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April 2, 2016

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2 April 2016

Newswire

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How Clinton’s email scandal took root

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/how-clintons-email-scandal-took-root/2016/03/27/ee301168-e162-11e5-846c-10191d1fc4ec_story.html

By Robert O’Harrow Jr. March 27

 

This article reflects a revised number for the FBI personnel working on the Clinton email case.

 

Hillary Clinton’s email problems began in her first days as secretary of state. She insisted on using her personal BlackBerry for all her email communications, but she wasn’t allowed to take the device into her seventh-floor suite of offices, a secure space known as Mahogany Row.

For Clinton, this was frustrating. As a political heavyweight and chief of the nation’s diplomatic corps, she needed to manage a torrent of email to stay connected to colleagues, friends and supporters. She hated having to put her BlackBerry into a lockbox before going into her own office.

Her aides and senior officials pushed to find a way to enable her to use the device in the secure area. But their efforts unsettled the diplomatic security bureau, which was worried that foreign intelligence services could hack her BlackBerry and transform it into a listening device.

On Feb. 17, 2009, less than a month into Clinton’s tenure, the issue came to a head. Department security, intelligence and technology specialists, along with five officials from the National Security Agency, gathered in a Mahogany Row conference room. They explained the risks to Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, while also seeking “mitigation options” that would accommodate Clinton’s wishes.

“The issue here is one of personal comfort,” one of the participants in that meeting, Donald Reid, the department’s senior coordinator for security infrastructure, wrote afterward in an email that described Clinton’s inner circle of advisers as “dedicated [BlackBerry] addicts.”

Clinton used her BlackBerry as the group continued looking for a solution. But unknown to diplomatic security and technology officials at the department, there was another looming communications vulnerability: Clinton’s Black­Berry was digitally tethered to a private email server in the basement of her family home, some 260 miles to the north in Chappaqua, N.Y., documents and interviews show.

Those officials took no steps to protect the server against intruders and spies, because they apparently were not told about it.

The vulnerability of Clinton’s basement server is one of the key unanswered questions at the heart of a scandal that has dogged her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Since Clinton’s private email account was brought to light a year ago in a New York Times report — followed by an Associated Press report revealing the existence of the server — the matter has been a source of nonstop national news. Private groups have filed lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act. Investigations were begun by congressional committees and inspector general’s offices in the State Department and the U.S. Intelligence Community, which referred the case to the FBI in July for “counterintelligence purposes” after determining that the server carried classified material.

The FBI is now trying to determine whether a crime was committed in the handling of that classified material. It is also examining whether the server was hacked.

Dozens of FBI personnel have been deployed to run down leads, according to a lawmaker briefed by FBI Director James B. Comey. The FBI has accelerated the investigation because officials want to avoid the possibility of announcing any action too close to the election.

The Washington Post reviewed hundreds of documents and interviewed more than a dozen knowledgeable government officials to understand the decisions and the implications of Clinton’s actions. The resulting scandal revolves around questions about classified information, the preservation of government records and the security of her email communication.

From the earliest days, Clinton aides and senior officials focused intently on accommodating the secretary’s desire to use her private email account, documents and interviews show.

Throughout, they paid insufficient attention to laws and regulations governing the handling of classified material and the preservation of government records, interviews and documents show. They also neglected repeated warnings about the security of the BlackBerry while Clinton and her closest aides took obvious security risks in using the basement server.

Senior officials who helped Clinton with her BlackBerry claim they did not know details of the basement server, the State Department said, even though they received emails from her private account. One email written by a senior official mentioned the server.

The scandal has pitted those who say Clinton was innocently trying to find the easiest way to communicate against those who say she placed herself above the law in a quest for control of her records. She and her campaign have been accused of confusing matters with contradictory and evolving statements that minimized the consequences of her actions.

Clinton, 68, declined to be interviewed. She has said repeatedly that her use of the private server was benign and that there is no evidence of any intrusion.

In a news conference last March, she said: “I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.”

During a Democratic debate on March 9, she acknowledged using poor judgment but maintained she was permitted to use her own server: “It wasn’t the best choice. I made a mistake. It was not prohibited. It was not in any way dis­allowed.”

The unfolding story of Clinton’s basement server has outraged advocates of government transparency and mystified political supporters and adversaries alike. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., who is presiding over one of the FOIA lawsuits, has expressed puzzlement over the affair. He noted that Clinton put the State Department in the position of having to ask her to return thousands of government records — her work email.

“Am I missing something?” Sullivan asked during a Feb. 23 hearing. “How in the world could this happen?”

Hillary Clinton began preparing to use the private basement server after President Obama picked her to be his secretary of state in November 2008. The system was already in place. It had been set up for former president Bill Clinton, who used it for personal and Clinton Foundation business.

On Jan. 13, 2009, a longtime aide to Bill Clinton registered a private email domain for Hillary Clinton, clintonemail.com, that would allow her to send and receive email through the server.

Eight days later, she was sworn in as secretary of state. Among the multitude of challenges she faced was how to integrate email into her State Department routines. Because Clinton did not use desktop computers, she relied on her personal BlackBerry, which she had started using three years earlier.

For years, employees across the government had used official and private email accounts.

The new president was making broad promises about government transparency that had a bearing on Clinton’s communication choices. In memos to his agency chiefs, Obama said his administration would promote accountability through the disclosure of a wide array of information, one part of a “profound national commitment to ensuring an open government.” That included work emails.

One year earlier, during her own presidential campaign, Clinton had said that if elected, “we will adopt a presumption of openness and Freedom of Information Act requests and urge agencies to release information quickly.”

But in those first few days, Clinton’s senior advisers were already taking steps that would help her circumvent those high-flown words, according to a chain of internal State Department emails released to Judicial Watch, a conservative nonprofit organization suing the government over Clinton’s emails.

Cheryl Mills, who served as Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, wondered if the State Department could get the secretary of state an encrypted device such as the one from the National Security Agency used by President Obama. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

Leading that effort was Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff. She was joined by Clinton adviser Huma Abedin, Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy and Lewis Lukens, a senior career official who served as Clinton’s logistics chief. Their focus was on accommodating Clinton.

Mills wondered whether the department could get her an encrypted device like the one from the NSA that Obama used.

