National Security

Clinton emails that prompted intelligence concerns identified

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Two key emails to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private server that potentially contained classified information have been identified, according to reports.

The emails have been in the public domain since May and according to Fox News — which first reported the matter — were responsible for prompting the FBI investigation into the potential mishandling of classified information.

One email from April 2011, written by the State Department’s Timmy Davis and forwarded to Clinton by her longtime aide Huma Abedin, discusses conditions in the Libyan town of Ajdabiyah worsening to the point that then-U.S. Special Envoy Christopher Stevens “is considering departure from Benghazi.”

{mosads}Stevens would later become ambassador. He died during the attack on an Ameircan diplomatic compound in Benghazi in 2012.

That document, which is completely unredacted, includes information on military movements.

“AFRICOM reported Qadhafi’s forces took the eastern and western gates of Ajdabiyah, with 5 vehicles at the eastern gate and 50 at the western gate. More Qadhafi forces are heading to Ajdabiyah from Brega,” the document reads.

Davis’s original email included an “SBU” designation, indicating it was sensitive but unclassified in his eyes. A government official told CBS News that since the email contained military intelligence, it should have been marked “classified.”

Another email from November 2012 forwarded to Clinton by aide Jake Sullivan discussed Libyan arrests potentially relating to the Benghazi attacks. A note on the email, which has several lines redacted, indicates it was classified this year.

Both emails were in a batch of about 300 released publicly by the State Department in May that related to security conditions in Libya and the deadly 2012 Benghazi attack.

The inspector general for the Intelligence Community has since said four emails from Clinton’s server should have been marked as classified when they were sent, referring the matter to the Department of Justice.

Clinton turned over her server to the FBI last week.

According to Fox News, the two emails in question raised questions that led to the launch of the FBI probe.

Clinton’s campaign has maintained in recent days that she never exchanged emails “marked classified,” as the State Department and intelligence community have acknowledged disagreements over the classification of emails.

On Wednesday, the campaign seized on the Fox News report, suggesting it showed that intelligence officials were over-classifying emails that did not actually contain sensitive information.

The email from Abedin, Clinton’s aide, was later declassified because officials believed the military information it contained was outdated.

A report from CNN, however, noted that neither of the two emails identified in Fox News’s report were among the four emails the intelligence inspector general cited in requesting an FBI investigation last month.

More than 300 of Clinton’s emails have been flagged for further review by intelligence officials to determine whether they contained classified information, based on court documents released earlier this week.

“We are reviewing those emails,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.

“We are reviewing the degree to which they contain classified information, and we are going to do that through the normal Freedom of Information Act” process, he added.

“Sometimes they are, but not always are they black and white, binary decisions.” 

 Julian Hattem contributed 

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