R.I.P. America: State Dept. says no emails by Clinton’s top IT aide in 4 years

Hillary Clinton Snapchat email joke

There comes a point in time when a nation becomes so corrupt that its death becomes imminent. The United States, in all likelihood, has crossed that threshold. One only needs to look at Monday’s revelation by the State Department that it has no emails from Hillary Clinton’s top IT aide during her four years as secretary of state.

Correction: A single “happy birthday” email was found in 30,000 pages of documents related to the personal server Mrs. Clinton ran out of her home in New York.

The Associated Press reported Monday:

The State Department can find no emails to or from a former Hillary Clinton aide who worked for the agency and also managed Clinton’s private computer server while she served as secretary of state, the government told a Republican party group in a court filing made public Monday. The agency insisted later that some messages to and from the ex-aide were recovered and turned over in other inquiries.

The government’s revelation in U.S. District Court in Washington came in answer to a lawsuit by the Republican National Committee. The committee had sued over its public records request for all work-related emails sent to or received by Clinton’s former aide, Bryan Pagliano, between 2009 and 2013, the years of Clinton’s tenure. The lawsuit also pressed for other State Department records from the Clinton era.

The lack of any official State Department emails raises the question whether he limited his email traffic using a private account, much like Clinton did during her four years as secretary, or whether his government emails were deleted. …

State Department officials told Senate investigators last year they could not find a file containing Pagliano’s work emails during Clinton’s tenure, an assertion first reported by Politico.

Pagliano has been offered immunity by the Justice Department in its continuing investigation into Clinton’s server and emails and whether the setup violated national security laws. Pagliano’s lawyer, Mark MacDougall, declined to comment.

The one email sent by Pagliano that surfaced among Clinton’s 30,000 emails was sent to Clinton was a November 2012 birthday greeting. He wished her “Happy Birthday Madam Secretary. To many more!”

As has been stated on this blog multiple times: It would take the federal government less than five minutes to have someone like me handcuffed and dressed in an orange jumpsuit if I were given access to highly classified information and then funneled it through a private server in my basement to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests.

Years ago I was an IT intern for a major think tank in Washington, D.C. It was filled with well-established men and women who may have met or interacted with the former secretary of state over the years. They were old, and like most old people they needed a lot of help with technical issues. In fact, some of them seemingly could not go one week without help from the IT department.

The point is this: Anyone who says he believes Mr. Pagliano sent just a single birthday email to Mrs. Clinton in the four years after setting up a private email server for her is either a liar or an idiot.

On a similar note, the individuals at the U.S. State Department who say with a straight face that Mr. Pagliano did his job without emailing Mrs. Clinton are in a special class of liars.

Bryan Pagliano FOIA

The FBI is expected to finish its investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of government documents within weeks. If the agency does not recommend she face some kind of charges related to “gross negligence” on the job, then it will be further proof that America is a dead man walking.

Jazz Shaw puts it well over at Hotair:

Look, I understand that a criminal investigation has to rely on the facts and they must be supportable in a court of law. And sometimes strange things which defy conventional explanation do happen. (How else do you explain all those UFO sightings?) But at some point the public has to be allowed a reasonable level of incredulity when politicians and government officials begin spinning yarns which require us to believe that the sky is actually bright green instead of blue.

The idea that Pagliano didn’t send or receive any emails while managing Clinton’s email services is not just far fetched… it’s insulting to ask us to believe it.

Unfortunately, what the State Department is asking Americans to believe is much more than “insulting.” It’s actually the kind of state-sponsored middle finger to citizens that can spark a revolution.

There are only so many times a corrupt government can do the equivalent of kicking its own people in the groin before things turn ugly. Allowing Mrs. Clinton to make a mockery of government transparency and safeguards to national security may be one boot to the crotch too many.

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Hillary Clinton used personal email account for all State Dept. business: Laws are for little people

Clinton APAt what point in time do the American people wake from their XBox and iPhone induced slumber and realize that the bureaucratic masterminds in Washington, D.C. are the nightmares of our founding fathers vivified? It may not be too far off because even The New York Times is drawing attention to the fact that Hillary Clinton exclusively used — yes, exclusively — her personal email account to conduct all business as Secretary of State.

