White House: The Term ‘Classified’ Is ‘Complicated’ And ‘Debated’

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinto on November 19, 2012 in Yangon, Myanmar.
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

The White House is defending President Obama’s remarks concerning Hillary Clinton’s insecure exchange of classified information, when he suggested that the term “classified” was a subject of debate.

“There’s classified, and then there’s classified,” Obama said in an interview on Fox New Sunday, referring to reports that Clinton had shared classified information over her private email account and private server.

During the White House press briefing today, Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended Obama’s remarks, asserting that the term “classified” applied to an ongoing debate among the national security community about information that should be kept secret.

“This is part of a debate that goes on, not just in the context of Secretary Clinton’s e-mails but in the context of making decisions about releasing information that’s requested as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request,” he said during the White House press briefing.

But when journalists expressed skepticism about Obama’s definition about the term “classified” Earnest admitted that it was “complicated.”

“If that’s the case, then how can this administration expect compliance with the law?” asked New York Times reporter Julie Davis during the briefing.

“I think you’re drawing a pretty clear illustration here, too of how complicated this picture is,” Earnest replied.

Earnest asserted that prosecutions of officials who were caught leaking classified materials to journalists or risking the security of the information was independent of the Obama administration.

“Those are decisions that are made by independent prosecutors,” he said.


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