Pentagon releases 34 pages of private Carter emails

Pentagon releases 34 pages of private Carter emails

The Pentagon has released 34 pages of emails that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter sent using his personal account.

The emails, all sent in April, are mostly conversations with his then-chief of staff Eric Fanning and touch on Carter’s schedule, talking points for speeches and considerations for potential staffers, among other topics. One email notes the White House's concern for leaks.

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The New York Times first reported Wednesday night that Carter relied on a personal email account for some of his official duties during his first months at the Pentagon.

The news comes after months of backlash over Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of her personal email account hosted on a private server while serving as secretary of State. The FBI is investigating whether any classified materials were mishandled in that time.

Carter continued to use his personal email for official business for at least two months after Clinton’s email practice was revealed in March, The Times reported.

A former aide to Carter told the newspaper that the secretary of Defense used the personal account "so frequently that members of his staff feared he would be hacked and worried about his not following the rules."

In the emails released by the Pentagon, Carter wrote about topics ranging from whether he should do an interview with Charlie Rose to someone’s request for a letter of recommendation for a new job.

One email, sent April 13, is almost entirely redacted. Just “Thank you,” “Good Afternoon” and “Please note that this call will be UNCLASSIFIED” are not redacted from the body of the email.

Another email, sent April 30, expresses concern for leaks. Carter asks Fanning if he should call someone whose name is redacted. A couple hours later, Carter follows up that the call was made by “boss,” apparently referring to President Obama.

“Call was made by boss. Find a way for me to make a quiet call to [redacted] in morn. In meantime, stand down all else. WH very/very touchy re leaks (Colburn called them which set off opsec alarms,” the email said, using an abbreviation for operations security and likely referring to Brent Colburn, former assistant to the secretary of Defense for public affairs.

Other emails are quick questions to Fanning about Carter’s schedule. For example, on April 27, he asked whether a dinner ends at 9 p.m. or 10:45 p.m., and on April 26, he tells Fanning it would be good to go to a conference next February.

When contemplating on April 26 whether to do an interview with Charlie Rose, Carter considers that “it's better to do this now, so my first TV exposure isn't on Sunday shows defending/explaining some ugly crisis. On the other hand, don't want to appear a showboat. Need good advice.”

On Thursday, Carter said he only ever used his personal email account for administrative matters and never sent classified information.

He also called his use of a personal email account a “mistake” and said he stopped using it a few months ago.

The Senate Armed Services Committee plans to review Carter’s use of personal email, Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday.