From The Hill
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell sent Hillary Clinton a detailed explanation of how he got around some of the State Department’s security measures in a 2009 email that has become wrapped up in the investigation of Clinton’s use of private email server while leading State.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, released the email exchange in full on Wednesday night. In it, Powell says he used a private phone line to keep his communications out of the State Department servers.
“What I did do was have a personal computer that was hooked up to a private phone line (sounds ancient.),” Powell wrote. “So I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without it going through the State Department servers.”
“I even used it to do business with some foreign leaders and some of the senior folks in the Department on their personal email accounts. I did the same thing on the road in hotels,” he said.
Powell was responding to a question from Clinton, now the Democratic nominee for president, about the restrictions on using a BlackBerry while in office.
Cummings said the exchange proved that Clinton’s private email server was not far out of the norm for a secretary of State.
“This email exchange shows that Secretary Powell advised Secretary Clinton with a detailed blueprint on how to skirt security rules and bypass requirements to preserve federal records, although Secretary Clinton has made clear that she did not rely on this advice,” Cummings said in a statement.
“This email exchange also illustrates the longstanding problem that no Secretary of State ever used an official unclassified email account until the current Secretary of State.”
Cummings added that Republicans’ pursuit of Clinton over her server was politically motivated; otherwise, they “would be attempting to recover Secretary Powell’s emails from AOL.”
Powell also told Clinton that he would frequently take his cellphone into Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIF) — secure rooms where classified information was processed and mobile devices were prohibited. Powell said that he was not satisfied with the rationale for prohibiting such devices.
“When I asked why not they gave me all kinds of nonsense about how they gave out signals and could be read by spies, etc.,” he said. “Same reason they tried to keep mobile phones out of the suite. I had numerous meetings with them. We even opened one up for them to try to explain to me why it was more dangerous than say, a remote control for one of the many tvs in the suite. Or something embedded in my shoe heel.”
“So, we just went about our business and stopped asking,” he wrote. “I had an ancient version of a PDA and used it. In general, the suite was so sealed that it is hard to get signals in or out wirelessly.”
But he warned Clinton “there is a real danger” in using a BlackBerry.
“If it is public that you have a BlackBerry and it it [sic] government and you are using it, government or not, to do business, it may become an official record and subject to the law,” he wrote.
“Be very careful,” he added. “I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”
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