Report Published Last Month Claimed Russia Might Release Hacked Clinton Emails

By Patrick Goodenough | July 28, 2016 | 4:13 AM EDT

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her mobile phone during a U.N. Security Council meeting in New York in 2012. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(CNSNews.com) – The Russian government may soon release texts of emails hacked from Hillary Clinton’s private server during her time as secretary of state, a respected geopolitical affairs publication reported last month, citing Western intelligence sources.

The International Strategic Studies Association’s  Defense and Foreign Affairs reported that according to the “reliable” sources, warnings to that effect had been received from Moscow.

“The release would, the messaging indicated, prove that Secretary Clinton had, in fact, laid open U.S. secrets to foreign interception by putting highly-classified government reports onto a private server in violation of U.S. law, and that, as suspected, the server had been targeted and hacked by foreign intelligence services,” the publication said.

It added that according to the sources’ claims, the decision on whether to reveal the texts would be made by President Vladimir Putin, and disclosure would possibly come “through a third party, such as Wikileaks.”

It said that the message from Moscow, sent “in time to impact the U.S. elections,” was aimed at pressurizing U.S. authorities to speed up inquiries into the private email server affair.

The report also said that according to Defense & Foreign Affairs analysts, Clinton’s server was always likely to have been a primary hacking target, with threats emanating particularly from China, Russia and North Korea, but likely also others, including Iran.

The Defense and Foreign Affairs report appeared in mid-June, well before Wikileaks on the eve of the Democratic National Convention released some 20,000 emails – not from Clinton’s server but from Democratic National Committee staffers. Some showed that the DNC worked actively to support Clinton’s presidential campaign at the expense of primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders.

(Wikileaks has not confirmed or denied that Russia was the source of the DNC email leak, although U.S. officials have said as much off the record. “Anything’s possible,” President Obama told NBC on Tuesday, when asked whether Russia was trying to influence the U.S. election. Obama also noted, when asked about possible motive, that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had expressed admiration for Putin.)

The State Department, in compliance with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, released tens of thousands of emails sent and received on Clinton’s private server. An FBI investigation identified 113 emails that contained classified material, including some that were top secret.

Clinton said she had also deleted more than 31,000 emails, on the basis they were personal and not work-related.

On Wednesday, Trump said during a Florida press conference that the Russians “probably have” those emails.

“I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted because you’d see some beauties there,” he said. “So let’s see.”

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said.

The Clinton campaign’s Jake Sullivan, accused the GOP nominee of behavior threatening U.S. national security – of effectively encouraging a foreign power to spy on Clinton.

Trump backer and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich retorted on Twitter, “The media seems more upset by Trump’s joke about Russian hacking than by the fact that Hillary’s personal server was vulnerable to Russia.”

“Since Hillary promised us she only deleted 33,000 personal emails how can it be a national security issue if someone releases them?” Gingrich added in a follow-on tweet.

Hacking worries

According to a report released last spring by the State Department’s inspector general, in January 2011 two suspected attempts to hack Clinton’s email server occurred on a single day, prompting an aide to shut down the server for several minutes.

A March 2011 memo from a senior diplomatic security official warned of “a dramatic increase since January 2011 in attempts by [redacted] cyber actors to compromise the private home email accounts of senior Department officials.”

The memo went on to say that although the targeted accounts were personal and unclassified, hackers could still access personal information which could be used for possible blackmail or to facilitate personal surveillance.

The inspector general’s report also noted a May 2011 incident, in which two Clinton staffers discussed in an email the secretary’s concern that somebody was “hacking into her email” after she received an email with a suspicious link. A second, similar incident happened several hours later.

The report said that although department policy requires employees to report cybersecurity incidents to Bureau of Information Resource Management officials, “OIG found no evidence that the Secretary or her staff reported these incidents to computer security personnel or anyone else within the Department.”

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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