March 9, 2011: Clinton asks an aide to print a Blumenthal email without any identifiers.

Sid Blumenthal sends Clinton an email with the subject line, “H: Serious problems for Libyan Rebels. Sid.” Blumenthal is a journalist and Clinton Foundation employee who frequently sends intelligence emails to Clinton, despite being a private citizen with no security clearance. Clinton forwards the email to her top aide Huma Abedin and asks her to print it out. But she also asks, “Can you print for me w/o any identifiers?” Abedin replies “Yes.” (The New York Times, 6/29/2015)

March 11, 2011: Clinton doesn’t think two emails from a former British prime minister should be flagged for classified content.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Credit: David Levene / The Guardian)

British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Credit: David Levene / The Guardian)

Clinton emails her deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin and tells her to print out two recent emails from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Both Clinton and Abedin are using private email accounts on Clinton’s server. The emails are CCed to Clinton aide Jake Sullivan, who also is using a private email account. Nearly all of the content of Blair’s messages is later redacted, due to containing “Foreign government information” and “foreign relations or foreign activities of the US, including confidential sources.” (Judicial Watch, 1/29/2016) At the time, Blair is the official Middle East envoy representing the US, Russia, the UN and the EU, and he is heavily involved in Middle Eastern peace negotiations. (BBC, 5/27/2015)

March 13, 2011—March 14, 2011: An email chain shows that Clinton is far from the only US official emailing obviously classified information.

Jeffrey D. Feltman (Credit: Patrick Tsui / FCO)

Jeffrey D. Feltman (Credit: Patrick Tsui / FCO)

On March 13, 2011, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey D. Feltman writes in an urgent email that Saudi Arabia and The United Arab Emirates are sending troops into the neighboring country of Bahrain to quash anti-government protests there. The email is sent to more than 20 other US officials, and then replied to and forwarded ten times in the next 24 hours. Recipients include Clinton, US Ambassador to Kuwait Deborah Jones, Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, and US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.

Feltman’s original email and some of the replies contain information later deemed classified. However, many of the emails in the chain are sent through the State Department’s unclassified system, state.gov, nicknamed “the low side,” instead of the department’s system for classified information, nicknamed “the high side.” Clinton’s private server is considered even less secure than “the low side.”

The New York Times will later report on the email chain to illustrate how widespread the emailing of obviously classified information through improper channels had become during this time period. (The New York Times, 5/10/2016) (US Department of State, 2/29/2016)

March 17, 2011: The United Nations Security Council approves a ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya, starting NATO involvement in the Libyan civil war.

The US and Britain vote in favor of a no-fly zone in Libya, on March 17, 2011. (Credit: Foreign Policy Journal)

The US and Britain vote in favor of a no-fly zone in Libya, on March 17, 2011. (Credit: Foreign Policy Journal)

A widespread Libyan uprising against long-time Libyan ruler Muammar el-Qaddafi began in mid-February 2011, but the rebels lack weapons and are getting defeated. By a vote of ten to five, the UN Security Council approves a resolution authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect civilians there. (United Nations, 03/17/2011) 

No country uses ground forces, but a NATO-led air war begins three days later, targeting el-Qaddafi’s forces. 17 countries are involved, with most of the forces belonging to the US, France, and Britain. (Al Jazeera, 3/25/2011) The civil war will continue for most of the rest of 2011 before the rebels win.