Last month the intelligence inspector general found that two out of 40 emails on Hillary Clinton’s home server were labeled “top secret” and carried this designation before they reached Mrs. Clinton. At the time, the former Secretary of State argued that the emails had been “over-classified,” but a second review, this one by the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, backed up the claims of the first one, finding that the two emails were “top secret” — the highest classification government intelligence hands out — when they were sent to Mrs. Clinton in 2009 and 2011.
According to the New York Times, “the Clinton campaign disagreed with the conclusion of the intelligence review and noted that agencies within the government often have different views of what should be considered classified.”
But they don’t have a choice over the classification of those emails. In 2009, Barack Obama issued an executive order (a good one for a change) that said that only the agency that first classifies something can denote it unclassified. In other words, since the emails were top secret before Clinton received them, whether she believed they were over-classified or not, they were top secret until the agency which initiated the information changed its classification.
The intelligence review is the latest development in continuing reverberations over Mrs. Clinton’s use of only a private email account for her public business when she was secretary of state, which gave her some control over what was made public. She faced criticism when the account became known this year, and after deleting what she said were more than 31,000 personal messages turned over more than 30,000 work-related emails for the State Department to make public.
Mrs. Clinton has said that her emails contained no information that was marked classified — having classified information outside a secure government account is illegal — and that she is fully cooperating with an F.B.I. investigation to determine who at the State Department may have passed highly classified information from secure networks to her personal account. She herself is not a target of the investigation.
I. Charles McCullough III, the inspector general for the intelligence community, found the two emails containing what he determined was “top secret” information in the course of reviewing a sampling of 40 of Mrs. Clinton’s work-related emails for potential security breaches.
That sample of 40 is one tenth of one percent of the emails Clinton has turned over. Undoubtedly when all the emails are examined there will be more in the top secret category.
The senior intelligence officials briefed on the findings of the review spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to jeopardize their access to sensitive information.
…In the months after the disclosure, Mrs. Clinton and her campaign were unequivocal in their stance that there was no classified information on it. But after it was revealed in August that the F.B.I. was investigating how classified materials were handled in connection with the account, Mrs. Clinton’s aides began saying that she never sent or received anything that was classified at the time.
Cross-posted at The Lid