Hillary Clinton Server Spin Collapses, FBI Takes Her System Into Custody

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes questions from reporters following a town hall meeting at Exeter High School August 10, 2015 in Exeter, New Hampshire. Clinton answered questions about Donald Trump's recent comments regarding women.
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

The FBI finally took custody of Hillary Clinton’s email server late Wednesday afternoon, about six months after they would have moved against anyone who isn’t Democrat royalty.

Clinton’s political machine is still frantically trying to spin its way out of the serious offenses she has committed, but the effort is collapsing against the weight of analysis from security experts who note the severity of her infractions against the laws governing classified material.

The Washington Post’s account of the server handover sounds like it was written with Clinton campaign operatives looking over the writers’ shoulders, so desperately does it seek to conform to her talking points and avoid the thrashing her operatives gave the New York Times when they accurately reported on the FBI’s involvement last week:

“It was picked up about 4 p.m.,” said Barbara J. Wells, a Denver lawyer who represents Platte River Networks Inc., a small computer services firm that has managed the Clintons’ private e-mail system since mid-2013.

Wells said her client was contacted by the FBI, which expressed interest in obtaining the old server. The FBI did not have a search warrant or subpoena and did not interview her clients, she said.

The FBI’s request for information about Clinton’s e-mail system followed a referral from the intelligence community’s inspector general to the Justice Department in July.

Intelligence officials expressed concern that sensitive information was not in the government’s possession and could be “compromised.” The referral did not accuse Clinton of wrongdoing, and officials familiar with the inquiry have said that the FBI is not targeting her.

In addition to obtaining the old server, the FBI recently obtained a thumb drive in the possession of Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, that contained copies of work e-mails kept on the server.

The FBI “expressed interest in obtaining the old server?” What a bizarrely passive way to describe the event, as if the G-men were just looking for an extra server to host their weekend “Counter-Strike” games and heard Hillary had a box she wasn’t using.

And they didn’t merely “obtain” David Kendall’s thumb drive on a whim – after allowing Hillary’s people to hide that hot potato for weeks, they seized it within hours of learning that Kendall wasn’t remotely cleared to handle the classified material Clinton put in jeopardy, despite copious assurances to the contrary by the former Secretary of State.

It will come as no surprise to hear Platte River’s assurances that the computer is “blank,” and its data is “not available now on any servers or devices in Platte River Network’s control.” There’s still no telling what forensics experts might pull out of it.

An even greater danger for Clinton, and one she can’t manage by directing her underlings to nuke a few hard drives, is that law enforcement will begin working backward from the steaming-hot classified material inspectors have discovered in her email trove, obtaining lists of additional top-secret information sent by the same sources.

They will then check those lists of communications against the material Clinton decided to hand over to the State Department instead of deleting, and if any of them turn out to have been digitally shredded along with her yoga routines, cookie recipes, and other “personal” emails…

Even the friendliest media accounts demolish one of Clintonworld’s favorite phony talking points, which is that Madame Secretary is committed to transparency and cooperating fully out of the goodness of her heart.

The Washington Post article on the server handover reminds readers that the only reason we know about Clinton’s secret communications network is because “State Department lawyers realized they didn’t have access to some of her records as they prepared responses to congressional requests related to the 2012 attacks on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.”

The number of emails voluntarily surrendered by Hillary Clinton is zero. The State Department had to chase her down to get all this stuff, and she dragged her feet for a ridiculously long time before handing it over. Months later, after dealing with the towering stack of paper printouts she dumped on them, the House Benghazi Committee realized there were still emails missing from her submission, because her henchman Sidney Blumenthal panicked and surrendered his copies of them.

The Clinton camp is still pushing the patently ridiculous talking point that Hillary set up her private email system for “convenience,” because she didn’t want to deal with using two cell phones or tablets to check her mail on the road.

There are polls that show some Democrat voters are still willing to believe this, even though we have documentary, photographic proof – and the testimony of her own autobiography – that Clinton was carrying multiple devices around, vastly preferring Apple products to the Blackberry she ostentatiously got herself photographed with.

