Tag Archives: Emails

Russian Hackers Read Obama’s Unclassified Emails, Officials Say

Russian Hackers Read Obama’s Unclassified Emails, Officials Say

WASHINGTON — Some of President Obama’s email correspondence was swept up by Russian hackers last year in a breach of the White House’s unclassified computer system that was far more intrusive and worrisome than has been publicly acknowledged, according to senior American officials briefed on the investigation.

The hackers, who also got deeply into the State Department’s unclassified system, do not appear to have penetrated closely guarded servers that control the message traffic from Mr. Obama’s BlackBerry, which he or an aide carries constantly.

But they obtained access to the email archives of people inside the White House, and perhaps some outside, with whom Mr. Obama regularly communicated. From those accounts, they reached emails that the president had sent and received, according to officials briefed on the investigation.

White House officials said that no classified networks had been compromised, and that the hackers had collected no classified information. Many senior officials have two computers in their offices, one operating on a highly secure classified network and another connected to the outside world for unclassified communications.

But officials have conceded that the unclassified system routinely contains much information that is considered highly sensitive: schedules, email exchanges with ambassadors and diplomats, discussions of pending personnel moves and legislation, and, inevitably, some debate about policy.

Officials did not disclose the number of Mr. Obama’s emails that were harvested by hackers, nor the sensitivity of their content. The president’s email account itself does not appear to have been hacked. Aides say that most of Mr. Obama’s classified briefings — such as the morning Presidential Daily Brief — are delivered orally or on paper (sometimes supplemented by an iPad system connected to classified networks) and that they are usually confined to the Oval Office or the Situation Room.

Still, the fact that Mr. Obama’s communications were among those hit by the hackers — who are presumed to be linked to the Russian government, if not working for it — has been one of the most closely held findings of the inquiry. Senior White House officials have known for months about the depth of the intrusion.

“This has been one of the most sophisticated actors we’ve seen,” said one senior American official briefed on the investigation.

Others confirmed that the White House intrusion was viewed as so serious that officials met on a nearly daily basis for several weeks after it was discovered. “It’s the Russian angle to this that’s particularly worrisome,” another senior official said.

While Chinese hacking groups are known for sweeping up vast amounts of commercial and design information, the best Russian hackers tend to hide their tracks better and focus on specific, often political targets. And the hacking happened at a moment of renewed tension with Russia — over its annexation of Crimea, the presence of its forces in Ukraine and its renewed military patrols in Europe, reminiscent of the Cold War.

Inside the White House, the intrusion has raised a new debate about whether it is possible to protect a president’s electronic presence, especially when it reaches out from behind the presumably secure firewalls of the executive branch.

Mr. Obama is no stranger to computer-network attacks: His 2008 campaign was hit by Chinese hackers. Nonetheless, he has long been a frequent user of email, and publicly fought the Secret Service in 2009 to retain his BlackBerry, a topic he has joked about in public. He was issued a special smartphone, and the list of those he can exchange emails with is highly restricted.

When asked about the investigation’s findings, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, said, “We’ll decline to comment.” The White House has also declined to provide any explanations about how the breach was handled, though the State Department has been more candid about what kind of systems were hit and what it has done since to improve security. A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment.

Officials who discussed the investigation spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the hacking. While the White House has refused to identify the nationality of the hackers, others familiar with the investigation said that in both the White House and State Department cases, all signs pointed to Russians.

On Thursday, Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter revealed for the first time that Russian hackers had attacked the Pentagon’s unclassified systems, but said they had been identified and “kicked off.” Defense Department officials declined to say if the signatures of the attacks on the Pentagon appeared related to the White House and State Department attacks.

The discovery of the hacking in October led to a partial shutdown of the White House email system. The hackers appear to have been evicted from the White House systems by the end of October. But they continued to plague the State Department, whose system is much more far-flung. The disruptions were so severe that during the Iranian nuclear negotiations in Vienna in November, officials needed to distribute personal email accounts, to one another and to some reporters, to maintain contact.

Earlier this month, officials at the White House said that the hacking had not damaged its systems and that, while elements had been shut down to mitigate the effects of the attack, everything had been restored.

One of the curiosities of the White House and State Department attacks is that the administration, which recently has been looking to name and punish state and nonstate hackers in an effort to deter attacks, has refused to reveal its conclusions about who was responsible for this complex and artful intrusion into the government. That is in sharp contrast to Mr. Obama’s decision, after considerable internal debate in December, to name North Korea for ordering the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, and to the director of national intelligence’s decision to name Iranian hackers as the source of a destructive attack on the Sands Casino.

This month, after CNN reported that hackers had gained access to sensitive areas of the White House computer network, including sections that contained the president’s schedule, the White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, said the administration had not publicly named who was behind the hack because federal investigators had concluded that “it’s not in our best interests.”

By contrast, in the North Korea case, he said, investigators concluded that “we’re more likely to be successful in terms of holding them accountable by naming them publicly.”

But the breach of the president’s emails appeared to be a major factor in the government secrecy. “All of this is very tightly held,” one senior American official said, adding that the content of what had been breached was being kept secret to avoid tipping off the Russians about what had been learned from the investigation.

