By Frank Salvato
As scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton’s illegal use of unsecured email servers to access classified information during her time as US Secretary of State continues to unravel her presidential aspirations, a more comprehensive overview of the many email issues related to the Obama Administration presents a more sinister possibility. From the State Department to the Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Agency to the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy to the White House itself, everywhere you turn in the Obama Administration there has been an issue with high-ranking personnel using alternative email accounts and/or servers for government business and then refusing access to those communications to oversight authority.
In 2010, President Barack Obama, speaking in Elyria, Ohio, bragged,
“We have put in place the toughest ethics laws and toughest transparency rules of any administration in history…in history! And by the way, this is the first administration since the founding of the country where all of you can find out who visits the White House. First time in history! And that’s just one example.”
In fact, Mr. Obama’s claim to open visitor’s logs was first trumpeted in 2009. It sounded good, like his claim that his was the most transparent administration in history. Alas, as usual, what sounds good during his “speechifying” never quite pans out to be the truth. The Obama Administration actually vetted which visitors to include on those “transparent” visitor’s logs and in 2013 pulled the logs from public access completely during its budget battle with Congress saying, “Due to Congress’s failure to pass legislation to fund the government, the information on this web site may not be up to date,” the placeholder on the visitor’s log page reading, “This dataset is currently private.”
But the visitor’s log duplicity pales in comparison to the administration’s use of alternative email accounts and servers for official communication where the claim of being the most transparent administration in American history is concerned. In fact, if you examine the many instances of the abuse of email communications protocol a pattern is evidenced; a pattern that serves plausible deniability and political opportunity, while denying transparency, accountability and oversight.
The instance most in the public eye is the use of – and subsequently the cleansing of – Hillary Clinton’s personal email server during her time as Secretary of State. This attention is only awarded by the media because she is a candidate for the presidency. Many in media didn’t give much attention to the fact she was using a private email server when she was corresponding with aides, States Department personnel and the White House before, during and after the assassination of a sitting US ambassador and his security team in Benghazi, Libya.
I won’t even get into the disingenuous manipulation of talking points memos that circulated from White House Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes about the cause of the Benghazi attacks.
But Mrs. Clinton isn’t the only high-ranking State Department official who has used a personal email account to perform official US government business. Caroline Kennedy, US ambassador to Japan, has been cited by the State Department’s Inspector General – as has the entirety of her staff at that embassy location – for using personal email accounts to receive and transmit communications regarding official business.
“Senior embassy staff, including the ambassador, used personal email accounts to send and receive messages containing official business…In addition, (investigators) identified instances where emails labeled sensitive but unclassified were sent from, or received by, personal email accounts…The watchdog report said that Kennedy’s practices were against State Department policy and put the agency at risk.”
Then there is the issue of Environmental Protection Agency senior staff – both during Lisa Jackson’s tenure and Gina McCarthy’s – using email aliases and emails from those alias accounts being destroyed in direct violation of federal records preservation policies. Breitbart.com describes the EPA’s goal thusly:
“The point of this scheme was to evade public accountability, to conduct official government business under the table, outside of the public eye. When Congress and others asked for [senior officials’] EPA correspondence and email, the [alias] e-mails would fall outside that request and, eventually, be destroyed allowing official EPA business to be conducted secretly. That falls well short of conducting business in the open and in a transparent fashion. It also falls well short of the standards required by federal law.”
Dovetailing on the EPA email malfeasance is the refusal of John Holdren to honor a FOIA request relating to policy emails he maintained on the private servers of his former employer, the high-pressure eco-zealot group Woods Hole Research Center, as he sits as the director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. Holdren, you may recall, is a man-made “global warming” believer with a penchant for smearing scientists who disagree with him. About the OSTP emails, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s senior attorney, Hans Bader, writes:
“The use of such non-official accounts for agency business frustrates federal open-government laws, and undermines government accountability, since such accounts are generally not searched in response to FOIA or congressional oversight requests seeking work-related communications or agency records. Moreover, the use of email accounts at a former employer that lobbies the federal government gives such pressure groups direct access to and control over public records, including highly sensitive information.”
But the most damning instance of unethical and criminal abuse of email correspondence lies with Lois Lerner, the former director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the Internal Revenue Service. Not only did Ms. Lerner conspire with other IRS operatives to marginalize the First Amendment free speech rights – as well as the guaranteed right to redress of government – of TEA Party and other Conservative organization members, she attempted to conceal and destroy any and all email evidence that proved her criminal acts. More recent revelations indicate that Ms. Lerner not only had contact with White House policy adviser Jeanne Lambrew that served to collude about Conservative targets, but that she, too, like her counterparts at the EPA, used alias emails to avoid detection by oversight authorities.
So, while the country remains rightfully obsessed with the Hillary Clinton email scandal (I prefer to call her actions “crimes”), there appears, to any honest broker, to be evidence pointing to a systemic issue with alternative communications and transparency in the Obama Administration. This evidence – a chronicle of criminal and unethical acts from the State Department to the Environmental Protection Agency to the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy to the Internal Revenue Service and the White House itself – must serve as proof of a pattern establishing an early effort by the Obama Administration to circumvent the legislated communications and information sharing protocol in federal government in an effort to control the informational narrative for political and ideological reasons. The evidence is overwhelming and, by virtue of the pattern’s existence, proves a conscious mandate from the highest levels.
What we have here, if you look at the evidence before you, is proof of a concerted conspiracy to deceive entities that execute governmental oversight, from the Inspector Generals of affected agencies all the way to the hall of Congress. What we have here is a direct attack by the Executive Branch of the United States on the authorities, rights and privileges of the co-equal branches of government. What we have here is a direct attack on the sovereign rights of the American people.
Yes, the emails scandals being exposed today are bigger than Watergate. Now, what are we going to do about it?
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director of BasicsProject.org a grassroots, non-partisan, research and education initiative focusing on Constitutional Literacy, and internal and external threats facing Western Civilization. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His opinion and analysis have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times, The Jewish World Review, Accuracy in Media, Human Events, Townhall.com and are syndicated nationally. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and is the author of six books examining Islamofascism and Progressivism, including “Understanding the Threat of Radical Islam”. Mr. Salvato’s personal writing can be found at FrankJSalvato.com.