A Philosopher's Blog

HRC’s Servergate

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on August 20, 2015

As promised, here is a place for people to comment on H.R. Clinton’s Servergate. My own view is that HRC did not break official policy or the law, but made some poor decisions. I certainly don’t buy the “one device” argument. As others have noted, she has bragged about having many devices. I might be wrong about this, but I infer that if I can have several email accounts on my iPhone, the same sort of thing could have been done for HRC. But, to be fair, perhaps there are some good reasons why that could not occur in her case. But probably not.

While her decision to go with the private server and to decide what to delete turned out to be bad decisions and contrary to how such things should be done, the magnitude of this “scandal” seems to be blown out of proportion. Yes, HRC is sneaky, has a huge sense of entitlement, is suspicious of others, and devoted to unnecessary secrecy. But none of these seem to be disqualifications for office.

But, I welcome the comments of others and I am very interested in seeing arguments presented showing how this shows why HRC should not be president. That is, how this makes her worse than all her competitors.

21 Responses

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  1. TJB said, on August 20, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    The essence of justice is that like cases be treated equally. Just in the past month:

    the Department of Justice indicted a young sailor who took a selfie in front of a sonar screen on a nuclear submarine and emailed the selfie to his girlfriend. It also indicted a Marine who sent an urgent warning to his superiors on his Gmail account about a dangerous Afghani spy who eventually killed three fellow Marines inside an American encampment. The emailing Marine was indicted for failure to secure classified materials. Gen. David Petraeus stored top-secret materials in an unlocked desk drawer in the study of his secured and guarded Virginia home and was indicted for the same crimes. And a former CIA agent was just sentenced to three years in prison for destroying one top-secret email.

    http://reason.com/archives/2015/08/20/the-deceptions-of-hillary-clinton

  2. T. J. Babson said, on August 20, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Mike, I’m frankly amazed you think you have enough information to pronounce her fit for duty.

    Where, for example, was her server located? Was it in Chappaqua or Denver?

    Would it matter to you if through gross negligence on her part national security was compromised?

    • WTP said, on August 20, 2015 at 11:34 pm

      OK, you ignored me the last time I asked this, what..a week ago? Why are you “amazed” by the…hell, I can’t even describe the many and sundry…the stupid, for lack of a better yet sufficiently encompassing word? Do you really believe that Mike is an honest, serious person in regard to the issues discussed here? I’m not saying he’d cheat a friend or anything, but in regard to all that has been discussed here over the years, has he ever acknowledge a significant point that differed from the world that only exists inside his head? Actually, IIRC, you almost, nearly admitted such a couple months ago. Is it your faith in the honesty of (subject matter) authority that is the source of your incredulity or possibly a fear that these absurdities being so common in the academic world might force an understanding of how broadly our education system, and thus the future generations are screwed?…or possibly something else? For me, many many years before the advent of the Internet, it was that second thing.

      • T. J. Babson said, on August 21, 2015 at 8:00 am

        When Mike writes that in his view HRC “did not break official policy” it is indeed hard to believe that Mike is living on the same planet that we are.

        Every workplace has an official policy that employees are supposed to use its IT system for business communication. I’ll bet even at Mike’s university both he and the student are expected to use official university email addresses for communications regarding a grade, say, or some other course-related issue.

        Mike is an excellent example of a tribalist who believes in his own mind that he is an independent thinker. He is a committed Democrat who refuses to see the harm inflicted by Dem policies. He is attuned to every injustice carried out by the private sector but is completely blind to many of the injustices carried out by the government.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 21, 2015 at 9:31 am

          While a reasonable case can be made that she did break official policy, there is also the case that she skirted the rules rather than broke them:

          “There was not an explicit, categorical prohibition against federal employees using personal emails when Clinton was in office, said Daniel Metcalfe, former director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy, where he administered implementation of the Freedom of Information Act. High-level officials like Clinton need the flexibility to sometimes use a personal email, such as responding to a national security emergency in the middle of the night.

          So it seems she didn’t break a rule simply by using a personal email to conduct business. Rather, by using personal emails exclusively, she skirted the rules governing federal records management, Cox said.”

          I certainly agree that she should not have done what she did and her defense of it is baloney. Now, if it turns out that she did violate the rules, then I would certainly accept that. At this point, my view is that she weaseled around the policies for no good reason. If she actually violated the law and rules, then that changes my judgement. To use an analogy, if a student weasels his way by skirting and exploiting the course rules rather than doing things as they really should be done, I won’t like it but I have to accept it (and then I update the syllabus as I have done to the point that it is now longer than the semester papers I require in the classes). But, if it turns out the student broke the rules, then I do not have to accept that. Likewise with HRC: if she broke the rules, then she deserves the consequences of those misdeeds. I’m not a big fan of HRC, although she is clearly a competent politician–though she does have some obvious flaws that might prove problematic if she gets to be President. But, I would prefer her to Trump.

