Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and three other top DHS officials used private, unsecured email to conduct official business and discuss sensitive matters, according to 216 pages of documents obtained by Judicial Watch.
The three top officials were Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Chief of Staff Christian Marrone, and General Counsel Stevan Bunnell.
The documents include emails discussing sensitive meetings with Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian officials. They also reveal a West African $4.5 million online consumer fraud scam, Judicial Watch noted.
The documents showed that the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S. sent an email to Johnson’s unsecured email account attempting to set up a meeting for Johnson with Kuwait’s Interior Ministry. The Interior Minister reportedly already scheduled meetings with the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Director of National Intelligence.
“The reason I am reaching out is to let you know that our Minister of the Interior (your counterpart in Kuwait) is planning to visit Washington from August 24-26. He is already scheduled to meet with the directors of the CIA, FBI, and DNI,” the email from the ambassador said.
The emails also showed that the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia emailed Johnson’s unsecured email account discussing his upcoming meetings at the Saudi Interior Ministry in Jeddah. One part of the email redacts the name of a general also visiting during the same timeframe, referred to as the “Chairman.” The timing of the email suggests the general in question was then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey.
The emails also revealed Chief of Staff Marrone discussed Lockheed Martin earnings with an unidentified individual as well as a space vehicle launch consortium between Lockheed and Boeing.
Judicial Watch received the documents in response to a May 23, 2016, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. DHS did not initially respond to a Dec. 29, 2015, FOIA request for emails relating to official government business sent to or from the private accounts of Johnson and three other officials.
Judicial Watch played a leading role in the release of emails from former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s private server she used to conduct official work while Secretary of State.
The group previously revealed that Johnson and 28 other agency officials used government computers to access personal web-based email accounts, despite a 2014 agency-wide ban on doing so due to heightened security concerns.
One email to Johnson’s private account showed an email scam using the former secretary’s identity.
Some of the emails in the release had redacted portions.
“The fact that the documents found in these email accounts were so heavily redacted and that Johnson’s name and email account were spoofed in a phishing scam is indicative of just how lax communications security was inside Homeland Security during the Obama administration,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.