There was no classified info ↓ Nothing classified at the time ↓ Nothing MARKED classified ↓ The rules don’t matter ↓ http://t.co/C2Unaaf3Ha— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) September 8, 2015
Who should we believe when it comes to protecting America’s national security secrets: our nation’s intelligence professionals or Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign? The New York Times reports:
A special intelligence review of two emails that Hillary Rodham Clinton received as secretary of state on her personal account — including one about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program — has endorsed a finding by the inspector general for the intelligence agencies that the emails contained highly classified information when Mrs. Clinton received them, senior intelligence officials said. …
[T]he special review — by the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency — concluded that the emails were “Top Secret,” the highest classification of government intelligence, when they were sent to Mrs. Clinton in 2009 and 2011.
On Monday, the Clinton campaign disagreed with the conclusion of the intelligence review and noted that agencies within the government often have different views of what should be considered classified.
In short, the former Secretary of her State and her team have gone from swearing seven ways to Sunday that there was no classified information in her personal emails, to promising that there was nothing in her emails that was classified at the time, to explaining that there was nothing in her emails that was marked classified at the time, to saying the rules regarding classified information don’t matter.
It’s the new, “what difference, at this point, does it make?”
According to a 2009/2010 Executive Order (13526) signed by President Obama, it makes a big difference. The rules are clear, and declassification can only be done by the agency that classified the information in the first place:
The White House Press Secretary said today that “of course” President Obama president stands by his Executive Order – but that hasn’t stopped his State Department from working overtime to cover for Clinton. State Department spokesman John Kirby “echoed” the Clinton campaign, telling The New York Times that “Classification is rarely a black and white question, and it is common for the State Department to engage internally and with our interagency partners to arrive at the appropriate decision.”
Kirby also appeared on CNN today and revealed that the State Department is “working through our analysis of [the CIA’s review] and we intend to present that to the intelligence community in the coming days to bolster our argument.”
This is ridiculous. The State Department and its secretary has no say – and has never had a say – in whether the information in question is classified. It appears that “the nation’s diplomatic corps has come to be an arm of the Clinton campaign,” The Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel argues:
Since the dawn of the Clinton email scandal, the entire State Department has been vigorously protecting Hillary Clinton. … [W]hat we are witnessing is an extraordinary all-hands government assist for a presidential candidate.
This assist was evident from the first moment, when Congress discovered the server and demanded the former secretary of state’s emails. The State Department scrambled to ask former holders of her office for private documents—giving Mrs. Clinton the excuse that everybody did it. State has ever since slow-walked the surrender of her correspondence to the House committee investigating the Benghazi fiasco. Chairman Trey Gowdy on Thursday had to conduct a hearing with former Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills while still not in possession of her work emails.
State has also gone to bat for Mrs. Clinton in court. A federal judge had to order the department to release her emails starting this summer (rather than next year, as State had vaguely promised). A federal judge also had to order it to find out if Mrs. Clinton and her aides had in fact turned over all their email. The same judge had to order State to tell him what it had done to find her deleted email. On hearing the answer—absolutely nothing—he ordered the department to work with the FBI.
The State Department has also assisted with Mrs. Clinton’s “not marked as classified” diversion. And an utterly ridiculous diversion it is. If Mrs. Clinton left a top-secret briefing, then emailed what she’d heard, that information is classified. Markings don’t matter. And yet State has deliberately sent the media down Mrs. Clinton’s “markings” rabbit hole.
As others in the media have said before, we have to “assume that the Obama White House is complicit in this lack of transparency and in this rule breaking” by Hillary Clinton. It’s unlikely that Secretary of State John Kerry’s new “email czar” will change that.