BUCKNACKT'S SORDID TAWDRY BLOG
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NORTON META TAG
09 September 2016
Hillary Clinton says none of her emails had classification headers & WaPo Editorial: 'The Hillary Clinton Email Story is Out of Control' 7SEP16
During an NBC forum that focused on the presidential candidates’ national security chops, host Matt Lauer asked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton why it isn’t disqualifying that she dealt with highly sensitive material on a private, unclassified email system.
Clinton said she made a mistake using the system, but she still took classification seriously.
"I have a lot of experience dealing with classified material, starting when I was on the Senate Armed Services Committee going into the four years as secretary of state," she said. "Classified material has a header which says ‘top secret, secret, confidential.’ Nothing, and I will repeat this, and this is verified in the report by the Department of Justice, none of the emails sent or received by me had such a header."
Given that we’ve found Clinton’s email did contain some classified information, this statement intrigued us.
Information isn’t classified until a designated authority within the government declares it classified. The way that person shows their determination is by adding a header and footer to the relevant document, often tacking on a cover sheet, too — all to make it clear that the document contains classified information.
Clinton is correct that the FBI did not find any such labels in her emails.
Of the tens of thousands of emails the FBI reviewed, 81 email chains found on Clinton’s private servers included classified information, as determined by various U.S. intelligence agencies, according to a FBI report released Sept. 2. Just three email chains included some sort of classification marking: At least one paragraph preceded by the marking "(C)," indicating that those paragraphs were "confidential," the lowest level of classification. But none of the three had a header, footer or cover page further signaling that the emails contained confidential information.
Even though there was a "(C)" preceding the paragraphs, this information was not properly marked confidential because it did not include the header, FBI Director James Comey said in a July 7 hearing before Congress. It’s "reasonable," he said, that Clinton may not have realized these were classified.
For Clinton’s part, she told the FBI that "she did not know what the "(C)" meant at the beginning of the paragraphs and speculated it was referencing paragraphs marked in alphabetical order," according to the bureau’s report. She also disputed the need for these particular paragraphs to be classified at all.
So that’s three email chains out of 81 found to include classified information on Clinton’s private email server. What about the other 78?
Clinton, in her statement, said classified material has a header that says "classified" and that none her emails had that header. But that leaves out the possibility of what happened in this case — classified information is left unlabeled as a result of human error.
All information determined to be classified should have a header in order to designate it properly. But if someone makes a mistake and forgets to include the label after that original determination, the information is still classified.
"In that case, the information was classified, but in the absence of markings, the person receiving the information may have no realistic way of knowing that fact," said Liza Goitein, co-director of the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice.
" ‘Classified’ isn’t an inherent or self-evident status. It’s an act," she said. "And that act is rather meaningless if not conveyed to others."
Comey has said it’s understandable that Clinton did not realize some of this unmarked information was classified. But he also has said she should have recognized by the topic of discussion that some of these emails did not belong on a non-classified system, given that 36 of these email chains had "secret" information and eight had "top secret" information.
"There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about the matters should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation," Comey said in a July 5 statement.
For example, some of these email discussions touched on the CIA’s drone program. Members of Clinton’s staff told the FBI that some of this supposedly classified drone-related information had already been revealed to the public in news reports.
Clinton regularly dealt with classified information as secretary of state. She has said she viewed classified information in hard copy in her office, and she used other secure channels when traveling. Some emails now made public actually show Clinton’s team discussing how they couldn’t email each other classified information over the private server and instead had to move the conversation to a more appropriate venue.
In the end, Comey said the Justice Department shouldn’t prosecute Clinton because there isn’t enough evidence that she intentionally mishandled classified information, nor did investigators find vast quantities of exposed classified material.
Many transparency experts say the government regularly over-classifies, such as classifying information that wouldn’t actually damage national security if released. That’s likely the case regarding Clinton’s emails, said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which favors less classification.
"The point is there's no objective standard for classification," Blanton said. "Very little of what's classified would be deemed so by all experienced observers."
