Judicial Watch granted right to discovery of Hillary’s email server

Judicial Watch has achieved a significant victory in its effort to gain access to Hillary’s “off-grid” email server.  The rationale for the motion for discovery was that Hillary and the State Department have been able to thwart repeated FOIA requests for documents by keeping them off official government systems.  In part, the plaintiffs’ motion said:

For six years, Defendant U.S. Department of State (“State Department” or “Department”) and its former secretary, Hillary Rodham Clinton (“Mrs. Clinton”), kept the public in the dark about the creation of an “off-grid” record system, which was used by Mrs. Clinton and at least one of her closest advisors, Huma Abedin, to conduct official government business and communicate with fellow State Department employees and other federal government employees, including those at the White House, as well as foreign leaders and other interested individuals[.]

Kudos to Judicial Watch for keeping the pressure up, but the FOIA requests for classified documents could stretch out for months even if J.W. gains access to the server.  That’s because, contrary to popular belief, a FOIA request for classified material is just that: a request.

As one who has analyzed and recommended decisions on FOIA release for these documents, there needs to be a narrowly focused request, including specific subject matter, time frame of the document, and so forth.  The very limited number of documents within the scope of the request may be granted full release, partial release, or no release at all.  If documents are released or partially released to the requester, he or she may in turn submit another FOIA request based upon analysis of the original documents.

This process is why Hillary and the sisterhood at the State Department were seemingly rushing to clean house, when the reality is that sensitive material was miraculously placed off limits by up-classification.  These documents wouldn’t be released except if a specific FOIA was submitted and adjudicated by the same people who refuse to talk to the DoS I.G. (e.g., Cheryl Mills) or by the originator in one of the other agencies of the I.C.  For example, in September of 2015, 215 documents were considered as “newly” classified, and just a few weeks ago, 84 documents were up-classified by the State Department.

This is a classic Clinton maneuver: delay, deceive, and obstruct all along multiple axes.  Even if Judicial Watch manages to finally gain access to the server, its previous FOIA requests may still be held in limbo pending a decision not only by those who want to follow the correct process, but those who would not want the material to see the light of day.  It definitely will be a long summer trying to get to the bottom of the Clinton espionage ring.

John Smith is the pen name of a former United States intelligence officer.