September 20, 2011: Clinton’s State Department pledges to improve processing FOIA requests while Clinton keeps her emails out of reach of all such requests.

Abedin (standing) and Clinton (on cell phone) attend a meeting with leaders of the Open Government Partnership in New York on September 20, 2011. (Credit: Politico)

Abedin (standing) and Clinton (on cell phone) attend a meeting with leaders of the Open Government Partnership in New York on September 20, 2011. (Credit: Politico)

The US is one of the founding members of the Open Government Partnership, an international initiative joined by over 60 countries to promote government transparency. The US State Department makes several commitments as part of a transparency action plan. One is to overhaul how the US government stores and manages its records, to create “a reformed, digital-era, government-wide records management framework that promotes accountability and performance.” It also pledges to reform how it processes requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), making government information more searchable and available to the public.

In 2015, Ryan Shapiro, a FOIA expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will point out that Clinton made this commitment even while she attempted to keep all of her emails from future public scrutiny. “Secretary Clinton’s hypocritical and self-serving stance on transparency should be deeply troubling to everyone who cares about open government and accountability. It’s ironic that Secretary Clinton championed an open government partnership for other countries while simultaneously working diligently to subvert transparency at home.” (Bloomberg News, 3/5/2015) (Opengovpartnership.org, 1/13/2016)

September 23, 2011: According to a State Department official, Clinton engages in Middle East negotiations using her unsecure BlackBerry.

Catherine Ashton (Credit: European Parliament)

Catherine Ashton (Credit: European Parliament)

On this day, Clinton, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton meet in United Nations headquarters in New York City. The four of them work out a joint statement regarding an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan proposed by President Obama.

In a 2013 speech, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman will discuss what happens between Clinton and Ashton: “They sat there as they were having the meeting with their BlackBerrys transferring language back and forth between them and between their aides to multitask in quite a new fashion.” Sherman will comment that, “Things appear on your BlackBerrys that would never be on an unclassified system, but you’re out traveling, you’re trying to negotiate something, you want to communicate with people – it’s the fastest way to do it.” (The Hill, 1/26/2016) (United Nations, 9/23/2011)