Mr. Obama’s friends and associates say that he is a committed user of his BlackBerry, but that he is careful when emailing outside the White House system.

“The frequency has dropped off in the last six months or so,” one of his close associates said, though this person added that he did not know if the drop was related to the hacking.

Mr. Obama is known to send emails to aides late at night from his residence, providing them with his feedback on speeches or, at times, entirely new drafts. Others say he has emailed on topics as diverse as his golf game and the struggle with Congress over the Iranian nuclear negotiations.

George W. Bush gave up emailing for the course of his presidency and did not carry a smartphone. But after Mr. Bush left office, his sister’s email account was hacked, and several photos — including some of his paintings — were made public.

The White House is bombarded with cyberattacks daily, not only from Russia and China. Most are easily deflected.

The White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies put their most classified material into a system called Jwics, for Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System. That is where top-secret and “secret compartmentalized information” traverses within the government, to officials cleared for it — and it includes imagery, data and graphics. There is no evidence, senior officials said, that this hacking pierced it.

DOJ: No contempt charges for former IRS official Lois Lerner

DOJ: No contempt charges for former IRS official Lois Lerner

She is still under investigation for a separate tea party targeting matter.

Former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the the agency's targeting of tea party groups, where she invoked her constitutional right not to incriminate herself.  (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

The Justice Department will not seek criminal contempt charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner, the central figure in a scandal that erupted over whether the tax agency improperly targeted conservative political groups.

Ronald Machen, the former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, told House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in a seven-page letter this week that he would not bring a criminal case to a grand jury over Lerner’s refusal to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in March 2014. The House approved a criminal contempt resolution against Lerner in May 2014, and Machen’s office has been reviewing the issue since then.

Lerner and other IRS officials, however, are still under investigation by the FBI for the tea party targeting matter — which is a separate probe entirely.

Lerner cited her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself during congressional testimony on March 5, 2014, although then-Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said she had waived that right by giving an opening statement at a hearing 10 months earlier when she asserted her innocence. Issa wanted her charged by the Justice Department with criminal contempt of Congress for failing to answer questions about her role in the scandal.

Machen said the Oversight Committee “followed proper procedures” in telling Lerner that it had “rejected her claim of privilege and gave her an adequate opportunity to answer the committee’s questions.”

However, Machen said DOJ lawyers determined that Lerner “did not waive her Fifth Amendment right by making an opening statement on May 22, 2013, because she made only general claims of innocence.”

Machen added: “Given that assessment, we have further concluded that it is not appropriate for a United States attorney to present the matter to the grand jury for action where, as here, the Constitution prevents the witness from being prosecuted for contempt.”

Lerner, unsurprisingly, was pleased by the announcement. “Anyone who takes a serious and impartial look at this issue would conclude that Ms. Lerner did not waive her Fifth Amendment rights,” said Lerner’s attorney, William Taylor III, in a statement. “It is unfortunate that the majority party in the House put politics before a citizen’s constitutional rights.”

“Ms. Lerner is pleased to have this matter resolved and looks forward to moving on with her life,” Taylor added.

Republicans were disappointed by the decision not to move ahead.

“Once again, the Obama administration has tried to sweep IRS targeting of taxpayers for their political beliefs under the rug,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, urging the White House to “do the right thing and appoint a special counsel to examine the IRS’ actions.”

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), one of several House Oversight Committee members who says Justice has failed to take the IRS matter seriously, said the decision “offers little assurance to the American taxpayer that the department is actually investigating this abuse of power.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who led the IRS probe in the House, knocked Machen in a statement for “us[ing] his power as a political weapon to undermine the rule of law.”

“Mr. Machen … unilaterally decided to ignore the will of the House of Representatives,” Jordan said. “He and the Justice Department have given Lois Lerner cover for her failure to account for her actions at the IRS.”

Lerner, who led the IRS unit that subjected conservative nonprofits to additional scrutiny, quickly became the face of the scandal when she revealed the practice during an obscure tax conference on May 9, 2013. At the time, Lerner and the IRS blamed “frontline” employees in the agency’s Cincinnati office for any violations, though later it became clear that IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C., was holding up approval of the nonprofit groups’ tax status for years at time.

When initially summoned to Capitol Hill to answer for the scandal in May 2013, Lerner took the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions. Lawmakers would eventually hold her in contempt of Congress when she, again, asserted her Fifth Amendment privilege at the second hearing in March 2014.

GOP investigators on both the House Oversight and the Ways and Means committees have released numerous emails showing Lerner’s liberal political leanings. They’ve accused her of bias in the workplace, including using her position to try to persuade IRS auditors to probe and reject the nonprofit application for Karl Rove’s influential Crossroads GPS.

Republicans also noted Lerner’s private skepticism of political nonprofits, which are governed by complex rules originally designed to limit their direct role in elections. Republicans assert that Lerner tried to use her division to crack down on conservative political groups, something Democrats had been urging the IRS to consider.

Last June, more than a year into the investigation, the IRS announced it lost two years’ worth of Lerner’s emails in a 2011 computer crash. The agency said the emails were not recoverable because it had recycled her hard drive and written over relevant backup tapes.

The IRS inspector general later proved the agency wrong, unearthing backup tapes that investigators believe include the correspondence.

