Bryan Pagliano is not a household name, but he could become an unlikely superstar in the federal investigation of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state.
Fox News reported Friday that only a week after the Department of Justice granted Pagliano immunity from prosecution, he was described as a “devastating witness.”
“Bryan Pagliano is a devastating witness and, as the webmaster, knows exactly who had access to [Clinton’s] computer and devices at specific times. His importance to this case cannot be over-emphasized,” the intelligence source told Fox News.
Prominent legal scholar Jonathan Turley emphasized the potential damage of Pagliano’s testimony in a March 2 tweet.
Retired Special Forces Col. James Williamson, one of the cofounders of the advocacy group Special Operations OPSEC, told The Daily Caller News Foundation, “he may in fact have the keys to the kingdom.”
“He has to offer them something to get that deal. They must feel it’s damaging enough or they wouldn’t have given him immunity,” he continued.
What roles did Pagliano play during Clinton’s years at the State Department and what could he offer the FBI?
Pagliano had unfettered access to former President Bill Clinton and Hillary’s private email server. The couple personally paid him at least $5,000 in 2009 to “service” their server, which was housed in their Chappaqua, New York residence.
The IT specialist reportedly conducted routine maintenance on the server from his position in the Department of State’s Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) in Washington, D.C. He flew to New York on a number of occasions to service the Clinton’s email server, too.
Pagliano also was present when the Clintons chose an obscure IT firm, Platte River Networks, to maintain their server and a backup server. Presumably Pagliano can enlighten the FBI as to why the Clintons chose the Denver-based Platte River. The company had never been cleared to have access to sensitive or confidential classified material, according to the Defense Security Service.
As the Clintons’ top IT specialist, Pagliano can inform the FBI why the couple insisted on configuring their private server to connect openly with the Internet, which made it vulnerable to hacking by foreign governments. Pagliano might also connect the dots explaining why the Clintons insisted on using the same server for Hillary’s official government business and Bill’s transactions at the Clinton Foundation.
The Clintons used three main email addresses: clintonemail.gov, wjoffice.com and presidentclinton.com. Hillary refused to use a state.gov email account even though it was a requirement for all State Department employees.
Pagliano presumably knows who approved the former secretary of state’s rejection of the state.gov email, and who approved her use of a private server for official government business.
Pagliano is an odd IT witness to address the issue of classified material, as his first seven years in the IT field had nothing to do with classified information or national security secrets.
When he arrived in Washington, he joined Community IT Innovators, a small technology shop that operated out of Washington, D.C. The company seemed to shun contracts with the military and the intelligence agencies.
Instead, the company’s client base consisted exclusively of nonprofit groups, mainly liberal and progressive activist groups, like Earth Justice, a radical environmental organization. Community IT boasts on its website, “Nonprofits are not just a market to us, they are our mission.”
Pagliano’s engagement with the Clintons started in 2008 when he joined then-Sen. Clinton’s presidential campaign as her IT director.
After the 2008 election, the former secretary of state invited Pagliano to join her at the State Department, catapulting Pagliano into the highest levels of the State Department’s security system — though he lacked national security experience and had never held a security clearance.
The IRM bureau was responsible for maintaining a highly classified system, which managed the digital traffic of 50,000 U.S. diplomats and foreign service officers at 250 U.S. embassies and consulates around the world.
Pagliano entered the Department of State with a GS-15 position, one of the federal government’s highest ranks for a career civil service employee and was appointed senior advisor to the office of the deputy chief technology officer at IRM. He was paid $133,000 as a “provisional employee.”
Retired Col. James M. Waurishuk, who had a 30-year career as an intelligence and military officer, told TheDCNF that Pagliano’s GS-15 was the equivalent of at least a one-star general.
“In the IT defense and national security world, at the unified combatant command, or at the Joint Chiefs Staff level, an IT director would be at least a one-star general. A GS-15 would be a deputy director to the one-star general,” he told TheDCNF
Pagliano bragged he assumed top-line responsibilities at the State Department. Before he took down his Facebook page, the British Daily Mail found that Pagliano said he “delivered briefs to senior leadership on various technologies.”
The young IT specialist also said he conducted “industry analysis, internal and external communications, creating strategic roadmaps, technical roadmaps, collaborating across security, budget and operations to develop, execute and measure special projects.”
In contrast, Ashkan Soltani, the Federal Trade Commission’s chief technology officer, was turned down for a security clearance last January. He had been selected to serve as a senior advisor to President Barack Obama’s chief technology officer (CTO). Afterwards, Soltani tweeted, “Bittersweet end to my stint in government.”
Waurishuk told TheDCNF that when Clinton placed Pagliano in IRM as a senior advisor to the deputy CTO, “they probably were laughing their asses off when he came in.”
“I have to wonder, here comes in a person with no experience whatsoever, working in the classified national security IT community,” said the colonel, who has been deployed to more than 50 countries in military intelligence. “I could just see what the reaction would have when this guy walks in with a GS-15.”
“To put him in the position of that sensitivity and responsibility without having all the security qualifications, that’s criminal in itself,” Williamson said.
Pagliano enjoyed a direct line into Clinton’s inner circle. He had relationships with Cheryl Mills, Hillary’s chief of staff, and Huma Abedin, her deputy chief of staff.
In a series of emails on Dec. 22, 2010 Pagliano advised Mills, for example, how to buy a personal printer and get it in time as a Christmas present.
Pagliano, Mills and Abedin shared one other thing in common: They were allowed to hold private sector jobs while working for the State Department. Both Mills and Abedin worked for the Clinton Foundation, while Pagliano was privately hired by the Clintons for their server.
Pagliano left the government as an employee in February 2013 when Clinton departed the Department of State, but he remained with IRM as a consultant with the Virginia-based firm Gartner, Inc.
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