Politics & Policy

Colin Powell: I Used Secure System to Handle Classified Materials

Colin Powell told Chuck Todd on Sunday’s Meet the Press that unlike the Democratic 2016 front-runner Hillary Clinton, he used a secure State Department computer to handle classified material.

TODD: Your name gets invoked a lot during this e-mail controversy. Once and for all, can you explain what you did with your e-mails as secretary of state?

POWELL: You can read my book. I wrote a whole chapter about what I did in my latest book — It Worked for Me . . . but the point is I arrived at the State Department as secretary with a disastrous information system there. And I had to fix it. And so what I had to do is bring the State Department to the 21st century. And the way of doing that was getting new computers. That gave them access to the whole world. And then in order to make sure that I changed the “brainware” of the department, and not just the software and hardware, I started to use e-mail. I had two machines on my desk. I had a secure State Department machine, which I used for secure material, and I had a laptop that I could use for e-mail. And I would e-mail relatives, friends, but I would also e-mail in the department. But it was mostly housekeeping stuff: “What’s the status of this paper? What’s going on here?” So it was my own unclassified system, but I had a classified system also on my desk.

Powell also declined criticizing Clinton’s handling of classified materials. “Do you believe this is a serious issue for Secretary Clinton or not?” Todd asked.

“I can’t answer that,” Powell replied. “You know, we now have two IGs working on it, we have the FBI working on it. Mrs. Clinton and some of her associates will be testifying, or be going before inquiries with the Congress. And I think it’s best for me just to talk about what I know and not about what occurred under Secretary Clinton’s jurisdiction.”


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