“If so, how can we get her one?” Mills wrote the group on Saturday evening, Jan. 24.

Lukens responded that same evening, saying he could help set up “a stand alone PC in the Secretary’s office, connected to the internet (but not through our system) to enable her to check her emails from her desk.”

Kennedy wrote that a “stand-alone separate network PC” was a “great idea.”

Abedin and Mills declined to comment for this article, according to Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon. Lukens also declined to comment, according to the State Department.

As undersecretary for management, Kennedy occupies a central role in Clinton’s email saga. The department acknowledged that Kennedy, as part of his normal duties, helped Clinton with her BlackBerry. But in a statement, the department said: “Under Secretary Kennedy maintains that he was unaware of the email server. Completely separate from that issue, Under Secretary Kennedy was aware that at the beginning of her tenure, Secretary Clinton’s staff was interested in setting up a computer at the Department so she could email her family during the work day.

“As we have previously made clear — no such computer was ever set up. Furthermore, Under Secretary Kennedy had very little insight into Secretary Clinton’s email practices including how ­frequently or infrequently then-Secretary Clinton used email.”

As it happened, Clinton would never have a government BlackBerry, personal computer or email account. A request for a secure device from the NSA was rebuffed at the outset: “The current state of the art is not too user friendly, has no infrastructure at State, and is very expensive,” Reid, the security official, wrote in an email on Feb. 13, adding that “each time we asked the question ‘What was the solution for POTUS?’ we were politely told to shut up and color.”

Clinton would continue to use her BlackBerry for virtually all of her government communication, but not on Mahogany Row.

Her first known BlackBerry communication through the basement server came on Jan. 28, 2009, when Clinton exchanged notes with Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, then chief of the U.S. Central Command, according to a State Department spokeswoman. It has not been released.

Few knew the details behind the new clintonemail.com address. But news about her choice to use her own BlackBerry spread quickly among the department’s diplomatic security and “intelligence countermeasures” specialists.

Their fears focused on the seventh floor, which a decade earlier had been the target of Russian spies who managed to plant a listening device inside a decorative chair-rail molding not far from Mahogany Row. In more recent years, in a series of widely publicized cyberattacks, hackers breached computers at the department along with those at other federal agencies and several major corporations.

The State Department security officials were distressed about the possibility that Clinton’s BlackBerry could be compromised and used for eavesdropping, documents and interviews show.

After the meeting on Feb. 17 with Mills, security officials in the department crafted a memo about the risks. And among themselves, they expressed concern that other department employees would follow the “bad example” and seek to use insecure BlackBerrys themselves, emails show.

As they worked on the memo, they were aware of a speech delivered by Joel F. Brenner, then chief of counterintelligence at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on Feb. 24 at a hotel in Vienna, Va., a State Department document shows. Brenner urged his audience to consider what could have happened to them during a visit to the recent Beijing Olympics.

“Your phone or BlackBerry could have been tagged, tracked, monitored and exploited between your disembarking the airplane and reaching the taxi stand at the airport,” Brenner said. “And when you emailed back home, some or all of the malware may have migrated to your home server. This is not hypothetical.”

At the time, Clinton had just returned from an official trip that took her to China and elsewhere in Asia. She was embarking on another foray to the Middle East and Europe. She took her BlackBerry with her.

In early March, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell delivered a memo with the subject line “Use of Blackberries in Mahogany Row.”

“Our review reaffirms our belief that the vulnerabilities and risks associated with the use of Blackberries in the Mahogany Row [redacted] considerably outweigh the convenience their use can add,” the memo said.

He emphasized: “Any unclassified Blackberry is highly vulnerable in any setting to remotely and covertly monitoring conversations, retrieving e-mails, and exploiting calendars.”

Nine days later, Clinton told Boswell that she had read his memo and “gets it,” according to an email sent by a senior diplomatic security official. “Her attention was drawn to the sentence that indicates (Diplomatic Security) have intelligence concerning this vulnerability during her recent trip to Asia,” the email said.

But Clinton kept using her private BlackBerry — and the basement server.

The server was nothing remarkable, the kind of system often used by small businesses, according to people familiar with its configuration at the end of her tenure. It consisted of two off-the-shelf server computers. Both were equipped with antivirus software. They were linked by cable to a local Internet service provider. A firewall was used as protection against hackers.

Few could have known it, but the email system operated in those first two months without the standard encryption generally used on the Internet to protect communication, according to an independent analysis that Venafi Inc., a cybersecurity firm that specializes in the encryption process, took upon itself to publish on its website after the scandal broke.

Not until March 29, 2009 — two months after Clinton began using it — did the server receive a “digital certificate” that protected communication over the Internet through encryption, according to Venafi’s analysis.

It is unknown whether the system had some other way to encrypt the email traffic at the time. Without encryption — a process that scrambles communication for anyone without the correct key — email, attachments and passwords are transmitted in plain text.

“That means that anyone could have accessed it. Anyone,” Kevin Bocek, vice president of threat intelligence at Venafi, told The Post.

The system had other features that made it vulnerable to talented hackers, including a software program that enabled users to log on directly from the World Wide Web.

Four computer-security specialists interviewed by The Post said that such a system could be made reasonably secure but that it would need constant monitoring by people trained to look for irregularities in the server’s logs.

“For data of this sensitivity . . . we would need at a minimum a small team to do monitoring and hardening,” said Jason Fossen, a computer-security specialist at the SANS Institute, which provides cybersecurity training around the world.

The man Clinton has said maintained and monitored her server was Bryan Pagliano, who had worked as the technology chief for her political action committee and her presidential campaign. It is not clear whether he had any help. Pagliano had also provided computer services to the Clinton family. In 2008, he received more than $5,000 for that work, according to financial disclosure statements he filed with the government.

In May 2009, with Kennedy’s help, Pagliano landed a job as a political employee in the State Department’s IT division, documents and interviews show. It was an unusual arrangement.

At the same time, Pagliano apparently agreed to maintain the basement server. Officials in the IT division have told investigators they could not recall previously hiring a political appointee. Three of Pagliano’s supervisors also told investigators they had no idea that Clinton used the basement server or that Pagliano was moonlighting on it.

Through an attorney, Pagliano declined a request from The Post for an interview. He also refused a request from the Senate Judiciary and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees to discuss his role. On Sept. 1, 2015, his attorney told the committees that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights if any attempt was made to compel his testimony. He was later given immunity by the Justice Department in exchange for his cooperation, according to articles in the New York Times and The Post.

In a statement, Clinton’s campaign said the server was protected but declined to provide technical details. Clinton officials have said that server logs given to authorities show no signs of hacking.

“The security and integrity of her family’s electronic communications was taken seriously from the onset when it was first set up for President Clinton’s team,” the statement said. “Suffice it to say, robust protections were put in place and additional upgrades and techniques employed over time as they became available, including consulting and employing third party experts.”

The statement added that “there is no evidence there was ever a breach.”

Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) speaks as piles of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails about Libya are seen on the bench during a hearing before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill on Oct. 22. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The number of emails moving through the basement system increased quickly as Hillary Clinton dove into the endless details of her globetrotting job. There were 62,320 in all, an average of 296 a week, nearly 1,300 a month, according to numbers Clinton later reported to the State Department. About half of them were work-related.

Her most frequent correspondent was Mills, her chief of staff, who sent thousands of notes. Next came Abedin, the deputy chief of staff, and Jacob Sullivan, also a deputy chief of staff, according to a tally by The Post.

Clinton used hdr22@clintonemail.com as her address, making it immediately apparent that the emails were not coming from or going to a government address.

Most of her emails were routine, including those sent to friends. Some involved the coordination of efforts to bring aid to Haiti by the State Department and her husband’s New York-based Clinton Foundation — notes that mixed government and family business, the emails show.

Others involved classified matters. State Department and Intelligence Community officials have determined that 2,093 email chains contained classified information. Most of the classified emails have been labeled as “confidential,” the lowest level of classification. Clinton herself authored 104 emails that contained classified material, a Post analysis later found.

Before the server received a digital certificate marking the use of standard encryption, Clinton and her aides exchanged notes touching on North Korea, Mexico, Afghanistan, military advisers, CIA operations and a briefing for Obama.

Clinton adviser Philippe Reines wrote a note to her about Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. Reines started his note by reminding Clinton that Reines’s “close friend Jeremy Bash is now [CIA Director Leon E.] Panetta’s Chief of Staff.” The rest of the note was redacted before release, under grounds that it was national-security-sensitive.

On Sunday, March 29, 2009, just hours before standard encryption on the server began, Sullivan emailed Clinton a draft of a confidential report she was to make to Obama. “Attached is a draft of your Mexico trip report to POTUS,” Sullivan wrote.

In the high-pressure world of diplomacy, the sharing of such material had been a discreet but common practice for many years. Officials who manage problems around the clock require a never-ending flow of incisive information to make timely decisions.

Not all classified material is equally sensitive. Much of it involves discussions about foreign countries or leaders, not intelligence sources and methods. Working with classified materials can be cumbersome and, in the case of low-level classification, annoying.

On Feb. 10, 2010, in an exchange with Sullivan, Clinton vented her frustration one day when she wanted to read a statement regarding José Miguel Insulza, then secretary general of the Organization of American States. Sullivan wrote that he could not send it to her immediately because the department had put it on the classified network.

“It’s a public statement! Just email it,” Clinton shot back, just moments later.

“Trust me, I share your exasperation,” Sullivan wrote. “But until ops converts it to the unclassified email system, there is no physical way for me to email it. I can’t even access it.”

Early on June 17, 2011, Clinton grew impatient as she waited for “talking points” about a sensitive matter that had to be delivered via a secure line.

“They say they’ve had issues sending secure fax. They’re working on it,” Sullivan wrote his boss.

 

Clinton told him to take a shortcut.

“If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure,” she said.

Clinton spokesman Fallon said she was not trying to circumvent the classification system.

“What she was asking was that any information that could be transmitted on the unclassified system be transmitted,” he said. “It is wrong to suggest that she was requesting otherwise. The State Department looked into this and confirmed that no classified material was sent through a non-secure fax or email.”

Security remained a constant concern. On June 28, 2011, in response to reports that Gmail accounts of government workers had been targeted by “online adversaries,” a note went out over Clinton’s name urging department employees to “avoid conducting official Department business from your personal email accounts.”

But she herself ignored the warning and continued using her BlackBerry and the basement server.

Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi address the findings of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s personal emails during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in March 2015. (Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)

In December 2012, near the end of Clinton’s tenure, a nonprofit group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, filed a FOIA request seeking records about her email. CREW received a response in May 2013: “no records responsive to your request were located.”

Other requests for Clinton records met the same fate — until the State Department received a demand from the newly formed House Select Committee on Benghazi in July 2014. The committee wanted Clinton’s email, among other things, to see what she and others knew about the deadly attack in Libya and the response by the U.S. government.

Officials in the department’s congressional affairs office found some Clinton email and saw that she had relied on the private domain, not the department’s system.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry resolved to round up the Clinton emails and deliver them to Congress as quickly as possible. Department officials reached out to Clinton informally in the summer of 2014. On Oct. 28, 2014, the department contacted Clinton and the offices of three other former secretaries — Madeleine K. Albright, Condoleezza Rice and Colin L. Powell — asking if they had any email or other federal records in their possession.

Albright and Rice said they did not use email while at State. Powell, secretary of state from 2001 to 2005, had a private email account through America Online but did not retain copies of his emails. The inspector general for the State Department found that Powell’s personal email account had received two emails from staff that contained “national security information classified at the Secret or Confidential levels.”

Clinton lawyer David Kendall later told the State Department that her “use of personal email was consistent with the practices of other Secretaries of State,” citing Powell in particular, according to a letter he wrote in August.

But Powell’s circumstances also differed from Clinton’s in notable ways. Powell had a phone line installed in his office solely to link to his private account, which he generally used for personal or non-classified communication. At the time, he was pushing the department to embrace the Internet era and wanted to set an example.

“I performed a little test whenever I visited an embassy: I’d dive into the first open office I could find (sometimes it was the ambassador’s office). If the computer was on, I’d try to get into my private email account,” Powell wrote in “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership.” “If I could, they passed.”

Powell conducted virtually all of his classified communications on paper or over a State Department computer installed on his desk that was reserved for classified information, according to interviews. Clinton never had such a desktop or a classified email account, according to the State Department.

