An elite team of computer technicians assembled by the Obama administration
to protect Pentagon networks from cyberattack shockingly includes a former
Clinton official who “lost” thousands of archived emails under subpoena and
who more recently left the Department of Homeland Security under an ethical
cloud related to her qualifications, WND has learned.
Laura Crabtree Callahan
The administration in May quietly hired Laura Callahan for a sensitive
post at the U.S. Cyber Command, a newly created agency set up to harden
military networks as part of an effort to prevent a “cyberspace version of
The move raises doubts about the administration’s vetting process for
sensitive security positions. In 2004, Callahan was forced to resign from
Homeland Security after a congressional investigation revealed she committed résumé fraud and lied about her computer credentials.
Investigators found that Callahan paid a diploma mill thousands of dollars
for her bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees in computer science. She
back-dated the degrees, all obtained between 2000 and 2001, to appear as if
she earned them in 1993, 1995 and 2000, respectively. She landed the job of
deputy DHS chief information officer in 2003.
Previously, as a White House computer supervisor, Callahan threatened
computer workers to keep quiet about an embarrassing server glitch that led
to the loss of thousands of archived emails covered by federal subpoenas
pertaining to multiple Clinton scandals.
Former co-workers say they’re shocked that Callahan passed a security
background check and landed another sensitive post inside the federal
“She’s a security risk,” said a government computer specialist. “I don’t
know how she got clearance.”
“We’re fuming about it,” said another federal employee. “Knowing her, I
don’t see how she could ever be 100-percent honest.”
A CyberCom spokesman said Callahan could not be interviewed and did not want
her “name in public.” Asked for Callahan’s title, he claimed such
information was “personal.”
CyberCom, which began operations last year, is part of the U.S. Strategic
Command located in Fort Meade, Md.
The Defense Department last week revealed it recently suffered a massive
cyberattack, even as it announced a new strategy to actively combat online
threats to national security.
Laura Crabtree Callahan testifying before the House
Government Reform Committee in the Project X White House e-mail scandal
In March, hackers working for a foreign government broke into a Pentagon
contractor’s computer system and stole 24,000 files. Previous cyberattacks
have been blamed on China or Russia.
A new Pentagon study stresses the need to fortify network firewalls against
enemy hackers. Callahan will be part of that effort at CyberCom, which will
lead day-to-day defense and protection of all Defense Department networks.
“She’s a dubious hire, to put it charitably,” said Tom Fitton, president of
Judicial Watch, a government watchdog in Washington that sued the Clinton
White House to retrieve missing emails.
As WND first reported, several Northrop Grumman contractors working on the
White House computer system testified in early 2000 that Callahan (née Laura
Crabtree) threatened to jail them if they talked about the “Project X”
email scandal even to their spouses.
One technician, Robert Haas, said she warned him “there will be a jail cell
with your name on it” if he breathed a word about the glitch to anybody
outside their office.
Chip Sparks, a White House programmer, recounted a run-in he had with
Callahan in 1997. After questioning a technical decision she made, he said
she wrote him a threatening note.
“Please be advised I will not tolerate any further derogatory comments from
you about my knowledge, qualifications and/or professional competence,”
Callahan blasted Sparks in a March 3, 1997, e-mail, a copy of which was
obtained by WND.
An email from Laura Crabtree to Chip Sparks dated March 3, 1997.
Callahan had to do some quick backpedaling after her House testimony. The
day after she testified, she sent an affidavit to the House Government
Reform Committee, stating: “I wish to clarify that I did discuss e-mail
issues with the Department of Justice attorneys in connection with currently
pending civil litigation,” referring to a lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch.
She had denied such contacts at the hearing.
Callahan left the White House under an ethical cloud, only to land a top
position elsewhere in the Clinton administration. Labor Secretary Alexis
Herman made her deputy chief information officer at her agency, and director
of its information technology center.
While there, she oversaw the development of the Privacy Assessment Model,
which agencies were to use to better protect sensitive personal data managed
by the government.
“It’s hard for me, having worked with this individual, to believe that she
was able to come in there, do what she did, leave the things in the
condition that she left them in and then fly right into an SES (senior
executive service) position at the Labor Department,” Sparks said.
“I mean, there’s political favors there,” he added. “It’s writ large.”
House Government Reform Committee investigators at the time said Labor knew
Callahan got her degree from a diploma mill, yet still employed her. They
found that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management tipped Labor off to her
“We have requested the Homeland Security IG to look at why flags that had
been raised about her educational qualifications in her personnel file at
the Labor Department were not taken further,” said House Government Reform
Committee spokesman Dave Marin at the time.
He told WND that the government certainly cannot risk hiring someone with
“fraudulent credentials” to head a senior position in an area as “sensitive
as homeland security” computer operations and communications.
Calls to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management seeking comment about
Callahan’s latest hiring were not returned.