Hillary Clinton and her staff’s utter bumbling of State Department emails has now been revealed to have included a transfer to Gmail and a lost laptop and thumb drive — meaning a good portion of national security secrets could very well still be floating around with nary a shred of security to protect them.
Following Clinton’s resignation from the State Department in February 2013, as Zero Hedge reports, one of her closest aides, Monica Hanley, set about archiving emails which had resided on the personal server created by IT staffer Bryan Pagliano with assistance from Bill Clinton’s aide, Justin Cooper.
Hanley — working “from her personal residence” — and Cooper managed to successfully transfer the email archive from that server to an Apple MacBook with a copy saved to a thumb drive, according to documents from the FBI investigation, which were released Friday.
From there, the already makeshift plan began to fall apart in perhaps the worst display of incompetence from State Department employees.
“The two copies of the Clinton e-mail archive (one on the Archive laptop and one on the thumb drive) were intended to be stored in Clinton’s Chappaqua and Whitehaven residences; however Hanley explained this did not occur as Hanley forgot to provide the Archive laptop and the thumb drive to Clinton’s staff following the creation of the archive,” FBI documents state, with all emphasis added.
Why, exactly, no one from Clinton’s staff checked with Hanley on the status of the archive Mac and thumb drive remains unclear — nevertheless, the two devices simply sat around in the aide’s residence for a year, unprotected, until she arbitrarily decided that wasn’t the best idea.
In February 2014, Hanley finally got around to transferring the archived emails to Clinton’s new server hosted by Platte River Networks (PRN) in Denver, Colorado, but couldn’t complete the remote transfer — so she shipped the laptop to a PRN staff member whose name is redacted in the investigation documents.
But this staff member had similar issues transferring the files to the PRN server since the Apple MacMail format was incompatible with Microsoft Exchange. For reasons also unknown, this tech employee — tasked with the transfer of information potentially pertaining to matters of national security — felt a workaround uploading the information to Gmail in order to transfer it to the new server would be perfectly acceptable.
Because everyone knows Gmail is safe from prying eyes and countless hackers, of course.
Hanley “recommended” the PRN staff member “wipe” the archive laptop after completing the transfer to the server; however, the unnamed staffer “forgot” to wipe the laptop and just deleted the emails from the personal Gmail account he or she had created to work around the incompatibility issue.
At this point, either the incompetence reaches new levels of absurdity, or a few people are being less than honest with the sequence of events.
Although the PRN staff member stated the laptop was shipped to someone on Clinton’s staff (both name and position are redacted in documents), that person claims they never received it — but, it’s possible that because “Clinton’s staff was moving offices at the time, it would have been easy for the package to get lost during the transition period.”
Either way, “Neither Hanley nor [PRN staff member X] could identify the current whereabouts of the Archive Laptop or thumb drive containing the archive, and the FBI does not have either item in its possession.”
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Worse, PRN staff member X apparently didn’t manage to delete the entire archive cache from the Gmail account — 940 emails were later discovered by the FBI. Of those, 56 have since been marked confidential and 302 were not among the 55,000-page document dump provided to the State Department in December 2014. Among the 302, one was determined to be secret at the time it was sent, but is now marked classified.
Not long after providing the documents to the State Department, former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and former Clinton campaign staffer Heather Samuelson requested all emails be removed from their computers using “a program called BleachBit to delete the e-mail-related files so they could not be recovered.”
In December 2014, without explicitly telling any of her staff members to delete files, when “asked what she wanted to do with her remaining personal e-mails, Clinton instructed her staff she no longer needed the e-mails.”
On March 4, 2015, the House subpoenaed all emails from Clinton’s personal servers, including a document preservation order.
PRN staff member X had a “conference call with President Clinton’s staff” on March 25, 2015, after which — sometime between March 25th and 31st — “he had an ‘oh shit’ moment,” when he realized he had forgotten to wipe clean the PRN server as he had been instructed to do by Mills in December 2014.
At some point during those six days, PRN wiped the server clean using BleachBit — despite the subpoena from the House earlier in the same month.
In fact, PRN staff member X admitted to deleting the remaining emails despite being “aware of the existence of the preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton’s e-mail data on the PRN server.”
Hillary Clinton, President Clinton’s staff, and Cheryl Mills, of course, stated they were “unaware” of PRN’s moves to wipe the server after the subpoena had been received.
This utter incompetence by PRN staff member X, Hillary, and her staff seem more than a little suspicious considering, in the end, one errant IT staffer from Denver — personally removed from the Clinton inner circle by every degree — will conveniently take the fall for the deleted emails likely directly pertaining to Benghazi and an untold number of other issues.
Clinton’s unstated but unmistakable direction to get rid of old emails and the missing laptop and thumb drive thus all can be chalked up to mishandling, miscommunication, and some guy from Denver — not Clinton, herself.
A skeptic might say the whole matter had been oh-so conveniently planned this way.
Or, perhaps, this can all be credited to the concussion Hillary now claims prevented her from remembering the briefings about handling sensitive information as she began the role of secretary of state in 2012.