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Why Hillary’s classified email “spillage” is a major problem

Why Hillary’s classified email “spillage” is a major problem

What happens when classified information is sent outside of controlled government systems?

Not long after the news broke that Hillary Clinton was using a private email server during her time as the Secretary of State and not a government email address, she held a press conference to assure people that nothing had been sent with classified information.

According to the Inspector General, Clinton’s claims are not to have been true:

The inspector general for the intelligence community has informed members of Congress that some material Hillary Clinton emailed from her private server contained classified information, but it was not identified that way.

Because it was not identified, it is unclear whether Clinton realized she was potentially compromising classified information.

The IG reviewed a “limited sampling” of her emails and among those 40 reviewed found that “four contained classified [intelligence community] information,” wrote the IG Charles McCullough in a letter to Congress.

McCullough noted that “none of the emails we reviewed had classification or dissemination markings” but that some “should have been handled as classified, appropriately marked, and transmitted via a secure network.”

The four emails in question “were classified when they were sent and are classified now,” spokeswoman Andrea Williams told CNN.

4 out of 40 is 10%. Which means of the 30,000 emails Hillary sent, there is a chance at last 3,000 of them contained classified information.

Hillary is relying on the defense that what she sent at the time was not classified and that it was not classified until later:

“I am confident that I never sent or received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received,” Clinton said. “What I think you’re seeing here is a very typical kind of discussion, to some extent disagreement among various parts of the government, over what should or should not be publicly released.”

That sounds good, but the fact of the matter is, even if the material in the emails were not marked as classified at the time, she still had a responsibility to treat them as if they were:

Not all closely held information created or distributed by federal officials is necessarily “classified.” The unauthorized disclosure of this information, often referred to as “sensitive” information, could harm U.S. national security even if the information isn’t technically classified. “For Official Use Only,” or FOUO, is a common type of sensitive but unclassified information. “Sensitive but Unclassified,” or SBU, is another. The government has straightforward principles outlining proper ways to handle information that may be sensitive but not classified:

For any document/product correctly bearing the U//FOUO handling instruction, certain safeguards must be taken. Generally speaking, the material should be treated as if it were classified CONFIDENTIAL.

Joe Scarborough talked about it on Morning Joe today:

With some in the media never missing a chance to take up for Hillary, John Harwood of CNBC tweeted the following:

His question is irrelevant as government officials have an obligation to self report when they release classified information.

Gabriel Malor, a DC based attorney in a series of tweets spoke of “spillage” and the responsibility of the person responsible:

It will be interesting to see where this goes. Like Malor said, 10% is an insanely high rate.

Meanwhile a sailor is facing 30 years in prison because he took photos of classified systems on a submarine and then tried to destroy them. Almost like it was somebody wiping out an email server.


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Security of classified material is crucial, certainly.

But even if she didn’t use it for classified material (and yes I understand she DID), she was skirting the law on federal records. That alone should disqualify her from any future office, elective or appointive.

No one gets to decide which of their own records to make available and which to hide.

    Sammy Finkelman in reply to Estragon. | July 28, 2015 at 5:23 am

    No one gets to decide which of their own records to make available and which to hide.

    The position of Hillary Clinton’s lawyers is precisely the opposite – and in fact, it is true, when it comes to e-mail, with one caveat.

    The rules in all agencies seem to say that the sender) and the receiver) has to decide what is a government record.

    The basis for this provision is that a lot of private and irrelevant information might be transmitted on the government system, so a policy of archiving all e-mail could violate privacy, especially of third parties, and, at one time, could have swamped the system and certainly created more junk e-mail to wade through.

    The caveat is, by not archiving any of her e-mails on a government server, Hillary Clinton was asserting that none of her e-mails were government records!

    Which is preposterous, and impossible.

    Her legal defense to that (not 100% true) was that all of her work e-mails were sent to government addresses, and so there is a record of what she sent somewhere, albeit not organized, and that whatever wasn’t sent to such an address was not a government record e-mail.

    And she got the State Department to accept that what she eventually turned over was all the records they needed. So she thinks she’s covered now.

    It was 55,000 printed out pages, although she had them in electronic form – and it was negotiated several times –

    There is one sneaky thing Hillary Clinton did – well actually more sneaky things – but one in particular.

    Whenever she sent government e-mail from a address, she was supposed to copy it to a government e-mail address. So when she sent e-mail to the White House – where they didn’t know that she didn’t have a e-mail, although of course they knew that she had this “other” e-mail address, she copied it to a address.

    It wasn’t an address that belonged to her, because she didn’t have any.

    Whether it was a real address that saved e-mail, or a dummy address, is not public.

    This, of course, refers only to the record-keeping obligations, which were tightened in the fall of 2014. Now everything work related is supposed to be sent ona government e-mail system and everything is supposed to be saved.

Not A Member of Any Organized Political | July 27, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Why all this “spillage” could implicate all the top Democrats as accessories to the felonious, traitorous crimes! Oh my!

