Hillary Clinton and her aides at the US State Department were acutely aware of the need to protect sensitive information when discussing international affairs over email.
And also over other forms of unsecure electronic communication, according to the latest batch of messages released by the agency from Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
The State Department made public roughly 7,121 pages of Clinton’s emails, including 125 emails that were censored prior to their release because they contain information now deemed classified.
The vast majority concerned mundane matters of daily life at any workplace: Phone messages, relays of schedules, and forwards of news articles.
However, in a few emails, Clinton and her aides noted the constraints of discussing sensitive subjects when working outside of the government’s secure messaging systems — and the need to protect such information.
Senior adviser Alec Ross, in a February 2010 email intended for Clinton, cited frustration with “the boundaries of unclassified email” in a message about an unspecified country, which Ross referred to as “the country we discussed”.
The email appears to focus on civil unrest in Iran during the period preceding the Green Movement, when Iranian protesters used social media and the internet to unsuccessfully challenge the re-election of then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In an exchange from February 6, 2010, Clinton asks aide Huma Abedin for talking points for a call she was about to have with the newly appointed foreign minister of Ecuador.
“You are congratulating him on becoming foreign minister, and purpose is to establish a personal relationship with him,” Abedin replied.
“Trying to get u call sheet, its classified.”
Clinton also expressed frustration with the State Department’s treatment of certain ordinary documents as classified.
After an aide noted the draft of innocuous remarks about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was on the State Department’s classified messaging system, she responded: “It’s a public statement! Just email it.”
Sent a moment later, the statement merely said that US and British officials would work together to promote peace. “Well that is certainly worthy of being top secret,” Clinton responded sarcastically.
All those email conversations with Clinton took place via her private email account, highlighting the challenge the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination faces as she struggles to explain her decision to set up a private email server at her New York home.
Clinton now says that her decision to use a personal email account to conduct government business was a mistake.
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