The Corner

Law & the Courts

Here We Go: Information in Hillary Clinton’s Emails ‘Born Classified’

Everyone should have seen this coming:

Dozens of emails that passed through Hillary Clinton’s server during her time as secretary of state reportedly contained information automatically considered classified by the U.S. government and State Department’s own regulations.

According to Reuters, at least 30 e-mail threads dating from as far back as 2009 contained what the State Department describes as “foreign government information.” That number represents scores of individual emails that have already been made public, including 17 sent by Clinton herself. At least one of those emails was sent to longtime supporter Sidney Blumenthal, who did not hold a government position at the time.

The report says that the State Department identified the emails as containing “foreign government information” when it retroactively classified them upon their release earlier this year. However, the regulations say that such information, defined as having been provided orally or in writing to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts in confidence, must be “presumed” classified, regardless of whether it is initially marked that way.

Clinton’s insistence that she’s only responsible for protecting “marked” classified information is complete nonsense. She knows it’s nonsense, and everybody who’s ever handled classified information knows it’s nonsense. There are kinds and categories of information that are presumed classified from the start, and it is simply not the case that you can forward that info around on AOL, Gmail, or the less-secure bathroom system hosting clintonemail.com until a bureaucrat gets around to embedding the “classified” stamp. For example, every single day in a war zone you’re flooded with information in real time that you know is classified simply through overall context, the precise nature of the information, or the sources involved. Caution is the default approach. But not for Hillary Clinton.

State Department officials, bless their hearts, are still circling the wagons around Hillary. For now, anyway:

Reuters said the State Department disputed the report’s analysis, but declined to say how it was incorrect.

Translation: we’re not selling her out yet, but if someone else gets in the race – like a Joe Biden or an Elizabeth Warren – then give us a call back. We may have a different story to tell.

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