AUG. 14, 2015
F.B.I. Tracking Path of Classified Email From State Dept. to Hillary Clinton
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and DAVID E. SANGER
WASHINGTON -- F.B.I. agents investigating Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email server are seeking to determine who at the State Department passed highly classified information from secure networks to Mrs. Clinton's personal account, according to law enforcement and diplomatic officials and others briefed on the investigation.
To track how the information flowed, agents will try to gain access to the email accounts of many State Department officials who worked there while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, the officials said. State Department employees apparently circulated the emails on unclassified systems in 2009 and 2011, and some were ultimately forwarded to Mrs. Clinton.
They were not marked as classified, the State Department has said, and it is unclear whether its employees knew the origin of the information.
The F.B.I. is also trying to determine whether foreign powers, especially China or Russia, gained access to Mrs. Clinton's private server, although at this point, any security breaches are speculation.
Law enforcement officials have said that Mrs. Clinton, who is seeking the 2016 Democratic nomination for president, is not a target of the investigation, and she has said there is no evidence that her account was hacked. There has also been no evidence that she broke the law, and many specialists believe the occasional appearance of classified information in her account was probably of marginal consequence.
A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton said in a statement on Friday that she "took the handling of classified information very seriously."
"She always received classified materials in secure settings, either by phone, videoconference, on paper or in person," said the spokesman, Nick Merrill. "If, however, some material unknowingly ended up somewhere on the State Department's unclassified email system, we want to continue to be as helpful as possible in getting to the bottom of that."
He added: "Beyond that, we'll let the State Department and other agencies speak to the specifics."
This week, the inspector general of the nation's intelligence agencies, I. Charles McCullough III, informed members of Congress that Mrs. Clinton had "top secret" information, the highest classification of government intelligence, in her account. 
Some of that information, according to a memorandum the inspector general sent to the heads of the Senate and House intelligence and judiciary committees, may have come from a program called Talent Keyhole, which relies on satellite intercepts of conversations or imagery data. The program involves some of the most secure information in the intelligence agencies' computer systems.
Specifically, the inspector general told members of Congress that two emails should have been classified as top secret, with one of them designated "TOP SECRET//SI//TK/NOFORN." Officials familiar with the nomenclature said that "SI" stood for "special intelligence," usually indicating an intercepted communication, and that "TK" was routinely used as an abbreviation for Talent Keyhole, showing that the communication or an image was obtained from a satellite.
Attached to the memo -- which was publicly released by Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- were copies of two of Mrs. Clinton's emails that Mr. McCullough said contained classified information. Those emails were not released publicly.
The State Department has questioned whether the determination by Mr. McCullough is correct. Nevertheless, the findings are consistent with the view of some federal officials that the State Department is not rigorous enough in handling classified national security information.
In an unusual move, the F.B.I.'s inquiry is being led out of its headquarters in Washington, blocks from the White House. Nearly all investigations are assigned to one of the bureau's 56 field offices. But given this inquiry's importance, senior F.B.I. officials have opted to keep it closely held in Washington in the agency's counterintelligence section, which investigates how national security secrets are handled.
The investigation into Mrs. Clinton's emails has its roots in her decision to use only a private email account for her official business when she was secretary of state, an unorthodox decision that gave her some control over what was made public. She faced criticism when her use of the account became known this year, and after deleting what she said were more than 31,000 personal emails, she turned over more than 30,000 work-related emails for the State Department to make public.
Mrs. Clinton has said that her emails contained no classified information -- having classified information outside a secure government account is illegal -- and that she is fully cooperating with the investigation. But in reviewing a sampling of the emails for potential security breaches, Mr. McCullough said he found four out of 40 that contained classified information, though perhaps stripped of any indication that it was of classified origin.
According to current and former State Department officials who worked with Mrs. Clinton, most classified information was routed to classified government servers in her office, where it was printed out for her review. Her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, often operated the same way.
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Thursday in response to what she said were "allegations about Mrs. Clinton's emails" that "none of the emails alleged to contain classified information were written by Secretary Clinton" and that "none of the emails alleged to contain classified information include any markings that indicate classified content."
In a letter made public on Wednesday, David Kendall, Mrs. Clinton's lawyer, said he had handed over to the Justice Department  a thumb drive containing the 30,000 emails that had been given to the State Department. He also said the company that had handled Mrs. Clinton's personal account had given the Justice Department the server Mrs. Clinton used to operate it. The company, Platte River Networks, had been in possession of the server since 2013.
Computer experts said it was likely that F.B.I. technicians would be able to recover from the server at least some of Mrs. Clinton's deleted personal emails.
In addition, specially trained cybersecurity investigators will seek to determine whether Russian, Chinese or other hackers breached the account or tried to transfer any of Mrs. Clinton's emails, including those containing the classified information, several officials said.
Mrs. Clinton's successor, Secretary of State John Kerry, told CBS News this week that "it is very likely" that Russian or Chinese hackers read his emails, although he did not specify whether he was talking about his classified or unclassified accounts. "I certainly write things with that awareness," he said.