Friday, December 18, 2015

On Defense Secretary Ash Carter's Emails

There's an old saying-we can't miss you until you're gone. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. We haven't heard much about emails the last few months-since Hillary's home run Benghazi testimony.

So it's been awhile since we've heard about emails. So you''d think that maybe the return to a discussion over emails a week before Christmas would be welcome. Turns out absence is not always enough. I find discussions over emails as tiresome now as it was two months ago.

It isn't Hillary's emails at issue this time but Ash Carter's. Turns out he was using private email for at least some official business well after the scandal broke over Hillary's emails.

"Ash Carter used a personal email account to conduct at least part of his official business as defense secretary, the Pentagon has acknowledged, a practice he continued at least two months after it was revealed in March that Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, used a personal account to conduct official business while secretary of state."

"The New York Times, which first reported the story, based its account on officials at the White House and Defense Department, as well as copies of Carter’s emails that it obtained."

"It is not clear when Mr. Carter stopped using the account. But an administration official said that when the White House chief of staff, Denis R. McDonough, learned about Mr. Carter’s email practices in May, Mr. McDonough directed the White House Counsel’s Office to contact the Defense Department to ask why Mr. Carter was relying on the personal account."

"Mr. McDonough wanted to ensure that Mr. Carter was following all federal laws and regulations governing email use, the official said."

Carter is being a good boy and throwing himself on his sword. He knew the rules and knowingly broke them, he confesses.

"Speaking to CBS News in Ebril, Iraq, Carter said he continued to send work emails from his iPhone “until a few months ago” despite being “warned by lots of people along the way” to be careful with his communications. He said he rarely uses email, and never sent anything classified via his personal account. He did, however, “occasionally” send “administrative" emails to his “immediate staff,” Carter told CBS."

“It's a mistake, and it's entirely my own,” he said, adding, “I stopped” as soon as he realized the practice was against policy."

"Peter Cook, the Pentagon spokesman, confirmed the newspaper’s account, saying Carter’s actions were a “mistake” and the defense secretary had stopped the use of the private account. He added that Carter used the account primarily to correspond with friends and family."

"Any email related to work received on this personal account, such as an invitation to speak at an event or an administrative issue, is copied or forwarded to his official account so it can be preserved as a federal record as appropriate."

"Secretary Carter strongly prefers to conduct communications on the phone or in person, and like many of his predecessors rarely uses email for official government business. The secretary does not directly email anyone within the department or the U.S. government except a very small group of senior advisers, usually his chief of staff."

"Cook did not say whether Carter’s action violated a Defense Department’s policy, adopted in 2012, that bars all employees from using personal email accounts to conduct official business. Additionally, federal officials are barred from sending or receiving official email on their personal accounts—unless the correspondence is copied into their official accounts or forwarded to them within 20 days."

"It isn’t clear how many emails Carter sent or received on his personal account, but he is the second high-level Cabinet-level official in the Obama administration to follow the practice. The official who has received scrutiny prior to this is Clinton, the former secretary of state who is now seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency."

My general reaction to all this is -what evs. I mean the real takeaway for me is what we already knew-many high ranking officials have used private emails. Both at the federal and state level. Jeb Bush, Scott Walker-we won't even get into Chris Christie's email problems.

And also, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Susan Rice. Is there any actual point of interest here beyond a political football to throw at people?

To make such heavy weather over small beer is a politics and not much else. It surely has to be admitted that use of private email by high ranking government officials is very widespread. So what beyond political games is at stake?  

1 comment:

  1. Well, it looks like Trump won't be threatening to nuke Putin anytime soon... he's returning the love in this bromance.

    Maybe he's like to have some journalists murdered too.