TIME National Security

Widow of American Captive Killed in Strike Criticizes U.S. Hostage Support

The wife of Warren Weinstein joins a number of families calling for more centralized support and communication

The wife of an American captive of al-Qaeda who after more than three years was killed during a counterterrorism operation in January, the Obama administration acknowledged Thursday, called on the government to improve the “inconsistent and disappointing” help it offers the families of hostages.

“We hope that my husband’s death and the others who have faced similar tragedies in recent months will finally prompt the U.S. government to take its responsibilities seriously and establish a coordinated and consistent approach to supporting hostages and their families,” Elaine Weinstein, now the widow of Warren Weinstein, said in a statement, according to McClatchyDC. Her husband, who was held alongside Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto, also killed in the operation, was working as a development adviser in Pakistan when he was captured in 2011.

Weinstein’s comments echo calls from a number of families of U.S. captives for more frequent communication from the government, more centralized negotiation efforts—no single person is in charge of trying to free hostages—as well as a more case-by-case approach to freeing captives. Some families, including those of journalist James Foley and aid worker Kayla Mueller, have also criticized the U.S. ban on paying ransoms, which State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said would remain in place.

The Obama administration began an internal review of its hostage policies last summer, she told reporters, and has reached out to 82 families involved in hostage situations as far back as 2001.

“These families have gone through the worst thing they will ever have to go through, and I think you hear a lot of different statements from them. We’ve heard people talk about how supportive the U.S. government has been,” Harf said. “But we know this is an incredibly challenging issue. That’s why we’re doing a review of how we deal with all of these issues.”

[McClatchyDC]

TIME

Clinton Allies Knock Down Donor Allegations, New Questions Pop Up

Hillary Clinton attends the Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security at Georgetown University in Washington, DC on April 22, 2015.
Win McNamee—Getty Images Hillary Clinton attends the Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security at Georgetown University in Washington, DC on April 22, 2015.

Hillary Clinton’s allies are pushing back against the suggestion in a new book that donations to the Clinton Foundation influenced the handling of the sale of U.S. uranium mines to a Russian-backed company.

The new book, Clinton Cash: the Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, says that Hillary Clinton failed in 2010 to block the purchase of American uranium mines by a Russian-backed company while people with financial and strategic interests in the sale were making millions of dollars of donations to the Clinton Foundation, a philanthropy run by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

The suggestion of outside influence over U.S. decisionmaking is based on little evidence — the allegations are presented as questions rather than proof. The deal’s approval was the result of an extensive interagency process that required the assent of at least nine different officials and agencies. A former State Department official who participated in the deal’s approval told TIME that Clinton did not weigh in on the uranium sale one way or the other, and her campaign calls the allegations in the book “absurd conspiracy theories.”

But the book’s dark suggestions reflect the growing problem Clinton faces in her run for the White House in 2016 as more and more details of the foundation’s fundraising activities present the appearance of impropriety and lack of transparency during her time as Secretary of State.

One chapter of the book, written by conservative author Peter Schweizer and obtained by TIME, focuses on an obscure deal that had been years in the making. Schweizer says Secretary Clinton failed to block the Russian State Atomic Nuclear Agency (Rosatom), a Kremlin-controlled nuclear agency, from purchasing a controlling stake in an American Uranium mining concern, Uranium One. The company’s chairman, Ian Telfer, was a major donor to the Clinton Foundation. Several other Clinton Foundation donors stood to gain from the agreement as well.

Because the proposed sale involved the transfer of potentially strategic U.S. assets, the Uranium One transaction was subject to approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency panel that comprises powerful federal agencies. In prior years, Clinton had urged the committee to take a hawkish view of deals involving U.S. strategic assets, and Schweizer says that should have inclined her against the Rosatom purchase. “Despite a long record of publicly opposing such deals Hillary didn’t object,” Schweizer writes in the version of the chapter obtained by TIME. “Why the apparent reversal? Could it be because shareholders involved in the transaction had transferred approximately $145 million to the Clinton Foundation or its initiatives? Or because her husband had profited from lucrative speaking deals arranged by companies associated with those who stood to profit from the deal?”

