A senior Department of State official claimed there is no documentation showing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ever received training in the proper handling of classified materials, according to a June 30 Department of Justice filing in U.S. District Court.
The disclosure could buttress FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before a congressional committee that Clinton was perhaps not “sophisticated enough” to understand that the marking “C” on an email meant it was a classified document.
“It’s an interesting question whether she was sophisticated enough to understand what a C in parens means,” Comey said before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Wednesday. “It’s possible—possible—she didn’t understand what a (C) meant when she saw it in the body of the email like that.”
In the Freedom of Information lawsuit brought by The Daily Caller News Foundation, the department to date has failed to deliver any documents showing that Clinton ever enrolled and passed mandatory State Department courses that instructed officials in the proper handling of classified material.
Similarly, there was no evidence Huma Abedin, her deputy chief of staff, had taken and passed any security training during her four years at the Department of State.
All State Department officials normally receive annual reviews and certification as part of their training for the proper handling of all levels of classified materials, including top secret information.
It’s unclear if Clinton refused security training outright during her four years as secretary of state.
It is known she resisted many other security rules while serving as America’s top diplomat. She used a home-based private email server to conduct all Department of State business, shunned the use of any department email addresses, and insisted on using an unsecured private Blackberry cellphone inside the State Department headquarters in the nation’s capital.
Director Comey disclosed in a news conference July 5 the FBI found 110 classified emails in 52 email chains on her home server, including eight chains that contained top secret material.
Mark Zaid, the lead attorney in TheDCNF lawsuit, said in a statement that Comey’s comments about Clinton’s lack of sophistication “makes perfect sense,” in light of the fact that “there were absolutely no documents demonstrating Secretary Clinton had ever received even annual security training, a requirement that supposedly was imposed on everyone else at State.”
“I did not want to believe that could be true but now, in light of Director Comey’s statement, it might be true. I am still shaking my head in disbelief,” Zaid said, who specializes in national security cases and represents U.S. intelligence officials.
The department did produce some fragmentary evidence that Clinton’s other top aides — Cheryl Mills and Jacob Sullivan — were certified in the “cyber-awareness training.” But there are gaps in the certificates and do not cover their full four years at the department.
Eric Stein, the department’s co-director of Office Information Programs, stated in a June 30 declaration before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that his office could only identify 11 documents pertaining to security training and none show any certification for Clinton or Abedin.
Seven of the documents were released to TheDCNF earlier this year. The foundation sued the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act and is now before the court.
In a July 1 memorandum filed before Judge Leon, attorneys for TheDCNF noted that there were no documents showing Clinton and Abedin had ever taken any security training classes.
“Noticeably absent from the documentation produced by State was any record memorializing completion of a single mandatory security and/or Information Technology training course by either former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (“Secretary Clinton”) or former Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin,” wrote national security attorney Bradley Moss in a July 1 memo before the court.
“Why are there no records for either Secretary Clinton or Ms. Abedin at all,” Moss asked Judge Leon in his filing before the court.
TheDCNF asked the court for discovery, the right to depose State Department officials or obtain affidavits.
Moss has handled FOIA issues since 2007 and has also represented intelligence, law enforcement and military officers in administrative proceedings.
In failing to find any certification, Stein did not tell the court they searched the hard drives, computers or other electronic devices used by Clinton or her aides that were in their offices.
Moss said the Stein declaration “demonstrates how State failed to meet its legal obligations to conduct an adequate search.”
“State did not even contemplate the possibility that responsive records could be located on individual-specific hard drives and/or shared drives utilized by any of the specific senior State officials during their respective tenures at State,” the attorney stated.
After the FBI and Justice Department reported they were closing their criminal investigation of Clinton, the Department of State announced last Thursday it was reopening an earlier administrative investigation into the matter, which could lead to the presumptive presidential nominee losing her security clearance.
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