Clinton Emails And The FBI/State Classification Waltz
October 18, 2016

A quick update on recent Clinton email news.

No, intrepid journalists, the recent information about a disagreement between State and the FBI about classification is not new information.

As Politico noted in November 6 and November 30, 2015 articles:

The latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails offered fresh insight into her schmoozing ways, her thoughts on the 2012 presidential race, and some sideline drama as the State Department and a watchdog for the intelligence community tangled on Monday over whether one of Clinton’s emails should have been considered classified.

As the Wall Street Journal noted, the fight over classification was an interagency turf war.

None of this is new. What is new is confusing notes about whether some kind of deal was sought between State and FBI on classification on one of the emails.

One major drawback on the FBI releasing of notes, other than it undermines its own credibility, is that the notes are a jumbled mess of fact and hearsay. That is what is happening in this case.

Patrick Kennedy from State met with an FBI agent to discuss the classification of one document. He disagreed with the FBI's classification. During the meeting, the agent noted he'd been trying to meet with State for some time about FBI personnel assignments. Some third-party individual, not present at this meeting but hearing about it, was the one who came up with the accusation of quid pro quo.

From an NBC news story:

The entire episode appears to have been borne out of two separate conversations and a misunderstanding: One conversation took place between Kennedy and the FBI official; the other was between the same FBI official and a bureau employee whose job involved classification review.

Kennedy had called the FBI and asked that an email that the FBI was considering labeling as "secret" remain unclassified. But Kennedy wound up talking to an official, now retired, who worked in the agency's international operations division and was not involved in the email review.

Separately, that FBI official had been trying to reach Kennedy about the issue of office space for agents in overseas embassies and consulates because Kennedy had a say in allocating space at diplomatic outposts.

After Kennedy raised the issue of classification, the FBI official raised the issue of office space, according to the FBI document.

The official then reported his contact with Kennedy to another FBI employee, saying he thought that Kennedy might be willing to consider office space in return for a change in classification. According to the FBI report, that employee then told a colleague that he felt "pressured" over what he believed was a "quid pro quo."

The email remained classified, and the FBI did not get more office space. Agencies squabble.

FBI interview notes were never intended to be published, and we can see why. It's unfortunate that Comey is adding to the general election chaos by doing so. It's equally unfortunate that some of the media decided to sensationalize the story rather than just report the facts.

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