Inspector General: Clinton Emails Contain Special Access Material Above The Top Secret Level

Hillary_Clinton_Testimony_to_House_Select_Committee_on_BenghaziFox News and NBC are reporting that Congress has been informed that Hillary Clinton’s unsecure home server contained information classified at levels higher than previously known, including classified Top Secret/Special Access. That would represent some of the most sensitive information to U.S. intelligence. I have held a TSSCI clearance since the Reagan Administration and I am again astonished by the remarkably bad judgment in the use of this server.   In dealing with this type of information, it is generally restricted to SCIF and other highly restrictive access rules.  Indeed, the limitations impose restrictions that have many of us grumbling constantly about the time and travel needed to deal with such documents in a safe and secure manner.  CNN is reporting that “several dozen” new emails have been identified at the high classification level.

The Special Access material does not appear to be the same two Top Secret emails identified earlier among the hundreds of classified emails found on the server.

Charles McCullough, the intelligence community’s inspector general, said in a letter to the chairmen of the Senate intelligence and foreign affairs committees that he has received sworn declarations that cover “several dozen emails containing classified information determined by the IC element to be at the CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET and TOP SECRET/SAP information.”

Now here is the kicker. NBC says that one official involved in the investigation said that the special access program in question was so sensitive that McCullough and some of his aides had to receive clearance to be read in on it before viewing the sworn declaration about the Clinton emails.

Clinton has insisted that “I never sent classified material on my email, and I never received any that was marked classified.” The key of this spin is again the word “marked.” I have previously discussed why that explanation is less than compelling, particularly for anyone who has handled sensitive or classified material. As I discussed earlier, virtually anything coming out of the office of the Secretary of State would be considered classified as a matter of course. I have had a TS/SCI clearance since Reagan due to my national security work and have lived under the restrictions imposed on email and other systems. The defense is that this material was not technically classified at the time that it was sent. Thus it was not “classified” information. The problem is that it was not reviewed and classified because it was kept out of the State Department system. Moreover, most high-level communications are treated as classified and only individually marked as classified when there is a request for disclosure. You do not generate material as the Secretary of State and assume that it is unclassified. You are supposed to assume and treat it as presumptively classified. Otherwise, there would be massive exposure of classified material and willful blindness as to the implications of the actions of persons disregarding precautions. For example, there is not a person standing next to the President with a classification stamp in the Oval Office. However, those communications are deemed as presumptively classified and are not disclosed absent review. Under the same logic, the President could use a personal email system because his text messages by definition are not marked as classified. This is the whole reason that Clinton and others were told to use the protected email system run by the State Department. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to secure such systems.

The fact that an email was not marked classified could be a defense to a criminal charge but it does nothing to address horrendous judgment shown in using a private email system exclusively as one of the top government officials (and a chief target of foreign intelligence).

The presence of the highest classified material on the server would magnify the scandal further for Clinton, who has run on her experience and judgment in the national security area.

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon responded to the story with the same point that nothing was actually marked classified: “This is the same interagency dispute that has been playing out for months, and it does not change the fact that these emails were not classified at the time they were sent or received. It is alarming that the intelligence community IG, working with Republicans in Congress, continues to selectively leak materials in order to resurface the same allegations and try to hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

118 thoughts on “Inspector General: Clinton Emails Contain Special Access Material Above The Top Secret Level”

  1. No one lies more than Clinton, and idiots here still support her. Self reflection isn’t part of a ideological narcissists repertoire.

  2. Question: best guess: how widespread among senior officials is carelessness with classified information? Sure, the minions all jump through the hoops, but do the big dogs? Do senior officials in all the agencies and military follow all the annoying rules to the “t”, or do they view that those rules, just like all other rules, are just for little people?

    Note: I did not say is it illegal, or is it stupid in terms security, i asked what do the big dogs actually do.

    I can think of several names who seem to have been previously naive or casual about security when exposed by the media. Almost as if the predominant actual practice is lax, but that only matters when the PTB decide to make it matter.

