By now you’ve heard the news that the U.S. Department of Justice is taking possession of the personal, secret server former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton used to conduct official email correspondence. Clinton’s decision to finally surrender the server to authorities comes in the wake of revelations that classified, “Top Secret” materials were indeed contained in emails on her private account, counter to her previous claims.
But, what makes this development so significant? Why does it matter to the FBI whether Clinton used her own private system to conduct email correspondence?
First of all, federal law prohibits storing classified information in unauthorized places, with penalties ranging from a fine to one year in prison. We have stringent security protocols for those who deal with sensitive, classified information because that information could be used to threaten our national security and put those in military or clandestine service at risk. And, in a world with growing cyber security threats, the risk is even greater for digitally stored information.
For example, NBC News recently reported that Chinese hackers had penetrated the private email accounts of many top Executive Branch officials since 2010. The officials’ government accounts were not penetrated, though, because they have a much higher level of security. It is unclear whether Secretary Clinton was among those top officials to have their private emails hacked though an in-house email system like hers is believed to be particularly vulnerable to hackers.
The bottom line is Secretary Clinton deliberately flouted our nation’s protocols with her personal email arrangement and, in doing so, threatened the security of classified, Top Secret information. Her apparent obsession with retaining absolute control of her email came at the expense of national security, and that should concern all Americans.
Secretary Clinton says she already deleted more than 30,000 emails and “wiped” the server housing them, so it’s unclear just how much can be gleaned from what was turned over. But I am hopeful the FBI, Inspectors General and the Select Committee on Benghazi can get to the bottom of it.
It’s worth noting that none of this would have been brought to light without the formation of the Select Committee, the determination of our Chairman, Trey Gowdy, or the diligent work of our investigators.
My colleagues and I are preparing for Secretary Clinton’s appearance before the Select Committee in October. Given these revelations and her previous statements, she will certainly have some explaining to do.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. She is currently serving her third term.