TOP SECRET // SI / TK // NOFORN

According to the Inspector General's letter, that is the proper marking for the top level of classification found in Hillary Clinton's unsecured private email. Let's go through that, just to be sure we're all clear on exactly what she's done. All of this information below is available in open sources, but it is not well understood by (say) voters.

TOP SECRET is information whose release could cause "exceptionally grave damage to the national security." No one may access this information who has not been through the very thorough background investigation, and even then you must demonstrate need to know.

SI means "Special Intelligence," and is a subset of SCI, or "Sensitive Compartmentalized Information." This information is tightly controlled, so that not only do you need to have need to know, you must have been properly read into the specific program from which the information comes.

TK is "Talent Keyhole," which governs our best aerial and satellite reconnaissance. It is always SCI information, and is extremely sensitive because it gives enemies a sense of exactly how good our reconnaissance technology has become.

NOFORN means "not releasable to foreign nationals." This caveat is discouraged because "NOFORN" means not the British, not the Canadians, not the Australians, not New Zealand. You can mark the data to be shared with the other Anglosphere powers, our very closest allies, with the caveat "FIVE EYES," or "FVEY". We have a treaty with them that governs the controls of sensitive signals intelligence. If the Inspector General has determined this item was properly marked NOFORN, it means that the information was so sensitive that we shouldn't share it with the British or the Australians in spite of that treaty.

It sounds like the two emails must have included intercepts of the most sensitive sort -- too sensitive to tell our closest allies about -- and possibly satellite imagery as a file attachment (or at least detailed descriptions of same). No one could have mistaken either of those things for unclassified information.

20 comments:

MikeD said...

For the record, if I had transmitted data like this over an unsecured line while I was working for the Army, I'd be in federal prison for a minimum of 20 years. Just saying.

Grim said...

I'm sure you'd only have done it for a good reason, to advance the national interest in the way your personal opinion told you was best. Under those circumstances, you might get away with only 10 years in Federal prison -- i.e., the court martial might let you serve the maximum sentences on each charge concurrently.

You'd still go down, though, because this system isn't about your personal opinion about what's best. That should factor only as a mitigation in the punishment phase, not in terms of whether or not you are convicted as guilty of the offense.

raven said...

There is only one real question here to the Washington elite-

How much does she have on the zero?

E Hines said...

One small quibble: the reason for withholding information from anyone, including our closest allies and friends, may have little to do with the information itself but with what our possession of that information says about our methods and sources.

My major point is one I've made before: if these emails weren't marked when they arrived in Clinton's emailer, or they weren't marked when they left her emailer, it's because she chose to do the latter and because she chose to not correct the former. SecState is the ultimate classification authority for all matters handled by State (although she may share that authority with, say, DoD on matters they jointly handle).

That she has a classification functionality staffed more or less with experts to do the actual work of classifying both is a normal thing for an agency as large as a Cabinet and in no way absolves her of her responsibility as the ultimate classifying authority.

Too, Clinton is on record as saying she knows well the classifying procedures and requirements. Thus, the only possible conclusion for the existence of this material in her hands unmarked is because she made the conscious decision to not mark the material and/or to leave it unmarked, and she made the tightly related decision to leave the material uncontrolled.

That adds up to mens rea in this poor, dumb Texan's right-wing extremist's mind. Now we have proof of a criminal act--the existence of classified material in her uncontrolled server and her staffer's lawyer's uncleared hands, and we have proof that she did these things deliberately and with full knowledge of her actions. Having a motive would be nice, but it's not necessary to convict.

Eric Hines

Ymar Sakar said...

Democrats are patriots criticizing the Iraq war, right. They would never betray the nation...

E Hines said...

Related to this, I have to wonder why the FBI has not seized the "back-up systems associated with the server" also.

Eric Hines

Sammy Finkelman said...

Hillary Clinton doesn’t seem to have mentioned the folowing:

What Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said about secrecy.

http://www.loyola.edu/departments/academics/political-science/strategic-intelligence/intel/secrecy-toc_files/secrecy04dpm.pdf

I think the reason is because, she, or the people working with her, actually like over-classification. She like rules that cause people to break the law – and she and Bill just gets around it.

And of course over-classification protects Tyler Drumheller and any misconduct by the CIA, like about Benghazi.

So even though, that course is open to her, she’s not taking it.

Besides, what she actually did is probably something much worse than what could be explained or mitigated by the what Moynihan wrote.

Sammy Finkelman said...

I mentioned Tyler Drumheller.

Oh, look, he just died:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/10/us/tyler-drumheller-ex-cia-official-who-disputed-bush-dies-at-63.html?_r=0

So I guess he can't be subpoenaed now by the Trey Gowdy committee. Maybe his e-mail accounts will also now be inaccessible or deleted.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Now you have to wonder also, if Sidney Blumenthal was lying when he testified that Tyler Drumheller was the real author of the e-mails he sent to Hillary Clinton.

douglas said...

Not ever having had a clearance, I could be wrong, but isn't SCI material supposed to only be viewed in controlled areas (like viewing rooms in secure facilities (scif's)?). Also, isn't SI therefore a comms intercept? and you wouldn't want the country you intercepted to know you were intercepting them. If they knew you were, just imagine the disinfo they'd be sending up. Why it's almost as if you could lead the U.S. to make wrong decisions at every turn...

Eric Blair said...

So one would think. But the Bradley Manning incident demonstrated that bringing recordable media into a secure area was no big thing.

I worked with "Secret" documents at one point in the Army, some of them even "Secret NOFORN" (which was pretty entertaining, since we had a British exchange officer who was acting as the Chief Signals officer for the Division), and we basically searched each other going into and coming out of our office areas.

Grim said...

I think I only saw TS/SCI physical files outside a SCIF once, as they were being moved between SCIFs at CENTCOM. There was an officer with positive control of them at all times.

Grim said...

Eric:

The most entertaining security classification I know of is "SECRET / REL IRAQ," that is, a Secret document that was releasable to Iraqis. Except that it was marked in red and not green, it meant exactly the same thing as "UNCLASSIFIED."

Ymar Sakar said...

That's a good one Grim, if only there was an equal special one for Democrats in power.

Grim said...

They don't need it, Ymar. They blind themselves. Some of them.

Anonymous said...

Classified information is highly problematic in a democracy; how are the people supposed to be informed?

Nevertheless, it's pretty obvious that Hillary took the whole 'Imma slippery politico rules dont apply to me' thing about 100x too far...

Anonymous said...

Unless - now thinking about - she is gonna claim that she's a whistle blower who just cares for the little people???

Grim said...

A whistle blower who let the FBI figure it out for themselves? Sure.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Eric Blair:

"..the Bradley Manning incident demonstrated that bringing recordable media into a secure area was no big thing."

That's because the people there didn't realize that the CD-ROM drives - the remaining peripheral attaxched to the computers there, which had no floppy drives or USB ports, - were now CD-RW drives!

Bradley Manning took earphones and fake CDs with him and pretended to be listening to recorded music, sometimes even making body motions to the "music."

Over weeks or months, he downloaded everything SECRET (but not TOP SECRET) he could get. Thes eincluded a lot of military after action reports and diplomatic cables.

Wikileaks realeased them in stages, each time surprising the U.S. government about what else it had.

Grim said...

Yeah, he had SIPRnet access only. That's why it's so important to keep the TS stuff properly secured -- even SIPRnet, which is secured for SECRET documents, is accessible by very many people.