Fox News‘ Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne have a piece centered on the potential for password exchanges among Democratic Party Presidential candidate and ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a number of her minions as the means of getting access to classified information and to Clinton’s unclassified and unprotected personal email server. In that piece, a number of scenarios were posited for “jumping the gap,” a physical gap between the classified network and the unclassified network—the World Wide Web that is the Internet on which Clinton’s personal server existed—there is no connection other than the air we breathe between those two networks. Those scenarios were
- Reading intelligence reports or briefings, and then summarizing the findings in emails sent on Clinton’s unsecured personal server.
- Accessing the classified intelligence computer network, and then lifting sections by typing them verbatim into a device such as an iPad or BlackBerry.
- Taking pictures of a computer screen to capture the intelligence.
- Using a thumb drive or disk to physically move the intelligence, but this would require access to a data center. It’s unclear whether Clinton’s former IT specialist Bryan Pagliano, who as first reported by The Washington Post has reached an immunity deal with the Justice Department, or others had sufficient administrator privileges to physically transfer data.
The problem with the last three is that cell phones and tablets aren’t allowed into areas where classified material exists: they have radios. Neither are laptops, or any computing device, including cell phones and tablets, that are not owned by the facility containing the classified material. Cameras and other recording devices—optical or magnetic—also are banned from such facilities, including thumb drives or anything else that might be plugged into an existing computer or storage device. Bringing these sorts of things into those areas, more than once, would have to be a deliberate—and so criminal—act.
Even a single occurrence, absent-mindedly done, is a fireable offense: folks who are granted access to classified material, whether in those secured areas or elsewhere are too well trained and no better.