The State Department is so tardy on former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s emails that it still hasn’t sent all of them out for security and privacy reviews by other agencies, the Obama administration admitted late Thursday, just hours before it is supposed to release all of them to the public.
The department has begged a federal court for a one-month extension on that deadline, which would push the final release until the last day in February, or well after the voting has already begun in the Democratic presidential primary.
Though they’ve been working on the emails for more than a year, State Department officials said they only realized three weeks ago that they still had thousands of emails marked for review by other agencies — but had forgotten to send them out.
“Many, in fact were sent to some agencies for review, just not to all the necessary agencies. However, at a time when State was focused on meeting monthly production goals, State failed to send these emails to some of the necessary agencies,” the administration said in a filing with Judge Rudolph Contreras.
Judge Contreras has yet to rule on the department’s request, but Jason Leopold, the reporter at Vice.com whose lawsuit has forced the public release of the emails, has insisted the State Department needs to stick to its original schedule.
Mr. Leopold demanded the State Department explain more about its problems, including listing the exact number of documents that each recalcitrant agency needs to review, and detailing where the breakdown in the State Department’s process happened.
But the administration refused to give those details, saying it didn’t see any reason to spend time investigating its problems and saying the court should trust the department’s good intentions in agreeing to the month-long delay.
The department did admit that there are a total of 18 agencies who needed to see the documents, and 12 of them still haven’t even been given the emails they need to see.
“State regrets that it must seek this extension, but the extension is necessary to ensure that the emails are properly reviewed for public release. Upcoming electoral events, while admittedly important to the public, do not change the fact that State needs this reasonable amount of additional time to complete the final stage of this enormous and complex undertaking.
The department again blamed the snow that’s blanketed the Washington region and shut down the government for three days over the last week.
This final batch of emails is expected to contain some of the most controversial emails — the ones that have required the most extensive review by other agencies. The release will likely include a high number of messages with information now marked classified.