As U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton discussed “sensitive but unclassified” information through her private email account on the security situation in Benghazi during the 2011 upheaval in Libya, The New York Times (NYT) reveals.
NYT’s Michael Schmidt was able to review a trove of Benghazi-related emails submitted to the House Benghazi Select Committee, which shows that Clinton discussed information that contradicted the Obama administration’s narrative in 2012 about what triggered the attack in Benghazi on September 11 of that year.
Furthermore, the emails reveal that Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens expressed concerns over the deteriorating security conditions in Libya 18 months before the terrorist attack on the U.S. outposts that killed him, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
Schmidt, who first revealed the existence of Clinton’s private email account, writes:
Mrs. Clinton’s emails show that she had a special type of government information known as “sensitive but unclassified,” or “SBU,” in her account. That information included the whereabouts and travel plans of American officials in Libya as security there deteriorated during the uprising against the leadership of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011.
“Nearly a year and a half before the attacks in Benghazi, Mr. Stevens, then an American envoy to the rebels, considered leaving Benghazi, citing deteriorating security, according to an email to Mrs. Clinton marked ‘SBU,’” he adds.
It remains uncertain whether Clinton took any security precautions to protect the private email server she used as secretary of state, which experts say is less secure than the one used by the State Department.
Schmidt reports that Clinton also forwarded emails to Jake Sullivan, her foreign policy adviser, containing memos from Sidney Blumenthal, a former Clinton aide and political ally.
Sullivan would then disseminate those memos to other senior State Department officials, reportedly, without telling them the memos were from Blumenthal.
In a memo sent to Clinton the day after the September 11, 2012, attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Blumenthal, who was subpoenaed by the Benghazi panel earlier this week, attributed the attack to an anti-Islam YouTube video, an allegation that was debunked by a memo he sent the following day.
The Times article states:
Citing “sensitive sources” in Libya, the memo provided extensive detail about the episode, saying that the siege had been set off by members of Ansar al-Shariah, the Libyan terrorist group. Those militants had ties to Al Qaeda, had planned the attacks for a month and had used a nearby protest as cover for the siege, the memo said. “We should get this around asap,” Mrs. Clinton said in an email to Mr. Sullivan. “Will do,” he responded.
That information contradicted the Obama administration’s narrative at the time about what had spawned the attacks. Republicans have said the administration misled the country about the attacks because it did not want to undermine the notion that President Obama, who was up for re-election, was winning the war on terrorism.