"Their assessment of a lax environment or culture -- we don’t share that assessment of our institution," State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – The State Department took issue with FBI Director James Comey’s criticism Tuesday of its ability to protect classified information, rejecting the assessment that the security culture was “lax.”
The “security culture” at the State Department, Comey said earlier in the day, “was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.”
Comey made the comments while announcing that the FBI would not recommend bringing criminal charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while serving as the nation’s top diplomat, though he included at the time that “there is evidence that they [State officials] were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
The FBI director said that the investigation yielded evidence that 110 emails were sent via a private server that contained classified information in 52 chains.
“Their assessment of a lax environment or culture — we don’t share that assessment of our institution. That said – and I’ve said this many times before – we’re always looking for ways to improve,” State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at a briefing in Washington.
Kirby said he was comfortable commenting on that aspect of Comey’s remarks because, as Comey noted himself, the department’s culture was not the subject of the probe.
The FBI’s criticism of the State Department’s handling of classified information is not the first. Earlier this year, the department’s inspector general criticized multiple high ranking diplomats, including Clinton, for poor email practices that could jeopardize national security.
“I’m not going to speak to any more specifically about the findings and recommendations that the FBI made and announced today,” Kirby said when asked whether there could have been a lax administration under Clinton that no longer exists under her successor.
“What I can tell you is we don’t share the broad assessment that there’s a lax culture here at the State Department when it comes to dealing with classified information. In fact, quite the contrary. We take it very seriously.”