Author Topic: State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary  (Read 1329 times)

Wayward Son

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State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary
« on: September 30, 2019, 10:48:16 AM »
According to the Washington Post, the Trump Administration has found more classified information being sent to Hillary Clinton's private e-mail account.  How did they find these new, classified documents?  They reclassified them.

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The Trump administration is investigating the email records of dozens of current and former senior State Department officials who sent messages to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email, reviving a politically toxic matter that overshadowed the 2016 election, current and former officials said.

As many as 130 officials have been contacted in recent weeks by State Department investigators — a list that includes senior officials who reported directly to Clinton as well as others in lower-level jobs whose emails were at some point relayed to her inbox, said current and former State Department officials. Those targeted were notified that emails they sent years ago have been retroactively classified and now constitute potential security violations, according to letters reviewed by The Washington Post.

In virtually all of the cases, potentially sensitive information, now recategorized as “classified,” was sent to Clinton’s unsecure inbox.
(Emphasis mine.)

How convenient.  If you don't have enough criminal acts to warrant an arrest, create some more ex post facto.  After all, a number of the classified documents were classified after they were sent in the original investigation.  So let's make a list bigger, to make her even more guilty! :)

Quote
Those targeted began receiving letters in August, saying, “You have been identified as possibly bearing some culpability” in supposedly newly uncovered “security incidents,” according to a copy of one letter obtained by The Washington Post.

In many cases, the incidents appear to center on the sending of information attributed to foreign officials, including summaries of phone conversations with foreign diplomats — a routine occurrence among State Department employees.

There is no indication in any of the materials reviewed by The Post that the emails under scrutiny contained sensitive information about classified U.S. initiatives or programs. In one case, a former official was asked to explain dozens of messages dating back to 2009 that contained messages that foreign officials wanted relayed rapidly to Washington at a time when U.S. Foreign Service officers were equipped with BlackBerrys and other devices that were not capable of sending classified transmissions. The messages came in through “regular email” and then were forwarded through official — though unclassified — State Department channels.

In other instances officials were relaying email summaries of time-sensitive conversations with foreign leaders conducted over unclassified cellphones.

Those communications are now being “upclassified” or “reclassified,” according to several officials involved in the investigation, meaning that they have been retroactively assessed to contain material so sensitive that they should have been sent only on State Department classified systems.

Many of those who have been targeted by the probe and found “not culpable,” described it as an effort to harass diplomats for the routine conduct of their job.

scifibum

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Re: State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2019, 06:20:25 PM »
The article is confusing. If materials are retroactively classified, it might make sense for there to be a check of unclassified systems (including email) to see where that information exists and try to move it into classified systems. Such efforts would likely be automated in part.

It's also kind of routine to call information being stored improperly a "security incident".

Are people getting notified that their "Sent" folder contains retroactively classified information and being asked to take some action to correct that? Or something else? I don't think the article's author explained what these people were being asked to do.

It also seems reasonable that efforts to retroactively control sent emails are largely pointless and could be absurd. But absurdities do result from regulations and bureaucracy.

I don't feel like this is very clear.

TheDeamon

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Re: State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2019, 10:46:33 AM »
I'm pretty sure Hillary would be "grandfathered" in this case, the e-mails were unclassified at the time, so she's in the clear.

It would only be if she still had the e-mails and THEN handled to material "inappropriately" which could get her. But as the e-mails were either destroyed or turned back over to the Government, that shouldn't but much of a factor by now.

TheDeamon

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Re: State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2019, 10:49:05 AM »
The article is confusing. If materials are retroactively classified, it might make sense for there to be a check of unclassified systems (including email) to see where that information exists and try to move it into classified systems. Such efforts would likely be automated in part.

The bigger part is simple notification to "involved parties" that this particular thing you are privy to is now classified and is to be treated accordingly going forward. Doesn't do much good for National Security purposes if several of the people "in the know" are left unaware that they're not supposed to be talking about certain things outside of "proper channels."

D.W.

