I am a Former U.S. Government IT Professional. Hillary Clinton's actions skirt the line with treason
Hillary Clinton has skirted the line with treason. I know this might seem like a very controversial thing to say on its face, but I assure you this is more than your average hot take.
On September 11, 2012, there was an attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya, which was run by our State Department and was the temporary home to our Ambassador, Chris Stevens.
Since that night, Clinton, her team at State, and the Obama administration have diligently fought against any details regarding the actions of our Government took during that attack coming to light. This, despite the fact all were caught peddling a lie as the catalyst for an attack on an American facility in Libya. A lie which attempted to blame the actions of militant followers of Islam, hellbent on establishing an Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East through Jihad, on Americans. At least those Americans who do not vote Democratic.
This set off a chain of FOIA requests from a variety of organizations all with the intent of providing transparency for a event that was, by all accounts, a tragic loss for our nation.
All the while, Clinton has claimed no wrong doing. The credibility of those claims has now begun to be seriously challenged by not just the Republicans, but also the mainstream media.
And they should be. We know for a fact Clinton held classified information on her private Home Brew server. We know that that Home Brew server wasn’t equipped with the proper security protocols to process or store that classified information.
I can also tell you that an organization which submitted a FOIA request specifically for Clinton’s private emails during the time frame surrounding the Benghazi attack, just received their first reply. As you might have guessed, everything they passed over was redacted and marked as classified. All of it.
Again, this isn’t a big surprise. The Secretary of State talks about classified stuff all the time, comes with the job.
What is absolutely stunning, and what makes me question whether Clinton has been so foolish as to stray into treason, is that Clinton made absolutely no attempts to secure her communications and treat them with the level of seriousness their classifications require.
I will note now for the record that treason is open to interpretation, but there are a few points of guidance that keep most out of the grey area in which Clinton may soon find herself. I will come back to this, but let me first establish my bona fides.
One month before the election in 2000 I was getting ready to end my time in the Army. Faced with the prospect of serving under the direction of Al Gore, a man who’d bolo a LandNav course in his own back yard, along with a bum shoulder, I had decided earlier in the year that I wouldn’t re-up my contract with Uncle Sam. Instead I would leave the world of Special Operations, jumping out of airplanes, humping radios and batteries, end parlay the comms skills provided by the Army into an IT career.
Fast forward a year and a half and I am rebuilding email servers, setting up classified security enclaves, dealing with encryption, and helping troubleshoot microwave and satellite communications in the Balkans, Kosovo and Macedonia to be specific. I spent nearly two years eating, sleeping, and working on secure communications such as those that would be used in such places as Afghanistan, or Iraq.
Speaking of Iraq, after a reprieve from living overseas in which I went back to college and then worked as an IT Contractor at an Army base, I shipped off to Baghdad in the early spring of 2006. Again, I worked with classified networks, this time in the function of a monitor. What that means is I watched a screen all night for network anomalies, determined if it was a threat or an equipment error.
Equipment error is often the case for issues on a network, a cable is accidentally unplugged, or, in the case of fiber, accidentally severed. While these are a general pain in the ass, IT Professionals can usually fix the issue with relative ease.
Now, a threat is something that makes an IT Contractor, or any Government employee, with a Security Clearance, pay attention. This could easily become a situation. Situations can get complicated. Complications can lead to classified data loss, or worse, classified data exposure. Classified data exposure usually ends with your security clearance being rescinded, which you will almost never get back, which in turn means your entire career in Government Contracting, of GS Employment, is finished.
Pack it in and hope you don’t have to appear before a Congressional Hearing.
I say all of this not only to brag a bit about my unknown career before I took a $25K pay cut to work in politics, but also to let you now that I have some knowledge on the subjects of classification, classified document storage, and classified networks.
This prior career really does give me a broader understanding of what has happened with Hillary Clinton’s Home Brew Classified Network. Notice I didn’t limit this to email network, or data network. There is a reason for that, but we’ll get to that later.
First, lets dive into a bit of history on defense. There is a Military theory called Defense in Depth. The United States didn’t create this theory, it was developed through ages of experience that included those of the Late Roman Army, the medieval castles with layers of defensive strong holds and offensive fighting positions, and even the Japanese defense of such places as Saipan, where my Great Uncle gave his life for America.
While this has long been in the tool bag of Military Strategists, the internet, and the growing dependency of our Military on technology, required a new application of an old defensive strategy on a new battlefield.
