Hillary Clinton's BlackBerry envy failed to impress the NSA

Back when she was secretary of state, Clinton couldn't get the secure phone she wanted, so she continued to use her own.

Hillary Clinton didn't get the BlackBerry she wanted, but she might just get her presidential nomination.

Porter Gifford/Corbis

President Barack Obama wasn't the only administration official enamored of the BlackBerry phone.

When she was serving as the US secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, Hillary Clinton repeatedly tried to get her hands on "BlackBerry-like communications," but was denied by the National Security Agency out of concerns for security and cost, according to a report Wednesday by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.

Emails obtained by the organization under a Freedom of Information Act request show that Clinton demanded access to the same type of secure BlackBerry device used by President Obama, and the NSA's subsequent rebuffs often led to heated exchanges between the two camps.

"Each time we asked the question 'What was the solution for POTUS?' we were politely told to shut up and color," or to mind their own business, according to one email sent in 2009 by Donald Reid, the State Department's coordinator for security infrastructure.

Once the de rigueur instrument of business communications, BlackBerry dominated the cell phone industry before losing its crown to Apple's iPhone and to Google's Android software. Corporate and government types loved using BlackBerrys because they offered a level of data encryption that prevented everyone, including BlackBerry itself, from snooping into the phone's contents. Clinton has come under fire over the past few months for using her personal email on the BlackBerry she used while she was secretary of state.

Clinton liked to use her BlackBerry rather than a desktop or laptop to stay on top of her emails at all times, but this was a problem at the secure office space at the State Department's headquarters, where wireless devices were banned, according to the documents. To overcome this, she requested the same modified 8830 World Edition used by the president, which would allow her to check her email constantly, something she had become accustomed to during the 2008 presidential campaign.

The NSA refused, saying that it had phased out the waivers that allowed her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, to use a BlackBerry as they had been "expanded to an unmanageable number of users from a security perspective."

Clinton, now the front-runner in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, carried on using her personal BlackBerry for state business after her request for a customized secure device was rejected by the NSA. She has since apologized and claimed that she never used the BlackBerry to send classified information.

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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