It was known already that Clinton had sent at least seven emails through her unsecured private system containing information that is classified or was at the time. (There could be many more still undiscovered.) But on Tuesday night, Senate investigators revealed that two of these contained information that is “Top Secret.” The FBI is finally taking control of her server, and her candidacy is on the precipice.
Clinton, who previously maintained that she had sent no classified information at all by email, sent top-secret information that is classified as “Sensitive Compartmented” and “Talent Keyhole,” meaning it had to do with top-secret satellite imagery. When government officials with the proper classification want to process, look at or even discuss materials like the ones Clinton sent through her insecure home-based email system, they must do so within special secure government facilities where phones and other possible recording devices are prohibited.
There is no way to spin this one: Clinton broke the law. Her campaign now absurdly tells everyone that the FBI is investigating her conduct, not her — a distinction without a difference.
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Her campaign released a panicky memo invoking nearly every possible excuse and pointing fingers in every direction except her own. It mentioned, for example, the completely irrelevant fact that Jeb Bush, as governor of Florida, had his own private email server.
More importantly, the memo argues that some of the information Clinton sent by email had not been marked “classified” at the time she sent it. This just won’t wash. Any sensitive information obtained by the intelligence community is supposed to be treated as classified, whether or not it has been formally labeled as such, until determined otherwise. Clinton knew this.
The fact that Clinton exposed classified material at all indicates incompetence and carelessness, as we have previously noted. But the fact that some of this information has since been given such a highly secret classification suggests she really, really should have known better.
Surely, Clinton never wanted to become a national security threat, let alone a subject of an FBI criminal investigation. But she made the choice when she decided she was above the rules that apply to all other employees at the State Department.
Clinton chose to hide her emails from the department over which she presided, and from the public, for years after she wrote them. In the months since this fact was revealed, she and her campaign have told repeated falsehoods in an effort to defend that original bad decision. To cut through the lies is to find a systematic, flagrant violation of State Department rules and federal records laws and regulations, evincing dishonesty and a lack of transparency. But the leak of top secret information is worse than any of that.
Consider, on the one hand, the painstaking measures that Clinton took to keep her correspondence away from the prying eyes of her employers — the public. Compare that to the reckless manner in which she treated the nation’s secrets, with which she was entrusted. That should make her priorities quite clear.