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Meet Me at Macy's

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

When the Hillary Clinton Private/Secret Email Server Scandal first broke into the open last March my friend Paul Begala said:

"Voters do not give a . They do not even give a … Find me one persuadable voter who agrees with HRC on the issues but will vote against her because she has a non-archival-compliant email system and I'll kiss your ass in Macy's window and say it smells like roses."

Republicans, of course, had been howling about the fact that Clinton had a private/secret email server installed at the family manse in Chappaqua instead of using the State Department's server.

The deepest, darkest, most heinous motives have been attributed to Secretary Clinton's decision to make her own rules, but she brushed it off as necessary to avoid having to carry two devices.

As far back as 1995 the State Department determined that this new-fangled thing called "electronic mail" (later shortened to "email") existed and steps needed to be taken to preserve communications carried over it.

According to the Washington Post, the Department issued the following warning:

"All employees must be aware that some of the variety of the messages being exchanged on E-mail are important to the Department and must be preserved; such messages are considered Federal records under the law."

In 2005 the Department updated its manual to say:

"It is the Department's general policy that normal day-to-day operations be conducted on an authorized AIS [Automated Information System], which has the proper level of security control to provide nonrepudiation, authentication and encryption, to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the resident information" [Emphasis, mine]

This policy went into effect only four years before Clinton became Secretary, so it is entirely possible that the Clinton team hadn't had time to get to that part of the manual before (a) they installed her secret system at her home, or before (b) she completed her four-year term as Secretary of State.

To be fair, this is stated as a "general policy" not a law nor even a rule. Even so, anyone who has ever been within spitting distance of classified material knows it has to be handled differently than emails regarding where we're meeting for drinks.

It gets a little fuzzy - no surprise where the Clintons are involved - but it seems that after investigation the State Department inspector general, according to McClatchy Newspapers "two emails on her private account have been classified as "Top Secret."
The fuzzy part is when, or if, these emails were classified Top Secret at the time they were being transmitted by, and stored in, the private/secret Clinton server.
The Daily Beast wrote:

"The Inspector General assessed that Clinton's emails included information that was highly classified-yet mislabeled as unclassified. Worse, the information in question should have been classified up to the level of "TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN," according to the Inspector General's report.

On Fox Business the other day I pointed out that cable/email traffic between embassies or between an embassy and what is known as "Main State" are always treated as being sensitive even if not officially classified. "It is not something State would like Vladimir Putin glancing at over his morning Cheerios," I said.

Clinton herself is not a target of any investigation, but at least four of her inner circle at the State Department appear to be in danger of being dragged in.
So, after months and months of Clinton stating she would not turn the computers over to anyone in or out of government it was announced that she has, in fact, decided to turn them over to the Department of Justice.
That the Conservative press is hyperventilating about all this is no surprise. What is a surprise is even MSNBC which is normally eager to defend Clinton, wrote yesterday that

"The big problem for her camp is that now, instead of looking proactive, Clinton looks like she's been dragged into turning these materials over."

What is in each individual email is not the important point at this stage. What is important is that Hillary Clinton's judgement was so faulty that she was willing to put national security at risk so that she only had to carry one device.
So, to Paul Begala I say: Check your calendar, my friend, and let's get a date to meet in Macy's window. I'll even let you pick the store.

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