Dan Gilmore / Aug. 13, 2015

Just How Big Were the Secrets on Clinton’s Private Server?

American spies have been punished — jailed — for doing less.

While her campaign tried to downplay the significance of the event, Hillary Clinton “handed over” her private server to the FBI as the bureau investigates the mishandling of classified information on her home-brewed system. But in an Aug. 11 letter to the Senate, U.S. intelligence Inspector General I. Charles McCullough said that some of the emails on Hillary Clinton’s private, unsecured server contained “information classified up to ‘TOP SECRET//SI/TK//NOFORN.’” John R. Schindler, a former counterintelligence officer with the NSA, said the classification shows just how sensitive the information was that Clinton carelessly handled. Information classified “TOP SECRET,” if leaked, “could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security or foreign relations,” according to the Department of Defense. SI stands for “Special Intelligence,” something that was gleaned from intercepted communications, and TK means that the information came from a spy satellite. Furthermore, NOFORN means that no non-citizen should ever see the information. Despite heading the State Department, Clinton had no authority to downgrade the classified information she handled. Her private server and communication habits weren’t just bad judgment, they were illegal. As Schindler put it, “There is no doubt that she, or someone on her State Department staff, violated federal law by putting TOP SECRET//SI information on an unclassified system.” American spies have been punished — jailed — for doing less.

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