Lerner maintains her innocence and argues she was only doing her job — ensuring nonprofits follow the rules. Though Lerner refused to talk to lawmakers during the probe, her lawyer said Lerner cooperated with the FBI, answering its questions as needed. The results of the fuller FBI investigation are expected soon.

Lerner has given only one interview with the press, an exclusive with POLITICO, in which she talked about how the scandal has changed her life dramatically, including making her the object of public scorn. Even then, Lerner, at the behest of her attorneys, refused to answer specific questions about her role in the whole practice.

Benghazi panel summons Clinton

Benghazi panel summons Clinton

BY SUSAN FERRECHIO

Trey Gowdy, R-SC Representative
Trey Gowdy, R-SC Representative

A House panel Tuesday formally requested Hillary Clinton to testify about the private server and email account she used while serving as secretary of state.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, sent a request to Clinton’s personal attorney, David E. Kendall, requesting that Clinton appear before the committee no later than May 1 for a transcribed interview about the server and email.

RELATED: The long, complicated story of Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi subpoena

The request comes after Kendall told Gowdy that the server had been wiped clean and that it would be impossible to recover the 30,000 emails Clinton deleted last year.

Gowdy, in his request to Kendall, also asked Clinton to “reconsider” her refusal to turn over the server to a neutral third party, which he called “highly unusual, if not unprecedented.”

RELATED: Documents show Hillary Clinton used iPad, BlackBerry

Clinton said she only deleted personal emails and turned over every work-related message to the State Department, which is reviewing the data to filter out classified information.

“Because of the Secretary’s unique arrangement with herself as it relates to public records during and after her tenure as Secretary of State.” Gowdy wrote, “this Committee is left with no alternative but to request Secretary Clinton appear before this Committee for a transcribed interview to better understand decisions the Secretary made relevant to the creation, maintenance, retention, and ultimately deletion of public records.”

RELATED: Hillary Clinton withheld information from Congress. Now what?

In Tuesday’s letter, Gowdy warned that Clinton’s decision not to turn over the server, “the House of Representatives as a whole will need to consider its next steps.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings, of Maryland, who serves as the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner that Gowdy’s depiction of Clinton is inaccurate because Clinton has always been willing to talk to the panel under oath.

“Secretary Clinton agreed to testify months ago — in public and under oath — so the Select Committee’s claim that it has no choice but to subject her to a private staff interview is inaccurate,” Cummings said. “Rather than drag out this political charade into 2016 and selectively leak portions of a closed-door interview, the Committee should schedule the public hearing, make her records public and re-focus its efforts on the attacks in Benghazi.”

The House has the power to subpoena the server, but neither Gowdy nor House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will say whether it will use that authority. Boehner has demanded Clinton turn over the server.

RELATED: Clinton’s personal server wiped clean

Gowdy said he wants a neutral party to examine the deleted emails to find out of there is any information related to the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The House panel wants to examine the State Department’s role before, during and after the attack.

Gowdy noted in the letter that even though Clinton said she deleted the emails, it is “technically possible,” to retrieve them.

No Copies of Clinton Emails on Server, Lawyer Says

No Copies of Clinton Emails on Server, Lawyer Says

hillary clinton email

WASHINGTON — An examination of the server that housed the personal email account that Hillary Rodham Clinton used exclusively when she was secretary of state showed that there are no copies of any emails she sent during her time in office, her lawyer told a congressional committee on Friday.

After her representatives determined which emails were government-related and which were private, a setting on the account was changed to retain only emails sent in the previous 60 days, her lawyer, David Kendall, said. He said the setting was altered after she gave the records to the government.

“Thus, there are no hdr22@clintonemail.com emails from Secretary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state on the server for any review, even if such review were appropriate or legally authorized,” Mr. Kendall said in a letter to the House select committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

The committee subpoenaed the server this month, asking Mrs. Clinton to hand it over to a third party so it could determine which emails were personal and which were government records.

At a news conference this month, Mrs. Clinton appeared to provide two answers about whether she still had copies of her emails. First, she said that she “chose not to keep” her private personal emails after her lawyers had examined the account and determined on their own which ones were personal and which were State Department records.

But later, she said that the server, which contained personal communication by her and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, “will remain private.” The server was kept at their home in Chappaqua, N.Y., which is protected around the clock by the Secret Service.

Mrs. Clinton’s disclosure on Friday only heightened suspicions by the committee’s chairman, Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, about how she handled her emails, and it is likely to lead to more tension between her and the committee.

Mr. Gowdy said in a written statement that it appeared that Mrs. Clinton deleted the emails after Oct. 28, when the State Department first asked her to turn over emails that were government records.

“Not only was the secretary the sole arbiter of what was a public record, she also summarily decided to delete all emails from her server, ensuring no one could check behind her analysis in the public interest,” Mr. Gowdy said.

Mrs. Clinton’s “unprecedented email arrangement with herself and her decision nearly two years after she left office to permanently delete all emails” had deprived Americans of a full record of her time in office, he added.

Mr. Gowdy said that Mrs. Clinton would have to answer questions from Congress about her decision, but he did not say whether that would be at a hearing or a private interview.

