Some Clinton Emails Have Been Retroactively Classified, Including A Business Pitch From Joseph Wilson
Numerous emails Hillary Clinton turned over to the State Department have been retroactively classified, including a business pitch Clinton received via her longtime friend Sidney Blumenthal from Joseph Wilson, the former ambassador and husband of former CIA operative Valerie Plame.
The email exchange is one of the more enlightening in the 3,000 pages of Clinton records that the State Department released on Tuesday. It shows a bold-faced business pitch in action. It also reaffirms that Blumenthal had a direct line to Clinton. The email — along with about two dozen others — also shows that Clinton possessed records that the State Department likely would have deemed as classified had the Democrat turned them over sooner than she did.
On Nov. 10, 2009, Wilson sent an email to Blumenthal asking him to send it to Clinton.
In the email, which Blumenthal forwarded three minutes later, Wilson made a direct pitch on behalf of a company called Symbion Power.
“As I wrote to you earlier, I am a director for Symbion Power and may soon assume more direct responsibility for all of Africa as Symbion expands there from its current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Wilson wrote, noting that Blumenthal had previously given Clinton a four minute video detailing that company’s “success in the most difficult and dangerous environments.”
“We now want to bring that business model and philosophy to Africa where the social entrepreneurship and the development of skilled labor is imperative for Africa’s long term economic prospects, as you have so forcefully articulated in past comments,” Wilson added.
Clinton responded to Blumenthal, who attached a couple of questions to Wilson’s pitch.
It is unclear how Clinton responded to Blumenthal as most of that email has been redacted and classified. The document cites Freedom of Information Act exemptions b(1), b(1.4b) and b(1.4d), which are typically used to withhold classified information related to national security issues or confidential sources.
It is also yet unclear whether Wilson’s pitch helped the company. Clinton appeared at a Symbion power plant in Tanzania in June 2011.
Other now-classified Clinton emails center around international conflicts arising in China, North Korea, Egypt and Russia.
On March 30, 2009, Clinton’s aide, Cheryl Mills, forwarded an update sent by Alex Arvizu, then the deputy assistant secretary for regional security in Japan and Korea. The email’s subject line is “DPRK/China: AMCIT Border Detentions Update #11.”
The subject line indicates that American citizens were detained at the border between China and North Korea. Details concerning consular and diplomatic activity were redacted from the email. The email will be declassified in March 2034.
An update Mills forwarded to Clinton on May 16, 2009, sheds more light on which Americans had been detained. Kurt Tong, the director of Korean Affairs at the State Department, wrote that conference calls were held with the families of two American journalists — Lisa Ling and Euna Lee. They were detained by North Korean authorities on March 17, 2009, while on assignment for Current TV.
Clinton received another now-classified document on May 25, 2009, forwarded to her from another top aide, Huma Abedin. In the original email, Tong sent a “call sheet,” which included background information on the U.S.’s stance on a North Korean missile test.
Tong provided a list of talking points, which are unredacted. But additional background information is redacted, citing national security concerns and confidential sources.
Portions of a July 5, 2009, exchange between Clinton and William Burns, then the undersecretary for political affairs at the State Department, were also classified on Tuesday.
That email shows that Burns contacted Clinton to update her on his trip to Russia, Italy and central Asia. Some details of that message are redacted and classified.
Clinton’s response also contained some now-classified material. Clinton informed Burns that she was considering a trip to central Asia while she was in the area for bilateral talks with Russia. She began her next paragraph, “as you know,” but the thoughts that followed are now redacted and classified. The redacted portions will be declassified in July 2024.
Abedin forwarded Clinton another email with retroactively classified information in it on Aug. 2, 2009. In the initial message, Philip Gordon, then the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, sent an update on a developing situation involving Russia’s feared land-grab of Georgian territory.
Gordon wrote that the European Union Monitoring Mission had seen no aggression over the course of the previous night. He suggested that a planned phone call between Clinton and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was no longer necessary. Clinton agreed.
On Nov. 21, 2009, Burns sent an email to Clinton via several aides urging her to call Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi. Burns suggested that Clinton should “press that point” with Yang. It is unclear what point Clinton was meant to press. That information is redacted and classified and won’t be released until Nov. 2024.
Clinton and Burns in another now-redacted email conversation on Nov. 25, 2009. In that exchange, Clinton and Burns discussed requests made by Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Abu al-Gheit. The redacted and classified portions of that email chain won’t be released until Nov. 2024.
Tuesday’s document dump is the second of nine Clinton email releases. A federal judge ordered the State Department to release a certain percentage of the documents each month until Jan. 29, 2016.