On Dec. 5, 2014, Clinton lawyers delivered 12 file boxes filled with printed paper containing more than 30,000 emails. Clinton withheld almost 32,000 emails deemed to be of a personal nature.

 

The Clinton investigation enters a dangerous phase

By Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

Published March 31, 2016

FoxNews.com

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/03/31/clinton-investigation-enters-dangerous-phase.html

 

The FBI investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s failure to protect state secrets contained in her emails has entered its penultimate phase, and it is a dangerous one for her and her aides.

Federal law enforcement sources have let it be known that federal prosecutors and the FBI have completed their examination of raw data in the case. After the FBI acquires raw data — for example, the nature and number of the state secrets in the emails Clinton failed to protect or the regular, consistent, systematic nature of that failure — prosecutors and agents proceed to draw rational inferences from that data.

Then they proceed to corroborate those inferences, looking for other sources to support or even to contradict them. With one exception, all of this work has been done with neutral sources of evidence — documents, email metadata, government records and technical experts.

The exception is Bryan Pagliano, the one member of Clinton’s inner circle who, with either a written promise of non-prosecution or an order of immunity from a federal judge, began to cooperate with federal prosecutors last fall.

Here is what he told the feds.

Pagliano has explained to federal prosecutors the who, what, when, how and why he migrated an open State Department email stream and a secret State Department email stream from government computers to Clinton’s secret server in her home in Chappaqua, New York. He has told them that Clinton paid him $5,000 to commit that likely criminal activity.

He has also told some of the 147 FBI agents assigned to this case that Clinton herself was repeatedly told by her own State Department information technology experts and their colleagues at the National Security Agency that her persistent use of her off-the-shelf BlackBerry was neither an effective nor an acceptable means of receiving, transmitting or safeguarding state secrets. Little did they know how reckless she was with government secrets, as none was apparently then aware of her use of her non-secure secret server in Chappaqua for all of her email uses.

We know that the acquisition and corroboration phase of the investigation has been completed because the prosecutors have begun to ask Clinton’s top aides during her time as secretary of state to come in for interviews. This is a delicate and dangerous phase for the aides, all of whom have engaged counsel to represent them.

Here are the dangers.

The Department of Justice will not reveal to the aides or their lawyers what it knows about the case or what evidence of criminal wrongdoing, if any, it has acquired on each of them. Hence, if they submit to an FBI interview, they will go in “blind.” By going in blind, the aides run the risk of getting caught in a “perjury trap.” Though not under oath, they could be trapped into lying by astute prosecutors and aggressive FBI agents, as it is a crime — the equivalent of perjury — to lie to them or materially mislead them.

For this reason, most white-collar criminal defense lawyers will not permit their clients to be interviewed by any prosecutors or FBI agents. Martha Stewart’s lawyers failed to give her that advice, and she went to prison for one lie told in one conversation with one FBI agent.

After interviewing any Clinton aides who choose to be interviewed, the DOJ personnel on the case will move their investigation into its final phase, in which they will ask Clinton herself whether she wishes to speak with them. The prosecutors will basically tell her lawyers that they have evidence of the criminal behavior of their client and that before they present it to a grand jury, they want to afford Clinton an opportunity blindly to challenge it.

This will be a moment she must devoutly wish would pass from her, as she will face a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t dilemma.

Here is her dilemma.

If she were to talk to federal prosecutors and FBI agents, they would catch her in many inconsistencies, as she has spoken with great deception in public about this case. She has, for example, stated many times that she used the private server so she could have one mobile device for all of her emails. The FBI knows she had four mobile devices. She has also falsely claimed publicly and under oath that she neither sent nor received anything “marked classified.” The FBI knows that nothing is marked classified, and its agents also know that her unprotected secret server transmitted some of the nation’s gravest secrets.

The prosecutors and agents cannot be happy about her public lies and her repeated demeaning attitude about their investigation, and they would have an understandable animus toward her if she were to meet with them.

If she were to decline to be interviewed — a prudent legal but treacherous political decision — the feds would leak her rejection of their invitation, and political turmoil would break loose because one of her most imprudent and often repeated public statements in this case has been that she can’t wait to talk to the FBI. That’s a lie, and the FBI knows it.

Some Democrats who now understand the gravity of the case against Clinton have taken to arguing lately that the feds should establish a different and higher bar — a novel and unknown requirement for a greater quantum of evidence and proof of a heavier degree of harm — before Clinton can be prosecuted. They have suggested this merely because she is the likely Democratic presidential nominee.

The public will never stand for that. America has a bedrock commitment to the rule of law. The rule of law means that no one is beneath the law’s protections or above its requirements. The DOJ is not in the business of rewriting the law, but the Democrats should get in the business of rethinking Clinton’s status as their presumptive presidential nominee, lest a summer catastrophe come their way.

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel.

 

Takeaways from Hillary Clinton’s e-mails

Clinton has come under fire for using a private email address during her time as secretary of state. The emails are being screened and released in batches. Here are some things we’ve learned from them.

The department began releasing the emails last May, starting with some 296 emails requested by the Benghazi committee. In reviewing those emails, intelligence officials realized that some contained classified material.

Clinton and her campaign have offered various responses to questions about the classifications. At first, she flat-out denied that her server ever held any. “There is no classified material,” she said at a March 10, 2015, news conference.

Her campaign later released a statement saying she could not have known whether material was classified, because it was not labeled as such. “No information in Clinton’s emails was marked classified at the time she sent or received them,” the statement said.

Clinton has also suggested that many of the emails were classified as a formality only because they were being prepared for release under a FOIA request. Her campaign has said that much of the classified material — in emails sent by more than 300 individuals — came from newspaper accounts and other public sources.

“What you are talking about is retroactive classification,” she said during a recent debate. “And I think what we have got here is a case of overclassification.” Her statement appears to conflict with a report to Congress last year by inspectors general from the State Department and the group of spy agencies known as the Intelligence Community. They made their report after the discovery that four emails, from a sample of 40 that went through her server, contained classified information.

“These emails were not retro­actively classified by the State Department,” the report said. “Rather these emails contained classified information when they were generated and, according to IC classification officials, that information remains classified today. This classified information should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system.”

