September 21, 2000: A US ambassador loses his security clearance after working on classified information on an airplane flight.

Martin Indyk (Credit: Paul Richards / Getty Images)

Martin Indyk (Credit: Paul Richards / Getty Images)

US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk has his security clearance taken away after the FBI began investigating whether he prepared classified memos about meetings with foreign leaders using an unclassified laptop computer on an airplane flight. Investigators say there was no evidence of espionage or of the exposure any classified information.

A month later, Indyk’s clearance will be restored after a flare-up between Israel and the Palestinian territories results in the worst violence there in a decade. The Clinton administration decides it needs Indyk’s diplomatic abilities to help deal with the crisis. (The Los Angeles Times, 10/11/2000)

January 19–20, 2001: John Deutch pleads guilty to mishandling government secrets, then Bill Clinton pardons him.

CIA Director John Deutch (Credit: public domain

CIA Director John Deutch (Credit: public domain

Deutch was CIA director from May 1995 to December 1996. Shortly after he retired from the job, it was discovered that he stored and processed hundreds of highly classified government files on unprotected home computers that he and his family also used to connect to the Internet. An investigation began which dragged on for years. He was stripped of his CIA security clearance in 1999.

On January 19, 2001, Deutch agrees to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for mishandling government secrets as part of a plea bargain with the Justice Department. However, just one day later, President Bill Clinton officially pardons him. This is Clinton’s last day as president. (The Associated Press, 1/24/2001)

August 22, 2001: A top al-Qaeda expert quits the FBI due to fallout from a briefcase incident.

John P. O'Neill (Credit: public domain)

John P. O’Neill (Credit: public domain)

John O’Neill, considered the FBI’s top expert on al-Qaeda, retires from the bureau. In July 2000, he left a briefcase containing classified documents in a room with other FBI agents while he went outside to take a cell phone call. His briefcase was missing when he returned. It was recovered by police a short time later with only a pen and lighter missing. Fingerdusting revealed the documents were never touched, and a Justice Department investigation cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing.

However, he felt the incident damaged his career so much that he took a job offer to work as head of security at the World Trade Center. He is killed on 9/11 just a couple of weeks after starting his new job. (PBS Frontline, 10/3/2002) (US Department of State, 3/31/2016)

April 1, 2005: Sandy Berger pleads guilty to the unlawful removal and retention of national security information.

National Security Advisor Sandy Berger (Credit: Washington Life Magazine)

National Security Advisor Sandy Berger (Credit: Washington Life Magazine)

Former National Security Advisor Berger was caught trying to smuggle classified documents out of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). (The Los Angeles Times, 3/27/2016Berger took five copies of a memorandum called the “Millennium Alert After Action Report” and later destroyed three of them. (Real Clear Politics, 1/15/2007(The Washington Post, 4/1/2005)

March 30, 2006: An NSA employee gets six years for taking home NSA manuals.

Kenneth W. Ford Jr. (Credit: public domain)

Kenneth W. Ford Jr. (Credit: public domain)

Kenneth W. Ford Jr., a former National Security Agency (NSA) employee, is found guilty of illegally storing classified papers in his home. He is sentenced to six years in prison.

On his last day working for the NSA in 2003, he took home manuals about NSA computers and electronic networks. His home was raided a month later after a tip-off. He didn’t do anything with the material but prosecutors argued he might have tried to sell them or use them for a future employer later. (The Baltimore Sun, 3/31/2006)

April 11, 2006: A TSA whistleblower is improperly fired and accused of leaking classified information.

Robert MacLean (Credit: public domain)

Robert MacLean (Credit: public domain)

In early April 2006, TSA [Transportation Security Administration] official Robert MacLean appears on NBC News incognito to complain that the TSA is requiring sky marshals to wear suits and ties, making them easily identifiable to potential terrorists. But his identity is somehow discovered by the TSA, and he is fired on April 11, 2006.

The TSA claims he leaked “Sensitive Security Information.” However, he argues that the text message he leaked wasn’t marked as classified and was sent to sky marshals over regular phone lines.

In 2014, after years of legal battles, the US Supreme Court will rule that the Whistleblower Protection Act prevented his firing. A year later, he will be reinstated, but he says he is still fighting with the TSA.