It’s also increasingly difficult to believe anyone would think Clinton’s “convenience” excuse makes her behavior look better, because the damage she inflicted upon national security is enormous. A popular new talking point from her defenders is that the government over-classifies too much material, and Clinton’s current travails are merely a bureaucratic food fight between the State Department and the intelligence community.

This is nonsense on several levels, beginning with the fact that the Secretary of State does not have the authority to unilaterally reclassify material on her own whim.

The point behind having laws that put people in jail for mishandling top-secret material is to ensure that rogue employees don’t decide to overrule the entire intelligence apparatus and decide that TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN material is really just silly fluff that anybody should be able to read.

Those are the designations attached to the top secret material recently discovered in Clinton’s email trove, as explained by John R. Schindler at the Daily Beast:

TOP SECRET, as the name implies, is the highest official classification level in the U.S. government, defined as information whose unauthorized release “could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security or foreign relations.”

SI refers to Special Intelligence, meaning it is information derived from intercepted communications, which is the business of the National Security Agency, America’s single biggest source of intelligence. They’re the guys who eavesdrop on phone calls, map who’s calling who, and comb through emails. SI is a subset of what the intelligence community calls Sensitive Compartmented Information or SCI. And these materials always require special handling and protection. They are to be kept in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility or SCIF, which is a special hardened room that is safe from both physical and electronic intrusion.

TK refers to Talent Keyhole, which is an IC caveat indicating that the classified material was obtained via satellite.

NOFORN, as the name implies, means that the materials can only be shown to Americans, not to foreigners.

As Schindler goes on to summarize: “Information at the “TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN” level is considered exceptionally highly classified and must be handled with great care under penalty of serious consequences for mishandling. Every person who is cleared and “read on” for access to such information signs reams of paperwork and receives detailed training about how it is to be handled, no exceptions—and what the consequences will be if the rules are not followed.”

He notes that serious punishments are meted out for those who violate these classification rules, up to and including jail time: “Yes, people really do go to jail for mishandling classified materials. Matthew Aid, a writer on intelligence matters, served over a year in prison for mishandling TOPSECRET//SI information from NSA, for example. The well connected tend to avoid jail, however. Sandy Berger and John Deutsch—who both served in high-level positions under President Bill Clinton, did not go to prison for mishandling TOP SECRET intelligence (though Berger got probation and was fined $50,000).”

You remember Sandy Berger, the Clinton operative caught stuffing documents into his pants? The only thing the Clintons apparently learned from that incident is that they have an unlimited license to mishandle sensitive documents, because the rules don’t apply to them.

Schindler makes an important point about the fact that all those classification markings were stripped from the material discovered on Clinton’s server:

There is no doubt that she, or someone on her State Department staff, violated federal law by putting TOP SECRET//SI information on an unclassified system. That it was Hillary’s private, offsite server makes the case even worse from a security viewpoint. Claims that they “didn’t know” such information was highly classified do not hold water and are irrelevant. It strains belief that anybody with clearances didn’t recognize that NSA information, which is loaded with classification markings, was signals intelligence, or SIGINT. It’s possible that the classified information found in Clinton’s email trove wasn’t marked as such. But if that classification notice was omitted, it wasn’t the U.S. intelligence community that took such markings away. Moreover, anybody holding security clearances has already assumed the responsibility for handling it properly.

It would be patently absurd to argue that the person who directed the creation of a system that routinely mishandled sensitive, classified, and Top Secret material is free of responsibility for the results, although one suspects the Clinton syndicate is currently shopping for subordinates to take the fall. It says a lot that Clinton thinks the least worst excuse she can offer for why all this hell was unleashed is that she didn’t want to carry two cell phones.

And everything happening right now is due to only two emails containing top secret material, out of forty reviewed by inspectors general, which was a very small sample of the over 60,000 emails on her server, half of which she deleted in defiance of a subpoena.

The thumb drive taken from David Kendall will evidently be the first time any of this material has been reviewed in its original electronic form.


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