The latest release of e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s secret server has doubled the number of messages now deemed classified. Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports that another 215 messages have been redacted for reasons of classification, including e-mails relating to the Iranian nuclear negotiations for which Hillary has recently tried to claim part of the credit. Jake Sullivan forwarded those messages to Hillary, who apparently did nothing to protect the data or prevent further exposure of it:
The number of emails now considered classified total more than 400, with three of the 215 newly classified documents marked as SECRET — the middle tier of the national security classification system. …
The latest release of roughly 6,300 more pages of emails is just the latest installment of a prolonged disclosure process that has proved to be painful for Clinton’s presidential campaign. The roiling controversy has opened up the Democratic front-runner to accusations that she was trying to dodge public records rules and that she put sensitive material at risk — allegations Clinton denies.
The new release not only doubles the number of classified messages on Hillary’s unsecured server, it’s also the first time that the State Department has classified material above CONFIDENTIAL:
Wednesday’s release marks the first time the State Department itself has deemed messages in Clinton’s account to warrant protection at the SECRET level — the middle tier of the national security classification system. State earlier classified one Benghazi-related message SECRET, but did so at the request of the FBI.
Two of the just-released SECRET emails pertain to talks about the Iranian nuclear program, conducted by a group of nations referred to as the P5+1. The messages are from January 21 and 22, 2011 and were forwarded to Clinton’s private account by Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan, who now serves as policy director on Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Hey, no one would have thought information on secret nuclear talks should be classified and transmitted securely, right? Er … suuuuuuuuuure.
State’s action in classifying this data is rather telling. Other e-mails have been classified above that level by demand from intelligence agencies and the FBI, but State has pushed back against those decisions on Hillary’s behalf. That has allowed Hillary’s defenders to try to muddy the waters by talking about overclassification as the real problem in this scandal, rather than Hillary’s use of an unsecured communications system to send and receive sensitive data relating to national security — including satellite-derived intel on North Korea’s nukes, which no one doubts should be highly classified. The decision by State to classify these as SECRET undermines that argument significantly.
Plus, now we find out that extremely sensitive diplomatic data on the Iranian nuclear negotiations may as well have been on Hotmail. I’m sure that will bolster trust among our allies about our ability to protect discussions held in confidence with our diplomatic personnel.
State’s not the only group distancing itself from Hillary. Here’s Valerie Jarrett telling Andrea Mitchell that the White House warned Hillary not to use private e-mail for government business, although Jarrett follows that up with a sop to Hillary’s belated dedication to transparency. Looks like the Obama administration wants to keep its distance from the aroma of collapse.
Update: I edited the headline for more precision at 9 am ET.