The 83-page State Department report on Hillary Clinton and the use of private email accounts at the department, released Wednesday, brought some new information to light and confirmed other findings. Here are five of the more interesting points.
1. The private email issue is primarily with two secretaries of state.
Conversation about the email controversy often pivots around statements that “other secretaries of state” regularly used private email for official business and kept poor records of those emails.
But this report says that only two secretaries of state fall into those categories: Hillary Clinton and Colin Powell.
The inspector general looked at all five secretaries of state in the digital age.
It found that email was rarely employed at the agency under Secretary Madeleine Albright (1997-2001) and that she herself never used it. As for Secretary Condoleezza Rice (2005-2009), the inspector general concluded she did not use either personal or department email accounts for State Department business.
Did Rice send classified emails on a private account? No. Did she conduct business on a personal account? Also, no, according to the report. The State Department said in February that some aides to Rice received classified information on email, but those were aides, not Rice, and the emails were received by, not sent from, private accounts.
Current Secretary John Kerry, the report says, uses an agency account for State Department business with infrequent use of personal email when someone contacts him using that account.
2. Only three officials at State have exclusively used private email for day-to-day business: Clinton, Powell and the third resigned.
In 2011, Jonathan Scott Gration as the new U.S. ambassador to Kenya wrote a memo to his staff authorizing them to use private email for daily communication. The inspector general report says the State Department dispatched a security adviser to tell the ambassador it was against agency policy.
Gration continued to use private email, and as a result of that and other problems, the State Department initiated a disciplinary hearing. But Gration resigned before any penalty was imposed.
While several dozen lower deputies at the State Department used personal email occasionally, the report said Gration was the only other official to exclusively use a personal account for regular department business.
3. Secretary Powell did not keep any of his emails and has so far ignored requests to look on private servers.
We already knew that Secretary Colin Powell exclusively used an outside, personal e-mail account to conduct State Department business. The report confirmed that Powell “did not retain those emails or make printed copies.”
Powell’s team, like Clinton’s, has said he believed his emails could be found by searching the accounts of the State Department staffers who received them, an idea that is sharply criticized in this report.
The State Department has continued to look for Powell’s emails, requesting to connect with his Internet service provider. But, the inspector general wrote, as of May 2016, the department has not received a response from Powell or his staff.
4. Cyber threats and attacks have been on the rise, Clinton was aware.
In an aside, the inspector general highlighted a related issue: that threats to and attacks on the State Department’s computers have been growing. The report pointed to a memo sent to then-Secretary Clinton in March 2011 in which she was told of a “dramatic increase” in cyber attacks at State since January.
5. Clinton wanted to protect her personal email, ended up becoming spam.
In November 2010, the report found, Clinton’s deputy chief of operations mentioned that her emails to State Department workers were not getting through to their accounts.
The recommendation? That she consider a State Department email address, or that she release the private email address, so that her notes would not be blocked by a spam filter. Clinton responded, “Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”