One of those four emails has since been declassified and released publicly by the State Department. The department has questioned the classification of another of those emails.

Twenty-two emails discovered later were deemed so highly classified that they were withheld in their entirety from public release. “They are on their face sensitive and obviously classified,” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told The Post. “This information should have been maintained in the most secure, classified, top-secret servers.”

Fallon pointed out that none of those emails originated with Clinton, something that he said Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the Senate Select Intelligence Committee vice chairman, has noted. “We strongly disagree with the decision to withhold these emails in full,” he said.

Under Title 18, Section 1924, of federal law, it is a misdemeanor punishable by fines and imprisonment for a federal employee to knowingly remove classified information “without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location.”

Previous cases brought under the law have required proof of an intent to mishandle classified information, a high hurdle in the Clinton case. The basement server also put Clinton at risk of violating laws and regulations aimed at protecting and preserving government records.

In a statement, Clinton’s campaign said she had received “guidance regarding the need to preserve federal records” and followed those rules. “It was her practice to email government employees on their ‘.gov’ email address. That way, work emails would be immediately captured and preserved in government ­record-keeping systems,” the statement said.

Fallon said that “over 90 percent” of the more than 30,000 work-related emails “were to or from government email accounts.”

Specialists interviewed by The Post said her practices fell short of what laws and regulations mandated. Some of those obligations were spelled out a few months before Clinton took office in National Archives and Records Administration Bulletin 2008-05, which said every email system was supposed to “permit easy and timely retrieval” of the records.

The secretary of state’s work emails are supposed to be preserved permanently. In addition, rules also mandated that permanent records are to be sent to the department’s Records Service Center “at the end of the Secretary’s tenure or sooner if necessary” for safekeeping.

Under Title 18, Section 2071, it is a misdemeanor to take federal records without authorization, something that is sometimes referred to as the “alienation” of records. The law is rarely enforced, but a conviction can carry a fine or imprisonment.

Jason R. Baron, a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration, told the Senate Judiciary Committee last year he believed that Clinton’s server ran afoul of the rules. In a memo to the committee, Baron wrote that “the setting up of and maintaining a private email network as the sole means to conduct official business by email, coupled with the failure to timely return email records into government custody, amounts to actions plainly inconsistent with the federal recordkeeping laws.”

On May 19, 2015, in response to a FOIA lawsuit from the media organization Vice News, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras ordered all the email to be released in stages, with re­dactions.

One notable email was sent in August 2011. Stephen Mull, then serving as the department’s executive secretary, emailed Abedin, Mills and Kennedy about getting a government-issued BlackBerry linked to a government server for Clinton.

“We are working to provide the Secretary per her request a Department issued Blackberry to replace personal unit, which is malfunctioning (possibly because of her personal email server is down.) We will prepare two version for her to use — one with an operating State Department email account (which would mask her identity, but which would also be subject to FOIA requests).”

Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, reacts to testimony at an October hearing of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Abedin responded decisively.

“Steve — let’s discuss the state blackberry. doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Fallon said the email showed that the secretary’s staff “opposed the idea of her identity being masked.”

Last month, in a hearing about a Judicial Watch lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Sullivan cited that email as part of the reason he ordered the State Department produce records related to its initial failures in the FOIA searches for Clinton’s records.

Speaking in open court, Sullivan said legitimate questions have been raised about whether Clinton’s staff was trying to help her to sidestep FOIA.

“We’re talking about a Cabinet-level official who was accommodated by the government for reasons unknown to the public. And I think that’s a fair statement: For reasons heretofore unknown to the public. And all the public can do is speculate,” he said, adding: “This is all about the public’s right to know.”

 

 

This Is Why America’s Military Is in Bad Shape

John Sullivan,Justin T. Johnson

March 27, 2016

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/why-americas-military-bad-shape-15608

America’s military is dangerously weak and unprepared today, and it’s not getting better. At least that’s what top military leaders told Congress recently. Unfortunately, the testimony of these top generals and admirals did not get the attention it deserved.

For the last 15 years, the United States military has not prepared for conflict with a near peer competitor like Russia or China. General Mark Milley, chief of staff of the Army, shared his worries with Congress, explaining that the Army would be able to handle a serious conflict but “not at a level that is appropriate for what the American people would expect to defend them.”

In other words, because soldiers are not adequately prepared, the U.S. Army would either be late to arrive to a conflict (due to more time for training) or they would send soldiers into harm’s way unprepared.

These are not issues isolated to the Army. The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Robert Neller, when commenting on the ability to meet requirements in a major conflict, said the Marine Corps “would be able to do that but probably not within a timeframe that current plans call for [them] to arrive to participate in that conflict.”

The chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, also admitted that there is “a readiness debt that we have had difficulty pulling out of or even making progress on as the funding levels are what they are and the security environment continues to put demands on the force.”

Almost two decades of conflict and years of budget constraints have taken their toll on the military, both in terms of deferred modernization and insufficient readiness.

In the 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength, the American military received a grade of “marginal”. We can see why in one news story after another. Only one third of Army Brigade Combat Teams are battle ready.

Half of the Air Force’s combat forces are insufficiently prepared for a high-end conflict. The Navy is forced to put more strain on its sailors and ships by doing eight to ten month deployments, instead of the more manageable 6 months.

All Marine Corps aircraft either need to be replaced or recapitalized. Not to mention, the Marines’ current level of Class A mishaps is nearly double the ten year average. Neller confessed that “the simple fact is that we don’t have enough airplanes to meet the training requirements for the entire force.”

Last year, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs said the planned defense budget was “the lower ragged edge of manageable risk need to execute our nation’s defense strategy.” The suggested base defense budget at the time was$573 billion. This year’s defense budget request is more than $20 billion lower.

If last year’s estimate was the lower ragged edge, this year’s budget request surely is below that edge of manageable risk.

As Sen.John McCain, R-Ariz., commented recently:

“I fear it means that our military is becoming less and less able to deter conflict and if, God forbid, deterrence does fail somewhere and we end up in conflict, our nation will deploy young Americans into battle without sufficient training or equipment to fight a war that will take longer, be larger, cost more and ultimately claim more American lives than it otherwise would have.”

