December 16, 2011: Clinton criticizes Manning, who will be sentenced to 35 years for leaking classified information

Chelsea Manning (Credit: Patrick Semansky / The Associated Press)

Chelsea Manning (Credit: Patrick Semansky / The Associated Press)

Clinton comments on the imminent court martial case of Army Private Bradley Manning (later Chelsea Manning), after Manning gave a large cache of classified documents to WikiLeaks. Clinton says, “I think that in an age where so much information is flying through cyberspace, we all have to be aware of the fact that some information which is sensitive, which does affect the security of individuals and relationships, deserves to be protected and we will continue to take necessary steps to do so.” (CBS News, 12/16/2011

Manning is later convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison, although none of the documents in question are rated “top secret.”

The Intercept will later note that Clinton’s comments occur “during the time that she had covertly installed a non-government server and was using it and a personal email account to receive classified and, apparently, even top-secret information.” (The Intercept, 8/12/2015)

2012: Clinton’s private server is still run on software newly prohibited by the State Department.

At some point in 2012, The State Department bans the use of remote-access software for its technology officials to maintain unclassified servers, unless a waiver is given. It also bans all instances of remotely connecting to classified servers. However, according to records from December 2012, Clinton’s private email server continues to use remote-access software, and no evidence of a waiver allowing this has yet emerged.

Computer security expert Mikko Hypponen will say in 2015 that the use of remote-access software on her server was “clearly serious” and could have allowed hackers to run malicious software on it. (The Associated Press, 10/13/2015)

February 26, 2012: The Obama administration punishes whistleblowers for leaks, but not high-ranking officials leaking favorable information.

Obama signs The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act on November 27, 2012. (Credit: public domain)

Obama signs The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act on November 27, 2012. (Credit: public domain)

The New York Times reports that “[t]he Obama administration, which promised during its transition to power that it would enhance ‘whistleblower laws to protect federal workers,’ has been more prone than any administration in history in trying to silence and prosecute federal workers. The Espionage Act, enacted back in 1917 to punish those who gave aid to our enemies, was used three times in all the prior administrations to bring cases against government officials accused of providing classified information to the media. It has been used six times since the current president took office.”

ABC News reporter Jake Tapper says: “I have been following all of these cases, and it’s not like they are instances of government employees leaking the location of secret nuclear sites. These are classic whistle-blower cases that dealt with questionable behavior by government officials or its agents acting in the name of protecting America.”

The Times concludes, “There is plenty of authorized leaking going on, but this particular boat leaks from the top. Leaks from the decks below, especially ones that might embarrass the administration, have been dealt with very differently.” (The New York Times, 2/26/2016)

March 30, 2012—March 31, 2012: Clinton’s BlackBerry emails could be intercepted by Saudi Arabia while she visits that country.

Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, Ambassador to the Clinton meets with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia on March 30, 2012. (Credit: US Embassy Riyadh)

Clinton meets with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia on March 30, 2012. (Credit: US Embassy Riyadh)

Clinton travels to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from March 30 to 31, 2012. (US Department of State, 3/30/2012)

This is notable because a September 2016 FBI report will reveal that Clinton regularly used her unsecure BlackBerry while outside the US, including sending and/or receiving “hundreds” of emails containing classified information. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Furthermore, in August 2010, it was reported that Research in Motion (RIM), the company that makes BlackBerrys, agreed to locate three computer servers within Saudi Arabia, “putting them under the jurisdiction of local security forces,” according to an article at the time by the Register.

Headquarters of Research In Motion (RIM) located in Waterloo, Ontario (Credit: public domain)

Headquarters of Research In Motion (RIM) located in Waterloo, Ontario (Credit: public domain)

The effective result is that the Saudi government was able to intercept emails that have to briefly pass through the servers. RIM did not want to agree to this, but the Saudi government briefly suspended BlackBerry service until RIM gave in. Even emails sent through Saudi Arabia using personal encryption keys could be easily intercepted due to this agreement. (The Register, 8/9/2010)

Clinton is sent emails virtually every day, and her days in Saudi Arabia are no exceptions. One email classified at the “confidential” level is sent to Clinton on March 31, 2012, though it’s not clear if she is in Saudi Arabia at the time or not. The email concerns politics in Sudan and South Sudan. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016)

 

Summer 2012: A Marine is fired for giving an urgent warning that mentions classified information.

