The Washington Post reports that the FBI is investigating the security of Hillary Clinton’s private email system. Based on the Post’s reporting, the FBI must not be liking what it finds:
Responsibility for setting up and maintaining the server that handled personal e-mail communications for Bill and Hillary Clinton passed through a number of different hands, starting with Clinton staffers with limited training in computer security and eventually expanding to Platte River.
When was “eventually”? 2013. When did Clinton’s time as Secretary of State end? February 1, 2013.
According to the Post, the server was originally used by Hillary in her 2008 presidential campaign. That’s not too damning in itself — one suspects that Clinton would be at least as concerned about protecting the privacy of documents relating to her bid for the presidency as about protecting state secrets.
Unfortunately, the protection was both was manifestly inadequate. In 2008, responsibility for the system was in the hands of Justin Cooper, a longtime aide to Bill Clinton. According to the Post, citing three people briefed about the server set-up, Cooper had no security clearance and “no particular expertise in guarding [the security of] computers.”
Once Clinton became Secretary of State, she began using another Clinton-insider to maintain her email server. This was Bryan Pagliano, who had been her campaign’s IT director. There is no indication in the Post’s story that Pagliano upgraded the system, as opposed to simply maintaining it.
According to the Post’s sources, the system was “not always reliable,” and Pagliano “was summoned at various times to fix it.” In fact, the system crashed for days in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which occurred while Clinton was still Secretary of State.
This led, in the Post’s words, “to new conversations about the need for better security, durability, and a more professional set-up.” Thus, in 2013, the Clinton team hired a professional outfit, Platte River, to maintain the data.
The Post doesn’t say when in 2013 it hired Platte River. However, as noted Clinton was out of office at the end of January.
It’s clear, then, that Clinton’s private server wasn’t sufficiently secure or professional until (at best) after she left office.
To hire an outside company while Clinton was still Secretary of State, though apparently necessary, would have been problematic, it seems to me. Pagliano moved seamlessly from the Clinton 2008 campaign and Hillary’s Senate PAC to the Department of State’s payroll as an IT specialist there. Paying Platte River with State Department funds would have been a more complicated and delicate matter, I assume. So too with paying it on the side.
Clinton, of course, had already traded off security for privacy by using her own system, rather than the Department of State’s. It looks like she traded off additional security by using insiders, rather than outside professionals, to maintain the system.
The Post also reports that the FBI has asked Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, about the security of a thumb drive in his possession that contains copies of work emails Clinton sent during her time as Secretary of State. Good. As I argued here, classified information could easily have been compromised in several respects by virtue of being transferred to a law firm.