This fear is echoed by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James who stated that, “history teaches us that the consequences of insufficient preparation are the prolonging of conflict and the increased loss of life.”

Congress needs to take action to relieve the stress being placed on the defense budget. While men and women in uniform accept a level of risk when they join, Congress and the American people need to provide the funds necessary to minimize this risk.

Gen. Welsh, chief of staff of the Air Force, put it best when saying the men and women of our armed forces “are willing to pay the price if they think it’s important, if they think the nation supports them, if they think they’ll have the resources and the equipment and the training to be the best in the world at what they do. That’s all they ask.”

A fully adequate defense budget needs to be responsibly funded by Congress. National defense is an explicit Constitutional priority. Congress should recognize their constitutional duty and fully support our war fighters.

 

 

Islamic State Hijacks Mosul University Chemistry Lab for Making Bombs

U.S.-led coalition bombed campus in March, but extent of any damage unknown

 

By Margaret Coker in London and Ben Kesling in Baghdad

http://www.wsj.com/articles/islamic-state-hijacks-mosul-university-chemistry-lab-for-making-bombs-1459503003

April 1, 2016 5:30 a.m. ET

 

Islamic State has been using a well-stocked university chemistry lab in Mosul, Iraq, for the past year to concoct a new generation of explosive devices and train militants to make them, according to U.S. and Iraqi military officials and two people familiar with the university.

Gen. Hatem Magsosi, Iraq’s top explosives officer, said the facilities at the University of Mosul have enhanced Islamic State’s ability to launch attacks in Iraq and to export bomb-making know-how when its fighters leave the so-called caliphate and return to their home countries.

The weaponry churned out includes peroxide-based chemical bombs and suicide-bomb vests like the ones used in the Brussels attacks and by at least some of the Paris attackers, according to the general and others in the Iraqi military, as well as an official from the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State.

Other bombs made include nitrate-based explosives and chemical weapons, Gen. Magsosi said.

“The University of Mosul is the best Daesh research center in the world,” the general said, using another name for Islamic State. “Trainees go to Raqqa, [Syria], then to Mosul university to use the existing facilities.”

Its current status isn’t clear, however. The U.S.-led coalition has targeted the campus with airstrikes more than once, most recently on March 19.

“We do know that Daesh has used some of those buildings for military purposes and we bombed them,” said Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq.

The Pentagon said March 19 it was targeting an Islamic State weapons-storage facility and headquarters, but gave no more detail.

Col. Warren said the Mosul bomb-making labs are among the biggest that the Islamic State has established. He said the university has a sprawling campus and the coalition would continue to target such facilities if they are identified.

 

 

Last week, the Pentagon said the U.S. military had killed a man they identified as one of Islamic State’s top military officials. It didn’t give any further information, but Gen. Magsosi said the man, known as Abu Eman, was the top expert at the Mosul bomb lab.

When Islamic State captured Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in the summer of 2014, the university was one of the spoils. The university had a strong reputation around Iraq for its science departments, alumni say.

By March 2015, dozens of Islamic State engineers and scientists had set up a research hub in the chemistry lab, which was full of equipment and chemicals, according to the people with knowledge of the university.

Many of the regular staff, including professors specialized in organic, industrial and analytical chemistry, remained in the city at the time, but the new laboratories were staffed by Islamic State’s own men, according to one of those people.

At least since August, dozens of individuals—presumed to be foreigners because they didn’t speak Iraqi Arabic—were seen moving through the labs, the two people said. They said they were told specialized units had been set up there for chemical explosives and weapons research as well as suicide-bomb construction.

A separate group at the university’s technical college was dedicated to building suicide-bomb components, one of the two said.

A recently seized Islamic State suicide vest detonating switch used to train bomb-disposal experts at the Iraqi army’s school for explosives ordnance disposal. ENLARGE

A recently seized Islamic State suicide vest detonating switch used to train bomb-disposal experts at the Iraqi army’s school for explosives ordnance disposal. Photo: Ben Kesling/The Wall Street Journal

During the same time frame, there has been a surge in Islamic State’s use of bombs that mix chemical precursors into an explosive powdery substance known as triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, both in Iraq and Europe.

It isn’t clear how many of these weapons, if any, can be traced to research or training conducted in Mosul.

Gen. Magsosi says that his bomb-detection units called peroxide-based explosives the “Satan Recipe” because they are very hard to detect and they are usually so lethal.

It isn’t yet known whether the militants who carried out the Paris and Brussels attacks spent time at the Mosul facility during their time in Islamic State territory. Investigators say they suspect that at least one member of the network, Najim Laachraoui, made TATP-based explosives that were stuffed into suicide belts and suitcases and used in those attacks.

An analysis of arrest records involving suspected jihadists indicate that the penchant for peroxide-based chemical explosives is prevalent among people suspected as being returned foreign fighters or Islamic State sympathizers.

Last week, French police arrested a man in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil who had a TATP bomb and who the Interior Ministry said was in the advanced stages of planning another attack.

In April 2015, German police arrested two suspected Islamic radicals after raiding their house near Frankfurt and finding a pipe bomb and other weaponry. They had been monitoring the man after he and his wife bought three liters of hydrogen peroxide—which can be used to make TATP—at a home improvement store, Frankfurt’s chief prosecutor said at the time. Authorities said they suspected the pair were planning to attack a bike race.

That same month, Indonesian police recovered and neutralized a TATP bomb planted at a Jakarta shopping mall, allegedly by a local man who had fought for Islamic State.

 

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former British army officer who commanded the U.K.’s chemical-warfare regiment, worked with Indonesian police to analyze what he called a sophisticated homemade explosive. The device, housed inside a cardboard box, comprised four bottles of chemicals wrapped with wires, batteries and timer, he said.

“It had quite a sophisticated set of detonators,” said Mr. de Bretton-Gordon, indicating some training.

Also in April 2015, Iraqi federal police units fighting to retake the city of Tikrit recovered a hydrogen peroxide drum filled with a homemade chemical explosive similar to a TATP bomb. It was one of the first instances of such chemicals being found on the battlefield in Iraq, but in the ensuing months, bomb-disposal teams have recovered several other peroxide-based bombs in battles in Tikrit and Anbar.

A chemistry lab like the one at the University of Mosul is an ideal setting to get practice mixing volatile explosives in a controlled setting, explosives experts said.

