The State Department released 3,000 pages of emails from Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State at 9 PM on Tuesday night, and ultimately redacted portions of two dozen emails – even going out of its way to fully redact a 16-page speech Clinton gave to the Council of Foreign Relations in 2009 using the “withhold it because you want to” Exemption 5. The State Department hid this unclassified document in its entirety despite the incredibly high public interest in the records and Clinton’s expressed desire to see all of the emails released in full. Archive FOIA Project Director Nate Jones said using the oft-abused Exemption 5 to withhold this document is an “egregious waste of time and money.” All of the redacted emails are unclassified, and while “their contents were apparently not sensitive enough to national security at the time to have required a higher classification status” they must now, confoundingly, be redacted in part or in full.
In anticipation of the State Department’s release, open government advocates argued it would be important to see how much the emails were redacted pursuant to both the”withhold it because you want to” Exemption 5 and the national security exemption. Jones told Vice News’ Jason Leopold prior to the release that the amount withheld “should be very little. The emails were unclassified, so if will be eyebrow-raising if any more content is retroactively classified by State.” Unfortunately, a few eyebrows have indeed been raised.
Most of the released documents focus on day-to-day scheduling conflicts and Clinton navigating the new administration. None concern Benghazi (Clinton previously provided the House Benghazi Committee a separate batch of 847 documents, which call into question the extent of her reliance on adviser Sidney Blumenthal).
A State Department spokesman, John Kirby, insisted that in spite of its late hour, the timing of the release was not intended to minimize media coverage; rather, it was a result of a federal judge’s instructions that the Department release the first batch of the 55,000 pages of documents Hillary Clinton returned to the State Department by Tuesday. The judge had additionally set the State Department the task of releasing seven percent of the 55,000 pages for the first release, a mark the Department fell nearly one thousand pages short of.
The State Department expects to finish releasing the Clinton emails by January 26, 2016.
The discovery of the existence of a “massive cache” of photos – nearly 14,000 – of the CIA’s “black site” prisons, primarily in Poland, Afghanistan, and Thailand, is expected to complicate ongoing Guantanamo trials. The discovery was made while military prosecutors reviewed the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s torture program and “learned there were more pictures available than those contained in the full report.” The defense attorneys for Guantanamo detainees Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Abu Zubaydah, and Waleed bin Attash, said that they had yet to be informed about the existence of the photographs. Zubaydah’s attorney, Joe Margulies, said, “Why is it we are still learning about this stuff? Who knows what is still out there? What else is there? That’s what is appalling.”
CIA director John Brennan recently confirmed that despite the agency’s long-standing pledge to diversify its workplace, the CIA is failing at recruiting minorities and promoting minorities into senior executive positions. The CIA has lost ground recruiting black employees since 2004, despite increased recruitment from 1984 to 2004, and “Racial and ethnic minorities — defined by the CIA as anyone other than whites of European descent — comprise 23.9 percent of the entire workforce, but they are below 20 percent of the elite job categories of operations officer and intelligence analyst.” Most strikingly, the CIA’s senior executives are comprised of only 10.8 percent minorities. Brennan noted that although the agency has vowed to increase diversity before, “We’re not kidding. This is real, this time.”
Recorded Future, a company backed by the CIA’s venture capital arm In-Q-Tel, has found logins and passwords for 47 government agencies across the internet. According to reporting, Recorded Future, a social data mining and “threat intelligence” company, deployed software that scanned more than 680,000 web sites and found the credentials “in plain sight, on what are called paste sites such as Pastebin.” The Associated Press notes, “at least 12 agencies don’t require authentication beyond passwords to access their networks, so those agencies are vulnerable to espionage and cyberattacks.”
Even though the CIA has yet to respond to the National Security Archive’s 2014 FOIA request for information on its Osama bin Laden doll, codenamed “Devil Eyes,” a model was auctioned off by the Nate D. Sanders auction house last week. In June 2014 a Washington Post article revealed that the agency had plans to make the scary doll – whose face was designed to frighten children and painted with “a heat-dissolving material, designed to peel off and reveal a red-faced bin Laden who looked like a demon, with piercing green eyes and black facial markings” – and to distribute them in Afghanistan or Pakistan. In response to our FOIA, the CIA said it was busy processing a similar request for another requester, and would notify us when processing was complete. So far not a word. The son of Donald Levine, however, a former executive at Hasbro who helped design the doll, auctioned off one of three known copies of the doll last week. Another doll sold last year for $11,879. Levine also helped create a board game called Snakes and Ladders, which features “comical” depictions of “prominent terror leaders such as Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.”
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