The Obama Secrets Regime
By Kimberley A. Strassel, Wall Street Journal
Some scandals come on fast, and some creep up on Washington. The slow-rolling outrage of 2015—Obama administration secrecy—received a small correction in this week’s omnibus budget bill, but it deserves far more attention. It’s time for the federal government to come back on the grid.
A steady drip of news has shown that for seven years now, the highest (and lowest) echelons of the Obama administration have conducted the people’s business in secret, via private email addresses and other hidden electronic means. They’ve been doing so in contravention of department guidelines, executive orders and statutes that require record-keeping and public accountability. Since those rules are well known and understood, it has to be assumed that they’ve been doing it purposely, to hide their actions.
The New York Times on Thursday revealed the latest email-hider: Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Mr. Carter was confirmed in February, and from the start used a private account to correspond with aides about everything from legislation to media appearances. He may well have discussed far more serious, classified matters, but we don’t know. That’s because we must rely on Mr. Carter’s word that he turned all his work correspondence over to the Defense Department. Just as we must trust that Hillary Clinton didn’t delete anything official from the private server she used as secretary of state.
Speaking of the Democratic front-runner, it seems that Mr. Carter continued to use his private email account for two full months after the news broke about Mrs. Clinton’s ether escapades. So the defense secretary either a) doesn’t read the news; b) thinks rules apply to him even less than they do Mrs. Clinton; or c) felt the secrecy afforded was worth the risk of getting caught. It seems Mr. Carter didn’t stop until White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough—who was watching the Hillary explosion—told him in May to cut it out.
Secrecy aside, this marks the second top Obama national-security official to be caught winging around potentially sensitive information on unsecured email. Mr. Carter has presumably sat in on a few briefings about the growing threat from hackers and the urgent need for better cybersecurity.