Heavily redacted Benghazi emails released on Christmas Eve

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) released a handful of sensitive documents Thursday morning dealing with terrorism suspect Anwar al-Awlaki and the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

The Christmas Eve document dump includes 16 pages of heavily blacked-out emails about the events surrounding the 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that killed four Americans. 

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The DNI emails about Benghazi are heavily redacted and appear to contain little new information. Several of the emails discuss the drafting of an assessment of the threat level ahead of the attack, which was being prepared for Congress in the months after four Americans were killed in the attack.

Other emails include periodic press clippings about the state of Benghazi in the years after the incident, which were meant to give staffers “situational awareness.”

Another document released Thursday is a memo to the State Department that shows the DNI signed off on a proposal to revoke al-Awlaki's U.S. passport about seven and a half months before he was killed by the U.S. in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

News that al-Awlaki’s passport was revoked by the State Department before he was killed was reported back in 2012. In the 2011 memo, released Thursday, the DNI told the State Department that it “concurs with the proposal to revoke the U.S. passport of Anwar Nasser al-Aulaqi.”

A previously released Justice Department memo from that time found that the government did not see any constitutional problems with killing al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, because of his alleged leadership roles with al Qaeda. 

Other documents released Thursday are related a 2013 update about how to mark sensitive human intelligence that has been gathered. Another relates to the schedule of National Counterintelligence Executive William Evanina in early 2015. 

The documents were released as part of a “proactive disclosure” under the Freedom of Information Act. The government and public relations firms have been known to release unflattering information around major holidays or weekends to blunt the news effect.