Did Hillary Make Unauthorized Release Of Classified Information On Bin Laden Raid?
In its initial release of hacked emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta last Friday, Wikileaks included an extraordinary document so full of revelations that journalists are still finding new material in its depths.
Among the most explosive are quotes from a Nov. 4, 2013 speech to London Drugs in Toronto, Canada, where she appeared to reveal classified details – including sources and methods – of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
In her rambling account of how the “analysts and collectors and good old-fashioned spies were gathering bits and pieces of information,” Mrs. Clinton boasted that the key to allowing the U.S. to track Bin Laden to Abbottabad, Pakistan, was an NSA intercept of a cellphone call from a former Bin Laden bodyguard.
“He had just made a phone call,” she said. “Then we need to follow him. And that is how we found this compound in Abbottabad.”
I suppose Mrs. Clinton figured it was the kind of sexy detail former government officials get paid $250,000 to include in a speech.
The New York Post first noticed the bin Laden information on Sunday, but buried it in a longer account on the Wall Street transcripts.
FoxNews National Security correspondent Catherine Herridge worked her sources at the CIA on Tuesday, but they refused to comment whether the disclosure had been “authorized.”
Without official authorization, the leak by Mrs. Clinton of sources and methods of the Bin Laden investigation would be an open and shut violation of U.S. criminal statutes. For example, 18 U.S. Code §798 punishes anyone who “knowingly and willfully communicates… any classified information… concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States.”
The U.S. government has indicted former NSA consultant Edward Snowden under the same statute, and has prosecuted a number of intelligence officers in recent years for similar offenses.
The almost casual release of highly classified intelligence information in a paid speech is just another example of Mrs. Clinton’s disregard for our nation’s secrets and her duty to protect them.
The FBI reported that its investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s private email server found 81 email chains that “contained classified information ranging from the CONFIDENTIAL to TOP SECRET/SPECIAL ACCESS PROGRAM levels at the time they were sent between 2009-2013.” Clinton staffers presumably stripped the classified headers off those emails before sending them to Mrs. Clinton, since the FBI found only three emails that still bore classified markings.
Mrs. Clinton, of course, was not the first to reveal classified details of the hunt for Bin Laden.
Just days after the night-time raid that killed Bin Laden, Vice President Joe Biden publicly applauded “our brave Navy SEALs” for killing Bin Laden.
As I wrote in Dark Forces: the Truth About What Happened in Benghazi, Biden’s loose lips outraged then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who publicly chastised him for putting family members of the Navy SEALs in danger.
Six weeks later, at an awards ceremony at CIA Headquarters on June 24, 2011, then CIA director Leon Panetta disclosed the specific unit that had carried out the raid and its commander, even though a producer of the Hollywood film Zero Dark Thirty was present. Family members of SEAL Team 6 members on board Extortion 17, the call-sign for a Special Forces helicopter that was shot down by the Taliban on August 6, 2011 in Afghanistan’s Tangi valley, have blamed Biden and Panetta for their revelations.
The 80-page document of “flags” from Hillary Clinton’s previously “secret” paid speeches was compiled by her speaker’s bureau, the Harry Winston Agency (“HWA”), into an alphabetized list of subjects, ranging from “Awkward” to “Wall Street,” and included Hillary’s position statements on “helping corporations.”
In the cover email, sent to John Podesta, Jennifer Pamieri and other top aides in January, Hillary aide Tony Carrk singled out eleven broad areas where Mrs. Clinton’s statements appeared to be at variance with her campaign positions and required “an extra scrub with Policy.”
Carrk apparently didn’t consider the Bin Laden comments noteworthy enough to include in those highlights, which is why it has taken reporters so long to comb through the lengthy attachment.
The Bin Laden comments can be found in a section titled “Government Surveillance.” The staffers at the speaker’s bureau who pulled the quote from her remarks to the Canadian drug group headlined it, “Hillary Clinton Said Bin Laden Was Found By Intercepting A Phone Call, Not From A Walk in Tip.”
Protecting sources and methods is one of the most serious obligations of anyone in government with access to classified information, because divulging them can get people killed.
Mrs. Clinton has shown by her behavior that she is not trustworthy and should not be given access to classified information in the future. That alone should disqualify her from the presidency.