Hillary Clinton has 2,093 problems ¯\_(?)_/¯

On Monday, the State Department finished their review of the 30,300 work-related emails and attachments that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had kept on her “private” email server at her house, and released to the public the last of the ones that the were able to release. Of those 30,000, all but 2093 were released. Those 2093 could not be released because they were determined to contain classified information. [1]

The standard for this is, of course, zero. None. As someone with access to classified information, Hillary Clinton – and those who worked for her – are required by federal law not to disclose classified information, and to safeguard it. This includes transmitting it only through approved methods – and for some types of classified information, that means it simply cannot be on the internet. Specific standards must be used when storing classified information – these standards are codified in 32 CFR 2004, and prescribe requirements like vaults, safes, alarms, monitoring, limiting access and “…ensuring that classified information is not communicated over unsecured voice or data circuits, in public conveyances or places, or in any other manner that permits interception by unauthorized persons.” [2]

Clinton, her aides and her lawyers have insisted [3] that the information was not classified at the time the emails were sent. “Nothing that was sent at the time or received was secret,” she insists.

Only, that’s not how it works. And sadly for the NY Times, in their article today, that’s completely not how it works. [4] Clinton, her aides and the NY Times try to pass this off as 2093 instances of overclassification. The NY Times argues that, “A person can put a ‘classified’ stamp on a document and ensure it is kept secret, or can leave it unclassified, subject to disclosure, and later be accused of having revealed something needing protection.”

Because the truth is – and this is from the NY Times article as well – “the courts will not accept the argument that information should not have been classified in the first place.” There are two ways by which information can be deemed classified: someone with the authority to do say can say that it is, or the classification is derived from something (usually a document) that you know to be classified.

Hillary Clinton, as the Secretary of State, had such Original Classification Authority, in accordance with Executive Order 13526. [5] Her aides did not. All of them, to include Clinton, followed the same guidance of applying classification based of derivative classification.

How does that work? If you communicate information, you have to pass along the classification that came with it, from where you got it. [6]

This should sound like a lot of work. It should sound very detail oriented. It should sound like having to footnote or endnote everything you write or say about your work, especially when your work is about topics that squarely fall into the guidelines for classification – like foreign affairs. Or if you read a lot of intelligence products, or a lot of documents that are classified.

I say this because it is a lot of work. It’s exhausting. Writing while working in the government means reviewing every paragraph and scrutinizing it, asking yourself exactly how you know this and what the corresponding classification of that information is. This applies even for information that is transition the internet – you have to apply this level of review in order to mark paragraphs as being Unclassified versus Unclassified // For Official Use Only.

Not doing this, is how you end up with 7% of your emails containing classified information, classified information up to and including not just Top Secret information but information from Special Access Programs. [7] Not marking emails is not acceptable. Ignoring where you learned the information is not OK.

Hillary Clinton

[1] Allen, Jonathan, Reuters, “U.S. State Department releases final batch of Clinton emails,” 29 February 2016, accessed 29 February 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-clinton-emails-state-department-idUSMTZSAPEC2TBS46GX

[2] 32 CFR Part 2004, National Archives and Records Administration, Federal Register, “Safeguarding Classified National Security Information; Final Rule,” accessed 29 February 2016, https://fas.org/sgp/isoo/safeguard.html

[3] Hillary Clinton, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, “Hillary Clinton Explains What’s in Her Classified Emails,” 17 September 2015, accessed 29 February 2016, https://youtu.be/5l_NECN1lK4?t=1m22s

[4] Lowell, Abbe David, New York Times, “The Broken System of Classifying Government Documents,” 29 February 2016, accessed 29 February 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/29/opinion/the-broken-system-of-classifying-government-documents.html

[5] Executive Order 13526- Original Classification Authority, the White House, 29 December 2009, accessed 29 February 2016, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/executive-order-original-classification-authority

[6] Department of Defense, Information Security Progam, DOD 5200.1-R, Chapter 3, January 1997, accessed 29 February 2016, https://fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/5200-1r/

[7] Koran, Laura, CNN, “Clinton emails: What have we learned?” 1 March 2016, accessed 1 March 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/29/politics/hillary-clinton-emails-state-department-review/

One thought on “Hillary Clinton has 2,093 problems ¯\_(?)_/¯

  1. It’s utterly amazing that she is allowed to run for office. Petraeus did so much less and he got slapped with a federal conviction and probation.

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