Report: Powell, Rice staff received classified emails on private accounts

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The State Department Inspector General has found that classified emails were received on the personal accounts of former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the senior aides to his successor, Condoleezza Rice, according to an NBC News report.

In a letter obtained by NBC, Inspector General Steve Linick said that a total of 12 classified emails, now classified as "secret" or "confidential," were found to have been sent to the personal email accounts. Ten of them were sent to Rice's aides and two sent to Powell.
Linick added that none of the emails were marked classified at the time, and none were sent from the intelligence community.
In an interview with NBC, Powell downplayed the significance of the emails, saying that the information in the messages, which were sent by ambassadors, should not be classified.

"I wish they would release them," the retired general said. "So that a normal, air-breathing mammal would look at them and say, 'What's the issue?' "

"They were unclassified at the time, and they are, in my judgment, still unclassified," he added.

Powell also said that he "did not use my email account for any classified matters because I had a classified computer on my desk."

Powell told Politico on Thursday that he had briefly spoken to the FBI in December regarding his email practices. 

He added that there was a difference between his email situation and that of former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonPoll: Clinton up by 2 points in NC Kaine courts Mormon voters with Utah paper op-ed Spy chief: Clinton's Syria plan could spark conflict with Russia MORE, who used a personal email server that was found to have received classified information.

"It's a lot different from what the rest of us were doing and what Mrs. Clinton is doing," Powell said.

"Should she have had a private server? ... Did she use it for classified information? I don't know and I don't want to know."

The 12 emails came from a batch of 19 that Linick had reviewed to determine whether they should be classified. He left open the possibility that there are more classified emails in the State Department's archives.
“The State Department has received State Inspector General Linick’s memo," State spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. "We will be responding, but I do not have any additional comment to share.”
Democrats pounced on the revelation as proof that the investigation conducted into Clinton's emails is a political witch hunt.

"My concern has been that Republicans are spending millions of taxpayer dollars singling out Secretary Clinton because she is running for President — often leaking inaccurate information — while at the same time disregarding the actions of Republican Secretaries of State," said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, in a statement.

"In fact, none of the emails Secretary Clinton received was marked classified, and we have seen no evidence that any previous Secretary of State used an official email account."

“Based on this new revelation, it is clear that the Republican investigations are nothing more than a transparent political attempt to use taxpayer funds to target the Democratic candidate for president.”

Clinton's campaign joined in, calling the new development another example of how government emails are subjected to needless levels of secrecy.

"This announcement about Secretary Powell's emails shows just how routine it is for government bureaucrats to go overboard when it comes to judging whether information is too sensitive for the public to see," Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said in a statement.

"Hillary Clinton agrees with her predecessor that his emails, like hers, are being inappropriately subjected to over-classification. She joins his call for these emails to be released so that the public can view the contents for itself." 

This story was updated at 3:42 p.m.