Former fed information-disclosure guru: Hillary's e-mail scheme 'unprecedented'

The former public information-disclosure "guru" for the federal government has come out with a blistering indictment of Hillary Clinton's dodgy e-mail setup. 

The title of a Politico article by Dan Metcalfe, founding director of the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy, pretty much says it all: "Hillary's Email Defense Is Laughable."

Metcalfe calls Clinton's exclusive use of private e-mail for official business "unprecedented."

[H]aving spent a quarter-century at the forefront of the government’s administration of the FOIA [Freedom of Information Act], including its transition to electronic records and its involvement in so many Clinton administration "scandals du jour," I know full well that both what Secretary Clinton arranged to do and what she now has said about that are, to put it most charitably, not what either the law or anything close to candor requires. At a minimum, it was a blatant circumvention of the FOIA by someone who unquestionably knows better and an attempted verbal "cover" of the situation (if not "cover-up") that is truly reminiscent of years past.

And Metcalfe shreds Clinton's defense of her actions:

Let’s start with her opening sentences of the press conference: "First, when I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department…."

This statement, right off the bat, gives a false impression, through two key words that are used and one that is missing. Her use of "opted" (which, incidentally, was readily accepted by her first questioner) strongly implies that she actually had a choice under the Federal Records Act; she did not. And the word "allowed" likewise connotes that what she did was permissible as a matter of law. It was not.

(snip)

Let’s take, as another example, her claim that what she did was in compliance with law because "the federal guidelines are clear." OK, please now tell us, Secretary Clinton, exactly which "federal guideline" (even one will do, notwithstanding your claim of plurality) makes it "clear" that you can unilaterally decide, dispositively and with such finality, which of your work-related records are "personal" and which ones are not, even with FOIA requests pending?

Metcalfe concludes, "Secretary Clinton’s suggestion that federal officials can unilaterally determine which of their records are 'personal' and which are 'official,' even in the face of a FOIA request, is laughable."

Further, as information-disclosure "guru" during the Clinton administration years, Metcalfe hints at dark secrets the Clintons were able to cover up when they controlled the full federal machinery:

I cannot tell you how many times, during the eight years of the Clinton administration, I heard someone say, "The cover-up is worse than the crime." For those of us who knew what most of the alleged record "cover-ups" actually were, even if not the full extent of each "crime," I can tell you that this sometimes was true—but not always. In fact, the exact phrasing of the public explanations given, with their sly connotations versus denotations, could make all the difference.

Metcalfe can hardly be considered part of Hillary's "vast right-wing conspiracy" paranoia.  He admits, essentially, that he'll be voting for the Democrat nominee in 2016…even if it is Hillary. 

The full Politico article is revelatory and well worth a read.

William Tate is a former award-winning journalist and novelist.

The former public information-disclosure "guru" for the federal government has come out with a blistering indictment of Hillary Clinton's dodgy e-mail setup. 

The title of a Politico article by Dan Metcalfe, founding director of the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy, pretty much says it all: "Hillary's Email Defense Is Laughable."

Metcalfe calls Clinton's exclusive use of private e-mail for official business "unprecedented."

[H]aving spent a quarter-century at the forefront of the government’s administration of the FOIA [Freedom of Information Act], including its transition to electronic records and its involvement in so many Clinton administration "scandals du jour," I know full well that both what Secretary Clinton arranged to do and what she now has said about that are, to put it most charitably, not what either the law or anything close to candor requires. At a minimum, it was a blatant circumvention of the FOIA by someone who unquestionably knows better and an attempted verbal "cover" of the situation (if not "cover-up") that is truly reminiscent of years past.

And Metcalfe shreds Clinton's defense of her actions:

Let’s start with her opening sentences of the press conference: "First, when I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department…."

This statement, right off the bat, gives a false impression, through two key words that are used and one that is missing. Her use of "opted" (which, incidentally, was readily accepted by her first questioner) strongly implies that she actually had a choice under the Federal Records Act; she did not. And the word "allowed" likewise connotes that what she did was permissible as a matter of law. It was not.

(snip)

Let’s take, as another example, her claim that what she did was in compliance with law because "the federal guidelines are clear." OK, please now tell us, Secretary Clinton, exactly which "federal guideline" (even one will do, notwithstanding your claim of plurality) makes it "clear" that you can unilaterally decide, dispositively and with such finality, which of your work-related records are "personal" and which ones are not, even with FOIA requests pending?

Metcalfe concludes, "Secretary Clinton’s suggestion that federal officials can unilaterally determine which of their records are 'personal' and which are 'official,' even in the face of a FOIA request, is laughable."

Further, as information-disclosure "guru" during the Clinton administration years, Metcalfe hints at dark secrets the Clintons were able to cover up when they controlled the full federal machinery:

I cannot tell you how many times, during the eight years of the Clinton administration, I heard someone say, "The cover-up is worse than the crime." For those of us who knew what most of the alleged record "cover-ups" actually were, even if not the full extent of each "crime," I can tell you that this sometimes was true—but not always. In fact, the exact phrasing of the public explanations given, with their sly connotations versus denotations, could make all the difference.

Metcalfe can hardly be considered part of Hillary's "vast right-wing conspiracy" paranoia.  He admits, essentially, that he'll be voting for the Democrat nominee in 2016…even if it is Hillary. 

The full Politico article is revelatory and well worth a read.

William Tate is a former award-winning journalist and novelist.