Tags: Kerry | State Department | Emails

Kerry Orders State Dept. Review as Hillary Email Flap Grows

Saturday, 28 March 2015 09:31 AM

The State Department has ordered an internal audit of its record keeping, officials said Friday, outlining a top-to-bottom look at the agency's practices in the aftermath of revelations that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used a private email account and server during her tenure.

Kerry's order of a record-keeping audit comes as the Clinton email scandal boiled over with news that the private server used by the former Secretary of State was wiped clean.

On Friday, the State Department released a letter that Secretary of State John Kerry sent to the department's inspector general calling for a review and saying it is "critical to preserve a full and complete record of American foreign policy."

However, State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters on Friday that the review will not be specific to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The audit will include the archiving of emails, along with all requests from congressional inquiries and through the Freedom of Information Act, he said.

Clinton, a likely presidential candidate, is facing demands for her own emails, after it was revealed that the did not use a government email account, but rather private emails through a server in her house, and that she has only provided the State Department with copies of her work-related emails later this year.

Rep. Trey Gowdy said Friday, not long after the State Department announce the internal probe, that Clinton had wiped her email server clean and permanently deleting all its emails.

Further, the South Carolina Republican said Clinton has not produced a single new document in recent weeks to answer a subpoena from the committee he chairs that is investigating the Benghazi, Libya terror attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and diplomatic staff in 2012.

Clinton's attorney, David Kendall, said Gowdy was looking in the wrong place. Instead of asking Clinton for the emails, Gowdy should look to the State Department, which is "uniquely positioned to make available any documents responsive to your requests," Kendall said.

Clinton says the emails she's turned over to the State Department are not classified, and state says it will publish the ones she did turn over on a website. The emails that pertain to the Benghazi committee's probe will be released before the other, the State Department reports.

Kendall's letter confirms "what we all knew: that Secretary Clinton already produced her official records to the State Department, that she did not keep her personal emails and that the Select Committee has already obtained her emails relating to the attacks in Benghazi.” Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, said Friday, according to Time.

But all of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails from the time period surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks are vital for the ongoing investigation into the events surrounding that day, Rep. Mike Pompeo, a member of the select committee, said Saturday.

"Even small details about who the secretary might have been communicating with, even a happy birthday note written in the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2012, it's important for our investigation to learn all of the details about what all was going on that night," the Kansas Republican told Fox News.

Pompeo further commented that if Clinton were a private citizen, she would never get away with refusing to turn over documents in response to a subpoena.

"Most importantly, a private citizen who used to be the secretary of state...you shouldn't get away with this," he said. "These were, if not classified, often sensitive conversations."

Earlier this month, Pompeo told Fox that the select committee has known about Clinton's private email server since August, but complained the lawmakers were stonewalled by the State Department in getting access to the server or the messages.

Kerry, in his letter on Friday ordering the internal probe, said his department has undertaken significant efforts to promote preservation and transparency, including through better technology and training of staff.

However, that burden is significant, as more than 18,000 FOIA requests arrive each year that puts a "significant strain" on diplomats whose main job is the advancement of U.S. foreign policy. In addition, he said, congressional investigations and requests have "greatly increased."

Kerry did not mention the Clinton controversy directly, but instead said officials are "facing challenges regarding our integration of record-keeping technologies and the use of non-government systems by some department personnel to conduct official business."

He is seeking several recommendations from Inspector General Steve Linick, including suggestions about making improvements across more than 280 diplomatic posts worldwide to ways to streamline efforts to preserve appropriate documents. However, Kerry questions whether the agency has even the resources and tools necessary to meet its obligations.

Earlier this month, The Associated Press sued to gain access to Clinton's correspondence after repeated FOIA requests to the department went unfulfilled. They included one request made five years ago.

An inspector general's report in 2012 criticized the State Department's practices as "inefficient and ineffective," citing a heavy workload, small staff and inter-agency problems.

Kerry asked if outside expertise might be advisable on how best to manage, preserve and make transparent its documents. He asked the inspector general to conduct "an expedited review of these issues."

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Secretary of State John Kerry has ordered an overall internal audit of his department's record keeping practices, with the news about the investigation coming out at around the same time as Rep. Trey Gowdy's announcement that Kerry's predecessor wiped...
Kerry, State Department, Emails
Saturday, 28 March 2015 09:31 AM
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