Hillary Clinton Told Counter-Terrorism Officials to Call Her Non-Secure Blackberry After Terrorist Attack in Iraq

Hillary Blackberry APNa Son-Nguyen
AP/Na Son-Nguyen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told her counter-terrorism officials to call her non-secure Blackberry with important information following a terrorist attack in Baghdad aimed at the Iraqi government.

The State Department warned Clinton in March 2009 to stop using her non-secure personal Blackberry to exchange classified information, following a security “vulnerability” that the device suffered during her first official overseas trip to East Asian countries including China. But Clinton kept using the Blackberry, which could constitute “gross negligence” under the Espionage Act of 1913, which is relevant to the current FBI investigation into Clinton’s email use.

On October 25, 2009, Clinton instructed counter-terrorism officials from the State Department’s Operations Directorate (Ops) to call her non-secure Blackberry after a car bombing in Baghdad that targeted officials of then-Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government. Information provided to Clinton’s personal email account showed that the attack mirrored an earlier bombing that wounded four Americans.

An email chain that included blocks of completely redacted classified information, with the subject line “Heads-up on condolence calls to Maliki today,” made its way to Clinton’s private email account through top aide Huma Abedin.

“How do you feel about calling talabani in the next few hours?” Abedin asked Clinton.

“Sure. When should I do it?,” Clinton replied.

Abedin said that “Potus [President Obama] just talked to maliki and talabani [redacted] We have a call sheet ready and could reach out now? I know you have plans. What do you think?”

“I’m on my blackberry so I could call Ops to do,” Clinton told Abedin.

“I sent Oscar the call sheet but its pasted below as well. I will tell ops to reach out to zebari now and connect to berry,” Abedin replied, including a call sheet that described the terrorist attack:

Purpose of Call: To express condolences and support at the horrific double car bombings in Baghdad today that targeted the Ministry of Justice and the Baghdad Provincial Council. Latest casualties —132 dead and many more wounded.

Please accept my sincere condolences at the senseless and despicable bombings today.

Clearly this is an effort to set back the impressive progress that Iraq has been making. We stand ready to help you in any way to investigate these attacks and to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

More broadly, we remain steadfast in supporting Iraqi progress and stability as you enter this critical period leading up to the elections.

(If Raised) The dispatch of a UN Envoy appears more pertinent than ever. We will continue to support an appropriate effort from the UN.

Background: Today’s bombings at the Justice Ministry and Baghdad Provincial Council have a parallel with the August 19 attacks against the Foreign and Finance Ministries; they represent the second time in three months that vehicle-borne explosives targeted the institutions of the Iraqi Government. This is likely again an attack by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, but the Iraqis are likely also to blame the Ba’athist old regime opposition, many of whom reside in Syria. Our prompt expression of condolence and support signal U.S. engagement; the Iraqis had expressed disappointment earlier that we were not more supportive of their call for a UN investigation into the earlier bombings. [Note: We understand four American security contractors were injured in the bombings, one seriously.]

“I haven’t gotten a call yet but told Ops I’m on my blackberry,” Clinton said.

“Hes in a meeting and his staff said that they will get him message But we have logged the call and ops knows to call berry. should be soon,” Abedin replied.

“I just talked w him. I will reach out to Chris Hill now,” Clinton said.

“Ops is trying your berry and cell and cannot reach you They have chris hill,” Abedin responded.

“I just talked w him,” Clinton concluded.