January 20, 2009: Obama wins a battle to use a BlackBerry during his presidency.

On the day of President Obama’s inauguration, he wins a battle for the right to use a BlackBerry during his presidency. He fought other officials for two months to use the device.  However, the New York Times reports, “the privilege of becoming the nation’s first emailing president comes with a specific set of rules.”

Obama, on his way to a campaign rally in New Hampshire last January, 2008. (Credit: Ozier Muhammad /The New York Times)

Obama using a BlackBerry in New Hampshire, January, 2008. (Credit: Ozier Muhammad /The New York Times)

His spokesperson Robert Gibbs says, “The president has a BlackBerry through a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends, in a way that use will be limited and that the security is enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate.”

According to the Times, the rules Obama has to abide by are as follows:

  • “First, only a select circle of people will have his address, creating a true hierarchy for who makes the cut and who does not.
  • Second, anyone placed on the A-list to receive his email address must first receive a briefing from the White House counsel’s office.
  • Third, messages from the president will be designed so they cannot be forwarded.
  • Additionally, he has to use a specially made device, which must be approved by national security officials.”

Aides tell the Times, “All of Mr. Obama’s email messages remain subject to the Presidential Records Act, which could ultimately put his words into the public domain, as well as under the threat of subpoenas. That was a caveat that did not dissuade the president.” (New York Times, 01/22/09)

January 21, 2009: Clinton is sworn in as secretary of state.

090201HillarySwearingInSoSUSStateDept

Hillary Clinton being sworn in as secretary of state, with Bill Clinton assisting, administered by Associate Judge Kathryn Oberly. (Credit: US Department of State)

She resigns as senator from New York at the same time. She was confirmed by the Senate earlier the same day.

She will serve for all of President Obama’s first term, until February 2013. (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)

January 21, 2009: Despite Clinton becoming secretary of state on this day, there is no apparent change in the way her private email server is managed.

Clinton arrives at the State Department on January 22, 2009. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton arrives at the State Department on January 22, 2009. (Credit: public domain)

Her server was installed in her house in Chappaqua, New York, and it continues to reside there. Her IT [Information Technology] expert Bryan Pagliano has been in charge of running it since 2008 as well, and continues to do so.

Yet the Washington Post will later report, “Four computer-security specialists interviewed by the Post said that such a system could be made reasonably secure but that it would need constant monitoring by people trained to look for irregularities in the server’s logs.”

One of the specialists will comment, “For data of this sensitivity… we would need at a minimum a small team to do monitoring and hardening.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

January 21, 2009: President Obama pledges to increase government transparency.

President Obama delivers a speech after being sworn in on January 21, 2009. (Credit: Jim Young / Reuters)

President Obama delivers a speech after being sworn in on January 21, 2009. (Credit: Jim Young / Reuters)

During his swearing-in ceremony, Obama says, “Let me say it as simply as I can. Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

He adds, “Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known. […] The Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] is perhaps the most powerful instrument we have for making our government honest and transparent, and of holding it accountable. And I expect members of my administration not simply to live up to the letter but also the spirit of this law.” (The White House, 1/21/2009)

In November 2016, Slate will comment, “Needless to say, the agencies have not taken this order seriously, nor has Obama pressured or prodded them to do so. Many crises crowded his agenda soon after his inauguration, leaving the cause of government openness on the back burner, if not in the freezer.” (Slate, 11/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Most State Department officials claim they don’t know Clinton has a private email address or uses a private server.

A sample email of the "H" as it appears in an email sent by Clinton. (Credit: public domain)

A sample address with the “H” as it appears in an email sent by Clinton. (Credit: public domain)

A September 2016 FBI report will indicate that “some Clinton aides and senior-level State [Department] employees were aware Clinton used a personal email address for State business during her tenure [as secretary of state]. Clinton told the FBI it was common knowledge at State that she had a private email address because it was displayed to anyone with whom she exchanged emails. However, some State employees interviewed by the FBI explained that emails from Clinton only contained the letter ‘H’ in the sender field and did not display her email address.”

The report also notes, “The majority of the State employees interviewed by the FBI who were in email contact with Clinton indicated they had no knowledge of the private server in her Chappaqua residence.”

Even Clinton’s closest aides like her chief of staff Cheryl Mills and deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin will claim they didn’t know, though there is evidence that suggests otherwise (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Evidence suggests Clinton regularly keeps her BlackBerry stored inside a secure area against regulations, but she will later deny this.

