• Classified at State: Double-Standards, or No Standards at All?

    August 13, 2015

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State, Post-Constitution America

    Manning at State Department

    My thanks to The Examiner, OPSEC Team, The Hill and Daily Kos for their articles noting the discrepancy between how the State Department treated my non-disclosure of classified materials on an unclassified system, and Hillary Clinton’s actual disclosure of classified materials on an unclassified system. There seem to be double-standards being applied.

    Wait, what?

    My first book, We Meant Well embarrassed the State Department by pointing out the failure of State’s efforts in Iraq. In retaliation for this, the State Department used its security bureaucracy infrastructure to push me into retirement after they failed to prosecute me, and then failed to fire me.

    Here’s what they did

    In October 2011 I wrote this blog post, which linked to an alleged State Department confidential cable on the Wikileaks site. The document in question was and still is online for all the world to see. State has never acknowledged publicly its authenticity or its classification.

    I merely linked to it.

    Based on that link, the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security conducted a full investigation into my ability to continue to hold the Top Secret security clearance I had held without incident for 23 years. They concluded I was no longer to be trusted.

    In fact, they said:


    The SUBJECT is me. SBU stands for Sensitive But Unclassified, a made-up level of classification the State Department routinely assigns to all of its unclassified information to allow it to withhold documents from journalists and others as required. DS/ICI/PR is the State Department Office of Diplomatic Security, Professional Responsibility Division.

    The investigation into my supposed misdeeds around classified materials included Diplomatic Security running the “hacker” program WGET against this blog, and amassing “Screen shots collected by the DS Computer Threat Analysis Division (DS/CTAD) from the article ‘Let’s Watch Qaddafi Get Beaten and (Maybe) Sodomized’ published on WeMeantWell.com on 10/26/2011.” Agents also printed out nearly my entire blog to preserve a paper copy, apparently in case I deleted the files from my server. Hmm.

    I was interviewed three times in depth by a team of security agents, who characterized my linking as “transferring [classified] information from Wikileaks.org” to my own, unclassified, blog. I learned later that Diplomatic Security had been monitoring my State Department computer to ensure I did not misuse it. Security also searched my official email back several years and interviewed my neighbors looking for, well, something to use against me.

    It was a lot of effort by a busy organization over what, even if it had been as they portrayed it, a pretty minor matter.

    Clinton v. Manning: Protecting Classified Information

    And of course during the Bradley/Chelsea Manning trial, itself concerning State’s Secret level cables, Hillary Clinton was clear on her position: “I think that in an age where so much information is flying through cyberspace, we all have to be aware of the fact that some information which is sensitive, which does affect the security of individuals and relationships, deserves to be protected and we will continue to take necessary steps to do so.”


    I’ve focused here on my own situation not because it was important nationally, or out of bitterness (OK, maybe a little, I’m human) but primarily because it is the example I know most about.

    But there are others.

    The Intercept points out NSA whistleblower Tom Drake, for instance, faced years in prison, and ultimately had his career destroyed, based on the Obama DOJ’s claims that he “mishandled” classified information (it included information that was not formally classified at the time but was retroactively decreed to be such). Less than two weeks ago, “a Naval reservist was convicted and sentenced for mishandling classified military materials” despite no “evidence he intended to distribute them.” Last year, a Naval officer was convicted of mishandling classified information also in the absence of any intent to distribute it.

    John Kiriakou was sent to prison in part for his alleged mishandling of a business card, unmarked as to classification, that the CIA claimed was sensitive. Robert Maclean, at TSA, lost his job because he revealed unclassified information that was later retroactively classified.

    There are many examples.

    What it means…

    You are welcome to say what you wish about the merits or lack thereof of how I was treated by the State Department when the issue was handling of classified information. This article is not to open an old can of worms. I retired from my 24 years at the State Department and that’s that as far as that’s concerned.

    The point here instead is that State appears to have a sliding scale of how it sees possible security violations by its employees — Hillary Clinton and me, in this instance. Because while all this was happening with me in 2011, Clinton was running her own email system, unclassified in name but with classified materials in fact.

    And when you have double standards, as everyone knows, you really have no standards at all.