Clinton said, "Classified material has a header which says ‘top secret, secret, confidential.’ Nothing, and I will repeat this, and this is verified in the reports by the Department of Justice, none of the emails sent or received by me had such a header."
For information to be considered properly marked classified, it must contain a header. Clinton is correct that nothing in her email had a header signifying its classification status. Three email chains had a "(C)" indicating "confidential" information, but that is not enough to consider the emails properly marked classified.
But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any classified information in her email. If someone has determined information to be classified, it is still technically classified even if someone neglects to label it down the line. The FBI found 81 email chains that contained information determined to be classified, though none of the information was appropriately labeled, so it wasn’t necessarily obvious to the recipients.
Clinton’s carefully worded statement is accurate but needs additional information. For that, we rate her claim Mostly True.
Editor's note: The original version of this fact-check ended with the definition of Half True. The fact-check has been revised to include the definition of Mostly True.
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Democratic presidential nominee
"Classified material has a header which says ‘top-secret, secret, confidential.’ Nothing, and I will repeat this and this is verified in the report by the Department of Justice, none of the emails sent or received by me had such a header."
NBC Commander-in-Chief forum – Wednesday, September 7, 2016
JUDGING BY the amount of time NBC’s Matt Lauer spent pressing Hillary Clinton on her emails during Wednesday’s national security presidential forum, one would think that her homebrew server was one of the most important issues facing the country this election. It is not. There are a thousand other substantive issues — from China’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea to National Security Agency intelligence-gathering to military spending — that would have revealed more about what the candidates know and how they would govern. Instead, these did not even get mentioned in the first of 5½ precious prime-time hours the two candidates will share before Election Day, while emails took up a third of Ms. Clinton’s time.
Sadly, Mr. Lauer’s widely panned handling of the candidate forum was not an aberration. Judging by polls showing that voters trust Mr. Trump more than Ms. Clinton, as well as other evidence, it reflects a common shorthand for this election articulated by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick last week: “You have Donald Trump, who’s openly racist,” he said. Then, of Ms. Clinton: “I mean, we have a presidential candidate who’s deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me, because if that was any other person, you’d be in prison.”
In fact, Ms. Clinton’s emails have endured much more scrutiny than an ordinary person’s would have, and the criminal case against her was so thin that charging her would have been to treat her very differently. Ironically, even as the email issue consumed so much precious airtime, several pieces of news reported Wednesday should have taken some steam out of the story. First is a memo FBI Director James B. Comey sent to his staff explaining that the decision not to recommend charging Ms. Clinton was “not a cliff-hanger” and that people “chest-beating” and second-guessing the FBI do not know what they are talking about. Anyone who claims that Ms. Clinton should be in prison accuses, without evidence, the FBI of corruption or flagrant incompetence.
Second is the emergence of an email exchange between Ms. Clinton and former secretary of state Colin Powell in which he explained that he used a private computer and bypassed State Department servers while he ran the agency, even when communicating with foreign leaders and top officials. Mr. Powell attempted last month to distance himself from Ms. Clinton’s practices, which is one of the many factors that made the email story look worse. Now, it seems, Mr. Powell engaged in similar behavior.
Last is a finding that 30 Benghazi-related emails that were recovered during the FBI email investigation and recently attracted big headlines had nothing significant in them. Only one, in fact, was previously undisclosed, and it contained nothing but a compliment from a diplomat. But the damage of the “30 deleted Benghazi emails” story has already been done.
Ms. Clinton is hardly blameless. She treated the public’s interest in sound record-keeping cavalierly. A small amount of classified material also moved across her private server. But it was not obviously marked as such, and there is still no evidence that national security was harmed. Ms. Clinton has also admitted that using the personal server was a mistake. The story has vastly exceeded the boundaries of the facts.
Imagine how history would judge today’s Americans if, looking back at this election, the record showed that voters empowered a dangerous man because of . . . a minor email scandal. There is no equivalence between Ms. Clinton’s wrongs and Mr. Trump’s manifest unfitness for office.