'Shoot the Watchdog': Hillary employs new tactic to deflect scrutiny of server use, former official says

The attacks on the Intelligence Community Inspector General may be Hillary Clinton’s “shoot the watchdog“ tactic to deflect scrutiny into her use of a private e-mail server, Joseph E. Schmitz, former Inspector General of the Department of Defense, told Fox News Thursday.

As first reported by Fox, an unclassified Jan. 14 letter from Inspector General Charles McCullough III  said that he has two sworn declarations "covering several dozen e-mails containing classified information" determined to be at the CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET and TOP SECRET/SAP levels.

The letter was sent to the chairmen of two U.S. Senate Committees and also copied both to the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and to ranking Democratic members of the two Senate committees, Dianne Feinstein and Adam Schiff. It also went to the Inspector General of the State Department, Steve Linick.


“The ODNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) has an independent duty to shed light on facts, regardless of whether or not the Justice Department decides to prosecute. I do not see anything improper about this letter,” said Schmitz.

A new blizzard of scrutiny has descended upon Clinton’s e-mails contained on her private homebrew server first put into service in 2009. These now include “several dozen” classified e-mails and among them, intelligence from "SAP," the acronym for “special access programs.”

Fox reported that senior lawmakers who oversee the State Department could not read SAP e-mails without receiving additional clearance from the intelligence agencies who run the secret programs.

Clinton repeatedly has stated that she did not send or receive material marked classified.

In an interview with NPR,  she emphasized that,  “I’m just going to leave it up to the professionals at the Justice Department because nothing that this says changes the fact that I never sent or received material marked classified.”

Separately, a high ranking intelligence source told Fox that “security clearance is not the same as access” and “she must have a need to know” TS/SCI  materials or Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information.

It is unclear what security clearances Clinton still retains and if any of her security clearances have been suspended since she left the State Department in 2013.   

Schmitz added, “If the ICIG has custody of classified information as part of his IG activity, he not only has the ability to suspend someone’s access to that classified information, but he arguably has the duty to suspend (or deny) such access whenever he has doubts about either the person’s clearance or the person’s “need to know. “

Neither e-mailed questions or a phone call was returned by Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, about her level of security clearance.

Schmitz emphasized that “the Inspector General is not a prosecutor and does not depend on prosecutorial merit ” but rather a “dogged pursuit of the truth.”

The Inspector General Act of 1978 created a system of Inspector Generals within all the major agencies of the Federal Government.  

Pamela K. Browne is Senior Executive Producer at the FOX News Channel (FNC) and is Director of Long-Form Series and Specials. Her journalism has been recognized with several awards. Browne first joined FOX in 1997 to launch the news magazine “Fox Files” and later, “War Stories.”