In this day and age of domestic surveillance, it’s seems odd that any public official should be given the opportunity to house private email servers in their home. Although Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE did not break any specific laws, and both Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell also used private emails at times, there are unique circumstances with ‘Emailgate’ that warrant a unique resolution to the scandal.
It’s said the NSA can “reach into the past” in terms of surveillance and has breathtaking data collection capabilities. So, whether or not it currently has Clinton’s emails isn’t an issue. The NSA can record or collect the data of any American if such information is deemed part of national security; the communication of a Secretary of State would no doubt fit into this definition. Emails stored in a private server located in a government employee’s home are indeed “highly unusual,” as stated recently by Robert Gibbs.
Since this type of behavior is unprecedented, it should fall under the supervision of America’s most renowned record-keeping department. If you or I would never get away with storing sensitive information on our own private servers, then neither should anyone in government. Furthermore, there are several key questions pertaining to Clinton’s use of private emails that voyage beyond the usual political attacks against the Clintons.
First, the former Secretary of State might have stored “sensitive” communication in an unguarded location. According to The Washington Post, there might not be “classified information,” but there could be “sensitive information” on Clinton’s private servers:
“Sensitive information is different from classified information. It can be personal data, like Social Security numbers, or information on matters that other countries consider classified or important to their national security.”
So there “does not appear” to be any classified information contained therein, but it remains to be seen whether there was “sensitive” information. That sounds as if the State Department is giving itself lots of wiggle room.
Considering she used her private email account almost exclusively, rather than the government issued account, it’s logical to ask whether or not there was “sensitive” or “classified” information flowing through Clinton’s servers.
Second, Clinton and her team are being afforded an opportunity that nobody in the U.S. would be given considering the circumstances. According to CNN, the former Secretary of State can pick and choose what to disclose and what to keep hidden from public view:
So with her own server, did she also got to handpick which emails went to the State Department for public release, right?
That's right, she and her aides made those calls.
But when Clinton was in office, emails on federal accounts weren't automatically archived either and Clinton and her aides would have done some handpicking as well.
Therefore, it doesn’t seem fair or reasonable from a record-keeping standpoint that she’s allowed to sift through her own private emails and pick only the ones she deems suitable for public view. Someone in the middle of an email controversy should not have the ability to withhold correspondence that could lead to concerns over credibility or foul play.
Third, a Wired article titled Why Clinton’s Private Email Server Was Such a Security Fail explains why the words “security fail” and “national security” should never be part of the same sentence:
But as the controversy continues to swirl, the security community is focused on a different issue: the possibility that an unofficial, unprotected server held the communications of America’s top foreign affairs official for four years, leaving all of it potentially vulnerable to state-sponsored hackers.
…But instead, according to the Associated Press, Clinton ran her server from her own home. Any protection it had there—aside from the physical protection of the Secret Service—would have been limited to the Clintons’ own personal resources.
…Anyone who hacked Network Solutions would be able to quietly hijack the Clintonemail.com domain, intercepting, redirecting, and even spoofing email from Clinton’s account.
If we found out today that Dick Cheney had private servers in his home during the lead-up to the Iraq War, what would people be saying? Also, if many security analysts find fault in Clinton’s decision to store a private server in her home, there are legitimate national security concerns as to this practice and other aspects associated with “homebrew servers.”
For some Americans, the NSA isn’t an agency that protects them from terrorist threats or keeps this country safe from another catastrophic event. For many people, the NSA represents an intrusion of privacy. However, ‘Emailgate’ is an opportunity for the NSA to show Americans that it can protect the nation from possible security breaches, even when powerful members of government have made these errors of judgment. Nobody is accusing Hillary Clinton of anything treasonous or malicious, after all, Powell and Rice also used private emails at times. The primary concern with this scandal rests in the fact that private email servers were stored in a private residence, with their contents possibly being “sensitive” or “classified.”
If anyone in the country engaged in such behavior, the NSA would have likely had information on all of this citizen’s communication and activities. If Clinton compromised national security in any way, the most renowned record-keeping agency in the U.S. government should help answer some questions. If the NSA has the full record of Clinton’s emails, it should hand them over to Congress.
Goodman is a journalist and an author.