A special review panel has confirmed that emails sent to Hillary Clinton through her private email server when she was secretary of state contained information that was “top secret” at the time they were sent.
According to The New York Times, intelligence sources say that the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency agreed with a previous determination made by the Intelligence Community inspector general that Clinton received two emails — one in 2009 and the other in 2011 — with the highly sensitive information.
One of the emails in question reportedly contained information gleaned from U.S. spy satellites that were tracking the movements of North Korean nuclear weapons.
The inspector general’s classification determination has caused a rift between the intelligence communities and the State Department. The State Department has disputed the inspector general’s findings, saying that it is not clear that the information in the Clinton emails was classified when originated.
The Clinton campaign has adopted the State Department’s position on the matter.
But the second special review panel’s determination deals yet another blow to Clinton, who has seen her poll numbers fall as questions over her email arrangement continue to haunt her.
When the email scandal first broke in March, Clinton claimed that she did not send or receive any classified information on her personal email account when she was in office. But she has steadily revised that claim as more information has been released. The State Department has upgraded information in nearly 200 Clinton emails to “confidential,” the lowest classification category.
However, some analysis has indicated that the information was classified by definition when it was created. Many of the now-classified emails discuss events that were specific to a particular point in time, making it hard to believe that the discussion would be classified now, years later, rather than when generated.
Clinton has revised her defense of her email practices by claiming that the “top secret” emails she received did not have information that was “marked” as such at the time. But many former intelligence community have criticized that defense, saying that a person of Clinton’s high diplomatic position should recognize highly sensitive information with or without markings.
Clinton’s campaign and that State Department dismissed the second panel’s conclusion.
“Our hope remains that these releases continue without being hampered by bureaucratic infighting among the intelligence community, and that the releases continue to be as inclusive and transparent as possible,” Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill told The Times.
State Department spokesman John Kirby agreed.
“Classification is rarely a black and white question, and it is common for the State Department to engage internally and with our interagency partners to arrive at the appropriate decision,” he told The Times in a statement. “Very often both the State Department and the intelligence community acquire information on the same matter through separate channels. Thus, there can be two or more separate reports and not all of them based on classified means. At this time, any conclusion about the classification of the documents in question would be premature.”