  3. “Just making a bigger pile does not constitute more evidence.”

    It is the Republican style. Watch a GOP debate. Lies, exaggerations, all the norm; if you repeat a lie often enough, idiots will believe it. The scary part is that idiots vote.

  4. Lisa N
    Just copying and pasting stuff you find on the internet only qualifies you to knowing how your keyboard works.

    I quickly googled half the “dead Clinton bodyguards” on your list, and NONE of them ever were. A few ATF agents, people associated with the assault on the Branch Davidians compound, but no bodyguards. They’re not even all dead.

    Just making a bigger pile does not constitute more evidence. Get it together.

  5. Can NBC News please name the candidates for President who have dogs for pals. Inquiring minds need to know.

  6. I kind of think this. It is alarming that the intelligence community IG, working with Republicans in Congress, continues to selectively leak materials in order to resurface the same allegations and try to hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

    1. 100% certainty that NBC would not report if they thought it had only superficial value. It a developing story that all networks will soon have on evening news.

  7. “Bernie Sanders has already said “enough talk about the emails.” That should be good enough for everybody.”

    Really! Lmao, owe the 2nd king has spoken. It might be good enough for democrats to accept a lying tripe for president but not me.

    You seem to accept a lower bar of acceptable criminality of a presidential candidate because the only other choice you have is an old socialist and a white man.

    Lol, just pains you liberals that you don’t have diversity or youth, in your choice for president, so you’ll settle for the female with the most tainted reputation.

    This is what happens when you mess with the Clinton’s!!

    And in case you have forgotten all the other bodies this felon has left in her wake……Just a quick refresher course ‘lest we forget’ what has happened to many “friends” of the Clintons.

    1- James McDougal – Clintons convicted Whitewater partner died of an apparent heart attack, while in solitary confinement. He was a key witness in Ken Starr’s investigation.

    2 – Mary Mahoney – A former White House intern was murdered July 1997 at a Starbucks Coffee Shop in Georgetown .. The murder happened just after she was togo public w:th her story of sexual harassment in the White House.

    3 – Vince Foster – Former White House councilor, and colleague of Hillary Clinton at Little Rock’s Rose Law firm. Died of a gunshot wound to the head, ruleda suicide.

    4 – Ron Brown – Secretary of Commerce and former DNC Chairman. Reported to have died by impact in a plane crash. A pathologist close to the investigation reported that there was a hole in the top of Brown’s skull resembling a gunshot wound. At the time of his death Brown was being investigated, and spoke publicly of his willingness to cut a deal with prosecutors. The rest of the people on the plane also died. A few days later the air Traffic controller commited suicide.

    5 – C. Victor Raiser, II – Raiser, a major player in the Clinton fund raising organization died in a private plane crash in July 1992.

    6 – Paul Tulley – Democratic National Committee Political Director found dead in a hotelroom in Little Rock , September 1992. Described by Clinton as a “dear friend and trusted advisor”.

    7 – Ed Willey – Clinton fundraiser, found dead November 1993 deep in the woods in VA of a gunshot wound to the head. Ruled a suicide. Ed Willey died on the same day his wife Kathleen Willey claimed Bill Clinton groped her in the oval office in the White House. Ed Willey was involved in several Clinton fund raising events.

    8 – Jerry Parks – Head of Clinton’s gubernatorial security team in Little Rock .. Gunned down in his car at a deserted intersection outside Little Rock Park’s son said his father was building a dossier on Clinton He allegedly threatened to reveal this information. After he died the files were mysteriously removed from his house.

    9 – James Bunch – Died from a gunshot suicide. It was reported that he had a “Black Book” of people which contained names of influential people who visited prostitutes in Texas and Arkansas.

    10 – James Wilson – Was found dead in May 1993 from an apparent hanging suicide. He was reported to have ties to Whitewater..