    BONUS: That photo’s of me, on my last day of work at State, wearing my ‘Free Bradley Manning’ T-shirt on campus. Manning, of course, is in jail for disclosing Secret-level information. I lost my job over purported confidential information. Hillary’s server contained above Top Secret information, the same level of information Edward Snowden is accused of disseminating.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • Robert San Socie said...


      The “New” Salem Witch Hunt. Be bitter. Just to the point of effecting positive change in this crap. No real right or wrong. All about how well of a team player you are. Glad you are out of the BOX !

      08/13/15 10:11 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Not so Peter. Double standards are indeed a standard – the standard operating procedure of the elite. Nothing new there. One just has to figure out how to work around or within such a system of inequality.

      08/13/15 10:17 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      quote”There seem to be double-standards being applied.”unquote

      That’s because prosecutors have “discretionary powers”. And the P’sTB in the USG uses those powers to leverage vindictiveness. There is no other explanation. As for those on the lower tier of the TwoTiered In-Justice system, they have no “favor” cards to pull out of the hat. Look at Patreaus. If ever LadyJustice raised her middle finger to the “rule of law”, notwithstanding the citizens of the country, that was it, notwithstanding Nixon. And Clinton will be no different than Patreaus.

      In essence..the TwoTiered In-justice system is living proof that the “rule of law” is a myth, ..if not a big fat lie.

      What IS astounding anymore..is the level of legal hubris exhibited by the DOJ. I mean..look at the prosecution of WS bankers. Hahahahahaha! The DOJ basically said..if you don’t like it..too fucking bad. Eat shit. Same with Patreaus. But when it comes to people like Aaron Shwartz, of Bennet Brown…or a non-violent drug offender…OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!

      Frankly, the Justice system in this country is a laughing stock.. A blatant, ludicrous, lie. A fraud. And it stinks. The framers would be spitting mad if they saw what their vision has become. General warrants. Surveillance. The war on terror.. god help us.

      08/13/15 10:34 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Oh, and I forgot. Those scum sucking bastards in the CIA who actually tortured human beings,…still free to walk the planet..while those that exposed it got prosecuted. Fuck the DOJ. They mock the very values this country was founded on and millions of lives given to protect. I hope they ALL rot in hell for eternity.

      08/13/15 10:37 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Pitch- agreed. So if one is one of the “little people” and has been harmed by or under the “system” it is better to bypass the criminal system altogether and go a civil suit. The guilty don’t go to jail but having to pay money along with losing face can be a real bummer for venal miscreants.

      08/13/15 12:15 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Maybe regular folk should file a class action civil suit against Hillary Clinton for putting their lives in jeopardy by being careless with secure information on her private server? I doubt she will suffer an actual criminal charge by DOJ. They just like to hold onto files and evidence for years and charge a storage fee to the defendant. Everyone is happy with such an arrangement.

      “Dad, I’m considering a career in organized crime.”
      Father, “Government or private sector?”

      08/13/15 4:27 PM | Comment Link

    • Helen Marshall said...


      Who knew that Change You Can Believe In meant that things would be way worse than they were under Shrub or Billy Boy or Daddy?

      How many out there are still shrilly insisting that this Constitutional Lawyer can do no wrong, it’s all the Republicans’ fault?

      08/13/15 4:40 PM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      Sheee-it. And Nixon got shit-canned (as President, no less) for erasing 14 minutes of tape.

      08/13/15 5:18 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Teri- so who is Hillary’s Rose Mary Woods?- Just curious.

      08/13/15 5:25 PM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      08/13/15 5:39 PM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      Oh, right, it was 18 and a half minutes, not 14. It was a whole minute longer than it takes to listen to one of our songs from back in the day. You have to turn off the lights and turn up the volume to get the full effect.


      But you know what is really interesting? Technically, Nixon was right; those 18 minutes of erased tape were not legally in the purview of the judge (John Sirica) who subpoenaed them. That WH tape system was used or not used at the personal request of the sitting president for his own records. The system did not exist because of some law and was not bound by any legal parameters or requirements.

