- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 31, 2015

The State Department has decided that yet another of former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s emails contains “secret” information, and has classified hundreds more at a lower level of secrecy — part of Thursday afternoon’s release of more than 3,000 messages from her unique email arrangement.

The secret message was deemed “unclassified” at the time it was sent, but has been elevated as officials process and release more than 30,000 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, which she belatedly returned to the government nearly two years after she left office.

The latest release, just hours before the new year, breaks a federal judge’s order by falling well short of the 4,800 messages that were supposed to have been released by the end of the day. The State Department, blaming the end-of-year holidays, released less than 65 percent of the number of emails that were ordered.

The messages it did release show an ever higher number of classified messages: Some 8.6 percent were redacted in whole or in part because they contained information that the government deemed too secret to be released to the public.

That is more than 2 percent higher than the rate of classification in the messages released in November and signals that Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, will continue to have to fend off questions about rejecting a State.gov account and instead using an email account tied to a server at her home in New York, where its security has been called into question.

Thursday’s release also embarrassed the Obama administration, which has been grappling with Mrs. Clinton’s emails since her unique arrangement was publicly revealed earlier in 2015.

SEE ALSO: Clinton advised to consider resigning as secretary of state after Obama’s Russia comments

The State Department fought to keep all of the emails secret until 2016, but a judge forced the release of the emails on a monthly rolling basis. The department missed an initial deadline as it pleaded poverty, saying it didn’t have enough employees to process the messages — and drew rebukes from federal judges.

Department officials scrambled to catch up and by August were back on track — until December, when they fell well short once again.

“We have worked diligently to come as close to the goal as possible, but with the large number of documents involved and the holiday schedule we have not met the goal this month. To narrow that gap, the State Department will make another production of former Secretary Clinton’s email sometime next week,” the department said in a statement.

In addition to missing the deadline, the department took shortcuts to rush the documents it did process. One corner it cut was leaving out many of the emails’ senders and recipients in the searchable State Department online document system. The names are visible inside the messages but cannot be sorted immediately.

The latest messages are drawn chiefly from 2011 and 2012 and cover everything from her attempts to manage growing unrest in the Middle East to keeping an eye on a presidential run.

Indeed, one February 2012 email suggests that she privately changed her position on same-sex marriage well before she publicly announced it.

Peter Edelman, a law professor at Georgetown University, tried to rope Mrs. Clinton into helping lobby Sam Arora, a former Clinton staffer who is now a delegate from Montgomery County. Mr. Arora campaigned as a supporter of same-sex marriage but ultimately voted against legislation.

Mrs. Clinton detailed her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to make the overture: “Bill called — unsuccessfully,” Mrs. Clinton said in a reply email to her top aide, Cheryl D. Mills.

She would publicly announce her change a year later, in March 2013.

In another message, an aide kept Mrs. Clinton abreast of negotiations on Capitol Hill over Obamacare. That same aide, Neera Tanden, also pushed Mrs. Clinton to deliver a victory-lap speech early in her tenure as secretary laying out how glad the rest of the world was to be finished with the Bush administration and to welcome an Obama administration committed to “respecting other countries and their differences.”

The now-classified emails in the latest release, like the ones before them, were redacted chiefly because they contained information either obtained from a foreign power or concerning U.S. policy toward a foreign government — both of which are supposed to be classified under State Department rules.

None of the messages was marked classified at the time. Indeed, the “secret” message was specifically marked “unclassified” by its sender.

The existence of the messages, however, has dogged Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.
“With more than 1,250 emails containing classified information now uncovered, Hillary Clinton’s decision to put secrecy over national security by exclusively operating off of a secret email server looks even more reckless,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

“When this scandal first broke, Hillary Clinton assured the American people there was no classified material on her unsecure server, a claim which has since been debunked on a monthly basis with each court-ordered release.”

The release of 3,105 messages contained 267 that had “classified” or “secret” redactions, for a rate of 8.6 percent.

When all the releases in 2015 are included, the State Department has produced 24,465 of the more than 30,000 government-related messages Mrs. Clinton returned. Of those, more than 1,250 have been marked “classified” or “secret.”

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