Fox & Friends allowed Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush to whitewash his record on private email use and transparency during his time as governor of Florida, ignoring that it took Bush seven years to comply with the state statute requiring him to turn over his emails and that he withheld anything he deemed personal.
Fox & Friends Hosts Allow Bush To Tout His Own Transparency And Whitewash His Use Of Private Server For Government Business
Fox & Friends Fail To Press Bush After He Dodges Question About Deleting Emails. On the September 9 edition of Fox & Friends, host Steve Doocy asked Bush whether he ever deleted any emails, failing to push Bush when he dodged the question and went on to attack Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton:
ELISABETH HASSELBECK: Will taking responsibility and saying I'm sorry finally help her?
JEB BUSH: Look, it wasn't allowed. That's the simple fact. And we found out about it with a subpoena. She's not been truthful, and I think it's damaged her campaign significantly. Now there's all these investigations -- FBI, Justice Department. She's got serious problems. And I think the lesson is, you've got to be transparent when you're running for office. I released 33 years of tax returns. It was kind of ugly, but I think that's the right thing to do. I used my email as a means of communicating with the people that I served. And I'm releasing a book in October about my tenure as governor based on the e-mails that I used.
STEVE DOOCY: I looked at my emails yesterday after she apologized. On my home computer I have 88,000 emails. I don't think I've ever erased any of them. There she is out erasing tens of thousands. Have you ever erased just a whole bunch of email just so that there was no record of anything?
BUSH: Look, she was secretary of state. That's the difference. This is a national security issue. Unless you're doing national security work on the side. That's the difference. She jeopardized national security by having confidential information going over that server. We've seen what happened with the Snowden incident and the Bradley Manning (sic) incident and OPM.
DOOCY: Do you think she got hacked by somebody?
BUSH: Of course. There's a great possibility of that. OPM got hacked, inside the government server. So, having an unsecured server, talking about national security issues as secretary of state is the real problem here. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/9/15]
As Governor, Bush Used His Privately Owned Server To Discuss Security Matters And Troop Movements
NBC: Bush Owned Server Used For "The Personal Email He Used As Governor." On March 4, NBC News reported that “Bush owns the server that runs firstname.lastname@example.org, the personal email he used as governor.” According to NBC, the email was used “to conduct official, political and personal business” and was maintained in a state-owned office building during Bush's tenure:
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush owns the server that runs email@example.com, the personal email he used as governor to conduct official, political and personal business, NBC News has learned.
Asked Wednesday morning who controls the server that operates that Jeb Bush email address, Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell responded in an email: “He owns it.”
The server was housed in a state-owned office building during the years that Bush served as Florida's governor, from 1999 until early 2007. A Bush source familiar with the situation said there were “digital security” measures in place to protect Bush's emails on this server, but declined to elaborate on how the server and its data were physically and digitally kept from harm. [NBC News, 3/4/15]
Wash. Post: Bush Used His Private Email Address And Personal Server To Discuss Sensitive National Security Information. The Washington Post reported that Bush “used his private e-mail account as Florida governor to discuss security and military issues such as troop deployments to the Middle East and the protection of nuclear plants.” The Post notes that some of this information “could be exploited by enemies”:
The e-mails include two series of exchanges involving details of Florida National Guard troop deployments after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the review by The Washington Post found.
Bush's archives include a handful of other messages from leaders of Florida's National Guard. There are copies of the “Florida National Guard Activity Report” from August 2000 and December 2000, with information about troop deployments to the Caribbean, South Korea and Kuwait; the activation of units; and details on training exercises and drug seizures.
In October 2000, Harrison e-mailed Bush to remind him that 170 Florida Air National Guardsmen from Jacksonville would be deploying to Saudi Arabia to enforce the southern Iraq no-fly zone. The message said they would “coincidentally travel over with a group of 90 from the Texas Air National Guard” -- a unit that was under the command of Bush's brother, George W. Bush, who was then Texas governor.
The next month, a lieutenant commander with one of the deployed units e-mailed Jeb Bush to thank him for sending a message of support, noting that “our unit has played a key role in missions directly related” to ongoing tensions between Iraq and Israel.. The officer added that “you can assure your brother the F-15s from your state could take the F-16s from his state!” [The Washington Post, 3/14/15]
Wash. Post: Cybersecurity Experts Say Bush's Private Account Was Likely Vulnerable To Hackers, Possibly Exposing National Security Officials He Corresponded With. From The Washington Post:
Aides to Bush said Saturday that none of the e-mails contained sensitive or classified information, and that many of the events mentioned in them were documented in press accounts, either contemporaneously or later. But security experts say private e-mail systems such as the one used by Bush are more vulnerable to hackers, and that details such as troop movements could be exploited by enemies.
Aides also say Bush's server was secure because it was kept at the governor's office.