    11 – Kathy Ferguson – Ex-wife of Arkansas Trooper Danny Ferguson, was found dead in May 1994, in her living room with a gunshot to her head. It was ruled a suicide even though there were several packed suitcases, as if she were going somewhere. Danny Ferguson was a co-defendant along with Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones lawsuit Kathy Ferguson was a possible corroborating witness for Paula Jones.

    12 – Bill Shelton – Arkansas State Trooper and fiancee of Kathy Ferguson. Critical of the suicide ruling of his fiancee, he was found dead in June, 1994 of a gunshot wound also ruled a suicide at the grave site of his fiancee.

    13 – Gandy Baugh – Attorney for Clinton’s friend Dan Lassater, died by jumping out a window of a tall building January, 1994. His client was a convicted drug distributor.

    14 – Florence Martin – Accountant & sub-contractor for the CIA, was related to the Barry Seal, Mena, Arkansas, airport drug smuggling case. He died of three gunshot wounds.

    15 – Suzanne Coleman – Reportedly had an affair with Clinton when he was Arkansas Attorney General. Died of a gunshot wound to the back of the head, ruled a suicide. Was pregnant at the time of her death.

    16 – Paula Grober – Clinton’s speech interpreter for the deaf from 1978 until her death December 9, 1992. She died in a one car accident.

    17 – Danny Casolaro – Investigative reporter. Investigating MenaAirport and Arkansas Development Finance Authority. He slit his wrists, apparently, in the middle of his investigation.

    18 – Paul Wilcher – Attorney investigating corruption at MenaAirport with Casolaro and the 1980 “October Surprise” was found dead on a toilet June 22, 1993, in his WashingtonDC apartment. Had delivered a report to Janet Reno 3 weeks before his death.

    19 – Jon Parnell Walker – Whitewater investigator for Resolution Trust Corp. Jumped to his death from his Arlington , Virginia apartment balcony August 15, 1993. He was investigating the Morgan Guaranty scandal.

    20 – Barbara Wise – Commerce Department staffer. Worked closely with Ron Brown and John Huang. Cause of death unknown. Died November 29, 1996. Her bruised, nude body was found locked in her office at the Department of Commerce.

    21 – Charles Meissner – Assistant Secretary of Commerce who gave John Huang special security clearance, died shortly thereafter in a small plane crash.

    22 – Dr. Stanley Heard – Chairman of the National Chiropractic Health Care Advisory Committee died with his attorney Steve Dickson in a small plane crash. Dr. Heard, in addition to serving on Clinton ‘s advisory council personally treated Clinton’s mother, stepfather and brother.

    23 – Barry Seal – Drug running TWA pilot out of Mena Arkansas, death was no accident.

    24 – Johnny Lawhorn, Jr. – Mechanic, found a check made out to Bill Clinton in the trunk of a car left at his repair shop. He was found dead after his car had hit a utility pole.

    25 – Stanley Huggins – Investigated Madison Guaranty. His death was a purported suicide and his report was never released.

    26 – Hershell Friday – Attorney and Clinton fundraiser died March 1, 1994, when his plane exploded.

    27 – Kevin Ives & Don Henry – Known as “The boys on the track” case. Reports say the boys may have stumbled upon the Mena Arkansas airport drug operation. A controversial case, the initial report of death said, due to falling asleep on railroad tracks. Later reports claim the 2 boys had been slain before being placed on the tracks. Many linked to the case died before their testimony could come before a Grand Jury.

    28 – Keith Coney – Died when his motorcycle slammed into the back of a truck, 7/88.

    29 – Keith McMaskle – Died, stabbed 113 times, Nov, 1988.

    30 – Gregory Collins – Died from a gunshot wound January 1989.

    31 – Jeff Rhodes – He was shot, mutilated and found burned in a trash dump in April 1989.

    32 – James Milan – Found decapitated. However, the Coroner ruled his death was due to natural causes”.

    33 – Jordan Kettleson – Was found shot to death in the front seat of his pickup truck in June 1990.

    34 – Richard Winters – A suspect in the Ives/Henry deaths. He was killed in a set-up robbery July 1989.