While Clinton is secretary of state, she has an office on the seventh floor of State Department headquarters, in an area often referred to as “Mahogany Row.” Her office and the surrounding area is considered a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). Mobile devices such as BlackBerrys are not allowed in SCIF rooms, because they can be taken over by hackers and used to record audio and video.

But according to a September 2016 FBI report, “Interviews of three former DS [Diplomatic Security] agents revealed Clinton stored her personal BlackBerry in a desk drawer in a [Diplomatic Security] post which was located within the SCIF on Mahogany Row. State personnel were not authorized to bring their mobile devices into [the post], as it was located within the SCIF.”

A view from the 8th floor balcony at the State Department. (Credit: Thomas V. Dembski)

A view from the 8th floor balcony at the State Department. (Credit: Thomas V. Dembski)

However, according to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin, Clinton would leave the SCIF to use her BlackBerry, often visiting the eighth floor balcony to do so. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell will later tell the FBI that he never received any complaints about Clinton using her BlackBerry inside the SCIF.

In contrast to the above evidence, in her July 2016 FBI interview, Clinton will claim that after her first month as secretary of state, she never brought her BlackBerry into the SCIF area at all, because she had been clearly told not to do that. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Hundreds of Clinton’s emails are printed out by a Bill Clinton staffer; he may have a relevant security clearance.

Clinton presents a letter of congratulations and signed photo to Chief Culinary Specialist Oscar Flores during his retirement ceremony aboard the USS Makin Island on April 1, 2010. (Credit: Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill / US Navy)

Clinton presents a letter of congratulations and signed photo to Chief Culinary Specialist Oscar Flores during his retirement ceremony aboard the USS Makin Island on April 1, 2010. (Credit: Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill / US Navy)

A September 2016 FBI report will mention that the FBI determined “hundreds of emails” were sent by Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin and other State Department staffers to a member of Bill Clinton’s staff so he could print them out for Clinton. His name will be redacted, but he is almost certainly Oscar Flores, because the report will mention that he is a member of the US Navy Reserves, which Flores is at the time.

Some of these emails will later be determined to contain information classified at the “confidential” level, including six email chains forwarded by Abedin and one email chain forwarded by Clinton.

But the FBI will determine that Flores received a security clearance at the “secret” level on October 25, 2007 from the Defense Department. Furthermore, although Flores retires from the US Navy Reserves in September 2010, there is no indication his security clearance is deactivated at that time. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Hundreds of classified emails are sent or received by Clinton while she is outside the US, including some to or from President Obama.

Clinton boards the State Department jet with her BlackBerry, destination unknown. (Credit: Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press)

Clinton boards the State Department jet while using her BlackBerry, date and location are unknown. (Credit: Andrew Harnik / The Associated Press)

This is according to a September 2016 FBI report. The report indicates that Clinton and her immediate staff were repeatedly “notified of foreign travel risks and were warned that digital threats began immediately upon landing in a foreign country, since connection of a mobile device to a local network provides opportunities for foreign adversaries to intercept voice and email transmissions.”

Additionally, the State Department has a Mobile Communications Team responsible for establishing secure mobile voice and data communications for Clinton and her team wherever they travel. But even so, Clinton and her staff frequently use their private and unsecure mobile devices and private email accounts while overseas.

The number of Clinton emails sent or received outside the US will be redacted in the FBI report. Although it will mention that “hundreds” were classified at the “confidential” level, additional details are redacted. Nearly all mentions of “top secret” emails are redacted in the report, so it’s impossible to know if any of those are sent while Clinton is overseas.

The report will mention that some emails between Clinton and President Obama are sent while Clinton is overseas. However, the exact number will be redacted. None of these overseas emails between them will be deemed to contain classified information. According to the report, “Clinton told the FBI that she received no particular guidance as to how she should use President Obama’s email address…”

The details of the FBI’s report on Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview will indicate that Clinton emailed Obama on July 1, 2012 from Russia. However, it is not clear if she sent the email from on the ground or on a plane. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Clinton may regularly carry two mobile devices at once, although she will later claim otherwise.

In March 2015, after it becomes public knowledge that Clinton exclusively used a private email account for all her email usage, she will claim she did this for “convenience,” so she wouldn’t have to carry two personal devices at once.

