Top-secret classification confirmed on two Hillary Clinton server emails
posted at 2:41 pm on December 15, 2015 by Ed Morrissey
An yet another Hillary Clinton deflection point gets dismantled. When an intel-community review of the contents of Hillary’s secret server — or the content she allowed to be reviewed — determined that at least two messages stored on the unauthorized system contained Top Secret/Compartmented information, Team Hillary spun that as an example of overclassification. They argued that the information in both messages were in the public domain, as a way to shift the focus from her unsecured private system to the intel community itself.
That ruse has been quashed, as Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne report in a Fox News exclusive:
An intelligence community review has re-affirmed that two classified emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Hillary Clinton’s unsecured personal server despite a challenge to that designation by the State Department, according to two sources familiar with the review.
The sources described the dispute over whether the two emails were classified at the highest level as a “settled matter.”
The agencies that owned and originated that intelligence – the CIA and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency or NGA – reviewed the emails to determine how they should be properly stored, as the State Department took issue with their highly classified nature. The subject matter of the messages is widely reported to be the movement of North Korean missiles and a drone strike. A top secret designation requires the highest level of security, and can include the use of an approved safe.
The sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, told Fox News that while the emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Clinton’s server, one of them remains “top secret” to this day — and must be handled at the highest security level. The second email is still considered classified but at the lower “secret” level because more information is publicly available about the event.
This would actually be the third confirmation of the classification on this material. In September, the New York Times reported that the second review, conducted by the originating agencies, had reached the same conclusion as the first. The third time was clearly not the charm for Hillary Clinton and her aides, one or more of whom had to convert this information from secured systems in order to transmit it over Hillary’s rogue server.
The State Department can continue to challenge the classification, but they can’t change it. Per statute and a longstanding series of presidential orders, only the originating agency of the information can reclassify or declassify it. In a dispute, the agency requesting the change can take the classification dispute to the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office. They can still push that option, but it will not change the fact that the information was classified at the highest levels at the time of this transmission, and that both are still highly classified to this day.
Most importantly, Hillary and her team didn’t even bother to challenge the classification before transmitting this critical information through an unsecured and unauthorized communications channel. As I noted in September, this opens Hillary and her team to prosecution, assuming the DoJ decides to enforce the law:
Why does this matter? One of the federal statutes under which Hillary and her aides could be charged, 18 USC 1924, specifies that violating presidential executive orders on handling classified material is a crime, emphases mine:
(a) Whoever, being an officer, employee, contractor, or consultant of the United States, and, by virtue of his office, employment, position, or contract,becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified information of the United States, knowingly removes such documents or materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.
(b) For purposes of this section, the provision of documents and materials to the Congress shall not constitute an offense under subsection (a).
(c) In this section, the term “classified information of the United States” means information originated, owned, or possessed by the United States Government concerning the national defense or foreign relations of the United States that has been determined pursuant to law or Executive order to require protection against unauthorized disclosure in the interests of national security.
None of this matters unless the DoJ is willing to enforce these laws, as well as others (18 USC 793 in particular, as well as 18 USC 1001), but there is little doubt that the law has been broken — at least 999 times, actually. These are just the two most egregious examples yet known. The more interesting question may be this: If FBI Director James Comey develops an open-and-shut case only to see Loretta Lynch bury it, will he stay put — or go public?