As applied to communication networks, whether classified or unclassified, Government or the Private sector, Defense in Depth comes down to one simple principle … a layered approach.
Let me put this in a way your average home computer user can understand: You buy a computer, you create a login and password. This is layer one. Now, you want to go online, so you call your local provided and set up internet at home, maybe wifi as well. But that is only as secure as your provider. So you install anti-virus, maybe you configure the router and wifi to use secure settings of some sort. This is layer two. Feeling confident, you browse to IJ Review, read a few posts, watch a video or two and go on to your next connected task with no issues.
This is how it works on the most basic level.
Now imagine instead that it's an entire email server, which you know will house classified material due to the very nature of your communications, and instead of putting the most basic layers of security on that server, which in this case would be at the bare minimum enabling the SSL security options, and this server, again by the very nature of your communications and the duties you perform, is connected to multiple other classified computers and networks, and you start to see how large a problem this is.
Essentially, the layered defense created to ensure no breach of classified materials occurs is weakened due to the lack of any mitigation at all on Clinton’s private server. If this were a castle with a moat and a drawbridge, Clinton’s server would be the drawbridge with no means to retract in the middle of a siege.
Consider as well the fact that at least one person within the communications sphere of Hillary Clinton’s Home Brew Classified Information Depot, Sidney Blumenthal, was explicitly banned from working with Clinton at the State Department by the Obama Administration. Combined with the lengths Hillary went to actively not secure her communication, one can’t help to think that she was either ok with the security risk to the nation she now wants to lead as Commander in Chief, unfit for office due to serious mental deficiencies, or both.
If the gravity has not yet fully taken hold of you, I must remind you I said communications networks earlier. Not email, not data. Granted, we could focus on just the breaches in computer and email security, that near confirmed fact that Hillary used the same computer for SIPRNET and NIPRNET (click the links) for days, but other aspects of communications are just as important. Especially phone communications, one of the easier targets to penetrate.
This is crucially important because Clinton no doubt took many phone calls in her capacity as Secretary of State which discussed classified information, including calls from places such as Benghazi, Libya.
How did she take those calls?
I can tell you that the standard procedure for this is something called a STU or STE. This is a secure phone that encrypts the call on both ends using disposable encryption, also on both ends, that is changed on a schedule in order to avoid decryption attempts.
That’s standard procedure, but again we are dealing with Hillary Clinton. From the scuttlebutt I have heard, Clinton was using an off the shelf BlackBerry - side note: ain’t that a metaphor.
Again this was all by Clinton’s own choosing, which of course was meant to protect her from legal scrutiny, to hide her actions from not only those in Congress from both parties, but the American people themselves.
Despite the protestations of such liberal apologists as Col. Morris Davis, protestations obviously based in ideology rather than any actual insider knowledge on how Clinton purposely evaded security protocols meant to protect the security of not only our homeland, but our front line defenses across the globe.
The decision to circumvent security protocols by Hillary, by the very nature of government, would have gone through various phases, various decision makers, and all of them were eventually overruled, more than likely by Clinton herself or one of her closest staff. This was done with knowledge that information classified as Top Secret would inevitably pass through, breaking the defense in depth created in the vast network of classified communications networks operated by the U.S. Government across the globe.
The attack on Benghazi, once played off as a spontaneous reaction to an offensive YouTube video, could have very well be planned from information captured from the extremely vulnerable Clinton Classified Information Cloud.
It wouldn’t take an genius to connect the dots between the cyber warfare actions of China, the cozy relations between the Ministry of State Security, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, and every jihadist militant between Turkey, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf.
Yes, I think Hillary Clinton’s actions skirt the line with treason. Did she know her actions to purposefully circumvent the security of United States could plausibly lead to the deaths of four Americans during a 13-hour siege on our embassy compound in Benghazi, Libya? I can’t say for sure, but she damned well should have given it more than a passing thought in her quest to avoid legal snags while being the country’s chief diplomat, which, I will highlight, were completely overt.
The FBI will continue to investigate, as will the Benghazi committee, and based on the outright deceit we have seen so far, I only expect it to get worse as the coverup continues to unfold.
Hillary Clinton’s days as a candidate for President of the United States may be coming to an end, possibly to be followed by the end of her days as a free woman.
Either way, I can’t wait to see “13 Hours.”
(FULL DISCLOSURE: I currently work for the Perry 2016 Campaign doing blogger outreach, but the post above does not represent the campaign.)