Hillary Clinton’s absolute immunity to American law is being sorely tested by the growing pile of classified, Secret, and Top Secret documents discovered in her homebrew private email server. The latest release of emails by the State Department includes another 215 classified documents, three of them marked “Secret,” the middle level of the classification system.
Notably, as Politico points out, Wednesday’s document dump is the first batch of emails to include “Secret” classifications assigned by the State Department itself. The previous classifications were assigned by intelligence agencies, presidential executive order, and in one case by the FBI.
Many of the documents in this new release were “born classified,” under a presidential order that treats all foreign government information as confidential by default — a protocol Clinton was thoroughly instructed on, and would have been re-briefed on several times during her tenure as Secretary of State. One very good reason for the “born classified” rule is that the U.S. government doesn’t want foreign officials to be reluctant to share such information.
One of the defensive talking points deployed by the Clinton camp is that she didn’t think some of the previously disclosed documents deserved to be classified. That’s a legally meaningless argument, as the Secretary of State has no authority to strip classification markings from sensitive documents, but it’s part of a political narrative Clinton operatives have been constructing about an inter-agency “food fight” over excessive use of document restrictions. These three new documents are tough to slip into that narrative, since they were classified by the State Department.
“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,” writes Politico.
“The substance of the two emails was redacted from the public release, but the subject lines identify the messages as summaries of the nuclear talks underway in Istanbul, Turkey,” the report continues. “A State Department spokesman said that message, and the others deemed classified, were not marked as such when they were sent to Sullivan by other State officials.”
The third “Secret” message is “only classified in a technical sense,” according to Politico, because it contains a transcript of a 2008 negotiating session between America, Israeli, and Palestinian officials that was leaked to, and published by, the Al Jazeera news network in 2011. It was downloaded from the Internet by State officials and forwarded to Clinton aide Huma Abedin. It is speculated that the document was classified as part of a State Department effort to avoid confirming that Al-Jazeera’s leaked information was accurate.
One grimly amusing email from the new batch concerns Deputy Secretary of State William Burns complaining about the Defense Department’s response to the WikiLeaks exposure of classified diplomatic cables. “DoD still in denial over their lapses, and their tendency to lowball damage in public is really unhelpful!” Burns fumed, little knowing that in a few years his own agency would become the world grand masters at lowballing damage from security violations to the public.
As previously reported by Breitbart News, another troubling string of emails in the latest production concerns the efforts of Russian hackers to penetrate Clinton’s server with a virus-laced “phishing” message. At least five such attempts were made. In another email from Wednesday’s release, Clinton actually jokes about the possibility of the Chinese hacking her email.
The Washington Times notes that the percentage of classified material included in these Clinton email dumps is growing – 5.5 percent of her emails now contain such information, roughly twice the rate of previous releases. The Times says this raises “tricky questions about whether the department is finding more secrets or being more thorough in screening the messages.”
The essential truth of security is that it requires discipline. Security is maintained by minimizing the risk of exposure. Of course some compromises are necessary – in an 100 percent secure environment, no one would communicate at all, so nothing would get done. It is necessary to minimize those risks every step of the way. Clinton’s political spin is the exact opposite of the way a responsible Secretary of State would have viewed her correspondence – she should have maximized security and minimized risk, rather than deciding the potential damage to national security was an acceptable sacrifice for her own convenience. The great unremarked aspect of the Clinton email scandal is her profoundly skewed sense of priorities.
It’s fun to hear Clinton herself complaining about the slow “drip, drip, drip” of damaging revelations during the presidential primary, as she did on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday. She has only herself to blame. Her mania for avoiding public and congressional oversight led her to create this secretive private email system and hide her correspondence from scrutiny for years. None of this would be happening right now if she, and her top aides, had used the State Department emailed system they were supposed to be using.
The drip, drip, drip is far from over, as only about a third of the correspondence Clinton didn’t delete has been revealed by the State Department… and FBI computer experts are reportedly working on recovering the thousands of emails she did delete.