January 1, 2007: An NSA whistleblower is harassed by the government despite no evidence against him.

William Binney (Credit: Thomas Peter / Reuters)

William Binney (Credit: Thomas Peter / Reuters)

In 2002, William Binney, a recently retired NSA [National Security Agency] official, alerted the Defense Department’s inspector general that the department is wasting over $3 billion on a new system to track Internet data, when it could be done for $3 million instead.

In 2007, the FBI searches his home in a hunt for whoever leaked details of a secret post-9/11 domestic wiretapping program. He isn’t prosecuted, since he had nothing to do with that leak, but government officials “blackball” his consulting firm for intelligence agencies, costing him millions of dollars. He is wiretapped, stripped of his security clearance, and threatened with prosecution for two years.

In 2015, he will complain that he was unfairly targeted because he was a whistleblower. He says Clinton and other top ranking officials will never get prosecuted, no matter what they do. “These people are above the law.” (McClatchy Newspapers, 9/29/2015)

July 3, 2009: A possibly “top secret” email to Clinton mentions spy satellite information about North Korea.

Shelby Smith-Wilson (Credit: Department of State Archives)

Shelby Smith-Wilson (Credit: Department of State Archives)

An email is written by Shelby Smith-Wilson, an official in the State Department’s operations center. Parts of it will later be deemed “top secret,” then downgraded to “secret,” the medium classification level. The New York Times will later report, “Although that portion was entirely redacted, one government official familiar with the contents said it described a conference call among senior officials, including Mrs. Clinton, about the ballistic missile test that North Korea conducted that day in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.” Smith-Wilson’s initial email is addressed to “Dan,” possibly National Security Council official Dan Russel. It is titled “Summary of 1055 EDT DPRK Conference Call.” (“DPRK” stands for Democratic People’s Republic of [North] Korea.)

It is circulated amongst State Department officials, including Clinton aides Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Jake Sullivan. Abedin then forwards it to Clinton.

In 2015, the email will be included in a random sample of 40 Clinton emails reviewed by State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. He and Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough will deem parts of it “top secret.” The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will later concur, suggesting it contains intelligence from US spy satellites. But the State Department will disagree, and after months of dispute, in February 2016 the email will be downgraded to “secret,” with parts of it publicly released. Even then, this will be called a “provisional” decision, suggesting the dispute is on-going. (Politico, 2/29/2016) (US Department of State, 2/29/2016)

December 29, 2009: New rules clarify what the US government considers classified information

President Obama issues “Executive Order 13526: Classified National Security Information,” which updates a previous 1995 directive. The order clearly defines what the different levels of government classification are: “top secret,” “secret,” and “confidential.” It also states that: “The unauthorized disclosure of foreign government information is presumed to cause damage to the national security.” It further lists what information should be considered classified, and that list includes “foreign government information” and ‘foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources.” (White House, 12/29/2009)

April 24, 2010: A Blumenthal email appears to reveal details of a US criminal investigation in Kyrgyzstan and will later be classified at the “secret” level.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Bob Blake (Credit: The Hundu)

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Bob Blake (Credit: The Hundu)

Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal sends Clinton an email with the subject heading: “Kyrgyzstan Update.” He also marks it “Confidential.” It starts with [redacted] “my friend with deep contacts in Kyrgyzstan and who testified this week on the latest developments there before the House Oversight Committee, has sent me a memo containing important new information and including some recommendations.”

Three pages of analysis from this friend about recent developments in Kyrgyzstan follow, and virtually all of it will be later unredacted. However, there is a section with the title “Criminal Investigation Targeting” [redacted]. That section is later redacted due to four classification codes, including “foreign relations or foreign activities of the US including confidential sources,” and information that could “disclose investigative techniques.” Due to this section, the email will later be classified at the “secret” level, the level below “top secret.”

Clinton sends three emails in response. One is to Blumenthal, thanking him and his friend. Another is to an aide to print the email. A third email goes to Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Bob Blake and two others, asking for their assessment.

All of these emails are later deemed “secret” as well, since they contain Blumenthal’s original email. (US Department of State, 2/29/2016) (US Department of State, 2/29/2016(US Department of State, 2/29/2016)

August 23, 2010: An email forwarded to Clinton apparently reveals an aide to the leader of Afghanistan is being paid by the CIA.

Dexter Filkins (Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Dexter Filkins (Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Matt Lussenhop, a press officer at the US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, sends an email to over a dozen other US officials. The email is sent to Clinton aide Jake Sullivan, who emails it to Clinton. Lussenhop’s email concerns an article that New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins is about to get published. Filkins contacted the embassy in Kabul to get quotes for his story, which alleges that Muhammed Zia Salehi, an aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, is on the payroll of the CIA. The email is two paragraphs long, but the first paragraph will later be completely redacted and deemed classified at the “secret” level, the level below “top secret.” (US Department of State, 2/29/2016)

The article will be published in the Times two days later, on August 25, 2010. (The New York Times, 8/25/2010)

Matt Lussenhop (Credit: public domain)

Matt Lussenhop (Credit: public domain)

In Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, she will be asked about this email. According to the FBI, “Clinton stated she did not remember the email specifically. [She] stated she was not concerned the displayed email contained classified information [redacted] but stated she had no reason to doubt the judgment of the people working for her on the ‘front lines.'”  (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Salehi was arrested by Afghan police in July 2010, one month before the Times article about him, due to a US government wiretap on him as part of an anti-corruption case. But he was released the next day on the orders of Karzai. In 2013, Foreign Policy will confirm that not only was Salehi working for the CIA, but he actually was an intermediary who was giving secret CIA cash payments to Karzai. (Foreign Policy, 5/4/2013)

Given that this is one of a small number of emails Clinton will be asked about in her FBI interview, as well its classification at the “secret” level, it stands to reason that Lussenhop confirmed Salehi’s CIA connection.

 

January 21, 2011–January 22, 2011: Two emails about the Iran nuclear program are sent to Clinton.

Jake Sullivan (Credit: The Associated Press)

Jake Sullivan (Credit: The Associated Press)

Her aide Jake Sullivan sends the emails which appear to include a summary of secret talks conducted by the “P5 1,” the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. The subject line of the first email is “FW: Summary of Day One of Istanbul P5 1 talks,” and the second contains a summary of day two.

