Greedy Goblin

Monday, August 29, 2016

What's good in a private e-mail server?

Tinfoil hat warning!

The media is all over the private e-mail server of Hillary Clinton. Every little detail was investigated and discussed and re-investigated and blah, blah, blah. Those who want Clinton to fail are feasting on the fact that she ignored all security protocols and offered national secrets to any script kiddie. Probably this huge find made people ignore the biggest problem: the lack of motive.

People do stuff for a reason. You don't just wake up one day and set up a private e-mail server with its own paid IT staff. This isn't something that can be explained by "convenience" or "laziness" like bringing secret materials with you when you make a detour between two secure locations to your mistress. She made huge effort to not use the obvious and convenient official addresses.

No, the private e-mail can't be explained by simple corruption, though it was used for ... well, getting stupid amount of money for her foundation and giving favors to her benefactors. But this didn't need her official address to be the same as her moneymaking address. She could run official info on her government address and get money on her personal address. Using the same for the two purposes was actually a risk for mixing up letters and sending something nasty to an official partner. Or - just as it happened - to send secret info to a "friend" and get caught (the whole scandal started when e-mail recipient Sidney Blumenthal was hacked).

I can think of one and only one reason for using a private server for official business: to fake official position when she had none. I mean to act as secretary of state, in the name of the USA when she was doing something not authorized by the President or whatever branch should authorize the action. If she sent all her e-mails from the same address, the recipient couldn't know if he is reading the message of "Hillary" or "the US government". This way Clinton could make people do favors for her, while they believed they served the USA.

No, I'm again not talking about simple corruption. No one is dumb enough to believe that "please send $2M to Clinton Foundation" is a legal order from the President. I'm talking about doing stuff that Clinton and her ultra-hawk liberal buddies like George Soros wanted but Obama didn't want or was just too shy to do. Obama isn't an evil person, he just climbed way over his abilities. His initial attempts to "reboot" relations with Russia, his speeches in the Islamic countries, his attempts to progress the Arab-Israeli peace all picture a dove who just want all of us get along. Definitely didn't foreshadow a guy whose office will be responsible for the largest humanitarian crisis since the Rwandan genocide and the creation of the largest and most successful terrorist organization ever.

I believe the horrible actions in Syria and Libya, along with the "pro-liberal" coup and attempt in Ukraine and Turkey, the successful and failed government changes in the Czech Republic and Hungary were not official US actions but masterminded by a state-within-the-state group around Clinton. While Obama could clearly start investigations about US involvement, he probably believed that such claims are simple hostile propaganda and never considered that just because he didn't order things, US officials still could perform it on command. Since the server was physically in the basement of Clinton's home and operated by men loyal to Clinton, Obama - and any men loyal to him - had no practical way to check on the messages Clinton sent, he could only get them by storming her home with armed men and seize the server - something he didn't do and I believe will consider the greatest mistake of his life 20 years from now.


Unknown said...

The coup in Turkey? The one around a month ago? You think Clinton was behind that.

Also, why would Clinton do this? She is all about herself, not some greater good, and the chances of getting caught if she tried something like that would be way more than acceptable. If she was doing clandestine activities by claiming authority where she had none, i doubt she would be stupid enough to use her official email.

Lastly, setting up an external server wouldnt be hard for her. She would get some low level flunkies to do it for her. Her reasons could have been as simple as, "US computer systems are terrible and unsecure, I don't trust them."

TL:DR, Sometimes people do things without thinking they will be controversial. Occams Razor points us at incompetence, especially with how much digging has gone into this matter.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with this premise:

> She made huge effort to not use the obvious and convenient official addresses.

The official email system may well be slow, inconvenient, and low tech. Would you really be surprised that a government email system which focuses on security would have bad support for eg mobile apps, good user experience, and so on? In this light, Clinton made a "huge" effort to use a more convenient email system, which has a self-explanatory motive.

Additionally, I don't believe the effort was "huge". The cost was high, but it was unlikely to be costing her money directly. And the time would be low -- tell her minions "go make me an email server", ignore them until it's ready and then switch over.

Samus said...

I believe the general theory is that she used a private server to get around the Freedom of Information Act. When using the normal, government server, people can make a request and a judge can hand over her emails. The FOIA can't be applied to private servers.

Anonymous said...

I thought the consensus was that it was to get around record retention and "Freedom of Information Act" requests. Anything on a government server is subject to this scrutiny. Private ...

Gevlon said...

@Samus and Anon: "get around FOIA" isn't a goal for itself. Why would she try to hide lawful official actions? She was always free to use private e-mail for private stuff. So what do you think she was doing that she was trying to hide?

@Anon: slow e-mail can be fixed to make faster. She could simply demand/pay for higher tech in the office.

@Unknown: liberals were behind the coup who are sheltering their pawn Fetullah Gullen in the USA. Clinton is absolutely for "the greater good", her full career was about "progression". Her main supporter George Soros is giving his own money for various liberal movements, surely not a selfish act. Clinton is a believer and a selfless changer of the World. It's just that her goals are about as good as the goals and beliefs of Abu Bakr Al-Bagdadi.

Theodora Dunkelmauer said...

@Gevlon about "@Anon: slow e-mail can be fixed to make faster. She could simply demand/pay for higher tech in the office."

I fear it may be not that simple when you are talking about highly secured secret's service email server. I really doubt she could have just gone to a software retailer to buy a new web server software.

Most likely the answer to her request was something along the line of : Yes madame secretary of Stats, we will undergo the necessaries développement to upgrade our mail software and architecture. Expect our code monkey to deliver you something usable and tested in about 5 to 10 years.

Anonymous said...