    35 – Major William S. Barkley, Jr.
    36 – Captain Scott J . Reynolds
    37 – Sgt. Brian Hanley
    38 – Sgt. Tim Sabel
    39 – Major General William Robertson
    40 – Col. William Densberger
    41 – Col. Robert Kelly
    42 – Spec. Gary Rhodes
    43 – Steve Willis
    44 – Robert Williams
    45 – Conway LeBleu
    46 – Todd McKeehan

    This doesn’t include the hacker in Europe who hacked Hillary’s server who suddenly died a couple weeks ago. Quite an impressive list!

    The public must become aware of what happens to friends of the Clintons! I would just about guarantee that this aide will soon die a mysterious death, just like all the rest of them, who had info on the Clintons.

    Or . . . The Clintons are just cursed! Which are you going to believe?

    These are facts and you can look them up. Do you still believe Burney Sanders can make it all go away ?

  8. Secrets are a necessary part of state action. No respect for secrets, not in the whistleblower sense but in the sense of an arrogant oligarch who could care less about the rules– that is awful. Indict her already and God bless Bernie Sanders & Donald Trump. Trump versus Sanders might be the first real election the voters have had for years.

  9. Jay,
    My most junior sailor understood more about information security than you apparently do. Even “Unclassified” information is handled at a minimum based on “Need to Know”. The private email server should be an obvious indication of her horrible lack of judgment, but her inability to determine “sensitivity” of information without a classification stamp should confirm this woman should never be trusted with a lunch menu let alone state secrets.

  10. Information is “classified” when some classifying authority deems it to be classified. The question I have not seen raised here is, who was the classifying authority for these various emails? To come along after the fact and say, “this or that should have been classified” is Monday-morning quarterbacking. In many cases, classification calls are very subjective.

    1. Jay S – when you strip the classified header off the document so you can send it thru the unclassified fax machine, it was already classified. Hillary ordered the header striped off. That is a crime. The question is going to be how many little people are going to be willing to go to jail to keep Hillary out.

    2. Jay S. You want to know who classified the document? The identify who classified the document is Party A. There now you know all you need to know.
      You say that classification calls are subjective. Party A can classify his grocery list if he feels the contents of his grocery list might disclose who he is having over for dinner, and that dinner guest’s whereabouts is classified or the fact that guest Is visiting him is classified. In most cases it will be obvious why the document is classified. But you don’t have to fully understand why a document is classified. All you need to know is if you see the stamp you treat it as such.

  11. Lisa N, you have to observe the juxtaposition to believe it.

    To wit,

    “I know how much you would love to see her frog-marched out of her house, but could we wait until some actual facts come in?”


    “Bill Clinton lost his law license for perjury to a federal court. You can hide your stuff from a thief but you can never protect yourself from a liar and that’s a common trait amongst the Clintons.

    Hillary Clinton has been involved in scandals before. Here are some notable ones you may have forgotten.

    Chinagate – The Clinton-Gore campaign in 1996 allegedly took bribes from Chinese banks and their government to help their dwindling poll numbers. The Chinese embassy in D.C. helped siphon funds into the DNC. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown (who was killed in a plane crash), and at Hillary’s instruction reportedly sold seats on department trade missions to China. Joint congressional hearings were canceled after Democrats threatened to bring up Republican campaign issues and then Monica Lewinsky actually saved this scandal from media attention.

    Travelgate Scandal – Catherine Cornelius, a 25-year-old cousin of Bill’s was allegedly promised the position of director of the travel office. Hillary Clinton then (indirectly) fired seven employees from the United States travel office and replaced them with associates from Arkansas. Records were either nowhere to be found or incorrectly filed. And, there’s a reported attempt to give a White House airline contract to friend. Hillary had the FBI investigate Billy Dale, the head of the travel office, ruining his career who was found to do nothing wrong, but was then audited by the IRS for three years after.

    “Billy Dale and his family went through hell thanks to the Clintons, Attorney General Janet Reno, the FBI and the IRS,” Irvine wrote. “Hillary’s greatest crime was not perjury, it was trying to send an innocent man to prison to justify having fired him and his staff without cause.”

