According to Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Hillary Clinton used her private, unsecured email account to pass along the identity of one of the CIA’s top Libyan intelligence sources.
Regardless of what Gowdy and the Hose Select Committee discover, and release, charges will not be brought against Hillary Clinton. Her flippant remark when testifying at the Benghazi hearing has more meaning than anyone thought possible when she said it: ‘WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE.’
On March 18, 2011, Sidney Blumenthal — Clinton’s longtime friend and political adviser — sent the then secretary of state an email to her private account that contained apparently highly sensitive information he had received from Tyler Drumheller, a former top CIA official with whom Blumenthal at the time had a business relationship.
“Tyler spoke to a colleague currently at CIA, who told him the agency had been dependent for intelligence from [redacted due to sources and methods],” the email states, according to Gowdy’s letter.
The redacted information was “the name of a human source,” Gowdy wrote to his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, and was therefore “some of the most protected information in our intelligence community.”
“Armed with that information, Secretary Clinton forwarded the email to a colleague — debunking her claim that she never sent any classified information from her private email address,” wrote Gowdy in a letter to Cummings.
Clinton has repeatedly said she never sent or received classified information on her private email server “that was marked classified at the time that it was sent or received.” But the FBI, at the request of the inspectors general for the intelligence community and the State Department, is investigating the handling of classified information on the private server.
And while there is nothing that indicates that the email from Blumenthal (who was not a government employee) was marked classified at the time Clinton received it, the sensitive nature of its contents should have been a red flag and never should have been passed along, according to a former veteran CIA officer.
“She is exposing the name of a guy who has a clandestine relationship with the CIA on her private, unprotected server,” said John Maguire, who served for years as one of the CIA’s top Mideast officers.
In addition, he noted, the email should trigger a “crimes report” by the CIA to the Justice Department seeking an investigation into who within the agency revealed the information to Drumheller.
“Unless Tyler was blowing smoke, it’s an unauthorized disclosure of information,” said John Rizzo, a former CIA general counsel. “And it’s the most sensitive kind of classified information — the identity of a human source. She should have told Blumenthal, ‘delete this — and don’t send me that again.’ And then she should have reported it to State Department security.”
Asked for comment, Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon emailed: “Trey Gowdy continues to release selective and misleading information about emails sent to Hillary Clinton, even as he refuses to make public any of the transcripts from the closed-door witness interviews that actually relate to Benghazi. This letter is one more example of the partisan approach taken throughout his thoroughly discredited investigation.”
A Clinton campaign official, who asked not to be identified by name, said that as described in Gowdy’s own letter, “the information at issue was not only unmarked, but also was transmitted by no fewer than two individuals who were outside the government before it ever reached Hillary Clinton’s inbox.”
A CIA spokesman declined to comment. Drumheller, a 25-year CIA official who had once headed the agency’s European division, died in August.
Gowdy’s 13-page letter to Cummings, ranking member of the Benghazi panel, comes as the committee prepares for Clinton’s long-awaited public testimony, scheduled for Oct. 22. It was aimed at rebutting mounting Democratic criticism that the investigation into the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans — including Ambassador Chris Stevens — has morphed into a partisan political exercise designed to damage Clinton’s candidacy. Gowdy says he is simply “following the facts.”
The letter also came the same day that Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who had been considered the likely successor to House Speaker John Boehner, dropped out of the speaker’s race. McCarthy has apologized to GOP members for comments that seemed to support the charge that the investigation was, in fact, aimed at driving down Clinton’s poll numbers.