How secret is it? (16)

In their most recent update on the Clinton email saga, Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne take a look at documents coughed up by the State Department to Judicial Watch. Hillary Clinton’s geezer ineptitude assumes comic proportions, though this really isn’t funny:

Less than a month after becoming secretary of state, and registering the personal email domain that she would use exclusively for government business, Hillary Clinton’s team aggressively pursued changes to existing State Department security protocols so she could use her BlackBerry in secure facilities for classified information, according to new documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

“Anyone who has any appreciation at all of security, you don’t ask a question like that,” cybersecurity analyst Morgan Wright told Fox News. “It is contempt for the system, contempt for the rules that are designed to protect the exact kind of information that was exposed through this email set up. “

Current and former intelligence officials grimaced when asked by Fox News about the use of wireless communications devices, such as a BlackBerry, in a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility) emphasizing its use would defeat the purpose of the secure facility, and it is standard practice to leave all electronics outside.

A former State Department employee familiar with the Clinton request emphasized security personnel at the time thought the BlackBerry was only for unclassified material, adding their concerns would have been magnified if they had known Clinton’s email account also held classified material.

Clinton was wedded to her BlackBerry. Has she moved on yet to the crazy world of Apple products?

Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills pursued the issue on behalf of her boss:

A February 17, 2009 email marked SECRET and cleared through the NSA says, “Ms. Mills described the requirement as chiefly driven by Secretary Clinton, who does not use standard computer equipment but relies exclusively on her Blackberry for emailing and remaining in contact on her schedule etc. Ideally all members of her suite would be allowed to use Blackberries for communication in the SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility)”

A specialized NSA team was brought in to assess the vulnerabilities and feasibility of using wireless communications within a secure facility. Herridge and Browne dryly note that the NSA State Department liaison told Mills in an email that has been severely redacted: “Sometimes the distinction between what can be done and what is, or is not, recommended to be done differ; this is one of those instances. [State Department Diplomatic Security]’s response illustrates their level of concern based on their extensive professional expertise.“

The explanation obviously had to be made simple to account for the cluelessness of the recipients. A March 2009 memo to Mills, they explain, explicitly warned that “the vulnerabilities and risks associated with the use of Blackberries in Mahogany Row [seventh floor executive offices] considerably outweigh their convenience.”

Get it?

One sees the vexing problem of the Secretary’s limited desire to increase her technical competence consistent with the requirements of her job. How was the problem resolved? We don’t know. Herridge and Browne can only observe: “Clinton never used a State Department issued BlackBerry. It is not clear from the documents whether Clinton and her team went ahead and used their BlackBerrys in SCIFs despite the concerns, including those of the NSA.” They quote a State Department official commenting that “no waiver allowing PDAs within Mahogany Row [the seventh floor offices at Foggy Bottom including the secretary’s] was granted.” If I understand correctly, it appears that Clinton checked her email in an office that was set up for her outside the SCIF.

To be continued.

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