Did Hillary Clinton commit an egregious security violation by giving her attorneys the files from her private e-mail server? The files contained classified material, including Top Secret/compartmented information from the NSA, DIA, and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which produces some of the most sensitive intelligence of all from US spy satellites. The files got transmitted on thumb drives and stored in an unauthorized and unsecured facility, Sen. Chuck Grassley told Secretary of State John Kerry, and to people without the proper classification level to handle it, McClatchy reported last night:
In a “serious risk” to national security, Hillary Clinton gave her State Department emails containing Top Secret and other classified information to her lawyer, who lacked sufficient clearances to possess it and who kept it for as long as eight months, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee charged Tuesday.
In a letter to her successor Secretary of State John Kerry, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said when she turned over thumb drives containing her official emails to her lawyer, “it appears Secretary Clinton sent (Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information) to an unauthorized person.”
Grassley, who has sent multiple demanding letters in the controversy over Clinton’s use of a private email server, said: “The transmission of classified material to an individual unauthorized to possess it is a serious national security risk (and) it raises legitimate questions as to whether the information was properly secured from foreign governments and other entities.”
Kendall insists that the State Department cleared him to handle classified material, which makes Grassley’s charges moot:
There are multiple problems with Kendall’s response. First, the State Department may not be able to clear anyone for non-State generated material, especially TS/Compartmented information from intel agencies outside of State. More importantly, that kind of information requires particularly stringent handling and storage within an approved Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). A lawyer’s office does not come close to meeting those standards, and for that matter neither did the IT company that handled Hillary’s server.
Hillary, her lawyer, and the State Department all argue that the material was not labeled with classifications at the time it was in her e-mail and therefore those rules didn’t apply until the material was classified in the review taking place now. However, that is simply not the case. Two Inspectors General referred the matter to the Department of Justice while noting that the material was “classified when they were sent and are classified now.” Reuters noted from the redactions that the material transmitted through, and therefore stored in, Hillary’s e-mail server were considered classified at the time of those transmissions, based on the declassify dates published with the redactions. If that’s the case, then Hillary did in fact commit a tremendously serious violation by allowing those files to be transferred to an unauthorized location via an unsecured thumb drive, regardless of whether Kendall has the appropriate clearance to access the material or not. And that would be a criminal act under 18 USC 1924, and especially under 18 USC 793(f)(1).
The intelligence agencies reconfirmed that this material was classified at the time, according to Fox News:
One of the emails that triggered the FBI probe into Hillary Clinton’s server contained classified intelligence from three different agencies, Fox News has learned – which could mean the State Department violated a President Obama-signed executive order by authorizing its release.
I explained the executive-order issue yesterday, but this report has another interesting tidbit to underscore that Team Hillary’s pushback is a fraud. Patrick Kennedy, a long-time Clinton aide, has been arguing to Capitol Hill lawmakers for more than a month that none of the information within the e-mails was sensitive. Where has Kennedy made that pitch? Er …
Two sources confirmed that Kennedy went to Capitol Hill in early July and argued the 2011 Abedin email – which as Fox News first reported kick-started the FBI probe along with a second 2012 email from Clinton aide Jake Sullivan — did not contain classified material.
To make his case, Kennedy cited a 2011 Irish Times newspaper report about the Libyan revolution, to claim the information was already out there.
One participant found it odd Kennedy insisted on having the discussion in a secure facility for classified information, known as a SCIF, though Kennedy said the Abedin email was unclassified, and the Irish Times story did not contain comparable details. [emphasis mine]
If Kennedy’s using a SCIF to discuss the revelations, it’s an indication that the material was and still is TS/Compartmented. Furthermore, inadvertent publication does not automatically declassify information; that process has to be undertaken by the originating agencies — which in this case insist that the information was always classified. State had no authority to declassify it, and had the responsibility to handle it with the safeguards required for its level of sensitivity.
Grassley also demanded to know why those involved in this grossly negligent handling of national security materials still have their clearances. Anyone else suspected of committing even minor violations of these kinds would have their clearances suspended immediately, but the rules are different for Hillary Clinton and her team. Or so it appears at the moment.