- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hillary Clinton called Sunday for all of her emails as secretary of state to be released, including 22 messages the government decided last week were too secret to disclose even in redacted form, saying her former employees are being too sensitive in their handling of the information.

Locked in a tight Democratic primary race on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, Mrs. Clinton was stung Friday when the government announced it had classified 22 of the messages she sent from her own server as “top secret” — the highest level of classification.

While those messages have gotten the most attention, the State Department also released another batch of more than 900 of her emails Friday, and deemed 11 of them to contain “secret” information and 229 to contain confidential data — a staggering 26 percent classification rate. Those are in addition to the more than 1,000 previous classified messages and eight other secret messages released over the last eight months.

Some 5,000 or so messages are still to be released, and given the increasing rate of classification, they could contain more than 1,000 more secret or confidential messages. But the Obama administration has asked a federal court for a month-long extension to be able to release them at the end of February — or after the Democratic nominating primaries and caucuses are well underway.

Facing the increasing questions, Mrs. Clinton said on ABC’s “This Week” program Sunday that she wants everything out in the open, including releasing the information that the government has said is too secret to be shared.

“Let’s just get it out. Let’s see what it is and let the American people draw their own conclusions,” she said. “You know, the Republicans are going to continue to use it, beat up on me. I understand that. That’s the way they are.”

SEE ALSO: Hillary Clinton: ‘I take classified information seriously’

She said that she didn’t start any of the email chains that contained the now-top-secret information, and insisted that none were marked classified at the time, so she didn’t have any concerns about forwarding the information at the time.

Her campaign has suggested political bias at work on the part of the Obama administration and the State Department, which she used to head, and which said it made the decision to deem the 22 messages top secret.

Her chief opponent for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernard Sanders, said Sunday he won’t raise the emails as an attack on Mrs. Clinton, but said she will nonetheless have to answer questions about them because Republicans are challenging her.

Mrs. Clinton has been under fire since it was revealed that she used her own server, kept at her home in New York, to conduct all of her government email business during her four years at the State Department. The server has been seized by the FBI, which is investigating the case, and the State Department has said it is conducting its own review to see if Mrs. Clinton broke classification rules during her time at the department.

In addition to cybersecurity questions about the arrangement, by keeping the messages herself, Mrs. Clinton also kept them from public view, foiling open records requests and demands for information from Congress.

Two years after she left office, and at the prodding of the congressional committee looking into the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, she produced some 32,000 messages she said were work-related, and declined to turn over about 30,000 messages from her server from that time period that she said dealt with personal, nonofficial matters.

It is those work-related messages that are now being released to the public, just as Mrs. Clinton prepares to face voters in Monday’s Iowa vote.

In addition to the secret messages, the State Department said Friday it is withholding in their entirety another 18 emails between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama, calling them protected — but the department is not asserting executive privilege over them.

Department spokesman John Kirby would not say anything more about the content of those messages, nor of the 22 top-secret messages.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, defended Mrs. Clinton on Friday, saying he’s seen many of the top-secret emails in question. He said the fact that it took the government six months to officially deem them classified shows how tough those decisions are.

“It’s important to remember that none of these emails had any classification markings at the time they were sent, and Secretary Clinton and her staff were responding to world events in real time without the benefit of months of analysis after the fact,” he said.

With more than 26,000 of the nearly 32,000 messages now released, the State Department has deemed 1,550 of the messages confidential and 19 secret — in addition to the 40 that won’t be released at all because they are “top secret” or are being withheld because they involved Mr. Obama.

Among the new secret messages are an exchange on Aug. 24, 2011, between Mrs. Clinton and top aide Jacob Sullivan, with the subject line “Rasmussen call.” The entire content of the message is redacted, with the label saying it was withheld under the National Security Act of 1947.

Also labeled secret were emails that appeared to give inside details of assassination attempts on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The new messages released Friday add to the thousands released over the last six months in response to a judge’s order. As of Friday evening, the State Department had released 26,610 messages, had deemed 1,550 of them classified and another 19 secret.

Some 5,000 or so messages are still to come and are now overdue, according to the schedule federal Judge Rudolph Contreras laid out last year, which called for all of the messages to be produced by Jan. 29.

The State Department has asked for a month’s delay, saying officials forgot to send many of the messages out to other agencies who need to review them for redactions before they can be released. That likely explains why these messages have the highest classification rate.

The White House said Friday that Mrs. Clinton is not in legal jeopardy given what officials there have seen of the case.

“Based on what we know from the Department of Justice, it does not seem to be headed in that direction,” press secretary Josh Earnest said.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

• Kelly Riddell can be reached at kriddell@washingtontimes.com.

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