- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell showed a marked disregard for cyber security, dismissing fears that using a private computer or personal device could compromise state secrets, according to an email he sent Hillary Clinton soon after she took office in 2009.

The email, released late Wednesday by congressional Democrats eager to show Mrs. Clinton wasn’t the only former top diplomat to abuse secrecy rules, included a warning from Mr. Powell saying that if the public spotted Mrs. Clinton using a Blackberry, they would demand to see the emails she was sending.

“Be very careful,” Mr. Powell said. “I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”

Mrs. Clinton told the FBI that she didn’t follow Mr. Powell’s advice — but her behavior certainly tracks his own.

She used a Blackberry to send email, and kept all of her email communications private for her entire tenure at the department, only turning them over after being prodded by the congressional probe into the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack.

Mr. Powell served at the department in President George W. Bush’s first term, when email was in its infancy in government. The State Department’s inspector general said secrecy and open-records rules about email weren’t well-developed at the time, but said by the time Mrs. Clinton took office she should have known better.

In the exchange released by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, Mrs. Clinton solicits Mr. Powell’s advice about how he handled using a Blackberry — her preferred method of email. Her aides have said she was too technologically inept to use a computer for email.

Mrs. Clinton said she’d heard Mr. Powell had one, “but no one fesses up to knowing how you used it!”

Mr. Powell responded by mocking the department’s security protocols and the security agents assigned to protect him. He said he didn’t have a Blackberry, and but said he brought an ancient PDA into his office.

And he said he used a personal computer to do most of his email business, sending messages to “a wide range of friends directly without it going through the State Department servers.”

Mr. Cummings said that amounted to a “detailed blueprint on how to skirt security rules and bypass requirements to preserve federal records.”

He said he released the email to push back against Republicans who have been clamoring for more investigation of Mrs. Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton used her own server she kept at her home in New York, while Mr. Powell used an AOL account for his email while at the State Department.

In 2014, after the Benghazi probe’s prodding, the department went back to former secretaries and asked them to try to recover any of their emails they did on non-State.gov accounts.

Mrs. Clinton belatedly produced some 30,000 messages. Mr. Powell, though, has refused to ask AOL to try to reconstruct his own messages, Mr. Cummings said, citing the inspector general’s testimony in July.

The inspector general did find some emails and determined that some contained classified information.

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