Sec. Carter admits use of personal email account 'a mistake'

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter called his use of a personal email account for work a “mistake” and said he had been "warned by lots of people along the way" to be careful about his communications.

"It's a mistake, and it's entirely my own," Carter told CBS News on Thursday in an interview during his trip to Iraq.

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The New York Times reported Wednesday night that Carter relied on a personal email account for some of his official duties during his first months at the Pentagon.

Hillary Clinton has come under intense scrutiny for exclusively using her personal email account hosted on a private server while secretary of State, and the FBI is investigating whether any classified materials were mishandled in that time.

Carter continued to use his personal email for official business for at least two months after Clinton’s email practice was revealed in March, The Times reported.

A former aide to Carter told the newspaper Carter used the personal account "so frequently that members of his staff feared he would be hacked and worried about his not following the rules."

In the interview with CBS, Carter said he only occasionally used his iPhone to email his immediate staff about administrative matters.

“Even that, I shouldn’t have been doing, and when I realized that, I stopped,” he said.

He never sent classified information over his private email, he said.

He stopped using his private email “a few months ago,” he added.

“I have to hold myself to absolutely strict standards in terms of cybersecurity and doing things that are appropriate,” he continued. “I didn’t in this case.”

Earlier Thursday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he was launching a review of Carter’s use of personal email.

“With all the public attention surrounding the improper use of personal email by other administration officials, it is hard to believe that Secretary Carter would exercise the same error in judgment," McCain said in a written statement. "The Senate Armed Services Committee has requested copies of the emails and will be conducting a review to ensure that sensitive information was not compromised."