FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action

Hillary Clinton’s email dilemma got somewhat sharper over the weekend, with Sunday programs heavy with the theme. Her use of a private email server during her stint as Secretary of State was given a new lease of life by the Office of the Inspector General’s report which took significant issue with her practices when in office.[1]

The Democratic strategists insisted that there were larger issues at stake. Such breaches are small feed in the broader matters of state affairs. Clinton campaign spokesperson Brian Fallon even suggested that the IG report’s demolition of the secretary’s previous claims did not “make her statements untruthful.”[2] In such circles, it is criminal not to be postmodern.

The campaign statement on Wednesday drew on that great tradition of Clintonian spin doctoring which sees the lie as sacred. Her opponents were bound to “misrepresent this report for their own partisan purposes” when the documents showed “just how consistent her email practices were with those of other Secretaries and senior officials at the State Department who also used personal email.”

Was it Clinton’s fault? Hardly, came the crafted response – it was a matter of a faulty system, one exploited by previous secretaries of state. “The report shows that problems with the State Department’s electronic record-keeping systems were longstanding and that there was no precedent of someone in her position having a State Department email account until later the arrival of her successor.” Victimhood again becomes sellable: someone, or something else, did it.

Further attempting to douse the fires with notions that her practice was common (when caught with one’s hand in the till, argue that everybody does it), the statement went on to argue that there was “no evidence of any successful breach of the Secretary’s server.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) came up with an even less impressive defence. Yes, she had been mistaken in her email practices, but ignorance of the law and protocol could very well be justified. “She thought it was approved, and the practice was allowed, and she was wrong.”[3]

Schiff also took the line that an abusive practice is rendered less extreme, let alone consequential, if others are doing it. (Where treason doth prosper indeed!) Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, for instance, was the stellar example, one not mitigated by the fact that no emails were ever turned over. “The fact that [Clinton] provided 55,000 pages of emails mitigated the fact that she used a private server.” The problem for Schiff here is that Powell was the only secretary of state making such extensive use of private email in the conduct of government business.

The IG report does not make pretty reading for the avid Clintonite. It dismisses a core claim that using government servers was not standard practice during her tenure, pointing to departmental protocols dating back to 2005.

By not actually seeking permission to use a private email server, she had been in violation of established practice. By the time Clinton assumed office, cybersecurity practices were even more “comprehensive”, “detailed and more sophisticated.”

As for turning over the emails, there was no mitigating factor: she should surrendered them before leaving office, not 21 months after. “[S]he did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.”

Clinton has supreme form when it comes to imaginative, and careless “record keeping”. Her lax attitude to such details was evident during the course of her time as First Lady, when she and her husband presided over the fraying of the post-Cold War Republic.

In 1999, when special prosecutor Ken Starr and Republicans were busying themselves with filling files over an assortment of scandals, a million subpoenaed emails vanished in the Project X affair. The reason? A technical problem with a West Wing computer server. The unseen hand of technological error has often proven helpful to the Clinton cause.

Little wonder then that the latest weaving apologia fell flat in Republican circles, where fiction and fact are synonymous. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairman, advanced a theory that the Russians profited from Clinton’s use of a private email server, suggesting that a State Department server would have been somehow immune. “You have to assume,” claimed Johnson on CBS’s Face the Nation, “that our enemy and adversaries had to have had access to every email that ever went over her private server.”[4]

Johnson, happy with that assumption, suggested that such a private email server might have affected “the invasion of Crimea or eastern Ukraine”; “negotiations with Iran” and even the issues surrounding Assad.

As for the other Democratic contender for the nomination, Bernie Sanders, the IG report was replenishing manna. “It was not a good report for Secretary Clinton. That is something that the American people, Democrats and delegates are going to have to take a hard look at.”

