Clinton, aides stressed protecting State Dept. info in email

AP News
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Posted: Sep 01, 2015 2:56 PM
Clinton, aides stressed protecting State Dept. info in email

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton and her aides at the State Department were acutely aware of — and occasionally frustrated by — the need to protect sensitive information when discussing international affairs over email and other correspondence.

One example came in a February 2010 message, when an aide noted a draft of innocuous remarks about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was on the State Department's classified messaging system. Clinton replied: "It's a public statement! Just email it."

Sent a moment later, the statement merely said that U.S. and British officials would work together to promote peace. "Well that is certainly worthy of being top secret," Clinton responded sarcastically.

The message was among roughly 7,121 pages of emails the State Department released Monday as part of a monthly court-ordered release, including 125 emails censored before 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.

In total, the State Department has now released 13,269 pages of Clinton's emails, more than 25 percent of the total that she turned over from her private server, said State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner. Clinton provided the department some 30,000 emails she categorized as work-related late last year, while deleting a similar amount from her server because she said they were personal.

All the 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. She now says she regrets using a personal email account to conduct government business.

A look at some of the messages:

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SECURITY

In a few of the emails, Clinton and her aides noted the constraints of discussing sensitive subjects when working outside of the government's secure messaging systems.

In an exchange from Feb. 6, 2010, Clinton asks aide Huma Abedin for talking points for a call she's 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...."

In another email from January 2010, Clinton aide Cheryl Mills responds angrily to a New York Times story based on leaked classified cables sent by Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. "The leaking of classified material is a breach not only of trust, it is also a breach of the law," Mills wrote.

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BILL & CHELSEA

A few of the messages released Monday hint at the ways Clinton's family was involved in her work at the agency.

Following the devastating Haiti earthquake in January 2010, Clinton wrote about her efforts to involve Bill Clinton in the disaster response. After an unnamed party assumed that former President Clinton's preexisting role as a United Nations envoy to Haiti would sideline him from the reconstruction effort, Hillary stepped in.

"I just spent an extra hour explaining the architecture" of the relief organizations, Clinton wrote. "Will fill wjc in on the plane." Bill Clinton, who is often referred to by his initials "WJC," ended up as co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, a body with significant power over reconstruction funds.

An email from Chelsea Clinton, addressed to "Dad, Mom," offers a seven-page assessment of conditions in Haiti based on a four-day trip to the devastated island. "Please do not forward this in whole or in part attributed to me without asking me first," she writes to her parents, saying she's "happy to be an invisible soldier."

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FAMOUS FRIENDS

The emails also illustrate the wide reach of Clinton's political relationships after nearly 20 years in Washington. A December 2010 note from Abedin alerts Clinton to a call from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a staunch opponent of the president. Another note from Clinton, with the subject "John Kerry's birthday," asks the Massachusetts senator and future secretary of state to be added to that day's call list.

An e-mail from Clinton to Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski asks after "our friend, Martin" — a reference to then-Gov. Martin O'Malley, now challenging Clinton for their party's presidential nomination.

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TECHNOLOGY

Despite approving the creation of a relatively complex email system in her home, Clinton seemed puzzled by basic technology. In a July 2010 exchange, Clinton quizzed former staffer Philippe Reines on how to charge the Apple tablet and update an application.

Reines asks Clinton if she has a wireless Internet connection, and she replies: "I don't know if I have wi-fi. How do I find out?"

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2016 INTEREST

A few months later, in the spring of 2010, some of Clinton's longtime allies were already floating the possibility of a 2016 presidential bid to her. Roy Spence, a Texas advertising executive who worked with Clinton during her 2008 campaign, sent Clinton a blog item that pointed to her popularity as secretary of state.

"Some have said that, in choosing Joe Biden as Vice-President, Barack Obama did not pick a successor to lead the Democratic Party," the blog post read. "However, that needs rethinking. Because Barack Obama made her Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton remains remarkably well-positioned to run for President in 2016, even more so than she was in 2008."

"Anyway, have a good holiday weekend," Spence wrote, attaching his typical sign-off: "Ride at dawn."

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Follow Lisa Lerer and Matthew Lee on Twitter at http://twitter.com/llerer and http://twitter.com/APDiploWriter

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Associated Press writers Matthew Lee, Bradley Klapper, David Scott, Catherine Lucey, Jack Gillum, Ted Bridis, Ken Dilanian, Ken Thomas, Tom Beaumont, Nicholas Riccardi, Stephen Braun, Eileen Sullivan, Ronnie Greene, Jeff Horwitz, Matthew Daly, Wendy Benjaminson and Alicia Caldwell contributed to this report.