Hillary Clinton’s acolytes are racing to dismiss the latest allegations that classified material was cut and pasted into her emails, but this isn’t some mere oversight that can be hand-waved away with a shrug and a sad trombone honk. One doesn’t spill classified material into an unclassified system accidentally or through mere negligence. What these new revelations show—if they are true—is conduct that was conscious, intentional, and felonious as all get-out.
In basic and open-source terms, there is no one big computer system where innocuous, unclassified material shares space with classified material. They are kept on physically separate computer systems: there is the unclassified system, and there are several classified systems. They don’t connect, unless someone chooses to intentionally connect them.
When there is spillage of classified material into unclassified systems, all hell breaks loose. Well, at least it does when it’s not a friend of the administration doing the spilling.
Filching Information from a Secure Facility
Let’s take a look at what it would take to make this happen. Hillary Clinton refused to use a secure system. She wanted to use her own system because she could control it and unlawfully shield it from the prying eyes of the American people and their representatives. Her minions therefore had to deliberately act to circumvent the rules and procedures put in place to prevent people from doing exactly what Clinton wanted done.
First, someone would have to enter a secure facility—usually called a SCIF—to access a classified document on one of the secure systems. These terminals are behind locked doors with access controls and multiple security measures. You have to have the clearance to enter, and you leave your Android, iPad, laptop, and everything else with a chip outside.
Inside, you access the terminal and review the document you are working with. There are myriad warnings that you are viewing classified material. It is no surprise. So, Hillary’s minion would be knowingly examining classified information when he or she decided to break the law and send it to Hillary’s unclassified, private email server.
There are several ways one could move the classified material, each almost too horrific to contemplate to anyone who has worked with sensitive materials. You need to understand that even discussing this gives professionals the shakes. There are a lot of serious things in the national defense world, but nothing is taken more seriously than classified material. People can and do go to jail for screwing up. Well, at least the little people do.
How to Get the Secure Information Out
One way would be to download it to a portable medium, like a thumb drive. Leaving aside that you can’t bring a thumb drive anywhere near a SCIF, the USB ports on the computers are likely deactivated. You would need a technician to somehow work around that, which is in itself horrifying. The easier way would be to print the material out so you could take it somewhere else and either type or scan it into a new file on an unclassified system.
Of course, printing classified material and taking it out of the SCIF are themselves huge violations even before you get to not only reproducing it but introducing it to an unclassified system. So now the minion has contaminated the unclassified system, but there are still more steps to take and rules to break.
The minion could type text into the email, but that seems unlikely. More likely is that the minion opens the PDF of the classified document, which still retains all the classification markings. The minion then cuts and pastes some or all of the classified material, sans classification header, out of the PDF and into the body of an email, then sends it, unsecure, to Clinton’s unsecure server. This was an unsecure system where, it is important to note, she stored over a thousand documents containing classified material. And those are just the documents she didn’t delete.
Enemy Intelligence Cackles In Glee
In any case, this is not hard to show. You take the text of the suspect emails and compare them to the relevant classified documents, and if they are identical or substantially the same, you have a breach. Let’s be really clear, because Clinton has tried to be anything but: classified material does not somehow become unclassified simply because it is no longer marked due to minions cutting and pasting the text out from between the classification markings. That is not a thing.
So, Hillary gets the email, reads it outside of a SCIF, and, unless she is transcendently stupid, sees that it is sensitive material. Now, she did fail the District of Columbia bar examination, so she is no rocket scientist, but it is utterly implausible she did not understand that this material should not ever be on a server that some start-up runs out of a bathroom in Denver.
It’s equally implausible that enemy intelligence agencies also failed to recognize the nature of this material. There’s no reasonable doubt that they pillaged through it in real time.
(a) Whoever, being an officer, employee, contractor, or consultant of the United States, and, by virtue of his office, employment, position, or contract, becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified information of the United States, knowingly removes such documents or materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.
(b) For purposes of this section, the provision of documents and materials to the Congress shall not constitute an offense under subsection (a).
(c) In this section, the term ‘classified information of the United States’ means information originated, owned, or possessed by the United States Government concerning the national defense or foreign relations of the United States that has been determined pursuant to law or Executive order to require protection against unauthorized disclosure in the interests of national security.
If these new revelations are true, then it appears Hillary Clinton systematically conspired with her minions to transmit classified information from secure systems to her unsecure server. It’s not merely hard to see how she is not guilty of multiple violations of Section 1924. It’s impossible.