Jason Brezler walks with Afghan children in Afghanistan. (Credit: Corporal Zach Nola)

Jason Brezler walks with Afghan children in Afghanistan. (Credit: Corporal Zach Nola)

Marine Major Jason Brezler sends an email attachment over an unsecure line in an urgent attempt to save the lives of other Marines in Afghanistan. The message is classified, but not marked as such, as Brezler doesn’t know it is classified at the time. The message warns other Marines about the imminent arrival of corrupt Afghan official.

Three weeks later, three Marines will be shot and killed inside a US base by an associate of the official. After finding out that his message contained classified information, Brezler reports this to his superiors. He is later investigated and given an unwanted honorable discharge from the Marines as a result.

The media will later note the similarity between Brezler’s case and Clinton’s. In 2015, the Daily Beast will quote a friend of Brezler’s, who asks him: “Hey, Jason, what did you do that Hillary didn’t?” (The Daily Beast, 8/13/2015)

September 3, 2012: Blumenthal sends an email to Clinton that later will be almost entirely redacted.

Clinton confidant and private citizen Sid Blumenthal emails Clinton another one of his many intelligence updates, despite having no security clearance. This one will later be nearly entirely classified, including the email title. There are only two sentence fragments later made public. One is Blumenthal’s marking: “CONFIDENTIAL.” The other is: “SOURCE: Sources with access to the highest levels of the governments and institutions discussed below. This includes—” Six blank pages of fully redacted text follow. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016) Most of Blumenthal’s emails relate to Libya, and the email is sent just eight days prior to a terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

September 18, 2012—February 2013: A nuclear energy whistleblower is targeted for allegedly having classified information on a computer.

Lawrence Criscione (Credit: Michael Weaver / McClatchy)

Lawrence Criscione (Credit: Michael Weaver / McClatchy)

On September 18, 2012,  NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] engineer Lawrence Criscione sends a long letter to NRC chair Allison Macfarlane about dangerous problems at the Oconee nuclear plant in South Carolina. He shares the letter with 13 members of Congress.

One day later, the NRC’s inspector general begins investigating if he illegally made information marked “For Official Use Only” public. Another government agency soon rules that such information is an “unofficial administrative marking that has no legal import.”

But in February 2013, the inspector general nevertheless asks the Justice Department to charge him with misusing his government computer to transmit sensitive information. Several days later, the department decides not to prosecute him. But it takes another 13 months before he is formally cleared.

Speaking in 2015, Criscione believes he was unfairly targeted to discourage other whistleblowers. Referring to Clinton’s email scandal, he says, “If a career civil servant had a server with ‘top secret’ information in his basement, he would without a doubt do time” in prison. (McClatchy Newspapers, 9/29/2015)

September 23, 2012: An email chain involving Clinton includes the name and email address of a secret CIA official.

Victoria Nuland (Credit: Voice of America)

Victoria Nuland (Credit: Voice of America)

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland starts an email chain about an imminent New York Times article written by Eric Schmitt that could mention a particular CIA annex. The email is sent to a handful of Clinton’s top aides.

Soon, a secret CIA official joins in the email chain, despite not being sent the original email.

A later email in the chain from this CIA official (or possibly another one) reveals the New York Times backs down and agrees to changes to the article, including not mentioning details about the CIA annex.

Parts of Clinton’s email will later be deemed classified due to the mention of at least one secret CIA official’s name and email address earlier in the chain. (US Department of State, 12/31/2015) 

That evening, The New York Times publishes an article written by Eric Schmitt and two others called, “Deadly Attack in Libya Was Major Blow to CIA Efforts.” (The New York Times, 9/23/2012)

October 13, 2012: Clinton receives an email that reveals undercover CIA officers use State Department cover in Afghanistan.

Jeremy Bash (left) Leon Panetta (right) (Credits: public domain)

Jeremy Bash (left) Leon Panetta (right) (Credits: public domain)

Jeremy Bash, who is chief of staff to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the time, sends an email to four other US officials, including Clinton aides Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills. Sullivan then forwards the email to Clinton. The email has the subject heading: “This a.m. Green on Blue.” That is an idiom referring to when police attacks soldiers. The email refers to an Afghan police officer triggering a suicide vest and killing or wounding 14 Americans or Afghans, including one dead American.

The email will later be classified at the “secret” level, suggesting some important classified information in it, but its redactions make it difficult to understand. There is no indication of a reply from Clinton. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016)

In Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, she will be specifically asked about this email, again suggesting something unusual about it. However, her answer will also be heavily reacted. For instance, “Clinton believed she would be speculating if she were to state what [redacted] meant when he referred to [redacted].” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Dario Lorenzetti (public domain)

Dario Lorenzetti (public domain)

On February 4, 2016, NBC News will reveal that the email concerns undercover CIA officer Dario Lorenzetti. He died in the suicide attack described in the email. Lorenzetti’s CIA connection was leaked to the media by anonymous officials four days after his death and was widely reported in the news media, although his CIA cover was not lifted until later.

According to NBC News, in the redacted portions of the email, it seems Bash was trying “to preserve the CIA officer’s cover. But some of the language he used, now that Lorenzetti is known to have been a CIA officer, could be read as a US government acknowledgement that CIA officers pose as State Department personnel in a specific country, Afghanistan — something widely known but not formally admitted.” This is why the email is classified at the “secret” level.

Bash ends the email by instructing a CIA spokesperson to “please lash up with [redacted].” NBC News will indicate the missing word is “presumably either the spy agency or one of its employees.” (NBC News, 2/4/2016)

This may be the phrase that the FBI asked Clinton about, and to which she replied that “she would be speculating if she were to state what [redacted] meant when he referred to [redacted].” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

NBC News will also interview Bash about this email. Bash will claim that the email “did not reference the individual’s name, employer, nor any identifying description or information.” Additionally, once the CIA posthumously lifted Lorenzetti’s cover, “the original unclassified email could be read to confirm the general use of cover, prompting the redactions we now see. But any suggestion that this email contained confirmation about the person or his cover, or any inappropriate information, is flat wrong.” (NBC News, 2/4/2016)

October 22, 2012: A CIA official goes to prison for giving classified information to a reporter.

John Kiriakou (Credit: The Associated Press)

John Kiriakou (Credit: The Associated Press)

CIA officer John Kiriakou pleads guilty to disclosing classified information about a covert CIA officer that connected that person to a specific operation. Kiriakou is actually a whistleblower helping to expose the CIA’s torture of some prisoners. He is the first CIA officer to be convicted for passing classified information to a reporter, even though the reporter didn’t publish the name of the operative. He is sentenced to 30 months in prison. (BBC, 2/28/2013) (The New York Times, 1/5/2013)

January 17, 2013: Blumenthal is sent clearly marked classified information by a business partner.

A screenshot of Blumenthal's email account showing the January 17, 2013 email from Cody Shearer. (Credit: public domain)

A screenshot of Blumenthal’s email account showing the January 17, 2013 email from Cody Shearer. (Credit: public domain)

Clinton associate Cody Shearer sends Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal a clearly classified document in an email. The subject heading for the email is: “Sid – This is Classified.” There is no text, but a document is attached called “Washington,_DC_Itinerary_for_D.doc.” In 2011 at least, Shearer and Blumenthal were business partners.

This email will only come to light because the hacker nicknamed Guccifer will post a screenshot of it after breaking into Blumenthal’s email account in March 2013.

It is not known if Shearer sent Blumenthal other classified information or if Blumenthal forwarded any such information to Clinton. (Gawker, 3/31/2015) Blumenthal has no security clearance to receive classified information at the time.

Around February 1, 2013: Clinton should be debriefed as she leaves office, but it’s unclear if this happens.

State Department officials will later say that Clinton is required to go through a “read-off” debriefing around the time she ends her term as secretary of state on February 1, 2013. In the debriefing, security officials would remind her of her duty to return all classified documents, including ones where the classification status is uncertain. This would include her emails stored on her private server.

Former Diplomatic Security Service official Raymond Fournier will later say, “Once she resigned as secretary, she needed to return classified documents and other government-owned documents, which in this case would have included the server.” The debriefing would include her signing a nondisclosure agreement, but so far no such document has emerged. It also is unknown if the required debriefing took place, and if it did, why she didn’t turn her emails over at that time. Fournier will comment, “She’s in big, big trouble.” (The New York Post, 8/23/2015)

In a July 2016 FBI interview, Clinton will claim she wasn’t given any instrutio on preserving her emails when she left office, which would suggest she never had an exit interview.

March 20, 2013: Gawker publishes an article that reveals Clinton’s use of a private email address and notes it “could be a major security breach.”

The article notes that the hacker nicknamed Guccifer broke into the email account of Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal. “[W]hy was Clinton apparently receiving emails at a non-governmental email account? The address Blumenthal was writing to was hosted at the domain ‘clintonemail.com’, which is privately registered via Network Solutions. It is most certainly not a governmental account. […] And there seems to be little reason to use a different account other than an attempt to shield her communications with Blumenthal from the prying eyes of FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requesters.

Neither the State Department nor the White House would immediately comment on whether the White House knew that Blumenthal was digitally whispering in Clinton’s ear, or if the emails were preserved as the law requires. And if, as it appears, Blumenthal’s emails contained information that was classified, or ought to have been treated as such, it could be a major security breach for Clinton to have allowed it to be sent to her on an open account, rather than through networks the government has specifically established for the transmission of classified material.” (Gawker, 3/20/2013)

May 3, 2013: In a public speech, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman says Clinton conducts diplomacy on her unsecure BlackBerry.

Wendy Sherman giving a speech on May 3, 2013. (Credit: public domain)

Wendy Sherman giving a speech on May 3, 2013. (Credit: public domain)

Sherman says that technology “has changed the way diplomacy is done. […] 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.” She recalls the 2011 United Nations General Assembly, during which Clinton and European diplomat Catherine Ashton negotiated. “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.”

The Hill will later note that Sherman’s comments “suggest that diplomats across the [State Department] routinely declined to use special protections for classified information to prioritize convenience.” (The Hill, 1/26/2016) 

Former NSA counterintelligence officer John Schindler will later make the general observation, “The State Department has a longstanding reputation for being less than serious about security, and its communications have often wound up in foreign hands. It’s something of a tradition at [State Department headquarters], to the chagrin of the Intelligence Community…” (The New York Observer, 1/28/2016)

February 7, 2014: The State Department says classified information on devices like BlackBerrys are prohibited.

Jen Psaki (Credit: ABC News)

Jen Psaki (Credit: ABC News)

A reporter asks department spokesperson Jen Psaki if “State Department officials routinely use encrypted phones, mobile phones, for their conversations…” Psaki says in her reply, “Classified processing and classified conversation on a personal digital assisted device is prohibited.” (US Department of State, 2/7/2014) 

These comments are made before the controversy about Clinton’s use of a private BlackBerry for government emails begins.

April 2, 2014: Former State Department arms expert Stephen Jin-Woo Kim is sentenced to 13 months in prison after sharing classified information with a reporter.

Stephen Jin-Woo Kim (Credit: Stephen Kim Legal Defense Trust)

Stephen Jin-Woo Kim (Credit: Stephen Kim Legal Defense Trust)

Kim pleads guilty to orally describing classified information from an intelligence report on North Korea’s nuclear program with Fox News reporter James Rosen. Prosecutors say Kim hurt US national security by indirectly alerting North Korea to what the US knew about that country’s capabilities. Kim says he wanted to bring more public attention to the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program. Kim also has pointed out that officials frequently leak classified information to reporters, but prosecutors say that the fact that other people do it doesn’t make it any less of a crime. (The Washington Post, 4/2/2014)

June 19, 2014: A Naval officer pleads guilty to storing classified documents on a home computer.

Chief Petty Officer Lyle White (right) signals to Australian Able Seaman Adam Hubbard as he prepares to rappel from an HH-60H Seahawk helicopter at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, on July 8, 2006. (Credit: Petty Officer 2nd Class Rebecca J. Moat, US Navy / Department of Defense)

Chief Petty Officer Lyle White (right) signals to Australian Able Seaman Adam Hubbard as he prepares to rappel from an HH-60H Seahawk helicopter at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, on July 8, 2006. (Credit: Petty Officer 2nd Class Rebecca J. Moat, US Navy / Department of Defense)

Naval Chief Petty Officer Lyle White pleads guilty to violating military regulations because he took classified documents from his Navy office and stored them on a hard drive in his house. He says he kept the documents out of convenience, because they were useful for when he was training other soldiers. White is sentenced to 60 days in prison and fined $10,000. The sentence is suspended, but a federal espionage conviction will remain on his record. (The Virginian-Pilot)

July 17, 2014: Former Navy contract linguist James Hitselberger pleads guilty to a misdemeanor charge of taking classified documents without authority.

He is sentenced to two weeks of time served, eight months of house arrest, and a $250 fine. While working as an Arabic linguist for the Navy in Bahrain, he printed two documents classified “secret” off of a classified computer system and attempted to leave a secure work area with them. He also was accused of sending some classified documents to a public archive at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. (Politico, 4/25/2014)

March 2015: A State Department official gives Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall written permission to retain copies of the emails Clinton turned over in December 2014.

The walls, floor, ceiling, and door of a SCIF room are made out of solid metal before an outer facade that looks like a normal room is added. (Credit: scifsolutions.com)

The walls, floor, ceiling, and door of a SCIF room are made out of solid metal before an outer facade that looks like a normal room is added. (Credit: scifsolutions.com)

However, that official, Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, says that decision might be revisited if it is determined that the emails contained classified information. It will later be determined that some of Clinton’s emails contained “top secret” information, and all such information needs to be kept in a special, purpose-built room called a Secure Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), which Kendall does not have. Even with permission from Kennedy, Kendall would still be in violation of federal law for having top secret information outside a SCIF. (Politico, 8/25/2015) (John Schindler, 8/26/2015)

March 11, 2015: Senator Rand Paul criticizes comments Clinton made about her email scandal.

