Hillary Clinton Had Presidential Authority to Personally Classify Top Secret Emails Received on Home Server
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had authority conferred on her by President Barack Obama to personally classify as ‘Top Secret’ government intelligence such as the emails containing reportedly unlabeled highly classified information she received on the private home-brew server Clinton used throughout her four-year tenure as secretary.
Clinton’s apparent failure to at a minimum recognize unlabeled Top Secret Special Intelligence and immediately secure the information casts doubts on her ability to responsibly handle highly classified intelligence.
Also as has been pointed out by Clinton and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) in separate statements, State Department classified information can only be sent through a classified email system. Meaning that either Clinton’s server was brought in to the government’s classified system or that Clinton staffers stripped the emails of security classifications.
A December 29, 2009 executive order (13526) by President Barack Obama listed the Secretary of State as one of a select few of about two dozen government officials with ‘Original Classification Authority’ to “classify information originally as “Top Secret” or “Secret”” on sight.
Obama’s executive order also described the levels of classification in degrees of harm to the United States and specifically “defense against transnational terrorism” should the information be compromised. The Top Secret intelligence found to be in email stored on Clinton’s unsecured home server and thumb drives is defined as the “unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security” of the United States.
“(4) the original classification authority determines that the unauthorized disclosure of the information reasonably could be expected to result in damage to the national security, which includes defense against transnational terrorism, and the original classification authority is able to identify or describe the damage.
“Sec. 1.2. Classification Levels. (a) Information may be classified at one of the following three levels:
…“(1) “Top Secret” shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.
“(2) “Secret” shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.
“(3) “Confidential” shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.”
The executive order includes a definition the term ‘violates’ with regard to the mishandling of classified information that appears to describe Clinton’s handling of Top Secret intelligence on her private email server.
“(tt) “Violation” means:
“(1) any knowing, willful, or negligent action that could reasonably be expected to result in an unauthorized disclosure of classified information;…”
In an August 11, 2015 letter to select members of the House and Senate, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community stated that among Clinton emails that were reviewed were several with Top Secret or lower classified information.
““In response to the above references congressional notification, my office received multiple congressional requests for copies of former Secretary Clinton’s emails containing classified intelligence community (IC) information. These emails, attached hereto, have been properly marked by IC classification officials, and include information classified up to “TOP SECRET//SI/TK//NOFORN.
“IC classification officials reviewed two additional emails and judged that they contained classified State Department information when originated…”
An article published by the Daily Beast by John R. Schindler, a former National Security Agency counterintelligence officer who has briefed cabinet level officials on Top Secret information described the security level of the Top Secret emails found to have been on Clinton’s home server.
“• TOP SECRET, as the name implies, is the highest official classification level in the U.S. government, defined as information whose unauthorized release “could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security or foreign relations.”
“• SI refers to Special Intelligence, meaning it is information derived from intercepted communications, which is the business of the National Security Agency, America’s single biggest source of intelligence. They’re the guys who eavesdrop on phone calls, map who’s calling whom, and comb through emails. SI is a subset of what the intelligence community calls Sensitive Compartmented Information, or SCI. And these materials always require special handling and protection. They are to be kept in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, which is a special hardened room that is safe from both physical and electronic intrusion.
“• TK refers to Talent Keyhole, which is an intelligence community caveat indicating that the classified material was obtained via satellite.
“• NOFORN, as the name implies, means that the materials can only be shown to Americans, not to foreigners.
“In short: Information at the “TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN” level is considered exceptionally highly classified and must be handled with great care under penalty of serious consequences for mishandling. Every person who is cleared and “read on” for access to such information signs reams of paperwork and receives detailed training about how it is to be handled, no exceptions—and what the consequences will be if the rules are not followed.”
A State Department official told Fox News in a report published Thursday that the Top Secret email was likely tampered with in a manner that constitutes a felony.
“But a State Department official told Fox News that the intelligence community inspector general, who raised the most recent concerns about Clinton’s emails, made clear that at least one of those messages contained information that only could have come from the intelligence community.
“”If so, they would have had to come in with all the appropriate classification markings,” the official said.
“The official questioned whether someone, then, tampered with that message. “[S]omewhere between the point they came into the building and the time they reached HRC’s server, someone would have had to strip the classification markings from that information before it was transmitted to HRC’s personal email.”
“The official said doing so would “constitute a felony, in and of itself. I can’t imagine that a rank-and-file career DOS employee would have done this, so it was most likely done by someone in her inner circle.”
“The messages apparently contained satellite imagery and signals intelligence, information that diplomats cannot unilaterally obtain.”