‘Top secret’ info on 22 Clinton emails means they won’t be released - State Dept.
In its announcement on Friday, the State Department said the classification and subsequent cancellation of any public release was done “at the request” of intelligence agencies, spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
Eight different chains consisting of 22 emails make up the 37 pages containing classified material of the highest grade. Two State agencies, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Bureau of Intelligence and Research, are looking at the information in the documents to see if they were classified at the time they were sent. While Kirby said nothing was “labeled” classified when it was sent, it is the responsibility of US officials to either correct the lack of marking or report to other officials any insecurity when they recognize the information’s value.
“Is it possible that something is classified at the time it was sent and not marked so?” Kirby posited. “That is certainly possible.”
Over 1,300 of Clinton’s emails have already been marked classified, though with lower grades. “Top secret” is the highest designation.
Asked if Clinton would address the development at a rally in Dubuque, Iowa, her spokesperson Brian Fallon told MSNBC, "She's not gonna let this issue distract from the fights that she is waging this campaign for.”
The court order requiring the former secretary of state to release some 55,000 pages of emails spawns from a Freedom of Information Act request from Vice News reporter Jason Leopold. Leopold’s lawyer, Ryan S. James, chastised State for moving too slowly, noting that January 29 was supposed to be the deadline for the department to complete its public release of all the emails.
"Six days ago State said in its request for an extension that 9,372 pages of Clinton's email remain to be released, but that it needed more time to process 7,254 pages, leaving 2,118 pages unaffected by State's ‘oversight,’” the statement read.
“Today, State says only about 1,000 pages will be released by the Court's deadline today. Nothing I've seen explains what has happened to the other 1,118 pages that have already been processed but aren't being released today as scheduled,” the statement continued. “To paraphrase, Shakespeare's famous line from Hamlet, I can't help but wonder if something is rotten in the State Department."
The current deadline for the department to release all 55,000 pages is February 29, a day before the Super Tuesday primaries, which include delegate-heavy states Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Texas. With Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) polling closely or ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire, which vote February 1 and 9 respectively, the Clinton campaign is trying to minimize the State Department’s announcement regarding top secret emails.
Fallon, the Clinton spokesperson, wrote in a statement that “in at least one case, the emails appear to involve information from a published news article," alluding to a New York Times report on CIA drone operations in Pakistan. Both Politico and the Associated Press have cited anonymous officials stating that the emails contain the article as well. AP has also reported that an email contained information on the North Korean nuclear weapons program.
As a side note, Kirby said the State Department would also keep eight chains, consisting of 18 emails, of communication between President Barack Obama and Clinton "to protect the president's ability to receive unvarnished advice and counsel," but those will eventually be released after Obama leaves office.