Clinton’s private email problem persists

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Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s email problem is refusing to go away, as a special intelligence report revealed that the former secretary of state received two emails classified as “Top Secret” through her private account.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, one of the emails contained information about North Korea’s nuclear arms program.

Meanwhile, Clinton on Monday told the Associated Press during a Labor Day campaign stop in Iowa that she would not be apologizing for using a private email account and server during her time as secretary of state because “what I did was allowed.”

Clinton called the email inquiry, which now involves the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a “distraction.”

“It was allowed by the State Department,” Clinton told the AP. “The State Department has confirmed that. I did not send or receive any information marked classified.”

In defending her decision to set up a private email server, Clinton has said she did not want to deal with the inconvenience of having to use more than one hand-held email device, such as an additional cell phone.

It is “easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails,” Clinton said this past spring.

On Monday Clinton’s campaign disputed whether the two emails identified in the intelligence report were “Top Secret,” the term used by the CIA and other federal intelligence branches to classify the government’s most sensitive information.

Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill told the New York Times that federal agencies differ on what should and what should not be classified. John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department, told the Times that classification is “rarely a black-and-white question.”

“At this time, any conclusion about the classification of the documents in question would be premature,” Kirby added.

I. Charles McCullough III, inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community, determined that two out of a 40-email sample plucked from Clinton’s private server can be classified as “Top Secret.”

In December 2009 President Barack Obama issued an executive order defining “Top Secret” as information whose “unauthorized disclosure reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.”

Unauthorized disclosure of classified information can carry up to a 10-year prison sentence per count in addition to large fines, according to federal law.

Clinton aides have said the two emails identified in McCullough’s report were not marked “Top Secret” at the time.

A State Department review last month, however, stated that as many as 305 of Clinton’s emails may contain classified information.

Judicial Watch, a nonprofit federal government watchdog organization, filed a federal complaint against the State Department earlier this month after the agency did not respond to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Judicial Watch is suing to gain access to personnel records and other documents pertaining to the employment of an information technology worker responsible for maintaining Clinton’s private email server.

Bryan Pagliano, Clinton’s IT director during her unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign, was later hired to work for the State Department and served as the “lead specialist” responsible for maintaining Clinton’s private email server, a Aug. 4 Washington Post story noted.

Pagliano’s attorneys earlier this month said he will invoke his constitutional right not to answer questions in order to avoid incriminating himself.

U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg is currently presiding over Judicial Watch’s complaint, according to a review of federal court records.

As of Tuesday (Sept. 8) the State Department has yet to file a response to Judicial Watch’s complaint.