During a trip to the Middle East, Clinton is seen using two Blackberrys while being filmed for a National Geographic documentary called “Inside the State Department” on June 15, 2010. (Credit: National Geographic)

During a trip to the Middle East, Clinton is seen using two Blackberrys while being filmed for a National Geographic documentary called “Inside the State Department” on June 15, 2010. (Credit: National Geographic)

However, in 2016, Justin Cooper, an aide to Bill Clinton who helps manage the Clinton private server, will claim otherwise. In an FBI interview, “Cooper stated that he was aware of Clinton using a second mobile phone number. Cooper indicated Clinton usually carried a flip phone along with her BlackBerry because it was more comfortable for communication and Clinton was able to use her BlackBerry while talking on the flip phone.”

However, in Clinton’s 2016 FBI interview, “she did not recall using a flip phone during her tenure [as secretary of state], only during her service in the Senate.” In their FBI interviews, Clinton’s aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills “advised they were unaware of Clinton ever using a cellular phone other than the BlackBerry.”

According to FBI investigators, Clinton has “two known phone numbers… which potentially were used to send emails using Clinton’s clintonemail.com email addresses.” One is associated with her BlackBerry usage. Toll records associated with the other phone number “indicate the number was consistently used for phone calls in 2009 and then used sporadically through the duration of Clinton’s tenure and the years following. Records also showed that no BlackBerry devices were associated with this phone number.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Clinton uses 11 different BlackBerrys and four iPads while she is secretary of state.

In March 2015, after it becomes public knowledge that Clinton exclusively used a private email account for all her email usage, she will claim she did this for “convenience,” so she wouldn’t have to carry two personal devices at once.

A 2009 Blackberry Bold 9700 (left) and a 2013 Blackberry 9720. (Credit: public domain)

A 2009 Blackberry Bold 9700 (left) and a 2013 Blackberry 9720. (Credit: public domain)

However, the FBI will later determine that Clinton actually used in succession 11 email-capable BlackBerrys while secretary of state. She uses two more BlackBerrys with the same phone number after her tenure is over. The FBI will not be able to obtain any of the BlackBerrys to examine them.

The FBI will later identify five iPad devices associated with Clinton which might have been used by Clinton to send emails. The FBI will later obtain three of the iPads. They will only examine two, because one was a gift that Clinton gave away as soon as she purchased it.

Clinton aide Monica Hanley often buys replacement BlackBerrys for Clinton from AT&T stores. Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who helps run Clinton’s private server, usually sets up the new devices and then syncs them to the server so she can access her email inbox. According to an FBI interview with Clinton aide Huma Abedin, “it was not uncommon for Clinton to use a new BlackBerry for a few days and then immediately switch it out for an older version with which she was more familiar.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Clinton’s frequently discarded BlackBerrys are sometimes destroyed and sometimes disappear.

The FBI will later determine that Clinton uses 11 BlackBerrys while secretary of state and two more using the same phone number after she leaves office. In a 2016 FBI interview, “Clinton stated that when her BlackBerry device malfunctioned, her aides would assist her in obtaining a new BlackBerry, and, after moving to a new device, her old SIM cards were disposed of by her aides.”

Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who helps manage Clinton’s private server, will later tell the FBI that he “did recall two instances where he destroyed Clinton’s old mobile devices by breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer.”

However, according to Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Monica Hanley, “the whereabouts of Clinton’s devices would frequently become unknown once she transitioned to a new device.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Clinton is unable to check her email in her office for the entire four years she is secretary of state.

She is said to be addicted to checking her email on her BlackBerry, but security officials refuse to let her take her BlackBerry into her office. Early in her tenure, security officials offer to install a secure computer with Internet access in her office to allow her to check email, but she doesn’t want it and never gets one.

In 2015, an unnamed senior NSA official will recall the conflict after retiring: “It was the usual Clinton prima donna stuff, the whole ‘rules are for other people’ act that I remembered from the ′90s. […] What did she not want put on a government system, where security people might see it? […]  I wonder now, and I sure wish I’d asked about it back in 2009.”

John Schindler (Credit: The Daily Telegraph)

John Schindler (Credit: The Daily Telegraph)

Former NSA counterintelligence officer John Schindler will later comment, “Why Ms. Clinton would not simply check her personal email on an office computer, like every other government employee less senior than the president, seems a germane question, given what a major scandal email-gate turned out to be.” (The New York Observer, 3/18/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Sid Blumenthal sends Clinton over 800 emails; many contain dubious intelligence.

That is an average of about one email every other day for Clinton’s four years as secretary of state. Blumenthal is a journalist, long-time Clinton confidant, and Clinton Foundation employee. But he is also a private citizen with no security clearance, so his emails are never vetted by US intelligence.