Humphrey's Executor | July 27, 2015 at 5:31 pm

One of the weasel arguments I’ve heard is that her e-mails weren’t “marked” as classified. Well, if she is generating communications -emails- that contain classified information from other sources then that e-mail may now itself contain sensitive information and it needs to be reviewed and “classified” by an appropriate security person. I think that was the gist of the IG’s concerns.

“What happens when classified information is sent outside of controlled government systems?”

Well for you and me and the average government employee or military member, you would be FIRED and potentially PROSECUTED.

Next question.

“Any gov’t employee with a 10% spillage rate would be fired immediately and have their life turned upside down looking for other spills.”

And what would happen to any other person who deleted all their emails while under at least two subpoenas?

Can we be done with this vile, disgusting, power grubbing whore now?

    Sammy Finkelman in reply to Paul. | July 28, 2015 at 5:37 am

    And what would happen to any other person who deleted all their emails while under at least two subpoenas?

    No, she didn’t.

    She deleted the e-mails (from the server – there may very well be retrievable backups somewhere, probably n the possession of her lawyers now BEFORE she was subpoenaed.

    In fact, the committee did not know that she had private possession, and the only copies (from one side anyway) of her e-mails, until after the State Department had obtained paper copies and she had deleted the rest, at least from the server in question.

    The State Department had been subpoeaned and virtually nothing had been sent. Later, other people’s e-mails addresses were subpenaed and the committee receoved copies of e-mails from one side that had been supplied in a previous subpoena.

    So the committee became aware of a problem, and the State Department, anxious to protect her, and/or also not reveal taht they had let a year and half go by without having copies of any of her government e-mails!

    Which might, you know, possibly hamper Kerry’s work, here and there.

    The State Department was trying to hide the fact that tehy didn’t have the records.

    They had tried to get e-mails so they could respond to subpoena before telling the committee what the situation had been before.

    One of the things that Hillary Clinton’s lawyers negotiated was that she shouldn’t be singled out – that they should ask all previous Secretaries of State since Madeleine Albright for any copies of e-mails they might have retained, so she could say all Secretaries of State were asked and imply this was some general government clean-up of archiving.

If 0bama wanted to, he could pull Clinton’s fat out of this fire simply by saying that he gave her permission to do this. Leaking classified information is one offense of which it really is true that “it’s not illegal if the president does it”. The president cannot leak; any disclosure he authorizes is by definition not a leak.

    Humphrey's Executor in reply to Milhouse. | July 27, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    On the other hand, Obama also has the power to destroy her on this, or maybe as yet undisclosed issues. Mull that over.

      Well, yes, of course. I thought that was implied. After all, where do you think the leak came from about the IGs wanting to charge her? The smart money says it came from Jarrett, 0bama’s éminence noire.

Sammy Finkelman | July 28, 2015 at 5:25 am

The four emails in question “were classified when they were sent and are classified now,” spokeswoman Andrea Williams told CNN.

Of course, they are using a very generous definition of what is classified, that the State Department under John Kerry, apparently doesn’t agree with.

Hillary’s comments about the documents bot being classified is an evasion where she is parsing words to claim her innocence. After working with classified material for a long time, I can tell you with certainty that when ever a person creates a document (which can be anything from a long report to a twitter message) it is incumbent upon the message creator to ensure there is no classified material present. You do this by having an official who is an expert on classification review you document and then they will tell you if it contains classified material and, if so, then the level of classification. Refusing to have the document reviewed for classification does not mean it is not classified; it means you have failed to do your job. It is akin to claiming that a person doesn’t have a deadly disease until he his diagnosed with it. How much longer will the press continue to lie to the public in an effort to cover for Hillary?

    Humphrey's Executor in reply to Cleetus. | July 28, 2015 at 8:30 am

    So sensitive/security info is not technically “classified” until a qualified security official reviews it and marks it “Confidential,” Secret” or “Top Secret” whatever. But as you say, just because its not “classified” does not mean it is not sensitive/requiring protection.

    I’m surprised the media is so confused on this (OK, maybe not surprised, irked). It’s hard to imagine someone at Hillary’s level not handling a lot of very sensitive info an a regular basis. And from my experience in the military handling some classified material, the higher the rank the less willing to endure the mundane tasks and inconvenience of securing routine classified info. They have clerks or aides that are supposed to handle all that. They can’t be bothered.

      kermitrulez in reply to Humphrey's Executor. | July 28, 2015 at 9:43 am

      This is not true. You can have two pieces of information that are separately unclassified but become classified when put together regardless of whether some other person labels it so. If you then disseminate the info, you are spilling and are subject to penalties. Which are extremely painful.

      The idea that the U.S. Secretary of State could think that using some personal server for official communications is so preposterous that the practice itself should have been reason for removal from office. She is not fit for any public office, much less the highest public office in the U.S. When are we going to stop electing people to the highest office that wouldn’t be eligible for most offices?