Reports: Deleted Hillary Emails May Be Salvageable, Top Secret Emails Discussed Drone Program

Posted: Aug 14, 2015 3:05 PM
Reports: Deleted Hillary Emails May Be Salvageable, Top Secret Emails Discussed Drone Program

The core question of the Hillary email scandal is, what's she hiding?  What could she possibly have anticipated being so damaging to her career that she was willing to justify risking national security and tangling herself up in an embarrassing web of lies?  We may never know, the argument has gone, because Hillary's lawyers unilaterally destroyed more than 30,000 emails -- some of which dealt with her work as Secretary of State, contradicting her assurances. They trashed those messages without any independent oversight, then wiped the server clean. Or did they? Via Bloomberg, hmmm:

The FBI is seeking to determine whether data from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server may still exist elsewhere, a U.S. official said. After acquiring the server on Wednesday, agents are attempting to determine whether e-mails may have been backed up on another machine, said the official, who asked for anonymity. The official said it's one of the next logical steps in the agency's investigation into whether the former secretary of state's private e-mail account handled classified information. Barbara Wells, an attorney for Platte River Networks, a Denver-based company that has managed Clinton's private e-mail since 2013, said in a phone interview Thursday that the server turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation “is blank and does not contain any useful data.” But Wells added that the data on Clinton's server was migrated to another server that still exists. She ended the interview when questioned further, declining to say whether the data still exists on that other server and who has possession of it...Subsequent calls and e-mails to Wells and the Clinton campaign went unanswered...The suggestion that some of the data Clinton said she erased from her private e-mail server might still exist came as the Democrat turned over her server to government officials, who are investigating whether classified material might have been improperly exposed. Clinton and some of her closest aides used private e-mail accounts while she was the nation's top diplomat.

Was the data "migrated" prior to the mass deletion by Team Hillary, or after?  We may get answers to some of these questions after all.  Godspeed, FBI computer forensics team. May you thrive in your investigative mission and fulfill the Clinton campaign's risible stated desire for 'all the facts to come out,' or whatever.  Meanwhile, we may have a clearer picture of the subject matter discussed in those two top secret emails discovered (thus far) on her unsecure private server. Officials tell the Associated Press that Clinton aides, but not Clinton herself, discussed the government's highly secretive drone program in emails found on Mrs. Clinton's server:

The two emails on Hillary Rodham Clinton's private server that an auditor deemed "top secret" include a discussion of a news article detailing a U.S. drone operation and a separate conversation that could point back to highly classified material in an improper manner or merely reflect information collected independently, U.S. officials who have reviewed the correspondence told The Associated Press...The officials who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity work in intelligence and other agencies. They wouldn't detail the contents of the emails because of ongoing questions about classification level. Clinton did not transmit the sensitive information herself, they said, and nothing in the emails she received makes clear reference to communications intercepts, confidential intelligence methods or any other form of sensitive sourcing. The drone exchange, the officials said, begins with a copy of a news article that discusses the CIA drone program that targets terrorists in Pakistan and elsewhere. While a secret program, it is well-known and often reported on. The copy makes reference to classified information, and a Clinton adviser follows up by dancing around a top secret in a way that could possibly be inferred as confirmation, they said. Several officials, however, described this claim as tenuous. But a second email reviewed by Charles McCullough, the intelligence community inspector general, appears more suspect. Nothing in the message is "lifted" from classified documents, the officials said, though they differed on where the information in it was sourced. Some said it improperly points back to highly classified material, while others countered that it was a classic case of what the government calls "parallel reporting" — different people knowing the same thing through different means.

Some Hillary defenders will seize on these details as a partial vindication. The true secrecy of the 'top secret' material may be in dispute, and Mrs. Clinton wasn't the individual who transmitted it.  But she is the person solely responsible for the creation and operation of her unsecure personal server.  She is responsible for what passed through that server, and for the actions of her inner circle, to whom she grated server access.  Despite what her campaign keeps saying, aided by Hillary's friends at State, two different Inspectors General made clear that the classified contents discovered on her server were classified at the time, not after the fact.  Also recall that the DOJ investigation, referred to the feds by those IGs, arose from a review of a tiny sample of her emails.  Four of the 40 messages they examined contained classified information.  It's not unreasonable to assume that huge reams of sensitive and classified data lurk in the tens of thousands of Hillary emails -- both saved and destroyed -- the IGs didn't inspect.  The State Department is reportedly resisting calls by the intelligence community to turn over all of the emails Hillary belatedly submitted to her former agency.  Of course nobody is in possession of her thousands of deleted emails, at least not yet. I'll leave you with this:

In a poll of voters in the six make-or-break swing states, Hillary Clinton now trails a generic Republican opponent by 13 points – a jump from last month’s 8-point deficit. The poll, which will be released later today, was conducted for the pro-GOP group American Crossroads by pollsters Vox Populi. The telephone survey included 1,908 registered voters in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia. While the Republican nominee will certainly have greater liabilities than a generic standard bearer – though likely some advantages, as well – a deficit of this size is bad news for Clinton as she looks to head off other potential intra-party rivals.

Major caveat: This is a partisan GOP poll, the results of which are bleaker for Hillary than other mainstream polling has found.  But nonpartisan pollsters have also found Mrs. Clinton sucking wind in important battleground states, with her favorability, trustworthiness and empathy ratings slumping nationally, too.