Former CIA Director
After a series of Democratic scandals in the
Under the Cuomo plan, a politician like Silver could delay and obfuscate for three months, and then safely assume that almost all of his communications had safely vanished -- in a fashion that pre-email politicians could never have imagined.
Jackson, using the Windsor persona, communicated in a way that allowed her to skirt federal record-keeping laws. But Jackson not only wished to exchange email beneath the radar of the federal government that employed her, she also wanted to create an alias that might weigh in favorably on her own agency's policies.
In surreal fashion, Jackson's self-created Windsor also received an award from the
Former Secretary of State
Like Petraeus, Clinton ostensibly sought to avoid leaving an electronic trail that might have allowed the government to have full access to her correspondence, in her case while serving as secretary of state. Earlier, Clinton had issued a cable to
Clinton even went so far as to create her own private domain server that in effect allowed her to adjudicate which of her government communications would eventually be deleted and which would be retained.
Consider the controversies that arose and contentious decisions that were made during Clinton's tenure as secretary of state: failed reset with Vladimir Putin's
Why, otherwise, would Clinton avoid all standard, required government email accounts to create her own for official business -- even with the risk that her shenanigans would be exposed as unsecure, unethical and potentially unlawful?
In all of these email scandals, the root of the problem is not, as is sometimes alleged, undue government intrusiveness into the private lives of federal officials. After all, the public deserves transparency -- even with regard to bureaucrats' private correspondence, at least while they are in office and communicating as public figures.
Public service is also voluntary. It is usually of a limited nature. And it requires accountability to the public.
The real problem is that our public servants are using their electronic correspondence to affect their public records -- indeed, to massage history itself far more easily than had been done in the pre-computer age.
A CIA director who is entrusted with the nation's secrets cannot use email to facilitate secret lives in a way that would be difficult with just postage stamps and phone calls.
Jackson created a false identity that enhanced her own reputation in a way that would have been nearly impossible with a typewriter or pencil.
With the aid of high-tech correspondence, Clinton attempted to decide for herself which of her emails should be subject to oversight -- in a manner difficult for prior secretaries of the pre-electronic age who were forced to leave a clumsy carbon paper trail.
Email speeds things up. It expands the power of communications and allows one to message far more people, far more often -- and sometimes more stealthily.
Our public servants who get caught up in these electronic scandals are not victims of a new face of intrusive Big Brother. Instead, they are using technology to become a sort of Big Brother themselves.