The emails will be published in 2015, but in heavily redacted form. The New York Times will later report, “State Department officials appear to have concluded that those details about conversations among foreign officials should have been classified as ‘secret’ at the time they were sent.” “Secret” is the medium level of classification, below “top secret.” (The New York Times, 9/30/2015) (The New York Times, 9/30/2015) (US Department of State, 12/31/2015)

April 3, 2011: Clinton’s comments about a Libyan defector will later be deemed “secret.”

Moussa Koussa (Credit: PA)

Moussa Koussa (Credit: PA)

Clinton aide Jake Sullivan sends Clinton a forward of a Reuters article explaining how former Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa has just defected to Britain and will be talking to British intelligence. The article will not be redacted later, but all of the extensive comments by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns will be. Then Clinton adds three lines of commentary that also will be totally redacted. Her email will later be deemed “secret,” which is the middle level of classification. (US Department of State, 2/29/2016)

April 10, 2011: An email forwarded to Clinton appears to contain the most recent US military intelligence, which should have been classified.

US Ambassador Christopher Stevens. He dies from smoke asphyxiation on September 11, 2012, due to a terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. (Credit: Reuters)

US Ambassador Christopher Stevens. He dies from smoke asphyxiation on September 11, 2012, due to a terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. (Credit: Reuters)

The email discusses the current security situation in Libya. It says that due to violence in the town of Ajdabiyah, US Special Envoy Christopher Stevens “is considering departure from Benghazi.” It also discusses Stevens’ concerns about departing and it details the “phased checkout” of Stevens’ staff from the area, possibly in a few hours. Additionally, it contains the latest secret intelligence from AFRICOM (US Africa Command, the US military in Africa), detailing nearby troop movements in the Libyan civil war that could threaten Stevens and his staff. Tim Davis, a special assistant to Clinton, writes the email and then sends it to Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who forwards it to Clinton. Davis marks it “SBU,” which means “sensitive but unclassified.” The email will be released to the public in full on May 13, 2015.

However, the State Department’s inspector general will later conclude that the email should not have been made public without redactions. Furthermore, in August 2015, an unnamed government official familiar with the investigation into Clinton’s emails will tell CBS News that at least the part of the email containing current military intelligence should have been marked classified at the time. Additionally, because that information originated from the military, the State Department did not have the right to declassify it at the time it was sent or later. The unnamed official will say that this kind of mistake is not unusual for State Department officials when they discuss information from multiple sources, but the difference is that this email is stored on Clinton’s private server, which can be easily hacked or monitored. (CBS News, 8/19/2015) (US Department of State, 5/13/2015

In 2015, Fox News will claim that the email contained intelligence from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which oversees satellite imagery. Furthermore, “all three agencies confirmed to the intelligence community inspector general that the intelligence was classified when it was sent four years ago by Abedin to Clinton’s private account, and remains classified to this day.” (Fox News, 8/26/2015) Even though the email will be made public in full in May 2015, it will be reclassified as “secret” in September 2015. “Secret” is the medium level of classification, below “top secret.” (The New York Times, 9/30/2015)

May 15, 2011: Senator John Kerry’s email to Clinton with classified details about a recent meeting he had with two Pakistani generals.

Pakistani Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (right) and ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha in June 2011. (Credit: The Hindu)

Pakistani Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (right) and ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha in June 2011. (Credit: The Hindu)

Mere hours earlier, Kerry (D) met with Director General Ahmad Pasha, who is head of the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, and Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Kayani, who is the head of Pakistan’s military. Kerry writes, “During a long dinner with [the generals] to discuss the major issues between our two countries and in the region, I specifically sought their views.” But almost all of the rest of his 17-page email will later be redacted, and will be deemed “secret,” the middle classification ranking.

Politico will later comment that this email plus two others could be “awkward” for Kerry, because “reports he sent Clinton about his diplomacy in Pakistan wound up in her private email account, which was not authorized to hold classified information.” (Politico, 2/29/2016)

May 16, 2011: Could “secret” emails to Clinton be related to Pakistan’s knowledge of bin Laden’s location?

Former US Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter (Credit: The Express Tribune)

Former US Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter (Credit: The Express Tribune)

On May 15, 2011, Senator John Kerry (D) emailed Clinton with details about a recent meeting he had with Pakistani generals Ahmad Pasha and Ashfaq Kayani, and his email will later be deemed “secret,” the middle level of classification. The next day, Clinton aide Jake Sullivan emails Clinton with the comment: “Cameron called me, hysterical, —” The rest of the sentence is redacted, then Sullivan adds, “This is likely what Kerry is calling about.” Clinton replies to Sullivan, “Can you get me facts (such as they are) before I talk [with] Kerry?” These two emails will also later be deemed “secret,” due to the redaction in Sullivan’s brief comment. (US Department of State, 2/13/2016)

It is not known who Cameron is. However, at the time, the US ambassador to Pakistan is Cameron Munter. (The Asia Times, 5/11/2012) Intriguingly, Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011, just two weeks earlier. Furthermore, in 2014, an article in the New York Times will claim that the US had direct evidence that Pasha, who is also head of the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, knew of Bin Laden’s presence there. The information is said to come from a “senior United States official.” (The New York Times, 3/19/2014)

In 2015, famed journalist Seymour Hersh will similarly claim that both Pasha and Kayani had been told of the planned US attack on bin Laden well in advance, and once they realized the US was going to kill him no matter what, they helped make sure the attack would succeed. (London Review of Books, 5/21/2015)

August 24, 2011: Clinton’s email about her phone call to the head of NATO will later be deemed “secret.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Credit: public domain)

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Credit: public domain)

Clinton aide Jake Sullivan sends Clinton an email entitled “Rasmussen call.” Every word of his several lines of text will later be redacted. Then Clinton responds to him with three lines of text, which also will later be completely redacted. Although nothing is known about the content, other emails from the same day indicate that Clinton calls NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Clinton’s email to Sullivan will later be deemed “secret,” the middle level of classification. It also will be redacted in part due to the National Security Act of 1947, though why that is so remains unclear. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016) (US Department of State, 10/30/2015) NATO is in charge of the US-dominated bombing campaign in Libya at the time. (The Los Angeles Times, 10/21/2011)

October 16, 2011: A Clinton email mentions the name of a secret CIA official.

Douglas Kmiec (Credit: public domain)

Douglas Kmiec (Credit: public domain)

US Ambassador to Malta Douglas Kmiec sends Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills an email meant for Clinton, and Mills forwards it on to her. The email’s subject heading is: “Re: TIME SENSITIVE AND CONFIDENTIAL — Malta Trip Backgrounder for the Secretary — Confidential.” (“Confidential” is the lowest of three US classification levels.) The five-page email gives a general report on the personnel at the US embassy in Malta, plus other information about Malta.

All of the email will later be unredacted, except for one sentence: “The defense attaché there now is new [redacted] beloved and hardworking – and to good effect, patrolling the waters and the ports for drugs, traffickers, and terror related figures.”

The reason given for the redacted portion is the mention of a secret CIA official. As a result, the entire email will later be deemed “secret,” one level higher than “confidential.”

Clinton replies to the email, sending all of the original message to her deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin as well. But Clinton only discusses her travel plans, and makes no mention of the CIA official. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016)

December 16, 2011: Clinton’s daily schedule accidentally reveals the name of a secret CIA official.

State Department official Claire Coleman emails Clinton her daily schedule early in the morning. It mentions a photo opportunity with a person. The person’s name will later be redacted, but the context makes it clear it is the secret CIA official who gives her a daily intelligence briefing.

The New York Times will later report, “That email was originally released as ‘confidential’ but upgraded to ‘secret,’ probably reflecting that the person holds an undercover position now.” (US Department of State, 1/29/2016) (The New York Times, 5/10/2016

Clinton sends a reply which is also classified at the “secret” level. (US Department of State, 2/29/2016)

December 23–27, 2011: An email about a specific US drone strike is forwarded to Clinton.

Frank Ruggiero (Credit: public domain)

Frank Ruggiero (Credit: public domain)

On December 23, 2011, US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter sends a short email to his bosses Frank Ruggiero, who is acting US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Ruggiero’s deputy Daniel Feldman. The email’s subject heading is “(SBU),” which stands for “sensitive but unclassified.” The single line email will later be mostly redacted, but according to a June 2016 Wall Street Journal article, Munter indicates that a specific US drone strike is planned.

Feldman then forwards the email to Clinton aides Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills with the comment, “I’m sure you know already, but just in case.” There are two more emails between Feldman and Mills in the chain that day, mostly later redacted.

Then, on December 27, 2011, Mills resumes the chain with a short email to Feldman, asking, “What happened on this?”

After some more mostly redacted discussion, the full email chain is forwarded by Mills to Clinton later that day. Her response, if any, is unknown.

 Nine-year-old Nabila Rehman appears before Congress and holds a drawing depicting the drone strike that killed her grandmother. (Credit: Evan Vucci / The Associated Press)

Nabila Rehman appears before Congress and holds a drawing depicting the drone strike that killed her grandmother in 2009. (Credit: Evan Vucci / The Associated Press)

The Wall Street Journal will later cite this chain as its only specific example of emails about the US drone program said to be a “key part” of the FBI’s Clinton investigation. Apparently, many of the other emails about various drone strikes are later deemed “top secret,” so their details can’t be shared.

The Journal will claim this email chain is an example of officials having discussions about highly classified drone strikes via unsecured emails “in part because people were away from their offices for the [Christmas] holiday and didn’t have access to a classified computer, officials said.”

Munter incorrectly marks the original email “SBU,” because the Journal will later note, “Under strict US classification rules, US officials have been barred from discussing strikes publicly and even privately outside of secure communications systems.”

Many of the other emails discussing proposed drone strikes will be deemed “top secret,” the highest classification level. (The Wall Street Journal, 6/9/2016) (US Department of State, 1/7/2016)

In Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, she will be asked about this email chain, which reached her on December 27, 2011. “Clinton stated no policy or practice existed related to communicating around holidays, and it was often necessary to communicate in code or do the best you could to convey the information considering the email system you were using. In reference to the same email, Clinton believed if the foreign press was to obtain information from that email, it would not cause damage to the US Government.”

It is impossible to judge the validity Clinton’s comments, since so much of the entire chain remains redacted. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

March 14, 2012: An email forwarded to Clinton appears to reveal the secret identity of the CIA director’s chief of staff.

Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, forwards to Clinton an email with the subject heading: “URGENT — From Dave Petraeus’s Chief of Staff…” The name of the sender of the original email will later be redacted because it mentions the name of a secret CIA official. However, the subject heading logically suggests the sender is the chief of staff of CIA Director David Petraeus. The original email is sent at 4:44 a.m., suggesting it is quite urgent.

Parts of the email chain are later redacted due to containing “foreign government information” as additional mentions of secret CIA officials, although it’s unclear if all of these are the same person. Emails in the chain are too heavily redacted to be understood, although it might relate to security protocols, because Mills makes the comment, “I do want to discuss this situation as it will reoccur and we have protocols that we follow that I welcome covering with you.”

The email will later be classified at the “secret” level, which is the medium classification level, although it is not clear how much of this is due to the mention of a secret CIA name or names and how much is due to the urgent content in the emails. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016) 

Clinton replies to Mills at 6:49 a.m., presumably just after arriving to work, agreeing to receive a phone call from Mills about the matter a short time later. Clinton’s reply email will also be later deemed “secret,” because it includes all of the previous emails in the chain. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016)

March 14, 2012: Cheryl Mills reveals the name of a secret CIA official in an email that is forwarded to Clinton.

Ambassador Henry Ensher (Credit: public domain)

Ambassador Henry Ensher (Credit: public domain)

Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills writes an email to US Ambassador to Algeria Henry Ensher. Most of the short email will later be deemed classified both for containing “foreign government information” as well as the name of a secret CIA official. Ensher replies on March 19, and that also will later be deemed classified for containing “foreign government information” as well as the name of a secret CIA official. Mills then forwards the email chain to Clinton. The email to Clinton will later be deemed “secret,” the medium classification level. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016)

March 25, 2012: An email to Clinton mentions the name of a secret CIA official.