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton said in a statement, “She’s ready and willing to come and appear herself for a hearing open to the American public.”

The spokesman, Nick Merrill, added that Mrs. Clinton’s representatives “have been in touch with the committee and the State Department to make clear that she would like her emails made public as soon as possible.”

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
The ranking Democrat on the committee, Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, defended Mrs. Clinton’s disclosure.

“This confirms what we all knew — that Secretary Clinton already produced her official records to the State Department, that she did not keep her personal emails, and that the select committee has already obtained her emails relating to the attacks in Benghazi,” Mr. Cummings said.

In the letter, Mr. Kendall offered a defense for the process Mrs. Clinton had used to differentiate between personal messages and government records. He said that those procedures were consistent with guidelines from the National Archives and the State Department, which say that an individual can make the decision about what should be preserved as a federal record.

So, Mr. Kendall contended, the process Mrs. Clinton used was “not an ‘arrangement’ that is ‘unprecedented’ or ‘unique,’ but instead the normal procedure carried out by tens of thousands of agency officials and employees in the ordinary course.”

Mrs. Clinton’s review of her emails, however, did not occur when she was secretary of state or shortly after she left office. Last October, nearly two years after she left office, the State Department sent her a letter requesting all government records, like emails, she may have possessed.

In response, she provided the State Department in December with about 30,000 printed emails that she said were government records. She has said that an additional 30,000 emails were personal.

It appears that Mrs. Clinton still has copies of the emails she deemed public records. Attached to Mr. Kendall’s letter was one sent to him by the State Department this week. A letter from the under secretary of state for management, Patrick F. Kennedy, said that the department understood that she wanted to keep copies of those documents. Mr. Kennedy said that the agency had consulted with the National Archives, and that allowing her “access to the documents is in the public interest as it will promote informed discussion” as she responds to congressional and other inquiries.

Mrs. Clinton cannot make the emails public without the State Department’s approval. Mr. Kennedy said that if the State Department determined that any of the documents were classified, “additional steps will be required to safeguard and protect the information.” Mrs. Clinton has said she had no classified information in her emails.

Private Emails Reveal Ex-Clinton Aide’s Secret Spy Network

Private Emails Reveal Ex-Clinton Aide’s Secret Spy Network

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton testifies before a Congressional Committee on the Benghazi attacks.

Emails disclosed by a hacker show a close family friend was funneling intelligence about the crisis in Libya directly to the Secretary of State’s private account starting before the Benghazi attack.

by Jeff Gerth, ProPublica, and Sam Biddle, Gawker

Starting weeks before Islamic militants attacked the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, longtime Clinton family confidante Sidney Blumenthal supplied intelligence to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gathered by  a secret network that included a former CIA clandestine service officer, according to hacked emails from Blumenthal’s account.

The emails, which were posted on the internet in 2013, also show that Blumenthal and another close Clinton associate discussed contracting with a retired Army special operations commander to put operatives on the ground near the Libya-Tunisia border while Libya’s civil war raged in 2011.

Blumenthal’s emails to Clinton, which were directed to her private email account, include at least a dozen detailed reports on events on the deteriorating political and security climate in Libya as well as events in other nations. They came to light after a hacker broke into Blumenthal’s account and have taken on new significance in light of the disclosure that she conducted State Department and personal business exclusively over an email server that she controlled and kept secret from State Department officials and which only recently was discovered by congressional investigators.

The contents of that account are now being sought by a congressional inquiry into the Benghazi attacks. Clinton has handed over more than 30,000 pages of her emails to the State Department, after unilaterally deciding which ones involved government business; the State Department has so far handed almost 900 pages of those over to the committee. A Clinton spokesman told Gawker and ProPublica (which are collaborating on this story) that she has turned over all the emails Blumenthal sent to Clinton.

The dispatches from Blumenthal to Clinton’s private email address were posted online after Blumenthal’s account was hacked in 2013 by Romanian hacker Marcel-Lehel Lazar, who went by the name Guccifer. Lazar also broke into accounts belonging to George W. Bush’s sister, Colin Powell, and others. He’s now serving a seven-year sentence in his home country and was charged in a U.S. indictment last year.

The contents of the memos, which have recently become the subject of speculation in the right-wing media, raise new questions about how Clinton used her private email account and whether she tapped into an undisclosed back channel for information on Libya’s crisis and other foreign policy matters.

Blumenthal, a New Yorker staff writer in the 1990s, became a top aide to President Bill Clinton and worked closely with Hillary Clinton during the fallout from the Whitewater investigation into the Clinton family.  She tried to hire him when she joined President Obama’s cabinet in 2009, but White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reportedly nixed the idea on the grounds Blumenthal was a divisive figure whose attacks on Obama during the Democratic primary had poisoned his relationship with the new administration.

It’s unclear who tasked Blumenthal, known for his fierce loyalty to the Clintons, with preparing detailed intelligence briefs. It’s also not known who was paying him, or where the operation got its money. The memos were marked “confidential” and relied in many cases on “sensitive” sources in the Libyan opposition and Western intelligence and security services. Other reports focused on Egypt, Germany, and Turkey.

