Thomas Barnes 
Member since Nov 11, 2016



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Re: “Our national nightmare


All federal agencies are having trouble archiving their emails. Yes, as head of the State Department, Hillary owned the problem of her missing and lost emails, but she's not alone.

For example, the Bush II administration lost or deleted over 22 million emails. Admittedly, that's for the entire executive branch over 8 years, but it does give a sense of the scope of the problem. Doubtless, the Obama administration will lose some emails too when he leaves office.

The original intent of the requirement that government agencies preserve emails was for archival reasons. For much of the 19th and 20th century, we have great archives of all sorts of information ranging from the fascinating to the deathly dull. But, starting from about 1990, future historians are going to have only partial record of these sorts of records because it's mostly migrated to electronic data, which is manifestly NOT archival quality. (Digital preservation is a huge issue for archivists, historians, and librarians.)

For example, we have absolutely no email records from the Vice President's office from 2001-2008 because they were all destroyed when Dick Cheney left office, including all the memos about events after 911, the planning of the invasion of Afghanistan, or the events leading up to the Iraq War. Whether the deletion of all those records was intentional or not, their loss is a national tragedy.

What really comes out in the FBI report ( is a sense of blissful ignorance on Clinton's part. Remember, she was a high level government official. At that level, she's supervising people who supervise people who supervise people. She's going to be at least 2 layers removed from anything involving IT.

More to the point, this is a woman who didn't know how to use a desktop computer, so the idea of her doing anything technical with a Linux/Mac OS email server is laughable. Hillary didn't pay any attention to her private email server except when it didn't work. She probably didn't even know where it was located!

The people in charge of setting up the server for Bill's office at their house in Chappaqua (i.e., the fateful "private server") were on her husband's staff, hence Bill's problem. The sysadmin was some poor schlub who will never work in the industry again named Bryan Pagliano. Mrs. Clinton probably didn't even know his name since she was mostly in Washington or flying around the world doing diplomat things.

And remember, just because you delete an email from your account doesn't mean it goes away. At least one copy remains on the server, and/or on backup files, until the sysadmin deletes it or the drive fails. Even then, forensic computer people can sometimes still read a bricked or wiped disk.

The reason why Hillary's emails went missing is that Bill's IT guy didn't know that Hillary was using the server at her house for official email, so he was wiping old server backup images stored on external hard drives as storage space ran out. Additionally, when the IT guys transitioned to a new server they mistakenly blew away some old email files.

The FBI also mentions that a number of PDAs and computer drives were either wiped or destroyed, which sounds suspicious as hell until your realize that cell phones die fast, and most computers get obsolete after 2-3 years. At that point, GSA regulations require that old devices be destroyed or have their drives wiped for security purposes. Clinton smashed her broken Blackberrys (remember, really old phones, in constant use, carried all over the world, so of course they break) with a hammer, but actually she should have been even more thorough (

As to Clinton's emails, they're all available online from the State Department's web site, for example:

You can read them if you like, but you'll find that most of them are really tedious, trivial stuff. The emails that Clinton wanted to keep private related to private stuff - personal info about her staff, conversations with Bill, details of her daily schedule, personal errands she wanted her personal aide to do, etc.

There's absolutely NOTHING of interest there relating to Benghazi that wasn't released previously. No shady dealings with foreign governments, no shifty financial deals, no secret assassinations. Nothing involving the Trilateral Commission, The Gnomes of Zurich, Fluoridation of Your Tap Water, Area 51, Lizard People, or whatever the hell the Republican congressional investigations were looking for.

Of course, every conspiracy theorist is their own special flower who knows better than the teams of specialists who worked with the raw data, interviewed witnesses, ran tests, and figured out what was going on the in the first place. Any gap in the record is a cover-up and random data points somehow get connected into a glowing mandala of crazy. Then it all gets vomited onto InfoWars or Worldnet Daily, and breathlessly Tweeted across the planet.

2 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Thomas Barnes on 11/11/2016 at 10:20 PM

Re: “Our national nightmare

It's surprising how many commenters on this thread seem to be immune to the actual facts about the kerfuffle over Hillary Clinton's emails.

