Fox News got its hands on some internal State Department memos revealing what the network calls “genuine concern – even panic” over the possible exposure of sensitive intelligence networks to the anti-American, Iran-backed Houthi rebels who took over Yemen, obliging the foreign-policy geniuses of the Obama Administration to stage a hasty exit from our embassy there.
Internal State Department emails reviewed by Fox News reveal that as security unraveled in Yemen, U.S. personnel were scrambling to finalize their exit plan and were so uncertain about what would happen that procedures for safeguarding sensitive information were bypassed — with permission from Washington.
The unclassified emails reveal staff on the ground in Yemen, as well as senior department executives in Washington, were concerned the evacuation might go bad and left a communication network running at the embassy in case staff had to return. The emails point to uncertainty on the ground amid fast-moving developments, even as the Obama administration downplayed any irregularities.
“It wasn’t hasty,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki insisted on Fox News’ “The Kelly File” on Feb. 12, a day after the evacuation.
But one email reviewed by Fox News showed genuine concern — even panic — in Washington, that an unclassified system exposing emails and day-to-day operations was left up and running at the embassy in Sanaa.
“We need to quickly think about the plan for destroying/sanitizing the OpenNet data that is still in Sanaa,” the email from a supervisor said.
“I am a little worried it is still out there.”
The OpenNet system was left open, by order of U.S. Ambassador Matthew Tueller and senior State Department officials, because they thought the evacuation plan might fail, leaving them stuck at the embassy for an indefinite period of time. It’s a classic Obama Administration failure, thankfully absent the dead bodies of Benghazi, but perhaps with even more sensitive data at stake:
Fox News is told that after the U.S. team fled, it took three days to remotely access and delete the remaining data. Servers containing financial information, as well as passport and visa requests with personal information, also had to be cleared.
Tony Shaffer, a former military intelligence officer now with the London Center for Policy Research, explained how the information left unguarded at the compound could have posed problems.
“If they are able to exploit it, that is say break it open and potentially analyze it and categorize it this will give them a great deal of information about how U.S. embassies function,” he said.
Fox News found assurances from State Department spokesmen less than convincing, not only because they have emails showing the State Department screaming into its clenched fist about possible intelligence compromises, but because email traffic from before the fall of Sanaa depict a State Department roiled with confusion, with evacuation plans hastily abandoned as the situation on the ground changed, leading to the infamous disarming of U.S. Marines by the new masters of Yemen. Something tells me the Administration is about to go on another behind-the-scenes crusade against those who leak emails to the non-Obama media.
President Obama touted Yemen as a counter-terrorism “success” just six months ago.