What is the Hillary Clinton email scandal about?

It’s a story that rarely seems to be out of the news recently. It appears Hillary Clinton has landed herself in a lot of hot water over how she used email during her tenure as Secretary of State for the Obama administration.

The security of Clinton’s email practices have been questioned for the following reasons:

  • She chose not to use her government email account for some of her correspondence.
  • She used a private server at her family home in New York to house her emails, making it difficult for anyone to use a court order to obtain email records stored there.
  • She decided which emails to delete and which to turn over to the State Department for review.

Clinton’s exclusive use of personal emails was discovered during a Congressional investigation into the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya in 2012. For someone who is likely to run for US President in 2016, this email controversy has placed her in the middle of a public relations nightmare.

Her email usage has also exposed major flaws in the State Department’s archiving practices as not all email traffic from senior officials was automatically archived until February 2015. In 2011, employees sent more than a billion emails, but the State Department’s email archiver only captured around 61,000 messages. In 2013, the system only captured around 42,000 emails. Clinton has continued to state that all of her email communications were archived in accordance with federal law, but these statistics cast serious doubt on this claim.

Clinton has also repeatedly stressed that, because she only interacted with fellow government employees using their official .gov email addresses, their email accounts would automatically archive copies of any interactions with her. At this time, it is unclear if this was due to incompetence or of there is something more sinister at work.

Do you think this was simply reckless behavior on Clinton’s behalf? Has she risked United States national security? Is it worrying that the State Department has only just appeared to start taking email archiving seriously?

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