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Re: State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2019, 11:14:48 AM »
Didn't follow all the logic, but one report on this mentioned that this act/process was raising hell with a lot of peoples' security clearance.  They made it sound like it was a black mark by default that required affected parties to take measures to 'clear their names'.  The interview didn't dig very deep on this point though.

Wayward Son

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Re: State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2019, 11:28:58 AM »
What bothers me is, if this is so innocuous, why did the letters state that "You have been identified as possibly bearing some culpability" in the "security incidents?"

That is a warning that you may have done done some wrong in the past.  Which means that someone at the State Department considers it a possible crime that someone sent these retroactively classified documents to Hillary's server.  And is considering blaming those who sent them for doing so.

The only reason it may be confusing is because one thinks it should be logical and reasonable.  But if this is simply a way of harassing, intimidating, or possibly persecuting former Hillary aides, it becomes quite a bit more understandable. :(

Seriati

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Re: State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2019, 12:51:08 PM »
It's tough to say what's going on, I don't trust the Washington Post, they are spinners and the paper of choice for distribution of leaks by leftists.  My understanding is that "retroactive classification" is an actual process that requires that a change in circumstances make what initially was unclassified now classified, like discovering that a discovery related to a solar panel has a military application.  That can trigger changing the classification on existing emails.

Notwithstanding, the WaPo's claim, I doubt that's what happened here.  I suspect rather that the emails on Hillary's server were misclassified, and that the extensive review brought that to light.  It wouldn't be that surprising given that the State Department was pressuring everyone to lower the classification on those emails to try and save Hillary's campaign, that some of them are classified lower than they should be.  Both senders and recipients should be aware of the proper classification standard.  If the WaPo's claiming that this is "retroactive classification," they're actually misrepresenting what's going on.

But again, tough to really say based on the partisan way information is released these days.

yossarian22c

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Re: State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2019, 01:22:08 PM »
https://www.npr.org/2019/09/30/765834493/former-state-department-officials-face-questioning-over-emails-on-clinton-server

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KELEMEN: That's right, and that's the big question that a lot of these diplomats have. You know, they were a dinner conversation with a bunch of foreign officials or with a bunch of foreigners, and they were writing back to this. Why would that be classified now? And that's a question that a lot of these people are having - why they were retroactively classified. And by the way, I should mention that some were told that they were retroactively classified in 2015, 2016, before the Trump administration came to office. Others didn't know when theirs were retroactively classified.

KELLY: That's an important point. Another important point - you mentioned timing, that this picked up again last month. Do we know why? I mean, and I'll just come out and ask. Do we know if this is in any way linked to everything going on with Ukraine and the whistleblower?

KELEMEN: Well, the people that received the letters certainly think that it all is politically motivated. The State Department wouldn't comment to me about that today.

Some of this started 2015/2016 before Trump took office. It seems like there has been an escalation in this recent round but it isn't out of nowhere.

Fenring

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Re: State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2019, 01:50:58 PM »
In principle retroactive classification shouldn't be such a big deal for any government employees that sent them, assuming they were being sent to normal government email accounts. Assuming the servers on which those are kept are protected with certain security measures, retroactively classifying them would just mean that perhaps they wouldn't be as available for FOIA requests as they had been before, but it would mean nothing dangerous to those that sent them. That is, unless they had been sent to a target not under such security (such as a private server being handled by a private firm with no clearance). In such case and only in such a case could I imagine there would be a situation such as "hey, remember those emails you sent that were handled and read by that private firm? Well guess what, those contained some fairly sensitive stuff after all." And that really is an issue *if* (and that's a big if) that's what they're on about. Thousands of emails were sent to Hillary's server (just for example), and no way most of those were passed along through the NSA, FBI, CIA, or other intelligence agencies for their 2c on whether the materials therein were of a compromising nature. Since I believe Hillary worked with a personal intelligence network outside of government to gather information there's no way any of that even could have passed through intelligence first, and for stuff coming to her from within government, we already know that the standing rule was to avoid the labeling issue (classified vs not) and to just sent it to her. So those things couldn't have been vetted either, except after the fact. It would come as no surprise a few years later for it to turn out that "uh, hey! some of that was sensitive material that should be classified" and to retroactively classify it. And it's not entirely clear to me that anyone who sent such stuff that "wasn't classified at the time" is in the clear, because certain types of sensitive material (such as for example insider information on the goings on in Libya during the run-up to Ghaddafi's overthrow) should *obviously* be understood to be sensitive and 'classified-worthy' even though such a label won't actually be applied until someone from the appropriate agency actually gets to see the messages and decide on that. If their only chance to see it is years later that doesn't mean there was no security breach - and therefore wrongful activity - at the time of sending. It doesn't require an actual "top secret" label for certain information to clearly be sensitive.