An Iraqi explosives expert in Baghdad showing a metal nut used as shrapnel in an Islamic State-made suicide belt taken after a battle with the militant group. ENLARGE

An Iraqi explosives expert in Baghdad showing a metal nut used as shrapnel in an Islamic State-made suicide belt taken after a battle with the militant group. Photo: Ben Kesling/The Wall Street Journal

Beyond the right recipe for a stable bomb, a person also needs to know how to house the explosives and transport the assembled bomb to avoid an accidental explosion. TATP is known among experts in law enforcement and military as highly unstable.

“TATP is so sensitive that any level of heat, friction and shock can lead to initiation,” meaning an explosion, said Paul Jowett, a retired British Royal Engineer who now works for a consultancy, World Wide Counter Threat Solutions.

Iraqi soldiers responsible for bomb clearance said that they have been seeing more deadly and sophisticated devices over the past year, and can now recognize what they refer to as signature techniques of different Islamic State bomb makers. These include a wiring technique known as the “Destructive Circle,” a booby trap running around the device designed to set the bomb off when technicians are at work trying to defuse it.

Another evolutionary design style in Islamic State suicide belts is the “double bluff,” or two sets of detonating triggers that serve as a backstop against possible malfunction.

 

Air Force to Congress: We need RPA help

Adam Stone, C4ISR & Networks 10:29 a.m. EDT March 30, 2016

http://www.c4isrnet.com/story/military-tech/uas/2016/03/30/air-force-rpa-enterprise/82388928/

 

As the Senate hunkers down to review the 2017 defense budget, Air Force leadership is pressing plans to improve the health of the Air Force remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) enterprise.

Speaking March 16 during a hearing of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee, Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the commander of Air Combat Command, described an RPA fleet that is sorely taxed, and repeated his recent calls for change.

Carlisle said the RPA workforce is stretched to the limits. Aircraft presently fly 60 combat lines daily, each run lasting upward of 22 hours. That is a dramatic increase from an average 12 lines in 2006. Fifteen bases now support RPA units, including 13 with combat missions.

“Seventy-seven percent of our four cockpits are dedicated to flying combat lines every single day,” Carlisle said, as reported in an Air Force release. The other 23 percent are engaged in sustaining combat capacity through formal training and testing.

 

Air Force offers $125K bonuses to keep RPA pilots

Carlisle has been driving home the issue of heavy rotations since at least December 2015, when he addressed the troops at Joint Base Langley in Eustis, Virginia. “Our RPA enterprise was born in combat and recently surpassed 20 years of service, many of which were executed at surge levels,” he said at the time. “We owe it to our airmen to remove the daily stressors that are responsible for the challenging environment they are operating in.”

The daily stress of ops tempo is a toll on the RPA workforce, he told the subcommittee. Turnover has been high, leaving RPA pilot authorizations manned at roughly 80 percent, or 200 pilots short. “When an RPA airman separates, we do not just lose a body in the cockpit. We lose their expertise and experience too,” he said. “While on paper personnel may be a one-for-one swap that populates spreadsheets, their experience is incalculable and irreplaceable.”

One way to stymie the attrition might be to rotate individuals out of operational work and set them on more strategic tasks. “I need to take those folks out of the fight and let them do tactics, techniques and procedures and let them figure out how else we can take advantage of this weapons system, and how it can help the war fighters,” Carlisle told airmen during a January 2016 visit to Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

Carlisle also suggested a partial solution might be to beef up the crew population by increasing the number of training graduates. About 384 members are expected to graduate the initial training course next year.

The Air Force also would like some leeway to make life more manageable for service members even when they are not actively on duty. “We are evaluating base services to meet the personal and family requirements of our RPA airmen, and we are also taking a further look at other quality of life initiatives, compensation and developmental opportunities,” Carlisle said.

 

 

Reforming Acquisitions and the Need for Speed

Ben FitzGerald, Alexandra Sander and Jacqueline Parziale, Special to Defense News 3:27 p.m. EDT March 30, 2016

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/commentary/2016/03/30/reforming-acquisitions/82432488/

 

This month, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, unveiled new acquisition reform legislation. The draft stand-alone bill is noteworthy from a procedural perspective, showing leadership on a vitally important topic with a limited political constituency. But the bill is also noteworthy for its substance.

The bill’s primary objective — speeding the delivery of capabilities to military personnel — is well-conceived, and the HASC should be congratulated for this approach. If the core concepts of this bill become standard practice in the Defense Department, it would improve capability outcomes for our military personnel. Addressing the lack of speed in our current acquisition system also provides important focus, helping us move past the stultifying monolith that is acquisition reform. Importantly, moving faster will force the DoD to address other core challenges in its acquisition bureaucracy.

The need for speed itself should be self-evident. The United States faces more unpredictable threats from a greater range of actors than ever before. Operational demands on our attention and resources are constantly evolving. The global proliferation of advanced technologies, lower barriers to entry and asymmetric benefits mean the United States’ enemies and competitors will continue to employ new technologies and concepts of operation to deny our long-held advantages while generating new advantages of their own.

Over the past 15 years of conflict, US military forces proved their ability to adapt to this operating environment, but our acquisition methods have not kept up. Indeed, the most notable examples of DoD’s recent attempts at rapid acquisition were workarounds to core systems and, even then, those successes were dubious. The ostensibly rapid acquisition of MRAPs, considered fast under our timelines, was not rapid enough — IEDs in Iraq hurt Americans for far longer than they should have. Moreover, this required a gargantuan effort and the personal leadership of then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), while undertaking important work, was a multibillion-dollar testament to the DoD’s inability to rapidly deliver critical capabilities to deployed military personnel.

Adversary adaptation is not the only reason for increasing speed within the DoD. We must also compete with the increasing pace of geostrategic and technological change. Over the course of the 22 years it took to build the F-22, the fighter aircraft endured four obsolete processor upgrades and was ultimately deployed into an operational environment defined by the fallout from the Arab Spring, not the Cold War. All this at a cost of over $66 billion, delivered 10 years late and $40 billion over budget.

The existing acquisition system is optimized for a Cold War setting and sustained competition with a single, highly bureaucratic adversary and deterrence of potentially high-end conflict; it can neither keep up with a dynamic threat landscape nor the rate of technological change.

