By Juven Jacob
We live in a headline and selected clip world, and the recent New York Times story fed right into our modern day media frenzy - attack and speculate as breaking news, retract and clarify later as a footnote. At the heart of the story is that the former secretary may have broken the law by using a personal email account and by not preserving the emails as part of the Federal Records Act -- neither are true.
First, let's look at the facts. The Times article says, and I quote, "The existence of Mrs. Clinton’s personal email account was discovered by a House committee investigating the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi as it sought correspondence between Mrs. Clinton and her aides about the attack." This is blatantly false.
Knowledge of Secretary Clinton's use of a personal email address has been publicly known since Gawker broke the story in March 2013. In fact, the domain CLINTONEMAIL.COM was registered on January 13, 2009, one week before President Obama was sworn into office, and the same day that Clinton's confirmation began before the Senate.
The alleged violation of personal email in the Times article is also false. Section 1236.22 of the 2009 National Archives and Records Administration ("NARA") states that agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that federal records sent or received on such systems "are preserved in the appropriate agency record keeping system." The use of personal email is not illegal and does not break the 2009 regulation.
In fact, the primary source cited in the Times article, Jason Baron, the former director of litigation for the Office of General Counsel at NARA, has since stated that Clinton did not violate the law.
The law that the Times article purports its readers to assume applies to Clinton - H.R. 1233, modernizing the Federal Records Act of 1950 - was signed into law by President Obama on November 26, 2014, well after Clinton had stepped down as secretary of state in February 2013.
Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill in a statement said, "Like Secretaries of State before her, she used her own email account when engaging with any department officials. For government business, she emailed them on their department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained. When the department asked former secretaries last year for help ensuring their emails were in fact retained, we immediately said yes."
In response to the State Department's request, Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of email, which averages about 40 pages a day over the course of four years.
On Wednesday, Clinton tweeted, "I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible."
With the Clintons, rightfully or wrongfully, comes extra scrutiny. They have to be twice as good and twice as transparent, especially as the Republicans gear up to take her down before her presumed 2016 run for the Presidency.
While some attempt to conjure up controversy and try their hardest to muddy her up, she will go on to talk about issues that Americans actually care about and the future of the country.