The Widdershins

YOU’VE GOT MAIL!

Posted on: August 17, 2015

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Good Monday Widdershins!

Have you checked your email recently?  Do you know if it has a security rating assigned to it?  And if you do know how your email might be categorized, could you do anything about it if you believed it was unclassified and then subsequently Inspectors General decided that nooooo, you had classified emails on your email server? Of course not since this would be after the fact.  Yet, this is very similar to what Hillary Clinton is going through after the release of the emails that were on her private email server.

Several things are happening here.  One is the action by former Secretary Clinton to turn over 55,000 pages of emails that resided on the private mail server.  The other issue is requests for documents by reporters and others under the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA.

In this article going back to March of this year, Kurt Eichenwald deconstructs the entire New York Times story concerning “emailgate” and refutes the piece item by item.  As he points out, the first screamer from the Times piece was that Hillary Clinton used a private email system!  Gasp!  Shock!  Surely that wasn’t allowed.  Or was it?  Margaret Sullivan, Times Public Editor tried to deflect criticism of the Times article by doing a “look here at the Federal Regulations!!!” thing.  The only problem with that is that the current regulations at the time Clinton was Secretary of State stated this:

“Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.”

As Eichenwald writes, Sullivan was hoisted on her own petard because she was the one that threw the regulation out there.

Catch the problem? The regulation itself, through its opening words, “specifically designates that employees of certain agencies are allowed to use non-federal email systems.” And one of those agencies just happened to be…drumroll please.… The State Department. In other words, not only was the use of a personal email account not a violation of the rules, it was specifically allowed by the rules.

Now, did you also catch the other issue with trying to blame Hillary over this?  It’s this:

the agency must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.” (Bolding/underlining are mine)

So as far as any “recordkeeping”, that was the duty of the technonerds who worked at State.  The Times article stated “’Regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration at the time required that any emails sent or received from personal accounts be preserved as part of the agency’s records. But Mrs. Clinton and her aides failed to do so.’ “.  But, in no way was Hillary the emailer responsible for such preservation.  I suppose you could argue that yes, as Secretary of State she was the head of the agency, but in reality that responsibility probably fell to someone like the Chief Information Officer for State or someone with a similar title.

Sullivan (the Times Public Editor) then tried the idea of throwing out a bunch of links to other stories on emailgate, such as one from the Washington Post.  Again, from Eichenwald’s article:

A Washington Post story: “A State Department review of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails from her time leading the agency could reveal whether she violated security policies with her use of a private email server, a senior department official said Thursday night.”

Seriously? A review could determine if she violated the rules? That is what is known as a truism. A federal audit of your taxes could determine whether you violated the tax laws. A medical exam performed today on you could determine whether you have cancer. An inspection of your car tires could determine whether they are not inflated enough. All of those statements are true. And all of them mean…absolutely nothing.

Now let’s take a look at other things tied to “emailgate”, that is FOIA requests.

Eichenwald wrote a second article on the brouhaha and this one dealt with the FOIA requests, the reviews of documents by other people for any security issues before those documents are released to the public.  Once again the Times wrote an article which, when dissected, completely fell apart.

Two government inspectors general had made a criminal referral to the Justice Department about Clinton and her handling of the emails.

[snip]

By Friday morning, the Times did what is known in the media trade as a “skin back”—the article now said the criminal referral wasn’t about Clinton but about the department’s handling of emails. Still, it conveyed no indication of what possible crime might be involved.
(and then it gets better but gets worse for the Times)

Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) issued a statement saying that he had spoken to the inspector general of the State Department and that there had been no criminal referral regarding Clinton’s email usage. Rather, Cummings said, the inspectors general for State and the intelligence community had simply notified the Justice Department—which issues the regulations on Freedom of Information Act requests—that some emails subject to FOIA review had been identified as classified when they had not previously been designated that way.  (bolding, underlining, once again mine)

Eichenwald then takes us into the (gasp!) two paragraphs that the Times threw out there, basically with no clarification as to what was being asked of whom and by whom.

Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.

The request follows an assessment in a June 29 memo by the inspectors general

A crack team of professionals reviews Clinton's emails

A crack team of professionals reviews Clinton’s emails

for the State Department and the intelligence agencies that Mrs. Clinton’s private account contained ‘hundreds of potentially classified emails.’ The memo was written to Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management.

Wow!  Justice Department.  Criminal Investigation.  Scary, right?  Except…except, the Times left out the fact that all of this was in terms of FOIA requests.

At no point in the story does the Times mention what this memo—and the other it cited—wasreally all about: that the officials at the Freedom of Information office in the State Department and intelligence agencies, which were reviewing emails for release, had discovered emails that may not have been designated with the correct classification. For anyone who has dealt with the FOIA and government agencies, this is something that happens all the time in every administration.