In 2015, The New York Times will report that Clinton “took Mr. Blumenthal’s advice seriously, forwarding his memos to senior diplomatic officials in Libya and Washington and at times asking them to respond. Mrs. Clinton continued to pass around his memos even after other senior diplomats concluded that Mr. Blumenthal’s assessments were often unreliable.” Furthermore, his “involvement was more wide-ranging and more complicated than previously known, embodying the blurry lines between business, politics, and philanthropy that have enriched and vexed the Clintons and their inner circle for years.”

Many of Blumenthal’s emails discuss Libya, which becomes a political hot spot due to a civil war in 2011. At the same time, he gets involved with business associates wanting to win contracts from what will become the new Libyan government. Clinton’s State Department would have to give permits for the contracts, but the business plans fall apart before Blumenthal and his partners can seek official approval.

Tyler Drumheller (Credit: CBS 60 Minutes)

Tyler Drumheller (Credit: CBS 60 Minutes)

Most of his intelligence appears to come from one of his partners, Tyler Drumheller, who was a CIA official until 2005. It’s not clear where Drumheller gets his information from. Various officials express skepticism about his emails, as they were sometimes based on false rumors. But Clinton continues to encourage Blumenthal with occasional email replies like “Useful insight” or “We should get this around ASAP.” The Times will note that “Blumenthal’s direct line to Mrs. Clinton circumvented the elaborate procedures established by the federal government to ensure that high-level officials are provided with vetted assessments of available intelligence.”

Former CIA official Paul Pillar will later comment that Blumenthal’s sourcing “is pretty sloppy, in a way that would never pass muster if it were the work of a reports officer at a US intelligence agency.” (The New York Times, 5/18/2015) (WikiLeaks, 1/16/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Clinton’s mobile devices and private server are never approved by her department’s security officials.

The Diplomatic Security Service Logo (Credit: public domain)

The Diplomatic Security Service Logo (Credit: public domain)

According to a May 2016 State Department inspector general’s report, the department’s Diplomatic Security (DS) and Information Resources Management (IRM) security officials claim that Clinton never demonstrates to them that her private server or BlackBerry or iPad meets the minimum security requirements specified by the Federal Information Security Management Act and the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM). (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

January 21, 2009—February 1, 2013: Four of Clinton’s top aides frequently use personal email accounts for work matters and then fail to properly archive them.

After Clinton’s email scandal becomes public in March 2015, The State Department will request all work-related emails from four of Clinton’s top aides: Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines. The emails will be turned over between June and August 2015.

Top left: Cheryl Mills, Top Right: Huma Abedin, Lower left: Jake Sullivan, Lower right: Philippe Reines

Top left: Cheryl Mills, Top Right: Huma Abedin, Lower left: Jake Sullivan, Lower right: Philippe Reines

A department analysis will determine that all four aides frequently used personal email accounts for work matters, although they had government email accounts and sometimes used those as well. The combined work-related personal emails from the four of them will total nearly 72,000 printed pages. One of the four sends and receives 9,585 work emails using a personal account while Clinton is secretary of state, though it isn’t clear which one. That person averages nine work emails from that account per work day.

In May 2016, the department’s inspector general will conclude that, just like Clinton, “these [four aides] failed to comply with department policies… because none of these emails were preserved in department recordkeeping systems prior to [being handed over] in 2015.” (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)

January 22, 2009: Clinton signs a non-disclosure agreement promising to safeguard a type of top secret information.

Hillary's signature on the non-disclosure agreement (NDA). (Credit: public domain)

Hillary’s signature on the non-disclosure agreement (NDA). (Credit: public domain)

The non-disclosure agreement (NDA) concerns “sensitive compartmented information” (SCI), which is a type of “top secret” classification. In signing the agreement, Clinton acknowledges any “breach” could result in “termination of my access to SCI and removal from a position of special confidence and trust requiring such access as well as the termination of my employment or any other relationships with any department or agency that provides me with access to SCI.” (US Department of State, 11/5/2015)

This is one of two NDAs Clinton signs on this day.

It will later be revealed that out of the over 30,000 emails Clinton turned over to the State Department in December 2014, three of them were deemed “top secret / Sensitive Compartmented Information.”

January 22, 2009: Clinton gets an annual security briefing on the proper handling of classified materials, but this is her only one in her four years as Secretary of State.

