Last Friday (Jan. 29) afternoon, the State Department released another court-mandated batch of Hillary Clinton’s emails from when she was secretary of state. But 22 emails (totaling 37 pages of text) were withheld, even with entire sections redacted.
Those 22 emails were withheld at the request of the intelligence community because although Hillary and her staff treated them as “unclassified,” the emails actually were “Top Secret”.
“Top Secret” is the federal government’s highest official classification level, defined as “information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.” The disclosure of Top Secret information is a serious criminal matter that normal Americans face prosecution and substantial jail time for perpetrating.
So what is in those 22 “Top Secret” emails?
Catherine Herridge and Pamela K. Browne report for FoxNews, Feb. 1, 2016, that according to a U.S. government official who has reviewed the documents, the 22 emails are withheld because they contain “operational intelligence” — real-time information on intelligence collection, sources (informants on CIA’s payroll), the movement of assets, as well as names of CIA agents. The presence of that information on Hillary’s unsecure, personal email system jeopardized “sources, methods and lives”.
The official was not authorized to speak on the record and was limited in discussing the contents because of their highly classified nature. The official emphasized that the “TOP SECRET” documents were sent over an extended period of time — from the installation of Hillary’s private email server in 2009 until early 2013 when Clinton stepped down as secretary of state.
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas), who sits on the House intelligence committee, said Hillary had to know what she was dealing with: “There is no way that someone, a senior government official who has been handling classified information for a good chunk of their adult life, could not have known that this information ought to be classified, whether it was marked or not. Anyone with the capacity to read and an understanding of American national security, an 8th grade reading level or above, would understand that the release of this information or the potential breach of a non-secure system presented risk to American national security.”
Pompeo pointed out that the Top Secret information might have fallen into the hands of the Iranians, or the Russians, or the Chinese, or just hackers, and that the Obama administration should assume that information has in fact gotten out. That, in turn, counsels changes in operations by the military and intelligence communities.
On ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, one day before the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton claimed ignorance on the sensitivity of the materials because they weren’t marked as “classified”. She accused the Republicans of using it “to beat up on me.”
When ABC’s “This Week” reminded her that in her signed 2009 non-disclosure agreement, she had acknowledged that markings are irrelevant (the agreement states “classified information is marked or unmarked … including oral communications”), Hillary blamed her aides, saying: “When you receive information, of course, there has to be some markings, some indication that someone down the chain had thought that this was classified and that was not the case.”
But Hillary is contradicted by national security attorney Edward MacMahon Jr., who represented former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling in the high-profile leak investigation regarding a New York Times reporter. MacMahon said, “Everybody who has a security clearance [as Hillary had] has an individual obligation to protect the information. Just because somebody sends it to you … you can’t just turn a blind eye and pretend it never happened and pretend it’s unclassified information.”
These rules, known as the Code of Federal Regulations, apply to U.S. government employees with security clearances and state there is an obligation to report any possible breach by both the sender and the receiver of the information. The rules state: “Any person who has knowledge that classified information has been or may have been lost, possibly compromised or disclosed to an unauthorized person shall immediately report the circumstances to an official designated for this purpose.”
Meanwhile, the release of other Hillary emails has revealed that then-Sen. John Kerry (who is now secretary of state) was also using an unsecured, personal email account for classified information.
Furthermore, a 2009 email released to Judicial Watch after a federal lawsuit shows that Patrick Kennedy, the top administrator at the State Department was, in the words of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, “in on Hillary Clinton’s separate email network and system from the get-go.” Kennedy is expected to testify this month before the Republican-led Benghazi Select Committee.
According to John Schindler of Observer, CIA and the entire intelligence community are in panic mode right now, trying to determine which intelligence officers and agents have been compromised by Hillary’s EmailGate. A senior intelligence community official called the 22 withheld emails “a death sentence” for CIA officers and foreign agents working for U.S. intelligence, saying, “if we’re lucky only agents, not our officers, will get killed because of this.”
At a minimum, valuable covers have been blown, careers have been ruined, and lives have been put at serious risk. Our spies’ greatest concern now is what’s still in Hillary’s emails that investigators have yet to find.
An exasperated Pentagon counterintelligence official said, “I’ll spend the rest of my career trying to figure out what classified information was in those. Everybody is mad as hell right now. The worst part is that Moscow and Beijing have that information but the intelligence community maybe never will.”
- Shocker, not: Hillary’s emails contained America’s top secrets
- Ex-aide: Clinton sent info on BlackBerry ‘that would never be on an unclassified system’
- Shocker, not: Hillary’s team copied intel off top-secret server to email
- Do you think Attorney General Loretta Lynch will indict Hillary?
Dr. Eowyn’s post originally appeared at Fellowship of the Minds.