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.”