Emails recently released by the State Department from Hillary Clinton’s private server reveal that the former secretary of state and other officials had no knowledge of an American who had been abducted and then released by an Iraqi Shiite group, or why he was in Iraq, either.
The abduction was unusual because a Pentagon official told CNN that not even the man’s ex-wife knew that the man, Randy Michael Hultz, had been kidnapped. The Shiite militia who announced Hultz’s release claimed he was a U.S. soldier, but the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said at the time he was “not an employee or contractor of the U.S. Government and was in Iraq on private business.”
The latest email, one of 881 posted Friday, shows senior State Department staff, including Clinton, trying to catch up on what had happened. The first email in the chain was released on New Year’s Eve, but seems to have been overlooked by the media.
“What do we now know about this guy?” Clinton asked on the chain.
James Jeffrey, the outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, joked on the chain, “We are incompetent nincompoops not worthy for the responsibilities our country has placed on us. Probably we should be replaced. Start with me. A better answer is, its a weird country and stuff happens.”
The email chain started with notes from a March 17, 2012 conference call taken by senior watch officer for State Department Operations Jennifer Spande.
“U.S. citizen Randy Michael Hultz (DOB was released today after being held by an Iraqi splinter group for nine months. Hultz worked as a contractor at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense,” Spande wrote. “He is currently at the headquarters of the UN Mission Assistance Mission for Iraqi (UNAMI), and an Embassy Baghdad team including Diplomatic Security, Consular Affairs, and Defense Attache personnel are on their way to UNAMI. The embassy team will interview Mr. Hultz and determine next steps, likely including transporting Mr. Hultz to another location and, depending on whether he signs a Privacy Act Waiver, notifying next of kin.”
She added, “State Department Operations Center was notified of the release by UN Under Secretary General for Safety and Security Greg Starr. Starr, who was formerly the Director of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, received a phone call from UN Deputy Special Representative for Iraq Gyorgi Busztin. Bustzin reported that the Iraqi Deputy Speaker of Parliament asked to visit UNAMI. When he arrived, he brought Hultz with him. Media report that Hultz was dressed in a military uniform.”
The Sadr group has told press that Hultz was turned over as a ‘goodwill gesture.'”
In his first reaction, Jeffrey, the ambassador, called the released hostage a “lucky ducky.”
Antony J. Blinken, deputy assistant to the president and national security advisor to the vice president, responded to Spande’s message with an email that was redacted by the State Department.
Jeffrey responded to Birken’s redacted message: “Cause we are incompetent nincompoops not worthy for the responsibilities our country has placed on us. Probably we should be replaced. Start with me. A better answer is, its a weird country and stuff happens.”
Senior advisor to the deputy secretary Edward F. Meier — who is currently director of policy outreach at Hillary for America — responded, “Funny. Classic Jim Jeffrey. I’m going to miss him.”
And Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Jacob Sullivan also found Jeffrey’s quip “funny.”
Two days later, Clinton asked, “What do we now know about this guy?”
That’s the last email released in the chain, so unless it’s in an upcoming batch, the world might never learn the truth about the mystery hostage who seems to have been forgotten by the media after his release, since a Google search turned up no stories published after 2012.