Let’s get the non-story out of the way first. I have no clue why Drudge chose to lead with this one, because there’s just no there there regarding the State Department BlackBerrys once used by Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin.
Mills and Abedin “were each issued BlackBerry devices,” department Executive Secretary Joseph Macmanus wrote in the filing.
The department, however, “has not located any such device,” and believes that they would have been destroyed or removed from the department’s control.
“Because the devices issues to Ms. Mills and Ms. Abedin would have been outdated models, in accordance with standard operating procedures those devices would have been destroyed or excessed,” Macmanus added.
It might seem suspiciously convenient that their BlackBerrys were destroyed, but in reality it’s SOP for State-issued smartphones. This one is all smoke, no fire. Let’s move on.
Here’s Jan Crawford at CBS News with a troubling question:
It is not just Clinton’s private server that may have contained classified information. The State Department filed court papers Wednesday afternoon saying it “does not believe that any personal computing device was issued by the Department” to Clinton.
“Anytime you’re bringing your own equipment and using it for work purposes, it’s not as secure as something that’s actually issued by the company,” CNET senior editor Dan Ackerman explained. “Because they take those laptops, for example, and they pre-configure them, they put their own software on them, tracking software, update software, and they distribute them.”
That raises the question, how secure were her personal devices, like her BlackBerry, since they weren’t issued by the State Department?
As long as they remain in your physical possession, a BlackBerry and an iPhone are pretty dang secure. I can’t vouch for Android phones, because security is in the hands of the OEMs and how quickly they choose to update security patches — which is oftentimes all-too-slow. But it doesn’t appear that Clinton ever used an Android device.
We do know however that Clinton’s private server was not secure, due in no small part to reliance on an outdated version of Microsoft Outlook Web Application. The server, not the smartphones connecting to it, was the weak spot — making it almost a sure thing that it had been compromised at some point, possibly very early on, in Clinton’s tenure as SecState.
And that’s exactly the question the FBI — in charge of our nation’s counterintelligence — will want answered:
“I think that the FBI will be moving with all deliberate speed to determine whether there were serious breaches of national security here,” said Ron Hosko, who used to lead the FBI’s criminal investigative division.
He said agents will direct their questions not just at Clinton, but also her close associates at the State Department and beyond.
“I would want to know how did this occur to begin with, who knew, who approved,” Hosko said.
Who knew? Likely anyone who exchanged emails with SecState and noticed the address she was using. Who approved? Likely nobody approved. The Clintons have long set their own rules and crushed anyone who questioned them.
The question then isn’t really the content of the emails, although it might certainly be nice, if merely for purposes of counterintelligence, for the FBI to get a handle on exactly what secret State Department communications the Chinese/Russians/Iranians have been privy to.
Getting an answer to that question is going to take plenty of forensic work, assuming that the FBI is able to make a full recovery of the wiped server, or to get their hands on a backup. Here lies the difficulty:
Clinton campaign officials on Wednesday sought to show that the information contained in the emails that she received did not risk spillage of classified data at the time they were sent to her. During a conference call, campaign aides pointed to a Fox News report that at least two of the emails that prompted the inspector general’s referral may have contained sensitive information but were not marked “classified” at the time they were sent to Clinton by aides.
Campaign spokesman Brian Fallon noted that the two emails were sent to Clinton from career diplomats, not political appointees, and that they “did not have information marked `classified’ or any classified documents attached to them.”
The Clinton Camp has downgraded Hillary’s original position of having never sent classified information to never having sent information marked classified. That’s an important distinction, and typically Clintonian in its slipperiness. Another big change since March? Back then, Hillary claimed that the clintonemail.com server had been set up for Bill (who doesn’t use email) and was physically located at their private resident in Chappaqua, New York, and therefore under Secret Service protection. However this week we learned that the server, or perhaps a backup of it, was kept in the bathroom of a second story loft apartment in Denver owned by a small IT services firm. We may safely assume though that Platte River Networks’ loft enjoyed no Secret Service protection — although whether that was by neglect or design may only be conjectured.
So was the server in Chappaqua? In Denver? Both places at once? As with so many Clinton mysteries, there’s just no telling. Or as Kentucky Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth admitted yesterday, “I just never feel I have a grasp of what the facts are.”
We feel your pain, Congressman.