Hillary Clinton speaks during the TIME 100 Summit, in New York, Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
This is a short tutorial on classified information that explains what classified information is, how it is to be protected, the obligations of everyone granted access to it, and the rules governing its handling under all circumstances. After you read it, as well as this article I wrote, you will understand what Hillary Clinton did – knowingly – and her multiple felonies! There remain many Americans who don’t understand the rules, including the lifelong obligation that ANYONE granted access has to protect the information, and that the statutes are completely silent on “intent” regarding its compromise. In short, even if an inadvertent error is made resulting in the compromise (“spillage”) of classified information, that person is flat-out guilty of a felony – no questions asked. Anyone who states that Hillary showed no “intent” in compromising classified information via her server and therefore deserved to be exonerated by James Comey is lying.
What infuriates me are all the Hillary Clinton sycophants on CNN and MSNBC who themselves once had access to classified information, and who blithely continue to excuse the multiple felonies that she and her aides committed surrounding her unauthorized email server when they know the rules and obligations. She and her aides (and anyone else who had knowledge of what classified information passed through that server) can be prosecuted at any time, provided there is the political will to do so. Commentators and others who excuse her crimes are undermining that political will which, of course, is their goal.
There has been virtually ZERO honest investigative reporting on this subject by the legacy media since Hillary’s unauthorized server was first discovered despite the abundance of current and former military and intelligence community personnel available to explain the topic to the American people. On the contrary, those people have been covering for everyone who mishandled classified information that passed through that server. It is up to the rest of us to continue to demand accountability and harsh punishment if the justice that has been delayed is to be finally served. Thus, a little tutorial on classified info is in order to level-set those who have never held a security clearance.
Information is classified based on level of damage to national security if disclosed (Top Secret – exceptionally grave damage; Secret – serious damage; Confidential – damage). Higher levels of TS classification exist: Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) and Special Access Program (SAP). SCI is derived from intel sources and methods and must be handled very carefully with higher security protection requirements and very limited personnel access. SAP requires even stronger and more extraordinary protection measures (physical, information, personnel). The bottom line is that TS/SCI and TS/SAP information is the most carefully guarded national security and intelligence information produced and maintained in the US.
To gain access to any classified info, three things must happen:
- A favorable determination of eligibility (a comprehensive background investigation completed)
- A “need-to-know” (a valid requirement for access to the information)
- A signed Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
The NDA is a lifetime contract between a person and the government to protect classified info. It clearly delineates that violation of the Espionage Act of 1917 can result in fine, incarceration or even death. This includes: giving classified info to unauthorized individuals, causing classified info to be lost or stolen, or failing to report to security when you know or suspect that classified info has been provided to someone who is not authorized (PARTICULARLY NOTE this last part!). Here are the penalties for violation of Title 18 USC – Espionage: $10,000 fine for EACH offense, up to life imprisonment without parole, or the death penalty in certain circumstances (PARTICULARLY NOTE the “each offense” part!). The NDA also specifically identifies the regulations which govern classified information, including unauthorized disclosure: Section 793, 794, 790, and 952 of Title 18 USC, Section 783(b) of Title 60 USC, and EO 12356. These statutes have their own penalties for violations thereunder.
Here are some other miscellaneous tidbits to better understand classified information handling requirements. First of all, all classified information must be properly marked at the level at which it is classified. This is done down to the paragraph level in documents. Classification markings also apply to the electronic environment, too (e.g., web pages, Wiki’s, blogs, chat rooms, bulletin boards, and emails). In short, EVERYTHING classified must be properly marked.
There are two main systems for sending classified information electronically: Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) for TS and above information, and Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET) for SECRET and CONFIDENTIAL information. These are basically secure private networks that enable people to use Microsoft Office and customized apps to exchange classified information. Email senders are responsible for maintaining the highest level of classification contained through a classified email chain, including attachments (and cannot arbitrarily downgrade or declassify something). Classification of a document is permanent until properly declassified.
SCI and SAP information are maintained and stored in special classified facilities: SCI Facilities (SCIF) and SAP Facilities (SAPF). Authorized access requirements to these facilities are extremely stringent and special handling rules apply to the info created/stored/maintained. SCI/SAP material cannot be removed from a SCIF/SAPF without prior approval of security personnel.
Removable media (DVDs, external hard drives, USB drives, etc.) are carefully controlled. All SCIFs/SAPFs have a designated media custodian responsible for control and accountability of all media (everything must be under direct control). Two-person integrity is required for all removable media once it enters a SCIF/SAPF. This means that one person is not authorized to download and remove classified files on, for example, a thumb drive.
SCI/SAP file transfers are only allowed to be conducted by a designated “transfer agent” (with a courier card or letter of designation). In short, not just any random person with a clearance is authorized to transfer files. All IT systems have the ability to write to removable media function disabled as a default setting; a privileged person (like a sysadmin) has to manually enable the function. These manual actions are automatically audited (meaning, any attempt to use removable media is KNOWN). The authorized transfer agents cannot have admin privileges on the systems which they will be writing to removable media. It takes a sysadmin/security person to enable the file transfer function and the authorized transfer agent to download a classified file to removable media. One person can’t do it, and everyone who operates these systems is trained on downloading procedures.
An Original Classification Authority is a government person who has authorization to classify newly developed information up to Top Secret level. There are very few of these in the federal government. Hillary Clinton was an OCA in the State Department. Think about that! She KNEW what she was doing. The notion that she didn’t know what was classified was a bald-faced lie.
Everyone who accesses TS/SCI, TS/SAP, and other classified info receives training in all of the above procedures and information BEFORE personally signing the NDA acknowledging the penalties for violation of the laws governing classified information. And an OCA receives specialized training in how to classify information. That infamous statement that she didn’t know what a “C” meant was yet another one of her many lies as she tried to squirm off the hook.
To summarize: there are strict rules for handling classified info, in particular for copying & transferring files. Two people must be involved in copying/transferring TS/SCI and/or SAP info. Everyone receives training and must sign an NDA. This would include Hillary Clinton and her immediate staff who accessed TS/SCI and/or SAP info. The rules and penalties are clear to all!
She clearly violated Title 18 USC – Espionage, the penalty for which includes a $10,000 fine for EACH offense and up to life imprisonment without parole (again, PARTICULARLY NOTE the “for each offense” part!). In my estimation, this clearly qualified her as a “domestic enemy”! And she and her staffers who were involved with that email server violated Sections 793, 794, 790, and 952 of Title 18 USC, Section 783(b) of Title 60 USC, and EO 12356. That she and they remain free and have not been indicted yet is a travesty of justice. Those who helped let her and them off the hook are guilty of misprision and obstruction of justice. These crimes CANNOT and WILL NOT be forgotten. It is long past time that this domestic enemy – as well as all her many enablers over the years – saw the inside of a jail cell!