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Jonathan Turley

State Department: 22 Emails Will Not Be Released As “Top Secret”

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The email scandal deepened for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday with the announcement that the State Department will not release 22 emails because they contain “top secret” information, the highest level of government classification. The latest batch of emails contains seven email chain with top secret information.  While Clinton once insisted that she never sent or received classified information, it is now official that many of the emails did indeed contain classified information. Clinton later argued that she did not send or receive information “marked” as classified. 

While many of us in the field noted that such markings are not the only issue for those who handle classified information, the classification level given so many emails will likely increase the criticism of Clinton’s decision to use exclusively her own, unsecure email system over the protected system in place at State. She has insisted that this was done for “convenience” and recently rejected the suggestion that the use of the system showed “an error in judgment.” In the very least, the decision to use a private email system was a horrendously bad decision for a Secretary of State when a secure system was available. It is hardly a compelling argument to advance that you took this reckless step for “convenience.”

Additional emails between President Obama and Clinton were withheld to protect presidential communications, though the use of a private server made such communications vulnerable to foreign interception.  Notably, the State Department said today that it has not been established that none of the email information was marked classified.
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State Department and Intelligence Agencies Ask For Criminal Investigation in the Clinton Email Scandal

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In a major development on the Clinton email scandal, 
the New York Times is reporting that the inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence community have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information by using a personal email account while secretary of state. 

We have previously discussed this story and the insistence of Clinton that she did nothing wrong in maintaining a private email system and that none of the emails were classified. I disagreed with both premises as well as expressed great skepticism over Clinton’s insistence that she was really not trying to control her emails and insulate them from review but rather simply did not want to carry around two phones. According to the New York Times, investigators believe that Clinton’s email archive contained “hundreds of potentially classified emails.”

That is if anything a conservative estimate. As I discussed earlier, virtually anything coming out of the office of the Secretary of State would be considered classified as a matter of course. I have had a TS/SCI clearance since Reagan due to my national security work and have lived under the restrictions imposed on email and other systems. The defense is that this material was not technically classified at the time that it was sent. Thus it was not “classified” information. The problem is that it was not reviewed and classified because it was kept out of the State Department system. Moreover, most high-level communications are treated as classified and only individually marked as classified when there is a request for disclosure. You do not generate material as the Secretary of State and assume that it is classified.
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Pennsylvania Legislature Moves To Pass Injunctive Law In Wake Of Abu-Jamal Commencement Speech

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There has been some predicable and understandable objections to the selection of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted killer of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981, as this year’s commencement speaker for Goddard College in Vermont. Faulkner’s widow and others have decried his recorded appearance from Mahanoy state prison in Frackville, Pennsylvania. However, as is all too often the case, politicians have responded to such good-faith objections with a highly questionable, poorly crafted law that allows victims to seek injunctions in future such cases.

Goddard College recognized Abu-Jamal as “an award winning journalist who chronicles the human condition.”

He addressed about 20 students receiving bachelor degrees from Goddard College in Plainfield, where he himself earned a degree from the college in 1996. He told them to
“Think about the myriad of problems that beset this land and strive to make it better.” While he did not discuss his crime, he such “Goddard reawakened in me my love of learning,. In my mind, I left death row.”

Abu-Jamal was a member of the Black Panther Party. He later became a radio journalist and president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. On December 9, 1981, Officer Faulkner was shot dead while conducting a traffic stop on a car driven by Abu-Jamal’s brother, William Cook. Faulkner shot Abu-Jamal in the encounter. The case became a national focus not only because of the death of a police officer but the later errors claimed in association with Abu-Jamal, who initially represented himself with disastrous results.
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Obama: I Do Not Need Congressional Approval To Go To War With ISIS

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President Obama is again asserting his right to act unilaterally and without congressional approval in going to war. In what has become a mantra for this Administration, Obama reportedly told members of Congress that he does not need congressional approval to unleash a comprehensive military campaign against the Islamic State. The President informed a few members at a dinner — a striking image of how low congressional authority has become in our tripartite system of government.

We have been discussing the growing concerns over President Barack Obama’s series of unilateral actions in ordering agencies not to enforce law, effectively rewriting laws, and moving hundreds of millions of dollars from appropriated purposes to areas of his choosing. One of the greatest concerns has been his unchecked authority asserted in the national security area. I previously represented members of Congress in challenging Obama’s intervention in the Libyan civil war without a declaration from Congress. 