The State Department’s role in approving the deal was part of an extensive bureaucratic process, and the chapter offers no indication of Hillary Clinton’s personal involvement in, or even knowledge of, the deliberations. State has just one vote on the nine-member committee, which also includes the departments of Defense, Treasury and Energy. Disagreements are traditionally handled at the staff level, and if they are not resolved, they are escalated to deputies at the relevant agencies. If the deputies can’t resolve the dispute, the issues can be elevated to the Cabinet Secretary level and, if needed, to the President for a decision. The official chairman of CFIUS is the Treasury Secretary, not the Secretary of State.

Before purchasing a controlling stake in Uranium One, the Russian conglomerate also had to get approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent agency outside of the State Department’s purview, as well as Utah’s nuclear regulator. It also received the sign-off of Canada’s foreign investment review agency. The deal itself was the outgrowth of a diplomatic initiative launched by the Administration of George W. Bush to expand trade opportunities between Russia and the U.S., including in the area of nuclear power.

One official involved in the process said Clinton had nothing to do with the decision in the Uranium One case. Jose Hernandez, who as former Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs was the State Department’s principal representative on the committee, rejected the notion that Clinton’s foundation ties had any bearing on the deal. “Secretary Clinton never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter,” he told TIME. A spokesperson for Hillary for America, Josh Schwerin, also attacked the suggestions made in the book. The transaction “went through the usual process and the official responsible for managing CFIUS reviews has stated that the Secretary did not intervene with him,” Schwerin says, “This book is twisting previously known facts into absurd conspiracy theories.”

Throughout the new book, Schweizer suggests that Clinton used her authority as Secretary of State to intervene on behalf of companies that donated to her family’s foundation. Clinton has sought to distance herself from the charges on the campaign trail, calling the GOP claims “distractions.”

Even if Clinton was not involved in approving the deal with the Russian company, the book does raise more questions about the Clinton Foundation’s transparency regarding its donors and shows that the issue will continue to dog her candidacy. The book reports that Telfer, the Uranium One chairman, donated $2.1 million to a Clinton Foundation subsidiary through a charity he controls around the time the purchase was being finalized, an assertion TIME has verified through a review of public records. Those donations do not appear on the foundation’s disclosure of donors. Telfer is listed for smaller donations he made directly to the parent foundation.

In 2008 the Clinton Foundation and President Barack Obama’s transition team signed a memorandum of understanding about the foundation’s activities to allay congressional concerns over potential conflicts of interest stemming from its donors as Clinton was preparing to become Obama’s Secretary of State. “In anticipation of Senator Clinton’s nomination and confirmation as Secretary of State, the foundation will publish its contributors this year,” the agreement states. “During any service by Senator Clinton as Secretary of State, the foundation will publish annually the names of new contributors.”

Exempt from that relationship were an array of Clinton Foundation subsidiaries, including the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, a Canadian-based charity that works to establish “social enterprises” in the developing world. Telfer is one of three directors of a charity called the Fernwood Foundation, according to Canadian tax records dug up by Schweizer and verified by TIME. Fernwood has donated $2.1 million to the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, which at one point passed through as much as 88% of its donations to the main Clinton Foundation, Schweizer writes. Schweizer alleges that Telfer had 1.6 million shares in Uranium One and profited hugely off the deal, a claim that couldn’t be independently verified.

The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership is listed as having given contributed more than $25 million to the foundation according to its online disclosures, but the foundation does not list any of the Giustra Partnership’s individual donors. When contacted by TIME, a spokesman for the Clinton Foundation deferred comment to the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, which didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Without a full account of donors to the foundations, allegations like the one in Schweizer’s book will follow Clinton’s candidacy even as she seeks to remain above the fray. The campaign, for its part, will continue to do its best to discredit Schweizer’s book and distance itself from Republican attacks.

“While Republicans focus their efforts on attacks, Hillary Clinton is going to continue to focus on how to help everyday Americans get ahead and stay ahead,” the Clinton campaign said in a memo circulated Tuesday night. “That’s what her campaign is about, and no book — especially one as discredited as this one — is going to change that.”

Read next: How New Hampshire’s Women Paved the Way for Hillary Clinton

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME politics

It’s 1815 All Over Again: The Troubling Tale of the Chappaqua Email Server

Congress of Vienna
Culture Club / Getty Images Congress of Vienna, 1814, after painting by J B Isabey

There are protestations that the HRC files were unclassified. But, the history of the Congress of Vienna shows, every bit can be exploited

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

Keyboards are aflutter over the revelation that former U.S. Secretary of State and presumed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) bypassed the State Department and outsourced her email management to a server located at the Clinton family home in Chappaqua, NY. It is a brewing storm in search of a scandalous name. Hillar-email-ageddon? Chappaqua-servergate?

