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State Department Withholds 22 Hillary Clinton Emails For Containing “Top Secret” Information

Hillary Clinton departs Malta for Liyba

The State Department confirmed on Friday that a number of the emails found on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server contained highly classified material and therefore decided to withhold that email from disclosure:

The State Department acknowledged for the first time Friday that “top secret” information has been found in emails that passed through the private email server Hillary Clinton used while leading the agency, elevating the issue in the presidential campaign three days before the hotly contested Iowa caucuses.

The information was contained in 22 emails, across seven email chains, that were sent or received by Clinton, according to a State Department spokesman. The emails will not be disclosed as part of an ongoing  release of Clinton’s email correspondence from her years as secretary of state, even in highly redacted form.

The finding is likely to complicate Clinton’s efforts to move past the controversy, which has dragged down her poll ratings in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. And it comes as her potential Republican rivals have called for Clinton to be prosecuted for what they say was her mishandling of national secrets.

In responding Friday, Clinton’s campaign took the unusual step of criticizing the intelligence community, accusing  spy agencies of engaging in “overclassification run amok.” Some Clinton allies suggested that intelligence officials were politically motivated.

Clinton’s spokesman, Brian Fallon, presented the findings as the latest turn in an ongoing struggle between government officials over whether to retroactively classify emails that were not marked as sensitive when they were sent and that Clinton thinks should be made public.

“After a process that has been dominated by bureaucratic infighting that has too often played out in public view, the loudest and leakiest participants in this interagency dispute have now prevailed in blocking any release of these emails,” Fallon said. “This flies in the face of the fact that these emails were unmarked at the time they were sent, and have been called ‘innocuous’ by certain intelligence officials.”

Fallon told MSNBC that withholding the emails from view in their entirety made it impossible for the public to independently judge the validity of the State Department’s conclusion.

Friday’s announcement came at a politically sensitive moment for Clinton. She is locked in a dead heat in Iowa with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whose long-shot bid for the Democratic nomination has gained momentum in recent weeks, and the revival of the email matter could increase anxiety among Clinton supporters who had hoped that the issue would fade as the primaries began and a  general election loomed.

(…)

The Friday announcement was significant because it appeared to undercut Clinton’s argument in recent months that she was merely the victim of a bureaucratic squabble between overly strict analysts at the intelligence agencies and more reasonable reviewers at the State Department.

The intelligence community’s inspector general had previously indicated that he thought that some of the emails contained top secret material. Until Friday, however, the State Department had declined to concur with that assessment.

State’s reviewers had said that more than 1,300 Clinton emails contained classified material, but the vast majority were just “confidential,” a lower level of sensitivity.

Clinton has said that none of her emails were marked classified when they were sent. But it is the responsibility of individual government officials to handle classified material appropriately, including by properly marking it as classified, according to experts.

Clinton has also said that the information in question was not classified at the time the emails were sent — a point that intelligence officials have disputed.

This report isn’t exactly new information, instead what we have here is the State Department essentially confirming the report that came out earlier this month that an intelligence community Inspector General had determined that some unknown quantity of the email chains that were found on Clinton’s server were determined to be highly classified, in some cases bearing a classification above “Top Secret” due to the sensitive nature of the material that was contained in the message. As was the case when I first wrote about these reports, it’s still unclear whether the material in question was marked classified when it was sent to/received by Clinton on her private server. If that was the case, then there would be a clear violation of the laws baring the sharing of classified information on unsecure networks or with people who don’t have authorization to view the material. If it wasn’t marked classified when Clinton received it, it’s not clear based on these reports if someone made the decision to remove the classified designation from the material before sending it or if we are talking about material that wasn’t marked classified at the time but has only been designated as such as part of the ongoing review of Clinton’s emails before their release to the public. We also don’t know the nature of the material has been marked classified, and in that regard the Clinton’s campaign claims about overclassification are worth noting. In the past, there have been plenty of examples of intelligence authorities marking material ‘classified” or higher when they was no legitimate case to do so. In some cases, for example, there have been reports of articles from newspapers being marked ‘classified’ notwithstanding the fact that the material is, obviously, already public. Finally, we don’t know what Clinton knew, or should have know, regarding the classified nature of the material on her server. As noted, the former Secretary of State has said that none of the emails that she sent or received were marked classified, but that doesn’t entirely answer the question since the relevant laws also impose an independent duty on government employees to recognize material that should be classified, such as human intelligence or signals intelligence, whether it is properly marked or not.