Rapid delivery of capability to military personnel while maintaining technological and operational relevance should be reason enough to push for increased acquisition speed. But there are several ancillary benefits to this approach. In order to move faster, the Pentagon will need to make greater use of well-recognized capability development best practices. The HASC’s draft bill prominently features prototyping and open architectures for this very reason.

Prototyping is a critical enabler of speed and acceptance of risk, another oft-stated Pentagon goal. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in a recent hearing on defense acquisition rightly complained about the billions of taxpayer dollars wasted on programs that are cut before completion. But the issue should not be the fact that the programs were cut — in most instances that was the right decision — but when they were cut, years and billions of dollars after commencement. Prototyping will allow Pentagon decision-makers to kill bad programs earlier, generating a greater number of total programs (hopefully), thereby increasing competition, innovation and the general health of the defense industry.

Insisting on the use of open architectures, and on sharing the intellectual property with the associated interfaces, will allow for simpler and faster collaboration on the development of major programs. More importantly, open architectures facilitate the “payloads over platforms” concept championed by former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, enabling frequent development of new or upgraded modules to large, enduring platforms like carriers, submarines and aircraft. A modular approach allows for regular upgrades or rapid changes to operational capability without the need for lengthy programs to generate wholly new platforms.

To be clear, making the case for speed does not advocate irresponsibility. Some programs are still going to take many years to field, and sometimes that’s OK. Testing and quality control should remain essential steps in the development process. But we cannot afford to maintain an acquisition culture that seeks to mitigate risk to the project and adherence to requirements above all else. Forcing the Pentagon to operate with greater speed recognizes the more consequential risks of capability irrelevance or failing to meet operational needs in a timely fashion.

There is, of course, a long distance between introducing a bill and having that bill be standard Pentagon practice. The draft bill must still proceed through markups before being incorporated into the 2017 national defense authorization bill. And from there it’s unclear whether the DoD will work with, against or around the legislation. The DoD and defense industry should embrace this legislation as an opportunity. Countless reform efforts over the previous decades have failed to meaningfully improve DoD acquisition.

However, we are in a rare moment where HASC, SASC and DoD leaders are largely in agreement and willing to take action. History suggests we should be cynical about this current cycle of reform, but improving acquisition outcomes is so critical to our future military success that we can’t afford not to try.

Ben FitzGerald is the director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Alexandra Sander is a research associate with the Technology and National Security Program at CNAS. Jacqueline Parziale is an intern with the Technology and National Security Program at CNAS

 

Rasmussen Reports

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

 

Bottom of Form

Saturday, April 02, 2016

The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan says Donald Trump may be the only one who can beat Donald Trump, and we may be seeing signs of that beginning to emerge.

Our latest weekly Trump Change survey finds that Republican voters are growing less certain that Trump will be their party’s eventual nominee. For the second week in a row, confidence that the billionaire businessman is Very Likely to win the nomination has fallen and is now at its lowest level since just before his big win in the South Carolina primary in mid-February.

Republicans (51%) attach slightly more importance to a candidate’s spouse than Democrats (47%) do when it comes to how they will vote this fall. Given the recent spat between Trump and Ted Cruz over their wives, it will be interesting to see if this higher level of GOP concern has any long-term impact on the contest between the two.

Trump stumbled when he said this week that women who broke the law getting abortions should be punished, but he later amended that to say that the abortion providers would be the ones punished. Forty percent (40%) of women say the issue of abortion is Very Important to their vote. 

All three remaining Republican candidates refused to say at a CNN town hall this week whether they would support the party’s eventual presidential nominee if they didn’t win. But most Republicans don’t care if they support the nominee or not.

Democrats may have just the solution for the Republican establishment’s Trump problem – superdelegates.

President Obama continues to enjoy better than average daily job approval ratings. His monthly job approval index rating for March is the highest in three years

Still, just 28% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction.

Following last week’s terrorist bombings in Brussels, voters remain strongly convinced that the radical Islamic State group (ISIS) is a major danger to the United States and see little chance of that threat diminishing anytime soon.

Federal investigators say they have unlocked the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorist killers after Apple refused to help. Just 36% of voters agree with Apple’s decision to refuse the FBI’s request to unlock the suspect’s phone. Fifty-nine percent (59%) believe protecting the country from a possible terrorist attack is more important than protecting the privacy of most Americans.

But do Americans think the United States can ever be made completely safe from terrorist attacks

At least 70 Christians were killed in a terrorist bombing on Easter Sunday in Pakistan. Most voters (62%) in this country continue to believe that Christians living in the Islamic world are treated unfairly because of their religion. Just half as many (31%) think Muslims living in this country are treated unfairly because of their religion and ethnicity.

Only 28% think the United States should do more to encourage the growth of democracy in the Islamic world 

Americans are filing their income taxes at a record pace this year. But most still believe they are paying more than their fair share in taxes.

Americans in general continue to believe they are overtaxed but have little confidence that Congress and the president will do anything about it. Most voters also want Congress to stop spending so much money, but they don’t believe that’s going to happen either.

Despite the continuing anger over the policies of the federal government, another Civil War does not appear to be in the making. Only 23% of Americans think states have the right to leave the United States to form an independent country. 

However, just 21% of voters believe the federal government today has the consent of the governed.

Support for state rather than federal enforcement of immigration laws is now at its highest level in several years.

A coalition of 16 Democratic state attorneys general have announced that they will attempt to prosecute companies that dispute the existence of global warming. But 68% of voters oppose the government investigating and prosecuting scientists and others including major corporations who question global warming.  Only 24% believe the scientific debate about global warming is over.

In other surveys last week:

— Americans overwhelmingly reject a plan being considered in several major cities including Miami and Washington, D.C. to pay criminals not to kill someone with a gun.

— Despite the continuing debate over police conduct, most Americans still don’t think cops are to blame for the majority of shootings they are involved in.

Voters tend to oppose stricter gun control, perhaps in part because few think tougher gun laws will reduce the level of violent crime in this country. 

— To reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities, a New Jersey lawmaker has proposed penalizing those who use cell phones without hands-free devices on sidewalks and beside roadways. More than a third of Americans are on board with that idea.

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