Ashton Carter must have spent the past year on another planet. That’s the only logical explanation for the revelation, first reported Wednesday by the New York Times, that the defense secretary conducted a portion of his government business via a personal email address – in direct violation of the department’s rules.
Carter must have never heard of Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and Democratic presidential front-runner who spent most of 2015 dealing with the fallout from her use of a private email account and server during her time as the country’s top diplomat.
While Carter and his team insisted that he had never dealt in classified information while using his private email account and that all emails he sent from that account were copied to his government one, it doesn’t exactly solve the problem. What about potentially exposing his emails to hackers, for instance?
While his email setup was Carter’s main problem this past week, it wasn’t his only one. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejected the Defense Department’s offer to use American Apache helicopters in the fight to take back the city of Ramadi from the Islamic State. While Carter played down the significance of that decision, it speaks to the broader difficulty of U.S. attempts to counter Iranian influence in the region and destroy the Islamic State.