Marc Grossman (Credit: public domain)

Marc Grossman (Credit: public domain)

State Department official Christina Tomlinson sends Clinton aide Jake Sullivan an email entitled “MG-Z in Dushanbe.” Sullivan then forwards it to Clinton. Other Clinton emails indicate that “MG” is a reference to US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman. Dushanbe is the capital of Tajikistan. Different portions of Tomlinson’s email will be deemed classified for various reasons. But one section is classified because it mentions the name of a secret CIA official. As a result, the entire email will later be deemed “secret,” the middle classification level. There is no apparent response from Clinton. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016)

June 7, 2012: An email thread provides a murky glimpse into Clinton’s classified work with Pakistan.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar (Credit: Agence France Presse)

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar (Credit: Agence France Presse)

On this day, Clinton takes part in a series of emails with Jake Sullivan, her top foreign policy aide. All the emails in the thread are classified a “secret,” which is the ranking below “top secret.” The entire exchange is redacted, except for the subject line: “Khar–where we are.”

Several days earlier, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had requested that the US apologize for the death of 24 Pakistani troops in a NATO airstrike, so the emails presumably discuss how the US should react. Sullivan sends 215 classified emails to Clinton, more than anyone else. (The Washington Post, 3/5/2016) 

Further emails in the chain will also be deemed “secret,” but in one of them, a mysterious comment Clinton makes to Sullivan will be declassified: “I’m even more determined to do this and have some ideas I want to discuss [with] you.” (US Department of State, 2/13/2016)

July 6, 2012: Clinton’s emails contain classified discussions about US drone strikes.

US Ambassador Richard Hoagland (Credit: US Embassy of Islamabad)

US Ambassador Richard Hoagland (Credit: US Embassy of Islamabad)

An email sent to Clinton from her aide Jake Sullivan on this day will later be deemed “secret,” the medium level of US classification. The email contains the text of an Associated Press article titled “US drone strike kills 4 militant in Pakistan.” The article will not be redacted at all, but Ambassador Richard Hoagland, deputy chief of mission for the US Embassy in Islamabad, made some comments about it before sending it to Sullivan, and Hoagland’s comments will later be redacted.

Another email from May 2011 followed a similar pattern. An article about the US drone program was commented on, and it was the comments that merited a “secret” classification. (Politico, 2/29/2016)

October 13, 2012: Clinton receives an email that reveals undercover CIA officers use State Department cover in Afghanistan.

Jeremy Bash (left) Leon Panetta (right) (Credits: public domain)

Jeremy Bash (left) Leon Panetta (right) (Credits: public domain)

Jeremy Bash, who is chief of staff to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the time, sends an email to four other US officials, including Clinton aides Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills. Sullivan then forwards the email to Clinton. The email has the subject heading: “This a.m. Green on Blue.” That is an idiom referring to when police attacks soldiers. The email refers to an Afghan police officer triggering a suicide vest and killing or wounding 14 Americans or Afghans, including one dead American.

The email will later be classified at the “secret” level, suggesting some important classified information in it, but its redactions make it difficult to understand. There is no indication of a reply from Clinton. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016)

In Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, she will be specifically asked about this email, again suggesting something unusual about it. However, her answer will also be heavily reacted. For instance, “Clinton believed she would be speculating if she were to state what [redacted] meant when he referred to [redacted].” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Dario Lorenzetti (public domain)

Dario Lorenzetti (public domain)

On February 4, 2016, NBC News will reveal that the email concerns undercover CIA officer Dario Lorenzetti. He died in the suicide attack described in the email. Lorenzetti’s CIA connection was leaked to the media by anonymous officials four days after his death and was widely reported in the news media, although his CIA cover was not lifted until later.

According to NBC News, in the redacted portions of the email, it seems Bash was trying “to preserve the CIA officer’s cover. But some of the language he used, now that Lorenzetti is known to have been a CIA officer, could be read as a US government acknowledgement that CIA officers pose as State Department personnel in a specific country, Afghanistan — something widely known but not formally admitted.” This is why the email is classified at the “secret” level.

Bash ends the email by instructing a CIA spokesperson to “please lash up with [redacted].” NBC News will indicate the missing word is “presumably either the spy agency or one of its employees.” (NBC News, 2/4/2016)

This may be the phrase that the FBI asked Clinton about, and to which she replied that “she would be speculating if she were to state what [redacted] meant when he referred to [redacted].” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

NBC News will also interview Bash about this email. Bash will claim that the email “did not reference the individual’s name, employer, nor any identifying description or information.” Additionally, once the CIA posthumously lifted Lorenzetti’s cover, “the original unclassified email could be read to confirm the general use of cover, prompting the redactions we now see. But any suggestion that this email contained confirmation about the person or his cover, or any inappropriate information, is flat wrong.” (NBC News, 2/4/2016)

November 18, 2012: An email forwarded to Clinton is later classified at the “secret” level by the FBI.

Bill Roebuck (Credit: public domain)

Bill Roebuck (Credit: public domain)

State Department official Bill Roebuck sends an email revealing that Libyan police have arrested several people who might have connections to the September 2012 Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack. The subject heading is: “FYI- Report of arrests — possible Benghazi connection.” He says the police “were acting on information furnished by DS/RSO [Diplomatic Security/Regional Security Officer].”—this is followed by five lines that later will be redacted.

Twenty-three words from those lines will be classified at the medium “secret” level. According to classification codes, the FBI requests the redaction because that information could “interfere with [law] enforcement proceedings,” “disclose confidential sources,” and “disclose investigation techniques.” The email’s contents somehow relate to the FBI, because one email reply to it includes the unredacted sentence: “FBI in Tripoli is fully involved.”

Roebuck’s email is forwarded to other US officials.

Then Clinton aide Jake Sullivan forwards the email to Clinton, who apparently makes no reply. (The Associated Press, 5/22/2015) (US Department of State, 5/21/2015)

It will later be alleged that in mid-2015, Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy will attempt to change the classification code of the email to one that would be less politically embarrassing for Clinton, but apparently without success.

July 17, 2014: Former Navy contract linguist James Hitselberger pleads guilty to a misdemeanor charge of taking classified documents without authority.

He is sentenced to two weeks of time served, eight months of house arrest, and a $250 fine. While working as an Arabic linguist for the Navy in Bahrain, he printed two documents classified “secret” off of a classified computer system and attempted to leave a secure work area with them. He also was accused of sending some classified documents to a public archive at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. (Politico, 4/25/2014)

October 28, 2014: Three more former secretaries of state are asked for their emails.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (Credit: NBC News)

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (Credit: NBC News)

On the same day the State Department formally asks Clinton for her emails from when she was secretary of state, it also sends letters to her three predecessors as secretary of state—Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice—asking if they have any emails or other federal records in their possession.