Colonel James Waurishuk, former deputy director of intelligence for US Central Command. (Credit: 912organizer / YouTube)

Colonel James Waurishuk, former deputy director of intelligence for US Central Command. (Credit: 912organizer / YouTube)

All State Department employees are required to receive regular security training through a briefing at least once a year. It is not clear how or why Clinton will miss her briefing in the next three years. At the end of the briefing she does attend, she signs a document acknowledging her understanding of what she has been told. This is according to State Department documents that will be released to the Daily Caller in 2016 due to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

State Department spokesperson Mark Toner will later tell reporters, “It’s my understanding that the secretary of state, everybody in this building, would receive that type of training and awareness. We all have to undergo through that. It’s considered mandatory.”

Former senior intelligence officer Colonel James M. Waurishuk will comment, “Who decided she would only get that one-time briefing? That almost sounds as if it’s a culture issue within her organization. I can’t imagine what went through her mind. There’s no excuse.” (The Daily Caller, 3/24/2016)

January 22, 2009: Under penalty of perjury, Clinton signs a pledge to safeguard classified information whether “marked or unmarked classified information, including oral communications.”

The top and bottom of the agreement Clinton signs on this date. The signature of the witness is redacted. (Credit: public domain)

The top and bottom of the agreement Clinton signs on this date. The signature of the witness is redacted. (Credit: public domain)

The very first paragraph of the “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement” she signs states, “As used in this Agreement, classified Information is marked or unmarked classified Information.”

According to Executive Order 12958, which is in effect at the time, since she is the secretary of state, she is given the authority to classify or declassify any State Department information she wants. However, as part of her nondisclosure agreement (NDA), she has the legal responsibility to identify and safeguard any classified information originating from other government agencies, whether that information is marked classified or not. (The Washington Post, 2/4/2016) (US Department of State, 11/5/2015)

This is one of two NDAs Clinton signs on this day.

January 24, 2009: Clinton passes on using a secure computer to check her private email account at her office desk.

President Obama uses a BlackBerry while traveling in Indonesia in 2010. (Credit: Pete Souza / The White House)

President Obama uses a BlackBerry while traveling in Indonesia in 2010. (Credit: Pete Souza / The White House)

By this time, the National Security Agency (NSA) arranges for President Obama to use a secure, encrypted BlackBerry, allowing him to use it anywhere. Clinton and her top aides want Clinton to have one too.

On this day, Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, asks in a group email, “[H]ow can we get her one?”

Lewis Lukens, Clinton’s logistics chief, responds the same day that he could help set up “a stand-alone PC [personal computer] in the Secretary’s office, connected to the Internet (but not through our system) to enable her to check her emails from her desk.”

Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy replies that that is “a great idea.”

But apparently, Clinton insists on using her BlackBerry at all times and never a desktop computer, so no such computer is ever set up. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

Around February 2009: Clinton allegedly wants to use a iPad in her office but is not allowed to do so; however the iPad won’t be released until one year later.

The first Apple iPad was released in January, 2010. (Credit: public domain)

The first Apple iPad (Credit: public domain)

Around February 2009, the NSA refuses to make a BlackBerry for Clinton that’s secure enough to use in SCIF rooms, citing security concerns. (Highly classified materials can only be read in SCIF rooms, and Clinton’s office in State Department headquarters is a SCIF room.)

According to a September 2016 FBI report, at roughly the same time, Clinton’s executive staff also ask about the possibility of Clinton using an iPad to read her emails in her office. But “this request was also denied due to restrictions associated with the Secretary’s office being in a SCIF.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

However, the FBI will fail to mention that the iPad won’t actually be announced by Apple until January 2010, and won’t be released until a couple of months after that, making the above claim impossible. (Apple.com, 1/27/2010)

Clinton will buy an iPad and begin using it a couple of months after it comes out, in July 2010.

February 2009: Security officials set up a space near Clinton’s office where she can check her private email account. 

Clinton meets with Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her outer office,on January 25, 2012. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton meets with Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her outer office, on January 25, 2012. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton’s office in State Department headquarters is a SCIF, which means a secure room, and she’s not allowed to bring her BlackBerry into it. Also, Clinton is unwilling to use a computer to check her emails. But around this time, security officials create a space where she can check her BlackBerry.

In 2016, a State Department official will explain, “There is an area dedicated to supporting the secretary outside but in the immediate vicinity of the secretary’s secure office. Secretary Clinton, as with anyone, could use such non-SCIF spaces to check personal devices.” Apparently, Clinton will use this arrangement for her entire four years as secretary of state. (Fox News, 3/16/2016)

February 12, 2009: An email suggests Clinton gets a new cell phone, despite her later claims that she didn’t use one.

