Hillary Clinton's Email Server

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Garrett Graff: Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, does not know how to use a desktop computer, according to multiple sources interviewed by the FBI.


Sean Cole:


When Hillary became Secretary of State, she asked one of her predecessors, Colin Powell, how he dealt with e-mail. He wrote to her, quote, "I didn't have a BlackBerry. What I did do was have a personal computer that was hooked up to a private phone line--" sounds ancient-- --"so I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without it going through the State Department's servers. I even used it to do business with some foreign leaders."


Anyway, his solution-- checking e-mail on a desktop computer-- wouldn't work for Hillary Clinton because, again, she didn't know how to operate one. So her staff embarked on a series of thrown-together work arounds. They kept buying her the antiquated type of BlackBerry she preferred, the Curve 8310 with the trackball. One staffer remembers having to buy one either on Amazon or eBay around 2013, after BlackBerry stopped making them.


One more quick word about Colin Powell. He sometimes used a personal e-mail address to do State business. He used his AOL account.

Garrett Graff: And his argument, at the time, was a personal e-mail address is basically like a home telephone line. You can make personal calls on it. And you can make business calls on it.

Sean Cole: So the Secretary of State using a private e-mail account wasn't anything new. It was frowned upon by the State Department, but it wasn't forbidden. And Garrett says, reading through the FBI files, using personal e-mail for government business was also rampant.

Garrett Graff: State Department workers regularly, across the board, across all levels of the organization, regularly relied on personal e-mail in order to be able to conduct the business that the State Department needed to do, because they were traveling or because it was night time or it was a weekend or they were overseas away from an embassy.

Sean Cole: Or for a much simpler and much more important reason-- the State Department computer network didn't work very well.

Garrett Graff: Part of what we learn in these FBI files is that that system actually wasn't compatible with the Wi-Fi that the Air Force uses--

Sean Cole: Oh my god.

Garrett Graff: --on the planes that the Secretary of State travels on. So her staff would sometimes use private e-mails just when they were sitting on the plane with Hillary Clinton. People didn't think that the printer function worked very well within the State Department's regular e-mail system. So in order to print documents, they would often just forward documents to their personal Gmail or Hotmail, because it was easier to print out of that than it was to print out of the State Department e-mail system.

Sean Cole: This is one of the big, if accidental, revelations in this investigation-- just how crappy and backwards the State Department's computer system was. It's shocking for anyone who's ever worked in a normal business.

Garrett Graff: Most Americans would be absolutely horrified at the state of government technology writ large. But the State Department seems to be a particularly antiquated user of technology. When Colin Powell showed up at the State Department in 2001, he was given, in his office, a laptop that still relied on a 56K modem.

Garrett Graff: And Colin Powell made a really big effort to try to invest in actually putting computers on people's desks across the State Department, which did not exist in 2001.

Sean Cole: People didn't have computers on their desks in the State Department in 2001

Garrett Graff: The average State Department employee at headquarters in Washington, DC in 2001 did not have a desktop computer. ..

The shame of almost all of government is that government is, in many cases, the least sophisticated technology user in American society.[1]

  1. https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/601/transcript
  2. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/09/hillary-clinton-emails-2016-server-state-department-fbi-214307