Creepy but Reassuring to Read Hillary Emails

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 9.56.45 AMKiln, Mississippi    Let us be clear and make no bones about it, it was a huge misjudgment for Hillary Clinton to use a private email address and server while Secretary of State. No organization in their right mind would ever have allowed it, and it establishes an unfamiliarity with working for others, as opposed to yourself, which is worrisome at a very fundamental level in my view. There’s the whole transparency thing, which worries me less. She’s got folks gunning for her figuratively and literally, so it is not unreasonable to be cautious about information. The accountability issue is more my concern and the ability to subsume self-interest to collective enterprise.

Saying that she stubbed her toe does not equal believing she should take a fall. And, reading the actual reports of her emails is reassuring in some ways because there seems little smoke or fire. Long emails from your daughter giving you a heads’ up that essentially Haiti is going to hell in a hand-basket and it could end up on Mom and Dad’s shoes is good advice and what every parent should hope to hear from their children. Hearing from Chelsea that the State Department website is archaic and sucks, especially when Hillary as Secretary of State in all likelihood never did more than cast a passing glance at it every blue moon is also a tip from a young one bringing Mom back to modernity that would be invaluable I would think. Who knows what this really says about Hillary, since there were no reports of her action upon getting the down-low from her daughter, but definitely Chelsea’s stock went up in my book.

As did Hillary’s in a weird way. I like the fact that she might be perversely flattered that a robber used a Hillary mask in a heist, even if her tongue was in her check. Be honest with me, that’s hilarious, and the spot on response from the Clinton family lawyer, David Kendall, profiled recently as a courtroom killer of rare powers, assuring her that though robbers have used Nixon masks repeatedly and Reagan masks as well, she might be the first Democrat so honored, is also just plain a hoot. Even the reports of her wondering about the real skinny on White House gossip or whatnot is a fair play. She was riding for the brand, so she should care what was happening at the ranch house. This kind of stuff in my view makes her look human, and Hillary desperately needs to be seen more often as human, rather than a 21st century calculating machine.

Then there’s the tempest in the teapot aspect to all of this that leaves you feeling like you are peeping at someone’s personal emails over their shoulders. The skinny on that according to The New York Times on these emails that were…

4,368 documents totaling 7,121 pages, posted online …by the State Department as part of a monthly disclosure ordered by a court after the revelation that Hillary Rodham Clinton had used a private email server while she was secretary of state. The department initially said it had redacted information from roughly 150 emails because they contained sensitive information, then reduced that estimate to 125. The information was deleted because “confidential” materials — the lowest classification of government intelligence — had been discovered in the correspondence. None of the documents were marked classified at the time they were sent, said Mark Toner, a spokesman for the State Department.

Best join me in laughing about bank robbers in Hillary masks, because up close this little dust-up is starting to seem little more than boring no matter how bad it looks from a distance.

hillary_robber

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Thanks, General, for Making us All Hacked Off!

New Orleans   I can’t stop reading these articles about ex-CIA spy chief, General David Petraeus, not because of the affair, which seems so mundane that you wonder what came over his biographer and paramour, Paula Broadwell, to send anonymous email bombs to potential rivals, given how buttoned down these two were.  What is titillating about this mess is all of the articles about emails and the total lack of privacy they provide to everyone out there.

For example, we have always known that Google was a window to the world because they never erase anything.  It turns out, according to Nicole Perlroth in the New York Times, they do erase logins after 18 months, though I’m not sure what they do with your emails.  It turns out that Yahoo does the same thing, though I’ve known people who had Yahoo addresses believing that Yahoo didn’t keep the emails forever.  Now I wonder what is true?

Paul and David’s reported strategy for deceit was to create a shared Google address and never actually send emails, but leave the potential messages in the “draft” folder.  This seems to have been the preferred method of the famous “shoe bomber,” which is why we pointlessly take off our shoes for TSTA in US airports, though almost nowhere do we do that in the rest of the world.  Would Mr. CIA director now have known that or was he just too new on the job after only a year?   On the other hand it turns out that the much maligned and largely abandoned Google Talk feature, which before the improvements in Skype was my go-to free telephone system around the world, actually does erase your messages if you hit “off the record.”  Who knew that really worked, except maybe my daughter who used to have that on her Google Talk.  What was she hiding?

All of this reminds me of the CIA, Secret Service, and FBI ganging up on President Obama as he came into the White House in 2008 and insisting that he had to ditch the Blackberry.  Now it turns out that almost everyone has done so, but once again (see above), how did Petraeus miss that story?  For that matter who got fired in the CIA tech department for letting the CIA freaking director use a computer or any kind of electronic device that wasn’t encrypted and totally unhackable?  What kind of a rinky-dink operation are we running over there?  Are they letting drones run the whole shop now?  Although it’s probably not them, but an even greater hubris at the top that insists on keeping the Blackberry and their own personal computer and so forth.  I know I’ve mentioned before of National Urban League President Marc Morial’s refusal to use email or Blackberry while he was Mayor of New Orleans.  Turns out Marc might be the man to look for to run the CIA, rather than some four-star general.  Didn’t anyone learn from watching “The Wire,” that you need to buy and burn cheap cell phones from neighborhood bodegas, and, hey, that might not always work either!

We were all talking the other day about an article we read recommending a million ways that you could hide your passwords.  It didn’t long for all of us to admit that we would mainly be hiding them from ourselves, since any and every time any of us had tried to get fancy we had ended forgetting the passwords.  And, tell me who doesn’t use free wireless in airports and elsewhere?  No one!  When you find those hotspots that keep you from paying roaming charges on cell phones and whatever else you are using, you are singing hallelujah, not hiding your devices.

And, if you thought the only thing that really protected you was the law, then Joe Nocera of the Times nailed this issue squarely with several arguments that actually cited the law and made it starkly clear that this was a “fig leaf” for the FBI, since inevitably we will find out that Paula Broadwell maybe ex-military, but she’s no OG brandishing words like a pistol.  She may have braced up the Tampa women (who one columnist cites as Kardashian-like), which I don’t think was likely to have been a compliment, but clearly they just went into the favor bank with an FBI buddy and a bureau with no boundaries.

It’s open season.  If you have something to hide, you might should sent a letter, since at least it’s still a crime for someone to rifle through real mail with a real stamp.  Or, put a message in a bottle since the frequency of storm surges in our climate crisis seems likely to put the note on our doorstep almost as fast as the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service!

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