This is shaping up to be a very interesting election. On our side of the chasm there is the angst over Donald Trump. One the other side, there is a chance close aids of Hillary Clinton will be under indictment before the primary season is over. The source of this potential earthquake has its roots in Hillary Clinton’s decision to use a private, off-the-shelf, email server that appears to have had zero encryption and limited cyber or physical security, to transmit classified information while she was Secretary of State.
Ordinarily, as State controls most of the information Hillary Clinton transmitted, this would be a no-harm-no-foul kerfuffle. State would say that none of the information was really classified or that it was declassified and she’d be left looking like a tired, incompetent, and compulsively secretively old bag. Which would have the virtue of being true. The wrench in the works, the skunk in the parlor, turned out to be a pair of emails that contained information classified by the office of the Director of National Intelligence as Top Secret. Its source was highly compartmented information derived from a National Reconnaissance Office Key Hole satellite referred to as TSTK.
This looked pretty cut and dried. We still don’t know what was in those emails but what we do know is that it is damned near impossible to DESCRIBE photoimagery to the degree that would rate a TS security classification. In my limited exposure to TSTK intel the concern was always much more divulging the capabilities of the satellite than the actual images and images were often modified to obscure resolution before distributed outside Top Secret channels. Quite honestly, I’m not sure how a review of the written work would have identified the sourcing of the TSTK information, as we know the security markings had been removed from the data, unless it was the actual imagery. If that is the case, then someone has to explain how that imagery walked out of a compartmented facility that has no communications connectivity with non-secure systems.
State maintained that this information was not classified.
In October, Obama interjected himself into the investigation by proclaiming Hillary had not shown great judgment but had done nothing wrong. In November, word leaked that the debate over the correct classification of the two TSTK emails had been settled in Hillary’s favor. This was followed by a walk back that seemed more like a “we’re not ready to announce that yet” than a denial. It seemed like the
terrorists Hillary campaign had won and the prospect of a Democrat candidate being an unindicted co-conspirator had kicked the ass of the rule of law.
Now it seems like the entire story about the settlement in favor of Clinton was simply spin:
EXCLUSIVE: An intelligence community review has re-affirmed that two classified emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Hillary Clinton’s unsecured personal server despite a challenge to that designation by the State Department, according to two sources familiar with the review.
The sources described the dispute over whether the two emails were classified at the highest level as a “settled matter.”
The agencies that owned and originated that intelligence – the CIA and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency or NGA – reviewed the emails to determine how they should be properly stored, as the State Department took issue with their highly classified nature. The subject matter of the messages is widely reported to be the movement of North Korean missiles and a drone strike. A top secret designation requires the highest level of security, and can include the use of an approved safe.
The sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, told Fox News that while the emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Clinton’s server, one of them remains “top secret” to this day — and must be handled at the highest security level. The second email is still considered classified but at the lower “secret” level because more information is publicly available about the event.
But wait, there is more:
Fox News reported earlier this month that two top Republican senators have written directly to Secretary of State John Kerry and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about possible leaks from their departments on their review of Clinton’s emails — wrongly leaving the impression that the two “top secret” messages were not that sensitive.
The letter was sent by Republican [mc_name name=’Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001071′ ], who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, and [mc_name name=’Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’B001135′ ], who heads the powerful Intelligence Committee, on Nov. 13, with copies sent three days later to the intelligence community and State Department watchdogs known as inspectors general. The IGs were asked to conduct an independent review of the process.
I’m not so naive as to believe that Hillary is going to end up in an orange jumpsuit. But, if the FoxNews report is correct, then someone is going to be charged by the FBI in this case and the “someone” is going to be either Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, or, and this is my bet, her “national security adviser” Jake Sullivan. And the way the FBI and intelligence agencies have been leaking on this we can be sure we’ll hear about it.
That is going to be a lot of weight to carry through an election campaign.