A friend who really wants to persuade me that Hillary is an honest woman who is being defamed by a whacked-out, jacked-up, vast Right Wing conspiracy, sent me an article from Politico Magazine purporting to explain the “real” story behind Hillary’s server, her emails, and all those BlackBerry’s and laptops. It is a masterpiece of dissimulation that avoids any mention of pay-for-play, BleachBit, immunization deals, people without security clearance having access to materials that were manifestly classified, lies to the American people and, of course, all the laws that Hillary directly violated.
According to the article, Hillary is a naif, surrounded by more naifs, working in a State Department that habitually circumvented security requirements. There is no corruption, just ineptitude and dysfunction. The problem for my Progressive friend is that reading this take on Hillary did not leave me reassured that Hillary is qualified to be president. It’s not a trade up to go from a candidate who is malignantly corrupt and dishonest to one who can learn neither skills nor laws, and who is incapable of managing just one government division, let alone an entire country.
You don’t just have to take my word for it. Here are a few examples from the article that detail Hillary’s stupidity, her staff’s stupidity, and the State Department’s dysfunction (which, presumably, it was Hillary’s job to remedy):
Together, the documents, technically known as Form 302s, depict less a sinister and carefully calculated effort to avoid transparency than a busy and uninterested executive who shows little comfort with even the basics of technology, working with a small, harried inner circle of aides inside a bureaucracy where the IT and classification systems haven’t caught up with how business is conducted in the digital age. Reading the FBI’s interviews, Clinton’s team hardly seems organized enough to mount any sort of sinister cover-up. There’s scant oversight of the way Clinton communicated, and little thought given to how her files might be preserved for posterity—MacBook laptops with outdated archives are FedExed across the country, cutting-edge iPads are discarded quickly and BlackBerry devices are rejected for being “too heavy” as staff scrambled to cater to Clinton’s whims.
Translation: Hillary is a disinterested executive who cannot handle modern technology and who keeps her staff busy handling her whims, rather than affairs of state. She also headed the government’s most important department during a technological revolution and did absolutely nothing to surf the revolution, rather than to drown under its weight.
The assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, Eric Boswell, later stated he never received any complaints about Clinton using her personal BlackBerry inside the secure area, but that among the State Department team there was some “general concern” that Clinton’s team might use the BlackBerrys that they’d relied on so heavily during the campaign. His team made clear that the devices were prohibited.
Yet something was going to have to change: Hillary Clinton, after all, didn’t know how to use a desktop computer. A BlackBerry was her lifeline. As Cheryl Mills told FBI agents later, “Clinton was not computer savvy and thus was not accustomed to using a computer, so efforts were made to try to figure out a system that would allow Clinton to operate as she did before DoS.”
Translation: The woman who wants to run our country through both good times and bad is too stubborn and stupid to develop beyond her BlackBerry, even when national security is at risk. She would neither give up an unsecured means of digital communication nor learn a secured one. I understand that, the older one gets, the harder it is to master technology. But Hillary isn’t trying to figure out how to view pictures of her grandchildren. Instead, we’re being given proof that her brain is too age-addled to take on new, high-level responsibilities in dynamic situations with world-shaking consequences.
In the days after she was sworn in, Hillary Clinton also contacted her predecessor, Colin Powell, to ask how he had managed his information flow as secretary of state from 2001 to 2005. In his early weeks, Powell recalled, he’d “received several security briefings that restricted his ability to communicate.” He’d questioned the NSA and CIA on “why PDAs were anymore of a risk than the television remote controls.” He never got a convincing answer. And so, he advised Hillary Clinton “to resist restrictions that would inhibit her ability to communicate.” But he told her to choose wisely and not to create an unnecessary paper trail. He said if it became “public” that Clinton had a BlackBerry and she used it to “do business,” her emails could become “official record[s] and subject to the law.” As Powell said: “Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”
Translation: Colin Powell cheated a little which Hillary and her team understood as permission to cheat a lot — and to Hell with laws or security concerns.
Meanwhile, State Department IT and security teams were busy installing secure rooms in her two homes for reading and receiving material and conducting telephone conversations. Each house had its own SCIF. At Whitehaven—her brick Georgian-style house in northwest Washington—a State Department worker removed one of the regular doors on a third-floor room of the house, replaced it with a metal door secured by a key code lock, and outfitted the room inside with secure communications. A similar room was created at Chappaqua; while she rarely used the secure room at Whitehaven —preferring to just go into the office if she had work to do—she relied heavily on the one in Chappaqua when she was in New York, in part because cellphone coverage in the area was so poor that she needed the use of the SCIF’s phone. (The FBI interview reports differ on who precisely had access to Clinton’s home SCIFs—whether it was just Clinton herself or also top aides like Abedin.)