      However, the tapes WERE successfully subpoenaed and listened to by the House Judiciary Committee, and it was those tapes and that 18 minutes that completely changed things. The Republicans on the committee then turned against Nixon as well and said they would vote to impeach. So he resigned rather than face certain impeachment.

      Fair to middling summary of the Nixon tape issue:


      Hillary, on the other hand, was bound by exact laws on her email matters. She knowingly broke those laws. That is the long and short of it.

      08/13/15 6:45 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Alot of hypocrisies and ironies highlighted in this excellent analysis. Thank you, Peter. The Department also needs to stop issuing the journalistic freedom awards and Mrs CLinton needs to can talking about the First Amendment; their actions imitate what occurred during the USSR

      08/13/15 6:46 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Teri- I think Nixon investigators were aghast at Nixon’s vulgarity, racism and nastiness evident on the tapes and turned against him because they had some propriety. Hillary supporters lack all sense of propriety.

      08/13/15 6:57 PM | Comment Link

    • teri said...



      I agree. And Mad Hillary herself lacks any moral rectitude whatsoever. For some reason, there are many people who consider this a positive attribute.

      08/13/15 7:37 PM | Comment Link

    • Ed Grange said...


      So, did anyone come out at FSI to say farewell? Who took your badge back?

      08/13/15 9:28 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      I was in the so-called “retirement seminar” and so said goodbye to the folks there, a few by chance I knew. My grown-up badge was taken away by an anonymous guy in DS but as part of my conclusion with State I was issued the standard retiree badge. Never used it.

      08/14/15 8:34 AM | Comment Link

    • Michael Murry said...


      “In Oceania there is no law.” — 1984

      08/13/15 9:33 PM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      Oh, look, nationofchange is running an article showing how the awful Republicans and right-wing media are trying to blemish Mad Hillary’s impeccable record by promoting “myths” about the email issues:


      08/14/15 5:21 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Before Clinton announced her candidacy, I said I dreaded her announcement, simply because I’m sick of hearing her name. Goddamn.. now it’s everywhere 24/7. I think I’m going to go into hibernation till the election is over. 🙂

      However, I’m a glutton for political intrigue. Even knowing the DOJ will never indict Clinton, it’s nice to watch her squirm, while lying through her teeth. What’s amazing about the Clinton’s though, is the lack of self respect. After Bill was run over the coals for..well..you know ..any normal person would have disappeared into the aether, simply out of embarrassment. And any normal wife would have divorced her husband. But the Clinton’s aren’t normal. Of course..I’m not telling you anything the entire planet doesn’t already know.

      Thing is though, this act in her political circus, will bring in votes. And that’s all that matters to a politician. After all..look at the master of political buffoonery..Trump. unfuckingbelievable. Only in Murica.
      Circus is a massive understatement. The Ringling Bro’s are green with envy.

      08/14/15 6:35 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Peter, if you brandish that retiree badge in the checkout line of your local SuperFresh you get 10% off on all personal hygiene products. If you’re not using it could I borrow it for the next time I buy shaving gel?

      08/14/15 8:56 AM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      The other benefit is by showing it at the airport, I am entitled to a free cavity search.

      08/14/15 9:05 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      08/14/15 10:37 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      PETER VAN BUREN 2016.

      If the GOP clown circus can handle 10-15 candidates, surely there should be room for PVB on the Dem debate panel.

      Moderator: Mr.Van Buren, Hillary Clinton set the DS Flying Monkeys after you when you exposed incompetence in the State Department. Why should the American voters trust Mrs. Clinton?

      Notes: They don’t.

      08/14/15 10:51 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      I don’t know if you watched that doc on The Wrecking Crew…but at the end, there’s a perfect analogy for today.

      Back then, the public didn’t know it was the pro-musicians who were hidden from the public who actually played the music for the Beachboys, the Monkeys, and a thousand other so called musical “artists”. Eventually though, a more enlightened public became aware, and wanted the truth. It was this period when the Beatles, Rolling Stones etc became popular. Because..it was truth. Just as today. Most people want to hear what Bernie is saying..vs Hillary. The living proof is in the turnouts.

      08/14/15 10:52 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      PETER VAN BUREN 2016.

      I concur.

      08/14/15 10:54 AM | Comment Link

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