Posted by Curt on 30 January, 2016 at 12:22 pm. 4 comments already!


John R. Schindler:

Every few days, another bombshell appears in the media illustrating just how poorlyHillary Clinton, during her tenure as our nation’s foreign policy boss, handled communications security. By now, we have a complex portrait of someone whose mishandling of our nation’s secrets, by herself and her staff, beggars belief for anyone versed in such matters. EmailGate isn’t going away, no matter how much Ms. Clinton’s supporters want it to.

The number of “unclassified” emails that turn out to be classified, some of which transited Ms. Clinton’s unencrypted server of bathroom fame, now surpasses 1,300 and may go higher still. A couple weeks ago I explained howMs. Clinton’s emails included highly classified information from the National Security Agency, based on signals intelligence about Sudan at the Top Secret Codeword level (see this for an explanation of such classifications). How they got there has yet to be explained.

We’ve since learned Ms. Clinton’s “unclassified” emails also included Top Secret information from the Central Intelligence Agency, including espionage from a compartmented Special Access Program. SAPs, as they are called in the Intelligence Community, represent “crown jewel” information. Even for holders of Top Secret Codeword clearances, the highest in the U.S. Government, access to SAPs requires special permissions, on a strict need-to-know basis.

How such highly classified information from both NSA and CIA wound up in Ms. Clinton’s personal email is a messy question that the FBI is currently unravelling. Don’t expect pretty answers. That her staff at Foggy Bottom treated classification as a nuisance is already apparent, and such guidance, which was flagrantly illegal, could only have come from “the boss.”

Just what a sinkhole of secrets the Secretary of State’s office was during President Obama’s first term, when Ms. Clinton occupied that chair, is frighteningly apparent. Allegations are swirling that her staff systematically copied Top Secret Codeword information off separate, just-for-intelligence computer systems and cut-and-pasted it into “unclassified” emails. This, if true, is an unambiguous felony. There is reason to be cautious about this claim, which is unsubstantiated so far, and would indicate a complex degree of intent: moving Top Secret Codeword information into unclassified emails is not simple, rather a multi-step process, and would leave an audit trail.

Nevertheless, the casual approach of Ms. Clinton and her staff to classified information is already abundantly clear. Cheryl Mills, her chief of staff at Foggy Bottom, was using her personal Blackberry for work, including the transmission of classified email. That alone is a crime. Then, in a move worthy of a dark comedy, Ms. Mills proceeded to lose that Blackberry. This would be a career-ender, at best, for any normal U.S. Government employee. Ms. Mills, a longtime Clinton insider, naturally suffered no penalties of any kind for this astonishing security lapse.

Of course, the loss of classified information is bound to happen when the nation’s top diplomat refuses to use government communications systems for government business, as Ms. Clinton did, intentionally rejecting email, as has been established, and her staff did the same, with awful consequences.

Why Ms. Clinton and her staff refused to use State Department email for official business is an open and important question. Suspicion inevitably falls on widespread allegations of pay-for-play, a corrupt scheme whereby foreign entities gave cash to the Clinton Global Initiative in exchange for Ms. Clinton’s favors at Foggy Bottom. The FBI is investigating this matter in connection with EmailGate.

Regardless of whether Ms. Clinton was engaged in political corruption, she unquestionably cast aside security as Secretary of State. She can’t quite keep her story straight on why that was, and she is at pains to deny that there is any real issue here at all, suggesting that it’s just another right-wing propaganda ploy. Ms. Clinton is veering hazardously close to her infamous “What difference at this point does it make?” claim, which she touted about the 2012 Benghazi attack.

Yet, as any seasoned intelligence professional will tell you, it matters a great deal—just not in ways visible to the American public. The communications of America’s top diplomat are closely monitored by dozens of foreign spy services, and anything sent out unencrypted, as Ms. Clinton’s email was, should be assumed to be read by numerous countries, including some who are not our friends.

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