Did the State Dept inadvertently put NSA intel into the clear?

posted at 12:41 pm on January 11, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Has the recent release of Hillary Clinton e-mails inadvertently exposed NSA-sourced intel? Former signals intelligence analyst John Schindler believes that information sent by Sidney Blumenthal to Hillary just days before another e-mail has once again landed her in hot water is likely to have come from the NSA. In a recap of information about wrangling over control of Sudan’s oil, Blumenthal describes in detail conversations within the ranks of these groups, and gives several explanations from his source material, and in his narrative accuses the Sudanese government of conspiring with two renegade generals to start a guerrilla conflict to regain control of its oil. Schindler, who notes that these conversations took place within 24 hours of Blumenthal’s e-mails, says the only possible way an intel amateur like Blumenthal could have gotten this information is directly from NSA signals intelligence:

state-sb-sudan

But the most interesting part is that the report describes a conversation “in confidence” that happened on the evening of June 7, just one day before Mr. Blumenthal sent the report to Secretary Clinton. It beggars the imagination to think that Sid’s private intelligence operation, which was just a handful of people, had operators who were well placed in Sudan, with top-level spy access, able to get this secret information, place it in a decently written assessment with proper espionage verbiage, and pass it all back to Washington, DC, inside 24 hours. That would be a feat even for the CIA, which has stations and officers all over Africa.

In fact, the June 8, 2011 Blumenthal report doesn’t read like CIA material at all, in other words human intelligence or HUMINT, but very much like signals intelligence or SIGINT. (For the differences see here). I know what SIGINT reports look like, because I used to write them for the National Security Agency, America’s biggest source of intelligence. SIGINT reports, which I’ve read thousands of, have a very distinct style and flavor to them and Blumenthal’s write-up matches it, right down to the “Source Comments,” which smack very much of NSA reporting and its “house rules.”

But is this an NSA assessment? If so, it would have to be classified at least Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information, a handling caveat that applies to most SIGINT, and quite possibly Top Secret/SCI, the highest normal classification we have. In that case, it was about as far from Unclassified as it’s possible for an email to be.

No surprise, NSA is aflutter this weekend over this strange matter. One Agency official expressed to me “at least 90 percent confidence” that Mr. Blumenthal’s June 8 report was derived from NSA reports, and the Agency ought to be investigating the matter right now.

The Sudanese media would like a few answers here, too:

The Sudanese government devised a plan in 2011 in coordination with two renegade generals in the disputed region of Abyei in order to secure control of oil reserves there, according to emails addressed to then U.S. Secretary State Hillary Clinton. …

Citing “sensitive sources” the report by Sid stated that the May 2011 fighting started “after SPLA dissidents, under the influence of the SAF/DIS, staged operations against representatives of the Khartoum government, giving Bashir a reason to send between 500 and 1,000 SAF troops to the region”.

“The regular SPLA forces reacted to this by ambushing SAF forces later in May, killing 22 soldiers. Bashir then used this attack as an excuse to overturn the Abyei Protocol of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), sending in up to 5,000 troops to take control of the district”.

In response, South Sudan president & Sudan’s 1st VP Salva Kiir instructed SPLA commanders to continue guerrilla attacks against SAF forces in Abyei only before realizing that SPLA dissidents are cooperating with the SAF.

On May 19th, SPLA troops ambushed SAF soldiers who were moving outside as they were escorted by UN peacekeepers from UNMISS.

The fighting in 2011, in the run-up to South Sudan’s independence less than two months later, saw the more than 100,000 of its residents flee after SAF occupied Abyei in retaliation to the SPLA attack.

Er … didn’t anyone at the State Department understand how sensitive this might still be now? If Blumenthal got this from NSA intelligence, it might well have blown some significant resources still in place. If Blumenthal got this through another country’s SIGINT, that raises all sorts of other questions — like which country, what kind of other cooperation Blumenthal provided in exchange for it, and whether Hillary Clinton knew about it. Schindler dismisses the idea that Blumenthal — based in Libya at the time and pursuing business interests there — could have gotten his hands on real-time intel like this on his own:

If Sid was really able to get top-level intelligence like this for Hillary, using just his shoestring operation, and get it into her hands a day later, with precise information about the high-level conspiracy that was just discussed over in Sudan, the Intelligence Community needs to get him on our payroll stat. He’s a pro at the spy business.

Note too (click the link to the document itself) that Hillary turned around and forwarded this intelligence to Jake Sullivan on her own unsecured server despite several notes about “particularly sensitive” sources. If this turns out to have been sourced by the NSA, as Schindler’s NSA sources believe it was, then this is yet another example of Hillary Clinton and her unauthorized e-mail system doing potential damage to national security and intelligence operations. This time, though, it will be State’s fault for not classifying this document and keeping it from release.