Eichenwald goes into other disparities and weaknesses in the Times article and then exposes a really big whopper pulled by the Times:

At issue are thousands of pages of State Department emails from Mrs. Clinton’s private account. Mrs. Clinton has said she used the account because it was more convenient, but it also shielded her correspondence from congressional and Freedom of Information Act requests.”

(snip)

The first time that the story finally mentions FOIA requests, it just manufactures a reality out of thin air. Using a private account would not, in any way, shield Clinton’s correspondence from congressional or FOIA requests.

Start with the rules. Under the FOIA, any document that is not specifically exempted and that falls “under the control of the Department” at the time the request for those records is submitted must be produced. By legal definition, the secretary of state qualifies as part of “the Department,” and thus anything that official writes as part of the job—whether by email, telegraph or handwritten on personal stationery—is subject to a FOIA request. Same goes for Congress. That’s why congressional hearings sometimes produce personal handwritten documents—the fact that they might not be in an email server does not limit the requirement that they be turned over.

I know I have pasted in a lot of information here, but there is more and I suggest you read the two articles for more information.  The Times article has been the basis for a feeding frenzy by other organizations who have blown up this entire issue and Eichenwald tears apart the Times piece.  The Washington Post did two recent articles, one of which seems to imply that Hillary’s team is getting worried over emailgate.  The other article wants to remind us of all of the baggage that just seems to go with the Clintons.

Here’s another thing to consider: We don’t know how secure or unsecure Clinton’s private email server was.  For all we know the system could have been constructed with the tightest security possible and it could have been monitored by some of the best technogeeks around.  After all, it was Bill Clinton, a former President who decided to set it up.  Not that he would have access to or be involved with any official secret stuff, but I believe he would have wanted a system that was secure, monitored and maintained. We can’t truthfully say that about some of the government computer systems and you can read about that here and here.  But what we do know is that Clinton complied with every requirement that was in effect when she was Secretary of State.  And lastly, it’s about trust.  Do you trust Clinton when she says she did not have any classified emails on the server or write about anything that was classified at the time?  For me, knowing the intelligent person that she is, I choose to believe her.

Take the discussion on this Monday in any direction you want.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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35 Responses to "YOU’VE GOT MAIL!"

Fantastic work, Fredster! You really did your research here unlike that shameless “paper of record” which shall remain nameless.

I’m going to post this over at Uppity’s.

Thanks for the picture of my 4th grade nun. I wondered what Sr. Marie Annette was up to these days.
Phenomenal post, Fredster. You have dotted the “i”s and crossed the “t”s.

@chatblu,
Was that Sister Marie Annette Funicello?

Excellent post Fredster and thank you. I had just avoided this whole subject because it was too technical for my pea brain to understand. You’ve helped me understand that this is a whole, big lot of nothing other than wishful thinking on the part of Trey Gowdy and D. Issa (in my vocab, the D. doesn’t stand for Darrell).

Thank y’all for the compliments, I appreciate them.

Prolix, don’t forget to add Morning Schmo as one the Cassandras having fits over this. I was up late doing the post and in fact, I started over after I was almost done because I was veering way off into techno world. I was still awake around 6ish this a.m. Prolix knows because i sent him an email around that time.

This morning, schmo was having a hissy because Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall had a thumb drive in his office with all or most of the emails on them! Quelle horreur!! 😯 Except…EXCEPT, what he didn’t add was that the thumb drive was in a safe provided to Kendall by the State Dept! Now, I don’t know this for a fact but I’m sure there are security requirements written down somewhere on what constitutes an acceptable safe for the storage of electronic media. I don’t think the I.T. guys from State went on down to Home Depot and bought a Sentry model off a shelf. But as I say, Schmo left out that teensy eensy little fact.

Now the next question is why did Kendall have the thumb drive at his office? Because he was going to turn it over to Gowdy’s witchhunt Benghazi committee.

I’m going to add a little bit more in another comment later about some of the electronic “stuff” that *may* have been involved with the email server. I say may because we or at least I, don’t know for certain.

@3: Nope. Mine was Irish.

Good work, Fredster.
I find that I have to take a break from cable news. I have never seen such a concerted ( and coordinated) effort to take one candidate down.
Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper are as bad as the Fox buffoons.

Sweet Sue@7: Thanks Sue. What makes me so angry is that Clinton followed all of the guidelines, requirements, etc. that were in force at the time she was Secretary. If requirements for use of a gov’t account were changed after she left, that has no bearing on what she did when she was there.

As far as changing the status of emails that she had and now saying “Oh, but that was classified!”, as Eichenwald said, when he makes a FOIA request for documents he makes several requests for the same documents because what may be a security issue in the eyes of one reviewer may not be for another reviewer. Go figure!

So now I just saw on the tv that the IRS says a hack of their databases may be more severe than they originally thought! So…government computer systems….secure…right!

The IRS said in May that cyber thieves used stolen Social Security numbers and other data to try to gain access to prior-year tax return data for about 225,000 U.S. households, which included 114,000 successful attempts.

