HRC Emails: The Luddites Were in Change

About those HRC emails: the Luddites were in charge.

When I joined my old law firm in 1987, only the secretaries and legal assistants had desk top PCs; the attorneys either wrote their legal briefs, letters, etc. out by hand or dictated them into a dictaphone. Secretaries typed everything.

As an ex-reporter, I was used to composing on a keyboard and managed to sneak onto the computer system so that I could avoid the long, iterative process used by other attorneys: written or dictated work to secretary, secretary’s typed version back to lawyer, lawyer edits, secretary makes changes, etc., etc.

Several years later, management began nudging the attorneys into using PCs and introduced them to email. A few of the more resistant attorneys had dumbed-down PCs that just sent and received email. It literally took years to get some of the attorneys to learn to use the firm-supplied desktop PCs for something other than email. One partner, who had carried a pager forever, was an early adopter of the Blackberry technology; most other attorneys were resistant to the entire concept.

I sketch this as background to the controversy about Clinton’s emails. If you read the FBI report, what you see is something hard to believe if you’re an even ordinary user of technology. You see someone who, as late as 2008, did not know how to use a desktop PC and not only wanted to keep the Blackberry she was used to, but wanted to keep the particular model she was used to using. It all SO reminds me of my partners, who were about her vintage.

So there wasn’t some well-thought-out, nefarious scheme to accomplish something malign. Instead, there was a sequence of not well-considered decisions to handle immediate problems, with no one taking a step back to consider the overall picture.

Which is why the FBI concluded no reasonable prosecutor would try to bring a case. The applicable statute requires, among other elements, intent — and the way the HRC’s email system happened lacked the requisite intent.

I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind. In fact, I doubt the haters will even take the time to read and understand the FBI report. But reading through it reminded me of my partners, back in the day before we all got so accustomed to technology that it’s hard to imagine a time when we weren’t.

Here’s the link to the report, if you’re interested:

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