Letter to the editor: Politics as usual?

Politics as usual?

Regarding the political flap over U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton's "confidential" emails, anyone who knows how classified documents are identified understands the problem; probably 98 percent of the rest know nothing about how it works.

Before I relocated to Vermont in 1992, I worked 35 years at the GE Ordnance Systems Division in Pittsfield, Mass., my final dozen years as an editor of technical publications relating to the US Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine fleet. As such, I came into close contact with many classified documents and was cleared by US security regs to handle such materials. Classified documents ran the gamut from Restricted to Confidential, Secret, all the way to Atomic Secret; I have no idea what the categories are these days. These classified documents were locked in high-security safes or special file cabinets. Unlocking and locking procedures were very specific as were the markings identifying the level of classification on each and every sheet of paper in the safe. For example, and as Sec. Clinton described on TV last night (Sept. 7), each classified email should have been identified in large, bold letters with its classification, such as CONFIDENTIAL, top and bottom, and on reverse even if the reverse side was otherwise blank. There was absolutely no mistaking a classified paper or email for anything else.

If you listened carefully to the FBI report a few weeks ago on the issue, classified emails were sent to Sec. Clinton without proper markings, which means that some of the emails she received were in fact classified but she didn't recognize them as such. They were described as having been erroneously marked with a very small letter C inside a circle, which would look like ©, the standard symbol for Copyright, but never used for identifying classified material. US Security markings are very specific. Google US Security Guidelines for emails and see for yourselves.

I'm no particular fan of either presidential candidate but would appreciate correct news reporting. I hope whoever created and/or sent those incorrectly marked classified emails has been located and the issue dealt with. Whether Sec. Clinton should have recognized some of the emails were classified by their content hasn't been addressed by anything I've heard in the news or read in print. But of course, politics being what it is, people will always be quoted out of context either on purpose or out of ignorance, thus the continuous flap, even by the press and TV news reporters, who write and/or speak before fully checking what they are reporting on.

— Victor R. Rolando Bennington


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