The public can now finally see former Secretary of State and now 2016 Democratic candidate’s Hillary Clinton’s emails from the time of the Benghazi terror attacks in September 2012. The State Department released on Friday, May 22, 2015 around noon the first batch of Clinton’s emails from the private server she used as Secretary of State. Approximately 300 were released, 296 to be exact equaling to 850 printed pages with date ranges from January 2011 through Dec. 31, 2012.
The emails are a part of the 30,000 Clinton handed over to the State Department to review from the private email server she used as Secretary of State. The emails consist of “policy briefs,” “scheduling,” “exchanges with her staff,” “reactions to news stories” and hearing preparations. The Freedom of Information Act office is responsible for sorting the 55,000 pages of emails and preparing them for their release. Clinton initially handed over 62,000 emails, over 30,0000 were personal emails that were then deleted.
The most interest has surrounded the emails showing Clinton’s reactions to the Benghazi Attacks on Sept. 11, 2012. One of the emails from late in that evening, about releasing a statement regarding Ambassador Chris Stevens death read, Chief of Staff “Cheryl [Mills] told me the Libyans confirmed his death. Should we announce tonight or wait until morning?” Mills responded, “We are awaiting formal confirmation from our team. We are drafting a statement while we wait.”
Another email from Sept. 24 from Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff analyzed Clinton’s immediate reactions and public statements about the attacks after criticism from the press, “You never said spontaneous or characterized the motives. In fact you were careful in your first statement to say we were assessing motive and method. The way you treated the video in the Libya context was to say that some sought to *justify* the attack on that basis.”
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf commented upon the emails release, “The emails we release today do not change the essential facts or our understanding of the events before, during, or after the attacks, which have been known since the independent Accountability Review Board report on the Benghazi attacks was released almost two and a half years ago.”
Since news broke in March that Clinton had used a private email server, she has faced a “backlash” threatening her burgeoning presidential campaign. In response, Clinton has been urging the State Department to release the emails to show there is no secrets in them. Most have been be classified as sensitive but not classified material, Clinton insists she never received classified material on her private account. The emails are “heavily redacted” showing a lack of transparency from the administration.
Earlier this week on Tuesday, May 19 the State Department said they will only review and make Clinton’s 55,000 pages of emails public by January 2016. Afterwards U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled that the State Department would have to released them sooner, on a rolling basis, and provide the court with a revised schedule by Tuesday, May 26.
The House Benghazi panel also subpoenaed former Clinton White House adviser Sidney Blumenthal to testify on June 3 before the committee. Blumenthal had privately sent Clinton emails that included private intelligence reports from former senior CIA officer Tyler Drumheller about Libya sent around the time of the Benghazi terror attacks in September 2012. These emails were also released in this first batch.
The House Benghazi panel has had access to these set of emails since February. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., the chair of the House Benghazi panel issued a statement, “To assume a self-selected public record is complete, when no one with a duty or responsibility to the public had the ability to take part in the selection, requires a leap in logic no impartial reviewer should be required to make and strains credibility.” While Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner issued a remark on Twitter, “Reminder: Sec Clinton’s emails released today are SELF-selected. http://j.mp/1cS6v2f Still need an independent party to review.”
Full Text Hillary Clinton Secretary of State Emails, FOIA, May 22, 2015