In September 2015, he will note similarities between his case and Clinton’s email scandal, but he predicts she will have an easier time than he did. “There’s just a different standard for whistleblowers than for politicians.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 9/29/2015)

January 1, 2007: An NSA whistleblower is harassed by the government despite no evidence against him.

William Binney (Credit: Thomas Peter / Reuters)

William Binney (Credit: Thomas Peter / Reuters)

In 2002, William Binney, a recently retired NSA [National Security Agency] official, alerted the Defense Department’s inspector general that the department is wasting over $3 billion on a new system to track Internet data, when it could be done for $3 million instead.

In 2007, the FBI searches his home in a hunt for whoever leaked details of a secret post-9/11 domestic wiretapping program. He isn’t prosecuted, since he had nothing to do with that leak, but government officials “blackball” his consulting firm for intelligence agencies, costing him millions of dollars. He is wiretapped, stripped of his security clearance, and threatened with prosecution for two years.

In 2015, he will complain that he was unfairly targeted because he was a whistleblower. He says Clinton and other top ranking officials will never get prosecuted, no matter what they do. “These people are above the law.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 9/29/2015)

2008: A government guide explains how to deal with the accidental mention of classified information.

The US government posts an internal guide on how to deal with “spillage”—the common term for classified information accidentally getting onto an unclassified system. The guide, “National Instruction on Classified Information Spillage,” explains how such errors should be assessed and reported. One step mentioned for more severe cases is: “Determine whether the incident should be referred to the Department of Justice for investigation and/or criminal prosecution.” (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)

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 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: 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.

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)

December 29, 2009: New rules clarify what the US government considers classified information

President Obama issues “Executive Order 13526: Classified National Security Information,” which updates a previous 1995 directive. The order clearly defines what the different levels of government classification are: “top secret,” “secret,” and “confidential.” It also states that: “The unauthorized disclosure of foreign government information is presumed to cause damage to the national security.” It further lists what information should be considered classified, and that list includes “foreign government information” and ‘foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources.” (White House, 12/29/2009)

April 1, 2010: An NSA official is convicted for possessing a document not marked classified.

Thomas Drake (Credit: H. Darr Beiser / USA Today)

Thomas Drake (Credit: H. Darr Beiser / USA Today)

Whistleblower Thomas Drake, a former senior National Security Agency (NSA) official, is indicted under the Espionage Act for keeping an NSA email printout at home that was not marked as classified. Drake will later plead guilty to a misdemeanor.

In contrast to this case, Clinton and some of her supporters will later claim that she does not face legal jeopardy if the emails on her private server were not explicitly labeled as classified. (The New York Times, 8/8/2015)

July 23, 2010: An email forwarded to Clinton includes the name and email address of at least one secret CIA official.

A US official whose name is later classified sends an email to at least two dozen other US officials. Most of their names will later be classified as well. At least one redacted recipient’s name is that of a secret CIA official. The email concerns a recent WikiLeaks release of classified documents and includes an attachment that has a statement by senior Defense Department officials and relevant talking points. Clinton aide Jake Sullivan forwards the email to Clinton. (US Department of State, 2/26/2016)

July 25, 2010: An email chain forwarded to Clinton includes the name and email address of a secret CIA official.

Julian Assange (Credit: David G. Silver / Flickr)

Julian Assange (Credit: David G. Silver / Flickr)

Clinton aide Jake Sullivan forwards Clinton an email chain that has been discussing the recent releases of classified US government information by WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Over 30 US officials are included in the email chain; the name and email address of one of them will later be redacted because that person is a secret CIA official. (US Department of State, 2/13/2016)

December 23, 2010: A Clinton aide wants to talk on the phone about classified information.

Clinton aide Jake Sullivan emails Clinton and mentions a State Department diplomat who has “some interesting reports from the Pal [Palestinian] side, if you have a moment to talk secure.” The Washington Post will later refer to this as a rare instance where either Clinton or any of her aides shows concern about the communication of classified information. (The Washington Post, 9/1/2015) (US Department of State, 8/31/2015)

2011: Clinton misses a cybersecurity presentation meant just for her.