While Clinton lacks the Teflon attributes of her main rival and presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump, Sanders is hoping that such practices disqualify her from the race. That may well be wishful thinking, reflected by attitudes towards the normalizing properties of corruption. Take the dismissive stance of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.): “This goes on and on and on. We’re reaching the final stages of a primary.” The Clintons have shown themselves to be not only survivors of scandals, but thrivers off them.

Notes.

[1] https://oig.state.gov/system/files/esp-16-03.pdf

[2] http://www.factcheck.org/2016/05/ig-report-on-clintons-emails/

[3] http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/281634-rep-adam-schiff-clinton-was-mistaken-on-using-personal

[4] http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/281638-gop-senator-clintons-email-could-have-led-to-russian

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
February 28, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Bernie Sanders and the Socialism Question
Vijay Prashad
Witnessing the Hell a Migrant Can Face
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Knives Out
Andrew Levine
Bloomberg: What Is He Good For?
T.J. Coles
The Space Force Becomes a Weapons System, Arms Companies Profit
Henry Giroux
Cult-Like Ignorance is Death: Trump and the Coronavirus
Paul Street
The So-Called Party of the People: From Nevada to South Carolina
Matthew Stevenson
Carolina and Super Tuesday on My Mind
Robert Hunziker
Forever-Chemicals Tap Water
Pete Dolack
No Thinking Please, We’re Red-Baiting
Nick Pemberton
If Bernie Sanders Is Unelectable, Then What The Hell Are The Rest Of You?
Jacob Hornberger
Immunity for Killings by Immigration Police
John Curiel – Jack R. Williams
Analysis of the 2019 Bolivia Election: No Evidence of Irregular Trends or Fraud
Ramzy Baroud
Israel at the Cusp of a Bleak Era
Ron Jacobs
Bloomberg’s Billionaire BS
Farzana Versey
Who Will Douse Delhi’s Flames?
Joseph Natoli
Dispelling the Darkness
Marshall Auerback
Boris Johnson, Not Donald Trump, is the Real Blue-Collar Conservative
Steve Early
VoteVets for Buttigieg:  Who’s Really Keeping Us in the Dark About Campaign Funding?
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: Those Meddling Kids …
Arshad Khan
Trump Visits Modi and Delhi Erupts in Anti-Muslim Riots
Karen J. Greenberg
How Democracy Ends
Tom Clifford
Corona and Flu in Beijing: a Report From the Chinese Capital
Scott Tucker
Pete Buttigieg: The Energizer Bunny of Hegemony
Victor Grossman
Breakthroughs Against the Rightwing Menace in Germany
William Hartung
It’s Time to Debate Pentagon Spending
Seth Sandronsky
Struggling for Shelter: Resistance to California’s Housing Crisis Grows 
Daniel Warner
The UN, Homeostasis and China
Eve Ottenberg
Police Torture in Chicago
Kenn Orphan
The Ruling Class Will Stop at Nothing
Sean Reynolds
A Difficult Peace
W. T. Whitney
For the Climate: Protecting the Commons and Fixing Democracy
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Political Offences and Legal Restraints
Dedrick Asante-Muhammad – Jamie Buell
Does This Economy Work for Black Americans?
Tracey L. Rogers
Reflections on “Black Excellence”
Jill Richardson
Stop Calling Harmful Bigotry “Religious Freedom”
Barbara G. Ellis
Don’t Depend on FEMA to Save Us From Global-Warming’s Armageddon
Mike Garrity
Why We Sued Trump’s BLM Over Its Sagebrush-Juniper Burning Project in Montana
Christopher Brauchli
The Modi/Trump Anti-Muslim Alliance
John Kendall Hawkins
Science and the Turf Wars of Consciousness
John Peeler
Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
Nicky Reid
Socialism Without Anti-Imperialism: A Different Flavor of Tyranny
Louis Proyect
Spies, Lies and Videotapes
David Yearsley
The Beef with Kobe
Andrew Stewart
How Netflix And “Manning Marable” Killed Malcolm X (The Third Time)
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail