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Judicial Watch • Weekly Update: Another Email Scandal

Weekly Update: Another Email Scandal

Weekly Update: Another Email Scandal

FEBRUARY 17, 2017

Hillary Clinton, The “Insider Threat”
Another Obama Administration Email Scandal – At Homeland Security
Top Obama Official Admitted Benghazi Had Nothing to Do With Protests
JW Expert Panel: Voter Fraud Is Real
The “Soft Coup” Continues

 

Hillary Clinton, The “Insider Threat”

You don’t have to take my word for it that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s sloppy email practices were an egregious breech of national security.  An expert in the Department of Defense thought so as well.

This week we released a U.S. Department of the Army OpSec (Operational Security) PowerPoint presentation that depicts Clinton as an example of “insider threats.” The presentation, produced as part of a lecture on cybersecurity, also includes General David Petraeus, terrorist Nidal Hassan, Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, Edward Snowden, and Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis.

We obtained the documents in response to a January 11, 2017, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking the PowerPoint presentation on operational security delivered to soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:17-cv-00060)). We sued after the Department of Defense failed to respond to our August 22, 2016, FOIA request (the lawsuit is now over, since we got what we wanted).

The presentation warns against “Critical Information Compromises” involving material such as the “itineraries of … senior executive service (SES)” and “very important persons (VIPs),” any of which can result in “Attack, Kidnapping, Publicity.” It also cites “unsecure email” as an error that can lead to an enemy being able to “Kill, Counter, Clone.” Judicial Watch’s investigations into Clinton’s email practices while she was secretary of state repeatedly produced examples of Clinton aide Huma Abedin sharing the schedule and travel plans of Clinton on an unsecure email system.

The operational security brief was reportedly leaked, and then posted on the Facebook page “U.S. Army W.T.F! moments.” Administrators of the Facebook page said a picture came from a service member stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

Clinton and Petraeus are cited as examples of “Careless or disgruntled employees.” Former Secretary Clinton conducted official government business using a non-state.gov email account, which was hosted on a server in her home in Chappaqua, New York. JW’s extensive FOIA litigation pried loose Clinton email records, which proved she sent and received classified information on an unsecure server while serving as secretary of state.

Gen. Petraeus is a retired four-star general and the former director of the CIA who pled guilty in federal court to a charge of unauthorized removal of classified information. At the time, Petraeus was having an affair with his biographer to whom he provided classified information while serving as Director of the CIA.  (I see he is up for potential appointment to President Trump’s National Security Advisor post.  For obvious reasons, this would seem to be a big mistake.)

No wonder it took a lawsuit to extract this damning Pentagon analysis, which recognizes Hillary Clinton as an “insider threat” to national security. The Trump Justice Department should take note and proceed with an appropriate investigation.

 

Another Obama Administration Email Scandal – At Homeland Security

Hillary Clinton may be the poster child of skullduggerous email practices, but she wasn’t the only one in the Obama administration to put sensitive matters at risk on unsecured email accounts.

We have obtained 215 pages of documents containing official, sensitive emails of Jeh Johnson, former head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and three other top department officials sent through private, unsecured, webmail-based email accounts.

The documents include emails discussing high-level meetings Johnson was to have with the Kuwaiti ambassador and Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry officials, as well as a West African $4.5 million online consumer fraud scam.

We received these documents thanks a May 23, 2016, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit after Homeland Security failed to respond to a December 29, 2015, FOIA request seeking emails “relating to official United States Government business sent to or from” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and three other top Homeland Security officials that used “non-‘.gov’” email addresses (Judicial Watch, Inc., v. United States Department of Homeland Security (No. l:l6-cv-00967)).

This is the first batch of emails sent through private, web-based email accounts of Johnson, Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Chief of Staff Christian Marrone and General Counsel Stevan Bunnell that were also sent to government email accounts. The emails released reveal that:

  • The Kuwaiti ambassador to the US sent an email to Johnson’s unsecure email account attempting to set up a meeting for him with Kuwait’s Interior Ministry and discussing Kuwait’s Interior Minister’s having meetings with the heads of CIA, FBI and DNI.
  • The US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia emailed to Johnson’s unsecure email account, discussing Johnson’s upcoming meetings at the Saudi Interior Ministry in Jeddah.
  • DHS Chief of Staff Marrone held sensitive discussions with an unidentified individual regarding the earnings of Lockheed Martin and a space vehicle launch consortium between Lockheed and Boeing, which the sender said to “use wisely.” Marrone also received procurement documents related to launch vehicles and their “Launch Infrastructure Capability.”
  • Johnson gave a “Progress Report” speech in which he cited the Homeland Security Department’s “strides in cybersecurity.”
  • An unidentified individual spoofed Johnson’s name and email account in a phishing scam, telling recipients that they could get money from “an abandoned fund worth U.S.D. 4.5 million in West Africa” if they would send back their personal details.

Prior to the Obama administration’s leaving office, a federal court ordered the Department of Homeland Security to preserve email records sought by Judicial Watch. In petitioning the court for the preservation order, we argued:

A court order requiring preservation of these emails is particularly necessary now as DHS has suggested that these officials may have been acting without authorization by sending emails from these accounts … As such, there is no assurance that these officials will abide by a “request” by the agency to preserve these emails, particularly after their employment ends.

Judicial Watch previously uncovered documents revealing that Secretary Jeh Johnson and 28 other agency officials used government computers to access personal web-based email accounts despite an agency-wide ban due to heightened security concerns. The documents also reveal that Homeland Security officials misled Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) when Perry specifically asked whether personal accounts were being used for official government business.

It is ironic and disconcerting that Secretary Johnson and his aides touted Homeland Security’s great “strides in cybersecurity” while using unsecured, private, web-based email accounts that the Department had officially prohibited.

The fact that the documents found in these email accounts were so heavily redacted and that Johnson’s name and email account were spoofed in a phishing scam is indicative of just how lax communications security was inside Homeland Security during the Obama administration.

We will continue to try to obtain these emails and were in federal court today on the issue.  I’m still waiting for the Trump administration to begin enforcing the rule of law on transparency as we see repeated instances of Obama-type legal defenses from the Trump Justice Department of illegal Obama administration secrecy.

 

Top Obama Official Admitted Benghazi Had Nothing to Do With Protests

The Clinton/Obama Benghazi scandal is not over.  Not by a long shot.

This week we released 54 pages of State Department documents, including a transcript of a September 12, 2012, telephone conference call with congressional staffers in which then-Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy admitted that the deadly terrorist assault on the Benghazi Consulate was not “under cover of protest,” but was, in fact, “a direct breaching attack.”

The documents were produced in response to a January 29, 2016, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that was filed against the State Department after it failed to respond to an August 27, 2015, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:16-cv-00153)). The recently settled lawsuit sought:

  • All records of security waivers issued for the Special Mission compound in Benghazi, Libya under the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act (SECCA);
  • All records concerning, regarding, or related to the Special Mission compound in Benghazi, Libya being “excepted from office facility standards and accountability” under SECCA as noted by the Benghazi Accountability Review Board.

The transcript was contained in an email from Julie K. Bulgrin, the State Department Bureau of Legislative Affairs director for Global and Functional Affairs:

From: Bulgrin, Julie K.

Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 7:55 PM

To: H_Egypt; Canedo, Denese; Lang, Alan; ‘Rodriguez Miguel’; ‘Arguelles, Adam’; ‘Lundebergy, Greta’; ‘Ortiz, Michael’; ‘Lee Collin’; Pitkin, Douglas A; Maier, Christina A

Subject: Write up of U/S Kennedy Call with Hill re Libya

The call ended up starting around 6:30. Here are the raw notes.

***

  • Rob Carter – was this an attack under the cover of a protest?
  • No, this was a direct breaching attack.
  • Do we have any ideas of who launched? Leads?
  • Some claims from someone who has never made threat before, but everyone is looking at this closely.
  • Do we believe coordinated w/Cairo?
  • Attack in Cairo was a demonstration. There were no weapons shown or used. A few cans of spray paint.

The call also notes that Amb. Stevens got of the compound, but “collapsed” and was taken to the hospital. Kennedy also said that it was his personal opinion that the attack “was semi-complex.”

When asked why no Americans troops were inserted, Kennedy responded that, “the entire thing lasted approximately 4.5 hours. No US forces within time to get there.” (This was absolutely false, troops were available and could have arrived in time to provide support during the second attack on the CIA annex, which according to Kennedy, was assaulted by 100 attackers.)

The documents also include a September 13, 2012, email in which an unidentified sender reveals that as early as December 2011, the State Department confirmed the necessity for making a wide variety of “physical security upgrades.” Those upgrades included:

  • Concrete, jersey-type barriers installed curbside and on the villa ground to block unused vehicle gates.
  • Four steel, manual drop-arms (vehicle barriers) for access control and anti-ram protection.
  • Compound lighting increased for LGP observation.
  • Barbed wire installed on top of the existing perimeter wall to raise height.
  • Installation of barbed wire on top of the interior chain link fence to create a secondary barrier.
  • Installation of several LGP platforms for property and street surveillance.
  • Construction of four guard booths.
  • Installation of steel grill work on all windows not already treated with this protection.
  • Erecting sandbag emplacements for internal defense purposes.
  • Hardening villas with safe rooms with a steel door.

Though some of these “physical security upgrades” were apparently made, according to the State Department Accountability Review Board report issued on December 20, 2012, sufficient security remained an issue at the time of the attack:

Board members found a pervasive realization among personnel who served in Benghazi that the Special Mission was not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related requests, especially those relating to staffing.

