Well, I suppose I should weigh in on all the email hubbub with Hillary having been investigated for mismanaging her sensitive emails. This thing just drones on (no pun intended.. well, yeah, pun intended) and even I get confused as to the real issue behind it all. Obviously the republicans are constantly banging away that this is a big deal and there must be something fishy that she wasn’t indicted for allowing classified emails on her private email server. This is politics-at-election-time as usual. Here’s a July 6 report from The Wall Street Journal that sums up the official stuff…
FBI director James Comey on Tuesday announced in a press conference that the agency recommended against charging Mrs. Clinton over the email issue. While the FBI had found that Mrs. Clinton and her aides had been “extremely careless” in their handling of classified material, there was no clear evidence that anyone intentionally mishandled information, obstructed justice or appeared to be disloyal to the U.S. in the process, he said.
The Justice Department had the final say on whether to charge Mrs. Clinton. Ms. Lynch (Atty. General) had earlier said she would follow the recommendations of the FBI and prosecutors.
[MY UNCOMMON SENSE. These will be posts that present issues of the day from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have all resources at my disposal to objectively concern myself with every conceivable bit of fact. Let’s face it, some of us average folks simply cannot digest all information available on a given subject, nor can we spend copious amounts of time going to fact-checking sites to see what politician, newsroom, or potentate is just blowing smoke our way to sway our opinion one way or the other. I certainly can’t answer for you, but I can’t stand issues that beg for emotional responses from me; I am no conspiracy theorist. Yes, things stir me up at times but there has to be some reasonable facts… or common sense… behind it all. In the absence of facts, or a way to filter through crap to find the facts, all we have is our own respective life experiences to draw on to try and put things in order. I believe we are the true silent majority; we are the ones the Pied Pipers of the world are trying to get to follow them. The Merriam-Webster website defines commons sense as.. the ability to think and behave in a reasonable way and to make good decisions. Since we are all humans and hence, different from each other, our ‘reasonable way’ will be different for each of us. That’s where my slant on humanism takes over.]
So now I’m left with My Uncommon Sense.
Hillary, and likely most current politicians (and most non-politicians), are VERY ignorant when it comes to understanding computer technology. I owned a technology-based business for nearly 15 years back in the 90’s and early 2000’s. I know you really have to keep up on this kind of technology constantly and since I’ve been out of the business for nearly ten years there’s a ton of stuff regarding super tech applications I am simply unknowledgeable of (but not necessarily unaware of as I do understand the theory). In the tech business the world of the “user”.. those are the people who actually use the technology in everyday life… people like you and me, the cashier at the Walmart in the checkout.. those of us who use cell phones, smart phones, use the internet on our home PC’s.. we are all “users” of technology developed by the techies. Many of us don’t know how it all works nor do we care. We just want it to work when we use it… especially if we are paying for it.
Politicians, our elected officials, are mostly no different than the rest of us when it comes to understanding technology application. In the old days the average person running for a major office like governor or president only needed a team of savvy public relations people who knew how to spin the press, gauge the reactions to the polls, and try to interpret and manipulate a finicky voter on TV. Radio, and in print. In this day and age you need not only the techies who understand current social media technology (Facebook, Twitter, yada, yada) but also a bevy of people who know exactly how to use that public exposure and rapid dissemination of information to best advantage; what to say, how to say it, how to spin it, all within the next few minutes. More than ever the elections today are a huge effort involving many different people to try and package a candidate favorable to the masses. So what’s all this got to do with Hillary’s emails?
It’s my contention from the very beginning that Mrs. Clinton simply messed up because of technological ignorance. She was busy doing her job as Secretary of State and, exactly like Director Comey said, her and her staff were extremely careless in how they handled email security (if there even was a “handle”) on her private email server. It’s all very easy to comprehend. There was no conspiracy, no smoking gun finger-pointing about intentional security leaks, no garbage about nasty connections to the Clinton Foundation. Here’s my list of thoughts….
- If there is a blame then I see it falling in two areas…. The first is the State Department’s IT people. I have to assume State has a rather large industrial technology department to handle the routine State Department communication (office emails), in house daily routines, and the technology links AND computer security, for all the embassies and diplomatic missions world-wide. One has to assume these folks have the best of the best in all this kind of technology. Safeguards, redundancy systems, cyber-detection… all the Hollywood stuff. One also has to assume that this department (or departments) has relatively ready access to the ear of the Secretary of State, given he/she runs the place and the buck stops there. Keeping emails secure and maintaining formal classification levels for security and need-to-know individuals seems to me would be a pretty basic function. It isn’t a stretch that a new incoming Secretary of State would presume to get a briefing/instruction on the security protocols regarding anything entering the computer sitting on their desk. Did that even happen and if not, why not, and who’s responsibility was it to tell her??
- Here’s the second item. It was reported that she had a private server while at State. Um, ok.. not sure why she needed a private server at work but let’s give her that much given her position is expected to function 24/7 and she does need to connect with her private life like any of us. Again… did anyone advise her that when she links to her private server that there are security protocols? More to the point, wasn’t there something to queue Hillary when she was on or off a secure email server? She is reported to have taken her email server home when she left State. Now, common sense suggests they didn’t just load the box into the trunk of her car as they waved goodbye and expected her to hook the thing up when she got home. Remember, she’s a “user” not a techie. One has to presume that a number of techies from State likely went to her home to hook it all up and make sure it all worked properly. Weren’t they aware of the security risks? Or did her staff just call the local Geek Squad from Best Buy and they had no idea what the content was inside the box they were installing?
- When I was in the business you were constantly designing systems and programs to keep the user from themselves. In other words, if there was a way where a user could make a mistake then you build in a routine to inform the user of what they were about to do (the proverbial drop down error window is a perfect example of this). If Hillary’s emails had “C” designations on classified emails then why weren’t those flagged immediately on her screen?
- Hillary Clinton got off easy compared to former CIA Director (and General) David Petraeus? Sorry, not comparing apples to apples here. Petraeus is accused of revealing secrets to a reporter/author and had an extramarital affair with her. Clinton’s alleged email security issues were nothing like this.
Bottom line, yes, she should have known these things because she was in charge.. BUT… if you presume that if you are an average computer user and you see all the electronics are working then it’s full steam ahead to do your job and the world is wonderful. You have little or no reason to ask what the electronics are doing or designed to do.. or not do. I blame the technology department for two things… either they failed to design everything for user friendliness within a security environment, or, they failed to inform her properly of what she was using and the inherent risks, or both.
Now, if some news reporter from some minor venue finds an ex-techie who used to work at the State Department and is willing to swear on a stack of Bibles that when Hillary first reported to her new job at the State Department that he gave her a complete technology security briefing, and again as she left the Department, and he has her signature acknowledging that on a document… well, that would certainly be another chapter. But for now… the FBI Director and Attorney General were correct. Enough with the damn emails already… and fix the problem for the next Secretary of State user.
One more note… while this email security issue seems to follow Mrs. Clinton around to provide the impression that if elected president that she would be so careless with secret information as to be a risk to everything American, remember this bit of common sense. Being President of the United States in a daily routine is NOTHING like working day-to-day in the Secretary of State’s office. Everything the president has access to, electronic or otherwise, is handled with extreme scrutiny by staff and technicians in charge of doing just that. There is little room, if any, for a president to be careless with security secrets, with private servers, or anything else like that.
…and that’s my uncommon sense.