Circling above all of this, of course, is the ongoing FBI investigation about how classified information that may have ended up on Clinton’s server and whether there was any violation of the law. In recent weeks, there have been reports that the bureau is ready to recommend an indictment to the Justice Department, but of course, reports of that nature can be easily dismissed due to the fact that the FBI does not make recommendations regarding whether or not an indictment would be proper. That is a decision that is left to the Justice Department, specifically the U.S. .Attorney that may be assigned to handle the matter and, ultimately, a Grand Jury. The FBI’s role is limited to gathering the evidence and handing it over, perhaps with a conclousory report. From there, the question of whether or not to indict is up to the Justice Department. So far, there has been no indication that any Grand Jury related to this matter has been convened, nor has the FBI interviewed Clinton regarding the matter.  Most importantly, it’s entirely unclear how far along the FBI investigation actually is or when it can expected to be concluded.

Depending on who you listen to, Clinton is either in potentially serious legal trouble based merely on reports such as these in the media, or this is all much ado about nothing. Given the fact that the investigation has not concluded, it strikes me that it is far too early to jump to either conclusion, and it may be some time before we know for sure how this will all pan out. In the meantime, trying to get a clear answer to some of the legal issues in this case has proven to be difficult in no small part because it is all going on in the middle of a Presidential election in which Clinton remains the likely Democratic nominee. In the end, though, it appears that Clinton’s ultimate culpability from a legal point of view will depend largely on whether she was aware at the time that material being shared on her server was highly classified and therefore didn’t belong there, and whether she was aware that someone, such as one of her deputies, was removing classified markings so that information could be shared on unsecure networks, Absent evidence that any of this is the case, and under the circumstances it would have to be evidence that the U.S. Attorneys involved believed they could prove beyond a reasonable doubt, an indictment seems highly unlikely and speculating about the same is really just an exercise in partisanship.

Of course, in the end, this entire story is as much about about the election as it is about the legal issues involved. Regardless of the status of the FBI investigation, Republicans will continue to emphasize this issue because of the political benefits of doing so. During the primary race, it serves the candidates in proving their conservative bona fides to the Republican base notwithstanding the fact that they don’t know any more about the case or the investigation than what the rest of us read in The Washington Post and The New York Times. Beyond the Republican base, though, polling has shown that a majority of Americans think Clinton knowingly lied about issues surrounding her use of a private email server and that her use of private server was ‘illegal or unethical.’ As long as that’s the case, Republicans will continue bringing the issue up all the way until Election Day in November if necessary. In the end, this is not likely to be a story that hurts Clinton in her quest for the Democratic nomination, but if the story continues to drag itself out it’s likely to cause the Clinton campaign headaches for months to come.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. grumpy realist says:

    Well, if she makes it through this, she’ll handle anything else the Republicans will throw at her.

    I don’t like the idea of retroactive classification and this “well, you SHOULD have known!”, attitude especially if the material falls into a grey area. And forwarding on something that has made it out into the public via getting published in a newspaper? Duh. That’s not classifiable in my book. You don’t get to try to cover your sloppiness post-facto by running around classifying everything.

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  2. Todd says:

    Why in the world would any sane Democrat think it’s a good idea to nominate Hillary Clinton at this point? It’s entirely possible that from a legal standpoint this will turn out to be much ado about nothing. But it clearly has a political impact … and will even more so in the general election campaign. Donald Trump will use the words “email scandal” and “Clinton” every chance he gets … and he’ll get plenty of chances. The campaign will be primarily about Clinton’s “character”, whether she wants it to be or not.

    But more importantly, even if there’s just a small chance that another shoe is going to drop in this story, if it does, she will be all but unelectable, no matter who her Republican opponent is.

    This is not something that the “vast right-wing conspiracy” is doing to her. She did this to herself by setting up that server in the first place. Even if there is no wrongdoing ever proven, it certainly shows terrible judgement. All of the controversy about email happening now should have been VERY EASILY foreseen.

