Diary

Hillary's No Classified Email Claim Fails the Laugh Test

U.S. Secretary of State Clinton delivers a speech at Georgetown University in Washington

Years ago, I used to be an Air Force IT contractor.  I used to manage an unclassified email system (among other things) in an office that regularly (as in daily) dealt with classified information.

And I can say with some certainty that Hillary Clinton is—charitably—wrong, or lying, when she claims she never emailed anything classified, ever, in her term as Secretary of State.

The New York Times agrees with me on this.

“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email,” Mrs. Clinton said at a news conference on Tuesday at the United Nations. “I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”

But some secrecy experts and former government officials on Tuesday were skeptical, noting the interesting turnabout that had a former top official insisting, for once, that none of her exchanges were secret.

Hillary Clinton is a lawyer—with trial experience.  She knows how to thread a phrase through a needle’s eye.  She knows how to present just enough of the truth, surrounded by argument, to make you believe her story, or at least doubt your doubts.

But her claim that she never, ever, sent or received a single classified piece of information on her email, which she used profligately for both official and unofficial purposes, simply fails the laugh test.

As a small example: the Secretary of State’s schedule, aircraft, transportation routes, security, and meeting briefs in sensitive countries are all classified.  Some of this is very highly classified as OPSEC—operational security.  A single email saying “I get in at 3pm, meeting with (whoever)” would fall under OPSEC.

More than once, I had to shut down our servers and “sanitize” them for people making simple OPSEC mistakes—innocent errors, but serious in the sense that classified information was released in an unclassified environment.  I had to witness one colonel receive a dress-down (over a classified STU phone) for using the tail number of a combat aircraft in an email to families awaiting their aircrew.  The email contained enough details to give away the position of a class “A” critical asset (potentially a big deal).

The location and future plans of senior cabinet officials, not to mention the president, is, by definition, critical, and a big security deal.  Again, the NYT supports this by the experts it consulted.

A former senior State Department official who served before the Obama administration said that while it was hard to be certain, it seemed unlikely that classified information could be kept out of the more than 30,000 emails that Mrs. Clinton’s staff identified as involving government business.

“I would assume that more than 50 percent of what the secretary of state dealt with was classified,” said the former official, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to seem ungracious to Mrs. Clinton. “Was every single email of the secretary of state completely unclassified? Maybe, but it’s hard to imagine.”

Very hard to imagine, indeed.

If President Obama is the iPad president—taking his secure briefings, and who knows what else—on his tablet, I think Hillary will be the gmail president.  If she ever by some cataclysm assumes office, I expect we’ll all be watching special ops on Google hangouts, along with our enemies.