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Clinton talks on a flip phone in Washington, DC on November 14, 2006. (Credit: Karen Bleir / Agence France Presse / Getty Images)

An email sent to or received by Clinton on this day has the subject heading: “Re: New cell.” It won’t be found in the over 30,000 Clinton emails given to the State Department in December 2014. Thus, the details are known because she will be asked about it in her July 2016 FBI interview.

According to a later FBI report, “Clinton stated she was familiar with the phone number ending in [redacted] referenced in the email. She believed the number was that of her BlackBerry because she did not recall using a flip phone during her time at State, only while in the Senate.”

However, in the FBI Clinton email investigation final report, evidence will be mentioned that Clinton actually had two phone numbers. One was for her BlackBerry, which she used just for emails, and one for her flip phone, which she used for phone calls. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

February 13, 2009: The NSA refuses to set up a secure BlackBerry for Clinton.

Donald Reid (Credit: The Department of State Archives)

Donald Reid (Credit: The Department of State Archives)

Although the National Security Agency (NSA) has set up a secure, encrypted BlackBerry for President Obama, they are not interested in making one for Clinton.

On this day, Donald Reid, the State Department’s senior coordinator for security infrastructure, writes in an email, “The current state of the art is not too user friendly, has no infrastructure at State, and is very expensive.” He adds that “each time we asked the question ‘What was the solution for [President Obama]?’ we were politely told to shut up and color.”

On February 18, 2009, Reid had said in an email, “The issue here is one of personal comfort,” because Clinton and her top aides are “dedicated [BlackBerry] addicts.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

February 13, 2009: It appears the NSA will be able to give Clinton a secure BlackBerry, but this doesn’t happen.

The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters, in Fort Meade, Maryland. (Credit: public domain)

The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters, in Fort Meade, Maryland. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills writes in an email to Clinton that a National Security Agency (NSA) official “indicated they could address our BB [BlackBerry] so that BB could work in” secure spaces, “based upon some modifications that could be done.”

Clinton writes back, “That’s good news.”

Eventually, the NSA will decide that creating special BlackBerry modification would be too problematic, so Clinton and her aides will continue to use their unsecure BlackBerrys.

In December 2014, Clinton will turn over more than 30,000 emails, claiming those were all her work-related emails and she deleted the rest. These work-related emails will not be included in those. Instead, the State Department will give them to Judicial Watch in 2016 in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. Clinton will later inaccurately claim that she didn’t start using her private email account until March, 18, 2009. (The Hill, 3/24/2016) (Judicial Watch, 3/24/2016) (Judicial Watch, 3/17/2016)

February 17, 2009: Clinton and her aides meet with security officials about using BlackBerrys in secure rooms, but no solution is found.

Cheryl Mills (Credit: Black Christian News Network One)

Cheryl Mills (Credit: Black Christian News Network One)

Clinton is frustrated, because she insists on using her personal BlackBerry device for all her emails, but she is not allowed to take it into her suite of offices where she works every day. The BlackBerry is considered a security risk, as it could be hijacked by hackers and turned into a listening device, so she always has to put it into a lockbox before entering her office.

On this day, she and her top aides have a meeting about this. Clinton, her chief of staff Cheryl Mills, and others meet with five National Security Agency (NSA) officials and security officials from the State Department and other agencies. They discuss ways for Clinton and her aides to use their BlackBerrys in secure rooms, but no easy solution is found.

Clinton continues to use her BlackBerry after the meeting while others keep trying to find a solution. Apparently, all the security officials in the meeting are unaware that Clinton’s emails are being stored on a private server in her house.

The Washington Post will later report, “Those officials took no steps to protect the server against intruders and spies, because they apparently were not told about it.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

February 24, 2009: A security official warns that BlackBerry could be easily hacked on overseas trips.

Joel Brenner (Credit: Kera News)

Joel Brenner (Credit: Kera News)

Joel Brenner, chief of counterintelligence at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, gives a speech to government officials and urges them to consider what possible attacks could have occurred during a visit to the recent Beijing Olympics. “Your phone or BlackBerry could have been tagged, tracked, monitored and exploited between your disembarking the airplane and reaching the taxi stand at the airport. And when you emailed back home, some or all of the malware may have migrated to your home server. This is not hypothetical.”

Clinton had just returned from a trip to China and other Asian countries.

Although top State Department officials are aware of Brenner’s warning, she takes her BlackBerry on her future overseas trips despite it still not being inspected and secured by department officials. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

Late February 2009: State Department security officials worry about Clinton’s BlackBerry use.

The US State Department headquarters in Washington, DC. "Mahogany Row" is on the top floor. (J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

The US State Department headquarters in Washington, DC. “Mahogany Row” is on the top floor. (J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Few State Department officials appear to know that Clinton has a private email server in her house.