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How many people died because of hilLIARy’s disclosures?

National Security Information (hereinafter “classified information”) shall be classified at one of the following three levels:
(1) “Top Secret” shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.
(2) “Secret” shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security.
(3) “Confidential” shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security.

dentarthurdent on January 11, 2016 at 12:45 PM

“Sigint, you mean like the ring?”

PackerBronco on January 11, 2016 at 12:45 PM

It wasn’t “inadvertent”.

dougmva on January 11, 2016 at 12:46 PM

This time, though, it will be State’s fault for not classifying this document and keeping it from release.


Bit of a fine poin
t – but if it was a court ordered release, shouldn’t the statement read, ” … State’s fault for not classifying heavily redacting this document and keeping it from before it was released release.

PolAgnostic on January 11, 2016 at 12:49 PM

From whom could Sid have gotten that NSA Sigint?

If Blumenthal got this from NSA intelligence, it might well have blown some significant resources still in place. If Blumenthal got this through another country’s SIGINT, that raises all sorts of other questions — like which country, what kind of other cooperation Blumenthal provided in exchange for it, and whether Hillary Clinton knew about it.

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Isn’t this about the time that the FBI / DoJ pays a serious visit to Mr. Blumenthal, holding an indictment over his head, until he clarifies where that information came from and to see if his loyalty to the Clinton’s is worth 30 years in SuperMax?

Athos on January 11, 2016 at 12:50 PM

If inadvertently means deliberately then yes.

RickB on January 11, 2016 at 12:50 PM

But even if she is charged with crimes, the trial will not conclude for quite some time. If she is already president at that point, can’t she just pardon herself?

HugoDrax on January 11, 2016 at 12:54 PM

to see if his loyalty to the Clinton’s is worth 30 years in SuperMax?

Athos on January 11, 2016 at 12:50 PM

Maybe 30 years in a Sudanese prison might do the trick.

Flange on January 11, 2016 at 12:55 PM

On a side note:

I will never grow tired of that Hillary in orange jumpsuit with that blank stare on her face. The photographer who snapped that one is freaking brilliant. Minus the american flag in the background it is exactly the type of picture I would expect to be taken of her when she ends up in jail.

clement on January 11, 2016 at 12:56 PM

But even if she is charged with crimes, the trial will not conclude for quite some time. If she is already president at that point, can’t she just pardon herself?

HugoDrax on January 11, 2016 at 12:54 PM

If we, as a nation, elect someone under indictment with so much obvious evidence against them, then what, at that point, difference does it make?

Flange on January 11, 2016 at 12:57 PM

Dude! That was like five years ago. What difference, at this point, does it make?

It has been clear for some time that there was criminal activity at State Department over these emails. Why hasn’t anybody been indicted. Not even Bryan Pagliano, the red shirt who set up the illegal server in the first place.

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2016 at 12:58 PM

Isn’t this about the time that the FBI / DoJ pays a serious visit to Mr. Blumenthal, holding an indictment over his head, until he clarifies where that information came from and to see if his loyalty to the Clinton’s is worth 30 years in SuperMax?

Athos on January 11, 2016 at 12:50 PM

It’s well beyond time, but you can expect the FBI to drag this out past the election and the DOJ to do absolutely nothing.

BTW, these vast right wing conspiracies are getting extremely complicated and broad in their scope.

antipc on January 11, 2016 at 12:58 PM

Minus the american flag in the background it is exactly the type of picture I would expect to be taken of her when she ends up in jail.

clement on January 11, 2016 at 12:56 PM

Is that an American flag or is that the height indicator on her mugshot?

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2016 at 1:00 PM

NSA definition of “spillage” – also known as a “security violation” – which would put any of us peons out of our job and likely in prison.

Loss of control over sensitive and protected data by
organizations is a serious threat to business operations and
national security. In recent years, attackers have exfiltrated
over 20 terabytes of sensitive data from Department of
Defense, defense industrial base, and civilian government
organizations. Malicious attacks are alarming, but more often
spillages occur from unintentional user error or negligence.
Data spillage is the transfer of classified or sensitive
information to unaccredited or unauthorized systems,
individuals, applications, or media.
A spillage can be from a
higher level classification to a lower one. The data itself may be
residual (hidden) data or metadata. Spillage may result from
improper handling of compartments, releasability controls,
privacy data, or proprietary information.

dentarthurdent on January 11, 2016 at 1:01 PM

Flange on January 11, 2016 at 12:57 PM

It will make a lot of difference to her. Instead of being in prison, she will be footloose and fancy free. And president.

