Christina Beck reports the latest round in Hillary Clinton's 22 'top secret' e-mails: A scandal revived? Christian Science Monitor 01/30/2016
Digby Parton takes on this latest flap (Top Secret political doubletalk Hullabaloo 01/30/2016). And I hope she's right in saying, "Anyway, from what I can gather Democrats and independents have finally figured out that the Republicans have been crying wolf with this stuff for decades so the only people who get excited about it anymore are the GOP and the media, the latter of which have been their usual irresponsible selves."
Digby relies on Max Fisher's article, The Hillary Clinton top-secret email controversy explained Vox 01/29/2016, which deals with the very key issue that it is not against the law or a violation of government rules to have received an e-mail that contains information that is later classified:
The reason this matters is that if they were immediately classified top secret, then that is a good sign that they contained information that is known as "born classified" — that it was information in itself obtained by classified channels or because it was generated internally by classified means. For example, if Clinton were emailing the secret US bombing plans for Libya, or sharing something that the French ambassador told her in confidence, that would be "born classified."In other words, this latest Clinton pseudoscandal is yet another nothingburger.
But if the information were classified only later, then that would indicate it was more banal, or that it was not classified for any reasons particular to the emails themselves. Again, see below on how a boring email could become marked as top secret.
According to a statement by the State Department, "These documents were not marked classified at the time they were sent."
In other words, they do not contain information that was "born classified," but rather fall into the vast gray area of things that do not seem obviously secret at the time but are later deemed that way — not always for good reason. [my emphasis]
Marcy Wheeler has been closely following various intelligence issues closely since Valerie Plame's exposure, The Leak Hypocrisy of the Hillary Shadow Cabinet Emptywheel 01/30/2016. She's also dismissive of the latest e-mail flap, saying, "I am sympathetic, in principle, to Hillary’s campaign claims that this is much ado about nothing."
But she goes on to note that Hillary's own position on classification and whistleblower issues has not been entirely consistent with her campaign's attitude on the e-mails.
That's a legitimate policy criticism and a very important issue. Overclassification is a serious issue that allows manipulations of the kind the Cheney-Bush Administration made in the lead-up to the Iraq War. And allows officials to cover up incompetence, deception and crime.
But there's no reason to think the latest claims against Clinton fall into those categories.