The controversy over Hillary Clinton’s emails so far has less to do with the content of the messages than with Clinton’s security protocols as secretary of state.
Clinton apparently wanted a convenience that millions of Americans enjoy — the ability to receive and send emails on a hand-held mobile device. She did this through a personal account.
Also like many Americans, Clinton mixed work emails into her personal email.
The problem is that Clinton wasn’t just any American. She was the keeper of state secrets, and she was duty-bound to preserve a clean record of all of her official email correspondence.
By using a personal server, from which she deleted tens of thousands of emails, Clinton left herself open to suspicions that she was trying to avoid scrutiny, and that she may have deleted important official emails along with those she said were strictly personal.
The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice are now examining Clinton’s personal server, which only heightens the intrigue. And reports have surfaced that one of Clinton’s aides also used an account on Clinton’s private server. The email controversy appears likely to follow Clinton, a Democrat, throughout her campaign for president.
Reports surfaced last week that Clinton handled at least two emails now labeled “top secret” on her personal server. But their contents are underwhelming, according to people familiar with them. One focused on a discussion of a well-known drone strike, and another referred to material that was classified, but also widely available through open sources.
Neither email was marked classified at the time they were sent, and their discovery reopened a question about whether the government is too quick to designate material as secret.
Still, Clinton’s handling of them was sloppy and risky. She of all people knew how easily personal email systems are compromised by spies and hackers. And she of all people should have foreseen how eagerly her opponents would seize on this political vulnerability.