But on Monday, the agency said that an additional 390,000 households were targeted, including about 220,000 “where there were instances of possible or potential access” to prior-year return data, the Wall Street Journal reports. There were also some 170,000 additional instances of “suspected attempts that failed to clear the authentication processes,” the IRS added.

Why stop here? Did she have a pen pal in the third grade? Let’s subpoena her high school annual to see if she could keep an secret back then – she may have been voted “Most Likely to Betray a Confidence”.. Vince Foster keeps coming up, so let’s see if her high school sweetie hit any bumps in the road. Was she cited for not playing well with others in kindergarten?

Here we go again, fresh “off the wire“.

The State Department review of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails so far has found as many as 305 messages that could contain classified information and require further scrutiny by federal agencies, the department said Monday.

It’s worth a read because there’s a bunch of shite going on here with reporters suing the State Dept. (way before the server thing came up) about releasing her emails through a…wait for it…FOIA request.

Blue Bell! It is the best ice cream.

There was no problem with Hillary’s emails while she was Secretary of State and there was no problem when she left office.
She announces a run for the Presidency and, all of a sudden, Houston we have a problem!

@5 and 10, yes, Fredster, I saw Schmo this morning as well. I wonder if Schmo’s friends from high school call him “Strap-on” because he is such a tool. His whole diatribe was woven from whole cloth. He is such a tool!

Here’s something I learned from my consulting days — technonerds are like dogs with bladder problems. They want to pee on every last bit of code and process and if they don’t — it isn’t worth a diddly damn.

This new batch of email is nothing more than one department’s technonerds warring with another department’s technonerds saying, “My code is bigger than yours.”

What the referral of the 300 emails is about is a process question of sending the 300 back to the department of whoever sent the email and asking, “Is this something that might have been stamped with confidential?” Nothing more, nothing less — a process story suddenly becomes a criminal investigation and indictment of Hillary for doing nothing other than having an email account that was perfectly legal and acceptable under the rules and regulations.

Sweet Sue, you are entirely correct!

Prolix@14: You are sooo right about Schmo and also about the 300 emails.

Like a reporter said, I’m not holding my breath over something from the AP. And as he further said. “could” contain…*something* or perhaps not. But they have to scream it in 48 point fonts. 👿

chat@12: I do love me some Blue Bell too. Yum!

Fredster, fantastic post. You really nailed it. I wonder how long we’re going to have to hear about this nonsense.

annie: Thanks! We’ll probably *have* to listen to this nonsense until the last breathing f*cktard (like a.m. schmo) stops talking about it.

Oh and I forgot about this: When Hillary was in Iowa at a fundraiser she said something about now having a snapchat account and loved it. She then made a joke about *those* messages disappearing or something. Poor schmo was aghast as was catty cay. Heavens have mercy!! But was that any worse than when Dubya made the little vid about himself and Barney the dog looking around the White House for those wmd’s ?

Everything was fine when Dubya did it. Anything that HRC does is horrifying and must be hyperscrutinized.

@22: Of course! And the rest of the talking heads gathered around the table this a.m. were tsk-tsking and saying to the effect: Well now that the FBI(!) is involved, Hillary has to do something about it. Well what the hell can she do about it now?

I’ll have to try to look around to see if I can find some honest, no b.s. reporting about the FBI thing. That is, if its possible. 🙄

Take the bloodhounds. There must be something out there,

chat@24: Hate to say it, but I doubt it.

@25, the best I’ve seen is Media Matters, but they haven’t done anything in the last 4 days, but of course, they would be saying the same things they have said before.

Honestly and I’m going to be crude here but the truth is some of these people in the media, the GOP and some supposed Bernie supporters are not going to stop until she’s gang raped, her throat slit and she’s thrown on the side of the road like a piece of trash.

Ga6th: I know what you mean. And now, the black lives matter group basically wants her to apologize for Bill’s actions in the 90s when a lot of the anti-crime stuff was pushed through. Incredible. SMH

Most of the BLM group have no idea what the 80’s were like. The law and order platforms were a response to the drug wars.

@29: I don’t think they particularly care about that.

I don’t believe anyone would disagree with the fact that something is out of whack with the way the police are acting in some situations. But, you don’t have much of a chance to effect change when you shout people down, especially people who may very well be able to effect those changes you want.

From the tv guide listings (who knew you could find funny stuff there!):

Worst. Post. Ever: With Frankie Grande

Yep! Guilty!!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What is bluebell ice cream and why is it “back”?

@32: Here ya go Annie.

Here’s what happened:

The phased-in return to market comes four months after Blue Bell recalled all of its products then on retail shelves made at all of its facilities, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks. That move, announced April 20, 2015, was due to the potential for the products to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes after Blue Bell received several positive tests from products made in two different places.

So they took all products off the market and redid their ice cream production plants.

Ah, I see. Fredster, check your mail.

Okay, will do.

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