Friday, January 22, 2016

SAP: Who's going down? Hillary or the FBI?

The smoking gun?

Special Access Programs (SAP) is a game changer.  It is now undeniably clear that the results of the FBI investigation will be the end of one of two things:  Hillary’s bid for the White House or the legitimacy of the FBI—at least when it comes to prosecuting cases on the mishandling of classified material.
In 2006, a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) from my company was deployed to Afghanistan.  Theirs was a particular mission that differed from the combat missions the typical ODAs were conducting at that time.  Everyone on that team maintained a Top Secret Sensitive and Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) clearance and was “read-on” to their special program.  A few months into their deployment, their Intelligence Sergeant lost a thumb-drive that possessed classified information.  A week later the thumb drive was found for sale at a local bazaar.
In response to the events, Col. Ken Allard (ret.) stated, “You've got a situation in which the U.S. is going to be forced to change an awful lot of its operational techniques."Beyond the compromise of classified information, a lot did change.  New protocols for the handling of classified material were established, and the transportation of classified material on thumb drives was strictly forbidden.  The knee jerk reaction even went as far as to disable USB ports on our work computers—in case we forgot.
Since then I’ve deployed to several locations where, at times, we operated in small teams with only non-secure cellphones with which to communicate.  We often found ourselves with a lot of information that needed to be sent up in reports, but due to the nature of our mission we were forced to sit on it for a few days until we were able to type it up and send it through a secure medium.  I’d be lying if I said we didn’t concoct elaborate plans with “foolproof” ways to communicate the information over non-secure channels, but in the end, no one was willing to take the risk of our “fail-safes” failing.
As more information from Hillary Clinton’s server has been made available, it is clear that the contents of the server contained Imagery Intelligence (IMINT), Human Intelligence (HUMINT), and Signal Intelligence (SIGINT).  Understanding that much of the information has been retroactively classified, there are a few facts that are tough to grasp—at least from the perspective of an intelligence practitioner.
First, when imagery that is classified SECRET//NOFORN (no foreign national) is viewed, regardless of the absence of classification markings, it is distinctly evident. Second, any documents that contain or reference HUMINT is always classified SECRET, and if specific names of sources or handlers are mentioned, they are at a minimum SECRET//NOFORN.  Third, SIGINT is always classified at the TS level.  It’s not uncommon for some SI to be downgraded and shared over SECRET mediums, however, it is highly unlikely that a Secretary of State would receive downgraded intelligence.  Finally, SAP intelligence has been discovered on Clinton’s private server, and many are now calling this the smoking gun.  SAP is a specialized management system of additional security controls designed to protect SAR or Special Access Required.  SAR has to do with extremely perishable operational methods and capabilities, and only selected individuals who are “read on” or “indoctrinated” are permitted access to these programs.  The mishandling of SAP can cause catastrophic damage to current collection methods, techniques and personnel.
In other words, if you have worked with classified material for more than a day, it seems highly implausible that someone could receive any of the aforementioned over an un-secure medium without alarm bells sounding.  However, reading about a Special Access Program on an unclassified device would make anyone even remotely familiar with intelligence mess their pantsuit.
With more damming information being released almost weekly now, it’s interesting that during last Sunday’s Democratic debate, Clinton resoundingly stated: “No one is too big for jail.”  Although the context was referencing bank CEOs and Hedge fund managers, the obvious correlation left many scratching their heads and wondering—did Hillary Clinton just say, “I dare you” to the FBI?”
DeChristopher is a 9-year veteran of the United States Army Special Forces.  He holds an M.A. in Strategic Security Studies from National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs with a concentration in Irregular Warfare.  He currently works as an Independent Intelligence Consultant and blogs at  Follow @exceptionism


  1. Be careful what you wish for William. You have a single minded purpose to see Hillary be brought down for any reason that will stick to the wall, and you are happy to see any Alinsky tactic used to meet that goal. If it succeeds, eventually the same rules will bite a ton of other people, possibly even people you like. Even the author of this piece ADMITS that in the face of changed rules, he still communicated secret information in manners that violated the rules, which is kind of ironic given the rest of the tone of his piece.

    We have made a lot of information "secret" to avoid having to share it with the press. In Hillary's case, what they are basically hoping for now is that they can get her on a technicality of improperly handling the information. If they succeed, it will only be a matter of time before some event happens wherein it will be shown after the fact that the event likely could have been avoided if "secret" information was communicated to the appropriate response team. And then we will all wail and hand wring over the behavior of someone who covers their ass by saying, "I didn't have a secure way to transfer the information". Wether we like people in certain agencies or not, I think we need to choose carefully when picking a method to bring them down.

  2. Chicago Tribune Editorial Board member Clarence Page and “McLaughlin Group” host John McLaughlin predicted the FBI will recommend Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton face prosecution for mishandling classified information on Friday.

    McLaughlin asked, “Forced prediction for the panel: the FBI will recommend that Hillary Clinton face prosecution for mishandling classified information? That’s the FBI. Yes or no?”

    Page stated, “I’m going to say yes, but she won’t be indicted.”

    McLaughlin responded, “I’m with you.”

    1. And why should she be indicted?

      Was Lois Lerner indicted?

      Was anyone held responsible in the IRS?

      Was Jeff Neely indicted?

      How many people in the VA were indicted?

      How many connected to the F35 were indicted?

      How many people were held responsible for all the green energy loans given to businesses that went bankrupt?

      Having said all that, how many were demoted or faced discipline?