In an interview with the Associated Press Monday, Hillary Clinton once again said “I don’t know anything technical about servers.” This was in response to revelations that hundreds of emails she sent on a private un-secure email server contained classified material up to including the top secret level, and other information that would seriously compromise the office of the Secretary of State.
As we have noted before, that server was compromised. It was just too easy. All of our enemies were reading her email. As a former intelligence officer, I have some insider knowledge of this.
But is it legitimate that she just did not understand? Can she plead ignorance of technology? Let’s take a look.
Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, her job was to deal with foreign governments. In this respect she was the most informed person perhaps on the face of the earth. She got regular briefings certainly from CIA and NSA. She read the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) and the much larger National Intelligence Daily (NID) both products dealing with foreign intelligence.
As Secretary of State she was responsible to the President for being an expert on world affairs. These briefs would be her lifeblood filling in the intimate and secret details of the countries she dealt with on a day to day basis. Details countries would have wanted hidden from us (otherwise just read the darn newspapers…).
Where did she think this information comes from? Surely she understands the word SIGINT, which means Signals Intelligence, which means compromising communications in every way shape and form in foreign countries. The NSA spends over $50 Billion per year doing this. Their primary target is leadership communications. How could she not know?
As Secretary of State she would have had briefings on all of the amazing and extraordinary means CIA and NSA have for getting to communications intelligence, because it is her job to know. She and her Department are a primary customer of that intelligence. In fact, part of her responsibility was to TASK THEM with new intelligence requirements based on her needs.
In fact, how many times would she have been directly handed a folder with covertly collected high priority communications (emails or transcripts of conversations) from other world leaders? You know, the kind with the red striped jacket saying “Eyes only, Secretary of State?”
Can she possibly think other world leaders, like Putin or Khamenei from Iran wouldn’t be actively attempting to extract the same information from her?
Does she not know the history of the FBI’s exceeding controversial Carnivore program that made major news over the years, pulling in email information? And all of the new controversial capabilites from the Patriot Act that have been in the news time and time again targeting the communications of terrorists in the U.S.?
Did she sleep through the briefing from the CIA’s computer exploitation folks? She would have had this briefing as a matter of course. It was both impressive and horrifying back in my day (the ’90’s), I can’t imagine it would be less captivating now. The briefing is always given by senior case officer (think liberal arts educated George Clooney type), a professional communicator not a techie. It would not have gone over her head.
When she traveled, did she not get a security briefing from the CIA or others about the intelligence capabilities in the countries she would visit? How they would bug her room, compromise her phone, attempt to hack her staff’s computers, etc.? I got those, back in the day, they were ominous. SecState would get better ones I’m sure…
Life in the government is full of these kinds of briefings, she would have had to work very hard not to be constantly exposed to intelligence sources and methods. The one whom Bill Clinton once called “the smartest woman in the world” cannot claim she is too stupid to understand that an unsecure server used by the Secretary of State is a high priority target for any intelligence service that matters, and any hacker with a degree of sophistication.