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. Paul

    “phillyT – Palin had more executive experience than either McCain or Obama.”

    Thanks for the laugh! You made my day!

    1. PhillyT, hey, you try getting out there on the sidelines in pumps and cashmere sweater while the players are cussin’ and spittin’ and try to act all executive. It’s real chores!

  2. A “temporary ban until we find out what’s going on.” My assumption is that those with security clearances above my pay grade know what is going on and I trust they have the good judgment to protect the interests of the United States. Beware of wild-eyed, loose-lipped politicians!

    1. FogdogSF – if you assume that those above your security clearance level know what is going on you are badly mistaken. Sadly, they are often the last people who know what is happening.

  3. I wonder how Nixon felt when he saw the evidence mounting and heard the voices.

    It must have been a very difficult period for his supporters and apologists.

  4. 1) Every administration “selectively” leaks information that benefits them so where do we start?

    2) Every administration “selectively” prosecutes leakers that leak information that doesn’t benefit them.

    3) As I understand the process, each individual agency has individual rules. There is not an agency that
    solely focuses on national security standards for all agencies.

    4) The rules for each agency are so complicated and burdensome that nobody understands the rules – so
    bureaucrats simply over-classify things that should never be secret.

    5) Right now there has been an excessive and unprecedented abuse of the “Espionage Act of 1917” and
    Executive Order 12333 was written before the internet existed.

    What I don’t understand is why we haven’t criminally prosecuted war crimes and domestic spying after 9/11 (of both parties) since there is overwhelming evidence?

  5. david writes, “‘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?”

    I’d agree your statement is true if we remain there. However, if we were to remove ourselves and our control from the Middle East, my sense is your statement would be untrue. This is about our possession, custody and control of land to which we’re not entitled, obligated, nor ordained to control. Those who live there want us out, just as we’d want trespassers off our land and our way of life.

  6. Probably 99% of everything stamped SECRET is done so to avoid oversight and accountability by the voters. Most of this non-sense has absolutely nothing to do with national security or protecting people.

    Let’s fix that first!

    1. RB, would you mind letting us in on what was in these email? Since it had nothing to do with national security and you seem to know its contents. Did you know it’s just as bad and almost as punishable to over use any one of several TSSA headers. It slows down communication channels, requires special couriers, and adds to the double layer of security required for this level of communication. Every piece requires triple safe, I.e. A locked safe, inside a locked or guarded room, inside a secure facility. It requires a person with the packet locked to his body during transport. This bathroom server at the Clinton ranch did not come close to meeting the standards set by folks who dedicate their lives to safeguard out national secrets. The fact that HRC never saw, sent, read, or ordered sent documents to or from her home server is of no consequence. She took the responsibility of the safe, the locked room, and the secure facility when she decided to circumvent SOP. Also, anyone in her organization who took it on theirselves to remove a banner puts the blame right back on her shoulders. Richard Nixon did not break into the Watergte hotel but, well you know the outcome.

      1. RB, I agree that we should fix the law which permits overuse of classifications, but I have a problem with a bureaucrat deciding for herself whether to follow it.

        There are a whole lot of folks who wouldn’t be able to get away with that. Why whitewash it for Slick Hillie?

        Is she too big to fail?

  7. Think it was in the 1970’s Church Committee Reports where the investigators concluded essentially “when everything is secret, nothing is secret” [not verbatim].

    The point they were making is when there is fraudulent and excessive secrecy, you can’t separate the jewels from the toothbrush – you also can’t have American democracy and self-government with excessive secrecy.

    Maybe let’s restore the constitutional “rule of law” first before pointing fingers at Clinton for a lesser offense!

    1. And the Marine Lance Corporal who mistakenly leaves a “Secret” document on the bench at the local Burger King on the way back from the Pentagon to HQMC? Is that a whitewashable offense from which he should be able to maintain his job as a handler of classified material?

      Jus’ sayin’.

  8. Whatever will the parasites do when the playing field is actually level, not tilted in their direction?

    Oops. That’s the same as saying 1789 – the last time Americans were free.

    And instead of an artificial welfare state, including affirmative action, there was only self-reliance.

    One can understand how that idea is far too shocking to contemplate.

  9. Paul,
    You are right that McCain sunk himself, in that he exposed his ignorance and poor judgement in picking the professional know-nothing 1/2 term grifta-from-Wasilla. His bad temper, war-mongering and ridiculous behavior didn’t help either.

    1. phillyT – Palin had more executive experience than either McCain or Obama.

  10. Lisa,
    I did start copying and pasting the list of names you posted, and that’s when I realized that you either intentionally misled people with your post, or that you had copied it from someone else.

    So, if in fact you did not copy and paste it from elsewhere, then the obvious fabrications must be your own, no?