But Johannes Ullrich, a cybersecurity expert who is dean of research at the SANS Technology Institute, said private accounts in general are more susceptible to attacks than government e-mail addresses, particularly attacks in which a hacker establishes a look-alike account that allows them to impersonate as the account holder.
Encryption technology was also far less sophisticated in 2001, he said, which could have made Bush's e-mails particularly insecure while traveling. If hackers gained access to Bush's account, he said, there's a chance they could break into the account of the National Guard commander or other officials with whom Bush exchanged e-mails.
“The bigger issue here is, what else can an attacker do?” Ullrich said. “Now I may be able to penetrate a National Guard commander's laptop by infecting it or by impersonating Jeb Bush's account. . . . Now you may even be able to give the order to remove troops or change deployments.” [The Washington Post, 3/14/15]
PolitiFact: Bush Only Released Emails “He Self-Selected As Pertaining To State Business,” And “Offered Much Of The Same Defense As Clinton.” PolitiFact rated Bush's claim that he had turned over all of his email “mostly false,” explaining that he only turned over the email records he hadpersonally deemed relevant to state business, as permitted under Florida state law:
The emails that Bush turned over from the private server, however, are only the ones he self-selected as pertaining to state business. He left out messages concerning politics, family matters and fundraising, which the Sunshine Law allows him to do.
So that means he didn't literally release all his emails, just the ones he says he was required to give the state.
In trying to draw a contrast to Hillary Clinton, Bush actually offered much of the same defense. In reality, Bush says he released all the emails he was required to under Florida law, in the same way Clinton says she turned over all the emails she was required to under federal law.
But Bush hasn't turned over every single email he sent as governor. While the state handled his public account's emails, he was allowed to self-edit firstname.lastname@example.org correspondence from his private server. That amounted to 280,000 emails out of a half-million or more, which Bush repackaged on a website earlier this year. [PolitiFact, 8/31/15]
And The “Transparency” Of His Email Release Continues To Be Called Into Question
New York Times: Bush Delayed Releasing His Emails For Seven Years. On March 13, The New York Times reported that Bush turned over the last of his emails from his time as governor in May 2014, seven and a half years after he was required to do so. Under Florida state law, elected officials are required “to turn over records pertaining to official business 'at the expiration of his or her term of office'”:
Jeb Bush has rebuked Hillary Rodham Clinton for her use of a private email account as secretary of state, holding up his own conduct as an example of transparency in government.
But it took Mr. Bush seven years after leaving office to comply fully with a Florida public records statute requiring him to turn over emails he sent and received as governor, according to records released Friday.
Mr. Bush delivered the latest batch of 25,000 emails in May 2014, seven and a half years after leaving the Statehouse and just as he started to contemplate a potential run for the White House, according to a newly disclosed letter written by his lawyer.
A Florida statute governing the preservation of public records requires elected officials, including the governor, to turn over records pertaining to official business “at the expiration of his or her term of office.”
“If they've been adding to it, it's a technical violation of the law,” said Barbara A. Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group in Florida that advocates access to government information. [The New York Times, 3/13/15]
Mother Jones: Emails Released By Bush Reveal Nothing About Controversial Episodes Of His Governorship. On April 10, Mother Jones reported that, despite his claims of “transparency,” Bush's email archive of over 250,000 messages contains “very few, if any, emails between Bush and his aides” and that a review of the emails “yielded little correspondence revealing Bush's actions and decisions regarding pivotal events” during his tenureas governor of Florida. Absent from the archive are emails between Bush and his aides regarding the contested 2000 presidential election, the controversial cases of Elián González and Terri Schaivo, and his administration's “deeply flawed” 1999 Florida voter roll purge or attempted 2004 voter roll purge:
But Bush is hardly in a position to take potshots at Clinton over her emails. Like Clinton, he conducted government business using a personal email account (two of them, actually). He released only a portion of his correspondence from his time as governor of Florida. And it took Bush more than seven years to hand over his self-selected emails, as required under a Florida public records law.
Moreover, Bush's email archive, which includes more than 250,000 messages, has produced no piercing insights or major news stories about his gubernatorial stint. There are an immense number of emails from constituents weighing in on the issues of the day. But when it comes to the major issues of his governorship, there are--curiously--very few, if any, emails between Bush and his aides. This email archive is not easy to search. It is comprised of 248 separate files and is hardly user-friendly. But employing the most obvious search terms for key episodes that occurred during his governorship, as well as combing messages covering certain time periods, we mounted an extensive review of this gigantic collection of correspondence and looked for emails about the most important moments of Bush's eight years leading the Sunshine State. This search yielded little correspondence revealing Bush's actions and decisions regarding pivotal events. It turns out that what's most notable about Bush's email trove is what's not in it. [Mother Jones, 4/10/15]