind myriad excuses provided by organizational organizations such as political parties or unions.

    * Displaying a desire overtly or covertly a willingness to maintain or be reappointed to positions as an accepted gratuity or by making inappropriate promises or by performing select services not available to the general populace or ahead of the public interest.

    * Appropriating resources intended for the good of the general populace for the private use of individuals and/or organizations that offer gratuities and/or other non-government provided compensation either in the present or in the future.

    * Assiduously making use of every holiday, closing time, unscheduled reason for time off, or other benefit without regard to the needs of the entities one is supposed to be serving.

    There is only one definitive cure so far, death, but there are some mitigating treatments which include not reelecting them, employment termination, placement as an attendee rather than an employee of correctional facilities, or severe public embarrassment which is difficult due to the hard veneer established by experiences resisting public ire. The reason those treatments are only mitigating is that even after these various scourges they seem to pop back up and seek reentry into the system.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2016 @ 4:05pm

    Powel and Rice did not run their own homebrew servers. The everyone else did it excuse is a complete lie..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      jim, 11 Feb 2016 @ 6:14am

      Re:

      Right, they used the "RNC" server which was wiped. Which was under the care of some dude who died in an unusual incident, just as he was being called to detail election fraud, of the 2000 election in Ohio and Tenn. If I remember right, those votes tied up the pres election, for Florida to be pivotal. If I remember right, the drives were replaced, and destroyed? But we're they destroyed? And people talk of the Vince and Hillery connection? This one is a lot less tennious.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2016 @ 7:18pm

    "I don't believe the State Department has a personal stake in Clinton's potential presidency,..."

    Nutbar material.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 10 Feb 2016 @ 8:54pm

    Take the gloves off or sit down and shut up

    As it stands now -- even without malice aforethought by the State Department -- four states will have concluded their primaries before the agency has to produce the documents.

    I have no doubt that if the State Department is allowed to go at their own pace, several presidential elections will be over before they decide that they've vetted the documents for sensitive material to an 'adequate' degree, at which point they'll refuse to release them anyway as no longer being relevant.

    The judge needs to hand them an ultimatum, 'You have until X, at which point whether or not you've gone through every document you're releasing them all. Get busy.'

    They'll still refuse to comply of course, 'asking' for more time because why wouldn't they, it's not like the judge has the power or courage to hold them accountable for refusing an order, but at least they'd know that the judge was somewhat annoyed at their flaunting of the court's orders, and that's about as much as the judge can expect to get out of them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Atkray (profile), 10 Feb 2016 @ 9:32pm

      Re: Take the gloves off or sit down and shut up

      Slight correction:

      "I have no doubt that if the State Department is allowed to go at their own pace, several presidential elections will be over before they decide that they've vetted the documents for sensitive material to an 'adequate' degree, at which point they'll refuse to release them anyway as no longer being relevant."


      Should be:


      I have no doubt that if the State Department is allowed to go at their own pace, several presidential elections will be over before they decide that they've vetted the documents for sensitive material to an 'adequate' degree, at which point they'll refuse to release them because the copyright holder is deceased and they don't have permission to publish them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2016 @ 5:10am

      Re: Take the gloves off or sit down and shut up

      Reminds me how the FBI refused to release the JFK assassination documents on the grounds they lost them, due to them now being considered historical records and no longer relevant enough to keep records of.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 11 Feb 2016 @ 4:12am

    Let's throw another wild conspiracy theory out there

    Maybe there are republicans in the state department that want to hold off the release until she gains the nomination of the democrats. It would be a good wat to establish a lead in the presidential race..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2016 @ 7:36am

    This is where the armed Militia part of the Constitution comes into play

    Form a Militia, arrest her, give her an fair trial then convict her ass.
    Then, when politicians freak out, point out they always say the 2nd Amendment means a Militia, not individual rights.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2016 @ 8:02am

      Re: This is where the armed Militia part of the Constitution comes into play

      How is your standoff going?
      Need any more dildos? How about some more lube.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 11 Feb 2016 @ 9:34am

      Re: This is where the armed Militia part of the Constitution comes into play

      Form a Militia, arrest her, give her an fair trial then convict her ass.

      Does a militia have the authority to convene a trial?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2016 @ 11:38am

    The president can actually do very little that matters. Obama wanted to close Guantanamo, its still open. ObamaCare? You mean that thing written by Congress? Higher (or lower) taxes? Who writes the tax code? Oh yeah, Congress. The president can bomb a few places, but Congress could just defund the military. Bombs are expensive.

    Bernie won't change our taxes, our healthcare system, or pretty much anything else. He can appoint an Attorney General that could throw Wall Street scumbags in prison. That by itself earns my vote.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2016 @ 12:10pm

      Re:

      Bernie freely admits that his policy does not stand a chance in today's congress. Hopefully enough congress members are replaced by those who want to get things done rather than obstruct. It is time to get rid of the do-nothing-congress.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.