In last weekend’s column, I outlined why the damage to national security caused by Hillary Clinton’s reckless mishandling of classified information is so great as to be incalculable. Because Mrs. Clinton’s e-mail system was non-secure, the intelligence community must assume that it was penetrated by hostile foreign intelligence operatives – who, after all, manage to hack into even the government’s secure systems. When even a single national defense secret is deemed to have been compromised – a piece of information, a covert method of obtaining information, a human operative risking his or her life to provide our government with information – intelligence analysts must assume the worst: i.e., that covers have been blown, operations have been corrupted, and lives are in danger.
Here we are not talking about just one secret. To date, 1,600 Clinton e-mails containing classified information have been found.
Moreover, as I elaborated, the intelligence catastrophe is not confined to Mrs. Clinton’s own e-mails. There are also “e-mail ‘trains,’ communications involving several exchanges and multiple participants — as to which it will be difficult, if not impossible, to calculate how often and how widely recipients forwarded the information.”
Today, Fox News’s Catherine Herridge and Pamela K. Browne report report stunning news on that front:
At least a dozen email accounts handled the “top secret” intelligence that was found on Hillary Clinton’s server and recently deemed too damaging for national security to release, a U.S. government official close to the review told Fox News.
The official said the accounts include not only Clinton’s but those of top aides – including Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan and Philippe Reines – as well as State Department Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy and others. There is no public evidence they were authorized to receive the intelligence some of which was beyond Top Secret.
A second source not authorized to speak on the record said the number of accounts involved could be as high as 30 and reflects how the intelligence was broadly shared, replied to, and copied to individuals using the unsecured server.
The magnitude of this security breach is staggering – and impossible to quantify. Whether the number of private, non-secure e-mail accounts through which classified information was transmitted and stored is twelve on the low end or 30 on the high, there is no telling how widely the information was disseminated.
Note, furthermore, the Fox report’s assertion that “There is no public evidence they [i.e., the people who received classified information on private accounts] were authorized to receive the intelligence.”
It has been a little discussed point in this scandal that highly classified information is accessible to government officials only on a “need to know” basis. That means: even if an official has a security clearance, as former-Secretary Clinton’s top staffers and other relevant subordinates undoubtedly did, that does not entitle the official to have access to all secret intelligence. The official has to be “read into” the program – i.e., be one of the circle of officials who has been adjudged to have a need to know the information.
Consequently, as we broaden the scope of our attention from Mrs. Clinton to the many other officials who apparently were given access to information because of her private server system, we can see that the problem is not just that classified information was unlawfully removed from its secure government repository (creating a high risk of hacking by foreign hostiles). There is also the matter of government officials (and who knows who else) who were not cleared to have access to the information but were nevertheless given access through the exchange of private e-mails – which is also a felony.
As Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey observes, the inclusion of Patrick Kennedy among the officials sharing classified information via private accounts is significant:
Kennedy was in charge of security decisions at State during the months leading up to the Benghazi attack, ultimately bypassing security requirements for the consulate and denying requests for more resources. Kennedy should have understood the nature of the information passing through as many as 30 different e-mail accounts and taken steps to secure the data. This once again raises the point that Hillary’s e-mail server could hardly have been that secret. And it clearly wasn’t.
No it wasn’t: as I’ve recently related, President Obama was well aware of it, too – and some 18 e-mails he exchanged with Clinton via her private account are being withheld by the Obama administration.
The misconduct here is patent. The damage Hillary Clinton has done to our national security is incalculable. It is surreal that, as we read these damning reports, she is actually running for president.