Clinton Email Trove Reviewed 03/06 06:17
The government will examine thousands of Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails for
public release -- and for possible security lapses -- after revelations she
used a private account to conduct official business as secretary of state, a
senior State Department official said Thursday.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government will examine thousands of Hillary Rodham
Clinton's emails for public release --- and for possible security lapses ---
after revelations she used a private account to conduct official business as
secretary of state, a senior State Department official said Thursday.
Clinton's extensive use of private emails has raised questions in the
buildup to her expected presidential run about whether she adhered to the
letter or spirit of accountability laws.
The official said the department would review 55,000 pages of emails amassed
from Clinton's personal files to determine if there were any instances where
she improperly transmitted sensitive information. The official was not
authorized to be quoted on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.
State Department policy holds that information that is not classified as
secret but contains sensitive national security or diplomatic information can
only be conveyed on secure channels except for certain circumstances, the
Clinton's extensive use of private emails heightened security risks for her
communications, chiefly the potential for inadvertent disclosure of such
sensitive information and danger from hackers, several information security
experts told The Associated Press.
Secretary of State John Kerry, in Saudi Arabia, said Thursday his department
"will undertake this task as rapidly as possible in order to make sure that we
are dealing with the sheer volume in a responsible way."
Officials said Thursday the review could take months to complete,
potentially a drawn-out distraction for Clinton and an unnerving development
for the many Democrats who see her as the party's presidential
nominee-in-waiting for 2016.
The review was prompted by the disclosure that Clinton, in a departure from
predecessors, relied exclusively on the private account for emails about
government business. The emails were sent from a private computer server using
an Internet address that traces back to Clinton's family home in Chappaqua, New
The department announced the review soon after Clinton addressed the matter
for the first time, saying on Twitter: "I want the public to see my email. I
asked State to release them."
Clinton aides and the State Department both say she never received or
transmitted classified information on her private email account. But
unclassified diplomatic details and internal matters are sometimes considered
sensitive and can be targeted by hackers and foreign governments.
"She had other ways of communicating through classified email through her
assistants or her staff," said Marie Harf, speaking for the State Department.
Officials have said Clinton turned over more than 55,000 pages of emails to the
Clinton's use of a private email account for official business appeared to
contradict instructions from her own office in June 2011 to all State
Department employees. In a cable from Clinton's office, employees were advised
to "avoid conducting official Department business from your personal e-mail
accounts." It cited reports that unspecified "online adversaries" were
targeting personal email accounts of State Department employees. The cable was
first obtained by Fox News.
The State Department told the AP that Clinton's instructions in 2011 only
applied to emails containing "sensitive but unclassified" information, a
category that includes personal information about employees or the public,
business secrets, details of ongoing investigations or records about visa or
asylum applications. Only one instruction in the cable directly referred to
rules about such information, an existing ban on anyone auto-forwarding
government emails to their personal accounts.
Even though the instructions bore Clinton's name, it was not clear whether
she wrote them or was aware of them. Virtually every cable leaving the
department's headquarters in Washington would have had Clinton's name on it
while she was in town.
Clinton's private email practices gave her significant control over access
to her message archives, highly unusual in government. They also could
complicate the State Department's legal responsibilities in finding and turning
over official emails in response to any investigations, lawsuits or public
The matter also raises questions about whether anyone in government examined
Clinton's private email server and network before it began operating and
continued to review it regularly during her tenure. Federal regulations subject
the computer systems of some contractors and other organizations to federal
oversight when they interact with government systems to ensure they are
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the government can censor or withhold
emails to protect information that would hurt national security, violate
personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in
certain areas. It wasn't clear whether the State Department would automatically
apply those provisions to its review of Clinton's emails, or use its discretion
to release even emails that might be covered under those exemptions.
Withholding emails merely because they might be embarrassing or expose
government incompetence or malfeasance is not permitted under the act's
The State Department is already overwhelmed with nearly 11,000 pending
requests for various emails under the open records law. More than 75 separate
requests for Clinton material were filed with the State Department between 2009
and 2013 by media organizations and others. Associated Press requests for
Clinton emails and other documents have been delayed for more than a year ---
and in one case, four years --- without any results. The AP said this week it
is considering legal action to compel responses.
On Wednesday, the House committee investigating the attacks on the U.S.
diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, issued subpoenas for emails from
Clinton. It also instructed technology companies it did not identify to
preserve any relevant documents in their possession.
The White House legal counsel's office was not aware of Clinton's private
email account until the committee sought her communications during an earlier
exchange with the department, according to a person familiar with the matter.
That person spoke on condition of anonymity, citing a lack of authorization to
speak on the record.