As Hillary Clinton blithely insists her unsecure email server violated no rules or laws — “what I did was allowed” — the facts beg to differ. The New York Times reports that an intelligence review confirms the existing allegation that Clinton received highly sensitive material on her private server that was, in fact, classified at the time it was sent:
A special intelligence review of two emails that Hillary Rodham Clinton received as secretary of state on her personal account — including one about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program — has endorsed a finding by the inspector general for the intelligence agencies that the emails contained highly classified information when Mrs. Clinton received them, senior intelligence officials said. Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign and the State Department disputed the inspector general’s finding last month and questioned whether the emails had been overclassified by an arbitrary process. But the special review — by the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency — concluded that the emails were “Top Secret,” the highest classification of government intelligence, when they were sent to Mrs. Clinton in 2009 and 2011. On Monday, 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.
At first, Hillary said there was and is “no classified material” on her server whatsoever. When that claim proved to be comprehensively false, she veered to arguing that the information in question had been retroactively deemed classified, but wasn’t actually classified the time it was disseminated. This latest review affirms that two of the 40 initial emails randomly audited by two Inspectors General were just as ‘top secret’ today as they were in 2009 and 2011. Amusingly, Clinton’s campaign “disagrees” with the CIA and NGIA’s findings — as if “let’s agree to disagree” is a valid defense for violating national security protocols. Reuters has also fact-checked Clinton’s “classified at the time” line, and found it severely wanting. Clinton is now clinging to a pair of wafer-thin excuses: (1) The classified materials that passed through her server weren’t “marked” as such at the time, and (2) agencies sometimes disagree over what information ought to be classified. Both defenses fail. On the first count, intelligence is “born classified;” officials with high security clearances are trained to recognize and identify sensitive material at the outset and to handle it accordingly. As Mrs. Clinton said at her March press conference, “I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements, and did not send classified material.” That last bit of her quote has also been debunked, incidentally: Hillary wasn’t just the “passive recipient” of sensitive information, as her campaign has stated. She actively sent it, too. On the second count, it’s true that various tentacles of the executive branch sometimes spar over classification decisions. Unfortunately for Team Clinton, the rules in this instance were spelled out quite clearly by an Obama executive order: The entities that originate the content (in this case, the intelligence agencies, not the State Department) have the final, binding say. Here’s some useful context from Phil Kerpen that’s always worth repeating:
Remember these emails happened to be the sample of *40* emails given to the IC IG. Out of over 60,000, half of which are deleted.
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) September 8, 2015
Mrs. Clinton says the 30,000-plus emails her lawyers unilaterally destroyed at her behest (or at least attempted to) were all personal, not professional, in nature. We know this to be untrue, as well. As her poll numbers crumble into the sea and her “distraction” complaints escalate, staffers say Hillary is gearing up for yet another image reboot:
There will be no more flip jokes about her private email server. There will be no rope lines to wall off crowds, which added to an impression of aloofness. And there will be new efforts to bring spontaneity to a candidacy that sometimes seems wooden and overly cautious…In extensive interviews by telephone and at their Brooklyn headquarters last week, Mrs. Clinton’s strategists acknowledged missteps…They want to show her humor…Other changes are in store for the campaign. After a focus group in New Hampshire last month revealed that voters wanted to hear directly from Mrs. Clinton about her email practices, she has sought to offer a more contrite tone, though her detractors say she is still too grudging.
Get ready for some inspirational, focus-grouped warmth and authenticity, America. And pay no attention to that silly FBI investigation, or that close aide pleading the fifth and refusing to cooperate with the federal probe.