The Cable

New Emails From Clinton’s Private Server Contain Information on ‘Embassy Security Issues’

Hillary Clinton's private emails contain redacted text about embassy security issues.

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Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, maintains that she did not send classified materials using a personal email account and an Internet server kept at her home in Chappaqua, New York. But a new batch of correspondence, released by the State Department Friday afternoon, shows that she and her aides did share sensitive information — including potential vulnerabilities in American diplomatic facilities overseas — over her private network.

Some 41 messages, dated between March and December of 2009, have large portions that have been redacted and labeled “B1,” for the Freedom of Information Act exemption allowing the government to withhold or redact documents in the interests of national defense or foreign policy. Some of the emails are redundant, meaning there are multiple versions of the same message being sent back and forth. One message in particular, dated September 21, 2009, stands out, because it deals with the very topic at the center of the inquiry into Clinton’s emails: embassy security.

An email written by Daniel Smith, who served as executive secretary of state under Clinton, contains a large redacted section about “two embassy security issues.” Suspicion about Clinton’s personal email use surfaced as Republicans investigated the September 11, 2012, attack at a State Department outpost in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Three other Americans also died.

On Thursday, McClatchy reported that Clinton’s previously released emails contained information from five different intelligence agencies — including classified material in one email about the Benghazi attack that the State Department had made public.

Other redacted portions of the September 21 email, sent to Clinton lieutenants Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Jacob Sullivan, address Japanese assistance to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The message was forwarded to Clinton by Abedin.

The release is the third of about 55,000 pages of email the State Department is currently reviewing. More than 1,300 were made public Friday. Two previous email dumps were made in May and June. Critics charge the State Department is deliberately slowing down the process; a judge said this week that “even the least ambitious bureaucrat” could process the correspondence more quickly than the State Department’s current pace.

House Republicans are desperate to find evidence linking Clinton’s actions prior to the Benghazi attack to the deaths of Stevens and three other Americans. In November 2014, a Republican-controlled House committee found that President Barack Obama’s administration, including Clinton, weren’t guilty of any wrongdoing. But the revelation of Clinton’s personal email account reignited the controversy about Clinton’s actions in 2012.

Other emails sent from or to the “homebrew” server deemed worthy of classification include:

  • An October 3, 2009, email from Abedin. The longtime Clinton aide had forwarded information that Jeffrey Feltman, then-assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, wanted to share with Clinton before a phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. His entire note was redacted.
  • An October 3, 2009, email to George Mitchell, then the administration’s special envoy to the Middle East. The contents of Clinton’s message to him were redacted twice, first when Clinton sent it to Mitchell’s official — and presumably secure — email address and again when Feltman forwarded it to the email address that Mitchell “usually checks on the weekend” — his private account.
  • A November 21, 2009, email from William Burns, then-undersecretary of state for political affairs, asked Clinton to call Yang Jiechi, her Chinese counterpart, about a sensitive matter. The State Department removed the issue to be addressed and the talking points with which to address it — about a full page of text — on national security grounds.
  • A November 25, 2009, exchange between Clinton and Feltman, where she inquired about then-newly elected Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s concern about U.S. support of the Lebanese armed forces. Feltman’s response — about four lines of text — was completely redacted.

The emails aren’t the only information on the former New York senator released Friday. Clinton released records that showed her to be in good health. She also released tax returns from 2007 to 2014 that show she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, paid $43.8 million in federal taxes.

Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Bill Allison is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @bill_allison

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