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  3. JKB says:

    This should be interesting. If Hillary is elected, Congress will have to pass a law restricting Presidential travel to non-extradiciton treaty countries.

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  4. JKB says:

    @Todd:

    After the election, Hillary will be able to be more flexible, or would one call it overtly compromised by foreign intelligence services.

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  5. Just Me says:

    Hillary will be protected by the Obama justice department from indictment and the media will run interference as long as it is feasible to do so (eg right now there is more speculation and no charges but if they convene a grand jury bets are off). My guess is if any charges stem from this it will be a fall guy (or girl) and not Hillary herself. However I am clueless as to why any democrat would even consider voting for her at this point.

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  6. Andy says:

    If it wasn’t marked classified when Clinton received it, it’s not clear based on these reports if someone made the decision to remove the classified designation from the material before sending it or if we are talking about material that wasn’t marked classified at the time but has only been designated as such as part of the ongoing review of Clinton’s emails before their release to the public.

    I worked in the intelligence community for 20 years in the Department of Defense and part of that time I was a security manager. IMO I think there will be indictments for those who transferred classified information to an unclassified, private system and removed the appropriate markings. This is not something that can be chalked up to ignorance or an “agency dispute” over the level of classification.

    While there are probably some things in these 1300+ emails are can be considered overclassification, typically that only happens with low-level confidential and secret information. Top Secret and code word material (including operational human intelligence information in one set of emails) is something different.

    Additionally, retroactive classification is very rare and it’s even more rare that something started out unclassified but then, years later, magically became classified. Retroactive classification happens when the government declassifies and releases information then later determines that was a mistake and reclassifies it.

    So, whoever it was that put that information on an unclassified network (and removed the markings when they did it) broke the law and should be prosecuted. That is probably not Clinton herself. One thing we’ve learned from Clinton’s emails is that her aides did the most mundane chores for her, including looking up the times for TV shows. This is a rich, elite politician who hasn’t driver her own car or cooked her own meals in years. I find it hard to believe that Clinton would spend the time to transcribe intel information onto her network. So, it’s almost certain one of her aides would have done it. The FBI is, I’m sure, tracing the history of those emails to determine who they originated with. Whoever that is should be very worried. Whether or not it affects Clinton really depends on who it was. Clinton will be able to legitimately claim ignorance if she received and forwarded classified information because it wasn’t marked.

    Related to this are the emails where Clinton orders an aide to remove the classification markings from her talking points and send them via unsecure means. People on the right think this is a smoking gun, but they are wrong. Since her talking points originated in the State Department and since she was the head of that Department, she had the authority to do that. Each agency in the executive controls and determines what is and isn’t classified for information produced by their own agency.

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  7. Todd says:

    @Andy: All salient points. However if one of her close aides, say for example Huma Abedin is indicted, Hillary Clinton will still be toast (politically).

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  8. Jenos Idanian says:

    @grumpy realist: I don’t like the idea of retroactive classification and this “well, you SHOULD have known!”, attitude especially if the material falls into a grey area.

    Remember, Hillary is running on her intelligence and experience and competence. And you’re arguing that she can’t recognize material that should be highly classified unless someone stamps it “THIS IS WICKED IMPORTANT TO KEEP SECRET” in big red letters on every page.

    Oh, and her other qualification is that she’s a woman, and will fight for women. Unless they’re women who have made allegations against her husband, in which case she will do all she can to destroy them. Those women don’t get stood up for, they get stepped on.

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  9. WR says:

    @Todd: Yes, and if the sun comes up tomorrow, to you this will also mean that Hillary is toast.

    We get it. You don’t like Hillary Clinton. Now please come up with something substantive or move on. We’ve read this same message from you about a thousand times. 1001 isn’t going to change anyone’s mind.

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  10. WR says:

    @Todd: “However if one of her close aides, say for example Huma Abedin is indicted, Hillary Clinton will still be toast (politically).”

    And if Hillary is caught serving the flesh of Christian babies at her dinner parties, she’ll be toast, too.

    Wouldn’t want you to leave out any possibilities.

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  11. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “And you’re arguing that she can’t recognize material that should be highly classified unless someone stamps it “THIS IS WICKED IMPORTANT TO KEEP SECRET” in big red letters on every page.”