Now I'm not too thrilled at the idea of a retroactive witch-hunt, mind you, but I'm likewise leery of "wasn't classified at the time so doesn't count!" That's easy to say when the messages were never sent for classification approval in the first place and thus could not possibly have been made classified even when they should have been.

Grant

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Re: State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2019, 02:07:37 PM »
Nothingburger.

Wayward Son

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Re: State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2019, 02:31:57 PM »
No one is saying that the e-mails can't or shouldn't be retroactively classified.  It happens all the time and is good for our security.

What I'm worried about is telling people that something has been retroactively classified and "You have been identified as possibly bearing some culpability" in the "security incidents."  This is an entirely different subject.  While it can be argued that the person should have known something should have a higher classification than it currently held, it is another to say that they are "culpable" of a "security incident" because they did not recognize it at the time. 

Heck, some material that has been classified is then re-classified at a later date.  Should we hold all the people who didn't realize that a classified document would be re-classified at a later date culpable in not handling the information at the later classification level?  ???

And even if it was obvious for some material that obviously should have a higher classification than it had, just how many times do you think that occurred?  A dozen times?  A hundred?  Several hundred?  Enough so that 130 people are accused of being "culpable?"  If so, there was a MAJOR problem with classifications at the time, in that they were relying on the judgement of 130 underlings to classify documents instead of those professionals trained to do so.  ::)  If there are that many that were negligent people handling classified documents and made mistakes, then there is a problem with the system, not the individuals.

Only in unusual circumstances would an individual who does not typically classify documents be held responsible for not noticing that something should have a higher classification than it holds.  Not enough for 130 people to be held "culpable."

yossarian22c

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Re: State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2019, 02:42:48 PM »
And even if it was obvious for some material that obviously should have a higher classification than it had, just how many times do you think that occurred?  A dozen times?  A hundred?  Several hundred?  Enough so that 130 people are accused of being "culpable?"  If so, there was a MAJOR problem with classifications at the time, in that they were relying on the judgement of 130 underlings to classify documents instead of those professionals trained to do so.  ::)  If there are that many that were negligent people handling classified documents and made mistakes, then there is a problem with the system, not the individuals.

Only in unusual circumstances would an individual who does not typically classify documents be held responsible for not noticing that something should have a higher classification than it holds.  Not enough for 130 people to be held "culpable."

The issue is Clinton's email server. I think none of these people would have any trouble if Clinton had been using a state dept server. The materials would have been reclassified retroactively but would have only been sent on "secure" internal systems. So they wouldn't have been mishandled only misclassified. Clinton did this to her staff, she is to blame for this. Is Trump/Pompeo potentially making this as painful as possible for them, yes, but they didn't start this ball rolling and they didn't set up Clinton's server that is the root cause of all those incidents.

scifibum

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Re: State Department "Finds" New Classified E-mails to Hillary
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2019, 03:14:47 PM »
That's a fair point yossarian.

I would still like to understand better what kind of trouble people are in here. The article referenced some people who were cleared of culpability after review. Did it come up with examples of people who were found culpable after a full review? Just scanned through it again and I'm not seeing that.

Some of the bureaucrats who feel threatened and offended by the process might be reacting to the way Republicans have consistently overblown the scandal, and want to get a dig in based on that.

The article is poorly structured, jumping back and forth between different points of view in a way that doesn't seem to have any narrative value.

If it's true that people aren't getting punished in any way, and the process is set up to protect against political bias, then it's just a hassle, indeed Hillary's fault, and it shouldn't concern us too much at this point (except that we all rue the expense and time lost to this issue).