Well, getting around FOIA can|t be the reason as apparantly now all her e-mails are published under FOIA rules. Quite contrary I find it iteresting that she was critzised for setting up the server as this would expose government mail to the risk of being axposed when the selfsame mails are now published under FOIA. Seems like they weren't in need of protection anyway.

Gevlon said...

@Theodora: no one else complained in the government. It seems she was the only one bothered by the "slow" servers

@Anon: FOIA requested materials get screened for classified information and such information is not provided or provided with parts blacked out.

Smokeman said...

The Clinton's are clearly running their own little empire with this "Foundation" of theirs. What better way to hide the information than with a private email server? But wait, Hillary could still have been careful to send all OFFICIAL State Department business through the official channels.

Unless A: She's too stupid to do that. I seriously doubt this. Even the lowest Janitor is capable of this monumental feat of mental acumen.

Or B: She wants to appear "Official" when she is not. This is the best theory I've yet heard.

"My email isn't very fast, and doesn't support my blackberry" isn't a valid excuse to risk exposing Dunkin' Donuts' top secret donut strategies if you're an employee there, much less risk national security if you work for the State Department.

Anonymous said...

You think Clinton caused the turkey coup?

Because Turkey does not have a history of that sort of thing? If you want to tinfoil, then Erdogan did it to cement his power.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: "the liberals" did the Turkey coup. Clinton is one of them. I can't say for sure she was personally involved, but I wouldn't be surprised if she was.

Phelps said...

It's the FOIA thing. She's a lawyer, so she understands better than most people that you don't know which emails are going to be incriminating. The only way you can know that is to go back after the fact and sort them out (which is what she did) or just delete them all (what black hats do.)

Eaten by a Grue said...

Using the same email address for both official and non-official business does not require the running of your own mail server, but rather just purchasing a mailbox with your own domain name on it. So let's focus on the act of running your own mail server.

What you get with your own mail server is no one can look at your mailbox (hackers aside), without going through you. They cannot subpoena your provider. So the obvious reason Clinton wanted to do this is to preserve privacy with all emails, and to be able to wipe the mail server if needed, which she in fact did.

Ael said...

No Gevlon, she couldn't run her personal foundation on one email address and the official on another because people would mail *her* on her official address (even if it was personal business). Mailing Clinton on her official address puts that email onto the official record.

Because she could not reliably trust her correspondents to always use the correct email address (especially they were conducting "mixed" business) she had to control the entire email stream and would then divert only what she deemed as "official" emails to the official channel.

Gevlon said...

@Phelps, @Eaten by a Grue: you merely state the obvious: she didn't want her e-mails to see the light. It's not an answer to "what is so bad in her e-mails that must be kept hidden".

@Ael: I don't think that anyone with a million dollar is so dumb to send "Hey, I wired your million, please make sure I get the contract" to instead of Anyone without a million dollar will not exchanging ANY kind of e-mails with her

Phelps said...

I work in litigation, and I see where millionaires have done that sort of thing all the time. Being good at making deals does not make you good at realizing technological vulnerabilities.

Eaten by a Grue said...

My point was that having absolute control over email privacy is the most likely reason for having the private email server and using it for official business. You suggest that the only reason is to create confusion between official and unofficial emails, so I am pointing out another more obvious and more likely reason. Your reason could still be true, but it does not require the private email server, merely a private email account, so it seems less likely.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to read all this, but you might wanna dial the consiracy thoughts down in your mind to be happier. You helped take down some nonsense in EVE. Was it populated by villains or a bunch of people just trying to get by and maybe advance themselves? Governments aren't all that different. It's like in the absense of all powerful faith in religion people turn to consiracy theories and the idea that the government is far more powerful and coordinated than it is... rather than a bunch of schmucks hoping for cushy safe jobs away from the provate sector.

When I worked with White House personel almost a decade ago they still used Windows 96. This is not an exageration. The White House Communication center still used 96, and may still for all I know. Have you gone to a typical office and seen the old computers most corporations use? A decade after you see those and laugh they will probably be sold and refurbished for the government. You think people don't complain about this? Why? Because it's not in the newspaper? Of course they complain. Regularly. Universally. Government equipment sucks. Even in the military with the biggest budget.

Also, dude, don't fall for spin. Seriously every Secretary of State who ever figured out how to use email used a personal email. The Clintons just did it a little bit more efficiently because despite any percieved failings they're pretty bright people, know other bright people, and have the money to actually build something of their own. Why wouldn't they? If you have money to burn wouldn't you want a better system than one you get issued?

If anything, given how much this is being investigated, you should be more surprised no smoking guns have appeared. If there was one you don't think it would have mae the front page? Hell, the Clintons are news around the world. None of this would be an issue at all if their names weren't involved. A lot of shit has been taken out on context by people who WANT to believe shit is crooked. Fine, the system is rigged for the rich to have a voice. Old news. Is this somehow beyond that established expectation? No, not really. Attempts to slant it as such just don't hold up, so why bother?

Resivan said...

The extent of Clinton's actual involvement with "her" mail server was most likely telling a staffer to get one and, when she resigned, telling her lawyer to see to it State got copies of the mail they were supposed to. Thinking she had anything to do with her own IT is silly.

And it's not actually a conspiracy when a government official is doing something that's even arguably within the scope of their duties.

Anonymous said...

> @Theodora: no one else complained in the government. It seems she was the only one bothered by the "slow" servers

You don't know that nobody else complained. I'm sure many people complain all the time. But only a small number of people would have the power to do something about that. Like, the president, VP and some top level officials like Clinton. Most of them were happy to obey the rules and not take risks, or they were too incompetent to even realise how bad the email system was. It seems reasonable that only Clinton would set up a personal email server.

BTW, this problem is not unique to America. Australian prime minister also used a private mail server for official business, almost certainly because he didn't want to use the low-tech government offering which would take years to upgrade: