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)

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)

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 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 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)

July 3, 2009: The NSA begins monitoring government email traffic for hacking attacks, but Clinton’s private server doesn’t benefit.

It is announced that the National Security Agency (NSA) will monitor the email traffic of 12 US government departments, including the State Department, in order to combat hacking. In a monitoring program called Einstein 3, telecommunication companies route data going to and from government networks through the NSA, which examine the traffic for any activity suggestive of an attack. (Wired Magazine, 7/8/2009) 

In 2015, Wired Magazine will note that because Clinton used a private email server, her “email [didn’t] have the benefit of any of that expensive government security.” (Wired, 3/4/2015)

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)

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)

Between November 2012 and March 15, 2013: Blumenthal’s CIA source may want to sell US intelligence to the new Libyan government.

Libya Prime Minister Ali Zeidan (Credit: Reuters)

Libya Prime Minister Ali Zeidan (Credit: Reuters)

Former CIA official Tyler Drumheller sends a letter to Ali Zeidan, the new Prime Minister of Libya. The letter will later be found in one of Sid Blumenthal’s emails due to his inbox getting broken into by the hacker nicknamed Guccifer.

The letter is undated, but must be from between November 2012 when Zeidan became prime minister, and March 15, 2013, when Blumenthal’s emails were hacked. Drumheller offers the services of his private company “Tyler Drumheller LLC,” to “provide discreet confidential information allowing the appropriate entities in Libya to address any regional and international challenges.” He says his information “is based on the experience of senior officials drawn from the highest levels of the American intelligence, security, and political communities.”

Since Clinton became secretary of state in 2009, Drumheller appears to have been sending CIA and NSA intelligence to Blumenthal, who then forwards it to Clinton. It’s not clear how Drumheller gets this information, since he left the CIA in 2005.

The response from Zeidan is unknown. (Gawker, 3/27/2015) (Gawker, 3/27/2015)

March 18, 2015: Clinton’s team won’t answer basic questions about the security of her private server.

John A. Lewis (Credit: John Hopkins University)

John A. Lewis (Credit: John Hopkins University)

Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill claims that when Clinton set up her private email server, “Robust protections were put in place and additional upgrades and techniques were employed over time as they became available. There was never evidence of a breach, nor any unauthorized intrusions.”

However, Merrill declines to say who exactly was in charge of maintaining the server and ensuring its security. Furthermore, it’s unclear what sort of security vetting that person or persons received, if any. Additionally, Merrill won’t reveal if other departments that protect government communications, such as the FBI or the NSA, were ever told of the server’s existence, and if so, if they helped provide security for it.

James A. Lewis, who held senior technology posts at the White House and State Department, comments that emails “that run on commercial services are vulnerable to collection. […] I don’t think people realize how much of this information is available to foreign intelligence services.” (Bloomberg News, 3/18/2015)

Contrary to Merrill’s claim, a May 2016 State Department inspector general report will reveal that there were hacker attacks on Clinton’s server.

March 27, 2015: Blumenthal sent Clinton intelligence apparently based on NSA wiretapping of top European leaders.

Angela Merkel (Credit: The Associated Press)

Angela Merkel (Credit: The Associated Press)

Gawker reveals that Sid Blumenthal’s emails to Clinton appear to contain information from highly classified NSA intercepts of German Prime Minister Angela Merkel. It is not stated when, but one of Blumenthal’s emails details conversations between Merkel and her finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble about French President Francois Hollande (who was elected in 2012). Blumenthal marked the email with a warning: “THIS INFORMATION COMES FROM AN EXTREMELY SENSITIVE SOURCE.” (Gawker, 3/27/2015) 

In 2013, whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had tapped Merkel’s phone for many years. In July 2015, it will be revealed that the phones of Germany’s ministers were tapped by the NSA as well. (The Guardian, 7/1/2015) It is not clear how Blumenthal gets such intelligence, since he is a private citizen with no security clearance at the time.

August 19, 2015: Former CIA and NSA director Hayden says Clinton’s behavior was “stupid,” “dangerous,” and probably illegal.

Michael Hayden, who was appointed director of the NSA by President Bill Clinton and then director of the CIA by President George W. Bush, says that Hillary Clinton’s “original sin is actually co-mingling [her] two accounts and not using a government e-mail server. […] [P]ut legality aside just for a second, it’s stupid and dangerous. […] Dangerous to her and to the Republic and to American secrets. But… I don’t even think it was legal. That has to be against policy. Look, most folks like me, I never had a smart phone until I left government because of the sensitivity of the information I would put on there even if it were unclassified.” (MSNBC, 8/19/2015)

September 3, 2015: Snowden criticizes Clinton for her use of a private server.

Edward Snowden (Credit: Barton Gellman / Getty Images)

Edward Snowden (Credit: Barton Gellman / Getty Images)

Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor turned whistleblower and international fugitive Edward Snowden says that lower-level government employees would “not only lose their jobs, [but] would very likely face prosecution” for doing that. He adds, “Anyone who has the clearances that the secretary of state has or the director of any top level agency has knows how classified information should be handled. When the unclassified systems of the United States government—which has a full time information security staff—regularly get hacked, the idea that someone keeping a private server in the renovated bathroom of a server farm in Colorado, is more secure is completely ridiculous.” (Al Jazeera America, 9/3/2015) 

The last statement is a reference to the fact that Platte River Networks, which managed Clinton’s server from June 2013 until August 2015, did in fact keep her server in a renovated bathroom. (The Daily Mail, 8/18/2015)

June 21, 2016: The FBI, NSA, and US Secret Service are all investigating recent hacks on US political targets.

None of those government agencies have made any public statements about the hacking attacks or who might be behind them, and the White House has been silent as well. But Bloomberg News reports that because so many of the attacks have targeted people or institutions close to Clinton, the FBI has been careful to keep its hacking investigation separate from its ongoing Clinton email investigation. Totally different personnel are being used in the two investigations. (Bloomberg News, 6/21/2016)

July 25, 2016: The FBI formally acknowledges it is investigating the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack.

The FBI has been investigating the hack of the DNC and related political entities for months. For instance, the FBI warned the Clinton campaign they were the target of hacking attacks in March 2016. However, this is the first public admission of an investigation. An FBI spokesperson says the bureau will “investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.” This announcement comes three days after WikiLeaks publicly posted almost 20,000 emails from the DNC.

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Emblem of the Glavnoje Razvedyvatel’noje Upravlenije (GRU) (Credit: public domain)

The Washington Post reports that according to unnamed ” individuals familiar with the investigation,” the FBI is focusing on the Russian military intelligence agency, known as the Glavnoje Razvedyvatel’noje Upravlenije or GRU, and looking into if it was responsible for giving the emails to WikiLeaks. However, it is believed that the Russian Federal Security Service, known as the Federal’naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti or FSB, broke into the DNC’s computers as well.

The FBI wants to determine with certainty whether the Russian government passed the emails to WikiLeaks. This is likely to involve other US intelligence agencies, such as the NSA and the CIA, which potentially could intercept communications or gather intelligence overseas.

If it is definitively proven that the Russians are responsible, then the US would have to consider what to do next. The Post comments, ” Responses could range from a diplomatic wrist slap or warning to countermeasures.” In 2014, Sony Pictures was hacked, and there were reports that the government of North Korea was responsible. The US government imposed economic sanctions on North Korea in response. President Obama also signed an executive order enabling US officials to impose economic sanctions in response to significant hacking attacks. (The Washington Post, 7/25/2016)