          We actually are not supposed to discuss actual grades via email-my school email is subject to public records requests and it is against the law to reveal grades to anyone but the student. We are, however, supposed to conduct official business via our school emails. For example, all search committee correspondence has to be done that way and the emails need to be entered into the records for the process. For many things I can get school emails at my personal email and it is fine, although it might be seen as skirting the preferred policy.

          • T. J. Babson said, on August 21, 2015 at 9:36 am

            “So it seems she didn’t break a rule simply by using a personal email to conduct business.”

            She definite broke a rule/policy but probably not a law–unless she destroyed government emails or mishandled classified information.

          • WTP said, on August 21, 2015 at 9:56 am

            “There was not an explicit, categorical prohibition against federal employees using personal emails when Clinton was in office, said Daniel Metcalfe, former director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy, where he administered implementation of the Freedom of Information Act. High-level officials like Clinton need the flexibility to sometimes use a personal email, such as responding to a national security emergency in the middle of the night.

            So it seems she didn’t break a rule simply by using a personal email to conduct business. Rather, by using personal emails exclusively, she skirted the rules governing federal records management, Cox said.”

            Oh for fucking fuck’s sake. This guy went on to say far more. Not to mention the guy’s a Democrat who quit during the Bush years over ideological difference. Just one fucking Google search brings up the following.. and from the leftist Daily Kos no less:

            The CBC has interviewed Daniel Metcalfe, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Information from 1981 through 2007, regarding Hillary Clinton’s use of private email, and her statement regarding her private email use.

            A little more on him:

            In 1981, after a judicial clerkship and serving as a Justice Department trial attorney, he was appointed to the position of founding director of the Department’s Office of Information and Privacy (OIP). For more than a quarter-century in that position, he guided all federal agencies on the government-wide administration of the Freedom of Information Act, directly supervised the defense of more than 500 FOIA and Privacy Act lawsuits in district and appellate courts, testified before Congress on FOIA amendment legislation and authored Attorney General FOIA memoranda for successive presidential administrations, and met with representatives of nearly 100 nations and international governing bodies as they considered the development and implementation of their own government transparency laws. He became a career member of the Senior Executive Service in 1984, the youngest Justice Department attorney then and since to hold such a position.
            So, a bit of authority behind his words:
            Daniel Metcalfe doesn’t buy her explanation. In fact, he calls it laughable.
            “What she did was contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the law,” says Metcalfe, the founding director of the Justice Department’s Office of Information and Privacy, which advised the rest of the administration on how to comply with the law. Metcalfe ran the office from 1981 to 2007.

            “There is no doubt that the scheme she established was a blatant circumvention of the Freedom of Information Act, atop the Federal Records Act.”

            For what it’s worth, Metcalfe says he’s a registered Democrat, who quit government during the Bush administration because he was “embarrassed.”
            He goes on, with especially important points about Clinton choosing which emails made it to the official record, with blame for both Clinton and the people responsible for archiving such records:

            “You can’t have the secretary of state do that; that’s just a prescription for the circumvention of the FOIA. Plus, fundamentally, there’s no way the people at the archives should permit that if you tell them over there.”‘
            […]

            His overall conclusion from her public appearance: “Her suggestion that government employees can unilaterally determine which of their records are personal and which are official, even in the face of a FOIA request, is laughable.”

            He also called Clinton’s statements are her press conference “deceptive” and “grossly misleading.”
            • Also today: Jen Psaki: Hillary Clinton didn’t use a State Department BlackBerry

            I don’t know the full implications of that, although at first look it seems to speak to the issue of security, and may speak to physical and official ability to operate two different email accounts in the single device.

            • And I love this WSJ story:

            On Wednesday, a senior State Department official said that during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure, from 2009 to early 2013, it wasn’t possible for employees to access personal email through an email app on their official BlackBerrys. They could use the BlackBerry’s Internet browser to check personal emails, but that was a clunky system.
            1. Why would any respectable newspaper grant anonymity for such benign information? That’s journalistic malpractice, and calls the entire report into question.
            2. On “their official BlackBerrys”? Please see above.

            3. We know that a Cabinet official during Clinton’s time as SoS used a Blackberry with two different email accounts.

            http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/13/1370551/-Top-DoJ-FOIA-official-1981-2007-Clinton-violated-letter-and-spirit-of-law#

            Seriously, get a fucking clue.

            • WTP said, on August 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

              No..this bears repeating:


              Daniel Metcalfe doesn’t buy her explanation. In fact, he calls it laughable.
              “What she did was contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the law,” says Metcalfe

              “There is no doubt that the scheme she established was a blatant circumvention of the Freedom of Information Act, atop the Federal Records Act.”

              about Clinton choosing which emails made it to the official record, with blame for both Clinton and the people responsible for archiving such records:

              “You can’t have the secretary of state do that; that’s just a prescription for the circumvention of the FOIA. Plus, fundamentally, there’s no way the people at the archives should permit that if you tell them over there.”‘

              His overall conclusion from her public appearance: “Her suggestion that government employees can unilaterally determine which of their records are personal and which are official, even in the face of a FOIA request, is laughable.”

