NEW YORK/WASHINGTON – A 2011 hacking attack of Google Inc.’s Gmail prompted Hillary Rodham Clinton and her top aides to worry about “antiquated” government-issued laptops and the security of private email accounts widely used by government officials.
Clinton’s use of a private email account while she led the department now hangs over her campaign to become the Democratic nominee for the November 2016 presidential election.
The introspection is revealed in the latest batch of Clinton’s emails released by the State Department, the fifth dump in a monthly series set to last until January 2016.
A federal judge ordered the State Department to release all of Clinton’s 30,000 work emails from a private email account connected to a server in her New York home while she was U.S. secretary of state.
After Google revealed in June 2011 that suspected Chinese hackers tried to steal the passwords of hundreds of Gmail accounts held by senior U.S. government officials, Clinton and three top aides discussed the issue.
“NO ONE uses a State-issued laptop and even high officials routinely end up using their home email accounts to be able to get their work done quickly and effectively,” Anne-Marie Slaughter, who had left her job as director of policy planning at the State Department, wrote in an email to Clinton.
Slaughter suggested that someone outside of government write an op-ed about the State Department’s “antiquated” technology. Clinton said she thought the idea made sense, but her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and policy aide Jake Sullivan had concerns.
Mills, who said hackers had attempted to infiltrate her email, wrote, “I am not sure we want to telegraph how much folks do or don’t do off state mail (because) it may encourage others who are out there,” Mills wrote.
Clinton has apologized for her email arrangement, but also has complained that the “drip, drip, drip” of incremental revelations and unflattering headlines from the emails were out of her control.
Opinion polls show voters have lingering questions about her use of the private server, and her lead over top rival Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, has dwindled amid the controversy.
The emails range from the quotidian business of an office job — including Clinton’s asking an aide how to turn her phone’s ringer on — to information the U.S. government says is classified redacted in the public copies to protect national security.
The government forbids transmitting classified information outside secure, government-controlled channels.
Nearly 200 emails sent and received by Clinton contain classified information, although the State Department and other government agencies are currently arguing over how much of the information, if any at all, was classified at the time it was sent.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is examining the server to see whether government information was mishandled.