Just last night, we reported that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had finally admitted that the former First Lady’s private e-mail server – which she used to handle sensitive information while serving as Secretary of State – did indeed contain documents that have since been marked classified.
The admission comes after Clinton sought to appease GOP lawmakers by turning over her personal server to the FBI. Subsequently, reports suggested the server had been wiped clean while an audit of the e-mails Clinton handed in to the State Department showed that some of the threads looked to contain chatter about the CIA’s drone program.
Clinton’s defense – until now anyway – is that regardless of whether some of the information was retroactively stamped “classified”, it wasn’t marked as such at the time it was sent and received and therefore, no classified information was stored on her private server. As we’ve noted, those with a security clearance are expected to exercise the highest discretion when it comes to their handling of sensitive information and as such, Clinton should have been more careful. Here’s what we said on Thursday:
While it’s certainly disconcerting that the nation’s one-time top diplomat was sending and receiving sensitive information over an unsecure private e-mail server, the issue for Clinton – because it would probably be naive to think that anyone besides voters will actually hold her accountable – is that her handling of the ordeal has served to reinforce the perception that she’s too arrogant and untrustworthy to be given the reins to the country.
That is, the public was already wary of electing yet another member of America’s political aristocracy (or oligarchy, if you will) and the fact that Clinton apparently expects Americans to believe that she had no idea the information she was receiving on her home server might one day be deemed classified (even though she’s been privy to such information in various capacities for decades) seems to underscore her arrogance and highlight her propensity to, as Jean Claude-Juncker famously put it, lie when “things become serious.”
Now, according to Reuters, Clinton’s last line of defense – that anything which is now marked “classified” wasn’t designated as such initially – may be in question. Here’s the story:
For months, the U.S. State Department has stood behind its former boss Hillary Clinton as she has repeatedly said she did not send or receive classified information on her unsecured, private email account, a practice the government forbids.
While the department is now stamping a few dozen of the publicly released emails as “Classified,” it stresses this is not evidence of rule-breaking.
Those stamps are new, it says, and do not mean the information was classified when Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner in the 2016 presidential election, first sent or received it.
But the details included in those “Classified” stamps — which include a string of dates, letters and numbers describing the nature of the classification — appear to undermine this account, a Reuters examination of the emails and the relevant regulations has found.
The new stamps indicate that some of Clinton’s emails from her time as the nation’s most senior diplomat are filled with a type of information the U.S. government and the department’s own regulations automatically deems classified from the get-go — regardless of whether it is already marked that way or not.
In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department’s own “Classified” stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign government information.’ The U.S. government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts.
This sort of information, which the department says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be “presumed” classified, in part to protect national security and the integrity of diplomatic interactions, according to U.S. regulations examined by Reuters.
“It’s born classified,” said J. William Leonard, a former director of the U.S. government’s Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Leonard was director of ISOO, part of the White House’s National Archives and Records Administration, from 2002 until 2008, and worked for both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
“If a foreign minister just told the secretary of state something in confidence, by U.S. rules that is classified at the moment it’s in U.S. channels and U.S. possession,” he said in a telephone interview, adding that for the State Department to say otherwise was “blowing smoke.”
We’re sure they’ll be far more on this to come, and while American voters are by now very much used to having “smoke” blown at them on the campaign trail, the poll numbers for Donald Trump (and, incidentally, for dark horse candidate “Deez Nuts“) would seem to suggest that the public’s patience with being lied to by America’s political aristocracy may have run out.