State Department: Classification markings were ‘human error’

posted at 9:41 pm on July 6, 2016 by John Sexton

The State Department has responded to claims that some messages Hillary Clinton received were marked classified at the time. According to State spokesman John Kirby those markings, which did appear in at least two emails, were the result of human error. Politico reports:

At a regular briefing for reporters Wednesday, Kirby said State is aware of two instances in the set of roughly 30,000 messages turned over to the agency by Clinton where classification markings appeared in the emails. However, he said those were mistakes where staff failed to remove the notations while preparing background and talking points for Clinton in a planned phone call with a foreign official.

“It appears that those…that those markings were a human error. They didn’t need to be there. Because once the secretary had decided to make the call, the process is then to move the call sheet, to change its markings to unclassified and deliver it to the secretary in a form that he or she can use,” Kirby said. “And best we can tell on these occasions, the markings — the confidential markings — was simply human error. Because the decision had already been made, they didn’t need to be made on the email.”

First, we’re moving the goalposts again. Clinton first said there was no classified information. That wasn’t true. Then she said nothing was marked classified. It turns out that wasn’t true either. Now Kirby is arguing that she was right in spirit! No doubt, if the case hadn’t been closed today, Clinton would have a revised talking point on this tomorrow: I never sent or received any emails that were marked classified…apart from human error.

Second, it’s worth noting that Kirby admits he does not know if the two emails he is talking about are the sum total of emails with such markings considered by the FBI. Politico reports Kirby said, “We don’t have full visibility on every document that they looked at as part of their investigation.”

Third, it’s interesting that, just yesterday, the Clinton camp sent a statement to the Washington Post claiming they had no idea what Director Comey was talking about with regard to messages with classification markings. The Clinton camp suggested State had never heard of these either:

We have not seen the emails the Director is referring to. We heard this for the first time when it was announced on TV, just like everyone else. The Secretary and campaign always have spoken to the best of our knowledge. And it was not just the campaign – but also the State Department, which also reviewed these emails – that had said none of these emails were marked classified.

They were stunned by this new development! And yet, as I noted earlier, all of this was reported by Fox News nearly a month ago. It’s curious that State and the Clinton camp both missed a story by Catherine Herridge, the reporter who was at the forefront of this story for months. Is it really believable no one had seen this until Comey mentioned it? I don’t think so.

Finally, Kirby seems much more engaged in the 2 emails allegedly marked in error than the 110 not marked in error. Here’s Comey from Tuesday:

From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification.

Someone should tell Kirby that it’s too late to ride in on a white horse and save Clinton’s honor. Nitpicking around the edges is not going to be enough to undo the damage caused by years of intentional dishonesty on Clinton’s part.


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