The New York Times reported March 2:

WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.

Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.

It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. …

“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” said Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath who is a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration.

Only a woman who believes herself to be exempt from the rules that govern the rest of us would exclusively use her personal email to conduct all official business as the Secretary of State. Most shady officials at least try to create a false veneer of transparency before finding ways to circumvent laws that inconvenience their plans — but not Hillary Clinton.

Ask yourself this question: What would be the reaction if, under a Republican president, his Secretary of State exclusively used her personal email account to conduct all official business? Now ask yourself if that individual could realistically ever run for president. The answer is simple: she would be laughed out of the room. She would be disqualified. She would be an embarrassment to everyone who ever vouched for her integrity.

The Hill reported Tuesday on what Ms. Clinton’s close friend John Podesta thought of the Bush administration’s partial use of personal email accounts in 2007:

A top adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign-in-waiting accused the George W. Bush administration of using private emails to skirt transparency rules in 2007.

John Podesta, who left the White House in February for an unofficial role with Clinton, criticized Bush administration officials for using Republican National Committee email accounts for official business.

“At the end of the day, it looks like they were trying to avoid the Records Act . . . by operating official business off the official systems,” Podesta said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

The Bush White House admitted that it lost thousands of emails that weren’t backed up. Spokesman Scott Stanzel told reporters in 2007 that the White House had “not done a good job” of complying with transparency laws, according to The Los Angeles Times. …

Nick Merrill, Clinton’s spokesman, said in an email that, “the letter and spirit of the rules permitted State Department officials to use non-government email, as long as appropriate records were preserved.”

Wrong, Mr. Merrill. The rules were crafted as an acknowledgement that politicians get boatloads of email every single day from a variety of sources, and that some of those emails might exist in a grey area where professional and personal life meet. Conducting zero business on an official government email account is not in accordance with the “spirit” of the law — it is anathema to the spirit of the law.

Here is Ms. Clinton’s thoughts on government transparency in 2008:

I want to have a much more transparent government and I think we now have the tools to make that happen. … For me, we’re now in an era which didn’t exist before, where you can have Instant access to information. I want to see my government be more transparent.” — Hillary Clinton on Meet the Press, 2008.

Odd how things change when you’re the Secretary of State, isn’t it? Yes, the government does have the “tools” make transparency happen — it’s called an official government email account, Ms. Clinton — coupled with the timely response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. In that regard, you have essentially spit in the American public’s face and said, “I do what I want. Deal with it.”

If the American people elect Ms. Clinton president in 2016 — a woman who thinks she is above the rule of law — then they deserve all the consequences that follow.

AP: Obama meant ‘most secretive’ White House ever when he promised ‘most transparent’

Obama NSA

The Associated Press, that infamous right-wing propaganda machine, has once again looked at the Obama administration’s record on transparency. Since that was one of the big sells of “Hope and Change” in 2008, I applaud AP. Unfortunately, it once again turns out that open and accountable government to the White House is viewed along the lines of “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan” — only this time it’s “if you like transparency, you can keep transparency.”

The Associated Press reported:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has a way to go to fulfill its promises from Day 1 to become the most transparent administration in history.

More often than ever, the administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press. …

In a year of intense public interest over the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times – a 57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama’s first year, when it cited that reason 3,658 times. …

The AP’s request to the Health and Human Services Department for contracts with public-relations companies to promote Obama’s health care law has been pending for more than one year. Requests for files about the Affordable Care Act and the IRS’s treatment of tax-exempt political groups have languished in government offices for months. Similarly, the AP has waited for more than 10 months for emails between the IRS and outside Democratic super PACs about tea party groups.

Seems kind of weird that documents for a non-scandals would “languish” in government limbo if there was only innocuous drivel behind the curtain.

Perhaps Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy has it right:

“I’m concerned the growing trend toward relying upon FOIA exemptions to withhold large swaths of government information is hindering the public’s right to know,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “It becomes too much of a temptation. If you screw up in government, just mark it `top secret.'”

