Russian computer hacking might have been the least of Hillary Clinton’s security breaches.
The former secretary of state’s email scandal is back in the headlines, and its impact on American national security might have been even worse than Americans knew.
And deadly for American intelligence sources in China.
According to an exclusive Daily Caller News Foundation report, the unauthorized, unsecured computer server Clinton used while serving as the United States top diplomat — privy to some of the deepest secrets in the national security community — was penetrated by a Chinese firm “involved in collecting intelligence for China.”
As the exclusive DCNF report stated:
“The Chinese firm obtained Clinton’s emails in real time as she sent and received communications and documents through her personal server, according to the sources, who said the hacking was conducted as part of an intelligence operation.
“The Chinese wrote code that was embedded in the server, which was kept in Clinton’s residence in upstate New York. The code generated an instant ‘courtesy copy’ for nearly all of her emails and forwarded them to the Chinese company, according to the sources.”
In other words, an American secretary of state who felt entitled to work on her own amateurish computer system had exposed all of her correspondence to one of the country’s most powerful and dangerous rivals in world affairs.
And it’s possible that at least 12 operatives serving United States intelligence agencies paid for Clinton’s security breach with their lives.
According to a New York Times report from May 2017, a successful Chinese counterintelligence operation that started in 2010 “systematically dismantled C.I.A. spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward.”
“From the final weeks of 2010 through the end of 2012, according to former American officials, the Chinese killed at least a dozen of the C.I.A.’s sources,” The Times reported. “According to three of the officials, one was shot in front of his colleagues in the courtyard of a government building — a message to others who might have been working for the C.I.A.”
Maybe it’s a coincidence, but 2010 was Clinton’s first full year as secretary of state.
Naturally, she would not have been in on every detail of covert CIA operations, but it’s entirely possible that Chinese intelligence services reading her correspondence in real time would be able to glean enough information to identify where the United States might have intelligence assets within China.
After a year of getting such information, it’s not hard to imagine the Chinese intelligence services having enough to take drastic, deadly action against sources helping their American rivals.
At any rate, a report that Clinton’s server had been thoroughly and professionally hacked by Chinese intelligence is circulating now, more than a year after The Times reported a disastrous breach in American intelligence operations taking place in China at the same time that the Clinton breach occurred.
It’s not a big stretch to put those two items together.
There are, of course, other possible explanations. Writing for Foreign Policy earlier in August, Zach Dorfman claimed that a faulty communications system was to blame — although the exact nature of that system was understandably left undescribed.
“The CIA had imported the system from its Middle East operations, where the online environment was considerably less hazardous, and apparently underestimated China’s ability to penetrate it,” he wrote.
Dorfman also cited “former intelligence officials” who put the number of executions by the Chinese much higher than 12 — closer, in fact, to 30.
“When things started going bad, they went bad fast,” one of the former officials told Dorfman.
Nonetheless, the timing — and Clinton’s notorious history of playing fast and loose with the truth when it comes to intelligence, security, classified information and foreign policy — give reason for pause.
Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state is infamous for many reasons, but her bungling of American diplomatic security that led to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, then lying shamelessly to the American people about what happened, is one of the worst.
Having her government email being hacked by Chinese intelligence, if there is even a tenuous connection with an operation that ended with a roll-up of American intelligence operations in China — and the deaths of 30-odd operatives working for American interests — is a disaster to rival that.
Russia, the United States’ other big rival on the world stage, has long been known to have been engaged in intelligence operations targeting the Democratic National Committee, and by extension, Hillary’s campaign.
But Russian hacking might have been the least of Clinton’s leaks.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to make it clear that it is based on a single report by the Daily Caller News Foundation and that no independent corroboration of this information was available at the time of publishing. We also updated the headline to make this more clear and added information from Foreign Policy that provides a potentially alternative explanation for the exposure of the Chinese agents.
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