As Primaries Kick Off, NY Post Recycles More Baseless Speculation About Clinton Email Conspiracies

The New York Post continues to publish dubiously sourced and baseless speculation about investigations around Hillary Clinton's emails as secretary of state. The paper is now reporting that there was a premeditated conspiracy to share classified information, citing claims from a former federal investigator who resigned after he was accused of corruption.

NY Post Publishes Accusation That Departmentwide Conspiracy Was In Place At Beginning Of Clinton Tenure

NY Post: "'This Was All Planned': Former IG Says Hillary, State Dept. Are Lying." In a January 31 New York Post “exclusive” on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, Paul Sperry, a “visiting media fellow”  at the right-wing Hoover Institute, extensively quoted a Bush-era inspector general of the U.S. State Department to float the accusation that the department, former secretary, and her aides engaged in a years-long conspiracy to improperly share classified information via email:

The State Department is lying when it says it didn't know until it was too late that Hillary Clinton was improperly using personal emails and a private server to conduct official business -- because it never set up an agency email address for her in the first place, the department's former top watchdog says.

“This was all planned in advance” to skirt rules governing federal records management, said Howard J. Krongard, who served as the agency's inspector general from 2005 to 2008.

The Harvard-educated lawyer points out that, from Day One, Clinton was never assigned and never used a state.gov email address like previous secretaries.

“That's a change in the standard. It tells me that this was premeditated. And this eliminates claims by the State Department that they were unaware of her private email server until later,” Krongard said in an exclusive interview. “How else was she supposed to do business without email?”

[...]

Inspectors general serve an essential and unique role in the federal government by independently investigating agency waste, fraud and abuse. Their oversight also covers violations of communications security procedures.

“It's clear she did not want to be subject to internal investigations,” Krongard said. An email audit would have easily uncovered the secret information flowing from classified government networks to the private unprotected system she set up in her New York home.

He says “the key” to the FBI's investigation of Emailgate is determining how highly sensitive state secrets in the classified network, known as SIPRNet, ended up in Clinton's personal emails.

“The starting point of the investigation is the material going through SIPRNet. She couldn't function without the information coming over SIPRNet,” Krongard said. “How did she get it on her home server? It can't just jump from one system to the other. Someone had to move it, copy it. The question is who did that?”

As The Post first reported, the FBI is investigating whether Clinton's deputies copied top-secret information from the department's classified network to its unclassified network where it was sent to Hillary's unsecured, unencrypted email account. [NY Post, 1/31/16]

New NY Post Article Depends On Paper's Previous Report That Classified Information Was “Cut And Pasted” Into Unclassified Emails. In a previous Post article from January 24, Sperry cited a conservative activist who has worked for the anti-Clinton group Judicial Watch to baselessly claim that Clinton aides “essentially 'cut and pasted'” classified information  into unclassified emails to improperly circumvent the State Department's classified email system. [Media Matters, 1/24/16; Media Matters, 10/2/15]

State Department: No Evidence Classification Markers Were Improperly Removed From Clinton Emails. Speculation that Clinton aides illegally removed classification markings from top-secret emails so they could send the messages to Clinton's unsecured server was first pushed by right-wing media last August, and the State Department stated that there was “no indication” such an accusation was true. In January of this year, right-wing media tweaked the accusation to claim this illegal transmission of classified information by an aide was directed by Clinton, and the State Department once again “found no evidence” for such speculation. [Media Matters, 8/14/15; Media Matters, 1/10/16]

New Conspiracy's Source Resigned Under Allegations Of Corruption, Author Has History Of Extremism

NY Post's Source Is  Former Inspector General Who Resigned After He Was Accused Of Corruption. Sperry's new bombshell accusation -- that the State Department was corrupted from the beginning of Clinton's tenure by a conspiracy to evade proper handling of classified information -- is based solely on the speculation of a former State inspector general. The Post describes state inspector generals as serving “an essential and unique role in the federal government by independently investigating agency waste, fraud and abuse.” The Post did not disclose that this former State inspector general, Howard J. Krongard, resigned in 2007 after he was “accused of improperly interfering with investigations into private security contractor Blackwater USA and with other probes.” From the Los Angeles Times:

State Department Inspector General Howard J. Krongard, who has been accused of improperly interfering with investigations into private security contractor Blackwater USA and with other probes, resigned Friday.

[...]

Krongard, 66, has been accused by current and former members of his staff and by congressional Democrats of thwarting investigations of waste and fraud in Iraq. Among those are allegations of arms smuggling by Blackwater, the North Carolina-based security contractor that protects U.S. diplomats in Iraq and has been accused of using excessive force against Iraqi civilians.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, (D-Beverly Hills), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has said that Krongard interfered to shield the administration from embarrassment on politically sensitive issues.

Last month, Krongard recused himself from investigations regarding Blackwater after it was revealed in a dramatic appearance at a House committee hearing that Krongard's brother was on a Blackwater advisory board. Krongard had denied that his brother, Alvin B. Krongard, a former No. 3 official at the CIA, was connected to Blackwater until he was confronted at the hearing with paperwork indicating that his brother served on the board.

Krongard had also withdrawn from an inquiry into the construction of the new U.S. Embassy complex in Baghdad. [Los Angeles Times, 12/8/07]  

NY Post Writer Has History Of Islamophobic Conspiracy Theories And Extremism. Sperry has a history of pushing baseless conspiracy theories, including the accusation that “Islamic radicals have worked their way into our government through intimidation and exploitation of religious tolerance.” The right-wing author has connected that web of influence to a range of actors, including the educational nonprofit Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the conservative establishment figure Grover Norquist, and congressional interns who are Muslim. He 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.” [Media Matters, 1/24/16]