The plot thickens:
The latest revelations about top secret information traversing Hillary Clinton's private email server have triggered accusations that someone in her "inner circle" likely stripped the classification markings, illegally. The claims come after the Clinton campaign stuck to the argument that the Democratic presidential candidate, while secretary of state, never dealt with emails that were "marked" classified at the time...But a State Department official told Fox News that the intelligence community inspector general, who raised the most recent concerns about Clinton's emails, made clear that at least one of those messages contained information that only could have come from the intelligence community. "If so, they would have had to come in with all the appropriate classification markings," the official said. The official questioned whether someone, then, tampered with that message. "[S]omewhere between the point they came into the building and the time they reached HRC's server, someone would have had to strip the classification markings from that information before it was transmitted to HRC's personal email."
And if such tampering did take place, that would be...a felony:
The official said doing so would "constitute a felony, in and of itself. I can't imagine that a rank-and-file career DOS employee would have done this, so it was most likely done by someone in her inner circle." The messages apparently contained satellite imagery and signals intelligence, information that diplomats cannot unilaterally obtain. Yet, like the Clinton campaign, the State Department public affairs team also maintains that the emails were "not marked classified" when Clinton received them. "None of them were classified at the time," department spokesman Mark Toner said.
But that's not what two independent Inspectors General concluded when they referred this case to the DOJ for investigation: The material "was classified when they were sent, and are classified now," they wrote. Two of the handful of emails reviewed by the IGs contained top secret information, which would clearly have been classified at the time. And if classified markings were indeed stripped off of the emails prior to sending them into Hillary's unsecure private server -- since wiped clean, after more than 30,000 emails were unilaterally deleted by her team -- it stands to reason that it would have been someone at the top of her organization making those calls. As the State Department source quoted above suggests, it seems highly unlikely that an underling would have engaged in some casual freelance criminal activity for no reason. Stay tuned. Allahpundit makes a point I alluded to yesterday, reasoning that there must be something that allows Hillary to justify the huge inconvenience and political risk inherent in her email scheme:
Why was a private e-mail server so important to her to begin with? The headaches involved in maintaining the server, deleting the e-mails, scrubbing the classifications, etc, seem way, way more trouble than they’re worth compared to just sticking to secure government e-mail. If this all about “convenience,” as her fans claim, there seems to have been nothing actually convenient about it. There has to be a good reason why she insisted on transacting official business on a private server, away from prying federal eyes. That’s still the mystery at the heart of all this.
In short: What is she hiding that's potentially more damaging than the political and legal shinola storm she's now endured for months? While we're on this subject, be sure to read former NSA official John Schindler's piece on the seriousness with which the improper handling of state secrets is treated. A pull quote, with one extra tidbit at the very end:
Information at the “TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN” level is considered exceptionally highly classified and must be handled with great care under penalty of serious consequences for mishandling. Every person who is cleared and “read on” for access to such information signs reams of paperwork and receives detailed training about how it is to be handled, no exceptions—and what the consequences will be if the rules are not followed...Underlying all this is the question of why Hillary Clinton decided to employ her own private email and server to handle so much of her official State Department business. This is, to say the least, highly irregular—not to mention a violation of numerous U.S. government rules and regulations—so there had to be a compelling reason to do this. What was it?...The FBI is now on the case and one hopes they will exercise due diligence in their investigation of what may be a serious leak of classified information, made worse by the fact that Clinton’s personal server was wholly unencrypted for three months, leaving it wide open to exploitation by foreign intelligence services.
Her private, improper server was always stunningly under-secure, given the sensitive and classified content passing through it (in spite of her disproven denials). But for three full months, we're told, it wasn't encrypted at all. "Reckless" doesn't quite seem to capture it. I'll leave you with half of the duo that brought down Nixon discussing Hillary's email mess as a "real" problem -- contra her campaign's feeble spin -- of her own making, that's "not going to go away:"