HugoDrax on January 11, 2016 at 1:02 PM

At this point, the only question is “When are charges being filed?” There’s already enough evidence to do it.

Magicjava on January 11, 2016 at 1:05 PM

2nd that clement

cmsinaz on January 11, 2016 at 1:05 PM

Hillary’s attitude has always been that the US Government works for her–she doesn’t work for it. So, I’m sure that in her mind she had every right to declassify anything she wanted to. Monarchs don’t make mistakes. Their subjects just disappoint them.

RBMN on January 11, 2016 at 1:05 PM

It will make a lot of difference to her. Instead of being in prison, she will be footloose and fancy free. And president.

HugoDrax on January 11, 2016 at 1:02 PM

My point is it won’t matter if she can or can’t. If she just got elected, under those circumstances, she just will pardon herself and nothing will stop her.

Flange on January 11, 2016 at 1:06 PM

Crickets continue to chirp on the lsm

Good lapdogs

cmsinaz on January 11, 2016 at 1:10 PM

I’m appalled that this awful, awful woman still has ANY support. People that still think she’d make a good POTUS should be on meds….

Hank_Scorpio on January 11, 2016 at 1:11 PM

At the core of all of these crimes.

Two Party Evil Money Cult “ruining” the U S A.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 11, 2016 at 1:11 PM

Did the State Dept inadvertently put NSA intel into the clear?

Probably. Trump will have to order a high colonic across all government agencies when he’s President. A grand purge if you will. Start with the DOJ.

Mr. Arrogant on January 11, 2016 at 1:16 PM

I’m appalled that this awful, awful woman still has ANY support. People that still think she’d make a good POTUS should be on meds….

Hank_Scorpio on January 11, 2016 at 1:11 PM

Most already are.

Mr. Arrogant on January 11, 2016 at 1:18 PM

This is a better read than a Clancy spy novel.

When does Blumenthal swallow the poison pill?
I am anxiously looking forward to that chapter.

And the Clinton Foundation indictment, et al Bill, Hill and Chel………

woodhull on January 11, 2016 at 1:18 PM

Take for example the odd things going on with the Hammon ranch and famly in Oragon .

Now comes the information that the current Sherriff in the county prior was a Federal Forest Service employee, that he was in contact with the Hammons before and during the fire, and that he was under oath in their trial and said it was their fault.

Then he gets appointed sheriff by the county comish’s.

The corruption is deep and wide.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 11, 2016 at 1:19 PM

When does Blumenthal swallow the poison pill?

woodhull on January 11, 2016 at 1:18 PM

Or just go for a late night walk in Fort Marcy Park…..

dentarthurdent on January 11, 2016 at 1:21 PM

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 11, 2016 at 1:19 PM

Thanks. Send this to Ed or Allahpundit via tipline. It deserves its own thread.

butch on January 11, 2016 at 1:24 PM

What secrets does Sid Blumenthal have on Obama?

He must have some good ones, because he has not been arrested and Hillary has not been indicted.

albill on January 11, 2016 at 1:37 PM

Congress needs to get Sid Blumenthal under oath, STAT.

rockmom on January 11, 2016 at 2:00 PM

This intelligence information is over Hillary’s head. I don’t think she understood what any of this meant. She just blindly forwarded the information on to others in the State Department.

She must have thought being Secretary of State was just a way to fly all over the world on the taxpayer dime.

dolfan on January 11, 2016 at 2:07 PM

Maybe it’s time for hills to revive AttackWatch!

tdarrington on January 11, 2016 at 2:20 PM

And remember, anything Blumenthal has, one must assume that foreign powers also have, because his email was hacked.

The Schaef on January 11, 2016 at 2:43 PM

Inadvertently? Not even close. So many better adjectives for this.

How about, deliberately, recklessly, with callous disregard, criminally, shamelessly, even casually?

But inadvertently? Hardly.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 11, 2016 at 2:48 PM

How many people died because of hilLIARy’s disclosures?

We will likely never know. But given how insecure her e-mail server was, I often wonder exactly how many hostile foreign governments and non governmental groups knew when and where Ambassador Stevens would be in Benghazi? It was clearly a planned attack. So how did they know he would be there?

patches on January 11, 2016 at 2:49 PM

I predict that Sid Vicious will be experiencing some very uncomfortable conversations with FBI agents. I would also guess that Sid’s sources are pretty pissed at him right now.

