State Dept. Won’t Concede IG Is Correct in Saying Emails on Clinton’s Server Contained ‘Top Secret’ Information

By Brittany M. Hughes | August 13, 2015 | 3:12 PM EDT

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. State Department will not concede that Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough was correct when he stated in an Aug. 11 memo to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and members of Congress—including the chairmen and ranking members of the congressional intelligence committees - that emails on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private server included information that was classified Top Secret.

“In response to the above referenced congressional notification, my office received multiple Congressional requests for copies of Former Secretary Clinton’s emails containing classified Intelligence Community [IC] information,” McCullough wrote in the Aug. 11 memo, which has been made public by Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley.

 



“These emails, attached hereto, have been properly marked by IC classification officials, and include information classified up to ‘TOP SECRET//SI/TK//NOFORN.”

The earlier congressional notification that McCullough cited was a July 23 memo that he had sent to Clapper and the chairmen and ranking members of the congressional intelligence committees.

In that memo, McCullough had said his office had only been allowed by the State Department to review a “limited sampling of 40” of the 30,000 State Department emails that had been on Clinton’s private server.

“Further, my office’s limited sampling of the 40 emails revealed four contained classified information which should have been marked and handled at the SECRET level,” the IG said in the memo.

McCullough also said in the July 23 memo that State Department FOIA officials had indicated “that there are potentially hundreds of classified emails within the approximately 30,000 provided by former Secretary Clinton.”

In the new memo sent Tuesday, Aug. 11, McCullough said that the emails his office had reviewed included not only those that included “information classified up to ‘TOP SECRET//SI/TK/NOFORN,’ but that:

“IC classification officials reviewed two additional emails and judged that they contained classified State Department information when originated. These officials referred the emails to State Department classification officials on 7 August 2015 for final determination on current classification. We will provide these documents once they have been properly marked by State Department.

“This represents the most accurate accounting of the emails identified today, as summarized in TAB 1. We will provide updates as we learn more,” it stated.

In a series of questions about the emails that were posed at a press briefing on Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner did not concede that the IC IG was correct in asserting that some of Clinton’s emails contained information that was classified as Top Secret.

“Our focus has been throughout this, is obviously we need to be responsive to the request put on us to release publicly all of her emails that she provided to us, the State Department, per FOIA regulations and processes,” said Toner. “We’ve been doing that. We’ve been working to clear these in a manner that’s been as responsive as possible and quick as possible, because we know that many members of the public and you journalists want to see these emails, and are redacting them as necessary, as we find things that need to be upgraded in their classification.

“We have not seen anything at the TS level yet, and so--but that is our function throughout, and we have an embedded group of folks from the IC community--or from the IC, rather, who are looking at these emails and helping us clear them as we go through them,” said Toner.

A reporter asked: “So it’s your assertion that none of the information even in these latest emails, like, that have come to light contained information that was classified at the time they were penned? Is that right?”

Toner responded: “Again, I think we’re--what I would say is we’re in discussions with ODNI about their recommendations. They’ve clearly--and we’ve seen those and acknowledged the fact that they’ve--so they’ve taken two of the emails and they’ve said there’s no IC equities in these. The other two they’ve said should be classified, I think, at the Top Secret level. We’re now assessing that ourselves internally.

“I think we’ve said in the past, classification, looking at these kinds of issues, it’s--sometimes it’s black and white, but oftentimes it’s not, and so there’s lots of considerations to take into account when we’re looking at these. So we’re looking at--or we’re working with ODNI on these emails. We’re looking at, we’re trying to clarify their findings and trying to resolve whether we think they need to be classified.”

 A reporter then asked: “But you--at this point you’re not satisfied that it was classified at the time that they were written?”

Toner: “I’d just say we’re in discussion with them.”

Reporter: Okay, but that shouldn’t be--I mean, that’s not--that should be pretty black and white if somebody’s classified it, and until that—

Toner: Well, they weren’t marked. Let me clarify that. They were not--

Reporter: “Well, the emails weren’t marked, but the information therein doesn’t--if you write down everything you heard at a classified briefing and put it in an email, that’s--it’s not marked as classified, but that’s classified information.”

Toner: “Right, right. Right, correct. … Our job is to look at the information that Secretary Clinton has passed on to us and release it publicly, and so as we release it, we’re looking to see if any of that needs to be upgraded. We’re not aware now--with the exception now of these two emails that have been flagged, and we’re looking at them and working--but we’re not aware of any classified material that was sent to her at that time, but what we’re doing and what we have done, frankly - and you know this - is we’ve redacted stuff after the fact.”

CNSNews.com emailed the State Department press office on Thursday seeking clarification of whether or not the State Department was in fact conceding that the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community was correct when he stated in a memorandum to DNI Clapper, the ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, and other members of Congress that some emails on former Secretary Clinton’s private server contained information that was classified Top Secret.

CNSNews.com asked: “Does the State Department concede that the Intelligence Community's Inspector General is correct in asserting that emails that were on former Secretary Clinton's private email server included information classified up to ‘TOP SECRET//SI/TK/NOFORN?’ Yes or no?”

The spokesperson responded: “We’d point you to Mark’s comments yesterday during the Daily Press Briefing:

‘We’re in discussions with ODNI about their recommendations. They’ve clearly – and we’ve seen those and acknowledged the fact that they’ve – they – so they’ve taken two of the emails and they’ve said there’s no IC equities in these. The other two they’ve said should be classified, I think, at the Top Secret level. We’re now assessing that ourselves internally. I think we’ve said in the past, classification, looking at these kinds of issues, it’s – sometimes it’s black and white, but oftentimes it’s not, and so there’s lots of considerations to take into account when we’re looking at these. So we’re looking at – or we’re working with ODNI on these emails. We’re looking at – we’re trying to clarify their findings and trying to resolve whether we think they need to be classified.’

CNSNews.com then followed up: “Is that a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ on the question of whether the State Dept. concedes that the IC IG was correct in his assessment of the emails?”

A State Department spokesperson responded: “We’ll let Mark’s comments stand for our response.”

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