Classified info Comey leaked to get special counsel appointed: Still no answers for Senate

Classified info Comey leaked to get special counsel appointed: Still no answers for Senate
James Comey (Image: YouTube screen grab via CBS News)

It never ends.  The Washington Times reported Wednesday that Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) had to go to a SCIF to review the memos leaked to a friend by former FBI Director James Comey in 2017, because the FBI said the classified memos could only be viewed in such a secure environment.

A SCIF is a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility – and it is interesting that the FBI insisted on one, given what else we are told about the memos.  Technically, a SCIF is only necessary for such viewings when the most highly classified information is involved.  None of the memos is reportedly marked with such a high level of classification.  In the ordinary course of things, an official like Grassley should have been able to peruse them without actually making a special trip to a SCIF.

But that, we are told, is what the FBI required.

He [Grassley] said he’s personally reviewed the seven memos, but was forced to do so in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF.

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“The FBI insisted that these reviews take place in a SCIF because the majority of the memos are classified,” he said. “FBI personnel refused to answer factual questions during the document reviews, including questions about the chain of custody of the documents I was reviewing, the date that they were marked classified, and who marked them as classified.”

According to TWT, of the seven memos, four were marked classified, either confidential or secret. (The exact distribution isn’t further broken down.)

We knew in July 2017 that some of the memos were classified.  That’s how long ago Grassley was able to confirm that part of the picture.  Grassley hasn’t been able to get an answer from the FBI on which memos were leaked – to include, of course, whether it was one or more classified memo(s) that Comey passed to his friend Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia University.

Richman then passed the information to the New York Times.  According to TWT:

Mr. Richman refused to give the memos to Mr. Grassley’s committee, but said he turned them over to the special counsel’s office and the FBI, which has now provided the limited access to Mr. Grassley. At least one of the memos had information now marked at the “secret” level, which is above “confidential” but below “top secret.”

“The Justice Department should know which memos were provided and be able to share that information with the committee,” Mr. Grassley wrote.

This does not seem like an unreasonable request, especially since Comey told the Senate in June 2017 that he had leaked the information in the hope that it would prompt the appointment of special counsel:

“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter,” Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. “I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”

So Daniel Richman, people at NYT, and any number of individuals at DOJ, FBI, and on Robert Mueller’s staff have seen James Comey’s memos – none of which, apparently, is marked above the classification level of secret.  (Which nevertheless is certainly grave enough to warrant concern about such information being leaked to the media.)

But for some reason, it’s necessary to play games with members of the U.S. Senate.  There really is no construction other than that to put on this.  When a special counsel has been appointed, the Senate has every right to know exactly why that happened.  It is a tortured reading of “legal principles” to suggest that it could compromise the investigation itself in some way, for the Senate to be fully informed on such matters.

Indeed, although the people are trusting the Senate to monitor those matters on our behalf, it could in no way prejudice the investigation for us to know exactly what Comey did, whether we know it now or later.

Meanwhile, the very special treatment of Democrats’ ill-fated encounters with classified material continues across the board.  Luke Rosiak reported at the Daily Caller on 2 January that Huma Abedin forwarded the password for her State Department email account to her personal Yahoo account, which in itself is a violation of security procedure and subject to sanctions.

But she also forwarded the password in 2009.  Subsequently, in 2013 and again in 2014, massive hacking operations compromised every Yahoo account (see Rosiak).  The 2014 hacker was identified as a foreign state agent (Russian), and although the identity of the 2013 hacker has not been publicly disclosed, the likelihood is high that a foreign state or states gained access to the information compromised in it.  That’s one of the things state-backed cyber operatives do: troll the dark web for pilfered information.

The president tweeted this week about Abedin’s grossly negligent handling of her government account information.

The Abedin emails from which this latest revelation was drawn (via a Judicial Watch FOIA request) were found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.  The FBI has known about the emails since at least late October 2016 (and possibly as early as 3 October 2016, when the FBI seized the laptop from the NYPD – which had seized it before that as part of its investigation of Weiner’s underage-sexting case).

So the FBI and DOJ have known for more than a year that there were classified documents among the Abedin emails on Weiner’s laptop, and that she sent her government account password to a non-secure Yahoo email account.  But nothing has been done about it.

Don’t even bother lecturing the people on whatever “due process” excuse Mueller, DOJ, or FBI may have for withholding information from Senator Grassley.  Seriously.  That time is over.  The people can see how this works.

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J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.

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