Powell advice to Clinton about email goes public – Politico
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s advice to Hillary Clinton about using email at the State Department was made public Wednesday by a top House Democrat.
The early 2009 exchange — itself conducted via email — shows that Clinton sought guidance from Powell about how she could continue to use a BlackBerry in the executive suite at the State Department.
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Powell’s response warns Clinton’s about some of the pitfalls of using email, but also appears to indicate that he defied instructions from security experts not to use such devices in State’s offices designated to handle classified information and conversations.
“DS [diplomatic security] would not allow them into the secure spaces, especially up your way,” Powell wrote. “When I asked why not they gave me all kinds of nonsense about how they gave out signals and could be read by spies, etc….I had numerous meetings with them. We even opened one up for them to try to explain to me why it was more dangerous than say, a remote control for one of the many tvs in the suite. Or something embedded in my shoe heel. They never satisfied me and NSA/CIA wouldn’t back off. So, we just went about our business and stopped asking.”
“I had an ancient version of a PDA and used it,” Powell added. “In general, the suite was so sealed that it is hard to get signals in or out wirelessly.”
The email exchange, obtained from State and released by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings, also confirms claims in an FBI report last week that Powell warned Clinton that the BlackBerry messages could be considered official government records and made public.
“There is a real danger,” Powell wrote, apparently referring to the possibility of the messages becoming public. “Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”
Clinton said in a July “60 Minutes” interview that “it was recommended that it would be convenient” for her to use a private email system, but she did not say who told her that. In her interview with the FBI earlier that month, however, she indicated Powell’s advice did not affect her decision to use a private account.
“Clinton indicated to the FBI that she understood Powell’s comments to mean any work-related communications would be government records, and she stated Powell’s comments did not factor into her decision to use a personal e-mail account,” the FBI report said.
Cummings said the messages demonstrate that Powell counseled Clinton to avoid State Department rules and government record-keeping policies.
“This email exchange shows that Secretary Powell advised Secretary Clinton with a detailed blueprint on how to skirt security rules and bypass requirements to preserve federal records, although Secretary Clinton has made clear that she did not rely on this advice,” Cummings said in a statement. “This email exchange also illustrates the longstanding problem that no Secretary of State ever used an official unclassified email account until the current Secretary of State. The Republican obsession with Secretary Clinton has reached a fever pitch, and they have been using taxpayer resources to single her out in a desperate and abusive attempt to hurt her presidential campaign.”
After a report last month that Powell attended a dinner where he recommended that Clinton use a personal email account for unclassified communications, Powell issued a statement saying he didn’t recall the conversation, but confirming that he sent Clinton an email about his email practices.
“General Powell has no recollection of the dinner conversation. He did write former Secretary Clinton an email memo describing his use of his personal AOL email account for unclassified messages and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department,” a Powell spokeswoman said. “At the time there was no equivalent system within the Department. He used a secure State computer on his desk to manage classified information.”
In Powell’s message to Clinton, he also boasted that he resisted efforts from his security detail to shadow him at Foggy Bottom and slipped away from the detail altogether on weekends.
“You will find DS driving you crazy if you let them,” Powell wrote. “On weekends, I drove my beloved cars around town without them following me. I promised I would have a phone and not be gone more than and hour or two at Tysons or the hardware store. They hated it and asked me to sign a letter relieving them of responsibility if I got whacked while doing that. I gladly did. Spontaneity was my security….Their job is to keep you hermetically sealed up.”
Spokespeople for Powell and for Clinton’s presidential campaign did not immediately respond to requests late Wednesday for comment on the release of the full text of the email exchange.