By Richard Pollock
The Daily Caller News Foundation filed a lawsuit Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia over the State Department’s failure to release records showing that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aides passed all mandatory security courses on handling classified materials.
The DCNF previously filed an Oct. 9, 2015, Freedom of Information Act request for the training records, but the department did not respond to the request within the 20 days allowed by the law.
In addition to Clinton, the suit requests records for Under Secretary Patrick F. Kennedy, Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin, and Deputy Chief of Staff Jacob Sullivan.
The suit asks for documents “memorializing certification that senior State officials had satisfied mandatory security training courses regarding the handling of classified materials and communications through secure equipment.” It also included sought records for IT Security training as well.
As part of federal national security protocols, all State Department employees, including political appointees, must participate in security training courses to assure they understand the proper manner to handle classified materials.
The lawsuit identifies at least four department entities that offer security-oriented training courses, including the Foreign Service Institute, the Bureau of Information Resource Management, the Office of Security, and the Diplomatic Security Service.
Critics contend that Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official State Department business shows a lack of basic knowledge about the government’s security rules for handling of classified materials.
General Michael Flynn, President Obama’s former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, called Clinton’s use of a private email server “unprecedented.” He has called for the administration to revoke her current security clearance.
The State Department reportedly has identified 671 classified documents embedded in Clinton’s personal emails to date.
Numerous State Department inspector general reports published since 2009 showed that top State Department officials lacked “security awareness” during Clinton’s tenure as head of the department. Senior department officials also failed to take required training courses on the proper handling of classified materials.
Former State IG Howard Geisel reported that a November 2011 sampling of senior State Department personnel, “found that all 46 employees had not taken the recommended role-based security-related training course in the [six month] time-frame, as recommended in the Information Assurance Training Plan.”
The department’s release in recent weeks of thousands of her emails to date shows that her top staff also handled classified materials within the personal email system.
Sullivan, Clinton’s closest foreign policy advisor, was required to testify about his own emails on her server for eight hours in a closed session before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Abedin kept Clinton informed of developments in Libya through her private email system.
And in 2011, Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills forwarded Clinton an email from Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, recounting an incident where American personnel were at “real risk of serious bodily harm.”
Clinton has joked about wiping her server “with a cloth or something” before reporters last August.
When she became Secretary of State, Clinton understood early on that she had to protect classified material.
The Washington Free Beacon reported recently that Clinton signed a non-disclosure agreement on Jan 22, 2009, in which she committed herself to protect classified material and acknowledged that her failure to do so could result in criminal prosecution.
“I have been advised that any breach of this Agreement may result in my termination of my access to SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) and removal from a position of special confidence,” the NDA reads.
The lawsuit is being handled by national security attorney Mark Zaid. He represents federal officials, including intelligence and military officers and whistle-blowers.
Zaid sued Libya for the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 which resulted in a $2.7 billion settlement, the largest of its kind ever against a foreign government for terrorist activities.
Politico reporter Josh Gerstein tweeted Monday just minutes after the filing became known.
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