Bill Clinton: A President’s Legacy Tied To Electronic Data Mishaps

Bill Clinton has found his way back into the headlines. While Hillary Clinton is in the midst of a highly contentious White House bid and perhaps an even more contentious email scandal, an interesting tidbit from Bill’s presidential past has taken on a startling new relevance. You may not remember this, but Bill Clinton pardoned ex-CIA director John Deutch at the tail-end of his presidency.

What makes this suddenly relevant again?

To figure that out, all you have to do is ask what crime Bill Clinton pardoned him for.

Deutch’s offense was, quite simply, keeping classified documents on several unsecured computers at his homes. Repeatedly, almost constantly, and for a very long time.

Sound familiar?

One of former President Bill Clinton’s final acts as Commander-in-Chief was to fully pardon Deutch and thus absolve him of the threat of criminal prosecution. Fast-forward 15 or so years and we are dealing with another situation where classified information was purportedly mishandled, and once again it has connections to Bill Clinton.

It seems things may have changed since the Bill Clinton years regarding how an investigation of this nature is conducted, too. According to the National Review, who first reported on this story, when the Bill Clinton Justice Department looked into Deutch’s suspected misconduct, there were no lawyers dictating which equipment they could investigate. Rather, when Bill was still in office, all electronics believed to be involved in the mishandling of protected information were gone over with a fine-toothed comb.

“…(a) technical exploitation team, consisting of personnel expert in data recovery, retrieved the data from Deutch’s unclassified magnetic media and computers.”

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that the technological times certainly have changed in the last couple of decades, so the process of computer forensics has also undoubtedly evolved. So has political savvy. It’s also important to note that while it seems as though Bill Clinton has been intimately connected to more than his share of data mishaps, this kind of story is not unique to the Democratic Party.

During George W. Bush’s presidency, Bill Clinton’s successor, literally millions of email’s were lost. According to a Politifact reporting, Carl Rove did nearly the exact same thing as Hillary Clinton is accused of doing. Namely, he used a private email account rather than a government-issued.gov account to conduct government business. Eight U.S. Attorneys lost their jobs. The investigation was huge. To this day, there’s no real way of knowing how many emails may have been lost forever, or what information they may have contained.

Clearly, when it comes to electronic data being mishandled or lost, partisanship doesn’t really come into play.

It does appear that there is a bit of a political bias when it comes to how these issues are ultimately handled, though. In the case of those affiliated closely with Bill Clinton, it appears as though the consequences are a bit more severe. While the Bush email scandal was investigated, it never compromised Rove’s career.

“When Karl was in trouble back in ’07, (there was) no press coverage, just about zero press coverage of this issue.”

Compare that to John Deutch, who was reportedly ready to cop a plea when Bill Clinton saved him with a Presidential Pardon. Or to Hillary, whose political future is still unclear. She might be the Democratic front-runner, but she’s also still under Congressional investigation. Who knows what the outcome of that might be?

One thing’s for certain. No matter how this all plays out for Hillary, America hasn’t heard the last of data scandals. Or Bill Clinton.

[Photo Courtesy Adam Bettcher/Getty]