Hillary Clinton’s private server housed emails containing information at an even higher classification level than previously believed, Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III has found.
According to Fox News, McCullough informed the heads of two congressional committees in an unclassified Jan. 14 letter that his agency had discovered “several dozen” classified emails, including messages containing what’s known as “special access programs” (SAP) information.
As Fox notes, SAP information is created when “the vulnerability of, or threat to, specific information is exceptional,” and when “the number of persons who ordinarily will have access will be reasonably small and commensurate with the objective of providing enhanced protection for the information involved.”
SAP information is classified at an even higher category than the “top secret” emails which McCullough found on Clinton’s server last summer. That discovery triggered a Justice Department investigation into Clinton’s peculiar email arrangement and prompted the FBI to seize her server in August.
Only officials with a “need-to-know” are privy to SAP information because exposure would likely reveal sources and methods of intelligence collection.
“To date, I have received two sworn declarations from one [intelligence community] element. These declarations cover several dozen emails containing classified information determined by the IC element to be at the confidential, secret, and top secret/sap levels,” reads McCullough’s letter, which, according to Fox, was sent to the heads of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the State Department’s inspector general and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the agency that manages special access programs.
It remains to be seen how Clinton, the Democratic party’s presidential front-runner, will respond to the new report. When “top secret” emails were found on her server, she was forced to revise her initial claims that she did not send or receive classified information when she served as secretary of state. Clinton now says that none of the classified emails found on her server were “marked” classified when they were originated. In addition to the “top secret” and SAP emails, the State Department has retroactively classified 1,340 emails Clinton sent or received.
According to one expert on national security law and security clearance matters, Clinton should have recognized any SAP information that she received and had been briefed on.
“Assuming Secretary Clinton had actually been briefed on this particular Special Access Program, she almost certainly should have recognized the information (even unmarked) as such and taken action,” Bradley Moss, a Washington-based national security attorney, told The Daily Caller.
“That aside, whomever originally sent these emails most certainly should not have been discussing classified information on any unclassified server, official or personal, and is in for a world of hurt.”
Moss, who is handling lawsuits filed against the State Department for failing to turn over Clinton’s emails, also added that the discovery of the highly-sensitive emails shows that the agency is “abysmally incompetent” when it comes to security protocol.
“There are a lot of details that need to be fleshed out still in terms of the IG’s findings but the one unmistakable point that has emerged from all of this is how abysmally incompetent State has been in handling security protocols,” said Moss. “Its failure to protect its own information at such a systematic level violates the most basic tenets of information security and is inexcusable.”
The State Department declined during Tuesday’s daily press briefing to comment on McCullough’s letter.
“We are focused on and remain focused on releasing he remainder of former Secretary Clinton’s emails,” agency spokesman John Kirby said, adding that he does “anticipate more upgrades throughout the release process.”
The inspectors general for the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Intelligence Community issued a joint written statement late Friday afternoon asserting that emails that Hillary Clinton had on her personal email account while she was Secretary of State, and that she kept on a personal server after she left the government, “contained classified information when they were generated,” “remain classified today” and “should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system.”
This joint statement the two inspectors general issued late Friday contradicts what former Secretary Clinton said about the emails on Saturday.
So far, the inspector general for the Intelligence Community has only been allowed to review a sample of 40 out of the total of 30,000 emails from Clinton’s private email server that Clinton has turned over to the State Department. Of that limited sample of 40, 4 contained classified information.
“The four emails, which have not been released through the State FOIA process, did not contain classification marking and/or dissemination controls,” State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough, III, said in their joint statement released late Friday afternoon.
“These emails were not retroactively classified by the State Department; rather, these emails contained classified information when they were generated and, according to IC classification officials, that information remains classified today,” the inspectors general said.
“This classified information should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system,” they said.
On Saturday, after the inspectors general had released this statement, former Secretary Clinton made a statement at an event at the Madison County Historical Complex that contradicted what the inspectors general said.
“I am confident that I never sent or received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received. What I think you’re seeing here is a very typical kind of discussion, to some extent disagreement among various parts of the government, over what should or should not be publicly released,” Clinton said, according to the Associated Press.
“I think there’s so much confusion around this that I understand why reporters and the public are asking questions, but the facts are pretty clear. I did not send nor receive anything that was classified at the time,” she said.
In their joint statement Friday, Inspectors General McCullough and Linick reiterated that they believe that Clinton emails containing classified information may not only be on a private server but also on a thumb drive.
“IC IG made a referral detailing the potential compromise of classified information to security officials the Executive Branch,” said their joint statement. “The main purpose of the referral was to notify security officials that classified information may exist on at least on private server and thumb drive that are not in the government’s possession.
“An important distinction is that the IC IG did not make a criminal referral – it was a security referral made for counterintelligence purposes,” the IGs said in their joint statement. “The IC IG is statutorily required to refer potential compromises of national security information to the appropriate IC security officials.”
In a memo that he sent on Thursday to the chairman and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees and to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, IC Inspector General McCullough said that the 30,000 emails Clinton handed over to the State Department were also “purported” to be on a thumb drive in the possession of her personal lawyer.
“As I advised in my 25 June 2015 notification, the 30,000 emails in question are purported to have been copied to a thumb drive in the possession of former Secretary Clinton’s personal counsel, Williams and Connelly attorney David Kendall,” IG McCullough said. “As my office’s limited sampling identified four emails containing classified IC information, I referred this mater to counterintelligence officials at State and within the IC, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”