Indeed, though they were sent under Blumenthal’s name, the reports appear to have been gathered and prepared by Tyler Drumheller, a former chief of the CIA’s clandestine service in Europe who left the agency in 2005. Since then, he has established a consulting firm called Tyler Drumheller, LLC.

He has also been affiliated with a firm called DMC Worldwide, which he co-founded with Washington, D.C., attorney Danny Murray and former general counsel to the U.S. Capitol Police John Caulfield. DMC Worldwide’s now-defunct website describes it at as offering “innovative security and intelligence solutions to global risks in a changing world.”

In one exchange in March 2013, Blumenthal emailed Drumheller, “Thanks. Can you send Libya report.” Drumheller replied, “Here it is, pls do not share it with Cody. I don’t want moin speculating on sources. It is on the Maghreb and Libya.”

Cody is Cody Shearer, a longtime Clinton family operative—his brother was an ambassador under Bill Clinton and his now-deceased sister is married to Clinton State Department official Strobe Talbott—who was in close contact with Blumenthal. While it’s not entirely clear from the documents, “Moin” may refer to the nickname of Mohamed Mansour El Kikhia, a member of the Kikhia family, a prominent Libyan clan with ties to the Libyan National Transition Council. (An email address in Blumenthal’s address book, which was also leaked, wasassociated with his Facebook page.)

There’s no indication in Blumenthal’s emails whether Clinton read or replied to them before she left State on February 1, 2013, but he was clearly part of a select group with knowledge of the private clintonemail.com address, which was unknown to the public until

Gawker published it this year. They do suggest that she interacted with Blumenthal using the account after she stepped down. “H: got your message a few days ago,” reads the subject line of one email from Blumenthal to Clinton on February 8, 2013; “H: fyi, will continue to send relevant intel,” reads another.

The memos cover a wide array of subjects in extreme detail, from German Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s conversations with her finance minister about French president Francois Hollande–marked “THIS INFORMATION COMES FROM AN EXTREMELY SENSITIVE SOURCE”—to the composition of the newly elected South Korean president’s transition team.

At least 10 of the memos deal in whole or in part with internal Libyan politics and the government’s fight against militants, including the status of the Libyan oil industry and the prospects for Western companies to participate.

One memo was sent on August 23, 2012, less than three weeks before Islamic militants stormed the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. It cites “an extremely sensitive source” who highlighted a string of bombings and kidnappings of foreign diplomats and aid workers in Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata, suggesting they were the work of people loyal to late Libyan Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi.

While the memo doesn’t rise to the level of a warning about the safety of U.S. diplomats, it portrays a deteriorating security climate. Clinton noted a few days after the Benghazi attack, which left four dead and 10 people injured, that U.S. intelligence officials didn’t have advance knowledge of the threat.

On September 12, 2012, the day after the Benghazi attack, Blumenthal sent a memo that cited a “sensitive source” saying that the interim Libyan president, Mohammed Yussef el Magariaf, was told by a senior security officer that the assault was inspired by an anti-Muslim video made in the U.S., as well as by allegations from  Magariaf’s political opponents that he had CIA ties.

Blumenthal followed up the next day with an email titled “Re: More Magariaf private reax.” It said Libyan security officials believed an Islamist radical group called the Ansa al Sharia brigade had prepared the attack a month in advance and “took advantage of the cover” provided by the demonstrations against the video.

An October 25, 2012 memo says that Magariaf and the Libyan army chief of staff agree that the “situation in the country is becoming increasingly dangerous and unmanageable” and “far worse” than Western leaders realize.

Blumenthal’s email warnings, of course, followed a year of Libyan hawkishness on the part of Clinton. In February of 2011, she told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that “it is time for Gaddafi to go.” The next month, after having described Russian reluctance over military intervention as “despicable,” Clinton met with rebel leaders in Paris and drummed up support for a no-fly zone while in Cairo. On March 17, 2011, the UN Security Council voted to back Libyan rebels against Gaddafi.

It’s this buildup, which Clinton still proudly recalled in her 2014 memoir, that Blumenthal appears to join in on 2011. In addition to the intel memos, his emails also disclose that he and his associates worked to help the Libyan opposition, and even plotted to insert operatives on the ground using a private contractor.

A May 14, 2011 email exchange between Blumenthal and Shearer shows that they were negotiating with Drumheller to contract with someone referred to as “Grange” and “the general” to place send four operatives on a week-long mission to Tunis, Tunisia, and “to the border and back.” Tunisia borders Libya and Algeria.

“Sid, you are doing great work on this,” Drumheller wrote to Blumenthal. “It is going to be around $60,000, coverting r/t business class airfare to Tunis, travel in country to the border and back, and other expenses for 7–10 days for 4 guys.”

After Blumenthal forwarded that note to Shearer, he wrote back questioning the cost of the operation. “Sid, do you think the general has to send four guys. He told us three guys yesterday, a translator and two other guys. I understand the difficulty of the mission and realize that K will be repaid but I am going to need an itemized budget for these guys.”

“The general” and “Grange” appear to refer to David L. Grange, a major general in the Army who ran a secret Pentagon special operations unit before retiring in 1999. Grange subsequently founded Osprey Global Solutions, a consulting firm and government contractor that offers logistics, intelligence, security training, armament sales, and other services. The Osprey Foundation, which is a nonprofit arm of Osprey Global Solutions, is listed as one of the State Department’s “global partners” in a 2014 report from the Office of Global Partnerships.’

