02:36 - Source: CNN
Ash Carter: Personal email use a 'mistake'

Story highlights

Defense Secretary Ash Carter continued to occasionally use a personal account for official business through September

The issue of email practices became controversial a year ago

Washington CNN —  

Emails released by the Pentagon late Friday show Defense Secretary Ash Carter continued to occasionally use a personal account for official business through September, months after controversy erupted over Hillary Clinton’s email use while leading the State Department.

Some 1,336 pages of emails from his use of email on an iPhone and tablet were released to CNN and other news organizations pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request. Many of the emails had redacted information. Some showed him talking with aides about various matters, including press requests, while others included him exchanging messages with friends or acquaintances, including several with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Carter has said he never used personal devices to transmit classified information.

A couple of the emails just released were marked “for official use only,” which means the material is considered sensitive but is not deemed classified.

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The issue of email practices became controversial a year ago when it was revealed that Clinton only used a personal email account to conduct official business during her time in office.

Carter used a government email account for the majority of his work. He apologized in December after The New York Times first reported he had used a private email account for some official business. At the time, he said he had stopped using his personal email for official business a few months prior. The release of this batch of emails shows he continued using the account through September – four months after the revelations regarding Clinton and her email practices.

“In December, when this issue first came up, the secretary took responsibility for his actions and publicly acknowledged that his previous use of personal email for work-related business was a mistake. As a result, he stopped such use of his personal email and further limited his use of email altogether,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement. “While still acknowledging the mistake, the emails released today again show that he did not email anything classified and all of his work-related emails are preserved within the federal records system.”

In December, Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain criticized Carter’s use of personal email. “With all the public attention surrounding the improper use of personal email by other administration officials, it is hard to believe that Secretary Carter would exercise the same error in judgment,” McCain said in a statement.

The Pentagon has banned the use of personal email for official business since 2012.

Administration officials have said President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, became aware of Carter’s use of personal email last May and had asked White House lawyers to contact the Pentagon to make sure the appropriate policy was being followed.

CNN’s Barbara Starr and Laura Koran contributed to this report.