On Tuesday, several media outlets reported that Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough sent a letter to Congress indicating that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stored documents on her now-infamous home server that were classified “Special Access Program.”
As you might expect, politicos on both sides of the aisle are pouncing, but there is a more fundamental issue at stake: federal law.
Intelligence is categorized as unclassified, confidential, secret, and top secret. At the highest level, there are additional categories, one of which is Special Access Program (SAP). This is reserved for intelligence that is so sensitive that compromising it could compromise lives and operations of the highest intelligence value. There are only a handful of people in the country who can access this intelligence.
Sec. Clinton has said previously that her private e-mail and server were not used to transmit top secret documents, and the issue has been framed (sometimes fairly) as a political witch hunt. After Tuesday’s reporting, however, it seems the it’s-just-politics talking point has some holes in it. To be sure, we are in a heated political environment, and few things are said in the public square that cannot be tied to one party or the other.
From a national security perspective, however, there are legitimate concerns that the former Secretary did not exercise sufficient caution in how she received, transmitted and stored classified documents. That the IG is reporting to have found SAP-level intelligence is particularly troubling. It appears to be troubling the FBI as well.
Currently, the FBI has 100 agents investigating Sec. Clinton’s activities. All political arguments aside, the FBI does not dedicate this level of resources to something that is a baseless political attack. Clearly, there are some real concerns about how intelligence was handled. Add this to the other reports that have come out questioning just how seriously Sec. Clinton took her duties in protecting U.S. intelligence, and her failure of judgement might actually add up to criminal action.
While the political pandering continues, it seems increasingly that this is not a political matter. Will the FBI recommend a criminal indictment against the former Secretary? Check back with Security Debrief for the latest updates on what is a very serious issue.