Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

Report: Hillary's email server so unsecure, it's 'total amateur hour'


From the Associated Press, consider this an appetizer for tonight's first debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (and whichever also-rans are also on stage):

"The private email server running in Hillary Rodham Clinton's home basement when she was secretary of state was connected to the Internet in ways that made it more vulnerable to hackers while using software that could have been exploited, according to data and documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

"Clinton's server, which handled her personal and State Department correspondence, appeared to allow users to connect openly over the Internet to control it remotely, according to detailed records compiled in 2012. Experts said the Microsoft remote desktop service wasn't intended for such use without additional protective measures, and was the subject of U.S. government and industry warnings at the time over attacks from even low-skilled intruders.

"Records show that Clinton additionally operated two more devices on her home network in Chappaqua, New York, that also were directly accessible from the Internet. One contained similar remote-control software that also has suffered from security vulnerabilities, known as Virtual Network Computing, and the other appeared to be configured to run websites.

"The new details provide the first clues about how Clinton's computer, running Microsoft's server software, was set up and protected when she used it exclusively over four years as secretary of state for all work messages. Clinton's privately paid technology adviser, Bryan Pagliano, has declined to answer questions about his work from congressional investigators, citing the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

"Some emails on Clinton's server were later deemed top secret, and scores of others included confidential or sensitive information. Clinton has said that her server featured 'numerous safeguards,' but she has yet to explain how well her system was secured and whether, or how frequently, security updates were applied."

Asked for comment about whether her server was appropriately secured, Hillary said, "What? With a lock or something?"

Just kidding ... I think. Given the way Team Hillary has handled this entire episode -- researched and recounted in detail in this Politico story -- I wouldn't put such a response past her.

Once more, let's get to the heart of this issue:

  1. Was classified information on her personal, private server? (Answer: Yes.)
  2. Was her personal, private server protected appropriately? (Answer: No.)
  3. Do these facts raise questions about her judgment? (Answer: In my view, and that of voters surveyed by opinion pollsters, yes.)
  4. Has she given a sufficient answer for handling things this way? (Answer: No, because her answers keep changing as they're undermined by the facts.)
  5. Is she hiding something? (Answer: TBD.)

Whether or not anyone, from Clinton to Pagliano to anyone else, faces criminal charges over this episode, those questions remain key in evaluating this case. Would any of the 30,000 emails Hillary deemed "personal" in nature reveal anything untoward in her overlapping interests at State and the Clinton Foundation?

We already know there was -- at best, from the Clintons' perspective -- questionable timing involving a donation to the Clinton Foundation and a request by the donor for Hillary (among other officials) to approve a sensitive business deal .

... and that the Clinton Foundation had to refile tax returns from several years to reflect that, rather than receiving $0 from foreign governments while Hillary was secretary of state, it in fact received tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments while she was secretary of state.

... and that Bill Clinton's speaking fees rose dramatically while his wife was secretary of state.

... and that some of the classified information that passed through her email account was sent as she traded messages and received advice on Libya from Sidney Blumenthal -- an ex-Clinton White House staffer who was barred from working for Hillary at State, and who at the time was pursuing a business interest in Libya that would benefit from U.S. intervention in the country.

... and that her chief of staff at State, Cheryl Mills, had a side job negotiating a deal for New York University to build a campus in Abu Dhabi.

It will be fascinating tonight to see if CNN's moderators ask Hillary about the email issue as many times as, say, CNN's moderators during the last GOP debate asked Republican candidates what they thought about things Donald Trump had said about them.


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About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.