State Dept. Official Says Classified Info Training Is ‘Robust.’ So What’s Hillary’s Excuse? [VIDEO]
A State Department official acknowledged on Tuesday that the agency has long conducted “robust” training for new hires at the agency to help them understand how to properly handle sensitive information.
The admission, which came during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, raises questions about what training former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received during her tenure and whether she followed it.
“We do have robust training, both when someone enters the department, just so they understand the type of information they’ll see and why that might be of interest to an adversary or someone with an interest that’s not in the in the United States’ interest,” Heather Higginbottom, who serves as deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, told Tennessee Sen. [crscore]Bob Corker[/crscore] during Tuesday’s hearing.
Corker had asked Higginbottom whether she agreed that the State Department needs to undertake training and implement systematic checks to ensure that classified information is being handled in an appropriate way.
The FBI is currently investigating whether classified information was mishandled on the private email server Clinton used while in office. The Democratic presidential candidate received nearly 2,000 now-classified emails on her personal email account. She sent another 104. Her server also housed at least 22 emails with “Top Secret” information, some of which were classified when they were originated.
In defending herself during the ongoing scandal, Clinton has claimed that she did nothing wrong because none of the classified emails she sent or received were “marked” classified. The Democratic presidential candidate makes the claim despite having signed an agreement when she took office in January 2009 acknowledging that there is no distinction between “marked” and “unmarked” classified information. (RELATED: Document Completely Undermines Hillary’s Classified Email Defense)
“We do do a lot of training,” Higginbottom said Tuesday, adding that State Department employees continuously undergo training as they obtain security clearance and are allowed to review and handle classified information.
The training is not something that was implemented after Clinton’s tenure, Higginbottom indicated.
“Is that new? Is that training new?” Corker asked.
“It’s not new. We’ve had training for a long time,” she responded.
During one part of her testimony, Higginbottom described a cybersecurity awareness course required of State Department employees that Clinton may not have taken since she did not access the agency’s computer systems.
“I get locked out of my computer, as does every other State Department employee, if I don’t take an annual cybersecurity awareness course. I literally can’t get on, I have to take — it takes a few hours,” Higginbottom said.
But by all accounts, Clinton did not use the State Department’s computers, either to send emails from her personal account or to access emails on the agency’s classified system.
“Secretary Clinton did not use a classified email account at the State Department,” Julia Frifield, the Assistant Secretary of State for legislative affairs, wrote to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in September. (RELATED: Revealed: State Dept. Created Classified Email Account For Hillary But She Never Used It)
“An account was set up on ClassNet on her calendar, but it was not used,” Frifield added.
If Clinton did not access the State Department’s computer networks because she worked only on her private system, it is unclear how she would have been brought up to speed on the latest cybersecurity threats and changes in how classified information was to be handled.
Last year, The Daily Caller News Foundation sued the State Department for records “memorializing certification” that Clinton and some of her top aides “had satisfied mandatory security training courses regarding the handling of classified materials and communications through secure equipment.” (RELATED: DCNF Sues State For Hillary, Aides’ Security Training Records)
Those records have not yet been produced.
Higginbottom, who has worked on Barack Obama’s and John Kerry’s presidential campaigns, also said during Tuesday’s hearing that in the wake of the Clinton email productions, the State Department plans to conduct a “lessons learned” review of “how we process those emails and some of the issues that arose.”