Does convenience trump transparency?
Hillary Clinton’s long-awaited explanation for her private "homebrew" email system that seemingly bypassed the Freedom of Information Act and rendered inaccessible half the 60,000 emails she sent as secretary of state was as underwhelming as it was telling.
Speaking during a press conference at the United Nations, Clinton told reporters she didn’t want to have to carry two mobile devices. In other words, Clinton risked the security of State’s sensitive information and set up her own private email server within her New York home -- guarded by the Secret Service, she noted -- all to avoid the inconvenience of having two mobile phones.
Never mind that millions of Americans -- many of them federal employees who are issued devices by their employer -- spend each day toting around two or more devices. Or the fact that setting up and maintaining a private email server with any kind of security is a far more complex, costly endeavor than figuring out which cellphone you’re holding onto.
Clinton said she never exchanged classified information over the server and that her system was never breached. But it’s a near certainty that many of her dealings at the State Department were at least highly sensitive, and security experts say you can't be too sure on that latter point.
"I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two," Clinton told reporters. "Looking back, it would have been better if I'd simply used a second email account and carried a second phone. But at the time, this didn't seem like an issue."
Translation: I’m kind of a big deal and capitalized on resources available to very few, like the efforts of the Secret Service, to run my own show. And I regret it now because of all the fuss it's caused.
Clinton said she’s turned over 50,000 pages of emails to the State Department, the equivalent of 30,000 emails that traversed her private email server. Of course, that’s only half the total 60,000 total emails she sent, which also consisted of things like yoga routines. Those personal emails are deleted, Clinton said, so it's likely her employer -- the American people -- will never know exactly what her definition of “personal emails” was.
Yet, Clinton said she “went above and beyond” what the State Department requested, “erring on the side” of anything “possibly viewed as work related.”
I don’t have a political dog in the 2016 presidential campaign, but explanations like this will do little to quell those criticizing Clinton. Her argument, summed up, is basically: Convenience bested transparency, accountability and, potentially, national security.
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