The Corner

Clinton E-mail Scandal Update — Is Sidney Blumenthal in Trouble?

I would urge everyone to read John Schindler’s Friday piece in The Observer, highlighting recent developments in Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal. It’s well worth your time, but I’d like to highlight this portion, where Schindler claims to “confirm” earlier reporting that Clinton pal Sidney Blumenthal sent a word-for-word copy of highly-classified information to Clinton’s unsecured e-mail:

Now, over two months later, I can confirm that the contents of Sid Blumenthal’s June 8, 2011, email to Hillary Clinton, sent to her personal, unclassified account, were indeed based on highly sensitive NSA information. The agency investigated this compromise and determined that Mr. Blumenthal’s highly detailed account of Sudanese goings-on, including the retelling of high-level conversations in that country, was indeed derived from NSA intelligence.

Specifically, this information was illegally lifted from four different NSA reports, all of them classified “Top Secret / Special Intelligence.” Worse, at least one of those reports was issued under the GAMMA compartment, which is an NSA handling caveat that is applied to extraordinarily sensitive information (for instance, decrypted conversations between top foreign leadership, as this was). GAMMA is properly viewed as a SIGINT Special Access Program, or SAP, several of which from the CIA Ms. Clinton compromised in another series of her “unclassified” emails.

Currently serving NSA officials have told me they have no doubt that Mr. Blumenthal’s information came from their reports. “It’s word-for-word, verbatim copying,” one of them explained. “In one case, an entire paragraph was lifted from an NSA report” that was classified Top Secret / Special Intelligence.

If true, this report highlights the extent to which close Clinton friends and confidantes may soon find themselves in serious legal jeopardy. Clinton’s extraordinarily selfish act — her insistence on setting up a private server and a special, for-herself-only communications protocol — meant that her inner circle was inevitably ensnared. If she insisted on communicating with her own devices – and simultaneously demanded timely intelligence information — then aides would constantly encounter a choice between following the law and obeying Hillary. 

As the FBI investigation winds towards its conclusion, the first shoe to drop may be an indictment of one or more of Clinton’s aides. Arresting aides would be less politically explosive than initially indicting Clinton, and any subsequent cooperation with the government could make it extraordinarily difficult for the Obama administration to shield Hillary herself. The endgame is approaching.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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