Even as then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was warning department employees about the threat from cyber-attacks, she opted to skip a special 2011 cyber briefing that the department security team put together just for her, according to congressional investigators and an unclassified letter from the State Department.
The briefing was a sign of how serious the cybersecurity threat to U.S. government systems had become. The briefing was drawn up during the same year an internal 2011 State Department cable from Clinton, first reported by Fox News, told State Department employees not to use personal email because of the hacking threat.
Yet, Clinton was conducting all official government business on her unsecured personal account. And in mid-February, Julia Frifield, the assistant secretary for legislative affairs, confirmed to Congress the existence of the 2011 cyber briefing and the fact that Clinton skipped it. The details were revealed in a March 3 congressional letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.
The letter says: "On February 18, 2016, Ms. Julia Frifield, the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, sent us that classified PowerPoint presentation used in the cybersecurity briefing, along with an unclassified cover letter. The unclassified cover letter noted that 'although the PowerPoint indicated the briefing was for former Secretary Clinton, we understand from the testimony of the briefers, that she was not in attendance.'"
The letter is part of the ongoing oversight of the State Department by Republican Sens. Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley, who signed the letter to Kerry. Grassley is asking that the PowerPoint presentation be declassified. The senator’s investigation of State Department practices began four years ago and is not limited to current questions about Clinton's use of personal email for government business.
In the last year since the email account became public, more than 2,000 messages containing classified information have been identified by the intelligence community and State Department, including another 22 emails considered too damaging to national security to release under any circumstances.