My mom has problems reading on a screen, so she prints stuff out. This is probably because of the stroke she had a few years ago, (minor, she’s recovered) or the fact that the font is too small for old eyes. Hillary also has stuff either faxes or printed out. By her maid. From the Sensitive Communications Information Facility in the residence of the Secretary of State.
The one thing that Hillary has been touting is her experience in public service at the highest levels in the White House, as a Senator and as Secretary of State. That’s eighteen years altogether. Plus the years where she has been running to office. Presumably in all that time she has been dealing with secured and classified material. Presumably she has been told about security protocols for SCIF’s and why they are needed.
I know about them and I have only worked at a government facility for two years, never had a security clearance and just know about how the protocols work through hearsay. Still I know that you only see stuff in that room, in that room. The reason for those rooms is to keep the raw information collected, at risk of lives by people who may have given it in confidence separate from place where the stuff might get distributed. That’s so that high officials can use what we know without giving away how we know it.
Surely she has been told how to control access. Yet there we are, in the emails, where she routinely has the maid downloading and printing stuff out, right from the government’s most secure systems.
Now I like reading about spy stuff. I like the human drama involved in what goes on. Spying is doing the sleaziest stuff for the highest stakes. These are not people of high moral standards for the most part and betrayal is a big part of it. One story that I read years ago that has stuck in my mind is the story of the infiltration and extractions from a courier vault in NATO in the late 1950’s. John Barron called the story “Treasures From The Vault.”
The KGB went to great lengths to get into that vault, Like they did during the Walker spy ring, The Aldrich Ames case and the rest of the moles and illegals over the years. Back in the day the KGB would work for years trying to put somebody in place to have access to something like the SCIF in Hillary’s residence. For good reason. And Hillary had the maid just waltzing in there.
Now the maid may be a fine and tough lady. Most of the maids that used to came into the hardware store used to take their responsibilities seriously. She certainly looks like she has more common sense than the rest of the people surrounding Hillary. Certainly she seems to have been trusted by the Clintons.
Bill Clinton gave a speech in Manila as part of his foundation and took time to visit with the family of the “mayordoma [housekeeper] of his Washington, DC, home — Marina Santos.”
He was quoted as describing Santos as the “wonderful woman who runs our home in Washington, without whom Hillary will not be able to serve as secretary of state.” The article ended remarking, without a hint of irony: “Marina now runs his house so that he and his wife can better serve interests higher than their own.”
The problem arises when we know nothing about family connections in the Philippines and what connections they may have. There’s also the problem that the country has been a hot bed of political instability and Islamic activity for a long time now. In these days with international communications, possibility of pressure or bribery of a family in a foreign country is not out of the question. Look, at the level of opportunity that access to that room for even ten minutes provides no price, no intensity of effort is not too high. Getting into an SCIF is a case of the highest level effort for a spy. And the Clintons created a hole that potentially a spy could get access for peanuts. It’s as if that they never really understood why these systems exist in the first place.
The Clintons have always been presented as the best that the Democrats had. They were the most competent and able. Yet this demonstrates that on the highest level, the Clintons could not be bothered with the most trivial part of the work entrusted to them. The classification and securing of documents and communications is a crucial part of running any government. Yet the Clintons seemingly cannot be bothered with even dealing with the highest level classification and keeping communications separate.
Beyond the legal aspects this represents a terrible indication of total incompetence, especially for people who have been in public service for decades. This seemingly extends to the Clinton circle who apparently have problems dealing with even the simplest electronic communications and document handling. If these people can’t even understand the simplest of tech issues how are they to relate to the modern world and it’s intricate web of electronic information flows and the issues involved. Which extend to just about every aspect of business, government and everyday life.
I think that the problem is that these people have never done anything real. They have moved from political to academic jobs to think tank without ever having to do the things that develop true executive ability or competence. They don’t know how to do the things that need to get done. So they give awards to each other and push emails around about trivialities. As well as chasing perversions and excitement to ease the boredom.
Reading through the WikiLeaks emails, it’s quickly apparent that these are simple people. Comparing them to the people in my circle it’s like reading baby talk. These people have problems dealing with tweets and any degree of any sophistication. If you didn’t know that these people are all Ivy league graduates you would think that everybody in Clinton’s circle is an idiot. These are the people who we could put out trust into?
Update: incompetence that gets people killed.
Update: Just so we are absolutely clear about where that maid was.
Most seriously, the inspector general assessed that Clinton’s emails included information that was highly classified—yet mislabeled as unclassified. Worse, the information in question should have been classified up to the level of “TOP SECRET//SI//TK//NOFORN,” according to the inspector general’s report.
You may have seen acronym lists like these on declassified documents before—and glazed over them. This is the arcane language of the cleared cognoscenti, so let me explain what this means:
• TOP SECRET, as the name implies, is the highest official classification level in the U.S. government, defined as information whose unauthorized release “could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security or foreign relations.”
• SI refers to Special Intelligence, meaning it is information derived from intercepted communications, which is the business of the National Security Agency, America’s single biggest source of intelligence. They’re the guys who eavesdrop on phone calls, map who’s calling whom, and comb through emails. SI is a subset of what the intelligence community calls Sensitive Compartmented Information, or SCI. And these materials always require special handling and protection. They are to be kept in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, which is a special hardened room that is safe from both physical and electronic intrusion.
• TK refers to Talent Keyhole, which is an intelligence community caveat indicating that the classified material was obtained via satellite.
• NOFORN, as the name implies, means that the materials can only be shown to Americans, not to foreigners.
In short: 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.
In the real world, people with high-level clearances are severely punished for willfully violating such rules. At a minimum, those suspected of mishandling things like NSA “signals intelligence”—intercepts calls, emails, and the like—have their clearances suspended pending the outcome of the investigation into their misconduct. Any personal items—computers, electronics—where federal investigators suspect the classified material wound up, wrongly, will be impounded and searched. If it has TOP SECRET//SI information on it, “your” computer now belongs to the government, because it is considered classified.
People found to have willfully mishandled such highly classified information often face severe punishment. Termination of employment, hefty fines, even imprisonment can result. Yes, people really do go to jail for mishandling classified materials. Matthew Aid, a writer on intelligence matters, served more than a year in prison for mishandling TOP SECRET//SI information from the NSA, for example. The well-connected tend to avoid jail, however. Sandy Berger and John Deutsch—who both served in high-level positions under President Bill Clinton, did not go to prison for mishandling TOP SECRET intelligence (though Berger got probation and was fined $50,000).