Hillary Clinton’s Blackberry Blues Place National Security at Risk?
There is no longer any question that Hillary Clinton’s email scheme jeopardized our national security. Look no further than what we revealed this week.
We released new documents containing email correspondence between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Gen. David Petraeus, in which she had what she termed “blackberry blues” over her inability to use her BlackBerry inside her secure office. The FBI recovered these new emails from those not turned over by Hillary Clinton.
These emails are government documents and not personal emails, as Clinton claims in defending her decision to not turn over 30,000 emails sent or received by her as secretary of state. The emails also show she knew about the security issues of her BlackBerry use (and yet denied recalling anything about it or refused to answer our questions).
In the newly obtained email exchanges, Clinton also told Petraeus, “If there is ever anything you need or want me to know, pls use this personal email address” –firstname.lastname@example.org – when corresponding with her. Petraeus, at the time of the email from Clinton, was the Commander of the United States Central Command, overseeing U.S. military efforts in critical areas, stretching from Northeast Africa across the Middle East to Central and South Asia, and including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Egypt.
The new documents were among the nearly 15,000 Clinton emails discovered by the FBI, and obtained in response to a court order in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for State Department records about Clinton’s separate email system (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00689)).
On January 28, 2008, only one week after becoming secretary of state, Clinton sent an email to Petraeus from her non-state.gov email account apologizing for her “tardy” response to his earlier email and blaming it on what she termed “blackberry blues”:
From: H [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 9:33 PM
To: Petraeus, David H. GEN USA
Subject: Re: Follow up
David – Sorry to be so tardy in responding. I’ve had blackberry blues. I can’t use mine all day long since my whole office is a SCIF [Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility]. I don’t yet have a computer and I had to change my address and lost some of my traffic.
(The State Department represented to a federal court that Hillary Clinton did not have a State Department computer.)
Shortly before taking office, Clinton emailed Petraeus asking that he use only her personal email account when contacting her. At the time, Petraeus was the Commander of the United States Central Command:
Sent: Saturday, January 10, 2009 3:57 PM
To: Petraeus, David H. GEN USA
Subject: Follow up
Thanks for giving me so much of your time the last two nights. I appreciated our conversations and enjoyed the chance to see you and Richard becoming acquainted. I’m looking forward to working w you both. If there is ever anything you need or want me to know, pls use this personal email address. All the best, Hillary.
Also included in the new emails is a response from Colin Powell to a January 23, 2009, message from Clinton detailing Powell’s warning to keep her BlackBerry use secret to circumvent federal records laws:
However there is real danger. If it is public that you have a BlackBerry and … you are using it, government or not to do business, it may become an official record and subject to the law….Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much …
(The Powell email had previously been released.)
Our lawyers specifically asked about Clinton’s BlackBerry use as part of the twenty-five questions submitted on August 30 to Clinton as ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (see especially her answers to questions 14, 15, and 16).
In December 2015, thanks to a federal court order, we released documents containing more than 50 State Department internal emails from 2009 and 2011 warning of serious security concerns involving the use by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her staff of “highly vulnerable” BlackBerrys in the executive offices of the Foggy Bottom headquarters.
The discussion included a March 2, 2009, internal memorandum from Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell in which he advised Clinton and her Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills of “the vulnerabilities and risks associated with the use of BlackBerrys in Mahogany Row [seventh floor executive offices] considerably outweigh their convenience.” Testimony by Cheryl Mills in separate Judicial Watch litigation suggests Clinton used her BlackBerry in her office’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), despite security rules prohibiting the use of such devices in secure areas.
These new emails show the truth that the separate email system was never a matter of “convenience” for Mrs. Clinton. She wanted to hide her emails from the American people.
And her request to Petraeus while he was the Commander of the United States Central Command to communicate with her solely at her unsecure email address shows Hillary Clinton’s willful negligence in handling national defense information.
It’s now clear why she deleted or withheld so many and why Mrs. Clinton didn’t recall or declined to answer our questions about her email security.
New Emails Raise Questions about Hillary Clinton’s Sworn Testimony
Many Americans may be despairing as news comes out week after week of the FBI and Justice Department’s corrupted investigation of the Clinton email matter. But you can rest assured that your JW is on the case. Indeed, the latest from our own independent investigation might warrant the attention of honest law enforcement.
In her sworn responses to the questions in our written deposition, Hillary Clinton said she “did not recall” communicating with her IT specialist about her clintonemail.com account. Inconveniently for her, we now have emails making that excuse look rather flimsy.
We just released another batch of State Department documents uncovered by the FBI. The emails included reveal direct communications between Clinton and her top IT specialist, Bryan Pagliano, about clintonemail.com management problems.
Clinton claimed under oath that she “does not recall having communications” with Pagliano relating to the email system. Clinton’s emails to Pagliano, who installed and maintained the clintonemail.com computer system in the Clinton’s New York home, relate to email management problems with Clinton’s BlackBerry.
The FBI recovered these emails from those not turned over by Hillary Clinton. These new emails are government documents and not personal emails as Hillary Clinton claimed in defending her decision to not turn over 30,000 emails sent or received by her as Secretary of State.
The new documents were among the nearly 15,000 Clinton emails discovered by the FBI and obtained in response to an April 8, 2016, federal court order directing the Department of State to begin producing materials for Judicial Watch in response to a September 3, 2015, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-01441)). The lawsuit was filed after State failed to comply with an August 5, 2015 FOIA request seeking information about Bryan Pagliano’s involvement with Clinton’s email system.
