WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged on Thursday that he used a personal email account to conduct some U.S. 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 emails 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 Defense Department email 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 email practice late Wednesday.
In a statement, Sen. John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said it was “hard to believe that Secretary Carter would exercise the same error in judgment” in light of the attention for Clinton’s email use.
McCain said the committee has requested copies of the emails and will conduct a review “to ensure sensitive information was not compromised.”
Using personal email on unsecured servers leaves the messages vulnerable to hacking and other cyberattacks. The Defense Department has made cybersecurity a top priority.
Carter’s press secretary, Peter Cook, declined to say whether it was a violation of Pentagon email policies. Cook said Carter stopped the practice, but Cook did not say when.
The Times reported it had obtained 72 work-related emails that Carter sent or received from his personal email account.
Clinton’s email practices were revealed in March; Carter took office in February.
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