In the present controversy, critics have charged that Clinton violated State Department rules and may have broken the law by sending and receiving so-called foreign government information on her personal email account which resided on a private email server at her home in Chappaqua, New York.
But the May 2 letter from State Department legislative liaison Julia Frifield says such information isn't automatically considered classified. She adds that the day-to-day work of diplomats often requires handling such data via ordinary computer and phone systems and discussing it in nonsecure facilities.
"Although the unauthorized release of FGI is presumed to cause harm to the national security-thereby qualifying as Confidential [level] classified information. Department officials of necessity routinely receive such information through unclassified channels," Frifield wrote in the May 2 letter. "For example, diplomats engage in meetings with counterparts in open settings, have phone calls with foreign contacts over unsecure lines, and email with and about foreign counterparts via unclassified systems. Diplomats could not conduct diplomacy if doing so violated the law."