Yesterday FoxNews reported on a memo sent from the Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG) to a small number of Congressional committees and other concerned offices revealing the extent to which Hillary Clinton and her staff had raised cavalier disregard for the laws and regulations covering the handling of intelligence information to either an art form or a fetish. The memo was not all that concerned with the 1400 or so classified emails that have been reported on. Many, if not most, of those originated within State and it is up to State to decide how important they are. Rather the IC IG was concerned about "several dozen" documents that originated within the intelligence community, some of them classified TOP SECRET and further restricted to individuals who possessed clearance for certain highly-sensitive "special access programs" or SAP. And there is this:
An intelligence official familiar with the matter told NBC News that the special access program in question was so sensitive that McCullough and some of his aides had to receive clearance to be read in on it before viewing the sworn declaration about the Clinton emails.
That's right. The IC IG himself did not have authority to view some of the documents that Hillary Clinton had sent/received (and, in all fairness, she was much more likely the recipient than the source) via an unsecure, unencrypted email account which ended up stored on Hillary Clinton's private, unsecure and unencrypted email server housed in a facility that not only had no guards, it didn't even have a working alarm system.
The Clinton campaign's fallback position is the same tiresome one it has employed for going on a year:
"This is the same interagency dispute that has been playing out for months, and it does not change the fact that these emails were not classified at the time they were sent or received" said Clinton Campaign Spokesman Brian Fallon. "It is alarming that the intelligence community IG, working with Republicans in Congress, continues to selectively leak materials in order to resurface the same allegations and try to hurt Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. The Justice Department's inquiry should be allowed to proceed without any further interference."
This is a demonstrable lie, via NBC News:
Two American intelligence officials tell NBC News these are not the same two emails from Clinton's server that have long been reported as containing information deemed Top Secret.
So the fight isn't over things that have already been discussed, what the IC IG is discussing is new documents.
There is another interesting facet. In the article on the emails in POLITICO you find this lengthy apologia, it comprises about one-fifth of the total article -- do a thought experiment and imagine POLITICO covering this if a Republican and devoting a quarter of the article to explaining it away via friendly but anonymous experts and the campaign spokesperson:
The Central Intelligence Agency is the agency that provided the declarations about the classified programs, another U.S. official familiar with the situation told POLITICO Wednesday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some or all of the emails deemed to implicate “special access programs” related to U.S. drone strikes. Those who sent the emails were not involved in directing or approving the strikes, but responded to the fallout from them, the official said.
The information in the emails “was not obtained through a classified product, but is considered "‘per se’ classified” because it pertains to drones, the official added. The U.S. treats drone operations conducted by the CIA as classified, even though in a 2012 internet chat Presidential Barack Obama acknowledged U.S.-directed drone strikes in Pakistan.
The source noted that the intelligence community considers information about classified operations to be classified even if it appears in news reports or is apparent to eyewitnesses on the ground. For example, U.S. officials with security clearances have been warned not to access classified information leaked to WikiLeaks and published in the New York Times.
“Even though things are in the public domain, they still retain their classification level,” the official said. “The ICIG maintains its position that it’s still ‘codeword’ classified.”
Does this sound familiar? Well it should. Back in early November, POLITICO ran a story headlined Source: Key Clinton emails did not contain highly classified secrets and subtitled 'The initial determination was based on a flawed process,' a source says. A story that led me to conclude that the fix was in before the spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said that the story was wrong and it was revealed that the FBI was now involved in determining the classification of the documents. The same reporter, Josh Gerstein, worked on both stories and obviously relied upon the same source... which I suspect is either State's Under Secretary for Management, Patrick Kennedy or someone in his office.
The explanation also has the bonus of being total moonshine and bulls*** that is plausible to the typical Starbuck's barista. We know at least two of the documents contained imagery by the SAP designation of Talent Keyhole which is product from one of the KH-series reconnaissance satellites. The assertion that anyone would classify an open source account of drone operations is just nonsense. Responding to "the fallout" from drone strikes would not necessitate the inclusion of TOP SECRET/SAP information.
Key Take Away Points
These documents are NEW documents, not the ones that have been previously reported.
These documents were stored on Hillary's server.
Some of these NEW documents are TOP SECRET/SAP which means that there are probably a half-dozen of these identified thus far.
Some of these documents are extremely sensitive.
There is no possible innocent explanation for those documents.
What the Clinton campaign response shows is that they have bunkered down and are convinced that if they cover their ears and scream la-la-la-la-la it will all go away. They are reeling and haven't even tried to develop an explanatory scenario that doesn't involve contradicting a significant amount of documentation that is becoming public. It also shows the extent to which POLITICO has compromised its coverage of the story in order to carry water for Hillary Clinton.