The Real Scandal Behind Hillary Clinton’s Email

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tags: Hillary Clinton, Clinton email



Fred Kaplan is the author of "The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War and 1959: The Year Everything Changed."

The scandal over Hillary Clinton’s email evasion, it’s now clear, goes way beyond Hillary Clinton. Take a look at the second paragraph of the New York Times’ front-page story on March 14, headlined “Emails Clinton Said Were Kept Could Be Lost”:

But the State Department disclosed on Friday that until last month it had no way of routinely preserving senior officials’ emails. Instead, the department relied on individual employees to decide if certain emails should be considered public records, and if so, to move them onto a special record-keeping server, or print them out and manually file them for preservation.


The Times story then returns to the saga of Clinton’s private email account, but the big, truly gasp-worthy story for the ages lies in those two sentences. The State Department is doing nothing to retain public records. Neither, others tell me, are the other federal bureaucracies. As a result, our history is vanishing into the ether. Major decisions—cataclysmic events—are happening all around us, but their causes may never be known.

In the old days, officials wrote or dictated memos to one another. Secretaries typed the memos on sheets of paper backed by two or three carbon sheets, then filed the carbons. Periodically, someone from the National Archives came by with a cart to haul the carbons away for posterity.

As a result, it’s now possible to write books about the Vietnam War, World War II, and many other events, large and small. Historians can go to the archives and read the memoranda between Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and national security adviser McGeorge Bundy (much of the Pentagon Papers consists of once-secret memos of this sort); they can read the letters between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, or the war plans of the Allied generals. ...




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