Albright replies that she did not use email during the years they were in office.

Rice did have a government email account, but only used it rarely.

Powell, who was secretary of state from 2001 to 2005, had a private email account through AOL [America Online] but did not keep his emails.

The State Department’s inspector general will later find that Powell’s personal email account had received two emails from staff that contained “national security information classified at the Secret or Confidential levels.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) (The Wall Street Journal, 3/10/2015)

Late March 2015: Republicans want department watchdogs to see if Clinton’s emails contained classified information.

Senator Richard Burr (left) and Senator Bob Corker (right) (Credit: The Washington Post (left) and Getty Images (right))

Senator Richard Burr (left) and Senator Bob Corker (right) (Credit: The Washington Post (left) and Getty Images (right))

Shortly after Clinton claims in early March 2015 that her emails contained no classified information, senators Richard Burr and Bob Corker, the Republican chairmen of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees, ask the inspectors general of the State Department and the Intelligence Community to investigate if Clinton or other top State Department officials had classified information on their private email accounts.

State Department Inspector General Charles McCullough will only be given a random sample of 40 Clinton emails to investigate. He will conclude that four of them contained information that should have been marked classified. (The New York Times, 8/8/2015

One of those four emails will later be declassified and released publicly by the State Department. It will turn out that email was mistakenly thought to be based on a secret report, but the report actually was made slightly after the email was sent.

Another will be deemed “confidential” and partially released.

Another, written on July 3, 2009 about North Korea, will be deemed “top secret” at first and then downgraded to “secret” and partially released.

Finally, one will be permanently deemed “top secret,” and will be considered one of 22 of Clinton’s top secret emails. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) (The New York Times, 2/29/2016) (Politico, 11/6/2015)

May 22, 2015: The first batch of Clinton’s emails from when she was secretary of state are made public by the State Department.

This first batch of only 296 emails all relate to Benghazi, Libya, and the 2012 terrorist attack there. They are released first because they had been requested before the others due to the House Benghazi Committee investigation. The emails reveal a close relationship between Clinton and her confidant Sid Blumenthal in the weeks following the Benghazi terrorist attack. One of the emails has been retroactively classified by the FBI as “secret.” (US Department of State, 5/22/2015) (National Public Radio, 5/22/2015)

May 22, 2015: One of Clinton’s emails is revealed to contain classified information; Clinton says she is not concerned.

Out of the first batch of Clinton’s over 30,000 emails made public on this day, one is classified, and at the “secret” level, which is the middle classification level. This shows that at least some of Clinton’s emails contain classified information, especially since only a small batch of 296 emails are released on this day.

Asked if she is concerned that such information was stored on her private server, Clinton simply says, “No.” She also says it “doesn’t change the fact all of the information in the emails was handled appropriately.” (The Associated Press, 5/22/2015)

May 22, 2015—June 15, 2015: The State Department asks Clinton’s lawyer for electronic copies of all of Clinton’s emails, but also asks him to delete all copies of one particular email.

Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy sends a letter to David Kendall, Clinton’s personal lawyer. In December 2014, Clinton gave the State Department paper copies of the over 30,000 emails she turned over at that time. But now, Kennedy also asks for electronic copies of them all (which contain metadata and can be more easily searched). However, one email publicly released on May 22 is classified at the “secret” level, which is the middle classification level. The email was sent to Clinton on November 18, 2012, and has the subject heading “FYI- Report of arrests — possible Benghazi connection.”

Kennedy specifically asks Kendall to delete all electronic copies of that email and give the State Department any remaining hard copies of it. Presumably this is due to concerns that the email might not be properly secured and/or Kendall might not have the security clearance to possess it.

On June 15, Kendall responds that he has followed Kennedy’s instructions except that he has been ordered by the House Benghazi Committee to keep electronic copies of all of Clinton’s emails, so he did not delete that one “secret” email. (Judicial Watch, 9/15/2015)

July 24, 2015: Two of Clinton’s emails in a small sample are said to contain “top secret” information.

The New York Times reveals that Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough told the FBI, Justice Department, and members of Congress that Clinton had “top secret” information in two emails among the random selection of 40 emails that the State Department had allowed him to review. Additionally, two other emails contained “secret” level information. “Top secret” is the highest classification level, and “secret” is the medium level.

The State Department refused to give McCullough access to the entire trove of roughly 30,000 emails that Clinton handed over to the Department last year, and which are slowly being released to the public in batches. But State Department official Patrick Kennedy admits that it is likely that the entire body of emails contains hundreds of instances of classified information. (The New York Times, 7/24/2015) 

The classification level of a couple of these emails will be downgraded later, but one will remain “top secret.” And eventually, over 2,000 of her emails will be found to have contained classified information.

July 25, 2015: Clinton says, “I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received.”

This is a shift from previous statements where she claimed her emails didn’t contain any classified material at all. (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015) Clinton also says that very few issues have emerged in her publicly released emails so far. “We’re talking about four or fewer.” However, the Wall Street Journal notes, “The inspector general has reviewed only about 40 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, though, suggesting that more secret or top-secret information could be found in the thousands… that remain.” (The Wall Street Journal, 7/25/2015)

August 2015: Secretary of State Powell received two classified emails, but under very different circumstances than Clinton.

Secretary of State Colin Powell (Credit: CBS News)

Secretary of State Colin Powell (Credit: CBS News)

Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall writes a letter to the State Department claiming that Clinton’s “use of personal email was consistent with the practices of other secretaries of state.” Kendall points in particular to Colin Powell, who appears to be the only other secretary of state to use a private email account while in office. But Powell had a government email account in addition to private one.

According to the Washington Post, “Powell conducted virtually all of his classified communications on paper or over a State Department computer installed on his desk that was reserved for classified information, according to interviews.” He also had a phone line installed in his office solely to link to his private email account, which he generally used for personal or non-classified communication. The State Department’s inspector general did find that Powell’s personal email account had received two emails from staff that contained “national security information classified at the ‘secret’ or ‘confidential’ levels.” (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016) 

It will later come out that the two emails were at the lowest ‘confidential’ level and did not actually contain any intelligence but were classified for other reasons. (ABC News, 3/4/2016)

August 11, 2015: Two out of a random sample of 40 Clinton emails are retroactively deemed “top secret.”