Among the documents in the cache released by Lazar is an August 24, 2011, memorandum of understanding between Osprey Global Solutions and the Libyan National Transition Council—the entity that took control in the wake of Qadaffi’s execution—agreeing that Osprey will contract with the NTC to “assist in the resumption of access to its assets and operations in country” and train Libyan forces in intelligence, weaponry, and “rule-of-land warfare.” The document refers to meetings held in Amman, Jordan between representatives of Osprey and a Mohammad Kikhia, who represented the National Transition Council.

Five months later, according to a document in the leak, Grange wrote on Osprey Global letterhead to Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro, introducing Osprey as a contractor eager to provide humanitarian and other assistance in Libya. “We are keen to support the people of Libya under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Finance and the Libyan Stock Exchange,” Grange wrote. Shapiro is a longtime Clinton loyalist; he served on her Senate staff as foreign policy advisor.

Another document in the cache, titled “Letter_for_Moin,” is an appeal from Drumheller to then-Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan offering the services of Tyler Drumheller LLC, “to develop a program that will provide discreet confidential information allowing the appropriate entities in Libya to address any regional and international challenges.”

The “K” who was, according to Shearer’s email, to be “repaid” for his role in the Tunisia operation appears to be someone named Khalifa al Sherif, who sent Blumenthal several emails containing up-to-the-minute information on the civil war in Libya, and appears to have been cited as a source in several of the reports.

Contacted by ProPublica and Gawker, Drumheller’s attorney and business partner Danny Murray confirmed that Drumheller “worked” with Blumenthal and was aware of the hacked emails, but declined to comment further.

Shearer said only that “the FBI is involved and told me not to talk. There is a massive investigation of the hack and all the resulting information.” The FBI declined to comment.

Blumenthal, Grange, and Kikhia all did not respond to repeated attempts to reach them. Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton had no comment on Blumenthal’s activities with Drumheller.

Whatever Blumenthal, Shearer, Drumheller, and Grange were up to in 2011, 2012, and 2013 on Clinton’s behalf, it appears that she could have used the help: According to State Department personnel directories, in 2011 and 2012—the height of the Libya crisis—State didn’t have a Libyan desk officer, and the entire Near Eastern Magreb Bureau, which which covers Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya, had just two staffers. Today, State has three Libyan desk officers and 11 people in the Near Eastern Magreb Bureau. A State Department official wouldn’t say how many officers were on the desk in 2011, but said there was always “at least one” officer and “sometimes many more, working on Libya.”

Reached for comment, a State Department public affairs official who would only speak on background declined to address questions about Blumenthal’s relationship to Clinton, whether she was aware of the intelligence network, and who if anyone was paying Blumenthal. Asked about the Tunisia-Libya mission, the official replied, “There was a trip with the secretary in October of 2011, but there was also a congressional delegation in April, 2011. There were media reports about both of these at the time.” Neither trip involved travelling via Tunis.

Hillary and Snowden Broke Same Laws

Hillary and Snowden Broke Same Laws

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Hillary Clinton Benghazi attack

When it comes to classified information, some leaks are more equal than others. If you are a whistleblower like Edward Snowden, who tells the press about illegal, immoral or embarrassing government actions, you will face jail time. But it’s often another story for US government officials leaking information for their own political benefit.

Two stories this week perfectly illustrate this hypocrisy and how, despite their unprecedented crackdown on sources and whistleblowers, the Obama administration – like every administration before it – loves to use leaks, if and when it suits them.

Consider a government leak that ran in the New York Times on Monday. The article was about 300 of Hillary Clinton’s now notorious State Department emails, which had been hidden away on her private server for years and were turned over to Congress as part of the never-ending Benghazi investigation.

“Four senior government officials” described the content of her emails to New York Times journalists in minute detail “on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to jeopardize their access to secret information”.

Surely the Obama administration will promptly root out and prosecute those leakers, right? After all, the emails haven’t gone through a security review and the chances of them discussing classified information are extremely high. (Even if they don’t, the Espionage Act doesn’t require the information to be classified anyways, only that information leaked be “related to national defense”.) But those emails supposedly clear Clinton of any wrongdoing in the Benghazi affair, which likely makes the leak in the administration’s interest.

But that disclosure was nothing compared to what appeared in the Wall Street Journal a day later, in the wake of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s underhanded attempts to derail a nuclear deal with Iran. The Journal reported on Tuesday that not only did Israel spy on Americans negotiating with Iran, but they gave that information to Republicans in Congress, in an attempt to scuttle the deal.

How does the US know this? Well, according to the Journal and its government sources, the US itself intercepted communications between Israeli officials that discussed information that could have only come from the US-Iran talks. The disclosure of this fact sounds exactly like the vaunted “sources and methods” – i.e. how the US conducts surveillance and gets intelligence – that the government continually claims is the most sensitive information they have.

It’s why they claim Edward Snowden belongs in jail for decades. So while it’s apparently unacceptable to leak details about surveillance that affects ordinary citizens’ privacy, its OK for officials to do so for their own political benefit – and no one raises an eyebrow.