In the case, President Obama insisted that he alone determines what is a war and therefore when he needs a declaration. Since the court would not recognize standing to challenge the war, it left Obama free to engage in war operations in any country of his choosing. As with his approach in Libya, Syria and other combat operations (and most recently on whether he will resume the war in Iraq), Obama is again asserting his extreme view of executive power.
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'We Tortured Some Folks' — Obama Admits United States Committed Acts Violating Federal and International Law

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Following the admission that the CIA hacked Senate computers and lied to Congress, President Obama today affirmed that it did indeed torture people. This admission (while belated) is an important recognition by the United States of what is obvious from a legal standpoint. However, that also means that CIA officials violated both federal and international law. The question is why Obama began his first term by promising CIA employees that they would not be tried for what he now describes as “tortur[ing] some folks.”

Despite the prior lying to Congress, Obama insisted that he had “full confidence in John Brennan.” As noted before, the Obama Administration is clearly unwilling again to discipline, let alone charged, any CIA personnel for hacking into congressional computers.

The President then turned to the Senate report on our torture program and affirmed his earlier 2009 statement that this was torture — plain and simple...
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CIA Admits Hacking Senate Computers After Months of Denials

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In the same week as the State Department report endorsing findings that the CIA lied to Congress and brutalized suspects, the CIA is now admitting that its recent denials of hacking Senate computers was also false. Once again, however, there is not even a suggestion of discipline, let alone criminal charges, for CIA officials who lied to Congress (or allowed others to lie) and hacked into congressional computers.

CIA Director John Brennan used the type of Orwellian speech that we have come to expect when discussing CIA abuses. He admitted that employees “acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding” between the agency and the Senate. That “inconsistency” just happened to involve hacking into computers during an investigation of the CIA itself on Bush-era interrogation practices.

Keep in mind that it was Brennan who just a few months ago mocked the allegations and said “As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. … That’s beyond the scope of reason.” Now one of two possibilities exist. First, Brennan lied to the Senate and then lied to the American people. Second, high-ranking CIA officials lied to Brennan and then sat back as he lied to the Senate and the public. I am not sure which is worse but both would seem a logical basis for a criminal investigation.
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Federal Court Rules Government’s No-Fly List Is Unconstitutional

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There is a major decision out of Oregon where U.S. District Judge Anna Brown has ruled that the government’s no-fly list is unconstitutional since there is no meaningful way to contest inclusion of the list barring you from commercial flights. Brown issued a 65 page ruling with the holding that the “inclusion on the no-fly list constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel.” It is a refreshing opinion from the federal courts which tend to be highly deferential to the government in this area.

Central to the decision is Brown’s recognition that “international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society.” We have all heard horror stories of how people are mistakenly placed on this list and how they find themselves in an endless bureaucratic process to correct such mistakes. 

The sheer stupidity of many of these mistakes has been shocking with government officials barring people with similarly sounding names to terrorists like Bin Laden or the cavalier addition of names despite the huge cost to the individuals. The list is a CYA moment for many officials who want to be more safe than sorry, but those unfairly placed on the list find themselves in a governmental nightmare of red tape and delay.
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Once Again Into The Breach: U.S. Shipping More Weapons and Preparing More Military Aid To Iraq

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The United States is mulling further intervention in Iraq as the government forces flee Al Qaeda-linked insurgents and the country appears teetering on chaos. While the Administration is not ready to commit boots not the grounds, we may be moving toward a further influx of hundreds of millions or billions in military aid and even air strikes. As ISIS insurgents are seizing U.S. weaponry, the U.S. has already started to flood the country a new massive shipment of new free weapons.

Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or ISIS is on a roll and nearing the capital. It is an al-qaeda linked terrorist group following the Wahhabi movement, the extreme religious view advanced by our ally Saudi Arabia.

So let’s take stock. We replaced a dictator based on lies in a massive invasion ordered by George W. Bush. We then spent over $2 trillion (the cost is over $4 trillion when you include Afghanistan). Both President Bush and President Obama continued to pour hundred of billions of dollars in the country despite massive corruption and billions that simply disappeared. That the same time we have been cutting back on our own educational, environmental, scientific, and social programs due to a lack of money. Consider what $4 trillion would have done.
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