Ouch. First the Associated Press, and now a U.S. senator from the White House’s own party admits that public’s right to know is being hindered. Unfortunately, most people aren’t too excited about covering or reading about yet another big broken promise because it’s uncomfortable to own up and say, “I was duped.”

When the president literally said he believed his election would mark the moment in time when the rising oceans began to recede, millions of people actually believed him. They put their faith in a single charismatic young man whose appeal was largely contingent upon his soaring vagueness, and now that the scary specifics have been filled in they sit silent.

Question: How weird is it going to be when Harry Reid accuses Patrick Leahy and the Associated Press of being in the Koch brother’s pockets?

The Labyrinth: Find the Obama admin’s secret email accounts — if you can

AMPAS Gold Standard Series
In 2008 and 2012 voters put into office a man who promised to usher in a new era of transparency when it came to the federal government. Who knew that transparency requires secret email accounts that the government will try and charge you $1 million dollars for, in violation of the very mechanism (i.e., Freedom of Information Act) that is supposed to help individuals keep federal officials honest.

The Associated Press Reports:

The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees’ email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses. …

The secret email accounts complicate an agency’s legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails in response to congressional or internal investigations, civil lawsuits or public records requests because employees assigned to compile such responses would necessarily need to know about the accounts to search them. Secret accounts also drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions. …

Courts have consistently set a high bar for the government to withhold public officials’ records under the federal privacy rules. A federal judge, Marilyn Hall Patel of California, said in August 2010 that “persons who have placed themselves in the public light” – such as through politics or voluntarily participation in the public arena – have a “significantly diminished privacy interest than others.” Her ruling was part of a case in which a journalist sought FBI records, but was denied. …

Obama pledged during his first week in office to make government more transparent and open. The nation’s signature open-records law, he said in a memo to his Cabinet, would be “administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.”

Wrong. President Obama meant: “When in doubt, charge people $1 million dollars, and then back track if they call you on it.”

This past weekend my brother emailed me in response to my piece on insurance companies. My response touched on the effects of an ever-expansive federal bureaucracy:

From what I gather on health care, the more regulations that have been passed, the more the kind of crap we’re dealing with metastasizes (to stick with the medical terminology). Just like everything else, there will always be greedy or corrupt people, but the more hallways and corridors the government creates, the more places there are for such individuals to hide their unscrupulous sides. We’re not inside the companies or the federal government agencies connected with them, so we can’t zoom out to 30,000 feet to see the labyrinth. They know this. They know that there are few policy experts who get it, and those people work at places like Heritage or Cato or wherever … so their reach is limited. And since most of those experts are data heads, they don’t know how to explain it in ways the man on the street can understand. They can’t reference ‘Fight Club’ or some random other movies to help people make the connection. They start talking in acronyms and using charts and graphs and numbers and before you know it the “Average Joe” throws up his arms and goes to play the newest ‘Gears of War’ on his XBox.

Why does the Tea Party exist? Why did Occupy pop up? Why does Anonymous exist? The reason is because the government labyrinth is so complex and so dizzying that the worst parts of human nature are hiding in its shadows with all the confidence in the world that it is immune from accountability. But it isn’t. People are angry and frustrated because they know that this sort of thing isn’t right. Their anger is now exponentially exacerbated because President Obama didn’t just run for office as a change agent — he wanted you to believe he was the ultimate change agent.

Right now the anger is muted because instead of admitting the truth there are millions of Obama voters who are still deluding themselves. Instead of focusing on an administration that wire taps the Associated Press (I wonder why?) and denies or drags its feet on Freedom of Information Act requests, the kids have convinced themselves that the world needs to address gay marriage or abortion laws that were settled by the Supreme Court about a half-century ago.

Get ready for Project Mayhem, because every week that passes suggests that the powers that be are not interested in returning to our founding principles, and the more divorced we get from those principles the more likely it is that it will all end very, very badly.

This is your fearless space monkey signing out.

Best,

Doug