Each secure room was also equipped with a secure fax, but while Clinton was supposed to pick up the faxes herself at home, she often struggled to use the technology and had to rely on staff for help operate the machines. As one aide described it, Clinton “wasn’t very tech savvy and would get frustrated with the process.”
Translation: Hillary made every effort to treat confidential information in a secure fashion . . . circa 1992. One of the things that the article ignores is that Hillary’s people made no serious efforts to secure the server at a technological, rather than a physical, level. There is later talk about the fact that her “tech guys” noticed some attempted hacks and blocked them, but there’s no assurance that they noticed all hacks.
Hillary Clinton, for her part, proved remarkably uninterested and unfamiliar with new technology. By time she moved into Foggy Bottom, much of the world had jumped aboard the iPhone bandwagon, but Clinton would cling stubbornly to her BlackBerry, even as the once-ubiquitous Washington icon slid toward tech oblivion.
According to Abedin, “It was not uncommon for Clinton to use a new BlackBerry for a few days and then immediately switch it out for an older version with which she was more familiar.” She deemed one upgraded BlackBerry “too heavy.” That personal preference proved challenging because she churned through devices at a steady clip—all told, the FBI figured that she’d used around a dozen BlackBerrys during her tenure at the State Department. While she never reported losing a BlackBerry, Clinton replaced one after she spilled coffee on it, another because its trackball started to fail slowly over time, and another when its screen cracked.
Translation: Hillary is stubborn, rigid, and stupid — all the things, apparently, that Progressives consider to be perfect presidential material.
Why didn’t she have a State Department email address? That remains, to a certain extent, a mystery in the FBI files. At the beginning of the administration, the Executive Secretariat’s Office of Information Resource Management (S/ES-IRM)—the unit in the State Department that oversees information technology for the department’s top leadership—did offer the new incoming secretary a State.gov email address. But someone—exactly who is lost to history—on Clinton’s team declined.
Translation: Hillary’s team wasn’t corrupt, it was ineffectual and disorganized. How comforting.
And then we get to the nub of the article, which is that everyone in the State Department was doing the Hillary thing. Classifications were confusing, technology was outdated, and private emails were the way to go. Powell had done some updating when he took over, but even his fixes hadn’t kept up with changing technology. For example:
Colin Powell had originally been shocked when he arrived at Foggy Bottom in 2001—he immediately realized that one of the largest problems he faced was the State Department’s outdated computer systems. At the time, the CIA and the State Department swapped responsibility for embassy communications every 12 months, an inefficient system that had caused the department to lose ground technologically. After Powell reviewed the situation, he worked out a deal with CIA Director George Tenet and “fired” his own State Department IT team, handing sole responsibility over to the CIA. More broadly, though, few State Department employees had their own computers—and Powell himself found himself facing a laptop in his office with a 56k modem, sluggish even then.
Powell invested in 44,000 new computers, giving every employee a computer on the desk, and monitored the adoption of the new systems as he traveled by conducting unofficial audits, sitting down at embassies overseas to check his own email and attempting to log into his account.
By the time Clinton arrived, the State Department’s technology infrastructure was still outdated and balky. The “fob” system that was supposed to allow access to email outside the building—whereby employees would enter a special key or token to confirm their identity—was slow and prone to shutting down inconveniently. For employees who did use their official accounts, workarounds were common—particularly because many State Department officials and senior leadership, many of whom worked from the field or traveled regularly on missions overseas, didn’t have easy, regular access to the systems designed to transmit classified information securely.
Even though the State Department’s unclassified network had been penetrated by at least one foreign adversary—exactly who isn’t revealed in the FBI notes—employees had actually come to rely on email even more as time passed, which meant playing fast and loose with information that other parts of the government treated much more carefully.
The department’s IT problems— both the culture of personal email and poor information security that it encouraged—were well known among those who worked with the State Department. One CIA official who reviewed a questionable email in the Clinton investigation told the FBI that the email in question technically “should be classified, but that he was not surprised that DOS had sent it on an unclassified channel.”
Translation: Hillary didn’t do anything wrong because everybody else was doing it. My mother disabused me of that defense when I was 5-years-old. More to the point, Hillary was not just another employee and her team was not just another department. They ran the damn State Department and rather than reacting to the problems by fixing them instead embraced them and made them much, much worse. Again, you have to ask your Progressive friends if this is really the management team they want in the highest executive office in America.
While “classified information” seems like it should be straightforward and binary—it either is or it isn’t—in practice government classification is a tricky and complicated issue. For one thing, different departments can treat the same information differently, as Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy—a career Foreign Service officer who had started in the top position two years before Hillary Clinton came to the department—explained to the FBI. Whereas the intelligence community often “steals” information, leading it to be classified, the State Department may end up gathering that same information from nonsensitive sources and so never consider it classified; conversations with foreign diplomats may be classified or not—or later upgraded to classified if it’s determined that “the disclosure of such information might damage national security or diplomatic relationships.” (This was particularly true as governments and leaders shifted around the world.) Plus, the lines around documents and information could shift—many internal or even interagency drafts would be considered unclassified while they were being written, but would then be routinely classified when they were transmitted formally to the National Security Council.
