NY Post Pushes Dubious Claim That Clinton Aides Improperly Circumvented Email Classification System
Writer Has A Long History Of Islamophobia, While Only Named Source Has Done Work For Anti-Clinton Group
The New York Post published a discredited conservative writer's thinly-sourced report that former State Department aides to Hillary Clinton illegally “cut and pasted” classified materials and sent them to Clinton's personal email. The report seems to be based solely on the claims of a former State Department official who has worked with the anti-Clinton organization Judicial Watch.
In his January 24 report, Paul Sperry, a visiting media fellow at the right-wing Hoover Institution, reported that “former State Department security officials” say that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is “investigating whether members of Hillary Clinton's inner circle 'cut and pasted' material from the government's classified network so that it could be sent to her private e-mail address.” Sperry gave no indication how the unnamed former officials would have access to information about FBI investigations.
Citing no sources at all, Sperry claimed that the FBI is “zeroing in on” former Clinton State Department aides Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Jake Sullivan for their alleged involvement in improperly circumventing government classification systems.
The bulk of Sperry's piece consists of speculation from retired State Department Diplomatic Security agent Ray Fournier, who reportedly “says it's clear from some of the classified e-mails made public that someone on Clinton's staff essentially 'cut and pasted' content from classified cables into the messages sent to her.” Fournier theorizes that “Clinton's staff would have simply retyped classified information from the systems into the non-classified system or taken a screen shot of the classified document”; he concludes, “either way, it's totally illegal.”
Sperry gave no examples of the emails that Fournier claims are “clear” evidence of illegal behavior or how he would know their redacted contents. While Sperry referenced “former State Department security officials” as the source of his claim that the FBI is investigating this allegation, he neither named nor referenced any other in his piece. Notably, Fournier has a history of conservative activism -- he conducted a review of the Benghazi terror attack on behalf of Judicial Watch, a right-wing organization with a decades-long history of attacking the Clintons.
In fact, Judicial Watch investigator Chris Farrell is the only other named source in the report -- Sperry quoted him claiming that Clinton's receipt of classified information outside secure channels “is a mortal sin” and that “a regular government employee would be crucified” if they engaged in such activity.
Sperry also baselessly claimed that “Clinton instructed Sullivan to convert a classified document into an unclassified e-mail attachment by scanning it into an unsecured computer and sending it to her without any classified markings.” In fact, national security experts say it is not illegal to separate unclassified material from classified documents and send it through unclassified channels, which is what Clinton has said she was asking Sullivan to do.
Sperry -- a former Washington bureau chief for WorldNetDaily -- has a long history of producing baseless conspiracy theories.
In 2005, he published a book alleging that “Islamic radicals have worked their way into our government through intimidation and exploitation of religious tolerance.” The book specifically cited conservative Grover Norquist's “ties to militant Muslim activists,” a long-time bugaboo for Islamophobes. In 2009, he published a follow-up claiming that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an educational non-profit, was attempting to infiltrate Congress and undermine democracy -- by seeking to place Muslim interns in congressional offices.
Sperry recently contributed New York Post reports that claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, is "a diehard communist" threat to American values, and that President Obama is building a secret racial database to allow “race cops and civil-rights lawyers” to control “virtually every aspect of society.”