    Why do you suppose any classified information is marked classified? I mean, if anyone can simply look at a page and know whether or not it’s supposed to be a secret, and what level of secret at that, then we don’t need a system of classification at all.

    Let me give you an analogy I think you can understand — at the place you work, the Slurpee machine has three nozzles. One is marked Cherry, one is Cola, one is Lemon-Lime. But if you take off the labels, you can’t tell just from looking at the nozzles which goes with which flavor, even if you’ve been working behind this counter since you dropped out of high school thirty years ago…

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  12. anjin-san says:

    @WR:

    Slurpees? Jenos got promoted?

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  13. edmondo says:

    Maybe Obama could pardon her before she names him to the Supreme Court.

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  14. Tillman says:

    Why in the world would any sane Democrat think it’s a good idea to nominate Hillary Clinton at this point?

    However I am clueless as to why any democrat would even consider voting for her at this point.

    Preservation of power. That and while there are distinctions between the two, the ideological gulf between Clinton and Sanders isn’t vast. Wider than Clinton and Obama, but not by much. And where the differences are starkest (e.g. foreign policy), they are not by and large decisive priorities for voters.

    I mean, the strategic arguments against voting for Clinton exist — that she’ll likely suffer a similar voting percentage penalty for her gender as Obama did for his race (~3-5%) in a more contestable general election environment than Obama had to deal with; that donations to her campaign don’t reflect a grassroots enthusiasm for her candidacy in any measure; that her alleged competence isn’t enough to quell a concerted media effort to portray her as untrustworthy; that her plan seems to be hoping the Republicans make mistakes — but the Democrats closed ranks long before this point. Without strategic arguments, you’re left with personality differences and who honestly gives a #$&%. The time for debating all this was months ago. Let’s just see how the primaries turn out.

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  15. JKB says:

    @Andy: Since her talking points originated in the State Department and since she was the head of that Department, she had the authority to do that.

    Not strictly true. The Sec. of State is a classifying authority for State Department matters. But their is a procedure for declassifying. Not to mention, if talking points are classified, but ultimately not really important, then obviously Hillary was participating in over classifying trivial information.

    But if those talking points contained information classified by another authority, the Sec. of State does not have the authority to declassify it on a whim.

    And, not all department secretaries/directors have classifying authority.

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  16. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Dude, if someone were to send you a page of math, would you immediately know that it referred to the super-secret geometries of the exact shape of the uranium pieces to be used in a nuclear bomb? Especially if no pictures were involved?

    If I send you a page of names that were seemingly copied at random out of a French phone book, would you automatically know that those were the deep seated low-level references for the CIA? And not simply a list of “people who indicated they wanted to attend the next Embassy party in Paris”? Hmmm?

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  17. David M says:

    It’s the same story about nothing that’s it’s been for the last year. Of course the IG and State disagree about what should be classified, they deal with different information. Of course some of the emails are being retroactively classified when they are released, it’s ridiculous to expect otherwise. And finally, if Darrel Issa is the one with the hot scoop that Hillary Clinton will be indicted, then there’s even less here than I thought.

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  18. Gustopher says:

    This reminds me of the claims that Obama wasn’t properly vetted by the media during his campaigns. We know he wasn’t properly vetted, because if he had been, he wouldn’t have been elected. He wasn’t even properly vetted by the time he was reelected, obviously.

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  19. Andy says:

    @David M: There isn’t any real agency dispute. If the State Department wants to put information on it’s IT systems that was classified by another agency, they have to respect that agencies classification. For the same reason, the DoD cannot just decide that State Department diplomatic cables are unclassified, remove all the classification markings, and post them on it’s unclassified network.

    Secondly, there isn’t any retroactive classification. The information IS classified and was always classified but it was improperly marked and improperly placed on a private, unclassified IT system. Just because someone removed the markings and sent it in an email doesn’t mean the information is unclassified.

    @JKB: It’s completely true in this case. These were talking points for a diplomatic meeting developed by the State Department. They are the lowest level of classification because, after all, the talking points were for a discussion with a foreign government, so the content wasn’t going to be restricted to the US. The only reason such things are classified is to ensure the details of formal discussions with other governments stay between those governments.

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  20. Jenos Idanian says:

    @grumpy realist: Dude, give me the resources of the SVR or the MSS (or even MI-6 or the DGSE or the BND), and I’ll find out the significance of such data damned fast.

