News & Politics

Documents: Hillary Skipped Special Cybersecurity Briefing in 2011

Documents: Hillary Skipped Special Cybersecurity Briefing in 2011
(Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo via AP, File)

In 2011, the State Department held a special cybersecurity briefing just for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but according to congressional investigators, she apparently blew it off. This would have been two years after she set up an unsecured homebrew server at her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., for all of her official government business. It was also the same year Clinton warned State Department employees in an internal State Department cable not to use personal email because of concerns that they could be hacked.

Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reports that the details of the briefing were revealed in a March 3 congressional letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.

 And in mid-February, Julia Frifield, the assistant secretary for legislative affairs, confirmed to Congress the existence of the 2011 cyber briefing and the fact that Clinton skipped it. The details were revealed in a March 3 congressional letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.

The letter says: “On February 18, 2016, Ms. Julia Frifield, the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, sent us that classified PowerPoint presentation used in the cybersecurity briefing, along with an unclassified cover letter. The unclassified cover letter noted that ‘although the PowerPoint indicated the briefing was for former Secretary Clinton, we understand from the testimony of the briefers, that she was not in attendance.'”

The letter is part of the ongoing oversight of the State Department by Republican Sens. Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley, who signed the letter to Kerry. Grassley is asking that the PowerPoint presentation be declassified. The senator’s investigation of State Department practices began four years ago and is not limited to current questions about Clinton’s use of personal email for government business.

In the last year since the email account became public, more than 2,000 messages containing classified information have been identified by the intelligence community and State Department, including another 22 emails considered too damaging to national security to release under any circumstances.

According to The Daily Caller, Clinton received no security briefings in three of her four years at the helm of the State Department. She reportedly only attended one briefing on Jan. 22, 2009, right after she was confirmed as secretary of State.

The only related documents of record are the non-disclosure agreements for classified and top secret intelligence which Clinton signed in January 2009, right after becoming secretary of state. The signed agreements said Clinton understood “classified information is marked or unmarked … including oral communications.” Clinton also confirmed that she understood there were potential criminal violations under the Espionage Act for breaking the agreements.

Cyber experts say the compromise of Clinton’s server is not just a hypothetical. While Clinton IT specialist Bryan Pagliano’s security logs showed no evidence of a compromise, in March 2013 it was revealed the email account of Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal was accessed by the Romanian hacker “Guccifer” — first exposing an account that appeared to belong to Clinton at “”

The Department of Justice recently confirmed that Guccifer is being extradited to the federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia.

“I find it highly coincidental that [Guccifer] is in the United States at the same time this [FBI] investigation is coming to a head,” cybersecurity expert Morgan Wright said. “It takes a lot to get somebody internationally extradited. They jump through a lot of hoops. … I go back to what’s in common and that’s the exposure. It started all with Sidney Blumenthal and the hack of his email that exposed Secretary Clinton’s email. That’s the nexus, that’s where Bryan Pagliano, that’s where all these other players are coming. … There’s more than coincidence here.”

Judicial Watch was recently told by the State Department that no records exist to confirm that Clinton and top aides Huma Abedin and then-State Department chief of staff Cheryl Mills completed any of the mandatory training sessions on the identification and handling of classified material.

“The State Department can’t find any documents that they took this course, so now it’s up to Clinton to explain why she didn’t take this training and why she thought she was above the law,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told Fox News.

Herridge also reports that newly uncovered emails appear to contradict Clinton’s claim that she didn’t use her private server for State Department business until March of 2009.

One email, from Feb. 2009, shows Clinton and her then-chief of staff Cheryl Mills discussing getting a secure Blackberry for her to use from the NSA.

Herridge noted that the conversation shows that both knew the contents of Mrs. Clinton’s emails should be protected.

“With Mrs. Clinton, it’s catch me if you can on her email,” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton.

“Now we know there were emails that weren’t turned over that may still be out there. Whether it be on the State Department system or in her system. And you have to wonder what else Mrs. Clinton hasn’t turned over to the State Department,” he added.

Last September Fox News reported that the FBI was able to recover at least some of the 30,000 email messages Clinton said she had deleted from her server.