Want to know why the US government requires communications of classified information to take place through official systems? The Daily Caller provides a reminder with its scoop last night about Hillary Clinton’s home-brew server and the exposure it created for US diplomatic and intel efforts. According to its sources, an internal review by US intelligence concluded that China’s intelligence service was provided a “courtesy copy” of every e-mail passing through her private e-mail system:
A Chinese-owned company operating in the Washington, D.C., area hacked Hillary Clinton’s private server throughout her term as secretary of state and obtained nearly all her emails, two sources briefed on the matter told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Chinese firm obtained Clinton’s emails in real time as she sent and received communications and documents through her personal server, according to the sources, who said the hacking was conducted as part of an intelligence operation.
The Chinese wrote code that was embedded in the server, which was kept in Clinton’s residence in upstate New York. The code generated an instant “courtesy copy” for nearly all of her emails and forwarded them to the Chinese company, according to the sources.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given the amateurish nature of the Clinton home network. It seems likely that China wasn’t the only entity that would have attempted to penetrate her communications, nor the only entity that succeeded. There have already been reports that Russia attempted to hack her system, which means that the knowledge of it was more widespread abroad than it was in Washington, at least until the House Select Committee on Benghazi finally exposed Hillary’s use of a secret system to avoid oversight on her operations at the State Department.
However, it’s also worth pointing out that China had success even against official US systems, too. The most notable example is the year-plus that Beijing had to look around the servers in the Office of Personnel Management, but there were other intrusions as well. In another operation, China managed to get access to the private e-mails of several Obama-era officials starting in early 2010 and continuing for several years. Hillary wasn’t the only administration official with a cavalier attitude toward comms security, but she was likely the one with the most corrupt motive behind it. It’s a reminder that while Russia was conducting harassment ops during the campaign, China had been doing serious damage to national security for years beforehand.
The intelligence community tried to warn the FBI of the problem “repeatedly,” but didn’t get too far with … Peter Strzok?
Two officials with the ICIG, investigator Frank Rucker and attorney Janette McMillan, met repeatedly with FBI officials to warn them of the Chinese intrusion, according to a former intelligence officer with expertise in cybersecurity issues, who was briefed on the matter. He spoke anonymously, as he was not authorized to publicly address the Chinese’s role with Clinton’s server.
Among those FBI officials was Peter Strzok, who was then the bureau’s top counterintelligence official. Strzok was fired this month following the discovery he sent anti-Trump texts to his mistress and co-worker, Lisa Page. Strzok didn’t act on the information the ICIG provided him, according to Gohmert.
By this time, the FBI was already conducting a criminal investigation into Hillary’s actions. It famously concluded that the case lacked any criminal intent, even though the statute language in 18 USC 793 explicitly allows for prosecution without intent in cases of illegal transmission and retention of classified information. The knowledge of penetration by a hostile intelligence service probably wouldn’t have changed Hillary’s legal liability, but it certainly would have changed the political liability involved. That turned out to be moot anyway, though, as Hillary lost the election.
Still, it’s good to update the record on this, especially for those who keep arguing that this was a non-story all along. Not only did the home-brew server endanger national security (not just theoretically, we now know), it was a deliberate choice intended to eliminate congressional and court oversight of the State Department under her tenure. This will remind everyone of the consequences of such corrupt behavior in the future.