Senator Rand Paul (Credit: Lexington Herald Leader)

Senator Rand Paul (Credit: Lexington Herald Leader)

Paul (R) says, “She says she didn’t transfer classified information; her schedule is classified. Like if you want to know when she goes to yoga, that’s really benign, but what if you’re a terrorist? That would be an important item to know… So when her schedule is transferred via email, it should go through a secure device. When she says, ‘Oh, I for convenience sake I didn’t want to use two phones,’ well one, someone should inform her you can put two email apps on one phone. But the other thing is that her convenience shouldn’t trump national security. If she’s having a conversation with the president via email, which she admits that she did, do you think if you wanted to read it, if you did a Freedom of Information Act, do you think they’ll give it to you? They’ll say it’s classified. Yet she’s saying ‘I didn’t do anything classified.’” (The Today Show, 3/11/2015) 

Paul will run for president later in 2015, but will drop out early.

April 23, 2015: Petraeus is given a remarkably lenient plea bargain despite his serious security violations.

CIA Director David Petraeus (Credit: public domain)

CIA Director David Petraeus (Credit: public domain)

A federal judge sentences former CIA director and general David Petraeus to two years of probation and a $100,000 fine for giving his biographer and lover, Paula Broadwell, access to notebooks, classified information about official meetings, war strategy, and intelligence capabilities. Petraeus had been the CIA director from 2011 to 2012, but he was forced to quit due to the scandal. (The New York Times, 4/23/2015) 

The FBI seeks jail time for him, but doesn’t get it due to the plea bargain with the Justice Department. The New York Times will later report that FBI Director James Comey made the case to Attorney General Eric Holder that “Mr. Petraeus deserved to face strenuous charges. But the Justice Department overruled the FBI, and the department allowed Mr. Petraeus to plead guilty to a misdemeanor.” (The New York Times, 10/16/2015) The sentence is considered surprisingly light, given the evidence.

In 2016, the Washington Post will report, “FBI officials were angered by the deal and predicted it would affect the outcome of other cases involving classified information.” One former US law enforcement official will complain the deal “was handled so lightly for his offense there isn’t a whole lot you can do.” (The Washington Post, 3/2/2016)

May 11, 2015: A former CIA official is sentenced to prison for giving the name of a CIA asset to a reporter.

Jeffrey Sterling (Credit: Gawker)

Jeffrey Sterling (Credit: Gawker)

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling is sentenced to three and a half years in prison. He was convicted of nine criminal counts for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen in 2003. Prosecutors claimed it was a plot to embarrass the CIA, after he was fired from the agency in 2002. However, others have seen him as a whistleblower. It was alleged that in 2003, Sterling revealed information about a CIA operation to harm Iran’s nuclear program by having a scientist provide Iran with intentionally flawed nuclear component schematics. However, Risen wrote in a 2006 book that the operation was mismanaged and may have inadvertently aided Iran. Sterling also revealed his concerns about the program to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2003.

US District Judge Leonie Brinkema says Sterling caused damage by effectively revealing the identity of someone working for the CIA, and “If you do knowingly reveal these secrets, there’s going to be a price to be paid.” (The Washington Post, 5/11/2015) (The New York Times, 1/26/2015)

May 22, 2015: Blumenthal “may have been operating an unofficial intelligence operation for Clinton.”

Bloomberg News comments, “The extent to which [Sid] Blumenthal may have been operating an unofficial intelligence operation for Clinton as secretary of state has been an emerging line of inquiry” for the House Benghazi Committee. Blumenthal is a private citizen without any security clearance who nonetheless sent Clinton hundreds of emails containing intelligence information, including classified information. (Bloomberg News, 5/22/2015)

May 22, 2015: The first batch of Clinton’s emails from when she was secretary of state are made public by the State Department.

This first batch of only 296 emails all relate to Benghazi, Libya, and the 2012 terrorist attack there. They are released first because they had been requested before the others due to the House Benghazi Committee investigation. The emails reveal a close relationship between Clinton and her confidant Sid Blumenthal in the weeks following the Benghazi terrorist attack. One of the emails has been retroactively classified by the FBI as “secret.” (US Department of State, 5/22/2015) (National Public Radio, 5/22/2015)