DonkeyHotey via Flickr Creative Commons image 16690863566_a1dae87e2f_o

We can infer from the increasing frequency leaks about the investigation into Hillary Clinton purloining US government secrets and storing them on a private server, a server that was provided with neither physical nor cyber security, that was accessible to her cronies in the Clinton Foundation, that said investigation is gathering steam and may be approaching a climax.

Just a brief recap.

Two days ago, the Intelligence Community Inspector General, aka IC IG, reported that “several dozen” documents classified CONFIDENTIAL and higher had been found on Clinton’s server. Some of those documents were TOP SECRET and additionally classified as “special access programs”, or SAP, which is used to protect the most sensitive US intelligence. And we were told that these new TOP SECRET documents were not the same two documents that were revealed last summer.

Anonymous sources, which I suspect are centered around State Department fixer and Clinton consigliere, Patrick Kennedy, began leaking that the IC IG had mindlessly classified newspaper accounts that happened to refer to material that was already classified. They have already tried this once before, an anonymous source claimed that the first two documents had been erroneously classified at a high level.

Then the Clinton campaign accused the IC IG, an Obama administration political appointee, of colluding with GOP senators to embarrass Clinton. Though it seems like the Clinton campaign may have decided that particular dog just wasn’t going to hunt:

Yesterday, the anonymous sources crawled out of the woodwork again:

The classified material included in the latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails flagged by an internal watchdog involved discussions of CIA drone strikes, which are among the worst kept secrets in Washington, senior U.S. officials briefed on the matter tell NBC News.

The officials say the emails included relatively “innocuous” conversations by State Department officials about the CIA drone program, which technically is considered a “Special Access Program” because officials are briefed on it only if they have a “need to know.”

One of those involved a drone strike, and the other was related to North Korea. The State Department argues that the North Korea email, written by Kurt Campbell, then assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was not classified because they say it was based on public sources, not intelligence information.

The term “special access program” is commonly associated with the military, but the inspector general’s latest letter used it to refer to the CIA drone program, officials said.

This story is totally bulls***. One doesn’t know whether the NBC reporter is simply acting as a stenographer or is deliberately passing on misleading information. There are no possible set of circumstances where anyone is going to point to open source information, like from a magazine account, appearing in an otherwise unclassified email and say it is TOP SECRET and not only not stop there but further compromise the collection source. That anyone could believe this beggars the imagination. That simply is not how the system works. When classified material appears in a public source you do everything possible to not draw attention to it.

This is simply the same coterie of Hillary Clinton defenders blowing smoke up the butts of completely compromised and credulous reporters. The next clip shows how profoundly stupid the proffered defense is:

A source with knowledge of the intelligence review told Fox News that senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, despite having high-level clearances, are among those not authorized to read the intelligence from so-called “special access programs” without taking additional security steps — like signing new non-disclosure agreements.

These programs are highly restricted to protect intelligence community sources and methods.

As Fox News previously reported, a Jan. 14 letter from Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III to senior lawmakers said an intelligence review identified “several dozen” additional classified emails — including specific intelligence from “special access programs” (SAP).

That indicates a level of classification beyond even “top secret,” the label previously given to two emails found on her server, and brings even more scrutiny to the Democratic presidential candidate’s handling of the government’s closely held secrets.

Fox News is told that the reviewers who handled the SAP intelligence identified in Clinton’s emails had to sign additional non-disclosure agreements even though they already have the highest level of clearance — known as TS/SCI or Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented information. This detail was first reported by NBC News.

This alone seems to undercut the former secretary of state’s and other officials’ claims that the material is “innocuous.”

Ummm, yeah. It does.

To believe the story the anonymous Clinton supporters are spinning you have to believe that the IC IG is willing to compromise highly secret collection sources and methods for the sole purpose of bringing down Hillary Clinton. There is no way possible the manager of any TS/SCI-code word program is going to read into the program random members of Congress in order to show them information that was gleaned from the pages of the New York Times or similar publication. It is not going to happen.

And this from The Hill:

As more information from Hillary Clinton’s server has been made available, it is clear that the contents of the server contained Imagery Intelligence (IMINT), Human Intelligence (HUMINT), and Signal Intelligence (SIGINT). Understanding that much of the information has been retroactively classified, there are a few facts that are tough to grasp—at least from the perspective of an intelligence practitioner.

First, when imagery that is classified SECRET//NOFORN (no foreign national) is viewed, regardless of the absence of classification markings, it is distinctly evident. Second, any documents that contain or reference HUMINT is always classified SECRET, and if specific names of sources or handlers are mentioned, they are at a minimum SECRET//NOFORN. Third, SIGINT is always classified at the TS level. It’s not uncommon for some SI to be downgraded and shared over SECRET mediums, however, it is highly unlikely that a Secretary of State would receive downgraded intelligence. Finally, SAP intelligence has been discovered on Clinton’s private server, and many are now calling this the smoking gun. SAP is a specialized management system of additional security controls designed to protect SAR or Special Access Required. SAR has to do with extremely perishable operational methods and capabilities, and only selected individuals who are “read on” or “indoctrinated” are permitted access to these programs. The mishandling of SAP can cause catastrophic damage to current collection methods, techniques and personnel.

No. The information Hillary Clinton possessed (and the next time I read “it is unclear if Clinton sent or received the information” as though that was exculpatory, I will scream) was not innocuous. It was highly sensitive. It was sent over an unsecure system. It was stored on a device that was vulnerable not only to hacking and theft, but the device was configured to give unauthorized individuals access to the information.

Hillary Clinton may end up being “too big to jail.” But that isn’t because she doesn’t belong there.

Follow our coverage of the Hillary Clinton email saga here.