Earlier this year, the public was aghast to learn that during her tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton used her personal e-mail to send and receive messages that in some cases related to official state business.
The accusations ultimately forced Clinton to turn over thousands of pages of e-mails in an ill-fated effort to prove that no classified information was discussed outside of government servers.
The harder Clinton tried to convince the electorate that she didn’t lie about what type of conversations she had on her private e-mail, the more suspicious everyone became until finally, the FBI got involved. Although the scandal is no longer making daily headlines, it still haunts the former First Lady’s bid for the White House and has done irreparable damage to her reputation among voters.
To be sure, there’s a certain extent to which the entire spectacle was a GOP witch hunt, but at the end of the day, it’s probably better that the nation’s top diplomat not use a private server to discuss matters that pertain to national security - classified or not.
If one had to make a list of officials who should be especially wary when it comes to their online activities Secretary of State would be right at the top of the list. So would Defense Secretary.
We mention that because as The New York Times reports, Ash Carter used a personal e-mail address to conduct government business as late as May of this year. Here’s more:
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter relied on a personal email account to conduct a portion of his government business during his first months at the Pentagon, according to White House and Defense Department officials and copies of Mr. Carter’s emails obtained by The New York Times.
Mr. Carter continued the practice, which violated Defense Department rules, for at least two months after it was publicly revealed in March that Hillary Clinton had exclusively used a personal email account as secretary of state, the officials said.
“After reviewing his email practices earlier this year, the secretary believes that his previous, occasional use of personal email for work-related business, even for routine administrative issues and backed up to his official account, was a mistake,” said the spokesman, Peter Cook. “As a result, he stopped such use of his personal email and further limited his use of email altogether.”
It is not clear how many work-related emails Mr. Carter sent and received from his personal account.
Nearly all senior administration officials have personal email accounts that they occasionally use to communicate about work. But the officials said that Mr. Carter emailed with his closest aides about a variety of work-related matters, including speeches, meetings and news media appearances. In one of the emails obtained by The Times, Mr. Carter discussed how he had mistakenly placed a notecard in a “burn bag.” Such bags are typically used to destroy classified information.
A former aide to Mr. Carter said the defense secretary used the personal account so frequently that members of his staff feared he would be hacked and worried about his not following the rules.
While the correspondence reviewed by The Times only shows Carter discussing "legislation, television appearances and how to pay for a hotel bill," you can bet there's more where that came from and as we learned back in October when a 13-year old hacker from the group "Crackas With Attitude" infiltrated CIA chief John Brennan's AOL account, US intelligence officials are prime targets for the legions of Anonymous, Assange, and Snowden disciples of the world.
On the bright side, perhaps an errant e-mail send from a US intelligence source over a private account will end up being the smoking gun that blows the ISIS charade wide open...