After the Petraeus debacle, I really will be shocked if several people do not end up in federal prison over this. Hilly will remain immune, however. I predict she’ll have a sudden health crisis, then will receive a full pardon from Barry after she withdraws from the presidential race.

Who will cut the best deal first with Justice Department? Are they reluctant to come forward because somebody has been whispering “Vince Foster” to them in anonymous phone calls?

The depth and breadth of apparent malfeasance and personal corruption by the Clintons is truly mind-boggling.

DaveK on January 11, 2016 at 2:56 PM

Hillary/Prison 2016

Bubba Redneck on January 11, 2016 at 4:00 PM

The Hillary Paradox:

“I always lie.”

Russ in OR on January 11, 2016 at 4:05 PM

Even now, the pressure on the AG must be enormous. On one side sits the FBI, with it’s director drawing a line in the sand. On the other, the White House. More over, this is a national security investigation, with very different rules, and much higher stakes than the White House understands. Giving the public signals coming from the J.E.H. building, I now believe that the FBI will go beyond the mat to see justice done. To say this could get ugly would be a gross understatement.

flackcatcher on January 11, 2016 at 5:29 PM

Having worked for NSA, each problem area is compartmentalized. You may share a lunch room, but you don’t share what you are doing. Shouldn’t be that difficult for NSA to find who has loose lips.

GarandFan on January 11, 2016 at 5:38 PM

Didn’t Blumenthal work with ex CIA Director of European Operations Tyler Drumheller. Maybe Drumheller, even retired, had access to NSA info.

davod on January 11, 2016 at 8:44 PM

Er … didn’t anyone at the State Department understand how sensitive this might still be now? If Blumenthal got this from NSA intelligence, it might well have blown some significant resources still in place. If Blumenthal got this through another country’s SIGINT, that raises all sorts of other questions — like which country, what kind of other cooperation Blumenthal provided in exchange for it, and whether Hillary Clinton knew about it. Schindler dismisses the idea that Blumenthal — based in Libya at the time and pursuing business interests there — could have gotten his hands on real-time intel like this on his own:

I wondered about the sagacity of this move at the time the email was published. After redacting some emails including “and” and “the” why put this entire missive out without editing at all?

It wasn’t “inadvertent”.

dougmva on January 11, 2016 at 12:46 PM

..indeed —
My second supposition was that, if this was indeed NSA intel, somebody wrote the report to start with, and it can be found.

Having worked for NSA, each problem area is compartmentalized. You may share a lunch room, but you don’t share what you are doing. Shouldn’t be that difficult for NSA to find who has loose lips.

GarandFan on January 11, 2016 at 5:38 PM

Who in NSA was stupid or venal enough to give this to Blumenthal, or does he have moles in the agency, or did he hack their emails?

Isn’t this about the time that the FBI / DoJ pays a serious visit to Mr. Blumenthal, holding an indictment over his head, until he clarifies where that information came from and to see if his loyalty to the Clinton’s is worth 30 years in SuperMax?

Athos on January 11, 2016 at 12:50 PM

It’s well beyond time, but you can expect the FBI to drag this out past the election and the DOJ to do absolutely nothing.

BTW, these vast right wing conspiracies are getting extremely complicated and broad in their scope.

antipc on January 11, 2016 at 12:58 PM

I’m buying stock in tin-foil-hat mines.
Right now, I can’t guess what the FBI will do (we know what the DOJ will do) but a lot of them are sorely displeased with the whole affair.

AesopFan on January 12, 2016 at 12:39 AM

I’m appalled that this awful, awful woman still has ANY support. People that still think she’d make a good POTUS should be on meds….

Hank_Scorpio on January 11, 2016 at 1:11 PM

Most already are.

Mr. Arrogant on January 11, 2016 at 1:18 PM

Leftism is a mental disease?
It is certainly a spiritual one.

From the other Hillary thread today

Who’da thunk back in 2008 that this administration would be so openly, intentionally and successfully bad for America? So completely and on every level?…It’s possible this helps explain why many on the left refuse to believe anything negative about those they support. If I saw half of these headlines we’re seeing today, back in 2008, I’d have surely thought them to be some sort of creative fiction.

Oxymoron on January 11, 2016 at 7:01 PM

Which segues to this:

This is a better read than a Clancy spy novel.

When does Blumenthal swallow the poison pill?
I am anxiously looking forward to that chapter.

And the Clinton Foundation indictment, et al Bill, Hill and Chel………

woodhull on January 11, 2016 at 1:18 PM

As they say, truth really is stranger than fiction.

AesopFan on January 12, 2016 at 12:42 AM