Hillary Clinton and the People’s Right to Know

March 15th, 2015

This morning I heard another Hillary Clinton defender attempt to explain away her private email account and home server.  According to this person, after all the emails are read and time passes this will all blow over.

Well it shouldn’t.  The very fact that she used this method of communication and retention should be troublesome to everyone.  Besides being a former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator, she’s also an attorney so she should know better.

In theory, our system of government requires transparency except in the most extreme circumstances.  For example, if our national security will be jeopardized by a release of information, it can and should be withheld.  Otherwise, we the people have a right to know.

This is in fact spelled out in the law.  When I was a practicing attorney, I worked in the area of administrative law and often made use of something called the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).  Whenever I asked for government documents, I wrote something called a FOIA request.  Every government official from the highest to the lowest knows what a FOIA request entails.  Under the law, within a prescribed number of days, the government is required to search for and produce documents unless it can offer a good reason why it can’t.

Writing a FOIA request is quite simple. It begins with “Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. . . ” and concludes with exactly what you’re looking for.  The entire thing can be written in one paragraph, but it’s a very powerful tool against possible government abuse.

That’s what makes this entire Hillary Clinton matter so troubling.

Let’s take an example to illustrate.

Imagine for a moment that instead of claiming that her hard drive crashed, Lois Lerner responded to a FOIA request by saying that all her work email was kept on a server at home and that she’d looked it over and provided everything she had. On top of that, she refused to give the government the server.

Would that have worked out better for her than just saying her emails were lost?

Or what if Dick Cheney’s records as Vice President was subject to a FOIA request and his response was that he’d always used his home server for maintaining those sorts of records and that he’d already given the government everything he thought was relevant.

How do you think the left would respond to that?

My guess is that it would be more than just a headline.  They’d be screaming treason.

So what we’re talking about here is more than just what is potentially on Hillary Clinton’s server because I’m guessing without a huge fight we may never know.

How all this turns out will have tremendous ramifications for the future of our right to know what the government is up to.

Stay tuned.

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