    “A memorandum by a former Presidential aide depicts Hillary Rodham Clinton as the central figure in the 1993 travel office dismissals, a politically damaging episode that the aide said had resulted from a climate of fear in which officials did not dare question Mrs. Clinton’s wishes,” wrote the NYT in 1996.

    Whitewater Scandal – Hillary and her husband were partners in a shady real estate development firm called Whitewater Development Corp in Arkansas. Accusations of impropriety against the Clintons and others soon surfaced, regarding improper campaign contributions, political and financial favors, and tax benefits. Clinton’s friends and majority owners, James and Susan McDougal were jailed for fraud, Clinton’s successor, Governor Jim Tucker, was jailed for fraud along with municipal judges David Hale and Eugene Fitzhugh who worked with James McDougal. The Clintons walked away unscathed, having apparently done nothing wrong.

    See Whitewater Timeline.

    Vince Foster Jr. Mystery – Questions cloud the suicide of Vince Foster, former colleague, friend, and White House aid of Hillary’s who had connections to Travelgate, and the Whitewater scandals. Read the link above entitled “The Man Who Knew too Much. . .”

    Filegate Scandal – Craig Livingstone, director of the White House’s Office of Personnel Security “improperly” accessed FBI files on several hundred individuals.

    Mrs. Clinton called it a, “completely honest bureaucratic snafu.”

    Many of these files were on people from previous Republican administrations. Hillary Clinton hired Livingston and is alleged to have looked at the files and requested this move. She was accused by Republicans of violating privacy rights of individuals she viewed as political adversaries.

    Cattle-Futures Miracle – Hillary’s first commodity trade was in cattle futures where she ordered 10 futures contracts which normally cost $12,000 dollars with only $1,000 dollars in her account. This turned into $6,300 dollars by the next morning and after 10 months totaled $100,000, with trading help from James B. Blair.

    “Blair, who at the time was outside counsel to Tyson Foods Inc., Arkansas’ largest employer, says he was advising Clinton out of friendship, not to seek political gain. . .” reports The WashingtonPost.

    Robert L. “Red” Bone ran the Springdale, AK financial services company REFCO allowed the trades and later, after investigation, had to pay the largest fine at the time in the exchanges history and was suspended for three years. Hillary Clinton said she was able to make the successful trading because she read the Wall Street Journal for research.

    Lootergate – Bill and especially Hillary started to ship White House furniture to their personal home in Chappaqua, N.Y.. The Clintons claimed they were donated, but at only some were proven to be donated and meant to stay in the White House after contacting the manufacturers. The Clintons returned some of the furniture after pressure was put on them to do so.

    “GOP lawmakers and others criticized Hillary Rodham Clinton in particular for accepting many presents just before she joined the Senate and became covered by strict ethics rules that prohibit accepting gifts worth more than $50.”

    Drug Dealer Donor Scandal – Convicted drug trafficker Jorge Cabrera apparently made such a big donation to the Clinton’s campaign that he was invited to the White house without Secret Service present.

    Ponzi Scheme and Political Favor Scandal – Norman Yung Yuen Hsu was a convicted pyramid investment promoter, and major Democratic donor. He contributed an undisclosed amount to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign.

    “He was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison in 2009 by a judge who accused him of funding his fraud by manipulating the political process in a way that ‘strikes at the very core of our democracy.”

    Benghazi – Need I say more?

    There is an article posted in the New York Times in 1996 entitled “Blizzard of Lies” about Hillary Clinton.

    The mega Clinton Foundation is also rife with cronyism and political favors.

    It never ends, it’s a virtual reality of constant corruption. . .”

    — 1/11/16

    “The report indicates the initial security referral looking into whether or not classified information was mishandled has expanded to look at possible public corruption involving the Clinton Foundation.

    The report paints a picture of an internal struggle within the FBI over whether or not to prosecute Clinton. The reporter quotes an unnamed FBI source saying, “many previous public corruption cases have been made and successfully prosecuted with much less evidence than what is emerging in this investigation.”


