The private email used in work instances by former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was not only unsecure, it was used to exchange sensitive information with foreign officials.
As a result of obtaining 216 pages of documents filed by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request, it can be seen that Johnson used his private email to conduct sensitive discussions with high level foreign officials, including conversations he had with a Kuwaiti ambassador and Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry officials.
A federal judge had ordered former top officials at DHS last month, including Johnson, to preserve emails in their private accounts that may be included in the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
The trove of documents included an email sent from the Kuwaiti ambassador to Johnson’s unsecure email account asking the secretary to set up a meeting for him with Kuwait’s Interior Ministry. Additionally, the email talks about Kuwait’s Interior Minister’s having talks with the chiefs of CIA, FBI and DNI.
The U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia also sent an email to Johnson’s unsecure email account, inquiring about Johnson’s future meetings at the Saudi Interior Ministry in Jeddah.An unknown individual spoofed Johnson’s name and unsecure email account as well in a phishing scam. The email told recipients they could get money from “an abandoned fund worth U.S.D. 4.5 million in West Africa” if they would send their personal details back.
Despite his use of his private email when having high level discussions, Johnson gave a January 29, 2015 “Progress Report” speech where he boasted about the Homeland Security’s “strides in cybersecurity.”
Johnson and 28 other agency officials used personal web-based e-mail accounts, Judicial Watch previously uncovered from other documents, despite a department-wide prohibition on doing so as a result of cyber-security concerns.
“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,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a Monday statement. “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.”