Report: Ash Carter used personal email for some government business

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Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter testifies to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations on the impact of sequestration on the Department of Defense at the Hart Senate Office Building in D.C., on February 14, 2013. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter testifies to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations on the impact of sequestration on the Department of Defense at the Hart Senate Office Building in D.C., on February 14, 2013. (Photo: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/Defense Dept.)

WASHINGTON – The use of personal email to conduct government business has yet another Obama administration official making headlines.

The New York Times reported that Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter did so for part of his official work in the first months after taking on his duties. The newspaper said it has obtained copies of Carter’s emails.

The Defense Secretary reportedly kept using private email after news about Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server during her service as Secretary of State triggered attacks by Republican lawmakers.

They have alleged that the administration has not handled government information with care. Both Clinton and Carter have said they have not put sensitive information in jeopardy.

A portion

Carter reportedly conducted a portion of his work via personal email, whereas the former Secretary of State used a private server primarily to conduct business via email.

No evidence of wrongdoing has come to light in her case, and her use of a private server did not break State Department rules.

But FBI investigators have been examining her emails for months, which has made headlines and drawn continued criticism.

Defense Secretary Carter’s reported use of private email could now draw similar critical fire.

Prefers phone

The Pentagon issued a statement saying Carter has done nothing wrong. It said that the Defense Secretary uses email sparingly, preferring phone or personal conversations.

“He does have a personal email account that he uses to correspond primarily with friends and family. Any email related to work received on this personal account, such as an invitation to speak at an event or an administrative issue, is copied or forwarded to his official account so it can be preserved as a federal record as appropriate,” said Peter Cook, Pentagon Press Secretary.

“Secretary Carter does not use his personal email or official email for classified material,” he said. His team provides him with secure classified information, at times as hard copies.

The statement mirrors accusations hurled at former Secretary Clinton that using a private email server skirted preserving her communications on government servers as a long-term record. Clinton has turned over some 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department.

The FBI has reviewed them to see if classified materials have been mishandled in her emails, but have so far not said this is the case.

Carter believes that his use of personal email occasionally for work “was a mistake,” Pentagon spokesman Cook said. “As a result, he stopped such use of his personal email and further limited his use of email altogether.”

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