Put aside for the moment the propriety of a Cabinet official engaging in these practices and let us explore why this cyber kerfuffle created potentially easy pickings for determined nation-state actors and put national security at risk.

Does anyone care about seemingly uninteresting tidbits from the world’s most powerful foreign minister? After all, as HRC has noted, the emails were not classified. Simple. Countries want to know the plans and intentions of friends and enemies, and they will take any scraps they can get.

To illustrate, let us wind the clock back to a time when one world power had no compunction about breaching protocol and spying on everyone’s diplomatic correspondence in a concerted effort to protect the security of the state and further its own political agenda.

Exactly two hundred years ago, the European powers gathered at the Congress of Vienna to redraw the map of the Continent. The French Revolution had collapsed after a head-chopping reign of terror. Napoleon’s gallivanting across Europe was over. The aristocrats were back in the catbird seat and they were ready to party. For nine months from the official opening in October 1814 until June 1815, greater and lesser powers jockeyed for position as territories changed hands.

The secret police of the Austro-Hungarian Empire had been preparing for months for the delegates’ arrival. As the diplomats negotiated at the Congress or whiled away the evenings at fancy dinners and galas, the Austrian surveillance state was hard at work, following their every move. Secret police transcripts from the time run in the thousands of pages. No grain of information, however mundane, escaped notice and was dutifully transmitted to the Emperor’s desk.

The backbone of the Austrian spying program was reading diplomatic correspondence as delegates reported progress back to their countries (and threw in the odd bit of palace gossip and intrigue.)

Some diplomats tried to take precautions by sealing the envelopes with distinctive wax seals bearing their royal crests. Today we might call this using a weak password because the Austrian secret police could break the seals without leaving a trace. In secret bureaus, operatives employed special smokeless candles to pry loose the seals and, using metal putty, create perfect counterfeit replicas. The mail could be read, a new seal put in place, and the mail sent on its way as if it had traveled unmolested. Just like a man-in-the-middle attack works today for third parties who want to read your email and leave you none the wiser.

This worked until the nobles used new seals, which would be like changing your password to something easily guessable, and presented only a minor inconvenience to Austrian intelligence until new fake seals could be fabricated.

Some royals were too clever by half. Princess Theresa of Saxony tried to fool the watchers by giving the major diplomatic players nicknames in her letters home. The French foreign minister became “Krumpholz” and the Austrian was “Krautfeld”. Let’s call this very weak encryption, because with a little bit of work, a trained eye could engage in word substitution and figure out the puzzle.

Others went farther, writing in invisible ink between the lines of more innocuous letters. This is like strong encryption, but can still be broken with enough technical know-how. Prepared as ever, the secret police had chemical solutions to reveal the hidden text.

The Secretary of State’s email is like the diplomatic correspondence of two hundred years ago. As the Austrians had figured out, the connection of many innocuous seeming details could tell a story and provide indicators of an adversary’s intentions.

Imagine you intercepted a one-line HRC email to a staff aide: “Purchase Urdu phrase book by Fri” (not a real example). Might this indicate that a trip to Pakistan was imminent, signaling a change in U.S. foreign policy? India would certainly care about this, as would others with interests in the region.

Back at the Congress of Vienna, closely watching friend and foe soon overwhelmed the secret police. In addition to the four major political powers of the day, hundreds of advisors, courtesans, hangers-on and special interest groups had descended on the capital.

The surveillance net had grown too wide. It was impossible to shadow everyone and the decryption bureau was getting behind in transcribing letters, leading higher-ups to complain that the mail was being delayed. The intelligence service had what we might call a Big Data problem, and they had not yet evolved the analytical capabilities to make sense of all the information that poured in daily. Modern governments have many more resources at their disposal and can leverage technology to separate the wheat from the chaff, quickly doing the work that legions of clerks once did by hand, so vacuuming up all the data doesn’t necessarily create an undue burden.

Not everyone had his proverbial pockets picked at the Congress. One shining beacon of good information security practices emerges. The British Foreign Secretary, Viscount Castlereagh, though under the watchful eye of the Austrian surveillance state, frustrated their efforts to penetrate his information cocoon. In their internal reports the secret police privately complain that they cannot obtain any useful information. Castlereagh hired his own household servants, thwarting efforts to infiltrate his milieu with local agents. He further had his diplomatic correspondence hand-carried back to London and he ensured that all notes were completely burned in the fireplace.