However, news about her frequent BlackBerry use soon spreads among the Department’s security officials. They are concerned about “Mahogany Row,” the seventh floor offices of Clinton and her top aides.

A decade earlier, Russian spies placed a listening device in a chair on that floor. Since then, on multiple occasions, hackers had breached computers in the State Department and other federal agencies.

State Department security officials are particularly concerned that Clinton’s BlackBerry could be compromised, and they worry that she could be setting a “bad example” for others in the department. They craft a memo that discusses the risks, which will be sent out on March 6. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

March 2009—June 2011: An external hard drive backs up the data on Clinton’s private server, but it is unclear what happens to it or its replacement.

The Seagate Expansion External Hardrive (Credit: Seagate)

The Seagate Expansion External Hard Drive (Credit: Seagate)

When Clinton’s first server is upgraded with a new server in March 2009, a Seagate external hard drive is attached to the server to store back-up copies of all of its data.

Bryan Pagliano, who manages the server at the time, will later tell the FBI that daily changes are backed up onto the hard drive every day, and a complete back-up is made once a week. As space on the hard drive runs out, backups are deleted on a “first in, first out” basis.

This continues until June 2011. That month, Pagliano travels from Washington, DC, where he works in the State Department, and goes to where the server is, in Chappaqua, New York. Pagliano replaces the Seagate external hard drive with a Cisco Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, also to store backups of the server.

The Cisco FS 5500 and 5700 Series Integrated NAS. (Credit: Cisco)

The Cisco FS 5500 and 5700 Series Integrated NAS. (Credit: Cisco)

It is unclear what becomes of either back-up device or the data they contained. The FBI’s September 2016 final report on the Clinton email investigation will only mention: “The FBI was unable to forensically determine how frequently the NAS captured backups of the Pagliano Server.” But the report will also complain about the “FBI’s inability to recover all server equipment,” and there will be no mention of any data recovered from either back-up device. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Also in September 2016, Justin Cooper, who helped Pagliano manage the server, will be asked about these hard drives at a Congressional hearing. He will say he only heard about them from reading the FBI final report. (He claims he handled customer service while Pagliano handled the technical aspects.)

He will also be asked if FBI agents ever came to the Clinton’s Chappaqua house to seize any equipment. Cooper worked as an aide to Bill Clinton in the house, but he will say he is unaware of the FBI ever coming to the house. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

March 2009: Clinton’s personal email server is replaced; she will use the new one for the rest of her term as secretary of state.

Justin Cooper, an aide to former President Bill Clinton, has been working with Bryan Pagliano, who worked as a computer technician on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, to build a new private server located in the Clintons’ Chappaqua, New York, house. Some time in March 2009, Pagliano and Cooper met at the Chappaqua house to physically install the server and related equipment in a server rack in the basement.

Once the new server is up and running, Pagliano migrates the email data from the old server to the new one. Pagliano will later be interviewed by the FBI, and he will claim that after the migration, no email content should have remained on the old server. He will tell the FBI that he only transferred clintonemail.com email accounts for Clinton aide Huma Abedin and others (whose names will later be redacted), and he was unaware of and did not transfer an email account for Hillary Clinton.

However, Clinton emails using a clintonemail.com domain address start getting sent in January 2009, showing she must had had an account on the old server since that time. Cooper will also later be interviewed by the FBI, and he will say he believed Clinton had a clintonemail.com email account on the old server and Abedin did not. The FBI will be unable to obtain the old server to analyze it, so the dispute has not been fully resolved.

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The Dell Power Edge 2900 (Credit: public domain)

This new server will be used for the rest of Clinton’s term as secretary of state, then will be replaced in 2013. Later in March 2009, the old server is repurposed to serve as a personal computer for household staff at Clinton’s Chappaqua house. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

The Washington Post will later report, “The server was nothing remarkable, the kind of system often used by small businesses, according to people familiar with its configuration at the end of her tenure. It consisted of two off-the-shelf server computers. Both were equipped with antivirus software. They were linked by cable to a local Internet service provider. A firewall was used as protection against hackers.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)

According to the FBI, the new server initially consists of the following equipment: “a Dell PowerEdge 2900 server miming Microsoft Exchange for email hosting and management, a Dell PowerEdge 1950 server miming BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) for the management of BlackBerry devices, a Seagate external hard drive to store backups of the Dell PowerEdge 2900 server, a Dell switch, a Cisco firewall, and a power supply.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

In 2015, Hillary Clinton will say of her server, “It was sitting there in the basement. It was not any trouble at all.” (The Wall Street Journal, 9/27/2015)

March 2009—May 31, 2013: Bryan Pagliano and Justin Cooper jointly manage Clinton’s private server.