    Obviously, I don’t have access to such resources. But the people who most likely hacked Hillary’s bathroom server do.

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  21. David M says:

    @Andy:

    You’re ignoring the obvious contradiction to what you posted, news articles. Classified information does not always originate from the same sources, so there wouldn’t have been any classified markings to remove.

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  22. Stan says:

    @Andy: The Clinton campaign is demanding that the emails be made public. I infer that the material is innocuous. If you think I’m wrong, explain why.

    For what it’s worth, when I had access to classified material back in the 60’s I could see, side by side on the library shelves at a research facility where I had a summer job, top secret studies of shock waves by Edward Teller, Hans Bethe, and Klaus Fuchs (!) sitting next to Supersonic Flow and Shock Waves by Courant and Friedrichs, a text book in a class I had just taken. I have less respect for the classification process than you do.

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  23. Jeremy R says:

    @Doug:

    In recent weeks, there have been reports that the bureau is ready to recommend an indictment to the Justice Department, but of course, reports of that nature can be easily dismissed due to the fact that the FBI does not make recommendations regarding whether or not an indictment would be proper.

    Those ‘reports’ are just Darrel Issa speculating to the Examiner. From the linked article:

    I think the FBI director would like to indict both Huma and Hillary as we speak,” Issa told The Washington Examiner in an interview published Friday. “I think he’s in a position where he’s being forced to triple-time make a case what would otherwise be, what they call, a slam dunk.”

    Then Issa says something kind of telling:

    Issa added, however, that charges against Clinton are unlikely under President Obama’s administration.

    “I’ve worked with both the last attorney general … and this attorney general, and I really don’t believe they’ll do it,” he said of Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, respectively.

    Sure, he’s trying to imply it won’t happen because of corruption, but given how he and his colleagues are constantly working the refs with their endless leaking, he can’t have a tremendous amount of confidence in their efforts if he’s already predicting nothing at all will come of all this.

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  24. Jenos Idanian says:

    Damn, I missed this. The form Hillary signed upon taking office said that the “wasn’t marked classified” is totally irrelevant.

    From Section 1:

    “As used in this Agreement, classified information is marked or unmarked classified information, including oral communications, that is classified under the standards of Executive Order 12958, or under any other Executive order or statute that prohibits the unauthorized disclosure of information in the interest of national security;…”

    She signed that form on January 22, 2009.

    Does this mean we can drop the “not marked” canard now?

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  25. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    No, because that’s basically irrelevant. If the State Department and the IG disagree whether something should be classified, that form is meaningless. Even if the form was relevant, Clinton was the recipient, not the author of the emails in question.

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  26. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian: I don’t know about the canard, but I clicked on the link for your “people who hacked into Hillary’s bathroom server,” but it seems to be broken.

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  27. David M says:

    @Jeremy R:

    The leaks are what have me convinced that’s there’s nothing to this story. If there was something to worry about, there would be noticeable movement towards Sanders by Congressional Democrats and the White House.

    The GOP is so eager to attack Clinton that they would gladly leak the contents of the emails if they actually were damaging. The leaks insinuate that there has been illegal behavior by Clinton, and that she might be prosecuted by a different Justice Department, but are always short on facts. Any detailed allegations are always easily debunked, but the GOP keeps recycling them like they are new, because they don’t actually have anything substantial.

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  28. Jenos Idanian says:

    @David M: Her being the recipient is irrelevant, as she was the owner of the server that she required her subordinates to use to contact her.

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  29. Gustopher says:

    Given the fact that there will always be some human error, perhaps the real question is: why are there only 22 top secret emails?

    Shouldn’t there be more? It seems suspiciously low. Was Clinton somehow out of the loop? Did she do anything as Secretary of State?

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  30. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    We get it, you don’t understand that the State Department also uses an equally insecure email system. I’m not sure why you keep pointing out just how completely clueless you are.

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  31. Jenos Idanian says:

    @David M: Movement towards Sanders? He is a bigger enemy of the establishment than Trump. The move to protect Hillary is because they know she’ll play ball with them if elected — if for no other reason than they have the dirt on her. With Sanders, he’ll be a totally loose cannon.