Several “Test” messages were sent between Pagliano, Clinton, and her then-Deputy Chief of Staff Jon Davidson on September 2, 2011. And on March 2012 Clinton writes to Pagliano, “Once again, I’m having BB [BlackBerry] trouble”:
Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2012 8:45 AM
To: Justin Cooper, Bryan Pagliano [Cooper was a senior advisor to Bill Clinton]
Cc: Oscar Floras [manager of Clinton’s New York home]
Once again, I’m having BB trouble. I am not receiving emails although people are getting ones I send but I get their replies on my IP. I’ve taken out the battery and done what I know to do but with no luck yet any ideas?
Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2012 8:54 AM
To: Justin Cooper
Cc: Bryan M. Pagliano, Oscar Flores
Subject: Re: Help!
Thanks, Justin. How does that happen. do I need to do anything?
From: Bryan Pagliano
Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2012 10:32 AM
Cc: Justin Cooper, Oscar Flores
Subject: Re: Help!
Let me take a look at the server to see if it offers any insight. iPhone is not much different from iPad, however in both cases the security landscape is different from the blackberry.
From: H firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2012 11:44 AM
To: Justin Cooper
Cc: Bryan M. Pagliano, Oscar Flores
Thanks again. I’m back in business.
On October 13, 2016, we released Clinton’s responses given under oath to 25 questions we posed as ordered by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in separate litigation. The final question reads:
Identify all communications between you and Brian Pagliano concerning or relating to the management, preservation, deletion, or destruction of any emails in your clintonemail.com email account, including any instruction or direction to Mr. Pagliano about the management, preservation, deletion, or destruction of emails in your account when transferring the clintonemail.com email system to any alternate or replacement server. For each communication, identify the time, date, place, manner (e.g., in person, in (e.g., in person, in writing, by telephone, or by electronic or other means), persons present or participating, and content of the communication.
Secretary Clinton objects to Interrogatory No. 25 on the ground that it requests information that is outside the scope of permitted discovery for the reasons set forth in General Objection No. 5. Secretary Clinton further objects to Interrogatory No. 25 on the ground that the word “management” is vague. Secretary Clinton further objects to Interrogatory No. 25 insofar as it requests information related to alternate or replacement servers used after Secretary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. Subject to and without waiving the foregoing objections, Secretary Clinton states that she does not recall having communications with Bryan Pagliano concerning or relating to the management, preservation, deletion, or destruction of any e-mails in her clintonemail.com email account. [Emphasis added]
Clinton also claimed she “does not recall” 20 times in her responses given under oath.
In addition, Judicial Watch deposed Bryan Pagliano in June. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself more than 125 times, including:
- During your tenure at the State Department, did you communicate with Secretary Clinton by e-mail?
- On the advice of counsel, I will decline to answer your question in reliance on my rights under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
These newly exposed emails leave little doubt that Hillary Clinton was less than forthright and misled the public when she wrote, under oath, that she ‘does not recall’ communicating with Bryan Pagliano about her email scheme. Again, no wonder Clinton and her agents deleted these emails time and time again. And remember: these smoking gun emails would never have seen the light of day but for Judicial Watch’s federal lawsuits.
Lessons for Trump from the Clinton Scandals
Hillary Clinton isn’t the only politician who should heed our leadership on transparency and accountability. Donald Trump should also err on the side of disclosure. In that regard, Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, has put that idea to paper in The Wall Street Journal. Micah covered the Clinton scandals for the Journal editorial page from 1994 to 2002 and is co-editor of the six-volume series, “Whitewater: A Journal Briefing.”
Here are excerpts from his article.
A generation ago, as the 1992 presidential campaign heated up, The Wall Street Journal asked: “Who Is Bill Clinton?” The country “will get to know, or try to get to know, Bill Clinton and Hillary,” the Journal noted. “The Gennifer Flowers tank has already rumbled by. But where’s the rest of them?”
Not far behind, as it turned out. Eight years of scandal and suspicion followed: Whitewater, Travelgate, the firing of all U.S. attorneys, the death of a White House deputy counsel and the jailing of a Justice Department associate attorney general, vanishing documents, congressional hearings, independent counsels, lurid allegations from Arkansas, 1996 campaign-finance misdeeds, Paula Jones, Monica, impeachment, the Marc Rich pardon.
Today, with his campaign staggering but the presidency perhaps still within his grasp, Donald Trump should consider the central lesson of the Clinton years: Scandal compounded by secrecy blots out the political sun. Opposition to the Clintons quickly coalesced as the media, members of Congress and outside groups seized the moment.
Mr. Trump promises it won’t be business as usual if he is elected president. But the same scandal-industrial complex that hemmed in his predecessors will quickly engulf him unless he makes some bold moves.
The most transformative solution would be to embrace radical transparency. Mr. Trump should immediately release his tax returns. He should direct the FBI and CIA to release any files it has on him. He should instruct his lawyers to stop acting like a defense team and embrace freedom-of-information practices. And he should appoint a transparency czar to ensure that his campaign and a future Trump administration will operate in an open and accountable manner. That would be a real revolution in Washington.
A truly transparent, accountable administration-in-waiting would not be just good policy, it would also be good politics. A massive document dump late in the campaign would electrify the media and shift the onus to Mrs. Clinton. The contrast with the secretiveness of the Clinton campaign and the lack of transparency in the Obama administration would be stark.
Judicial Watch won’t tell you (and can’t tell you) who to vote for, but we can tell politicians of both parties that they should respect the American people and end the practice of the modified limited hang out of potentially harmful information. Trust in politics is a two-way street. If they want the trust of Americans, they should first trust voters to evaluate fairly key background information.
Until next week…