Hillary's Continuing Saga of Malfeasance
Anyone who works in the intelligence community, defense industry or any other capacity that requires a secret clearance or higher knows that there is information that must be safeguarded at all costs. A breach of security, mishandling of classified information and failure to follow policies results in termination, fines and/or imprisonment. For the average worker, these penalties are enforced rather quickly. Yet in the case of Hillary Clinton, this is not the case — at least not yet.
The FBI investigation into Hillary’s malfeasance has most recently revealed that her private server contained not just classified material, but also information that an intelligence agency has identified as being extremely sensitive and “HCS-O.” According to two sources who were not authorized to speak on the record, this is the code used for reporting on human intelligence sources in ongoing operations.
This new evidence, along with the Special Access Programs (SAP) that were identified by the FBI last week, is very damaging for our national security. Dan Maguire, former Special Operations strategic planner for Africom, states, “There are people’s lives at stake. Certainly in an intel SAP, if you’re talking about sources and methods, there may be one person in the world that would have access to the type of information contained in that SAP.”
Despite the mounting evidence against her, Clinton continues to lie about her deliberate (more on this in a minute) mishandling of classified information. In fact, during a recent interview on “Meet the Press,” she insisted again, “I never sent or received any material marked ‘classified.’ I cannot control what the Republicans leak and what they are contending.” So it’s the Republicans' fault (vast right-wing conspiracy, anyone?), it’s all made up and they are only doing it to derail her campaign for the presidency.
In the Democrats' town hall Monday night, she repeated her claim that she had nothing for which to apologize: “[N]othing I did was wrong. It was not in any way prohibited.” Except, of course, she already offered an apology…
Both of her claims are outright lies.
She aims to deflect the attention off of herself and onto an entire political party. But the party at fault is her and most likely several staffers who worked for her at the State Department.
By way of explanation, this is how classified information is stored, transmitted and altered.
Classified data of all types is stored on machines that are completely isolated from unclassified networks, and are maintained in a secure facility often referred to as a SCIF. The doors to those facilities are always locked and only personnel with authorized clearances can gain access. No electronic devices can come into these rooms, no cell phones, laptops, thumb drives, cameras or anything with the capacity to copy and remove classified material.
Transmitting classified information digitally is accomplished with point-to-point encryption – so sophisticated it would take very fast computers years to decipher.
Altering classified information is a complicated process. Classifications not only appear at the top and bottom of documents, as the media has reported, but every paragraph, and sometimes (based on classification levels differing within a paragraph or different sources) even lines within every paragraph are marked with their classification. Every single line.
So, for Clinton’s claims to be true, her handlers would have had to “white out” or strip the classification from virtually every sentence in each TS/SAP level document. That’s just not feasible as it would take countless man hours to accomplish. Any attempt to “declassify” anything aspect of these documents without State Department or requisite agency office of responsibility consent, would constitute a federal felony. Recall that Clinton signed off on documents affirming she would abide with all specified procedures for storing, altering and transmitting classified information – under penalty of law.
So the fact that the FBI has discovered classified material, SAP, and now human intelligence on Clinton’s homebrew server indicates that either she or someone on her staff deliberately removed extremely sensitive material, which violated numerous security protocols. Despite her protests of innocence, she knew about it all along, the implications for our national security be damned.
With all of these security measures put in place, how did she or her minions get the classified material out of the secure facility and onto the unsecured server? Schlichter speculates that it is very possible someone printed off classified documents, scanned them onto an unsecured operating system and removed the heading “classified” from the newly created PDF file.
The text of a classified document is what matters, of course, not just the heading. As Schlichter put it, “[C]lassified material does not somehow become unclassified simply because it is no longer marked due to minions cutting and pasting the text out from between the classification markings.”
But therein lies the key to parsing Clinton’s lie: She didn’t have information marked classified. What a Clintonesque description.
Raymond Fournier, a veteran Diplomatic Security Service special agent, states, “It takes a very conscious effort to move a classified email or cable from the classified systems over to the unsecured open system and then send it to Hillary Clinton’s personal email account. … That’s no less than a two-conscious-step process.”
Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy adds, “[A]ll indications are that Mrs. Clinton was not grossly negligent. This was a thought-out, quite intentional violation of law. It now looks as if her scheme involved erasing the markings from some documents because she (a) knew what she was doing was a serious violation of law, (b) anticipated the possibility of being called on it, and © hoped to set up a fraudulent defense that she lacked knowledge that the documents were classified. That would be willful criminality, not just criminal recklessness.”
It’s worth repeating that any regular government employee caught doing anything remotely similar to this would be fired. General David Petraeus, as we’ve noted, committed less serious crimes mishandling classified material and yet Defense Secretary Ash Carter is pursuing additional punishment for his actions.
What then, is taking so long for charges to be brought against Hillary?
The simple answer is Barack Obama’s Justice Department, run by his patsy, Loretta Lynch. The FBI is doing its part by investigating and digging through all of Clinton’s illegal activity. But as McCarthy also writes, “The FBI routinely conducts major investigations in collaboration with Justice Department prosecutors — usually from the U.S. attorney’s office in the district where potential crimes occurred. That is because the FBI needs the assistance of a grand jury. The FBI does not have authority even to issue subpoenas, let alone to charge someone with a crime. Only federal prosecutors may issue subpoenas, on the lawful authority of the grand jury. Only prosecutors are empowered to present evidence or propose charges to the grand jury. And the Constitution vests only the grand jury with authority to indict — the formal accusation of a crime. In our system, the FBI can do none of these things. No Justice Department, no grand jury. No grand jury, no case — period.”
And so we wait. Why? Because we have a president with less than a year in office who we’re guessing doesn’t want his former secretary of state charged with a crime, thus further tarnishing his failed presidency. Besides, if she’s taken down before the election, Democrats are left with Bernie Sanders. But it also leaves the possibility of Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren to save the day at the convention. So stay tuned; things are just getting interesting.
Update: Here’s Wendy Sherman, then undersecretary of state in 2013, talking about sharing classified information: “Now we have BlackBerries, and it has changed the way diplomacy is done. Things appear on your BlackBerries that would never be on an unclassified system. But you’re out traveling, you’re trying to negotiate something. You want to communicate with people, it’s the fastest way to do it.”