Carter admits e-mail 'mistake'

2015-12-17 21:12
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Washington - Defence Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged on Thursday that he used a personal e-mail account to conduct some US government business during his first months on the job.

In an interview with CBS during a trip to the Middle East, Carter called it "a mistake and it's entirely my own". The same practice by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, now the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has drawn intense criticism and led to an FBI investigation into two e-mails that are now considered top secret.

Carter said he used his iPhone to send "administrative messages". He said none contained classified information and all were backed up for record keeping on the defence department e-mail system.

"I have to hold myself to absolutely strict standards in terms of cybersecurity and doing things that are appropriate. I didn't in this case," he said.

The New York Times first reported the e-mail practice late on Wednesday.

In a statement, Senator John McCain, the Republican chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said it was "hard to believe that Secretary Carter would exercise the same error in judgement" in light of the attention for Clinton's e-mail use.

McCain said the committee has requested copies of the e-mails and will conduct a review "to ensure sensitive information was not compromised".

Using personal e-mail on unsecured servers leaves the messages vulnerable to hacking and other cyberattacks. The defence department has made cybersecurity a top priority.

Carter's press secretary, Peter Cook, declined to say whether it was a violation of Pentagon e-mail policies. Cook said Carter stopped the practice, but Cook did not say when.

The Times reported it had obtained 72 work-related e-mails that Carter sent or received from his personal e-mail account.

Clinton's email practices were revealed in March; Carter took office in February.

Read more on:    us  |  cybercrime

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