    Plus, there are reports that some of the info is so sensitive that it might never be declassified. The fact that the investigators had to have their own security clearances raised to even look at some of it supports that argument.

    Part of me wishes for a Wikileaks-style dump of all the info from her server. Hell, the odds are that our enemies already have it, so there wouldn’t be much real harm, and it would put to rest a lot of questions.

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  32. WR says:

    @David M: ” I’m not sure why you keep pointing out just how completely clueless you are.”

    Because it’s his most appealing quality?

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  33. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “Plus, there are reports that some of the info is so sensitive that it might never be declassified.”

    “Reports.” Oh, my, yes, “reports.”

    Let’s not ask which orifice you obtained them from.

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  34. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    there are reports that some of the info is so sensitive that it might never be declassified….Part of me wishes for a Wikileaks-style dump of all the info from her server.

    I’m fairly sure the NY Times and Washington Post have searchable archives. Just read up on the drone program, and you’ll get your wish here.

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  35. Mikey says:

    @David M:

    I’m not sure why you keep pointing out just how completely clueless you are.

    He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know, and he’s got no interest at all in learning.

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  36. An Interested Party says:

    If Hillary is elected, Congress will have to pass a law restricting Presidential travel to non-extradiciton treaty countries.

    They’ll be a little late with that considering what happened during the Bush Administration…hmmm, has Dick Cheney gone overseas since his entry back into private life…

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  37. Todd says:

    @WR:

    We get it. You don’t like Hillary Clinton.

    Incorrect. If she’s elected, I actually don’t think she’d be a bad President. My problem is that she’s a flawed candidate who also isn’t a very good campaigner. I don’t think she will win a general election against Trump. Therefore, I would prefer she not be the nominee. I don’t know anybody who is excited about her candidacy .. and I think that will hurt turnout, and thus the down ballot races.

    In short, I don’t really have all that much against Hillary Clinton herself. It’s all the Democrats who blindly act like none of her flaws will matter that annoy me.

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  38. Andy says:

    @David M:

    Classified information does not always originate from the same sources, so there wouldn’t have been any classified markings to remove.

    Classified information should always be marked – no ifs, and or buts about it.

    @Stan:

    The Clinton campaign is demanding that the emails be made public. I infer that the material is innocuous. If you think I’m wrong, explain why.

    In this latest batch, the State Department reviewed the emails and determined several were classified. Neither you nor I have seen the emails, so it comes down to who you trust more on this – the State Department security experts who did the review or a Clinton campaign spokesperson.

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  39. David M says:

    @Andy:

    Classified information should always be marked – no ifs, and or buts about it.

    That’s not actually a response to either point I made, namely that news articles and parallel reporting could easily result in “classified” information. Secondly, your second statement directly contradicts your first claim, as State agrees that some of the emails are now classified, but nowhere near the numbers that the IG claims. It’s still a non-issue at this point, as it appears to mostly be a combination of inter-agency squabbling and over-classification.

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  40. David M says:

    Doonsbury covered this long ago….

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  41. Jenos Idanian says:

    @David M: We get it, you don’t understand that the State Department also uses an equally insecure email system.

    The State’s system might not have had the software or hardware security, but it had the legal security — any attempt to hack it became a federal offense and a matter of espionage.

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  42. al-Ameda says:

    @Just Me:

    However I am clueless as to why any democrat would even consider voting for her at this point.

    Ex post facto top secret classifications not withstanding, it’s not that hard to understand why many Democrats will ‘even consider’ voting for Hillary.

    I can easily name at least five reasons why many will vote for her, even if she’s dating Monica Lewinsky, on election day: (1) Ted Cruz, (2) Donald Trump, (3) Jeb Bush, (4) Marco Rubio, (5) many liberals do not want a Republican president making the next nominations to the Supreme Court.

    Unless this whole thing blows up, which it could, Hillary will be the nominee. Say it does. Who’s the nominee? Joe Biden to the rescue? Maybe, and he can win. Bernie? Possible, and I don’t think he can win. Michael Bloomberg? Now THAT would be interesting.