Castlereagh’s good example from two hundred years ago shows us how these common-sense practices can still resonate today in the digital age, notably not sending sensitive information via unprotected channels and using electronic document shredding to erase proprietary information.

It is doubtful that the Chappaqua server had encryption to the standards of State Department diplomatic security. Yes, the HRC email server was behind a locked door. But information flowed in and out. As SecState, HRC was a million-plus mile flyer. Thus, of the tens of thousands of emails she penned while in office, we must reasonably assume that a significant number were sent from overseas before being routed via Chappaqua. From the WiFi hotspot at the airport VIP lounge in Beijing or Moscow perhaps? Who sits atop these access points to the information highway and sniffs the messages passing through? Answer: whoever wants to.

There are protestations that the HRC files were unclassified. But, as has been shown from the point of view of a two-century-old intelligence service (that didn’t even have the benefit of electricity), every bit can be part of a larger mosaic and exploited for all the wrong reasons. This tale of snooping during the Congress of Vienna would be an amusing bit of waltz-till-dawn diplomatic history if it weren’t such a stark reminder that in the digital age a country with enough resources and ill intent can use time-honored practices to exploit weaknesses in communications practices, read the mail, and make calculated adjustments based on what it learns. And that is why this episode has such disturbing implications.

Greg Cullison is an independent researcher and Founder & CEO of ProVerity, Inc., a security and risk analysis firm headquartered near Washington, D.C.

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: Hillary Clinton Wants Emails Made Public

The former Secretary of State wants to release some of her emails to the public

Hillary Clinton said late Wednesday that she wanted her emails to be made available to the public, after coming under fire for exclusively using a personal email address while U.S. Secretary of State. Watch Know Right Now to catch up on the latest in this story.

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Asks for Some of Her Emails to be Released

The former Secretary of State looks to get ahead of a brewing controversy

Hillary Clinton, embroiled in a controversy over her use of personal email during her time as Secretary of State, said late Wednesday that she’s asked the State Department to release her some of her correspondence.

“I want the public to see my email,” Clinton said in a tweet Wednesday evening. “I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.”

The likely 2016 presidential candidate’s aides reportedly turned over more than 50,000 pages of emails over to the State Department in compliance with new rules passed late last year. But it was subsequently revealed by the Associated Press that Clinton also used a private email server registered to her family home in Chappaqua, N.Y., which would make it more difficult for her online correspondence to be accessed by court orders or public requests. And her tweet made no mention of releasing emails her aides reviewed and then declined to hand over to the State Department.

“The State Department will review for public release the emails provided by Secretary Clinton to the Department, using a normal process that guides such releases,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement. “We will undertake this review as quickly as possible; given the sheer volume of the document set, this review will take some time to complete.”

TIME Security

What’s More Secure: Gmail or Government Email?

Ministers Attend The London Conference On Libya
WPA Pool—Getty Images U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her phone at the opening of the Libyan Conference, a meeting of international allies to discuss the next steps for Libya on March 29, 2011 in London, England.

Consider this before emailing your Social Security number — or State Department business

From a lone entrepreneur in Nigeria to the U.S. Secretary of State, email security is a major issue that impacts everyone. While third-party email providers like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo claim their services are safe and secure, sometimes it seems smarter to use your work address instead.

But Hillary Clinton opted to use a personal account instead of a government account while serving as Secretary of State, according to the New York Times. That revelation is causing headaches for the potential presidential candidate because she may have violated rules requiring public officials’ correspondence to be archived.

It’s still unclear why Clinton chose to use a personal email account instead of a State Department-supplied one (or which email service she used). Some observers, however, say it was a security risk for Clinton to go off the government grid. But when it comes to hacks and brass tacks, which email service is actually more secure: Consumer services like Gmail or government email?

“Neither,” says Justin White, a former director of information security compliance for the state of Colorado, who has also worked as an information security consultant with Microsoft, Costco, Wells Fargo, and the state of Washington. When asked which service he would use to send sensitive information, White, a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, begins to answer one way, then another.

And then he pauses and says: “You’d have to torture me to force me to do it.”

