"I completely agree that the State Department has a lax approach to security," said a former U.S. federal employee who worked with the State Department on classified things and spoke to CNBC.com on condition of anonymity. "I experienced it several times myself in terms of their handling of classified information both in print and in speech."
At a meeting at a major State Department facility, he asked what level of classification the group could speak to — different rooms are approved to handle different levels of classification — and nobody knew.
"It was not something that anyone at the State Department even thought about," he said. "It is just how the place runs — not how it runs under Clinton or under [Condoleezza] Rice, it is just how the place was run since forever."
The State Department on Tuesday vehemently denied that a lackadaisical approach to security was endemic. Despite Clinton's email practices at the State Department, many people followed the rules, said Kirby. "We don't share the broad assessment that there is 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," he said.