The Washington Post published a column Thursday night by David Ignatius that purports to clear leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton of wrongdoing in exclusively using a home brew server kept in her home that held top secret classified information during her four year tenure as secretary of state. The column is entitled The Hillary Clinton e-mail ‘scandal’ that isn’t.
Ignatius’ lead defense witness for Clinton is one Jeffrey Smith who is given four paragraphs of quotes defending Clinton. Ignatius identifies Smith as “a former CIA general counsel who’s now a partner at Arnold & Porter, where he often represents defendants suspected of misusing classified information.”
Smith is the only named source in Ignatius’ column.
Ignatius and The Post failed to disclose that Smith served as a ‘close’ national security adviser for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and that Smith has a history with the Clintons going back to at least President Bill Clinton’s election in 1992.
An April 2, 2007 New Republic article noted Clinton’s hiring of Smith.
“Hillary has also recruited a new and relatively unknown adviser: longtime defense establishment insider Jeffrey Smith. “When she went on Armed Services, she telephoned me and asked if I would come up and give her a sense of the issues she’d encounter,” says Smith, who served as general counsel to the CIA in the mid-’90s and is now a partner at the Washington law firm Arnold & Porter.“
A New York Daily News article published November 7, 2007 listed Smith as a national security adviser to the Clinton campaign. Smith was listed as a ‘close’ Clinton adviser on par with John Podesta, Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke, Sandy Berger and Lee Feinstein.
“…Asterisks * indicate close advisers for each candidate. **HILLARY CLINTON** – Madeleine Albright * – Richard Holbrooke * – Sandy Berger * – Lee Feinstein * – John Podesta * – Jeffrey Smith * – Steve Simon – Wendy Sherman – Kurt Campbell – Lt. Gen. Don Kerrick – John Dalton – Vali Nasr – Stu Eizenstat – Ray Takeyh – Bob Einhorn – Gen. Wes Clark – Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton – Lt. Gen. Bobby Guard.”
Smith’s bio page at Arnold & Porter lists him as serving on the Clinton transition team in 1992-1993.
“In 1992 and 1993, Mr. Smith served as the chief of the Clinton Transition Team at the US Department of Defense. He also chaired the Joint Security Commission established in 1993 by Secretary of Defense Les Aspin and CIA Director James Woolsey to examine the security procedures of the defense and intelligence communities and the companies that contract with them. In addition, he served on the congressionally mandated Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed Services.”
Smith also served as an appointee in 1995-1996 as General Counsel for the CIA during Clinton’s first term.
Smith’s defense of Clinton in Ignatius’ column is that everybody exchanges classified information in public settings.
““It’s common” that people end up using unclassified systems to transmit classified information, said Jeffrey Smith, a former CIA general counsel who’s now a partner at Arnold & Porter, where he often represents defendants suspected of misusing classified information.
““There are always these back channels,” Smith explained. “It’s inevitable, because the classified systems are often cumbersome and lots of people have access to the classified e-mails or cables.” People who need quick guidance about a sensitive matter often pick up the phone or send a message on an open system. They shouldn’t, but they do.
“”What happens in the real world of the State Department? Smith takes the hypothetical example of an assistant secretary who receives a classified cable from, say, Paris, about a meeting with the French foreign minister and wants quick guidance from the secretary. So he dashes off an e-mail — rather than sending a classified cable that would be seen by perhaps a dozen people.
““Technically, he has taken classified information and put it onto an unclassified system,” Smith said. “It’s the same as picking up a telephone and talking about it. It’s not right. But the challenge of getting the secretary’s attention — getting guidance when you need it — is an inevitable human, bureaucratic imperative. Is it a crime? Technically, perhaps yes. But it would never be prosecuted.””
H/t maggief, FR.
UPDATE: Phone calls by The Gateway Pundit to the Post on Friday afternoon about the Ignatius column have not been returned. A voice message was left at the phone of Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt. Also, a message was left with an assistant to Marty Baron, Executive Editor of the Post. As of 7:30 p.m. CDT there has been no correction made to the Ignatius column.