How Hillary Compromised The President’s E-mail Security

AP Photo/Seth Wenig
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

One of the biggest head-scratchers in Camp Clinton’s response to the email scandal – including the high-pitched whine emanating from Hillary Clinton’s flacks and eager partisans in the mainstream media – is the repeated assertion that she never sent or received a single classified or “sensitive” message on her system.

That seems impossible for a Secretary of State who served four years, even one with a record as undistinguished as Hillary Clinton’s. Sure, she didn’t do much of anything aside from rack up frequent flyer miles, make disastrously poor judgments about the character of dictators, work on damage control for a raft of State Department scandals culminating in Benghazi, and threaten to arrest people who make saucy YouTube videos… but still, she had to be in the loop on a number of sensitive topics. Her claims of receiving no sensitive email, ever, on the system she was exclusively using along with her top aides, amount to a declaration that she was an entirely superfluous figurehead. That’s not much of a presidential resume.

We have good reason to doubt Clinton’s claim that her server never processed a single sensitive email, because after retracting false statements about President Obama’s absolute ignorance of Hillary’s private mail server, the White House eventually admitted that he has exchanged messages with her private address. Email from the President of the United States to his Cabinet secretaries tends to be “sensitive” by definition… or are we supposed to believe he exclusively discussed Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and his favorite yoga positions with her, making his correspondence part of the immense trove of “personal” mail she hurriedly deleted?

Cyber-security experts have been wondering about how Clinton’s low-security private server might have compromised the integrity of the President’s communication system. Clinton claims she’s absolutely certain her system was never hacked, but of course she’s not a computer expert, and she won’t let a team of independent experts examine her server to verify its integrity.

People who do know what they’re talking about have spent the past week explaining how everything we know about ClintonMail paints it as an insecure system with numerous clear vulnerabilities, which came nowhere near the standards of the official State Department system Clinton was required to use.

Her private server falls even farther short of the standards expected for presidential email, as security experts told Politico:

There’s a danger that the president’s email address could have been exposed, along with the contents of anything he sent to Clinton, if her email account or the private server that hosted it were hacked. And the experts point out that Clinton’s system could easily have been hacked without her knowing it.

“To say it wasn’t compromised is to say, ‘I don’t know it was compromised,’” said Stewart Baker, a former Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary who specializes in technology and security. “It would be pretty easy for a nation-state to compromise that account, and pretty easy to hide the fact that they had compromised that account.

All the same, former cybersecurity officials familiar with the White House system say Obama is protected by such a high level of security measures, including constant monitoring by a computer security team, that it would have been virtually impossible for anyone to take advantage of a breach.

“He’s protected by a really, really good setup. No one in the country has better security than he has,” said Richard “Dickie” George, a former National Security Agency technical director who led a team that built Obama’s Blackberry.

The Clinton bunker has taken to claiming that no details of the security on Clinton’s email system can be released because such disclosure would compromise its security. Of course, compromised security was a non-issue to Clinton when she breezily decided to bypass the required State Department system to escape the agonizing burden of carrying two phones, as she claimed in her risible press conference on Tuesday.

Suddenly she’s such a security hawk that she won’t answer basic questions about how her system is protected. That’s not going to fly if Congress tasks government security experts with examining Clinton’s system. Contain your surprise if news breaks in the immediate future that something unfortunate happened to that poor machine.

This security-enigma black hole – we can’t talk about the system’s defenses because that would compromise its defenses – is one reason officials in Clinton’s position should use the government networks, as mandated in laws and regulations which contain no special exceptions for people named “Clinton.” In a security environment as risky as the top levels of the State Department, introducing any additional, unknown system enormously complicates matters.

The known quantity of elaborate systems designed by top experts is vastly preferable to question-mark servers administered by people who use pseudonyms and P.O. boxes – we’re still just making educated guesses about who Clinton’s IT guy was. And, of course, the system Clinton was supposed to use was responsive to congressional oversight and the Freedom of Information Act, which is the painfully obvious true reason she didn’t use it.

It’s further noted in the Politico piece that some of the basic questions about Clinton’s mystery box could be answered without compromising its security in any way, such as whether it used encryption, and that even seemingly innocuous email exchanges with the president could yield valuable information to foreign governments and hackers if compromised.

We know for a fact that her email address was compromised by an infamous hacker, so there’s every reason to think she was subsequently targeted by both free-wheeling miscreants and foreign intelligence agents. Camp Clinton says they handled all of that without breaking a sweat… but, of course, they won’t discuss any of the details. You just have to trust Hillary Clinton implicitly, about everything.

Although the statement from Clinton’s office insisted there had never been a hack or an “unauthorized intrusion” into her email, it acknowledged that her private email address was exposed in 2013 after a hacker named “Guccifer” broke into the email account of Sidney Blumenthal, a former journalist and close friend of the Clintons. The Daily Beast reported that her address was contained in the Blumenthal emails.

After that incident, Clinton’s office said, “steps were taken at that time to ensure the security and integrity of her electronic communications.” It didn’t give any additional details.

The bottom line is that Hillary Clinton risked national security, and completely destroyed public accountability, for what she claims in her defense was a trifling matter of personal convenience. She’s not qualified to hold any position of trust whatsoever with such astoundingly poor judgment, even before the necessary criminal investigation gets busy shredding her excuses. End of story.


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