Hillary and State Department intelligence

How likely is it that all of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails were free of classified material?  Not very.  Though it’s not widely known, the State Department has a Bureau of Intelligence and Research that is as much a part of the intelligence community as the CIA or DIA and works in the same highly restricted, security-conscious environment.  All those CIA agents with State Department cover have to get it somewhere, and diplomats have always been important pieces in the collection and evaluation of intelligence, some of it very highly classified. 

I worked for State’s BIR right after I graduated from college in the early 1980s as a low-level intelligence clerk.  Everybody had a top-secret clearance, and security in that part of the building was maintained at an extremely high level.  Among the analysts I worked with, one of the most sought after professional accomplishments was to get a bit of one’s work-product into the secretary’s morning summary, which was a compilation of important international developments and analysis of immediate interest.  Some of that summary, pretty much on a daily basis, originated in the BIR, and most everything that came out of the BIR was classified at some level.  I’m sure something similar still goes on there, though instead of literally cutting and pasting the summary together, it’s done electronically. 

There would not be much point in the secretary getting this information if he/she had no intention of using it.  But to use it, you have to reference it in some way, whether speaking, sending an old-fashioned letter, or, more commonly in the last twenty years, via e-mail.  Referencing classified information, even if you are not actually sharing the document from which the information originated, may still be a breach of security protocols.  Many documents are classified for sources and methods, not necessarily the information contained therein.  But citing that information in an unsecure manner, which might then become available to foreign intelligence, could indicate to a foreign government that they have a security breach, which can endanger sources and methods.  Or in some cases, the substantive information itself is sensitive and classified accordingly.

It’s pretty hard to believe that in all her years at State, Hillary Clinton never referenced classified material in her thousands of e-mails.  Nobody would believe that of the director of the CIA.  And the State BIR is part of the same intelligence community, and was an important part of Hillary’s domain.  Sure, many if not most of her e-mails probably dealt with the drudgery of running a large bureaucracy – what new carpeting to put on the 7th floor, staffing the cafeteria, and so on.  But nobody becomes secretary of state to do that.  The hot policy stuff, a good bit of which is classified, is what’s interesting.  It’s what Hillary wrote about in her e-mails.  It’s probably what she deleted.  

How likely is it that all of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails were free of classified material?  Not very.  Though it’s not widely known, the State Department has a Bureau of Intelligence and Research that is as much a part of the intelligence community as the CIA or DIA and works in the same highly restricted, security-conscious environment.  All those CIA agents with State Department cover have to get it somewhere, and diplomats have always been important pieces in the collection and evaluation of intelligence, some of it very highly classified. 

I worked for State’s BIR right after I graduated from college in the early 1980s as a low-level intelligence clerk.  Everybody had a top-secret clearance, and security in that part of the building was maintained at an extremely high level.  Among the analysts I worked with, one of the most sought after professional accomplishments was to get a bit of one’s work-product into the secretary’s morning summary, which was a compilation of important international developments and analysis of immediate interest.  Some of that summary, pretty much on a daily basis, originated in the BIR, and most everything that came out of the BIR was classified at some level.  I’m sure something similar still goes on there, though instead of literally cutting and pasting the summary together, it’s done electronically. 

There would not be much point in the secretary getting this information if he/she had no intention of using it.  But to use it, you have to reference it in some way, whether speaking, sending an old-fashioned letter, or, more commonly in the last twenty years, via e-mail.  Referencing classified information, even if you are not actually sharing the document from which the information originated, may still be a breach of security protocols.  Many documents are classified for sources and methods, not necessarily the information contained therein.  But citing that information in an unsecure manner, which might then become available to foreign intelligence, could indicate to a foreign government that they have a security breach, which can endanger sources and methods.  Or in some cases, the substantive information itself is sensitive and classified accordingly.

It’s pretty hard to believe that in all her years at State, Hillary Clinton never referenced classified material in her thousands of e-mails.  Nobody would believe that of the director of the CIA.  And the State BIR is part of the same intelligence community, and was an important part of Hillary’s domain.  Sure, many if not most of her e-mails probably dealt with the drudgery of running a large bureaucracy – what new carpeting to put on the 7th floor, staffing the cafeteria, and so on.  But nobody becomes secretary of state to do that.  The hot policy stuff, a good bit of which is classified, is what’s interesting.  It’s what Hillary wrote about in her e-mails.  It’s probably what she deleted.