Clinton, 5 ‘Researchers’ Had Clearances Revoked; State Department Continues Email Probe

Revocation of security clearances highlights concerns they were used for political purposes
October 15, 2018 Updated: October 15, 2018

News Analysis

The security clearances of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and five other individuals, who had been designated as “researchers”—including Clinton’s longtime lawyer, Cheryl Mills—were withdrawn between August and September.

Clinton’s security clearance was withdrawn at her request, according to a statement by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), citing State Department information.

Ongoing active clearances by Clinton and her associates could eventually be connected to evidence uncovered by the House Intelligence Committee of the use of information “to achieve partisan political purposes.”

In his Oct. 12 statement, Grassley wrote the following:

“The U.S. State Department recently confirmed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security clearance has been withdrawn at her request. Clearances for five other individuals whom Clinton designated as researchers have also been withdrawn, including close aide Cheryl Mills, according to the State Department’s update of its ongoing review of the mishandling of classified information related to the use of Clinton’s non-government email server.”

The individuals designated by Clinton as “researchers” had access to classified information beyond the scope of their original duties.

Grassley’s statement also confirmed that the State Department has an ongoing investigation and review “into any mishandling of classified information stemming from the use of Clinton’s non-government email server.” Grassley noted the release was being made public “following consultation with the State Department.”

The agreement to release this information is significant, since the response to Grassley’s prior communication included a request from Acting Assistant Secretary Charles Faulkner to “protect the information in this letter, as it is not public and generally not appropriate for public release.”

With regard to the withdrawal-of-security requests, Grassley had made an initial inquiry on March 30, 2017, after learning that “six additional Secretary Clinton staff at State were designated as her research assistants, which allowed them to retain their clearances after leaving the Department.” It was later determined that seven of Clinton’s former aides were designated as “research assistants.”

Five of the seven, including Mills, appear to have had their security clearances revoked. Two of the Clinton aides appear to have retained their security clearances—although that may change. This indicates that the security revocation was independent of the underlying status of Clinton’s security clearance.

Security violations have been uncovered in the ongoing State Department review:

“Documents containing classified material have been sent to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and all valid security incidents have been added to the security file for some individuals.”

The term “some individuals” would appear to be related to the five Clinton aides—and possibly Clinton herself.

It appears, from Grassley’s letter, that it was just Clinton, and not her aides, who had requested her security clearance be withdrawn “at her request.”

The dates of revocation may help to explain this distinction. In a letter linked within Grassley’s release, Faulkner notes that Clinton requested the withdrawal of her security clearance on Aug. 30. Three weeks later, on Sept. 20, the security clearances of Mills and four other unidentified individuals were administratively withdrawn. The State Department notified Grassley of the revocations on Sept. 21.

It would seem that Clinton preemptively requested her security clearance be withdrawn before it could be revoked along with those of her five aides.

It’s worth noting, security clearances are valuable, and no one voluntarily gives up a security clearance. Individuals may lose access over issues of improprieties or they may fail to maintain their five-year requirements, but the voluntary abandonment of a security clearance is virtually unheard of.

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill posted on Twitter a copy of Clinton’s security clearance revocation request letter from Aug. 30. The letter, sent by her attorney, David Kendall, noted the following:

“She has no desire to have her clearance become part of an unprecedented partisan controversy over the clearance process.”

Left unaddressed in the tweets from Merrill was the security revocation of the five Clinton aides. Also unaddressed is the need for redactions in regards to the identities of the other four Clinton aides.

The State Department has been releasing Clinton emails under the Freedom of Information Act on its website on a monthly basis, with the most recent addition occurring on Oct. 4. The full listing, which is searchable, can be found here.

The letter from Faulkner notes that the Diplomatic Security “review and adjudication process” will begin once the classification review is complete. It appears the State Department is now approaching this final stage.

Mills and the other aides had been granted access to classified information through a request from Clinton, who designated her aides as “researchers” under Executive Order 13526, Sec. 4.4(a)(2) which reads as follows:

Sec. 4.4. Access by Historical Researchers and Certain Former Government Personnel.

(a) The requirement in section 4.1(a)(3) of this order that access to classified information may be granted only to individuals who have a need-to-know the information may be waived for persons who:

(1) are engaged in historical research projects;

(2) previously have occupied senior policy-making positions to which they were appointed or designated by the President or the Vice President.

Leaking and Political Concerns

Clinton’s designation of Mills and other unnamed individuals as “researchers,” with a waiver of the “need-to-know” limitation begs the question; what exactly, were they researching? And what behavior during the course of their “research” caused the revocation of their security clearances.

On July 27, 2017, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said, “Current and former government officials had easy access to U.S. person information and that it is possible that they used this information to achieve partisan political purposes, including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information.

“The Committee also understands that Obama-era officials sought the identities of Trump transition officials within intelligence reports. However, there was no meaningful explanation offered by these officials as to why they needed or how they would use this U.S. person information, and thus, the Committee is left with the impression that these officials may have used this information for improper purposes, including the possibility of leaking.

“We have identified a significant issue that will require changes to federal law. Specifically, we have found that the Intelligence Community’s U.S. person unmasking policies are inadequate to prevent abuse, such as political spying.”

Nunes also noted that one official, “whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama administration.”

This official is likely former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power. But Power has denied, under oath, that she was the one actually making the requests. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who questioned Power, noted: “The Intelligence Community has assigned this number of requests to her. … If there is someone else making a request on behalf of a principal in the Intelligence Community, we need to know that.”

If the unmasking requests didn’t come from Power, who were the individuals making them while using her name to mask their own identities.

We know without a doubt that access to the NSA’s database has been abused. In particular, a 99-pageunsealed FISA Court ruling on April 26, 2017, delved into ongoing FISA abuses:

“The FBI had disclosed raw FISA information, including but not limited to Section 702-acquired information … to private contractors.

“The government still had not ascertained the full range of systems that might have been used to conduct improper U.S.-person queries.

“Approximately eighty-five percent of those queries … were not compliant with the applicable minimization procedures.”

As the FISA court noted, the abuses had been occurring since at least November 2015. Perhaps it’s time to find out exactly who has been engaging in these abuses.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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