It was once remarked of a particular British cavalry officer that he was so stupid that the horses had begun to take notice. Hillary Clinton’s casual criminality in handling highly classified material has now become so bad that even the left has had to start asking questions.
This is the state of play. What we know right now is worse that it was earlier in the day. And there is a lot of evidence we will be able to use this phrase with some regularity as the investigation continues. Earlier McClatchy reported that two highly classified documents were found on Clinton’s un-encrypted and amateurishly secured server. The report was nebulous, but it is McClatchy who spent the entire Bush administration printing lies calculated to undermine the war in Iraq so who knows what it may mean.
Most seriously, the Inspector General assessed that Clinton’s emails included information that was highly classified—yet mislabeled as unclassified. Worse, the information in question should have been classified up to the level of “TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN,” according to the Inspector General’s report.
You may have seen acronym lists like these on declassified documents before—and glazed over them. This is the arcane language of the cleared cognoscenti so let me explain what this means:
• TOP SECRET, as the name implies, is the highest official classification level in the U.S. government, defined as information whose unauthorized release “could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security or foreign relations.”
• SI refers to Special Intelligence, meaning it is information derived from intercepted communications, which is the business of the National Security Agency, America’s single biggest source of intelligence. They’re the guys who eavesdrop on phone calls, map who’s calling who, and comb through emails. SI is a subset of what the intelligence community calls Sensitive Compartmented Information or SCI. And these materials always require special handling and protection. They are to be kept in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility or SCIF, which is a special hardened room that is safe from both physical and electronic intrusion.
• TK refers to Talent Keyhole, which is an IC caveat indicating that the classified material was obtained via satellite.
• NOFORN, as the name implies, means that the materials can only be shown to Americans, not to foreigners.
In short: Information at the “TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN” level is considered exceptionally highly classified and must be handled with great care under penalty of serious consequences for mishandling. Every person who is cleared and “read on” for access to such information signs reams of paperwork and receives detailed training about how it is to be handled, no exceptions—and what the consequences will be if the rules are not followed.
The dodge being used by Hillary’s catchfarts is that the classified information was derived from un-classified State Department sources and while classified in other agencies it was not classified in State. This can be true. An ambassador hears a conversation and reports it. Probably sensitive and not classified. The exact same information from electronic intelligence or a human source could be highly classified. This material comes from a DoD spy satellite. It is cut and dried classified.
How classified? I was in the US Army Operations Center (aka The War Room) during the Gulf War. I had a TS/codeword clearance (at the time the codewords were actually classified and it was a security violation to link TK with the Talent Keyhole satellite, I don’t know the situation now). The only guy in the future operations cell who had TS/TK clearance was the colonel who also headed War Plans Division. At meetings he would look at the imagery and describe to the rest of us what he saw. So this is not a trivial classification.
Earlier in the day,the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza tweeted this. This is the first horse to notice the subaltern isn’t particularly bright
Democrats, ask yourself this: If this was a former GOP Sec of State and his/her private e-mail server would it be a “non story”?
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) August 12, 2015
He also wrote an story called This e-mail story just keeps getting worse for Hillary Clinton which is sure to set the winged damage control monkeys on a mission from Chappaqua to DC.
Clinton will portray her decision to turn over the server as entirely voluntary — she just wants all the facts out and for this to be resolved. But, she quite clearly was resistant to doing just that as recently as March, insisting, in essence, that there was nothing to see here.
Use common sense. If you had your own private e-mail server, would you rather keep it private or allow a third party — ANY third party — to inspect it? I mean, come on. Also, if you HAD voluntarily turned it over, would your spokesman not comment on whether you were told to give it over or whether you did it on your own? The answer is no.
Then Glenn Greenwald invoked the martyrdom of Saint Bradley Manning:
In December 2011, Chelsea Manning’s court-martial was set to begin. None of the documents at issue in that prosecution was “top secret,” unlike the documents found on Hillary Clinton’s server. Nonetheless, the then-secretary of state convened a press conference to denounce Manning and defend the prosecution. This is what she said:
If his case goes to trial and he is convicted, Manning could face life in prison. The government has said it would not seek the death penalty.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Manning’s alleged actions damaging and unfortunate in remarks to reporters at the State Department on Thursday.
“I think that in an age where so much information is flying through cyberspace, we all have to be aware of the fact that some information which is sensitive, which does affect the security of individuals and relationships, deserves to be protected and we will continue to take necessary steps to do so,” Clinton said.
Manning was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison. At the time, the only thing Hillary Clinton had to say about that was to issue a sermon about how classified information “deserves to be protected and we will continue to take necessary steps to do so” because it “affect[s] the security of individuals and relationships.”
That was during the time that she had covertly installed a non-government server and was using it and a personal email account to receive classified and, apparently, even top-secret information. While there’s no evidence she herself placed those documents on the server or sent them herself, it is her use of a personal server and email account that — quite predictably — caused the vulnerability.
I don’t think anyone who has watch either the Clintons or the Obama Justice Department to expect anything to come of this. In a just world, Clinton would be doing hard time and applying for a government sponsored sex change operation. But no one wants to see an elderly and embittered woman in prison. Inevitably, Obama will decide that it is more important that the Democrat candidate be protected than the laws be obeyed. That is the way he has governed thus far and there is no reason to anticipate a sudden change of philosophy. What this does, though, now that it is not being pushed merely by conservative media but by the left’s own people is that it eats into Clinton’s support and makes the possibility of a serious Sanders or Biden challenge much more real.