Some Facts on Classified Information and Email

As usual, this post is intended to provide background facts, not opinion. At the end I do supply a few summary observations. I do NOT have classified info access myself, although I have friends who do. (I would appreciate feedback from my expert friends on the accuracy of what I have written, good bad etc.)


This Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement signed 11/2009 by HRC specifies her understanding that she understands that “classified information” is “marked or unmarked classified information, including oral communications” and that all such information must be protected. (Note that many forms of information, such as foreign gov’t info, info from classified sources such as drones, etc, are “born” classified.)

This SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) Nondisclosure Agreement signed 1/2009 by HRC specifies further that she understands the procedures for SCI, knows what is SCI, will protect SCI either marked or known SCI, can cause irreparable harm by disclosing to unauthorized parties, and will never divulge such information.

This Classification Guide (itself a “declassified” document — take note that it is clearly marked as such), explains about “High Level Correspondence. This includes letters, diplomatic notes or memoranda or other reports of telephone or face-to-face conversations involving foreign chiefs of state or government, cabinet-level officials or comparable level figures, e.g., leaders of opposition parties. It should be presumed that this type of information should be classified at least CONFIDENTIAL…” — in other words much if not most high level information dealt with by her office is automatically classified (yes “CONFIDENTIAL” is classified and should never exist outside of official secure systems.)

Finally, the regulations under CFR 2005 Title 22 Vol 1 explain about Classification Authorities, about classification, declassification, and that for all such (classified OR declassified information) even in the case of email… “markings shall also be affixed to material other than paper documents, or the originator shall provide holders or recipients of the information with written instructions for protecting the information.”

Simple Summary

In the middle of this sea of paperwork, a few simple realities should stand out:

* Classified information is carefully separated. It is always marked, even when declassified.
* It is never allowed to come into contact with an unsecured channel, system or person.
* It SHALL always be marked. Anyone with Classification Authority shall do so… or go ask if they don’t know.
* Everyone involved is seriously trained in all of this with regular renewed education.

Simple Conclusions

And thus, to claim emails were never marked classified when sent is not an excuse, it is (at least) two breaches: failure to protect the information, and failure to ensure the info is marked.

I can tell you my friends with clearance have been sick to their stomachs about all of this.