Is it Espionage?

The latest batch of Hillary’s classified emails now totals over 1,700. Her decision to exclusively conduct official business on a separate remote and unsecure email server has placed the men and women of the Intelligence Community (IC) in turmoil. Members of the IC would never be allowed such “permissions” and it is an abuse of authority to purposefully circumvent classified information safeguards.

Within the IC there exists (at least) two systems, one classified system and an unclassified system. The Non-classified Internet Protocol (IP) Router Network (abbreviated as NIPRNet) is a private IP network used to exchange unclassified information. The Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) is a system of interconnected computer networks used by the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of State to transmit classified information (up to and including information classified SECRET).

In a letter to the chairmen of the Senate intelligence and foreign affairs committees, the intelligence community’s inspector general, said that he has received sworn declarations that cover “several dozen emails containing classified information determined by the IC element to be at the CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET and TOP SECRET/SAP information.” 

The rules for the management of Special Access Programs is in a category unto itself. SAP’s are so sensitive that even people who have security clearances giving them access to Top Secret/Sensitive Compartment Information (TS/SCI), an enormously high security clearance level, cannot have accesses to a SAP unless they receive a special indoctrination into the SAP based on an operational “must know” that exceeds all other “need to know” standards.

Compromise of a SAP is the single most dangerous security violation that can ever happen to the USA. Even the enormously damaging revelations of the Edward Snowden’s TS/SCI security compromise does not reach the level of a SAP compromise. The unauthorized disclosure and transfer of SAP information, onto something like Hillary Clinton’s unsecure server, is a class one felony. That is because such a compromise is so dangerous that it could and likely will result in the death of people protected by and within the scope of the SAP.

To transfer any classified information onto an unclassified system, you have to work at it. To transfer classified information from a secure classified system and move it to an unclassified system is not only difficult, it is illegal. It’s called espionage. 

Seventy years ago, the former government lawyer and State Department official Alger Hiss, removed classified information from the State Department. He typed them on his office typewriter, slipped the copies into a briefcase, and provided them to his Soviet agent who photographed and microfilmed them. When the FBI retrieved the spools of microfilm, the Hiss Papers printed out to a stack 4½ feet tall. The FBI case against Alger Hiss was a clear-cut case of espionage, but because of the statute of limitations, Hiss was convicted of a lesser crime -- perjury.

There is little doubt the Democratic presidential candidate under investigation by the FBI had her State Department minions strip off the classification headers and footers of thousands of classified documents and input those documents -- they had to type them into an unsecured email server. Alger Hiss found a way -- he typed them -- to remove classified information from the offices of the State Department. The essence of espionage is to get classified documents out of a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, a SCIF, and into the hands of “someone not authorized to receive them.”

Whittaker Chambers walked away from the Communist Party USA and accused the number three man at the State Department, Alger Hiss, of espionage. Hiss copied thousands of the most classified documents in the State Department on his office typewriter and for years spirited those documents out of Foggy Bottom in his briefcase. The classified originals never left the security of a SCIF. The 4½-foot tall stack of documents held by the FBI were so explosive, the heavily left-leaning Justice Department abandoned plans to indict Whittaker Chamber.

One official involved in the investigation said that the special access program information found on Hillary Clinton’s email was so sensitive that Intelligence Community’s Inspector General, Charles McCullough and some of his aides, had to receive clearance to be “read on” the SAP before they could view the sworn declaration about the Clinton emails. The Special Access Program material does not appear to be the same two Top Secret emails identified earlier among the hundreds of classified emails found on Clinton’s server. 

FBI may refer Hillary Clinton and her staff -- Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, and Jake Sullivan -- for indictment for the simple charge of mishandling classified information. But don’t bet the rent money. Over the last 70 years, left-leaning Justice Departments have a history of watering down or drowning any indictment of top-level Democrats caught in the act or suspected of conducting classic espionage. 

Mark A. Hewitt is a former member of the Intelligence Community and the author of espionage thrillers.  His novels have been approved by the CIA Publication Review Board.

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