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Last Batch of Hillary Clinton’s Emails Is Released


WASHINGTON — The State Department on Monday released the last set of emails from the 30,000 messages on Hillary Clinton’s private computer server, including an email about North Korea that remains a point of dispute between the department and one of the nation’s spy agencies over the secrecy of information that passed through the server.

That email — written on July 3, 2009, after a North Korean ballistic missile test — was one of four that prompted intensified scrutiny of the emails for classified information and a referral last year to the F.B.I. for a review of the handling of classified information by Mrs. Clinton, her aides and other State Department officials while she was secretary of state.

It was released as part of a chain of five replies and forwards on Monday with portions blocked out on the grounds that they contained information now classified “secret,” though not “top secret,” the higher classification that the spy agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, had cited last summer.

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Email About North Korea on Hillary Clinton’s Server

The State Department released this email that was sent to Hillary Clinton’s private computer server from one of her top aides while she was secretary of state. The email, now classified, is at the center of a dispute over the handling of government data on her server.



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“The original assessment was not correct, and the document does not contain top secret information,” a State Department spokesman, John Kirby, said. He added that the department had agreed to classify some of it “provisionally” pending further review, an indication that the dispute over the contents had not yet been resolved.

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, Brian Fallon, said the “ongoing disagreement” about the North Korean test “means that the intelligence community’s inspector general was wrong in his belief that this email was ‘top secret.’ ”

Mrs. Clinton and her aides have said that the intelligence agencies are overzealously classifying information, and in this case the State Department agreed. The designation of “secret” nevertheless added to the list of emails that the department has released only after removing information that is now considered sensitive on national security grounds.

Among the final 1,723 emails released on Monday were 23 that the department upgraded to “secret,” bringing the total classified as such to 65. Another 2,028 have had portions blocked out, or redacted, because the information is now “confidential.”

Of the four emails that prompted the referral to the F.B.I., only one has now been classified as “top secret.” It was among 22 emails that the State Department — at the demand of the C.I.A. — said it would not disclose, even in part, because they contained some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets.

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How Does the Government Classify Secrets?

In addition to the email involving North Korea’s missile test, another was released last fall in full, while the third was released with portions blocked out as “confidential,” the lowest level of classification. Officials have declined to specify those.

In all, less than 10 percent of the emails that passed through Mrs. Clinton’s server contained confidential or secret information. That was enough to prompt reviews by the inspectors general of the State Department and the intelligence agencies, and by Congress and the F.B.I., over the mishandling of classified information.

The focus of those reviews, officials have said, has been on the advisers privy to her personal email address and on diplomats who sent messages that were forwarded by those aides, like Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan, who served as a deputy chief of staff during Mrs. Clinton’s term.

None of the emails were marked as classified at the time they were sent. And while the State Department has said that the “upgrades” do not reflect any judgment of their sensitivity at the time, the designations nonetheless suggested that at least some of the information should not have been sent over an unsecured system like hers, officials have said.

Mr. Kirby also announced that one more email between Mrs. Clinton and President Obama would not be released, adding to 18 that the State Department said in January it would not release, citing longstanding precedent that the White House controls presidential communications. Another email was being withheld, Mr. Kirby said, at the request of a law enforcement agency, presumably because it was related to a continuing investigation.

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Email Directing Follow-Up on Secure Line

An email sent to Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state from one of her top aides, Huma Abedin, encouraged her to follow up on an issue concerning North Korea using a secure line, showing at least some intent on the part of her staff to follow classification protocols.



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Mr. Kirby declined to discuss either email, except to say that both were unclassified.

The end of the department’s releases of the 30,068 emails, which came in 14 batches, including four in February, did not mean the end of the legal and political controversy over Mrs. Clinton’s use of the private server.

In the case of the email about North Korea, the State Department also disputed the initial effort to assert that it contained classified information. The assertion came through the inspector general for the intelligence agencies, I. Charles McCullough III.

The email in question was written by a senior watch officer in the department’s operations center, Shelby Smith-Wilson, and sent to Mrs. Clinton’s executive staff. Although that portion was entirely redacted, one government official familiar with the contents said it described a conference call among senior officials, including Mrs. Clinton, about the ballistic missile test that North Korea conducted that day in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The email chain was forwarded with additional comments and the unofficial translation of a statement by the Japanese Foreign Ministry to Mrs. Clinton’s closest aides, including Ms. Abedin, Mr. Sullivan and Cheryl D. Mills, her chief of staff.

In another email later marked as classified, Mr. Sullivan forwarded Mrs. Clinton a news article about a likely move by the Obama administration to shift some decisions on drone strikes to the White House from the Pentagon. “What Panetta is raising,” Mr. Sullivan wrote in the May 2011 note, referring to Leon E. Panetta, then the head of the C.I.A.



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