    Nice work and so completely predictable for you to intermix a few facts with a lot of vague insinuation with a smattering of lies and out and out BS.

    I love it that Sarah Palin has endorsed the Donald because now people who thought maybe he had something intelligent to say (mixed in with all his jingoism and misogyny) have realized that he hooked up with the half-term grifter who sank John McCain and they will run away from him with all due speed.

    FeelTheBern baby.

  11. John -> Touché! When everyone is treated the same, with the same standards and rules, it is not discrimination. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights speaks of equal opportunity but not equal results. In life, some people are going to excel and some are going to be average. Some are going to be below average and some are going to fail. That’s the reality.

    The problem is, when they fail, they scream racism or misogyny or anti gay . . . etc. They never take the responsibility of not only their own actions, but the result of those actions. It’s easier to blame and deflect. Then when you call them down on it, they attack and demonize the one or group who shines the light on their bs.

    These people are so scared of Donald Trump being elected because they know the gravy train will end and your azz is going to work and I cannot wait !!!!

  12. Lisa N,

    You must bear the slings and arrows of the recipients of affirmative action, welfare, social services, Obamacare and all the various and sundry forms of “free stuff.”

    Freedom and Self-Reliance are incomprehensible anathema to them.

    They will support their donors and benefactors to the end; they have to.

  13. BarkinDog

    “Enough of these damn emails.”

    I’ll bet that’s what Richard Nixon was saying about his White House tapes, huh?

    Sorry, Hills. It’s time to pay the piper.

  14. Lisa N

    “Just copying and pasting stuff you find on the internet only qualifies you to knowing how your keyboard works.”

    “Who are you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?” – Anonymous

    I haven’t heard such silliness since Johnny Cochran foolishly assumed the authority to tell us to ignore the overwhelming evidence against O.J. Simpson. We were too stupid to assess that evidence correctly, as only he was capable.

    This opposition is oozing with bias, incoherence and irrationality. The only disposition is to completely ignore it.

    This regurgitated pabulum is so ridiculous I could curse. But then you wouldn’t be able to read this comment because the censors would remove it.

    The spinmeisters become so discombobulated inside, their crania are compelled to violently expel their contents regardless of veracity or coherence.

    A legend in his own mind.

    It just gets silly.

  15. BarkinDog: And the photos on our currency will be replaced with Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo.

    Jay: You are right on.

    Lots of slime in the sewer. Is it because that woman got to messing in a man’s work instead of baking cookies for the DAR? Where’s my dog whistle?

  16. Enough of these damn emails. The news media reports that the GOP “establishment” is now going back The Donald because they don’t like the Cruz guy. Jeso. Karl Rove will be our next Ambassador to the UN in the next administration. Palin will be Secretary of State. Andy Cohen will be Secretary of Health and Human Services. Who is he? Rubio will be VP.

  17. For Paul C. Schulte –
    I was in the “military industrial complex” my whole working career, and was involved with classified documents all the time. Countless times, there were lengthy classified documents in which only ONE PARAGRAPH actually contained any classified or sensitive information, and that sensitive information was often just one number. However, the whole document had to have headers marked at the classification of that one paragraph. So I have indeed seen many cases where the classified headers were stripped off of pages with only unclassified paragraphs, and the results photocopied or faxed. If this were to be prosecuted as a crime, probably 95% of defense contractor employees (and their counterparts in DoD) would be in jail.

    Beyond that, even much of the stuff that was “sensitive” was only debatably so. You must be aware that many studies and commenters throughout the years have complained about the excessive use of classification. But nobody was to rock the boat, and instead plays safe by classifying anything and everything.

    A lot of the harangs in this thread could be simply boiled down to “I hate the Clintons and always will.”

    1. Jay S – the classified document that had the header stripped off was the meeting schedule for a classified meeting. This was not one of those, well nobody is going to know the difference, kind of thing. Now the IG had to be read in to a new level of secrecy to read the Special Access Material which had to have the headers stripped to get on Hillary’s server. This is a whole new level of bad.

  18. PhillyT -> Since you’re so smart, how about you copy and paste it into your browser. Then you let me know where I found this.

    1st. You don’t want to give credit to a woman for intelligent research.

    2nd. If you’re so sure I copied and paste it, then find my Fox News source, which most liberals think.

    You’re ridiculous because you can’t handle truth so you insult your way out of debate. So damned predictable of you.

  19. I object to the theme in some posts that somehow the Clinton’s (and Obama) invented Presidential lying and lawlessness. Or that Hilary invented SoS imperiousness. Please.

    That attitude is childish and at best naive, and ultimately, unhelpful.

    Of course, this notion’s bookend is the equally unsupportable idea that the Clinton’s and Obama are above such shenanigans.

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