AMU Homeland Security Intelligence

Hillary Clinton’s Emails: ‘Top Secret’ Problem

By Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Correspondent for In Homeland Security

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton faces a widening investigation. The latest stack of private emails gathered from when Clinton was Secretary of State, has uncovered not only classified material, but items with the highest classification of U.S. state secrets: top secret.

The irresponsible practice of using personal third-party emails for sensitive national security positions is not in itself criminal; however, there may be case against Clinton if such classified information was improperly handled and compromised.

hillary clinton emails
US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

Formerly, Clinton said that she chose to use a personal email account because it was more convenient. She had stated that there was no classified information in her emails: “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.”

The State Department’s Inspector General’s office and the Intelligence Community Inspector General initially found this statement not to be true when they discovered classified information in the emails when requested they be check by Congress.

In her defense, Hillary Clinton’s spokespeople have clarified her remarks, stressing that nothing in her personal email account from work was labeled ‘classified’ at the time.

Last March, the House Select Committee on Benghazi subpoenaed the private emails of Hillary Clinton and asked that she turn over her server voluntarily for a neutral third-party review. It was suggested that she send it to the State Department Secretary General’s Office. Of some 60,000 plus emails, half were deleted on the grounds that they were personal and she has turned in the other half. Before a judge, she admitted that she had given the State Department all of her work-related emails.

The State Department lost a public records lawsuit requesting the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s work emails be made public. More than 3,000 have been released by the State Department; including one that was sent out by mistake with classified information. Four were held back. The Department is battling 40 law suits regarding the issue after Judicial Watch’s FOIA success.

Senate Judiciary Chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley, said that he was told by the Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCulloch that two of the four classified emails of concern were labeled “Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmented Information.”

A district judge involved in the requesting the release of the records was angered that there seemed to be an unnecessary delay by the Department. More to be made public by Friday.

Clinton maintained a copy of the emails after she submitted them as well. At this point, the classified review process began. She maintained her personal server and thumb drives given to her attorney.

The FBI and the Justice Department acted after a formal request by the Intelligence Community Inspector General. They have been investigating the matter of whether Clinton was sending and receiving classified materials on a unsecure server for 14 emails now deemed to have had classified information.

Largely, the issue remains one of intent. Did Clinton knowingly store classified information and if so, can the FBI prove it? Otherwise, there may not be a criminal case from a legal perspective.

There is also the matter of gross negligence: the classified data stored on a private server, classified data exchanged through a more vulnerable private account and or classified data given to an uncleared individual like an attorney. In essence, Clinton is suspected of doing all three.

Then there is also a gray area of status as department head and what she could legally reveal or in essence unclassify for her agency alone; not including other shared information from other agencies and departments. It was reported that there were five different agencies’ classified information tangled up in the emails.

As of now, there are several background processes occurring: 1) the political war between Democrats and Republicans in the 2016 presidential and national elections. 2) the distancing of the White House from Hillary Clinton and the investigation process. 3) Vice President Joseph Biden’s possible late bid. 4) More Republican attacks mounting and homing in on Clinton.

This could push her out of the race altogether or severely damage her chances of election. More important right now for the intelligence community, is finding out what information was or could have been leaked through these practices. This too is also political but is widening in scope.

Five former Secretaries of States and their staffs are being investigated as well over the issue of private server use and vulnerable information practices.

Yesterday, Clinton decided to turn over her private server now, in addition to the emails she turned in earlier, due to “top secret” revelation. She had run the server from her house in New York City.

Clinton’s attorney is turning over three thumb drives of the emails to the Department of Justice for reasons that he is not cleared to handle the information or store it in his office.

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