The Corner

Politics & Policy

More on Psaki’s Spin

Over on the homepage today, I discuss the increasingly dubious spin offered by State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki as to why Hillary Clinton (apparently) did not fill out the Separation Statement required of every Department employee upon resignation. One of the reasons is that there is a “long tradition” of secretaries getting access to their records after leaving office to write books. That is true, but entirely irrelevant. The State Department’s internal regulations explicitly address this special access, providing a process whereby the secretary must request and receive permission for controlled access after leaving office. And then, the secretary is given access at the State Department. The secretary is not, as Ms. Psaki seems to suggest, permitted to take whatever she likes home with her when leaving the Department. So this “memoirs excuse” offers no justification for failing to comply with standard exit procedures, including the requirement that the employee attest (on Form OF-109) that she has left all official records in the control of the Department upon separation.

For those really interested in minutiae (which apparently doesn’t include Ms. Psaki), here’s the text of the rule permitting post-employment access by a former secretary (apparently adopted while Mrs. Clinton was secretary, given its origin date of 5-14-2010).

12 FAM 536.2-1 Department of State Records

For the Department, former Presidential appointees may apply to the Office of Freedom of Information, Privacy and Classification Review to the Office of Information Programs and Services, (A/GIS/IPS) for access to those documents which they originated, reviewed, signed, or received while serving as Presidential appointees, provided that all of the following conditions are satisfied:

(1) DS/SI/PSS makes the determination that granting access to the intended recipient is consistent with the interests of national security and that the intended recipient is trustworthy. Access will be limited to categories of information over which the agency has classification jurisdiction;

(2) The intended recipient agrees in writing to safeguard the information from unauthorized disclosure in a manner consistent with applicable statutes and regulations;

(3) The intended recipient agrees in writing to authorize the review of notes and manuscripts for the purpose of determining that no classified information is contained therein;

(4) The intended recipient agrees in writing that the information involved will not be further disseminated without the express permission of the agency;

(5) The information requested is reasonably accessible and can be located and compiled with a reasonable amount of effort. Otherwise, A/GIS/IPS will charge fees to assemble the information, in accordance with the schedule in 22 CFR 171.6;

(6) Any individual or research assistant requiring access on behalf of the intended recipient must also meet all of the above conditions. Such personal assistants must be authorized to be working for the former appointee exclusively and not gathering information for publication on their own;

(7) Information compiled by research assistants is similarly subject to all conditions enumerated above; and

(8) Upon request, such information as the recipient may identify will be reviewed for declassification in accordance with the provisions of these regulations.

Shannen W. Coffin is a contributing editor to National Review. He practices appellate law in Washington, D.C.

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