Friday, July 24, 2015

Does Mrs. Clinton Have Another Missing Form, Redux

Hillary Clinton's e-mail scandal--like a bad computer virus--simply won't go away.

The latest revelation merely confirms what many have suspected from the start: Mrs. Clinton's private e-mail network--clearly designed to evade government archiving and accountability rules--was used to send classified information.  According to The Wall Street Journal, the Intelligence Community Inspector General has found at least four e-mails that contained SECRET-level material when they were sent, and that information remains classified to this day.

As the Journal reports, the IG has reviewed only about 40 of the 30,000 e-mails that have been turned over by the former Secretary of State.  If that sample is any indication, then Mrs. Clinton and her associates may have sent literally thousands of messages containing classified information over her private e-mail network that was far less secure than NIPRNET, the government network that was created to transmit sensitive, but unclassified information.  Appropriately enough, NIPRNET is now referred to as the Sensitive but Unclassified IP Data Network, reflecting its intended use.

The government also has SIPRNET, a separate network that can handle SECRET information (the service was later renamed the Secret IP Service) and JWICS, which transmits information at the Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (TS/SCI) level.  As a cabinet secretary, Mrs. Clinton had access to information from all three networks, along with thousands of other government employees with the proper security clearance and a need-to-know.

But this resurrects a question we first posed back in March: how was Secretary Clinton accessing information from these systems?  Normally, someone cleared to the TS/SCI level (and beyond) would have a minimum of three government e-mail accounts, one for NIPRNET, one for SIPRNET and one for JWICS (we'll stick with the old designations, since most users still use them in referring to the networks).  Officially, there is no record of Mrs. Clinton ever establishing such accounts during her tenure at Foggy Bottom, but then again, her friends in the press corps haven't exactly pressed the issue.

In fact, a FOIA request to the Special Security Office (SSO) at State could, potentially, clear up much of the mystery.  As a sitting U.S. Senator, Mrs. Clinton had a TS/SCI clearance when she arrived at the department.  Records from the SSO would reflect her "transfer-in-status" (a term used to describe a cleared individual moving from one position to another), along with her signature on the Standard Form 312, the Classified Information Non-Disclosure Agreement.

We detailed the importance of that document four months ago:

"...It's a document signed by anyone who has been granted access to classified information, including government employees, military personnel, political appointees, elected officials (and anyone else with a security clearance).  By signing the SF 312, individuals promise to never divulge classified information to other organizations, groups or individuals without determining they have a need for the information and the required clearance.

Additionally, signatories of the SF-312 acknowledge acknowledge that the "unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized retention, or negligent handling of classified information by me could cause damage or irreparable injury to the United States or could be used to advantage by a foreign nation."  They also enter into a binding agreement that requires them to return all classified information upon leaving their position, as detailed in various federal statutes:

"I shall return all classified materials which have, or may come into my possession or for which I am responsible because of such access: (a) upon demand by an authorized representative of the United States Government; (b) upon the conclusion of my employment or other relationship with the Department or Agency that last granted me a security clearance or that provided me access to classified information; or (c) upon the conclusion of my employment or other relationship that requires access to classified information. If I do not return such materials upon request, I understand that this may be a violation of sections 793 and/or 1924, title 18, United States Code, a United States criminal law."     


But there's one more interesting portion of the Standard Form 312, found in the last section of the document, the Security Debriefing Acknowledgement:

"I reaffirm that the provisions of the espionage laws, other federal criminal laws and executive orders applicable to the safeguarding of classified information have been made available to me; that I have returned all classified information in my custody; that I will not communicate or transmit classified information to any unauthorized person or organization; that I will promptly report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation any attempt by an unauthorized person to solicit classified information, and that I (have) (have not) (strike out inappropriate word or words) received a security debriefing."

That final paragraph is important, since employees must acknowledge receipt (or non-receipt) of a security briefing, covering all the rules on non-disclosure and return of classified material listed on the form.  Signing the SF-312 is one of the last acts before a person leaves a job that requires access to classified information.  Before departing the State Department for the last time, Mrs. Clinton should have received the required security briefing and it should be documented on the SF-312--the same form she also signed upon entering the job.  

The SF-312 isn't some rare or optional document.  It is part of security clearance folder for anyone who has ever had access to classified information, including former political leaders and cabinet officials.  And, the requirements for protecting and returning classified information are clearly germaine to the current Clinton controversy.  So, where is Hillary's Clinton's SF-312?  There should be a copy on file at the State Department's Special Security Office (SSO), and readily accessible by department officials."

As we noted in March, Mrs. Clinton's actions clearly put her at odds with the legal requirements outlined on the SF-312.  Obviously, she had access to highly classified information--including some of the "crown jewels" of U.S. intelligence; what remains unclear is whether she accessed the information directly (via her own SIPRNET or JWICS account), or read it in the cables, summaries and analyses that routinely crossed her desk.  

And, according to the Intelligence Community IG, some of that information made its way onto her private e-mail network and may have shared it with at least one individual who did not have an active security clearance.  We refer to Sidney Blumenthal, the long-time Clinton confidante who was denied a State Department position by the Obama White House.  E-mails previously released show that Mr. Blumenthal routinely provided intelligence assessments to Secretary Clinton, using his own contacts.  The WSJ report did not specify in Blumenthal was among the recipients of e-mails containing classified material.  

Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting that the Intelligence Community IG (along with his counter-part at the State Department) have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive information was "mishandled" in connection with Mrs. Clinton's private e-mail account.  So far, Justice has not determined if it will follow that recommendation.  

This is hardly good news for the Clinton campaign, but don't hold your breath waiting for an indictment. Lest we forget, Hillary was Mr. Obama's Secretary of State when she elected to flaunt federal rules on the archiving and retention of official documents--and for good measure, laws governing the handling and transmission of classified information.  Some of those e-mails went to other members of the Obama Administration, which clearly doesn't want a full accounting of how much classified data was disseminated through the domain.  So, expect the request for a criminal probe to get the slow-roll treatment; the e-mail inquiry will be placed on the "to-do" list, just behind a full accounting of the Lois Lerner/IRS scandal.                  



1 comment:

Vigilis said...

Gee, Nate, maybe Hillary also only had alleged "copies" of classified data. Will Hillary, also have the decency to give up her license to practice law?

"In April 2005, ]lawyer Sandy] Berger pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material from the National Archives in Washington.[15] According to the lead prosecutor in the case, Berger only took copies of classified information and no original material was destroyed. Berger was fined $50,000,[16] sentenced to serve two years of probation and 100 hours of community service, and stripped of his security clearance for 3 years.[15][17] The Justice Department initially said Berger stole only copies of classified documents and not originals.[18] But the House Government Reform Committee later revealed that an unsupervised Berger had been given access to classified files of original, uncopied, uninventoried documents on terrorism. During the House Government Reform Committee hearings, Nancy Kegan Smith acknowledged that she had granted Berger access to original materials in her office."