News / USA

    Emails: NSA Said 'No' to Clinton's Request for Secure Smartphone

    FILE - Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her phone from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, Oct. 18, 2011.
    FILE - Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her phone from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, Oct. 18, 2011.
    Associated Press

    Newly released emails show that the National Security Agency denied a 2009 request to issue a secure government smartphone to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    The messages made public Wednesday were obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal advocacy group that has filed numerous lawsuits seeking the release of federal documents related to Clinton's tenure as the nation's top diplomat.

    The Democratic presidential front-runner has come under intense scrutiny for her decision to use a private email server located in the basement of her New York home to route messages, including some containing sensitive information. Security experts have raised concern that the arrangement could have left the messages vulnerable to attack by hackers, including those working for foreign intelligence agencies.

    BlackBerry preference

    Clinton's desire for a secure "BlackBerry-like'' device, like that provided to President Barack Obama, is recounted in a series of February 2009 exchanges between high-level officials at the State Department and NSA. Clinton was sworn in as secretary the prior month and had become "hooked'' on reading and answering emails on a BlackBerry she used during the 2008 presidential race.

    "We began examining options for [Clinton] with respect to secure 'BlackBerry-like' communications,'' wrote Donald R. Reid, the department's assistant director for security infrastructure. "The current state of the art is not too user friendly, has no infrastructure at State, and is very expensive.''

    Reid wrote that each time the State Department asked NSA what solution it had worked up to provide a mobile device to Obama, "we were politely told to shut up and color.''

    FILE - Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hands off her mobile phone after arriving to meet with Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague, Netherlands, Dec. 8, 2011.
    FILE - Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hands off her mobile phone after arriving to meet with Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague, Netherlands, Dec. 8, 2011.

    Resolving the issue was given such priority as to result in a face-to-face meeting involving Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills, seven senior State Department staffers and five NSA security experts. According to a summary of the meeting, the request was driven by Clinton's reliance on her BlackBerry for email and keeping track of her calendar. Clinton chose not to use a laptop or desktop computer that could have provided her access to email in her office, according to the summary.

    Phones barred

    Standard smartphones are not allowed into areas designated as approved for the handling of classified information, such as the block of offices used by senior State Department officials, known by the nickname "Mahogany Row'' for the quality of their paneling. Mills said that was inconvenient, because they had to leave their offices and retrieve their phones to check messages.

    Mills also asked about waivers provided during the Bush administration to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for her staff to use BlackBerrys in their secure offices. But the NSA had phased out such waivers because of security concerns.

    The department's designated NSA liaison, whose name was redacted from the documents, expressed concerns about security vulnerabilities inherent with using BlackBerry devices for secure communications or in secure areas. However, the specific reasons Clinton's requests were rebuffed are being kept secret by the State Department.

    The following month, in March 2009, Clinton began using private email accounts accessed through her BlackBerry to exchange messages with her top aides. The State Department has thus far released more than 52,000 pages of Clinton's work-related emails, a small percentage of which have been withheld because they contain information considered sensitive to national security.

    In recent months, Clinton has said her home-based email setup was a mistake, but that she never sent or received anything that was marked classified at the time she used it.

    Clinton campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Wednesday.

    FBI probe

    The FBI is investigating whether sensitive information that flowed through Clinton's email server was mishandled. The State Department has acknowledged that some emails included classified information, including at the top-secret level. The inspectors general at the State Department and for U.S. intelligence agencies are separately investigating whether rules or laws were broken.

    There are currently at least 38 lawsuits, including one filed by The Associated Press, seeking records related to Clinton's service as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. On Tuesday, Judicial Watch filed a discovery motion in one of those cases seeking to question eight former State Department staffers under oath, including Mills and Reid. The judge overseeing the case indicated last month he was strongly considering allowing lawyers from the group to question Clinton's former aides.

    "These documents show that Hillary Clinton knew her BlackBerry wasn't secure,'' Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, said Wednesday. "The FBI and prosecutors ought to be very interested in these new materials.''

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora