Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Classified material: A Primer

I've been seeing a fair amount of misinformation about classified material lately (mostly coming from Progressives and Hillary supporters) so thought that the time might be right to debunk some of the illegitimate arguments that these people are making

Argument: It wasn't classified when they sent it.

Reality: Information is generally (read almost always and maybe always) classified when it is generated.  If you get a report from some source in enemy territory, you don't release it and then put it on the schedule to decide whether or not it is to be classified.  When in doubt you classify it and then declassify it later.

Argument: It shouldn't have been classified in the first place.

Reality: You don't get to make that decision.  The agency that generates the data decides if it is classified and you are stuck with their decision.  Don't like it?  Take it up with them.  In the meantime, it is classified.

Argument: The State Department is reviewing whether the information should have been classified.

Reality: Read the previous argument.  They don't get to decide unless it was generated by them.  Even then, if it was classified when you released it, you broke the law, regardless of what they may do with the information later.

Argument: It wasn't marked classified when it was sent.

Reality: Doesn't matter.  Classified material is not declassified just because you strip the classification headers off the documents.  If you knew it was classified then you are guilty.

Now to deal with a few specifics regarding the Hillary Clinton emails:

Argument: She had no way to know it was classified since it wasn't marked.

Reality: If you are Secretary of State and you go to classified briefings on a daily basis, then you get an email from a staffer with information that was covered in a briefing (and marked classified then) you should know where it came from and you should deal with your staff accordingly.  (And by accordingly I mean calling security personnel and notifying them of the breaches in security.)

Argument: None of it was a big deal anyway.

Reality: Information marked Special Access Program is not marked that way because it isn't a big deal.  The way classifications work is that you have to meet two standards in order to gain access to the info.  First you have to have a security clearance high enough to rate access.  I had a Top Secret clearance when I was in the Navy which meant that I could access anything up to Top Secret.  However, it didn't mean that I could page through anything I wanted.  I still have to have authorization, which meant that I had to have a "Need to Know". TS info about my job and I got it. TS info about someone else's job?  I didn't get it unless there was a really good reason.  Special Access Program, which is the information that was included in some of Hillary's emails, means that not only did you have to have a TS clearance, but someone had to sit down and decide whether or not you needed to know the information and formally add you to the list.  (This is different from normal Need To Know because it requires a formal process where you are added to the list after a review of your requirements.  Under normal Need to Know the process can be far less formal. For example, you show up at your new command and they hand you a pile of documents that they want you to read through and be familiar with.)  SAP includes a much higher level of review and oversight.

Don't fall for the bullshit, because that is what it is.  The Hillary Clinton campaign and their supporters are doing everything they can to hide the fact that Clinton and her staff committed multiple felonies and put the security of this country at risk for their own convenience.  If you need full disclosure I am not Hillary fan.  I won't be voting for her.  If you are going to pull the lever for HRC you should know, however, she broke the law, willingly and intentionally, and no amount of obfuscation can make that truth go away.

If you are reading this and have a more recent background than me in security issues, please feel free to post corrections in the comments, or just email me at heresolong remove this phrase at remove this phrase gmail remove this phrase dottt com.

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