You’re assuming that “running up to the edge of the law” is what’s caused Clinton’s negative optics…
Sonja Farnsworth

That’s supposed to be true, but the Director of the National Archives, Thomas Blanton and this 2014 OIG Report have indicated that during Clinton’s tenure, the State Department’s email preservation system archived a shockingly small portion of the total emails, and its employees (including Clinton) received inadequate “training or guidance on their responsibilities for using those systems to preserve ‘record emails.’” That explains a lot about why Clinton misunderstood proper archiving and didn’t realize the implications of using a personal server.

So, your saying that while Clinton was the person in charge of the State Dept, the Dept universally didn’t prioritize backup and retention of government data, as is required by State Dept regulation and federal law. But, somehow, that’s not the responsibility of the person in charge.

As someone who has spent decades in IT in corporate America, I can assure you that the adherence to priorities and regulations of an organization comes from the top. If leadership doesn’t prioritize taking care of data appropriately, no one will.

Clinton so didn’t care about retention and data security, that she kept all her data on her not-backed-up server at home. Even the classified stuff that shouldn’t have been anywhere but the government network. Since this is true — not an optic created by some nefarious Republican plot, but actual facts of the matter at hand — why should anyone at State care about backup and retention? The boss doesn’t care. Why should they?

This was communicated to the IT staff by Clinton’s inner circle, who specifically told the IT staff to stop bringing up regulations that inconvenienced the Secretary. Security and data retention simply wasn’t important to her.

This violated an internal State Department policy directive, known as a Foreign Affairs Manual, which stated that while it was okay to use personal digital devices to do work occasionally, “normal day-to-day operations” should be conducted on standard State Department equipment. Clinton chose to ignore this guideline and because she was the boss nobody could stop her.

Note, the above pull-quote is from a Matt Yglesias article actually defending Clinton’s behavior here. But because Matt is a bloviating idiot who doesn’t understand how culture is built, or destroyed, in an organization, his attitude toward this is “meh”. If he bothered to actually journalist a little, and ask anyone who has run an organization, he might have found out that a boss who exempts herself from guidelines is communicating to the rest of the organization that the guidelines aren’t important.

Your observation that this wasn’t happening isn’t an excuse for why Clinton’s behavior wasn’t so bad. It’s an indictment of her attitude as a leader of a large organization. Slipshod. Careless. Clearly attributes that are most highly desirable in a president.

We weren’t addressing classified data but “the regulations on retention and back up.” You had written, “So, did she technically break regulations on retention and back up? Absolutely, she did [and] there have been plenty of incidents of lower level government employees being prosecuted for far less.

Both retention and classification are part-and-parcel of the careless behavior Clinton demonstrated by failing to even appear as if she cared in the slightest about regulations she found annoying and inconvenient. And it is fair to call data security inconvenient. Data security is a pain in the ass. But it is an important pain in the ass, and a leader who doesn’t understand that, and communicates her contempt for the rules by openly flouting them, is creating an environment in which the rest of the organization will follow suit.

My own research on people convicted of mishandling classified data found no case in which someone did less than Clinton in terms of classified data but was still prosecuted.

MM1 Kristian Saucier took photos of his workspace aboard the USS Alexandria, which, as it turns out, is a classified space on a nuclear submarine. Now, he didn’t share those photos. He was never accused of disseminating them, or even intending to do so. But they were on his phone — a non-governmental electronic device — and the information contained on that device was deemed classified.

Saucier is in prison right now.

Clinton’s actions were essentially the same. She wasn’t charged.

And again, I’m not saying she should have been, but I am pointing out that people have been prosecuted for less, because they weren’t in positions of power.

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