Tuesday it was revealed that correspondence included on Hillary Clinton’s homebrew email server included information classified higher than any previously known, increasing the legal and political pressure on her campaign to become the 2016 Democratic Presidential Nominee.
Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III told both the Senate Intelligence and Senate Foreign Relations committees that intelligence agencies found messages relating to what are known as “special access programs,” or SAP. That’s an even more restricted subcategory of sensitive compartmented information, or SCI, which is top secret national security information derived from sensitive intelligence sources.
“To date, I have received two sworn declarations from one [intelligence community agency],” the letter reads. “These declarations cover several dozen emails containing classified information determined by the [intelligence community agency] to be at the confidential, secret, and top secret/sap levels. According to the declarant, these documents contain information derived from classified [intelligence community agency]sources.”
The ability for Clinton to remain immune from official sanction or prosecution for her numerous breaches of security protocol may be nearing the breaking point. It was not so long ago that the head of the CIA, General Petraeus, was drummed out of office for having let his biographer read his personal journals from his time as the top commander in Iraq.
It has been said that the Obama Administration has been harsher on individuals who have defied their sworn oaths to protect classified material, including the high profile prosecution of Bradley Manning and the ongoing pursuit of Edward Snowden.
Compared to the prosecution of Scooter Libby, who was found guilty for having leaked the identity of Valerie Plame as a CIA asset to the media, or even the prosecution of former CIA Director Richard Helms for misrepresentations before Congress, Clinton seems to enjoy the tacit invulnerability of punishment in what one dissenting voice in public service calls “This Administration”.
While Clinton may continue to avoid censure for her and her inner circles complete disregard for national security, it will be a black mark on the history of the Obama Administration, one which may go further than many other accusations that Obama considers himself and his people above the law, adding further flavor to the argument that Obama rules like a king or dictator–creating law at whim, and punishing his opponents and letting his allies get away with the highest of crimes.
The Clinton campaign defended itself from the latest revelation predictably:
Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said. “I think most Americans, if they saw the actual emails, would agree that it is a fabrication to suggest that the forwarding of a news article should be treated as a mishandling of classified information.”
This argument reaches a hypocritical crescendo however once one considers that it is official policy to discourage holders of even top secret security clearances from accessing classified material that is available in the public domain:
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some or all of the emails deemed to implicate “special access programs” related to U.S. drone strikes. Those who sent the emails were not involved in directing or approving the strikes, but responded to the fallout from them, the official said.
The information in the emails “was not obtained through a classified product, but is considered ‘per se’ classified” because it pertains to drones, the official added. The U.S. treats drone operations conducted by the CIA as classified, even though in a 2012 internet chat Presidential Barack Obama acknowledged U.S.-directed drone strikes in Pakistan.
The source noted that the intelligence community considers information about classified operations to be classified even if it appears in news reports or is apparent to eyewitnesses on the ground. For example, U.S. officials with security clearances have been warned not to access classified information leaked to WikiLeaks and published in the New York Times.
“Even though things are in the public domain, they still retain their classification level,” the official said. “The ICIG maintains its position that it’s still ‘codeword’ classified.”
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