It looks like the FBI is moving to keep details about the investigation into current presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified and Top Secret documents under wraps wherever possible. It has even sparked a Senate investigation into the practice.
According to a report by the New York Post it’s looking more and more like FBI agents with knowledge of the investigation are essentially being sworn to secrecy in what many are calling an unprecedented move.
In an unusual move, FBI agents working the Hillary Clinton email case had to sign a special form reminding them not to blab about the probe to anyone unless called to testify.
Sources said they had never heard of the “Case Briefing Acknowledgment” form being used before, although all agents must initially sign nondisclosure agreements to obtain security clearance.
“The purpose of this form is to maintain an official record of persons knowledgeable of a highly sensitive Federal Bureau of Investigation counterintelligence investigation,” the letter states. “I [FBI agent] also understand that, due to the nature and sensitivity of this investigation, compliance with these restrictions may be subject to verification by polygraph examination.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 14, 2016
The claim that agents were being sword to secrecy caused Sen. Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to request a response from the FBI and he received the following letter in reply, seemingly confirming the “gag order”:
Dear Chairman Grassley:
This is in response to your letter dated February 4, 2016 regarding the use of non-disclosure agreements in the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary of State Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server.
The FBI asked the limited number of personnel working on this matter to sign “Case Briefing Acknowledgment” forms and, after receipt of your letter, an addendum to that form, which reminded them of their whistle blower rights and clarified that the form did not override or supersede those rights. These forms served two purposes: to maintain an official record of all persons knowledgeable of this highly sensitive investigation, and to remind individuals of their obligations to protect classified and sensitive information. No one refused to sign the acknowledgement or raised any questions or concerns about doing so.
This was not a unique circumstance; depending on the sensitivities in a given investigation, FBI employees may from time to time be asked to sign similar forms. In addition, all FBI employees sign standard form non-disclosure agreements (NDA) upon obtaining their security briefings, and they remain bound by those agreements throughout the course of their employment. The standard form NDA includes the requisite language to address all legal requirements, including whistleblower protections. The FBI is taking steps to ensure that future reminders to employees of non-disclosure obligations similarly contain language acknowledging whistleblower protections. Copies of both the Case Briefing Acknowledgement form and the addendum are enclosed.
We appreciate your continued support for the FBI and its mission. If you have questions concerning this or other matters, please contact this office by calling (202) 324-5051.
The FBI tried to assure the Senate that whistleblower protections are still in place, despite making agents sign a document that seems to imply otherwise.