Another 551 emails from Hillary Clinton’s homebrew server, including 84 messages redacted due to classified information, 3 of which were classified at the “secret” level, are now available.
This brings the totals to 22 “top secret,” 21 “secret,” and at least 1,666 classified documents. Clinton stated during the early days of the scandal that her server contained no classified documents whatsoever.
“The State Department took the unusual step of releasing more emails on a Saturday in the middle of a holiday weekend because of a court order last week that ensures a steady stream of releases between now and the end of February,” writes the New York Times.
Well, yes, it’s “unusual” in that State usually prefers to release Clinton emails late on Friday afternoons, rather than Saturday.
Rest assured, faithful Clinton supporters and donors of the New York Times, the State Department will still be able to keep some of the most radioactive Clinton emails secret until after the South Carolina primary, dropping them just a day before Super Tuesday. That last round of emails is probably going to be so heavily redacted that they look like bar-code stickers from a supermarket.
The Times tries to provide Clinton with a little cover by quoting the author of one “secret” email, former State Department official Dennis B. Ross, as agreeing with Clinton that some of these messages are “over-classified.” This is, of course, completely irrelevant – the Secretary of State does not have the authority to unilaterally declassify documents, or decide she can make her unqualified aides privy to emails that require a level of security clearance they do not possess.
The other two “secret” emails described by the Times sound quite a bit spicier than the one Ross wrote – and even that one, despite Ross’ breezy assurances it shouldn’t be classified, concerned Israeli-Palestinian talks that were “diplomatically sensitive.”
One of the other emails classified secret included a lengthy chain of messages involving the Sinai Peninsula that was copied to a number of administration officials. It included messages written in August 2012 by David M. Satterfield, a former ambassador who was serving as director general of the international peacekeeping force in the Sinai. At the time, the peninsula faced a growing insurgency after the ouster of Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, including an attack at a border post near Israel that killed 16 soldiers. The subject line in the final message, which was forwarded to Mrs. Clinton, read, “Molho on Sinai Tensions,” an apparent reference to the senior Israel security adviser, Isaac Molho. The contents have been redacted entirely.
The third “secret” email included a reference to Mr. Kerry’s wanting to speak to her. It was written during his visit in May 2011, when he was a senator, to Pakistan, where he sought to calm Pakistani anger over the secret raid that killed Bin Laden.
One grimly amusing passage from the Times story has the State Department claiming production of Clinton’s emails is moving at a snail’s pace because, as State official Eric F. Stein put it, “Several steps are involved in transferring documents from that system to a public-facing website while still protecting sensitive national security information.”
Really? That didn’t slow down Clinton’s aides at all. They merrily went about copying-and-pasting whatever Clinton wanted, from the secure system into her profoundly unsecure email server, as a matter of routine.
Another reason for the slow email production is that many of the recent document classifications and redactions come from the State Department, not the intelligence community. Some speculate that State is deliberately over-classifying certain emails retroactively, to manufacture evidence in support of Clinton’s assertion that her documents don’t really merit classification.
CNN offers a few more “highlights” from the latest email release, including such facepalm moments as the U.S. ambassador to Syria boasting about high morale among the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army rebels (currently being cut to ribbons by the Syrian regime and Iran, with Russian air cover), author Anne-Marie Slaughter congratulating Clinton for doing a great job in Libya (one of the biggest foreign policy disasters in American history, and a mess Hillary Clinton most certain does not want “credit” for during the 2016 election campaign), and yet more “advice” from Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, who wasn’t supposed to have any input into the State Department, per President Obama’s explicit orders.
CNN also describes an email about Bill Clinton’s 2009 trip to North Korea, which ties several running Clinton scandals together into a neat package:
The emails included Doug Band, a longtime aide to the former president who accompanied him on the mission.
In one email, State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills noted potential security clearance issues if Band is present at a meeting or event after the departure.
Band has been at the center of a controversy related to the employment of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who served as Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at State while simultaneously working for a private firm owned by Band.
With the number of emails found to contain classified information climbing to nearly 1,700, Hillary Clinton’s decision to exclusively conduct official business on an unsecure email server in her basement looks even more reckless,” said Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, as quoted by the Washington Times.
“This court-ordered release is another reminder that Hillary Clinton’s attempt to skirt transparency laws puts our national security at risk and that she failed to meet her legal obligations to protect classified information as secretary of state,” Priebus continued.
Writing at Forbes, Paul Roderick Gregory surveys the trove of classified emails unearthed from Clinton’s server, and wonders about the implications for national security if hackers turned all this material over to Vladimir Putin of Russia, as is highly likely:
The Clinton cache of e-mail correspondence in the hands of the Kremlin or other hostile intelligence agencies could represent one of America’s greatest intelligence disasters, giving Vladimir Putin the opportunity to determine the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election or, barring that, to cast a cloud over a Clinton presidency. The national security implications of Hillary Clinton’s cavalier approach to security far outweigh the legal consequences of her actions.
[…] The national security risks of the Clinton e-mail scandal have taken an undeserved backseat. Putin’s Kremlin has one of the most sophisticated cyber warfare systems the world has ever seen. Kremlin cyber experts would surely have used the Guccifer e-mails to try to access Clinton’s e-mails on an account that apparently had no special security protections. A Kremlin penetration of Clinton’s private e-mail account would give it the world’s most complete record of her secretary of state correspondence including the almost 32,000 emails that the Clinton team deemed private and made unavailable.
“Guccifer” is the Romanian hacker who intercepted several emails from Sid Blumenthal to Hillary Clinton and made them public in 2013. Gregory notes that U.S. media were, shall we say, curiously incurious about the contents of these emails, but they became a very big deal in Russian media, and may very well have proven useful to Putin’s propaganda campaign after the fall of Qaddafi in Libya.
With the full trove of emails from Clinton’s easily-raided server in hand, Putin would be able to extract operational information about the people she was corresponding with, gain insights into State Department and White House conflicts, create more convincing false narratives to damage U.S. interests – Gregory notes the best lies contain a kernel of truth – and, of course, build up an arsenal of damaging information he could release to damage or influence Clinton at any time.
It is increasingly clear that Hillary Clinton’s email server is a national-security disaster of almost unprecedented proportions – dwarfed only by the Office of Personnel Management hack, visited upon us by the incompetence of Barack Obama and his political appointees. It is vitally important not to make this even worse, by letting Clinton get away with it… and giving other officials they idea that they can play fast and loose with classified documents, too.