              He also called Clinton’s statements are her press conference “deceptive” and “grossly misleading.”

              When the expert you quote disagrees with the very point you are trying to make, you’ve got a problem. Now I can see how you only went looking for support or, more likely, got your original quote from a source that habitually takes things out of context, so I could go so far to say you were being either lazy or sloppy without consciously being dishonest. However, ethically can you at the very least admit you are flat out wrong here?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 21, 2015 at 9:11 am

      I don’t claim she is fit; I just claim that what has been revealed as of the writing of the post is not sufficient to disqualify her as a candidate.

      If she broke the law, she should be subject to the consequences.

      I’m reasonably sure that HRC is a cold, Machiavellian politician with a desire for secrecy and a huge sense of entitlement. She is also well connected to moneyed interests. So, an ideal presidential candidate for today. She does have a slightly left of center leaning, at least in terms of what she espouses. But, in practice, she is a solid capitalist.

      • WTP said, on August 21, 2015 at 10:04 am

        In practice, she’s a solid crony capitalist at best. A fascist more likely. Or, much like yourself, first brown then red.

  3. nailheadtom said, on August 21, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    “Yes, HRC is sneaky, has a huge sense of entitlement, is suspicious of others, and devoted to unnecessary secrecy. But none of these seem to be disqualifications for office.”

    At least not as elected government officials practice at this time.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 23, 2015 at 6:41 am

      Actually, she is almost a “perfect” politician. Rather like being a perfect liar or con artist.

      • nailheadtom said, on August 23, 2015 at 2:42 pm

        A “perfect politician” wouldn’t put themselves in the position that Mrs. Bill Clinton now occupies. There’s no shortage of sleazeball politicos on the current scene or throughout the country’s history but the most successful have been talented enough to obscure their malfeasance. Some, such as Mrs. Bill Clinton, with the dogged assistance of the media. It’s a commentary on her negatives that even as some of the most influential voices on the national scene ignore her imperial behavior her poll numbers continue to slide. She’s not only unqualified for the post she seeks, she’s just an obnoxious person.

  4. TJB said, on August 23, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Mike, you never addressed my first point: that the essence of justice is that similar cases be treated similarly.

    Can you really argue with a straight face that other federal employees would be treated the same way as HRC is being treated?

    If not, is HRC above the law? Isn’t thinking that one is above the law enough to be disqualified from holding office?

    • WTP said, on August 23, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      Curious, TJ…do you notice how, when put in a position to defend the politicians of the left, he falls back on the whimpy cop-outs like the one above, re she is almost a “perfect” politician. Rather like being a perfect liar or con artist? Yet he constantly advocates for putting more and more control of our society into the hands of politicians. What is it called when consistency is only required from certain people but not others?

      • T. J. Babson said, on August 23, 2015 at 3:40 pm

        Good point. He believes politicians are liars and con artists but has no problem ceding more and more control to them.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm

          Yes, my essays favoring more freedom and less state imposition are all about ceding power to the politicians. In the same way that I advocate running because I favor people being obese.

          • WTP said, on August 24, 2015 at 4:18 pm

            Yes, my essays favoring more freedom and less state imposition are all about ceding power to the politicians.

            Which essays are those “favoring more freedome and less state imposition”? Something of an ironic observation that I was going to bring up earlier but let it go…everyone who comments here has some sort of a philosophy, except for yourself. You do nothing but parrot Dem talking points. Polemics, as TJ once observed. When you advocate silencing people who are speaking collectively, how is that “more” freedom? When you propose silencing such people, who do you think would be doing so if not the state? When you advocate the state punishing people for their business decisions, how is that “less state imposition”? The closest you come to a “more freedom/less state” position is in your wishy-washy pro-choice and prostitution positions. In those, arguably one way or the other, you lack any backbone so it’s really a coin toss which way you really fall. You certainly seem to support government support (i.e. MORE government) for Planned Parenthood. You are consistently criticizing free markets, telling businesses what they must pay their employees, telling businesses what benefits they must provide to employees even when such goes against the moral principles of those who run those businesses, telling people where they can smoke, regulation after regulation after regulation, you endorse.

            What it boils down to is that you are nothing but a sophist with little to zero understanding of the rights and responsibilities of freedom. Then the arguments descend into Orwellian sophistry. The “freedom is slavery” BS, and given your absolute lack of intellectual curiosity about many of these matters, “ignorance is strength”.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 24, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      I cannot. The top dogs get special treatment everywhere. I would no more assert that HRC would get treated like a regular employee than I would dare to claim that FAMU’s president gets treated like any other faculty member.

  5. TJB said, on September 2, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Introducing the blender test. Mike, did you pass?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 2, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      Considering that I routinely handle firearms, have built several computers, have used power tools for decades with no accidents, and have even repaired a blender I would say that I can easily pass a blender test.


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