US Ambassador Stevens (right) talks to locals in Tripoli, Libya, in August, 2012. (Credit: The Associated Press)
The email was written by State Department official Tim Davis on April 10, 2011, and forwarded to Clinton. It contained very time-sensitive information on evacuation plans by Special Envoy Christopher Stevens in Libya, as well as the latest US military intelligence on the Libyan civil war violence threatening Stevens.
As a result, the release of this email without redactions will start an internal government dispute. The State Department releases the email because they deemed the military intelligence in it was no longer important four years later.
However, Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough will claim that since the military intelligence originated from the US military, the State Department didn’t have the authority if it should be classified or not. This email will lead to the FBI starting an investigation into Clinton’s emails in late May 2015.
Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon will later say the dispute about this email “lifted the curtain” and shows that the email scandal can be explained by excessive retroactive classification.
But CNN will report, “However, the Clinton interpretation doesn’t account for the fact that the [email] did contain particularly sensitive information at the time it was sent. Plans to move the envoy and staff would not have been appropriate to be sent on unclassified email systems and particularly not to a non-government email server.” (The New York Times, 5/22/2015) (CNN, 8/20/2015)