Feb. 26, 2016 11:00am
Once upon a time, an intelligent woman named Hillary Clinton was given the very important job of handling the kingdom’s relations with all the other kingdoms in the realm.
She immediately consulted the Wizards of the State Department, where she would be working, and asked them: “At my new job, can my staff and I use my own home server to do all my official email correspondence?”
“Whoa,” said the Wizards of the State Department, who were super competent and knew what the heck they were doing. “Here’s the thing: we communicate with lots of other kingdoms, as well as other departments in our own kingdom. Whenever we’re talking, we have two goals: one, make sure whatever we say is preserved so it can be reviewed later on; and, two, make sure what we say is kept away from prying eyes.”
“Well, duh,” said Mrs. Clinton, who fancied herself smart enough to run the whole kingdom. “I understand that. Is there any reason we can’t get it done on my private server?”
“Well,” said the Wizards, “as far as archiving everything goes, it shouldn’t be too difficult. We’ll cast a Spell of Email Forwarding on your home server.”
“OK,” said Mrs. Clinton. “Not that I don’t know what that is, but what is that?”
“Basically,” said the Wizards, “any email you send or receive will be immediately duplicated and the copies given to the State Department. We’ll have an up-to-date, comprehensive archive of everything you wrote.”
“Wow!” said Mrs. Clinton. “Saving all those emails in one place is a lot better than trying to find them among however many State Department accounts I happened to get in touch with, let alone the people I email with who aren’t with the State Department.”
“Yes,” said the Wizards, “and it’s certainly better than getting the emails archived long after they were sent – say, two years after you stop working at the State Department – which would be…”
“Incomprehensibly stupid,” interrupted Mrs. Clinton. “Great, so you’ll cram a Wand of Email Forwarding into the server, and that’ll archive my correspondence?”
“And your staff’s, as well,” added the Wizards, “since they’ll also be doing official State Department business.”
“Fine,” said Mrs. Clinton, getting up to leave. “So, we’re good to go?”
“Well, not quite,” said the Wizards, who were ever so smart and knew darn well how to run a professional diplomatic corps. “There’s still that second goal: keeping what you say secret. A lot of your official business as the head of the State Department involves discussing material that’s classified.”
“OK,” said Mrs. Clinton, “but what if I just never handle that stuff by email? What if I only ever view classified material as hard copy in my secure office at the State Department? And if I’m traveling, I’ll use rigorous protocols, rather than email, to keep it safe.”
“So, in other words,” said the Wizards, “you’d do all your official business via email, so long as it didn’t involve anything classified.”
“Sounds good to me,” said Mrs. Clinton, getting up to leave. “Thanks for helping sort this out!”
“Wait, hold on,” insisted the Wizards. “We have to make sure that everyone else knows this, too. People will naturally think that your official email is set up to handle classified State Department business, and they might send you something top secret. We’d need to make it clear that they can’t do that, maybe with some sort of Amulet of Email Warning…”
“Or,” said Mrs. Clinton, “I could just send out an email telling people not to send me classified material. Right?”
“Well, I suppose,” said the Wizards, “but you’d need to make sure everybody gets that email. everybody in the State Department, everybody in any of the other departments in the kingdom, and everybody in any other kingdom who might send you classified information.”
“Got it,” said Mrs. Clinton, getting up to leave. “Lots of emails.”
“No, wait,” said the Wizards, who were a real bunch of pros, and wouldn’t drop the ball on something dumb like this. “We can’t take the chance that someone might send classified information to your unsecured server. Just to be on the safe side, we should make sure it’s protected.”
“And what would that involve?” asked Mrs. Clinton.
“Just a few sensible measures,” said the Wizards. “First, we’d send one of our Wizards to your home in Chappaqua to look at your server, to make sure it’s in a safe place. Then we’d vet and train everyone using that server, to make sure they behave responsibly in case classified information does come in. Finally, we’d apply a Scroll of Encryption or something to make the emails indecipherable to people who aren’t supposed to decipher them.”
“This is beginning to sound very complicated,” said Mrs. Clinton.
“Unfortunately, it’s necessary,” said the Wizards. “May we ask, why don’t you just use the State Department email system? We’ve set up an account for you…”
“Yeah, but it’s archaic, dysfunctional, and unreliable,” complained Mrs. Clinton. “Lots of people at the State Department have ditched it. I’d rather use my own setup.”
“We can sympathize,” said the Wizards. “But, why not view this as an opportunity? Rather than sidestepping the State Department email system, you could work to upgrade it so that it meets your exacting standards. That way, you and everyone else would have the benefit of a system that properly safeguards and archives official, classified correspondence. It would make the kingdom’s diplomatic corps run more efficiently, and give you a reputation for making government work better.”
“Huh, that’s a good point,” said Mrs. Clinton. “It would look great on my résumé down the road when I’m battling all those ogres and trolls who don’t think I’m ready to run the kingdom myself.”
“Run the kingdom yourself?!” the Wizards exclaimed. “You do realize this is all a fairy tale, don’t you, Mrs. Clinton?”
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