The New York Times got a crack at the first tranche of Hillary's emails, and turned up a few interesting tidbits. Before we go any further, please allow me to remind you that the emails being released by the State Department (following a court order to expedite the process) are only the ones that Mrs. Clinton's inner circle didn't unilaterally delete. In other words, these are the emails she's comfortable with the public seeing, via a server she wasn't allowed to have in the first place. Her "I want these emails released, too!" posturing is deeply disingenuous. This point cannot be emphasized enough. Nevertheless, what has the Times uncovered in the first few hundred pages?
As you're already aware, Secretary Clinton often circulated un-vetted memos of questionable provenance that were provided by political mercenary Sid Blumenthal, without attribution. The emails indicate that Amb. Chris Stevens, later murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, was asked to weigh in on the analysis and intelligence that came from an unnamed "Clinton friend," whom the Obama White House had explicitly banned from working at the State Department.
(2) Blumenthal helped shape the administration's Benghazi narrative, wrongly reporting the "spontaneous demonstration/YouTube video" claim just after the attacks, before changing his tune the very next day. Was Blumenthal the original source of the White House's infamous lie? Why did Hillary, Obama and others stick to the false story for weeks, even after Blumenthal's revised intel quickly aligned with what the US government discovered almost immediately?
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.
Note Hillary's response. Blumenthal was confirming the true story, which US intelligence was already piecing together -- and she obviously found it compelling and important. Days later, though, she was still spinning an untruthful tale to victims' families. Why? Perhaps because of... (3) concerns stressed in a separate email from Blumenthal, warning of Benghazi-related political liabilities:
In early October 2012, a month before Mr. Obama was re-elected, Mr. Blumenthal forwarded Mrs. Clinton an article on a left-leaning website. The article cautioned that the Republicans could exploit the attacks in a “Jimmy Carter Strategy” and use them to paint Mr. Obama as weak on terrorism. Mrs. Clinton forwarded the email to Mr. Sullivan. “Be sure Ben knows they need to be ready for this line of attack,” Mrs. Clinton wrote. She did not say to which Ben she was referring, but one of Mr. Obama’s senior national security advisers is Benjamin J. Rhodes, who handles communications and speechwriting.
Yes, that would be this Ben Rhodes. (4) "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..." It's unclear how much classified material passed through Hillary's under-secured personal server, but given that she used it as her exclusive email source, it seems likely that some did. A defense intelligence analyst and the former acting CIA director have both stated that foreign intelligence agencies almost certainly penetrated Clinton's "home-brew" email system. A few additional takeaways from this initial document dump:
When the WH tells you not to fwd an email about POTUS phone calls, what do you do? FW: to private email & print. pic.twitter.com/Hk3T6T9Fx6— Cuffy (@CuffyMeh) May 21, 2015
Hillary's original excuse for her secret email scheme was the need to consolidate everything to just one mobile device. This never made any sense, but we've since discovered that she used multiple devices anyway. Also, her lawyers claimed that the email address she was using in that first screenshot didn't exist at the time. Oops. And requests like "please do not forward" obviously do not apply to the Clintons, even when they come from high-ranking White House officials.