The insufficient Special Mission security platform was at variance with the appropriate Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) standards with respect to perimeter and interior security. Benghazi was also severely under-resourced with regard to certain needed security equipment, although DS funded and installed in 2012 a number of physical security upgrades.

Despite Kennedy’s admission on September 12 that the deadly terrorist assault on the Benghazi Consulate was not “under cover of protest,” but was, in fact, “a direct breaching attack,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice appeared on five major interview shows the Sunday, September 16, to claim the attack was due to a “spontaneous protest” and was not premeditated.

Based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy—sparked by this hateful video … We do not—we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.

The House Select Committee on Benghazi was created as the direct result of emails uncovered by Judicial Watch showing White House orchestration of the knowingly false narrative that the Benghazi attack was due to an Internet video and spontaneous protests.

Patrick Kennedy is not only embroiled in the Benghazi scandal.  On June 30, 2016, JW attorneys deposed Kennedy about Hillary Clinton’s and Huma Abedin’s use of the clintonemail.com system to conduct official government business. Kennedy testified that the significance did not “register” with him that Clinton was using a non-state.gov email account even though he communicated with her by email. Though he was undersecretary for management of three of the four offices charged with ensuring State Department policies practices and procedures are followed, he told us he had no opinion as to whether policies were violated except to say that State Department records-management policy encourages employees to use state.gov addresses for official business.

A few days after President Trump took office, Patrick Kennedy left his position at the State Department.

Certainly this new document removes any further doubt that the State Department and the Obama administration knew immediately after the assault on Benghazi that it was a well-orchestrated terrorist attack and not a “spontaneous demonstration” over a “hateful video,” as the Obama administration repeatedly claimed.

As I said at the beginning of this piece, these documents show that the Benghazi scandal is not over.  There are more documents with the State Department and we are still seeking accountability over the related Clinton email cover-up.  It is the least we can do for those four Americans killed that terrible September night in 2012.

 

JW Expert Panel: Voter Fraud Is Real

We convened four of the nation’s top experts on election integrity this week to discuss the very timely topic of voter fraud, and you should watch the webcast to understand what’s really going on out there in our election system.

I thought that Cleta Mitchell, partner and political law attorney at Foley & Lardner LLP, summed it up succinctly when she said: “There is a systematic, well-funded, left wing, liberal, progressive and now Democratic Party open effort to dismantle the election administrative system in our country that over the past century grew up to maintain the integrity of our elections.”

The evidence is stunning. Hans von Spakovsky, manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative, and Senior Legal Fellow for the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation, said:  “The United States has a long history of voter fraud that has been documented and can make a difference in close a election. Those are the words of the Supreme Court. We started a database and started putting in it cases as we ran across them. All we’re putting in are cases where individuals have been convicted and cases where judge ordered new election. Without much effort on our part, we found 462 case and 742 criminal convictions.”

Our own Robert Popper, Senior Attorney and Head of Election Integrity Project at Judicial Watch, who was in the Justice Department during the Obama Administration, added: “We don’t know the extent of voter fraud activity. The Obama administration made this a political football at the same time the president was giving speeches saying there is no voter fraud.” To the contrary, Popper said, “A Pew Foundation study found 1.8 million deceased registrants on the rolls. Two hundred and twenty six counties in 42 states had more actual voters than registered voters.”

The fourth panelist was Jesse Richman, Political Science & Geography Professor at Old Dominion University, who has been frequently quoted in the press for his study of potential voter fraud. “Many instances of fraud don’t get prosecuted,” he said. “There are limited resources and there’s prosecutorial discretion. If a non-citizen decides to vote it’s difficult to detect. And it doesn’t take much illegal voting to change an outcome.”

This panel comes on the heels of President Trump’s announcement that he wants a national voter fraud investigation. From our perspective this would be the most important civil rights investigation in a generation. These are votes stolen from Americans voting lawfully. If we don’t have clean elections all these debates about policy are for naught.

We have 20 million plus aliens of age who could vote. The left says just a few are voting, Trump says 3.5 million. Obviously the number is somewhere in between. Federal officials could figure this out – probably within weeks.

Whatever the Trump administration does, however, we at Judicial Watch are going to be active – in terms of investigations, lawsuits, and education – on behalf of election integrity.

I encourage you to watch the entire hour-long webcast here.

 

The “Soft Coup” Continues

I hope you have been following the On Watch broadcasts of Chris Farrell, our Director of Investigations. This week he discusses the particularly timely matter of “soft coups,” which are coordinated efforts to delegitimize or undermine a lawfully elected official.

“It’s the middle of February and the soft coup against the Trump administration continues,” Farrell begins. You don’t want to miss this installment.