Highlights of the latest Clinton emails

Story highlights

  • The latest tranche includes 551 emails, totaling just over 1,000 pages
  • Eighty-four of the emails contained information that was retroactively deemed classified and therefore redacted in the release

Washington (CNN)The State Department released another batch of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's work-related emails on Saturday.

The latest tranche includes 551 emails, totaling just over 1,000 pages. Eighty-four of the emails contained information that was retroactively deemed classified and therefore redacted in the release.
Here are the highlights from Saturday's release.
The case for a Syrian no-fly zone: In one 2012 email, Tom Malinowski, then the Washington director for Human Rights Watch who later became assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, argued in favor of a no-fly zone in Syria after hearing reports from a team his organization sent into the northern part of the country.
"I recognize that the cavalry is not suited up and ready to ride, and that the mission would be far from simple or cost-free, even if limited to no-fly," Malinowski wrote, understanding the administration's misgivings about the idea. "But in the meantime, even maintaining a credible threat of action would have a positive impact."
Clinton's decision to support a no-fly zone in Syria on the campaign trail is a rare case where she breaks from President Barack Obama on foreign policy.
High morale within Free Syrian Army: Then-U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford wrote to Clinton in the summer of 2012 to relay a conversation he'd had with NBC correspondent Richard Engel after the latter returned from Syria. Among the conclusions in the note is the assertion that "morale very high among (the Free Syrian Army) -- they sense they are winning."
Ford also wrote that Engel will be joining a U.S. focus group "to get advice on how to help Syrian media sector prepare for post-Asad [sic] period" -- a period that remains elusive three and a half years later.
"Bravo!" on Libya: In March 2011, author and commentator Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote to Clinton to congratulate her, presumably for swaying Obama's opinion on joining NATO operations in Libya.
"Turning POTUS around on this is a major win for everything we have worked for," Slaughter wrote.
Clinton's active involvement in shaping the Obama administration's foreign policy has been a key tenet of her campaign for the presidency, and these emails on Libya and Syria shed some light on her doctrines.
More advice from Sidney Blumenthal: Clinton's communications with friend and unofficial adviser Blumenthal during her tenure as secretary of state have raised some eyebrows on Capitol Hill. In Saturday's batch, we once again hear from Blumenthal, who offered his take on a host of issues, related to both foreign policy and politics.
In one May 2011 email, Blumenthal suggested the administration show photos of Osama bin Laden's body to members of Congress in a secure room "like when members were permitted to view Abu Ghraib pictures."
"Having the members file through will provide testimony to the President's feat," he explained. "They will be not only be acknowledging but also enhancing his power."
Blumenthal also wrote to Clinton in November 2012 to offer his theories on how the scandal pertaining to now-retired Gen. David Petraeus' misuse of classified information was being used by Republicans to shore up Mitt Romney's chances in the 2012 election.
Bill Clinton's North Korea mission: Aides exchanged emails in August 2009 about the 42nd president's trip to North Korea, where he secured the release of imprisoned Americans Laura Ling and Euna Lee.
The emails included Doug Band, a longtime aide to the former president who accompanied him on the mission.
In one email, State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills noted potential security clearance issues if Band is present at a meeting or event after the departure.
Band has been at the center of a controversy related to the employment of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who served as Clinton's deputy chief of staff at State while simultaneously working for a private firm owned by Band.

More classified upgrades

Clinton, who has come under heavy criticism for her use of a private email server to conduct official State Department business, has long insisted that none of the information she sent of received on the account was marked as classified at the time.
But the State Department has retroactively classified information in 1,688 emails since March as it has reviewed them for release, including 84 emails in this most recent batch -- 81 of which have been to the lowest "confidential" level, and three to the next-highest "secret" level.
Last month, the State Department upgraded 22 emails to "top secret," the highest level of sensitivity, withholding those documents altogether. None from Saturday's batch reached that tier.
Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Clinton's presidential campaign, said in a statement at the time that the top secret upgrades were a case of "over-classification run amok" and reiterated Clinton's position that the emails should be made public.
The State Department also announced last month that it had opened an internal review into whether the information in the emails was classified at the time they were sent, but few details are known about the parameters of that review, and officials have thus far refused to comment on its timeframe or scope.

Review plagued by recent delays

The last of Clinton's emails were initially supposed to be released on January 29, according to a timeline set by a federal judge in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit last spring.
But the release was set back when it was discovered that more than 7,000 pages of documents flagged for further review by other government agencies were misplaced for several months, setting the State Department back significantly enough to force a delay into February.
The State Department filed a declaration with the court Friday night in which it explained how the documents were "overlooked at one step in a very complex process with a lot of moving parts."
"Due to the enormity of the effort and the pressing nature of the upcoming deadlines," Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Information Services Eric Stein wrote, "State did not detect this oversight until those particular documents were of immediate concern because they were needed for the final production."
Stein added that, throughout the release process, documents in the final stages of review took precedence over documents being sent to the interagency for review and a later release, contributing to the oversight.
Also at issue, Stein said, the department had a spreadsheet to track "which documents had been sent to which agencies and whether they had been returned to State, but as a general matter did not contain those documents that had not yet been sent for interagency consultation."
"The scale and uniqueness of this project has presented unique management issues that we did our best to resolve as they arose," he wrote.
Once the documents were discovered, the State Department filed a motion extension with the judge in the case, Rudolph Contreras, asking to release the last of the emails on February 29.
But Contreras bristled at the new proposed timeline, and instead ordered the State Department to release the remaining 7,600 or so pages in four smaller installments over the next three weeks: on February 13, 19, 23, and 29.
Following Saturday's release, about 6,600 pages of emails -- approximately 12.5% of the total set -- remain under review.
"The government has put me between a rock and a hard place," Contreras said at a recent hearing, forcing him to choose between accepting the State Department's proposed extension without question, or else risk the accidental release of sensitive information by hurrying the process.