The email sample was examined by the inspectors general of the State Department and the Intelligence Community. Those two emails were not marked as classified at the time, but were given classified labels indicating they contain highly sensitive information from signal intercepts and spy satellites. One is a discussion of a news article about a drone strike operation. The other concerns North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. (Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, 8/11/2015) (The New York Times, 9/7/2015) 

One of the two emails is said to be designated “TOP SECRET//SI//TK/NOFORN.” “SI” stands for “special intelligence,” and usually indicates an intercepted communication. “TK” is an abbreviation for “Talent Keyhole,” which the New York Times reports “relies on satellite intercepts of conversations or imagery data. The program involves some of the most secure information in the intelligence agencies’ computer systems.” “NOFORN” means no foreigners should read the intelligence. (The New York Times, 8/14/2015)

In February 2016, the email about North Korea, written July 3, 2009, will be downgraded from “top secret” to “secret” and then partially released. This will leave one of the random sample of 40 emails “top secret.” All that is known about it is that it is from 2011. (The New York Times, 2/29/2016)

August 14, 2015: The head of the US government’s National Archives says Clinton should have recognized classified information and shouldn’t have used a private server.

John Fitzpatrick (Credit: Mike Morones / The Federal Times)

John Fitzpatrick (Credit: Mike Morones / The Federal Times)

John Fitzpatrick, who heads the Information Security Oversight Office in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), says that government agencies train officials with security clearances to spot sensitive material and then to look up the proper classifications, such as “confidential,” “secret” or “top secret.”

“If you write an email, you are expected to distinguish the classified from the unclassified. If you say ‘the CIA reports’ something—writing that sentence should set off alarm bells.” However, Fitzpatrick says that issue is somewhat academic given that Clinton had all her emails on a private server. “The rules require conducting any official business on an official system. There are many reasons for that—including assuring the security of the information, regardless of its classification. There is no argument to have those conversations in a private email.” (The Washington Post, 8/14/2015)

September 7, 2015: A second intelligence review of two Clinton emails endorses the finding that they contained highly classified information when she received them.

CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. (Credit: The Library of Congress)

CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. (Credit: The Library of Congress)

Clinton and some in the State Department claimed that a report by Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough was wrong that the emails should have been deemed “top secret.” So a special review was done by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and that review confirmed that the emails should have been considered “top secret.”

Little is known about the two emails, since no parts of them have been released, but one is from 2009 and the other is from 2011. One of them relates to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. (The New York Times, 9/7/2015)

After more months of inter-departmental debate, in February 2016 the email about North Korea will be downgraded to “secret” and partially released, but the other one will stay “top secret.” (The New York Times, 2/29/2016)

October 30, 2015: There are a small number of emails between President Obama and Clinton, but they remain secret.

Obama typing on his phone on an airplane, July 9, 2008. (Credit: Charles Ommanney / Getty Images)

Obama typing on his phone on an airplane, July 9, 2008. (Credit: Charles Ommanney / Getty Images)

It is reported that the State Department is not releasing the emails between Obama and Clinton from when she was his secretary of state. The White House is insisting the emails are presidential records, which normally stay secret until at least five years after a president leaves office. (Politico, 10/30/2015)  (The New York Times, 2/29/2016) 

Experts believe that as lawsuits trying to force the release of all of Clinton’s emails proceed, at least some more details of these emails will come out. (Politico, 10/30/2015)

January 14, 2016: Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough states that some of Clinton’s private emails contained information that was classified above “top secret.”

He asserts in a letter to Congress that an unnamed intelligence agency has made a sworn declaration that “several dozen emails [had been] determined by the [Intelligence Community] element to be at the CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, and TOP SECRET/SAP levels.” “SAP” stands for “special access program,” and the New York Times says that they are “often intelligence-gathering programs and other secret programs run by the Pentagon and the CIA that are among the government’s most closely guarded secrets.”

Other intelligence officials say that the several dozen emails do not include two emails classified top secret taken from a random sample of 40 of Clinton’s emails. (The New York Times, 1/19/2016) (NBC News, 1/19/2016) 

It will later be reported that 22 of Clinton’s emails were deemed “top secret,” including one from the random sample of 40 emails, with many more classified “secret” or “confidential.”

February 29, 2016: Final totals show over 2,000 of Clinton’s emails contained classified information.

The last batch of Clinton’s private emails are publicly released. Out of the 30,490 emails, 22 are deemed “top secret,” which is the highest level of classification. 65 are deemed “secret,” the middle level. 2,028 are “confidential,” the lowest level. That means that 2,115 emails, or seven percent of the total, have some classified ranking. 104 of the classified emails were sent by Clinton herself.

It has been reported that Clinton gave the State Department 30,490 emails, and 30,068 of these were ultimately released. Of the remaining 422 emails, 19 are emails between Clinton and President Obama that have not been released, and one more email withheld because it is part of a continuing investigation. It is not known why the remaining 402 have not been released. (The New York Times, 2/29/2016

However, it has been reported that some emails were returned to Clinton after a determination they were not work-related, so that could explain the discrepancy. (Politico, 9/4/2015)

May 10, 2016: The New York Times reports that 18 of Clinton’s publicly released emails have been deemed classified on the grounds that they identified CIA officials.

The Times claims that, “In 18 emails, for example, information has been classified on the grounds that it identifies CIA officials, including two instances that are now considered “secret.” (The New York Times, 5/10/2016) 

However, this is not entirely accurate. A search of the State Department’s database of Clinton’s released emails indicates that 49 emails used the code “B3 CIA PERS/ORG,” which indicates a redacted mention of secret CIA personnel or organizational details. Many of these are emails from the same email chain. But there are in fact five separate chains mentioning the name of a CIA official classified at the “secret” level, not two. (US Department of State, 1/29/2016) (US Department of State, 2/29/2016) (US Department of State, 1/29/2016) (US Department of State, 1/29/2016) (US Department of State, 1/29/2016

There are 17 more separate email chains that have the redacted names of secret CIA officials, for a total of 22, not 18. Additionally, it has previously been reported that a “handful” of additional emails make veiled references to the fact that certain government officials actually work for the CIA. (NBC News, 2/4/2016)

May 27, 2016: US Naval Machinist Kristian Saucier pleads guilty for taking photos inside the attack submarine he had been working on.

