How Times Change
Many forget that Secretary Clinton relied on advice from her predecessor, Colin Powell - previously Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - for advice on email and messaging at State as she took over. He entered a world where a technophobic state department did not quite know how to spell "email" let alone have processes in place for managing it properly. After setting up her own services as done by Powell it is hard to remember the need to manage the underlying administrivia when you are in a Sec State role running over a million miles a year and corresponding all over the world. Your key criteria - did my messages get through and did just the people who were supposed to get them get them.
Many fail to recall a huge scandal that occurred on the Secretary's watch - Wiki Leaks, where the State Department's internal emails were breeched and sent out for global publication. At the time I bet Ms Clinton was glad she had her own private server instead of government services and security. The same security that saw every known malevolent state actor hack White House Emails, Pentagon (F35 plans to China), OPM - where all the top secret HR files for Presidents, Generals, and spies were hacked. The list of successful government hacks is rather too long to enumerate here. Where is the FBI/CIA/NSA in safeguarding these systems? Oh right - they have Edward Snowden's to worry about.
Lest we point fingers to all the massive government incompetence - we should look carefully at our own practices. Has your password changed since 1990? 2000? 2010? Do you change your password every 30 days and is it a complex alpha-numeric with more than 12 characters? Despite being in the technical dark ages in 2008 with respect to cyber-security - even in 2016 we would at best have just recently discovered the steam engine. We have a long way to go.
When Clinton took the State Department Office in 2008, the world was a very different place geo-politically and technologically. The planet was in the midst of its greatest recession in 70 years. A new President assumed office and was embroiled in domestic economic collapse and global conflicts while a new model of diplomacy was being embraced. Into that environment the prime objective for Ms Clinton was getting messages on a timely basis. Her predecessors advice was to not rely on internal staff based on their lack of technological familiarity. The world has changed radically since 2008.
Clinton left office in 2012 and with each 4 year interval the level of technical expertise and security awareness has changed geometrically - and yet, Sony, Home Depot, Panama Papers, Your Favorite Hospital. The list of major hacks and infiltrations using phishing attacks and social media to subvert mail and sophisticated security standards seems to grow each month.
My question is whether the right yardstick was used to judge Clinton - and I think it was. However, I take the words of James Comey - the FBI director - as a reminder to Clinton that things have radically changed and she needs to focus on cyber-security in any future new roles. It is ironic that despite shaming Ms Clinton for her security expertise, Comey, just a few months earlier, begged the courts - since "Congress" and "act" are oxymoron's, to force Apple to make their phone systems less secure so the FBI can crack them.