- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2015

Emails from the State Department reveal that Americans scrambling to exit the U.S. Embassy in Yemen were so pressed for time that they bypassed certain procedures set up to safeguard sensitive information — and in so doing, left a communications system up and running that detailed day-to-day operations.

Fox News sifted through the unclassified emails and found that aspects of the exodus were tense to the point of panicky and that at least one Washington official aiding the evacuation expressed concern about leaving the communications network, called OpenNet, operational at the Sanaa facility.

“We need to quickly think about the plan for destroying/sanitizing the OpenNet data that is still in Sanaa,” the email from a supervisor stated, Fox News reported. “I am a little worried it is still out there.”

The OpenNet links embassy operations to Washington. The email indicates it was not shut down during the evacuation — and that’s a major break from procedure, Fox News said.

OpenNet was left up and running due to the order of Ambassador Matthew Tueller and approval of Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy, a State Department senior-level figure, Fox News reported. Their logic: The evacuation plan could fail, and embassy officials might have to return to the facility for an unknown length of time.

Jen Psaki, State Department spokeswoman, defended the evacuation procedures during a Fox News interview, denying that the exodus was at all “hasty,” she said.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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