We can be quite certain that no one will be prosecuted for the leaks given that they benefitted the administration’s powerful former Secretary of State, and bolsters its position in its public dust-up with Israel.

When it comes to leaks, the powerful play by different rules than everyone else – despite the fact that they’ve violated the same law they’ve accused so many other leakers of breaking. That’s why David Petraeus was given a sweetheart plea deal with no jail time after leaking highly classified information to his biographer and lover. (He’s apparently already back advising the White House, despite leaking and then lying to the FBI about the identities of countless covert officers).

It’s also the same reason why investigations into a leak suspected to have involved General Cartwright, once known as “Obama’s favorite general”, have stalled. As the Washington Post reported: the defense “might try to put the White House’s relationship with reporters and the use of authorized leaks on display, creating a potentially embarrassing distraction for the administration”.

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling faces sentencing next month after being found guilty of leaking information to New York Times reporter James Risen. Sterling’s problem is that he leaked information showing a spectacular and embarrassing failure on the CIA’s part – which did not help a powerful politician score points. He is also not a general.

As a result, he faces decades in jail.

Obama emailed Hillary Clinton at private address, didn’t know ‘details’ of account

Obama emailed Hillary Clinton at private address, didn’t know ‘details’ of account

President-elect Barack Obama (left) stands with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., after announcing that she is his choice as Secretary of State during a news conference in Chicago on Dec. 1, 2008. (Associated Press) **FILE**
By Ben Wolfgang – The Washington Times

President Obama communicated with Hillary Rodham Clinton via email but didn’t know the “details” of how his secretary of state was using a private, off-the-books email address, the White House said Monday.

“They did have the occasion to email one another. … He was not aware of the details of how that email address and how that server had been set up or how Secretary Clinton and her team were planning to comply with the Federal Records Act,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. “The president did email with Secretary Clinton. I assume he recognized the email he was emailing back to.”

It was revealed last week that Mrs. Clinton did not use an official government email address during her four years in charge of the State Department and conducted all business on a private account. The administration previously has said the president learned of the email scandal via news reports.

Mr. Earnest also said that all of Mr. Obama’s emails have been properly preserved in accordance with federal record-keeping requirements. As a result, all of Mr. Obama’s emails with Mrs. Clinton have been saved, Mr. Earnest said.

Hillary Clinton could face criminal charges

Hillary Clinton could face criminal charges

By Jesse Byrnes

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Sunday suggested that Hillary Clinton could face criminal charges if she knowingly withholds emails from congressional investigators.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Issa noted that “voluntary cooperation does not guarantee that it’s a crime not to deliver all” requested emails.

“A subpoena, which Trey Gowdy issued, is so that in fact it will be a crime if she knowingly withholds documents pursuant to subpoena,” Issa said.

The former House Oversight Committee chairman issued three subpoenas related to the 2012 Benghazi attacks, he said, acknowledging the House Select Committee on Benghazi last week subpoenaed all of Clinton’s emails during her tenure as secretary of State.

Clinton last week called on the State Department to release the 55,000 pages of her emails that she self-selected and turned over. State has turned over about 900 pages to the committee.

Issa argued that Clinton “wasn’t forthcoming two and a half years ago.”

“She, in fact, hid the very existence of this until she was caught,” Issa said.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Benghazi committee, pushed back on CNN.

“They issued a subpoena for records we already have,” Schiff said. “We’ve read them. There’s nothing in them.”

“What is the law at the time? The law at the time was that she could use her personal email as long as she preserved it,” Schiff said, arguing “she clearly did preserve her emails.”

“In my view, this was not provided in response to the The New York Times article or anything else. This was provided last year when a request went out to the state department and all former secretaries,” Schiff said.

“She followed the law in place at the time, and I think that’s, I think, the relevant point.”

Questions, Issues mount over Hillary private e-mails

Questions, Issues mount over Hillary private e-mails

House panel issues subpoenas. Hillary-Gate #2?

By Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig and Anne Gearan

hillary clinton email

A congressional committee issued subpoenas Wednesday seeking information about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of a private e-mail account for official business while she was secretary of state, setting up a potential legal clash with the presumptive Democratic front-runner for president.

The move followed the revelation that Clinton had installed a private server at her New York home that allowed her, and not the State Department, to store her e-mail correspondence and later decide which ones to turn over as public records.

The subpoenas, sent by the special House committee probing the fatal 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, reflected the angry response more broadly from Republican lawmakers and conservative watchdogs who said Clinton’s private e-mail system allowed her to evade scrutiny from investigations and legal proceedings.

Late Wednesday, Clinton responded to the issue for the first time tweeting, “I want the public to see my e-mail. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.”]

In a tense exchange with reporters Wednesday, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf denied anything inappropriate occurred after revelations that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton used a private e-mail account for work. (C-Span)

Marie Harf, deputy state department spokeswoman, said the e-mails provided by Clinton will be reviewed for public release “using a normal process” that guides such releases. “We will undertake this review as quickly as possible,” she said. “Given the sheer volume of the document set, this review will take some time to complete.”