Hillary only set up a private server because George Bush's Secretary of State, Colin Powell, recommended that she do so, and because it was legal at the time. For what it's worth, Powell used his private AOL account and had a private server for official State Department business, just like Clinton did. The email correspondence between them is preserved and is available online should anyone care to read it.

The reason that Hillary set up her private server, and the reason that private email accounts were used to send official emails, is because the IT systems at the State Department were so antiquated as to be useless. Additionally, Clinton preferred to use an antiquated Blackberry PDA to communicate online, and she found it easier to have her staff print out email so she could read them (she didn't know how to use a computer). The printers at the State Department were so bad that her staff found it easier to copy them to their private accounts and print them off at home!

If you're reading this and your under 40, you're probably laughing at how obsolete that all is!

The very few "classified" emails found on Hillary Clinton's server were later found to have been misclassified. They should never have been secret at all.

Eight investigations by highly partisan Republican congressional investigative committees failed to find any wrongdoing by Clinton. The FBI, clearly no friend of Clinton's, twice found that she committed no crime. FBI Director James Comey retracted all FBI allegations that Hillary Clinton's emails were found on Anthony Weiner's computer.

This despite approximately $10 million spent by Congress, and about $20 million spent on the investigation by the FBI! (Fiscal Times)

There never was a grand conspiracy on Clinton's part. To quote a former UK Prime Minister "It was a muddle, not a fiddle."

The real scandals concerning Hillary's emails are that critical government IT systems are so obsolete as to be useless, that they're highly vulnerable to hacking and other forms of cyberattack, that high level government officials are technologically illiterate, and that government agencies routinely "overclassify" data.

The final scandal here is how partisan media has triumphed in creating ignorant, angry partisan hacks rather than informed citizens. The whole email kerfuffle is the successful culmination of a 37 year propaganda campaign against Clinton, by what she was once mocked for calling a "vast right wing conspiracy." But what else can you call decades of coordinated attacks by Fox News, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart, and hundreds of other conservative and "alt right" media outlets? Clinton has her flaws, several serious, but she's not the monster she was made out to be in the right wing media.

Peer-reviewed academic studies - i.e., the facts - have shown that Fox News viewers - both Democrat and Republican - are actually less well informed about current events than people who don't watch the news at all!

6 likes, 9 dislikes
Posted by Thomas Barnes on 11/11/2016 at 12:43 PM

Re: “Waking up to another country: CITY's post-election commentary

One story that isn't being told is that Trump voters aren't actually the poor, downtrodden rural folk of Appalachia, or whites who are resentful of minorities in their communities.

Trump actually did best with people who were making a bit over $50k a year, and who live in almost entirely white neighborhoods. Most importantly, however, support for Trump correlated just about perfectly with voter's support for authoritianism (see the recent Vox article).

The massive wave of hate crimes by clearly identifiable Trump supporters, both before and after the election, and the fact that Trump refused to repudiate endorsements by David Duke and other branches of the KKK, tells you who Trump's "core supporters" are, and what they want.

America has just elected its first Right Wing Authoritarian president.

Trump is a classic Right Wing Authoritarian leader (look the term up, especially the works of psychologist Robert Altemeyer), and he's surrounding himself with other men of his type. Most chilling in that group is the odious Kris Kobach, who, as Kansas Secretary of State engineered the most restrictive voter restriction laws in the nation, and who has a long history of support for hate groups (see SLPC web site).

Clearly, Trump and his supporters have a vision of American which marches in jackboots, and which mocks America's promise of being a tolerant, liberal democracy.

The fact that the Republican party nominated and elected Trump, and its leaders mostly supported him, tells you that one of America's major political parties has gone terribly astray from its populist, progressive roots. Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and especially Dwight Eisenhower, who led an army against one of the worst authoritarian regimes the world has known, would weep at what their party has become.

The only good news is that Clinton actually won a plurality of the popular vote, she only lost because young people and minorities didn't turn out to vote for her in the same numbers as they did for Obama, and over 43% of eligible voters didn't vote this year. That bodes well for America's future as a democracy, but for the next 4 years we'll have to fight like hell to keep it.

3 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Thomas Barnes on 11/11/2016 at 11:38 AM

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