Communications cannot be truly “classified” unless they are properly marked. I heard the director of the FBI testify to Congress that out of the thousands of emails reviewed by his department sent to and from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, only three received messages contained information classified at the time, as indicated by the sender with a “confidential” (c) in the body of the message, but not also marked in the header of the message. This was clearly improper marking of classified information by the sender, not mishandling by the receiver.
As a communications non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force during wartime (Vietnam 1965-66), I handled literally thousands of messages marked “Top Secret,” “Secret” and “Confidential.” If a message was truly “secret,” it was generally sent and received through encrypted communications. Confidential messages were the most common communications and even though routine, a truly “classified” message would always be clearly marked in the header.
If during my military service I failed to identify a routine confidential message that was improperly marked by the sender, I seriously doubt that I would have even received a reprimand, much less prosecution.
Paul Worsham, Arroyo Grande
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.