- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee has asked Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to elaborate after the Pentagon chief admitted recently to having conducted official government business with a personal email account, even after a similar scandal broke last year concerning Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, said in a letter to Mr. Carter that he wants to know more about the defense secretary’s use of a non-government email account, first reported by The New York Times late last year.

“You have since acknowledged that the use of private email was a ‘mistake,’ but maintained that no classified information was involved. However, according to news reports, the high volume of official business conducted through your personal email account caused your staff concern about potential hacks,” Mr. Grassley said in the letter, released by his office Tuesday.

“It is troubling to learn of your use of personal email for official matters, especially since you continued using that arrangement even after the risks of private use were made clear when news of Secretary Clinton’s use broke in March 2015,” the senator continued.

Despite claiming previously that no classified material was ever sent or received from a person email account she used for government business while secretary of state, the White House said last week that 22 emails found on Mrs. Clinton’s private server contained “top secret” information.

Citing concerns that the contents of Mr. Carter’s email could have been compromised, Mr. Grassley has asked for further details about his email habits, including an explanation as to why he used a personal address rather than a government-assigned account — a potential violation of federal law prohibiting government employees from creating or sending electronic messages without archiving them for official use, the senator said.

Mr. Grassley, whose role as Senate Judiciary chairman gives him jurisdiction over requests made under the Freedom of Information Act, added that Mr. Carter’s practices may impede FOIA compliance since not all of his emails may have been archived as intended.

“Importantly, the use of private email in this context exposes the information to possible hacks and intrusions by foreign intelligence agencies,” Mr. Grassley said. “As the Secretary of Defense, you are inevitably a prime target for foreign hackers. As such, the threat is real and compliance with the law is essential.”

Last year, hackers breached a personal email account used by CIA Director John Brennan and stole documents that were subsequently published online by WikiLeaks. Individuals alleged to be involved with the group that took credit for the hack, Crackas With Attitude, have since compromised accounts maintained by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren, among others.

Mr. Grassley has asked the defense secretary to respond his inquiry by Feb. 16 and has requested details on any classification reviews, audits or investigations involving Mr. Carter’s use of a personal email account.

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