Oh boy: should Hillary Clinton keep her security clearance during the FBI investigation?

Somewhere in New Hampshire, deep inside the inner recesses of a Hillary For America regional office, a communications director is putting his fist through the sheet rock wall.

As if Hillary Clinton doesn’t have enough to worry about with the FBI combing through her emails and picking apart her server, now some wise guys on the Hill are wondering if maybe she’s proven herself too much of a risk to keep her security clearance while the investigation plays out. It’s certainly a fair question, since others have lost their clearances for less. But would anyone really do that to the likely Democrat nominee? (Bloomberg)

Now that several e-mails on Hillary Clinton’s private server have been classified, there is a more immediate question than the outcome of the investigation: Should the former secretary of state retain her security clearance during the inquiry? Congressional Republicans and Democrats offer predictably different answers…

Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Clinton should not lose her security clearance for receiving information that was not marked classified at the time. “I’m sure she does hold a clearance, and she should,” he told us.

Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican member of that committee who also has read the e-mails, told us, “It’s important, given all the information we now know, that the House of Representatives work alongside the executive branch to determine whether it’s appropriate for Secretary Clinton to continue to hold her security clearances.”

At least back when I was in the service it was typical for anyone with a higher than Secret clearance to have it at least downgraded (if not removed) when they either left the service or rotated out to a new assignment where it wasn’t required. In the Navy, one good example was the IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) technician, who had to renew a higher level clearance every time he transferred from shore duty back to sea duty. But that’s the military and I’m sure things are handled differently in the civilian world.

The linked Bloomberg article quotes a State Department spokesperson has saying there is a “long tradition” of Secretaries keeping their clearance after they leave the office so they can access their archives, work on their memoirs or whatever else it is they do. I suppose that’s not much of a risk most of the time, but we could be in some uncharted waters here. Clinton’s records – if not the Secretary herself – are part of an active investigation which involves the storage of Top Secret data in an unsecure location. When there’s a question of that nature hanging in the air, wouldn’t you err on the side of safety? Also, Hillary Clinton currently holds no office of any kind with the government. What does she need the clearance for to begin with?

The answer is probably found with the comments from Mike Pompeo. It’s a question which will have to be sorted by the White House and the National Security Council to determine “what they’re comfortable with.” It won’t come as any surprise if something that potentially embarrassing to the Democrats’ frontrunner will be well within their comfort zone.


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