By Jack Burns
WikiLeaks is helping President Obama keep his 2008 campaign promise — to be the most transparent administration in U.S. history — whether he likes it or not. And, once again, we’re learning more about the inner sanctum of the administration and its communication practices.
As FBI Director James Comey announced Friday, a new investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email scandal has been launched, just days before the presidential election. Comey’s move drew fire instantly from the Democrats who claim Comey is attempting to sway the election in Donald Trump’s favor. While many are focused on Comey’s actions and renewed investigation, WikiLeaks has uncovered what may prove to be a systemic problem of executive branch accountability not merely limited to the former secretary of state’s emails.
According to former State Department official Tom Nides, in a 2015 email to John Podesta (Clinton campaign manager), everyone in Obama’s cabinet and every White House staffer uses their personal email for government business. Nides should know as he worked under Hillary Clinton in the State Department from 2011 to 2013, according to one source.
While keeping email hidden from the public may seem like no big deal to folks who simply don’t care, ALL correspondence which is related to governmental business is the property of the federal government and is supposed to be accessible by anyone wishing to inquire within the archive of records.
The Federal Records Act defines a record as anything, “regardless of whether it exists in physical, digital, or electronic form, is a record as defined in subsection (a) shall be binding on all Federal agencies.” This includes all communication of state agents (like the POTUS) who work in the executive branch of government, as well.
But the Obama administration, according to Nides, has long since avoided the Federal Records Act by using private Gmail accounts. Nides wrote Podesta and said, “There is only one thing that needs to be done on this email thing. (Which I am sure nobody wants to do). Get a state dept career lawyer to go through all the emails and pull the official ones.” That admission seems to be on the level with what is expected for compliance with the Federal Records Act. But it was Nides’ next admission which is the talk of many major media outlets.
Nides wrote, “Btw you know as well as I every god damn cabinet officer and WH staff uses their [sic] gmail account!” The former Department of State employee revealed what many already suspected. The Obama administration is anything but transparent. Just ask Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. His organization routinely sues the Obama administration in federal court using the Freedom of Information Act as warrant for inquiry, and says the administration stonewalls his efforts at every turn. Fitton’s organization gave the Obama administration a failing grade on transparency and says his administration is even less transparent than when Bush was president.
Fitton wrote in 2015, “There are about 18 lawsuits, 10 of which are active in federal court, and about 160 Judicial Watch FOIA requests that could be affected by Mrs. Clinton and her staff’s use of secret email accounts to conduct official government business. In our various FOIA lawsuits, our lawyers have informed attorneys for the Obama administration that Hillary Clinton’s account and any other secret accounts used by State employees should be secured, recovered and searched.” JW actively seeks out those files through official methods, using FOIA and the Federal Records Act, but has been met with delay after delay from FOIA requests to the Obama administration.
While the Obama administration is on its way out, groups like Judicial Watch aren’t going anywhere, and presumably have all the time in the world to FOIA their way into digging up those deleted Clinton emails, as well as securing Gmail accounts from the Obama administration cabinet and staffers. This story is definitely a long way from being over.
It’s no wonder why so many free thinkers are now questioning the story lines they’re being told. With the president and all his men (and women), hiding their communications within their Gmail accounts, the truth is never going to be told, at least not the real truth. And by the time organizations like Judicial Watch are successful in obtaining the electronic communications records that rightly belong to the people, it will be way too late to hold anyone accountable for breaking both the Federal Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act. Julian Assange, we salute you. Thank you for forcing the Obama administration to be transparent. Keep up the valiant work!
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