WASHINGTON (TNS) — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent and received emails through her private server containing sensitive U.S. and foreign government information on a range of issues — from an American detained in Myanmar and Iran's nuclear program to the Afghanistan war — that State Department reviewers have now classified.
The correspondence, which dates to Clinton's first months in office in 2009, raises fresh questions about her handling of sensitive national security material as she seeks the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, providing new political ammunition for the Republican hopefuls she leads in the polls.
The State Department released the emails after they were scrubbed for classified information in response to a lawsuit filed by the Associated Press after it was disclosed that she'd used the private server located at her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., instead of her official State Department system.
The review found that a large number of the emails contained "foreign government information" or information pertaining to the "foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources," according to codes printed on the censored portions of the correspondence.
Even though the information clearly was sensitive, none of the emails was stamped secret or marked with any other level of classification. The vast majority were sent by experienced U.S. and foreign diplomats or other officials using secure official email systems and then forwarded to Clinton via her unsecured server by a small circle of close aides and advisers.
Several messages were sent from private email accounts. In one case, Clinton's then-deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, forwarded a Nov. 21, 2009, message from then-British Foreign Secretary David Milliband with the subject line, "Another note from milliband that he doesn't want to send through the system."
The note, which was excised by State Department reviewers, concerned a visit to war-stricken Afghanistan from which Milliband had just returned.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that in total, portions of 37 documents, many of them duplicates, were classified during the review. There are 64 separate redactions in those 37 documents, he said.
"To date, we've not seen any classified information that should have been classified at the time," he said. "We've upgraded some of this information, and that's a very common practice, but we have not seen anything as we've conducted this review that indicates any information should have been classified at the time."
The State Department has now released nearly 12 percent of some 30,000 Clinton emails, although Toner admitted Friday's release violated a court order requiring the department to release more than it has.
There was no immediate response from the Clinton campaign.
Republicans pounced on the State Department's review to level new charges of irresponsibility at Clinton, who has insisted that using her private server wasn't improper and that she hadn't sent or receive classified information over it.
"Today's email dump shows Hillary Clinton put even more sensitive government information at risk on her secret email server than previously known," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said. "Hillary Clinton's reckless attempt to bypass public records laws put our national security at risk and shows she cannot be trusted in the White House. "
Paul Pillar, a former top U.S. intelligence analyst and non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution, a policy institute, said he didn't understand why the secretary of state would use a personal, unsecured email system, calling it a risk to national security.
"She could have gotten whatever IT support was needed to make it convenient for her, and secure as well," he said. That could have included providing Clinton with a secure BlackBerry, he added.
But Ivo Daalder, who served as U.S. ambassador to NATO under Clinton, said that in the age of mobile email, U.S. officials and military officers traveling overseas routinely send unclassified emails to their colleagues in the United States.
"The big story that people are missing is that today, with this administration and the previous administration, most of the communication that happens, happens when people are on the road, when they almost by definition need to resort to using unclassified systems, i.e. BlackBerries," said Daalder.
Tom Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive at The George Washington University, said that the State Department reviewers most likely were over-zealous in censoring the emails, adding that it wasn't possible for Clinton to send classified documents, or even segments of classified documents, over her personal server.
Multiple email exchanges on numerous topics contained information that the State Department review determined should have been classified, according to a McClatchy review of the 1,356 emails released Friday.