Last week Hillary Clinton was blaming Republicans for her email scandal woes; this week she’s blaming the federal government and its “ridiculous classification rules.”
The Democratic presidential candidate sent a tweet early Friday morning which linked to a Politico article and called the government’s classification protocols “the real problem.”
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 21, 2015
The new messaging strategy comes just hours after Clinton’s email claims were dealt another severe blow. Reuters found 17 emails that the former secretary of state sent from her personal account which contained information which was “born classified.”
That means that the nature of the information contained in the emails — “foreign government information” — was classified as soon as it was written or spoken.
Clinton has made several claims about classified information as it relates to her personal email account, which was hosted on a private email server. When the scandal broke in March, she said that she never sent or received classified information through email. When the Intelligence Community Inspector General found two emails that had “top secret” information in them at the time they were sent, Clinton changed her claim, saying that she never sent or received emails that were “marked” classified at the time.
The State Department placed a 1.4(b) redaction on some of Clinton’s emails upon their release. That’s the code which covers the foreign government information category. In one of those emails, a British official who worked for David Miliband, then the British foreign secretary, told Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, that his boss “very much wants the Secretary (only) to see this note.” (RELATED: Dozens Of Clinton Emails Were ‘Born Classified,’ Undermining Candidate’s Claim)
Abedin forwarded the email to Clinton.
The next five pages of the email were redacted. But as Reuters found, information shared with U.S. officials by foreign governments is “presumed” to be classified whenever it is generated. That’s especially true when a foreign official shares the information on the condition of confidentiality, which appears to be the case in the exchange between the British official and Abedin.
A spokeswoman for an unnamed foreign official told Reuters that her government always assumes that information it shares with U.S. officials is confidential.
The article Clinton linked to on Friday comes from Matthew Miller, the former director of public affairs at the Justice Department. He served in the Obama administration between 2009 and 2011. Two years later, Brian Fallon, who is now the communications director for Clinton’s campaign, took over the same Justice Department job.
Miller argues in the piece that the federal government routinely over-classifies information.
“Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email account for official State Department business was a mistake, but the revelation that Clinton’s emails contain upwards of 305 messages with potentially “classified” information is far less scandalous than the headlines make it appear,” Miller wrote.
“The most troubling part of this story involves the rules governing official secrets, not Clinton’s conduct as Secretary of State.”
He argued that the intelligence community views classified information much differently than many other federal agencies.
“Many intelligence officials spend their entire day working inside so-called Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities, designed to be impenetrable to eavesdropping, and using only separate, classified email systems to communicate with others in government,” Miller wrote. “In these hermetically sealed environments, there is no need to ever sort through the differences between classified and unclassified information.”
But he says that for officials who deal with the public, the media and other governments, “the lines become much harder to draw.”
“The sheer volume of information now considered classified, as well as the extreme, and often absurd, interpretations by intelligence officials about what is and is not classified, make it nearly impossible for officials charged with operating in both the classified and unclassified worlds to do so without ever mixing the two,” Miller added.