President Lyndon Johnson will be remembered for many things. Signing the Freedom of Information Act is often treated as a footnote for his legacy but actually has much more importance. People within the federal government like their secrets and it is only because of FOIA that information the public should have anyway, is released to the public. This recently happened with Hillary Clinton and she could be in big trouble as a result.
Lachlan Markey (one of the better DC based journalists these days) at The Washington Free Beacon broke the story about the non-disclosure agreement Hillary Clinton signed when joining the State Deparment:
As the nation’s chief diplomat, Hillary Clinton was responsible for ascertaining whether information in her possession was classified and acknowledged that “negligent handling” of that information could jeopardize national security, according to a copy of an agreement she signed upon taking the job.
A day after assuming office as secretary of state, Clinton signed a Sensitive Compartmented Information Nondisclosure Agreement that laid out criminal penalties for “any unauthorized disclosure” of classified information.
Experts have guessed that Clinton signed such an agreement, but a copy of her specific contract, obtained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute through an open records request and shared with theWashington Free Beacon, reveals for the first time the exact language of the NDA.
“I have been advised that the unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized retention, or negligent handling of SCI by me could cause irreparable injury to the United States or be used to advantage by a foreign nation,” the agreement states.
Clinton has said a number of times she never sent or received any emails “marked classified.” Initially, she didn’t use the term “marked” but when information came to light she had sent and received sensitive information, she shifted to say that at the time it was received it was not classified (intelligence services will sometimes deem something classified after the fact).
Interestingly enough, several hours after Markey’s story was posted, Politico published an article using an anonymous source to say emails identified by the inspector general’s office as “top secret” really weren’t. California [mc_name name=’Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’F000062′ ] reacted like a kid at Christmas:
“DNI Clapper’s determination is further evidence that there was no wrongdoing by Secretary Clinton,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “The classification process is complex and subjective, but this confirms Secretary Clinton did not send classified information through her email account. It’s time to put this issue behind us and move on.”
Not so fast. DNI Clapper said no such thing:
A spokesman for Clapper said the review of the emails has not been completed. “ODNI has made no such determination and the review is ongoing,” Clapper spokesman Brian Hale said.
That’s pretty noteworthy and Politico treats it like an afterthought.
The key issue in all of this is because of the language of the NDA, Hillary Clinton’s statements that emails she received were not “marked” classified is wholly irrelevant. Markey explains:
The language of her NDA suggests it was Clinton’s responsibility to ascertain whether information shared through her private email server was, in fact, classified.
“I understand that it is my responsibility to consult with appropriate management authorities in the Department … in order to ensure that I know whether information or material within my knowledge or control that I have reason to believe might be SCI,” the agreement says.
What it means is Hillary’s ready made excuse that an email didn’t have a huge red “TOP SECRET” watermark splashed across it doesn’t matter and that in her position she should have known and taken care to see to it that classified information was not handled carelessly.
Perhaps when the rest of the media gets over the obsession with ten year old stories of [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ]’s credit cards as well as old stories about Ben Carson and West Point, they can get around to looking into whether or not the former Secretary of State may have committed multiple felonies.