Julia Frifield (Credit: The Department of State Archives)

Julia Frifield (Credit: The Department of State Archives)

State Department diplomatic security staff give a cybersecurity PowerPoint presentation meant for Clinton. However, she doesn’t attend it. According to a 2016 letter by Julia Frifield, the department’s assistant secretary for legislative affairs, “although the PowerPoint indicates the briefing was for former Secretary Clinton, we understand from the testimony of the briefers that she was not in attendance.” The PowerPoint presentation has not yet been declassified so it can be publicly released. (US Senate Judiciary Committee, 3/3/2016)

2011: A “top secret” Clinton email contains intelligence from CIA sources and US spy satellites

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency logo. (Credit: public domain)

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency logo. (Credit: public domain)

Very little is known about Clinton’s 22 emails that are later deemed “top secret,” since all details about them have remained classified. However, it is known that one of them is sent sometime this year. A few details about just this one email are known because it will be included in a random selection of 40 emails that will get reviewed by State Department Inspector General Steve Linick in 2015.

After Linick decides the email should be top secret, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will perform a second review and confirm that the email should be top secret. That indicates the email contains information obtained from both CIA sources and US spy satellites. (The New York Times, 9/7/2015) (The New York Times, 2/29/2016)

March 9, 2011: Clinton asks an aide to print a Blumenthal email without any identifiers.

Sid Blumenthal sends Clinton an email with the subject line, “H: Serious problems for Libyan Rebels. Sid.” Blumenthal is a journalist and Clinton Foundation employee who frequently sends intelligence emails to Clinton, despite being a private citizen with no security clearance. Clinton forwards the email to her top aide Huma Abedin and asks her to print it out. But she also asks, “Can you print for me w/o any identifiers?” Abedin replies “Yes.” (The New York Times, 6/29/2015)

March 11, 2011: Clinton doesn’t think two emails from a former British prime minister should be flagged for classified content.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Credit: David Levene / The Guardian)

British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Credit: David Levene / The Guardian)

Clinton emails her deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin and tells her to print out two recent emails from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Both Clinton and Abedin are using private email accounts on Clinton’s server. The emails are CCed to Clinton aide Jake Sullivan, who also is using a private email account. Nearly all of the content of Blair’s messages is later redacted, due to containing “Foreign government information” and “foreign relations or foreign activities of the US, including confidential sources.” (Judicial Watch, 1/29/2016) At the time, Blair is the official Middle East envoy representing the US, Russia, the UN and the EU, and he is heavily involved in Middle Eastern peace negotiations. (BBC, 5/27/2015)

March 13, 2011—March 14, 2011: An email chain shows that Clinton is far from the only US official emailing obviously classified information.

Jeffrey D. Feltman (Credit: Patrick Tsui / FCO)

Jeffrey D. Feltman (Credit: Patrick Tsui / FCO)

On March 13, 2011, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey D. Feltman writes in an urgent email that Saudi Arabia and The United Arab Emirates are sending troops into the neighboring country of Bahrain to quash anti-government protests there. The email is sent to more than 20 other US officials, and then replied to and forwarded ten times in the next 24 hours. Recipients include Clinton, US Ambassador to Kuwait Deborah Jones, Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, and US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.

Feltman’s original email and some of the replies contain information later deemed classified. However, many of the emails in the chain are sent through the State Department’s unclassified system, state.gov, nicknamed “the low side,” instead of the department’s system for classified information, nicknamed “the high side.” Clinton’s private server is considered even less secure than “the low side.”

The New York Times will later report on the email chain to illustrate how widespread the emailing of obviously classified information through improper channels had become during this time period. (The New York Times, 5/10/2016) (US Department of State, 2/29/2016)

April 3, 2011: Clinton’s comments about a Libyan defector will later be deemed “secret.”

Moussa Koussa (Credit: PA)

Moussa Koussa (Credit: PA)

Clinton aide Jake Sullivan sends Clinton a forward of a Reuters article explaining how former Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa has just defected to Britain and will be talking to British intelligence. The article will not be redacted later, but all of the extensive comments by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns will be. Then Clinton adds three lines of commentary that also will be totally redacted. Her email will later be deemed “secret,” which is the middle level of classification. (US Department of State, 2/29/2016)

April 10, 2011: An email forwarded to Clinton appears to contain the most recent US military intelligence, which should have been classified.

US Ambassador Christopher Stevens. He dies from smoke asphyxiation on September 11, 2012, due to a terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. (Credit: Reuters)

US Ambassador Christopher Stevens. He dies from smoke asphyxiation on September 11, 2012, due to a terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. (Credit: Reuters)

The email discusses the current security situation in Libya. It says that due to violence in the town of Ajdabiyah, US Special Envoy Christopher Stevens “is considering departure from Benghazi.” It also discusses Stevens’ concerns about departing and it details the “phased checkout” of Stevens’ staff from the area, possibly in a few hours. Additionally, it contains the latest secret intelligence from AFRICOM (US Africa Command, the US military in Africa), detailing nearby troop movements in the Libyan civil war that could threaten Stevens and his staff. Tim Davis, a special assistant to Clinton, writes the email and then sends it to Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who forwards it to Clinton. Davis marks it “SBU,” which means “sensitive but unclassified.” The email will be released to the public in full on May 13, 2015.

However, the State Department’s inspector general will later conclude that the email should not have been made public without redactions. Furthermore, in August 2015, an unnamed government official familiar with the investigation into Clinton’s emails will tell CBS News that at least the part of the email containing current military intelligence should have been marked classified at the time. Additionally, because that information originated from the military, the State Department did not have the right to declassify it at the time it was sent or later. The unnamed official will say that this kind of mistake is not unusual for State Department officials when they discuss information from multiple sources, but the difference is that this email is stored on Clinton’s private server, which can be easily hacked or monitored. (CBS News, 8/19/2015) (US Department of State, 5/13/2015

In 2015, Fox News will claim that the email contained intelligence from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which oversees satellite imagery. Furthermore, “all three agencies confirmed to the intelligence community inspector general that the intelligence was classified when it was sent four years ago by Abedin to Clinton’s private account, and remains classified to this day.” (Fox News, 8/26/2015) Even though the email will be made public in full in May 2015, it will be reclassified as “secret” in September 2015. “Secret” is the medium level of classification, below “top secret.” (The New York Times, 9/30/2015)

April 26, 2011: An email forwarded to Clinton includes the name and email address of a secret CIA official who might be in Libya.

Christina Tomlinson (Credit: Linked In)

Christina Tomlinson (Credit: Linked In)

State Department official Christina Tomlinson writes an email about a recent traffic accident involving US Special Envoy Christopher Stephens in Libya that killed four Libyan civilians. The email is sent to over 20 other US officials; most of them appear to have jobs related to the US military effort in the on-going Libyan civil war. The name and email address of one recipient will later be redacted due to that person being a secret CIA official. Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills forwards the email to Clinton. (US Department of State, 1/7/2016)

June 20, 2011: Clinton reveals sensitive classified information in an email she initiated.

Left to Right: Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto, and Clinton, in Washington, DC, on June 21, 2011. (Credit: US Department of State)

Left to Right: Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto, and Clinton, in Washington, DC, on June 21, 2011. (Credit: US Department of State)

Clinton sends an email to Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for Asian affairs. In the vast majority of her later published emails, Clinton responds to emails other people send her, but this is a case where she initiates an email communication herself.

She writes Campbell, “The FM took me aside as I was leaving to raise three issues:” Then her next four lines are later redacted. According to classification codes, those lines contain “Foreign government information” and “Foreign relations or foreign activities of the US including confidential sources.” Clinton then concludes, “Pls [Please] advise how to respond.”

Campbell emails her back, saying he will come up with a recommendation, but he doesn’t do it by email. (The New York Times, 5/10/2016) (US Department of State, 9/30/2015) “2+2” and “FM” indicate Clinton is referring to talks that day with Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto, as part of “2 plus 2” diplomatic talks between the US and Japan. (US Department of State, 6/21/2011)

September 23, 2011: According to a State Department official, Clinton engages in Middle East negotiations using her unsecure BlackBerry.

Catherine Ashton (Credit: European Parliament)

Catherine Ashton (Credit: European Parliament)

On this day, Clinton, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton meet in United Nations headquarters in New York City. The four of them work out a joint statement regarding an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan proposed by President Obama.

In a 2013 speech, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman will discuss what happens between Clinton and Ashton: “They sat there as they were having the meeting with their BlackBerrys transferring language back and forth between them and between their aides to multitask in quite a new fashion.” Sherman will comment that, “Things appear on your BlackBerrys that would never be on an unclassified system, but you’re out traveling, you’re trying to negotiate something, you want to communicate with people – it’s the fastest way to do it.” (The Hill, 1/26/2016) (United Nations, 9/23/2011)