    No matter, I’m not voting for any of the afore-mentioned 4 Republicans

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  43. dazedandconfused says:

    @Andy:

    True, but it’s not that cut and dried. The State Dept is flatly stating they were classified retroactively and it may be nothing more than comments by a US SoS which the powers which currently be in State prefer to have private. I would speculate the review of them is the first time the spooks became aware of it and the knowledge that everything will be front page world news affected things a bit.

    Also, if you can find a source for the same info that is less classified or UNCLAS then it’s fair game, you get to use that at a lower level as long as you cite the source. Btw, the most egregious ad hoc declassification practices are executed to get national level intel to tactical commanders and that happens dozens of times a day, unless forces are engaged…then it’s pretty much constant. There are no SCIF facs in the field, after all…

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  44. WR says:

    @Todd: “It’s all the Democrats who blindly act like none of her flaws will matter that annoy me.”

    Or maybe they’re not acting blindly. Maybe they’re weighing the pros and cons and coming down in her favor.

    Why do you insist on assuming that everyone who disagrees with you does so because they’re stupid?

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  45. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “The State’s system might not have had the software or hardware security, but it had the legal security — any attempt to hack it became a federal offense and a matter of espionage.”

    Before you claimed this was a huge deal because foreign intelligence agencies were stealing all our secrets. But apparently you now believe that it’s a big deal because these same agencies would not hack an official server because there are laws against it.

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  46. Andy says:

    @David M:

    That’s not actually a response to either point I made, namely that news articles and parallel reporting could easily result in “classified” information.

    Ok, let me explain how it works in practice. It’s true the same fact can have different classifications depending on source (there are important exceptions to this however). The important thing to understand is that reporting must always tie back to those sources. For example, CNN may report about a coup attempt in country X along with details of the plotters, what happened, the expected consequences, etc. Diplomatic, HUMINT, SIGINT and other classified reporting will report on the same event – many details may be identical or very similar. If I’m writing a paragraph summary for the Secretary of State’s daily brief, I will reference all sources and will provide the pertinent details as well as any inconsistencies (ie. the press report differs from the official reports). Even though much or most of the information in that paragraph might be considered unclassified (because, CNN!), it will be classified based on the highest classification of the sources I used, not the lowest. If I want to write a summary and use only CNN as the source, then it can be unclassified but that never happens because my job as an analyst is to synthesize all-source information and not simply regurgitate what’s on TV.

    Now, maybe Clinton and her aides at the highest levels of the Department of State only used details from CNN in their unclassified emails. If that’s the case, then they can legitimately claim none of the information “was classified at the time.” Somehow I doubt that’s the case – certainly the State Department itself and intelligence community don’t think that’s the case.

    So no, just because something appears in the press doesn’t mean that that information can be unilaterally downgraded to by a non-originating agency, especially in official channels.

    Secondly, your second statement directly contradicts your first claim, as State agrees that some of the emails are now classified, but nowhere near the numbers that the IG claims.

    As I explained. in an earlier comment, it’s extremely unlikely those emails were originally unclassified. Information and sources simply don’t exist in unclassified form for 1/2 a decade then suddenly turn into TS/SCI. Doesn’t happen. Also, as explained in an earlier comment, the originating agency controls the classification (and declassification) of the information it produces. If the Department of State wants to use intelligence community information, then it must respect the limits the originators put on that information – in the same way the intelligence community must respect the sensitivity and classification of State’s diplomatic reporting.

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  47. Todd says:

    @WR: I’m not saying anybody is stupid.

    However, it’s already very easy to find Clinton supporters who are “pre-blaming” Sanders supporters if she loses the general election .. “It’ll be Nader all over again!!!!”

    If she’s the nominee and loses the general election, it won’t be the fault of Sanders supporters. It will be the fault of all the Democrats who insisted on nominating a candidate that most general election voters don’t really like or trust all that much.

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  48. WR says:

    @Todd: “However, it’s already very easy to find Clinton supporters who are “pre-blaming” Sanders supporters if she loses the general election .. “It’ll be Nader all over again!!!!””

    And it’s very easy to find Sanders supporters who insist that it would be better to vote against Hillary in the general because the disaster wrought by any of the Republicans would inevitably usher in the great progressive age… just as it did when Gore lost to Bush.

    In fact, it’s very easy to hear lots of people saying lots of silly things. Welcome to the internet.

    That does not excuse your constant caviling about how terrible Hillary is.

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