There are several reasons for White’s wavering response. First, while some governmental email systems are highly secure, that’s not true for every department. For instance, he says, if you were going to send some sensitive information to another agency, if that department has poor security on its servers, your data is put at risk of being intercepted — even if the other office is located just next door.

Secondly, there’s no way of knowing which governmental agency has good email security and which doesn’t, because, for security purposes, they don’t typically reveal their protocols.

“Some people are woefully unprepared at securing their own email servers at an agency level, so for all you know, people could already be intercepting emails,” says White.

Still, the State Department probably has very good email security for classified messages — security that Clinton apparently opted out of using.

But on the other hand, consumer services like Gmail aren’t hacker-proof, either. They often tout the exact measures they use to keep messages secure as a means of marketing — but by doing so, they’re also helping hackers untangle their safety measures. From unencrypted data to servers that aren’t protected and breaches that haven’t been fixed yet, hackers catalog security deficiencies to find ways to break in.

“You could go on any forum as well, and see what other people have researched about any of the different cloud or (email) solutions,” says White.

Is email encryption a magic bullet solution? The disappointing reality is that between the senders’ and receivers’ servers, there are many opportunities for intercepting or hacking into emails. It’s enough to make a person go all Janet Napolitano (the former Secretary of Homeland Security once said she doesn’t use email).

But that’s not to say we should all revert to the digital dark ages — we just need to be conscious about how secure our email services really are. For Clinton’s part, she might have just opted for more secure methods than email for truly sensitive communications. A State Department spokeswoman said Tuesday Clinton could have used secure voice and video chats instead, or opted for something truly old fashioned: printed documents.

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Only Used a Personal Email Account While Secretary of State, Report Says

Hillary Clinton Addresses National Council for Behavioral Health Conference
Patrick Smith—Getty Images Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks during the National Council for Behavioral Health's Annual Conference in National Harbor, Md., on May 6, 2014

Federal law stipulates that her emails should have been kept on departmental and not private servers

Hillary Clinton exclusively used a personal email account while she was Secretary of State, the New York Times reports, possibly breaching a federal law mandating the archiving of all correspondence by State Department officials.

Clinton’s aides allegedly made no effort to upload her personal emails to the department’s servers during her four-year tenure, as stipulated under the the Federal Records Act, the Times says.

Instead, they reportedly went through thousands of emails two months ago, selecting which to submit as part of a renewed compliance effort from the State Department.

Attorney Jason R. Baron, a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration, told the Times that it was “very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its Cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel.”

Read more at the Times

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 26

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. It’s time to break up the NSA.

By Bruce Schneier at CNN

2. By prescribing appearances, sororities are contributing to a culture of segregation.

By Clio Chang in U.S. News and World Report

3. In Egypt, the U.S. still values security over human rights.

By the Editorial Board of the Washington Post

4. Bartering for eggs is saving giant turtles in Cambodia.

By Yoeung Sun at Conservation International

5. How does Internet slang work its way into American Sign Language?

By Mike Sheffield, Antwan Duncan and Andrew Strasser in Hopes and Fears

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME LGBT

The U.S. Has Appointed Its First Ever Special Envoy for LGBT Rights

The former U.S. consul general in the Netherlands has been named in the role

The U.S. appointed its first-ever special envoy on Monday to defend and promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

The State Department named Randy Berry, a gay senior diplomat who previously served as U.S. consul general in the Netherlands, to the role, reports Reuters.

In his new role, Berry will work to reduce violence and discrimination against LGBT people around the world, including those in some 75 countries where homosexuality and same-sex relationships are criminalized.

“Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally — the heart and conscience of our diplomacy,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

[Reuters]

TIME Drones

U.S. Will Allow Export of Armed Drones

Export requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis

The State Department announced new policies Tuesday stipulating that U.S. drones can only be exported through government programs and that the receiving country needs to agree to certain conditions about what the drone will be used for.

Under the new rules, exports of armed military drones must be made through government entities and the nations receiving the devices must agree to “end-use assurances,” according to the State Department.

“The new U.S. UAS [unmanned aerial systems] export policy provides a disciplined and rigorous framework within which the United States will exercise restraint in sales and transfers and advance its national security and foreign policy interests,” says a State Department fact sheet.

These new proposals come amid increasing controversy and uncertainty over the use of drones, after one crashed onto the White House lawn last month.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com