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Bryan Pagliano (left), Justin Cooper (right) (Credit: public domain)

In March 2009, Clinton’s private email server is replaced by a larger one built by her computer technician Pagliano. Cooper had been the only person with administrative access for the previous server, but now both him and Pagliano have administrative accounts on the new one.

Pagliano handles all software upgrades and general maintenance. He works at the State Department in Washington, DC, and there is only evidence of him going to Chappaqua, New York, to directy work on the server three times: in March 2009, to install the server; in June 2011, to upgrade the equipment; and in January 2012, to fix a hardware issue.

By contrast, in a later FBI interview, Cooper will describe his role as “the customer service face.” He can add users or reset passwords on the email server. He also works at the Chappaqua house as an aide to former President Bill Clinton, so it is much easier for him to physically interact with the server there.

Cooper and Pagliano both handle the selection and purchase of server-related items.

In a later FBI interview, Hillary Clinton will state “she had no knowledge of the hardware, software, or security protocols used to construct and operate the servers. When she experienced technical issues with her email account she contacted Cooper for assistance in resolving those issues.”

The roles of Cooper and Pagliano will be phased out in mid-2013, with the Platte River Networks company winning a contact to manage Clinton’s server on May 31, 2013.

Around Spring 2009: Pagliano is warned that classified information could be sent to Clinton’s private server, but there is no sign he takes action or passes this warning on.

When Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano is interviewed by the FBI in December 2015, he will recall a conversation with a person whose name is redacted that takes place at the beginning of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. According to the FBI, this person “advised he would not be surprised if classified information was being transmitted to Clinton’s personal server.”

Pagliano joins the State Department in May 2009, and he also is the main person to manage problems with the server. But there is no mention of him taking any action about this warning or passing it on to anyone else. The unnamed person also gives Pagliano advice on how to improve the server security that goes unheeded as well. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Around Spring 2009: Clinton’s computer technician is advised to make a key improvement to the security of Clinton’s private server, but the improvement is never made.

When Bryan Pagliano, the manager of Clinton’s private server while she Clinton’s is secretary of state, will be interviewed by the FBI in December 2015, he will recall a conversation that takes place around the beginning of Clinton’s tenure. This person, whose name is later redacted, recommends that email transiting from a state.gov account to Clinton’s private server should be sent through a Transport Layer Security (TLS) “tunnel.” Most of Clinton’s email traffic is with State Department officials using state.gov accounts.

A diagram of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) (Credit: public domain)

A diagram described as Networking 101: Transport Layer Security (TLS) (Credit: public domain)

A September 2016 FBI report will explain: “TLS is a protocol that ensures privacy between communicating applications, such as web browsing, email, and instant messaging, with their users on the Internet. TLS ensures that no third-party eavesdrops on the two-way communication. TLS is the successor to SSL and is considered more secure.”

Pagliano is the main person to manage problems with the server, but he will tell the FBI that the transition to TLS never occurred. It is not clear why. The FBI will be unable to forensically determine if TLS was ever implemented on the server.

The same unnamed person who gives Pagliano this advice also tells him at the same time that he would not be surprised if classified information was being transmitted to Clinton’s personal server.  (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

March 6, 2009—March 15, 2009: Clinton says she “gets it” about BlackBerry security concerns, but she keeps on using her BlackBerry.

Eric Boswell (Credit: public domain)

Eric Boswell (Credit: public domain)

On March 6, 2009, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell emails an internal State Department memo with the subject line “Use of BlackBerrys in Mahogany Row.” (“Mahogany Row” is where the seventh floor offices of Clinton and her top aides are.) The memo states, “Our review reaffirms our belief that the vulnerabilities and risks associated with the use of BlackBerrys in the Mahogany Row [redacted] considerably outweigh the convenience their use can add. … Any unclassified BlackBerry is highly vulnerable in any setting to remotely and covertly monitoring conversations, retrieving emails, and exploiting calendars.”

According to an email by another security official nine days later on March 15, Clinton tells Boswell that she read his memo and “gets it.” That email adds, “Her attention was drawn to the sentence that indicates (Diplomatic Security) have intelligence concerning this vulnerability during her recent trip to Asia.”

However, Clinton continues to use her BlackBerry and private server without any apparent changes. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)