The State Department is releasing the latest trove of Hillary Clinton emails today, and the Associated Press reports that seven email chains are being withheld entirely from production (as opposed to being produced in redacted form) because they are classified as Top Secret:
The Obama administration confirmed for the first time Friday that Hillary Clinton’s unsecured home server contained closely guarded government secrets, censoring 22 emails with material requiring one of the highest levels of classification. …
Department officials also said the agency’s Diplomatic Security and Intelligence and Research bureaus will investigate whether any of the information was classified at the time of transmission, going to the heart of one of Clinton’s primary defenses of her email practices. …
But The Associated Press has learned seven email chains are being withheld in full from the Friday release because they contain information deemed to be “top secret.” The 37 pages include messages recently described by a key intelligence official as concerning so-called “special access programs” — a highly restricted subset of classified material that could point to confidential sources or clandestine programs like drone strikes or government eavesdropping.
“The documents are being upgraded at the request of the intelligence community because they contain a category of top secret information,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told the AP, describing the decision to withhold documents in full as “not unusual.”
No, it isn’t unusual. What is unusual is that these Top Secret documents came from Hillary Clinton’s home brew server, contrary to federal law and State Department rules.
Hillary’s only defense, as best as I can tell, is that none of the emails on her server were stamped “classified,” “Top Secret,” or whatever. This could be because those that were stamped were deleted before the emails were turned over to the State Department. In any event, her defense is irrelevant: both the federal law and the State Department regulation relate to documents that are in fact classified, not just those that are so stamped. Federal employees can’t circumvent the law by failing to stamp the documents they create or receive. And Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, was one of those specifically charged with knowledge of what documents should be, and are, classified.
PAUL adds: Hillary Clinton has argued for months that there is a dispute between the intelligence community and the State Department as to the sensitivity of documents on her server. The State Department’s confirmation that documents on her server were “Top Secret” undercuts this defense.
The comment of State Department flack John Kirby that the documents “are being upgraded at the request of the intelligence community because they contain a category of top secret information” represents State throwing in the towel in this dispute, it seems to me, although Kirby does his best to make it seem like an accommodation, rather than a concession.