After reading Phil Henning’s featured letter on classification and Clinton’s handling of her emails, I shook my head in disbelief at his hubris. His arguments demonstrated his clear ignorance of classification law all while he represented himself as an expert since he led a security group while a Captain and handled highly classified materials. Millions of military and civilians in the federal government have handled classified materials, but most know only Service policies and very few know anything about classification law. So, let’s set the record straight.
Classification law is codified in 32CFR2001. The law assigns the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense and other heads of federal agencies what is called Original Classification Authority which means they are authorized to make their own determination about what is classified. Phil cited a non-disclosure agreement which is irrelevant to the Clinton email controversy since she did not disclose classified information to anyone without a clearance. The law also specifies how classified documents including emails are to be marked, and a lone “C” beside a paragraph does not meet the federal legal requirements for marking something Confidential.
For the record, I have authored portions of joint classification guides, proposed classification policy changes to the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, DoD CIO, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff which were incorporated, and generated successful challenges to erroneous classifications which included consultations with the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel led by the National Archives and Records Administration.
David Vail, O'Fallon
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