Kristian Saucier (Credit: public domain)

Kristian Saucier (Credit: public domain)

He was arrested in May 2015 on charges that he took some pictures that included classified engineering spaces in the backgrounds. It does not appear he attempted to share the photos with anyone, but he threw a cell phone into a dumpster that contained the phone, and someone else found it and reported it. He pled guilty to one felony count of unlawful retention of national defense information. This is part of the Espionage Act, even though he has never been accused of espionage. Sentencing guidelines suggest he could get five to six years in prison.

Politico reports that some are comparing Saucier’s case to Clinton’s email scandal, and suggesting that the less powerful like Saucier face stiffer punishments. The photos he took have been deemed “confidential,” the lowest classification ranking, while Clinton had some emails on her unapproved private server at the higher rankings of “secret” and “top secret.” Edward MacMahon, a Virginia defense attorney not involved in the Saucier case, says: “Felony charges appear to be reserved for people of the lowest ranks. Everyone else who does it either doesn’t get charged or gets charged with a misdemeanor.” (The Navy Times, 8/1/2015) (Politico, 5/27/2016)

July 5, 2016: FBI Director Comey announces he will not recommend Clinton’s indictment on any charge, but he calls her “extremely careless” in handling highly classified information.

FBI Director James Comey announces his recommendation for Clinton and her aides on July 5, 2016. (Credit: Cliff Owen / The Associated Press)

FBI Director James Comey announces his recommendation in a press conference on July 5, 2016. (Credit: Cliff Owen / The Associated Press)

FBI Director James Comey gives a public speech in front of a group of reporters. The timing is surprising, since this brings an end to the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s email practices, and just a Sunday and the Fourth of July holiday separate this from the FBI’s interview of Clinton on July 2, 2016. Comey spends most of his speech criticizing Clinton, but ends it by saying he will not recommend that the Justice Department pursue any indictment of Clinton or her aides.

Comey’s fifteen-minute speech includes the following information, in order, with key phrases bolded to assist in understanding.

Comey begins by describing the FBI investigation:

  • The investigation started with a referral from Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough, and “focused on whether classified information was transmitted” on Clinton’s personal email server during her time as secretary of state. It specifically “looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.” The FBI “also investigated to determine whether there is evidence of computer intrusion in connection with the personal email server by any foreign power, or other hostile actors.”
  • The FBI found that Clinton “used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send email on that personal domain. As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways…”
  • The FBI analyzed the over 30,000 work emails that Clinton did turn over to the State Department in December 2014, working with other US government departments to determine which emails contained truly classified information at the time they were sent, and which ones were justifiably classified later.
  • James Comey (Credit: Fox News)

    James Comey (Credit: Fox News)

    From the group of 30,068 emails Clinton returned to the State Department, “110 emails in 52 email chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was ‘top secret’ at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained ‘secret’ information at the time; and eight contained ‘confidential’ information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional emails were ‘up-classified’ to make them ‘confidential’; the information in those had not been classified at the time the emails were sent.”

  • It had previously been reported that the FBI had recovered most or all of the 31,830 emails that Clinton had deleted, allegedly because they contained personal information only. However, Comey reveals that was not the case, and thousands of emails were not recovered. He gives an example of how when one of Clinton’s servers was decommissioned in 2013, the email was removed and broken up into millions of fragments.
  • The FBI “discovered several thousand work-related emails” that were not included in the 30,068 emails Clinton returned to the State Department, even though Clinton claimed under oath that she had returned all her work-related emails. The FBI found these after they “had been deleted over the years and we found traces of them on devices that supported or were connected to the private email domain.” Others were found in the archived government email accounts of other government employees whom Clinton frequently communicated with. Still others were found “from the laborious review of the millions of email fragments” of the server decommissioned in 2013.
  • Out of these additional work emails, three were classified at the time they were sent or received – none at the ‘top secret’ level, one at the ‘secret’ level, and two at the ‘confidential’ level. None were found to have been deemed classified later.
  • Furthermore, Comey claims “we found no evidence that any of the additional work-related emails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them. Our assessment is that, like many email users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted emails or emails were purged from the system when devices were changed. Because she was not using a government account—or even a commercial account like Gmail—there was no archiving at all of her emails, so it is not surprising that we discovered emails that were not on Secretary Clinton’s system in 2014, when she produced the 30,000 emails to the State Department.”
  • 160705DeletingAttorneys

    The three Clinton attorneys who deleted emails are David Kendall (left), Cheryl Mills (center), and Heather Samuelson (right). (Credit: public domain)

    However, he also admits that “It could also be that some of the additional work-related emails we recovered were among those deleted as ‘personal’ by Secretary Clinton’s lawyers when they reviewed and sorted her emails for production in 2014.” He claims that the three lawyers who sorted the emails for Clinton in late 2014 (David Kendall, Cheryl Mills, and Heather Samuelson) “did not individually read the content of all of her emails…” Instead, they used keyword searches to determine which emails were work related, and it is “highly likely their search terms missed some work-related emails” that were later found by the FBI elsewhere.

  • Comey states it is “likely” that some emails may have disappeared forever. because Clinton’s three lawyers “deleted all emails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.” But he says that after interviews and technical examination, “we believe our investigation has been sufficient to give us reasonable confidence there was no intentional misconduct in connection with that sorting effort.”

Comey then begins stating his findings:

  • “Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
  • As an example, he points out that “seven email chains concern matters that were classified at the ‘Top Secret/Special Access Program’ [TP/SAP] level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending emails about those matters and receiving emails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”
  • He adds that it was a similar situation with emails classified at the “secret” level when they were sent, although he doesn’t specify how many.
  • He comments, “None of these emails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these emails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at departments and agencies of the US government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.”
  • He notes that “only a very small number of the emails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an email, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.”
  • He then criticizes the State Department as a whole. The FBI found evidence that “the security culture” of the State Department “was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.” This was especially true regarding the use of unclassified email systems.
  • Then he addresses whether “hostile actors” were able to gain access to Clinton’s emails. Although no direct evidence of any successful hacking was found, he points out that “given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial email accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.”

