Over the weekend, The Washington Post published an article detailing how former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) used his private email account and its accompanying personal email server to send and receive what seems on the surface to be sensitive messages relating to National Guard troop deployments and post-9/11 security concerns. His email was sent and received via a private “homebrew” email server based inside his Tallahassee office. Bush “took it with him when he left office in 2007.”
Finally, there’s some actual scrutiny of a non-Clinton presidential candidate’s email habits. Naturally, the outrage won’t be nearly as fever-pitched because the governor’s name isn’t Hillary Clinton. But now, after two weeks, there’s some modest degree of fairness in the press.
In spite of The Post‘s shocking headline and lede, the article reported that Bush’s aides said the information was “mostly” public knowledge at the time the emails were sent. Regardless, the article reported that the emails contained discussions of “troop deployments to the Middle East and the protection of nuclear plants.” Not unserious issues, to be sure.
In one e-mail sent four days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the top general for the Florida Air National Guard told Bush that “we are actively planning sequences in preparation for mobilization orders should they come.” […]
In November 2001, Bush and an aide to then-Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan exchanged messages about the deployment of National Guard troops to a nuclear power plant in Crystal River, Fla. The aide wrote Bush that a state lawmaker had called to say she thought “it is imperative that the Crystal River nuclear facility have National Guard security.”
Bush wrote back: “Florida power does not want it. We are reducing or getting rid of guard protection in the other plants.”
That last line, to me, is the real bombshell — that within two months of 9/11, Bush ordered the National Guard to pull its troops from protecting nuclear power plants in Florida, simply because the private corporations that operated the plants didn’t want the protection. I wonder if the people who lived near the plants wanted the protection.
The key to the entire email story is this: 1) For a good long time, it appears mostly commonplace for public officials to use a personal email address, and 2) They probably shouldn’t have due to security and transparency concerns. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a D-list level scandal — water under the bridge. What’s crucial now is that everyone running for president is held to the same standard, and that both state and federal governments take action to make sure the system is as transparent as possible.
Should you be outraged by Jeb Bush’s private email account? If you were outraged by Hillary Clinton’s private email, you damn well should be.