Translation: It was hard to tell what was important so, from Hillary on down, everyone treated most things as if they were not important. Hillary arrived in a terrible corporate culture and made the Obama choice, which was to “lead from behind.” Rather than fixing a disastrous culture, she made it worse. Only in Obama-World is that leadership.
The president, though, was more the exception than the rule in Clinton’s world. She had few correspondents. Just over a dozen individuals—mostly senior advisers and the department’s executive administrative staff—regularly emailed Clinton directly. It was a rare privilege reserved for senior advisers who needed regular contact. Excluding personal correspondence with family and close friends, Abedin, Mills and Sullivan together accounted for 68 percent of Hillary Clinton’s total email traffic as secretary of state. (Clinton also used her device to text staff and send BlackBerry messages.) While “at least a hundred, if not several hundred” State employees had her clintonemail.com address—emails from Hillary often arrived with just an “H” in the “from” field—and many of those employees, like Kennedy, were aware she used a personal email account, most didn’t understand she had a private server. Nor was Kennedy aware that the personal email account was her sole one.
In part, her email flew below the State Department radar both because of her tight circle of correspondents but also because, simply, as one aide said: “Clinton was not an email person.”
Translation: Well, there is no translation. The above makes no sense, which suggests that the witnesses (despite all their immunity) weren’t telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Me? I’m impressed that someone who is “not an email person,” with access to only a handful of addresses, managed to have 33,000 emails just about her daughter’s wedding and her own yoga workouts. Keep in mind, too, that those Bleached out emails are in addition to the tens of thousands that the State Department and Hillary eventually and reluctantly produced. Even conceding that Hillary didn’t write all, or even most, of those emails, they still went through her address!
Clinton didn’t like reading long emails—the BlackBerry font was too small—so she’d often forward such staff to staff to print. Deluged by tasks and information, Abedin reported that she’d often print and pass along documents to Clinton “without reading them.”
Translation: Emails from unsecured servers to unsecured servers were printed up by someone who should have been policing them, but couldn’t be bothered. Dandy management.
The next year, when her staff tried to upgrade her to an iPad 2, they had even less success. Abedin emailed Cooper on August 18, 2011, saying simply, “She doesn’t like ipad 2.” Clinton instead gifted the brand new device to Monica Hanley. There was no mistake that Hanley got a hand-me-down: When she logged on for the first time, the device still said “H’s iPad,” so Hanley wiped it clean before using it. As Hanley told the FBI, “It was not uncommon for Clinton to gift Abedin and Hanley with some of her personal items she no longer wanted.”
Translation: A person occupying a high security position, handed out used phones and iPads that still had her personal information loaded on them. And one other thing: “gift” is a noun, not a verb.
Yet rather than appearing to be actively covering up Clinton’s paper trail, Clinton’s staffers—harried as they were and pulled in multiple directions by seemingly daily world crises—seemed simply uninterested in the details of record-keeping, either for Freedom of Information Act purposes or for the Federal Records Act, which governs official papers. Nor did they appear particularly curious even about Clinton’s own email setup. Aides like Mills, Abedin and Sullivan all said that while they knew her email address, they didn’t understand the technology behind it and were “unaware of existence of private server until after Clinton’s tenure.” Mills said she “was not even sure she knew what a server was at the time” she was Clinton’s chief of staff. It’s not even clear Clinton herself understood her email was running off a homemade computer in her Chappaqua basement: Clinton told the FBI she “had no knowledge of the hardware, software, or security protocols used to construct and operate the servers.”
Translation: We are being asked to believe in the helpless, innocent incompetence of people who, after a subpoena was issued, actively destroyed tens of thousands of emails. Additionally, these are not just any people. They are people serving someone who occupies one of the highest positions in the land and one, moreover, who swore to uphold the laws of the United States and who should reasonably have been expected to make special efforts regarding official government records. To add to my any rational person’s disbelief about this spin, these are also people who wouldn’t talk without immunity and people who convinced the DOJ to destroy their computers, preventing a subsequent review to make sure the investigation was carried out honestly.
Politico argues that Hillary and her team are stupid and careless. I think they’re corrupt and incompetent (one can be both). The American public should think, “These people shouldn’t get within spitting distance of the Oval Office.”
And on and on it goes. Blumenthal is a mere pest. Hackers aren’t a concern because they get caught (except for Guccifer and who knows who else). Harried staffers put out fires without any grand plan.
