Clinton Email Saga: How do you CTRL+F 55,000 pages of paper?

Posted: 12:43  am EDT
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Marc Perkel who runs a spam filtering service has an interesting addition to the Clinton email saga, something to do with what happens to emails that go through a  spam filtering service.  But he also wrote this:

But – and this is a very important point – is HOW the emails were turned over. She printed each one out on paper one by one and handed over boxes of paper with the email printed. Thus those email can’t be searched electronically. So if someone wants all emails to some individual or emails about a subject then someone has to hand search these emails and they are likely to miss something.

It would have been far easier to copy all the emails onto a thumb drive and hand that over to the State Department where they could be electronically imported into the system and electronically searchable like all the other emails are. But she chose to go to great trouble to deliberately make things difficult for the State Department to process those emails.  And that indicates an act of bad faith. She’s just giving all of us the virtual finger.

This from a a guy who writes that if Clinton is the candidate,  he “would still vote for her in the general election over any Republican.”

Also see  Attn: Delivery Man Schlepping Boxes With 55,000 Pages of Emails to Foggy Bottom, You’re Wanted at the Podium! (Corrected)

When asked why these documents were not provided to State in electronic format for better searchability, the official spox said, “Well, there is some long precedent here for how this is done.”  I don’t know what kind of precedent she is talking about.  Has anyone ever had to produce  55,000 pages of emails before from a private email server? How do you search that? Control+D for smart not?

This is basically 110 reams of paper at 500 sheets per ream, or 11 bales of paper.  And if the Clinton folks instead used a thumb drive for these 55,000 pages of email, it probably could have spared a tree or two!

Reseed’s strategy is prevention and remediation — not only can we curb deforestation by encouraging consumers and retailers to adopt e-receipts, but we can also reverse some of the damage with the money saved. Forgoing 55,000 receipts can spare an entire tree, and it only takes a dollar in donations for Reseed to plant a tree.

Going Paperless: The Hidden Cost of a Receipt
Part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the Clinton Global Initiative 

Oy! What’s that?

The ACLU writes that the politics swirling around the Clinton email scandal obscure real problems:

As the Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has documented at length, various Bush White House officials used Republican National Committee accounts to communicate with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in what would become the scandal over the hiring and firing of United States attorneys that the Department of Justice later found to be the inappropriately politicized.

The decision by Secretary Clinton to use “” exclusively for official business disregards these historical examples. Unfortunately, officials can face the strong temptation to hide official business out of the reach of Freedom of Information Act requests. And as the new retention rules recognize, that’s unacceptable for our democracy.


On March 17, twelve open government organizations also wrote a letter to Secretary Kerry and David S. Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States asking that the Clinton emails containing federal records be transferred to the Department of State in their original electronic form:

Because it is of the utmost importance that all of former Secretary Clinton’s emails are properly preserved and transferred back to the State Department for accountability and historical record purposes, we are asking that you verify that Secretary Clinton’s emails containing federal records are transferred to the Department of State in their original electronic form, so that all such emails may be accessible pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. The Archivist and State Department are authorized by the Federal Records Act to seek the recovery of records that may have been improperly removed, and the task of determining which emails constitute federal records should not be left solely to Mrs. Clinton’s personal aides. Rather, the Archivist and State Department should oversee the process to ensure its independence and objectivity. To the extent that it is ascertained that any record emails were deleted, they should be retrieved if technically possible.

The letter available online here (pdf) was signed by Cause of Action, Defending Dissent Foundation, Electronic Frontier Foundation, MuckRock, National Coalition for History, National Security Archive, National Security Counselors,, Pirate Times, Project on Government Oversight (POGO),  Society of Professional Journalists and The Sunlight Foundation.


4 responses

  1. Unless I’ve missed something, the former Secretary of State has maintains that: (1) she never conducted any CLASSIFIED communications via her personal web site; and (2) during her four years in office she conducted all business, public and private, exclusively on her personal email system. I cannot reconcile these two propositions. Either security violations ran rampant on her watch or she receive her salary for steering the ship of state with earplugs and blinders. If I’m mistaken, I’d appreciate being corrected.

    • JM – There are two ways of looking at that claim in my view, both speculation, of course: 1) she never conducted classified information because she may not have classified anything as such. She was the highest classifying authority. She got to decide what was classified or not. It is entirely possible that there were no classified material in her emails. Should there have been? Maybe, but that is impossible to know given that this is a private server that no one outside her circle has access to. 2) It is entirely possible that senior staffers pulled up whatever classified material needed the SOS attention from a State system and shared those with her, then disposed them as needed afterwards. That’s not unheard of. Also top ranking officials typically are able to see who they want, when they need to. The rest of the building arrange their schedules based on the availability of the higher ranking official. Maybe the emails have nothing more than dancing cats. Perhaps policy discussions were done more in person than via emails. Is it reasonable to accept that defense? Sure.

      That said, I still find it exceptionally troubling that the SOS set up her own private email server, far out of reach of the FOIA and used it exclusively. Troubling still that her staff combed through it and decided which ones should be turned over to State. Then turned over 55,000 pages instead of electronic copies. Troubling still that State’s Public Affairs people contorted themselves trying to explain what happened and why to no one’s satisfaction. Troubling still that we haven’t heard who at State knew about this and approved this arrangement. Then comes the OF-109, and the SGE employees again, and fundraising inside State? Ugh! And there does not seem to be a straight answer from A–B on Anything? This is one totally messed-up set up with everyone running around trying to cover their asses. Mistakes were made? Well, I’m thinking — can somebody please own it up? Fixit? Be better at it going forward? Anyway, that’s how I look at it.

  2. This is interesting and makes one wonder why 55K pages were printed out, if not for the reason this expert (and Democrat) puts forward. How much printer ink does that eat up? In fact it dies rather boggle the mind – unless the Department asked for them that way….nothing will surprise me.

    Sent from my iPad