Clinton Chief of Staff Lost Her Personal Blackberry, Which Contained Classified Emails
While working as Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, Cheryl Mills lost her personal Blackberry, on which she sent emails that the State Department has determined contain classified information.
Records obtained by The Daily Caller through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit show Mills revealed that she lost her Blackberry in a March 20, 2010 email she sent to Bryan Pagliano, the State Department IT staffer who managed Clinton’s private email server.
“Somewhere b/w my house and the plane to nyc yesterday my personal bb got misplaced; no on [sic] is answering it thought [sic] I have called,” Mills wrote from her personal email account to the address Pagliano used when he worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Other State Department records indicate that Mills’ personal Blackberry appears to have been synced with her Gmail account. Many of the emails she sent from the personal account include footers which show they were sent from a Blackberry powered by AT&T.
Some of the emails Mills sent and received on the account contain information that the State Department has retroactively determined to have classified information.
In one such email, from Dec. 24, 2009, Clinton forwarded Mills a message she had received from Johnnie Carson, then the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, who provided details from a conversation he had with French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner about a situation in Guinea.
“Pls review so we can discuss,” Clinton wrote to Mills and Jake Sullivan, her foreign policy aide.
In a Jan. 14, 2010 email, Rajiv Shah, who was in charge of U.S. Agency for International Development, emailed Clinton and Mills about Haiti. The email is heavily redacted because it contains now-classified information. The State Department has retroactively classified more than 1,300 emails housed on Clinton’s private server, though Clinton and the State Department maintain that the information was not considered classified when it was originated.
It is unclear if Mills recovered her Blackberry after first losing it. Her attorney did not return a request for comment. It is also unclear what other sensitive, government-related information Mills sent on her Blackberry and personal email account to other federal officials.
Blackberry usage by Clinton and her inner circle has been a growing area of focus in the ongoing scandal involving the Democratic presidential candidate’s use of a personal email account and a private server.
The Daily Caller reported earlier this month that in Aug. 2011, a top State Department official offered to provide Clinton with a government-issued Blackberry equipped with a state.gov email account after her personal Blackberry went on the blink. But Clinton aide Huma Abedin rejected the offer, claiming that the idea “doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
And on Monday, Fox News reported a video from 2013 in which Wendy Sherman, who served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs under Clinton, admitted that Clinton and other State Department officials frequently used their Blackberries to send information that “would never be on an unclassified system.”
Clinton used only a personal Blackberry throughout her tenure at the State Department. Mills and Abedin used both personal and government-issued Blackberries.
There is some evidence that the State Department was concerned with the use of personal Blackberries separate and apart from the risk posed by losing them.
“I cannot stress too strongly … that any unclassified BlackBerry is highly vulnerable in any setting to remotely and covertly monitoring conversations, retrieving emails, and exploring calendars,” wrote Eric Boswell, then the head of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, in a March 2009 memo.
Boswell also warned that the bureau had intelligence concerning “vulnerability” to Clinton’s Blackberry during her Feb. 9, 2009 trip to China. He also issued a warning about using Blackberries on “Mahogany Row,” the floor that houses the offices of top State Department officials at headquarters in Foggy Bottom.
In Feb. 2014, well before the Clinton email scandal broke, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki spoke to the issue using personal digital assistants (PDA) — such as Blackberries — that were not government issued.
“Classified processing and classified conversation on a personal digital assisted device is prohibited,” she told reporters.