- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The State Department has released the first of the emails recovered by the FBI that were handled by Hillary Clinton’s secret email account, as the Obama administration and a conservative watchdog group sparred over whether the email metadata should be made public.

As many as 30 emails relating to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack that Mrs. Clinton didn’t turn over to the State Department were found by the FBI, and the administration has assured federal courts that it is working to make those — and perhaps thousands of other deleted Clinton emails — public.

Several of those messages were released in the initial production this week. Each of them is a forward from one of Mrs. Clinton’s aides, reporting on positive reaction to her 2013 congressional testimony about Benghazi.

While the content isn’t striking, the mere existence of the emails is, said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch.

“These new Benghazi-Clinton emails prove that Hillary or her lawyers deleted material which proved to be responsive to federal court orders and congressional subpoenas,” Mr. Fitton said. “Clinton’s email coverup scheme is as plain as day.”

The State Department fought the release of the emails, saying they were essentially the same as messages Mrs. Clinton did turn over. But the FBI’s recovered messages contain metadata — complex information describing how the email was routed through the Internet — that Mrs. Clinton’s messages, which were exported as .pdf documents, didn’t contain.

In a curious move, the State Department redacted some of the metadata from an email sent by Mrs. Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, saying it needed to protect investigative techniques. It cited exemption B7(E) of the Freedom of Information Act, which says the government can withhold anything that would compromise “techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law.

The FBI didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment on why the redactions were needed.

In a court filing, though, the administration said having to go through metadata for other Clinton emails would be a burden and will delay the documents’ release.

“At a minimum, the printed internal technical metadata would itself have to be reviewed to determine which, if any, portions are exempt from disclosure under the FOIA,” administration lawyers said.

Mr. Fitton countered that the State Department should stop looking for excuses and release the messages, metadata and all.

“When you have a document that has different material on it it’s a new record. There may be material of interest to the pubic in that metadata, when people look at it,” he said. “It was important enough that the FBI wanted to redact material from it.”

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