If anyone interested in our drone operations penetrated Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server, they hit pay dirt. In the small sample of 40 e-mails, two have already been found to have contained Top Secret/compartmented information, but until today, the subject matter had been unknown. The Associated Press reported this morning that one of the topics was drone warfare, and that the information in the e-mail would have confirmed some matters of public speculation and reporting — and that’s not even the worst of the two:
The two emails on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private server that an auditor deemed “top secret” include a discussion of a news article detailing a U.S. drone operation and a separate conversation that could point back to highly classified material in an improper manner or merely reflect information collected independently, U.S. officials who have reviewed the correspondence told The Associated Press. …
The officials who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity work in intelligence and other agencies. They wouldn’t detail the contents of the emails because of ongoing questions about classification level. Clinton did not transmit the sensitive information herself, they said, and nothing in the emails she received makes clear reference to communications intercepts, confidential intelligence methods or any other form of sensitive sourcing.
The drone exchange, the officials said, begins with a copy of a news article that discusses the CIA drone program that targets terrorists in Pakistan and elsewhere. While a secret program, it is well-known and often reported on. The copy makes reference to classified information, and a Clinton adviser follows up by dancing around a top secret in a way that could possibly be inferred as confirmation, they said. Several officials, however, described this claim as tenuous.
But a second email reviewed by Charles McCullough, the intelligence community inspector general, appears more suspect. Nothing in the message is “lifted” from classified documents, the officials said, though they differed on where the information in it was sourced. Some said it improperly points back to highly classified material, while others countered that it was a classic case of what the government calls “parallel reporting” — different people knowing the same thing through different means.
This puts a big crimp in the Hillary defense that this information was not classified when it was sent. That has already been debunked by the Inspectors General, who noted in their referral that the information was “classified when they were sent and are classified now.” Information specific to drone warfare in any detail would be obviously classified, both for military and intelligence purposes. People cleared to this level of classification would be briefed repeatedly on how to identify classified material, but even a novice would know better than to put this through an unsecured channel.
Let’s not forget, too, that all of this came from a single sample of 40 e-mails. The State Department continues to resist demands from the intelligence community to access the entire trove of e-mails to discover what else might be found, perhaps because of the immediate referral from the IC IGs from the first sample they checked.
This won’t be so easy to shrug off. And the e-mails that did get shrugged off, in a manner of speaking, still could re-emerge. According to Bloomberg, back-up of the server data may exist, thanks to multiple migrations of the data:
After acquiring the server on Wednesday, agents are attempting to determine whether e-mails may have been backed up on another machine, said the official, who asked for anonymity. The official said it’s one of the next logical steps in the agency’s investigation into whether the former secretary of state’s private e-mail account handled classified information.
Barbara Wells, an attorney for Platte River Networks, a Denver-based company that has managed Clinton’s private e-mail since 2013, said in a phone interview Thursday that the server turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation “is blank and does not contain any useful data.” But Wells added that the data on Clinton’s server was migrated to another server that still exists. She ended the interview when questioned further, declining to say whether the data still exists on that other server and who has possession of it. …
The suggestion that some of the data Clinton said she erased from her private e-mail server might still exist came as the Democrat turned over her server to government officials, who are investigating whether classified material might have been improperly exposed. Clinton and some of her closest aides used private e-mail accounts while she was the nation’s top diplomat.
Don’t forget that Hillary deleted more than half of the e-mails on her server before “wiping” the drive, claiming that more than 31,000 e-mails in four years were strictly “personal” in nature. In her tenure as Secretary of State, she would have had to send or receive 21+ personal e-mails a day, every day, for that to have been true. Even if this applied to all users on the clintonemail.com system, they would have to be sending more personal e-mails than work e-mails, which stretches credulity for any well-connected professional, let alone those working at the highest levels of government.
If those e-mails get recovered and they are found to contain work product, this gets into potential perjury territory, thanks to a declaration Hillary Clinton made last week in federal court in a FOIA case. And that could be the least of her legal problems if those e-mails had anything to do with Benghazi, or leveraging her Clinton Foundation for personal gain through her office, plus all of the issues with classified material that have already arisen.