After laying out the evidence of what the FBI found, Comey moves to the FBI’s recommendation to the Justice Department. He admits that it is highly unusual to publicly reveal the FBI’s recommendation, but “in this case, given the importance of the matter, I think unusual transparency is in order.”

James Comey (Credit: NPR)

James Comey (Credit: NPR)

Then he comes to these conclusions:

  • “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.”
  • To justify this decision, he claims he examined other cases involving the mishandling or removal of classified information, and “we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.”
  • He then says, “To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now. As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.”
  • He concludes by saying the FBI’s investigation was done competently, honestly, and independently, and without any kind of outside influence.

He doesn’t address the possibility of recommending the indictment of any of Clinton’s aides or other figures like Sid Blumenthal or Justin Cooper. He also doesn’t make any mention of the Clinton Foundation, though there have been media reports the FBI has been investigating it as well. After finishing his speech, he leaves without taking any questions from the media. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

July 5, 2016: The FBI says Clinton both sent and received emails in seven above “top secret” email chains.

Although FBI Director James Comey announces he will not recommend an indictment of Clinton, comments in his public speech reveal information that could be very politically damaging for Clinton. It was previously known that Clinton’s emails contained 22 “top secret” emails in seven different email chains. However, Comey reveals, “Those chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending and receiving emails about those same matters.”

This contradicts previous news reports that Clinton had only been the recipient of “top secret” emails. Comey also says that seven email chains contain “top secret / special access program” (TP/SAP) information, which is above top secret, plus one more previously unknown email chain at the “top secret” level. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

The New York Times notes, “Those emails have been widely reported to include information about the Central Intelligence Agency’s program to use drones to track and kill terrorism suspects. … Only a small number of officials are allowed access to those programs, which are the nation’s most sensitive intelligence operations.”

Another 36 chains were “secret,” which means it includes information that “could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security.” Eight more chains had information classified at the “confidential” level.

The Times comments that Comey’s speech “was, arguably, the worst possible good news Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign could have hoped for: no criminal charges, but a pointed refutation of statements like one she flatly made last August,” when she said, “I did not send classified material.” (The New York Times, 7/5/2016) (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

September 2, 2016: The FBI provides statistics on the number of Clinton’s classified emails, but those numbers diverge wildly from the State Department’s numbers.

The FBI Clinton email investigation’s final report, released on this day, details how many of Clinton’s emails were deemed classified, and when, and at what level. This data is according to FBI and Intelligence Community (IC) classification reviews, which is different from a State Department review mentioned below:

  • 81 email chains containing approximately 193 individual emails were classified at the “confidential,” “secret,” and “top secret” levels at the time the emails were drafted on unclassified systems and sent to or from Clinton’s personal server.
  • Of the 81 email chains classified at the time they were sent, 68 remain classified.
  • Twelve of these email chains, classified at the “confidential” or “secret” levels, were not included in the over 30,000 emails turned over by Clinton in December 2014. Apparently, no “top secret” emails were in this category.
  • Thirty-six of the 81 email chains were classified at the “confidential” level.
  • Thirty-seven of the chains were at the “secret” level.
  • Eight of the chains were at the “top secret” level.
  • Out of the eight “top secret” chains, seven chains contained information associated with a Special Access Program (SAP), and three email chains contained Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). One “top secret”/SCI email was later downgraded to a current classification of “secret.”
  • Thirty-six of the 81 classified email chains were determined to be Not-Releasable to Foreign Governments (NOFORN) and 2 were considered releasable only to Five Allied partners (FVEY) – the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • Sixteen of the email chains, classified at the time the emails were sent, were downgraded in current classification by Intelligence Community (IC) agencies.
  • By contrast, the State Department’s FOIA process identified 2,028 emails currently at the “confidential” level and 65 currently at the “secret” level, for a total of 2093 emails.

The FBI report further notes: “Of these emails, FBI investigation identified approximately 100 emails that overlapped with the 193 emails (80 email chains) determined through the FBI classification review to be classified at the time sent. All except one of the remaining 2,093 emails were determined by the State FOIA process to be ‘confidential’, with one email determined to be ‘secret’ at the time of the FOIA review. State did not provide a determination as to whether the 2,093 emails were classified at the time they were sent.”

It is unclear why the FBI and IC numbers are so different from the State Department numbers when it comes to “confidential” level emails. The FBI and IC identified 36 of the 81 email chains were classified at the “confidential” level, while the State Department identified 2,028 emails at the “confidential” level. And while one cannot compare email chains to emails, all 81 classified emails chains only contained 193 individual emails, so the 36 “confidential” chains must contain fewer emails than that.

Furthermore, the FBI found an additional 17,000 emails to the over 30,000 work-related emails Clinton gave to the State Department, and it appears these largely haven’t been analyzed. It hasn’t even been reported how many of them are work-related. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

September 2, 2016: The FBI concludes Clinton contributed to discussions in 11 email chains, including four at the above top secret level.

A FBI report released on this day will mention: “The FBI investigation determined Clinton contributed to discussions in four email chains classified as ‘confidential’, three email chains classified as ‘secret’/NOFORN, and four email chains classified as ‘top secret’/ SAP.” (“SAP” stands for “Special Access Programs.”)

However, FBI classification is wildly different from State Department classification when it comes to “confidential” emails, with the FBI deeming 36 email chains of around 100 emails or less classified at that level, compared to the State Department deeming 2,028 individual emails classified at that level.

Furthermore, the FBI puts emails where Clinton asked aides to print out emails as different from replies that added to discussions. The FBI identified 67 times where Clinton forwarded emails for printing at either the “confidential” or “secret” levels. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

A snippet from the graphic created by the Washington Post. (Credit: Washington Post)

A snippet from a graphic created by the Washington Post, indicating the number of emails written by Clinton that were deemed classified. (Credit: Washington Post)

By contrast, a March 2016 Washington Post analysis concluded that 104 of all the emails deemed classified were written by Clinton. Presumably, they used the State Department definition of which ones were classified (since it was the only one publicly available at the time), and they were measuring individual emails instead of email chains. Furthermore,  the Post noted that at least some of Clinton’s comments were deemed classified in three-fourths of these 104 emails, so presumably these were not emails where she just asked fo print-outs. (The Washington Post, 3/5/2016