Security nightmare: Clinton ran state business from personal email account

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

​Hillary Clinton’s electronic correspondence while at the State Department went through a personal email account administered from her family home, according to a new report. This is raising serious questions about the security of her communications.

A report earlier this
week revealed Mrs Clinton exclusively used a personal email
address instead of a government-administered one while in office.
AP said on Wednesday that the account in
question has been traced back to an internet service registered
to the Clinton family home. This means official and presumably
highly sensitive correspondence was kept outside the reach of
federal overseers.

The risks of Mrs Clinton conducting official business through a
previously undisclosed account go far beyond questions of whether
records are obtainable. By taking matters into her own hands, Mrs
Clinton deviated from government policy intended to protect
correspondence from undesired third-parties, including hackers
and state-sponsored eavesdroppers.

New revelations about Clinton’s personal email account are
continuing to complicate matters for the Democratic Party’s
presumed nominee for president. The New York Times first reported
on the “” email address used by Clinton
while secretary of state. This immediately prompted inquiries as
to why a government-sanctioned account wasn’t used. The Federal
Records Act requires government employees to use departmental
servers for communications.

The debate intensified on Wednesday when AP published details
about the account and the possible repercussions of letting the
nation’s top diplomat at the time have complete control over her
government communications.

According to AP, by running her own email service Clinton not
only lacked cyber protections that would have kept her
correspondence and computer secure, but also risked mismanagement
of critical State Department emails.

“The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official
physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the
presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control
over limiting access to her message archives,”
Jack Gillum
and Ted Bridis wrote for AP on Wednesday,

“In most cases, individuals who operate their own email
servers are technical experts or users so concerned about issues
of privacy and surveillance they take matters into their own
hands. It was not immediately clear exactly where Clinton ran
that computer system,”
they wrote.

Clinton used her personal account when engaging with other State
Department officials, spokesperson Nick Merrill said in a
statement earlier in the week when questions were first raised.
For government business, she emailed them on their
Department accounts, with every expectation they would be

Josh Earnest, a spokesperson for the White House, said the
administration has provided “very specific guidance
about using official email accounts for official government
business. “However, when there are situations where personal
email accounts are used, it is important for those records to be
preserved, consistent with the Federal Records Act,”

By operating her own server, Clinton may have been able to take
advantage of “additional legal opportunities to block
government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or
civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before
being forced to turn over any emails,
” the AP journalists

Although Clinton has not formally announced plans to run for
president in 2016, she is largely expected to vie for the
nomination and has subsequently attracted the scorn of leading
Republicans looking to restore a GOP White House.

“If you want to win the nomination, you’re going to have to
earn the nomination,”
Reince Priebus, the chairman of the
Republican National Committee, said last week. “But when we have a nominee,
we’ll have to come together stronger and more united than ever to
defeat Hillary Clinton.”

Republican opponents have pounced on Mrs Clinton’s increasingly
headline-making email account. It adds to the party’s outrage
already fueled by the democrat’s perceived role in the attacks on
a United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya, during her tenure
as secretary.

“You do not need a law degree to have an understanding of how
troubling this is,”
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina), the
chair of a congressional committee investigating the Benghazi
incident, told the Washington Post this week. “One should
also be concerned about the national security implications of
former secretary Clinton using exclusively personal email
accounts for the conducting of official US foreign policy.”

“The focus here really needs to be on the
information-security piece,
” Chris Soghoian, the principal
technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a
National Journal report this week. “It’s irresponsible to use
a private email account when you are the head of an agency that
is going to be targeted by foreign intelligence services.”

Later on Wednesday, the
Post reported that lawmakers in the House plan to subpoena
Clinton’s personal emails regarding the Benghazi attack.

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