The problem with all the heavy lifting that the media is doing to foist President Hillary on the American people is that the media is in a bind. There are enough facts out there to indict Hillary a thousand times over on charges of violating laws, engaging in heavy-duty financial corruption by selling off American favors and assets, lying constantly, and making exceptionally bad judgment calls during her tenure at State regarding substantive matters (i.e., Russia, Iran, Syria, Libya, etc.). Burdened as the media is by this data, the only way to weasel Hillary out of charges of corruption and incompetence is for the media to paint her as Lewis Carroll’s White Queen, a harried, hapless vehicle of chaos:
She caught the shawl as she spoke, and looked about for the owner: in another moment the White Queen came running wildly through the wood, with both arms stretched out wide, as if she were flying, and Alice very civilly went to meet her with the shawl.
‘I’m very glad I happened to be in the way,’ Alice said, as she helped her to put on her shawl again.
The White Queen only looked at her in a helpless frightened sort of way, and kept repeating something in a whisper to herself that sounded like ‘bread-and-butter, bread-and-butter,’ and Alice felt that if there was to be any conversation at all, she must manage it herself. So she began rather timidly: ‘Am I addressing the White Queen?’
‘Well, yes, if you call that a-dressing,’ The Queen said. ‘It isn’t my notion of the thing, at all.’
Alice thought it would never do to have an argument at the very beginning of their conversation, so she smiled and said, ‘If your Majesty will only tell me the right way to begin, I’ll do it as well as I can.’
‘But I don’t want it done at all!’ groaned the poor Queen. ‘I’ve been a-dressing myself for the last two hours.’
It would have been all the better, as it seemed to Alice, if she had got some one else to dress her, she was so dreadfully untidy. ‘Every single thing’s crooked,’ Alice thought to herself, ‘and she’s all over pins!—may I put your shawl straight for you?’ she added aloud.
‘I don’t know what’s the matter with it!’ the Queen said, in a melancholy voice. ‘It’s out of temper, I think. I’ve pinned it here, and I’ve pinned it there, but there’s no pleasing it!’
‘It can’t go straight, you know, if you pin it all on one side,’ Alice said, as she gently put it right for her; ‘and, dear me, what a state your hair is in!’
‘The brush has got entangled in it!’ the Queen said with a sigh. ‘And I lost the comb yesterday.’
Alice carefully released the brush, and did her best to get the hair into order. ‘Come, you look rather better now!’ she said, after altering most of the pins. ‘But really you should have a lady’s maid!’
Whatever else Trump may be, he’s not harried and hapless. He is, instead, a force to be reckoned with. Indeed, according to the prescient and astute Scott Adams, he’s a totally predictable and carefully calibrated force, who can always be counted upon to respond to aggression in equal measure, using neither more nor less force than is needed:
1. Person A insults Trump with words. Trump insults back with words.
2. Person B mentions some sort of scandal about Trump. Trump mentions some sort of scandal about Person B.
3. Person C endorses Trump (even if they publicly feuded before) and Trump immediately says something nice about Person C. The feud is instantly over.
See the pattern?
Consider how many times you have seen the pattern repeat with Trump. It seems endless. And consistent. Trump replies to critics with proportional force. His reaction is as predictable as night following day.
And when Trump counter-attacks, he always responds with equal measure. Words are met with words and scandal mentions are met with scandal mentions. (And maybe a few words.) But always proportionate and immediate.
Does any of that sound dangerous?
What if Trump acted this way to our allies and our adversaries? What then?
Our allies won’t insult Trump, and they won’t publicly mention any his alleged scandals. They will respect the office of the President of the United States no matter what they think of Trump. If Trump’s past behavior predicts his future, he will get along great with allies. Our allies have been fine with every president so far, and they haven’t all been perfect humans. The worst case scenario is that Trump calls some prime minister goofy. We’ll all be used to it by then, including the prime minister in question.
But what about our adversaries? It seems that Trump will get along fine with Putin. And Trump says North Korea is China’s problem. Compare that to Hillary Clinton trying to publicly emasculate Putin (with words) while talking tough about North Korea and forcing them to act tough in response. Clinton seems like the dangerous one here.
Adams has more to say on the topic and it’s worth reading. He basically opines that Trump will be a strong, reliable leader — and doesn’t say, but implies that Hillary will be the White Queen that Politco delineates: An ineffectual, confused, self-centered, unreliable person, surrounded by hapless, incompetent lackeys
And if you want to see that I’m not the only one who picked up on the fact that Hillary’s only defense to dishonesty, corruption, and law breaking is stupidity, you have to watch this brilliant video spoofing the return of the famous actors urging Americans to vote Democrat:
If you want more political analysis, please check out WOW! Magazine, the online collaborative magazine from the Watcher’s Council and its friends.