    “You can lead a horse’s to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

    “If you back a wild animal, AKA welfare/affirmative action recipient, into a corner, it will strike out.”

    – Anonymous –


    “What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?”


    Is it any wonder the American Founders implemented a restricted vote in their republic?

    The inmates have taken over the asylum.

  12. Professor Turley, I would be interested in your take regarding the Clinton campaign’s response to this news implying that the IG is working with Republicans in Congress and further implying this is nothing new. You have been around Washington a long time. Is there any credibility to the Clinton campaign’s comments implying some sort of behind the scenes cooperation between the IG and the Republicans? It would seem to me that the IG’s office would not engage in such partisan gamesmanship but that is clearly what is being suggested. So bottom line: is this news “new” or is it a continuation of the same stuff and do you believe there is some kind of collusion between the Republicans and the IG in releasing this information? I would really love to see what you have to say about it as I respect your opinion.

    1. Olly writes, “What would it say about our current system if Clinton can commit such gross violations of national security and seriously be considered for President? If she walks on this then what precedent is set for future violations from any one else? What a great way to commit espionage.”

      (I responded with something to the effect that this would also apply to the War Powers Act.)

      If she’s this arrogant in flaunting her mishandling of sensitive State Department communications, then she won’t be afraid to violate the War Powers Act either. I don’t think that’s a stretch of logic.

      Trump’s the same way though. If he’s arrogant enough to say we need to ban Muslims from crossing the border and that Mexicans are criminals and rapists (not all, just many), then imagine how much of an iota he”ll give with respect to notifying Congress of military operations elsewhere.

      And all Presidents have been abusing their War Powers Act authority as if violations are precedent rather than unlawfulness. Congress declares war, not the President.

      It’s amazing we’d even consider these folks for office. They’re over the top. Once they’re in, we’ve no one to blame but ourselves.

        1. dougkinan: Okay, so does that make it proper? In other words, if Trump doesn’t know what’s going on, he’s selectively blind.

          This is about the US trampling on land and people that it doesn’t own. What’s there to know otherwise that would make his comment less than absolutely outrageous?

          All we’ve done since the Berlin Wall came down is bully and bully more, with lots of lives lost.

          1. Steve:

            I’m not understanding your entire response. The “we” I’m talking about is the government, not Trump. The government is looking the other way, intentionally so.

            Trump is speaking up for the government’s failure to find out what’s going on.

            However, I do agree with you on bullying.


          2. stevegroen wrote: “This is about the US trampling on land and people that it doesn’t own. What’s there to know otherwise that would make his comment less than absolutely outrageous?”

            Steve, if we were not fighting them over there, we would be fighting them here, in New York City, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, etc. The 9/11 attack made that perfectly clear. Where would you rather the zealots fight us? Here or overseas?

  13. On the one hand we have a lying, lawless lawyer who laughed about getting a pedophile off. On the other, we have a declared socialist who plans to raise trillions of dollars in taxes.

    And then across the aisle we have Trump.

    Now why couldn’t I have won that billion dollars in the CA Lottery and just bought my own paradise island?

  14. Geez. Lucas Film did better with securing classified info about the new Star Wars movie.

  15. phillyT:

    “I know how much you would love to see her frog-marched out of her house, but could we wait until some actual facts come in?”

    You know how much I love an investigation, and this warrants its investigation.

    The facts that have already come in include that Clinton did have classified, Top Secret, and even Special Access among her emails. Another fact is the email that we’ve already seen where she advised an employee to remove a classified heading and send via insecure fax.

    That, already, is a crime.

    Of course more facts will come in, and the investigation will run its course. We already know so far that she committed a crime. We also already know she attempted to wipe her server clean. What is also a fact is that intent to commit espionage is not required in the prosecution of the mishandling of classified information. (See above examples.) It merely requires negligence or failure to follow required protocol.

    These are not opinions or partisanship. It’s the facts as we already know them.

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