A newly released email from the State Department shows that Hillary Clinton was informed in April 2009 of a massive theft of data pertaining to former President Bill Clinton’s White House records.
On April 13, 2009, Clinton attorney Cheryl Mills informed newly sworn-in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton via email that the National Archives could not account for a two-terabyte hard drive.
“The drive may contain a wide range of memos, emails, and other electronic documents from the Clinton White House.”
The hard drive contained information from the administration of her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
The email was made public from State Department files on Thursday as part of an ongoing release of recovered emails that had been previously deleted from Clinton’s private server.
The forwarded email said the National Archives had a duplicate and was examining it to know what was stolen. It was stolen or misplaced between Jan. 30, 2009, and March 24, 2009.
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The possible data losses were all serious but only three documents were classified. Social Security numbers and birth dates may have been lost to thieves. Political information may have been stolen, too.
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“Two terabytes is a very very large amount of data; the drive may contain a wide range of memos, emails, and other electronic documents from the Clinton White House,” wrote Blake Roberts, deputy associate White House counsel for President Obama. “All the material is unclassified, except for three documents which Bill Leary has examined and does not believe present any significant risk.”
But the loss was still serious.
“Based on its analysis, NARA (National Archives) believes the drive contains other sensitive material, including: There is at least a 50% likelihood that the personal information (including DOB and SSN) of all individuals placed through the Clinton Presidential Personnel Office was on the lost hard drive,” wrote Roberts. “There is a 90% likelihood that the personal information (including DOB and SSN) of all Clinton WH staff was on the lost hard drive. There is a 100% chance that some of it was on the lost hard drive.”
The three classified documents were authored by Lael Brainard, then a top nominee for the Department of the Treasury, Roberts wrote.
“There are almost certainly records from many other White House officials,” he said.
The National Archives inspector general investigated the theft. Later emails released by the State Department do not indicate if the federal government ever found the hard drive.
The federal government said it would notify affected people of the breach.
The National Archives later did issue a press release on July 16, 2009, updating the public about the search for the hard drive. It offered a reward of $50,000. It also said 15,750 individuals had to be notified by mail of the possible theft.
It’s not clear why the hard drive was stolen eight years after Bill Clinton left office, and at the start of a new Democratic administration that included his wife, Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state.
Theft of records from the National Archives had happened before.
The late Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton’s national security adviser from 1997 to 2001, removed several documents from the National Archives between Sept. 2, 2003, and Oct. 2, 2003.
Berger removed the classified documents from the National Archives by sneaking them out in his socks and pants. Berger then stored and retained such documents at his place of employment. He pleaded guilty in 2005 but received no prison time, according to CNN.