Meanwhile, government transparency advocates expressed concern over the level of control Clinton had asserted over her records. Security experts wondered if hackers could exploit weaknesses in the Clinton server to gain access to sensitive information.

And, on the political front, some Democrats worried about whether the e-mail issue would damage Clinton’s strength as a presidential candidate.

“There’s always another shoe to drop with Hillary,” said Dick Harpootlian, a former Democratic Party chairman in South Carolina who has said he hopes Vice President Biden runs. “Do we nominate her not knowing what’s in those e-mails?”

The subpoenas issued Wednesday seek all Clinton e-mails related to Libya during her time as secretary of state — an attempt to collect new e-mails sent from the clintonemail.com domain, the private account Clinton established when she took office in 2009.

Also Wednesday, the president of Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, said the organization is considering filing legal petitions to reopen as many as nine cases in which the group unsuccessfully sought public records from the State Department. The cases were either dismissed, closed or settled after the administration claimed it found no records involving Clinton related to the group’s requests.

Why Clinton’s private e-mail address is bad news(1:21)

Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail address that she used while secretary of state reinforces everything people don’t like about her, argues The Post’s Chris Cillizza, and is very dangerous to her presidential ambitions. (The Washington Post)

And other lawmakers who have tried to investigate Clinton’s tenure at State said they were outraged and felt misled, and were concerned many of the public records they had requested had not been provided because of the use of private e-mail.

State Department officials have confirmed that Clinton exclusively used a personal account, instead of a government e-mail address, during her time in office.

Instead of using State Department servers to send and receive those e-mails, she used a server housed at her private home in Chappaqua, N.Y., a Clinton ally familiar with her e-mail practices confirmed Wednesday. The server’s existence was first reported by the Associated Press.

The Clinton ally said the server and e-mail addresses were established after the conclusion of Clinton’s unsuccessful bid for president in 2008, as she was transitioning away from using an account held by her defunct campaign.

Neither State Department officials nor Clinton aides would provide information about which officials had signed off on the arrangement, whether a legal analysis was performed and whether any agency officials ever raised questions about Clinton’s e-mail system.

Beyond her late night tweet, Clinton herself has not addressed the e-mail issue, and her spokesman has not expanded on a brief statement issued Monday, in which he said Clinton had complied with both the letter and spirit of the law. The spokesman, Nick Merrill, also said that other secretaries of state have used private e-mail accounts.

State Department officials said Clinton turned over 55,000 pages of e-mail records last year after officials requested that former secretaries turn over public documents in their possession.

But, agency officials said, the decision over which e-mails would be deemed public record fell to Clinton and her private advisers — not to government officials or archivists.
State Department spokesman Harf told reporters Wednesday that she could not answer “when it was set up, and all that.” She referred questions about the system’s security to Clinton’s personal office.

Harf said there was no indication that Clinton had used the account for classified information, but she acknowledged that she was relying on information conveyed by Clinton and her aides.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest also defended Clinton, saying he had seen no evidence to suggest Clinton’s team had failed to turn over everything in its possession. But Earnest also took pains to say that he was relying on the Clinton team for his information.

“I also want to just be crystal clear about the fact that this is a responsibility that they assumed,” he said.

Federal regulations in place while Clinton was in office required that e-mails sent on non-government accounts be preserved in the “appropriate agency record-keeping system.” Harf said the regulation contained no “time requirement” to turn over records, meaning Clinton’s response — more than a year after she left office — complied.

But government transparency advocates said the use of a private e-mail account and a private server meant that for years, Clinton’s e-mails were off-limits to public records requests filed with the State Department.

The long delay in turning records over to the State Department also places enormous power in the hands of her closest aides to decide which of her e-mails should be made public and which should be shielded from view.

“There’s no legitimate way to claim that there wasn’t a requirement, certainly to keep with the spirit of the law, to make real-time copies available to the agency,” said David Sobel, senior counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In Congress, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said new subpoenas were a good step because lawmakers do not have confidence Clinton has turned over all of her relevant e-mails to the State Department.

Agency officials have said they have submitted 300 of Clinton’s e-mails to the committee investigating the Benghazi attack.

“The prime reason to set up an account like this is to skirt the law, avoid disclosure,” Chaffetz said. “The question isn’t the number of e-mails she has turned over, it’s the percentage. I want to know who decided what we could see.”

Likewise, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said he is concerned that the State Department did not turn over all e-mails by Clinton aide Huma Abedin that he requested in 2013 as part of an effort to see whether Abedin was simultaneously working for the government and an outside consulting firm.

Abedin, like Clinton, sometimes used a private clintonemail.com account.

“The trend of using private e-mail for public business is detrimental to good government,” Grassley said. “The public’s business ought to be public with few exceptions.”

A number of Democrats insisted Wednesday that the e-mail issue would fade quickly in voter’s minds.

“As somebody who desperately wants her to run and wants her to win, on a scale of 1 to 10 this is a negative 12,” said Paul Begala, a longtime Clinton family friend and Democratic strategist. No real voter, Begala said, is going to base a decision on whether “she had a non-archival-compliant
e-mail server.”

Alice Crites, Tom Hamburger, Steven Rich, Philip Rucker and Katie Zezima contributed to this report.