The State Department has released 850 pages of e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail address. Clinton has been under fire for using a private e-mail server (as opposed to an official government account) to discuss potentially sensitive matters of national security and foreign policy during her tenure as the nation’s top diplomat. Specifically, there are big questions about who knew what and when about an attack on US outposts in Benghazi that killed US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
Clinton has said she wants the e-mails to be released and The State Department is using this as a “we told you so” moment as you can see from the following statement:
“The emails we release today do not change the essential facts or our understanding of the events before, during, or after the attacks, which have been known since the independent Accountability Review Board report on the Benghazi attacks was released almost 2½ years ago.”
Nevertheless, the release isn’t likely to impress Clinton’s critics who note that the now-public documents represent but a small fraction of the 55,000 pages turned over to Congress and even though the rest of e-mails are set to be released on a “rolling basis”, what the public sees is ultimately filtered through Clinton’s attorneys so you can be absolutely certain that there will be no Seymour Hersh moments to be had by sifting through the pile. Here’s Rep. Trey Gowdy who heads the House Select Committee on Benghazi:
“State Department transferred 300 messages exclusively reviewed and released by her own lawyers. These lawyers, it must be noted, owed and continue to owe a fiduciary responsibility to Secretary Clinton to protect her interests. To assume a self-selected public record is complete, when no one with a duty or responsibility to the public had the ability to take part in the selection, requires a leap in logic no impartial reviewer should be required to make and strains credibility.”
It sure does, but be that as it may, there were a few interesting things to be gleaned from perusing the documents. The first batch of e-mails released to the NY Times on Thursday do not seem to suggest that Clinton received or transmitted any classified information on her personal e-mail server, but that isn’t the interesting part because after all, if there’s evidence she did transmit such information, the lawyers would make sure those e-mails didn’t see the light of day. What is interesting though is that there’s a whole lot of SBU flying around. SBU stands for “sensitive but unclassified”, and as you’ll see from the below, some of the information probably shouldn’t have been sent from a private account:
Via NY Times:
The day after the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on American outposts in Benghazi that killed Mr. Stevens and three other Americans, Mr. Blumenthal sent Mrs. Clinton a memo with his intelligence about what had occurred. The memo said the attacks were by “demonstrators” who “were inspired by what many devout Libyan viewed as a sacrilegious internet video on the prophet Mohammed originating in America.” Mrs. Clinton forwarded the memo to Mr. Sullivan, saying “More info.” (Pages 193-195)..
The next day, Mr. Blumenthal sent Mrs. Clinton a more thorough account of what had occurred. Citing “sensitive sources” in Libya, the memo provided extensive detail about the episode, saying that the siege had been set off by members of Ansar al-Shariah, the Libyan terrorist group. Those militants had ties to Al Qaeda, had planned the attacks for a month and had used a nearby protest as cover for the siege, the memo said. “We should get this around asap” Mrs. Clinton said in an email to Mr. Sullivan. “Will do,” he responded. That information contradicted the Obama administration’s narrative at the time about what had spawned the attacks. Republicans have said the administration misled the country about the attacks because it did not want to undermine the notion that President Obama, who was up for re-election, was winning the war on terrorism. (Pages 200-203)..
Mrs. Clinton’s emails show that she had a special type of government information known as “sensitive but unclassified,” or “SBU,” in her account. That information included the whereabouts and travel plans of American officials in Libya as security there deteriorated during the uprising against the leadership of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011. Nearly a year and a half before the attacks in Benghazi, Mr. Stevens, then an American envoy to the rebels, considered leaving Benghazi citing deteriorating security, according to an email to Mrs. Clinton marked “SBU.”
So nothing “classified” there which should perhaps raise questions in and of itself because if top level discussions about what might have caused the death of a US diplomat in a country that was (and still is) engulfed in a civil war, doesn’t constitute “classified” information, then one shudders to think what does.
Further, the fact that Clinton was exchanging mails on her private server that revealed the whereabouts and travel plans of the very same ambassador who was later killed is a bit disconcerting, as is the fact that apparently, the travel itinerary of diplomats in conflict zones is apparently not top secret enough to be deemed classified. Of course we guess the latter point there makes sense, considering that government officials probably only have so much mental bandwidth when it comes to “classified” things before it becomes impossible to keep up with all the lies and when you’re busy doing things like crafting complex narratives to justify overthrowing a dictator so you can help your Middle Eastern friends help you by piping natural gas to Europe in an effort to cripple Russia, small-ish things like telegraphing the whereabouts of ambassadors might have a tendency to fall through the classified cracks by being judged to be merely “sensitive.”
Finally, it does look like there may have been an effort (although it's not clear, and probably never will be, how concerted the effort was), to delay going public with the whole "it was actually terrorists who killed him" bit, but then again who knows because when it comes to the government's relationship with militants fighting to usurp regimes in strategic and/or oil-rich Middle Eastern countries, all bets are off and the public will likely never read an e-mail that contains anything that even approximates the real story.
Read and draw your own conclusions...