The Daily Mail has hyped a 2002 memo from Colin Powell to George W. Bush that it said was “part of a batch of secret emails held on the private server of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton which U.S. courts have forced her to reveal.” The Daily Mail misread the email, claiming that it put then-Prime Minister Tony Blair in a bad light when in fact, it didn’t. The Drudge Report nevertheless highlighted the DM scoop.
Our friend Thomas Lifson, proprietor of American Thinker, pointed out that the Daily Mail had misconstrued the Powell memo as it related to Tony Blair, but argued that the memo has a more immediate significance, based on the fact that it came from Hillary’s private server:
[M]uch more important to me than this UK-centric story is what we learn about Hillary Clinton’s emails. Take a look at the memo itself, the top line in the left had column.
That’s right! It was labeled “Secret/Noforn.”
Now, look at the bottom of the memo. …
This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that, as my friend Mike Nadler says, “she lied in her numerous statements that there were no classified documents on her server, even with her later qualification that none were marked classified at the time.” At the time she was doing this research, the memo was still classified, only to be unclassified in 2014.
Lifson’s point appears valid on its face, as this document is plainly stamped “SECRET/NOFORN”–meaning it was not to be shared with any foreign nationals–and was “Classified by: Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.”
This was obviously of interest to me, so I tried to reconstruct the DM/American Thinker reasoning. But the dates didn’t seem to make sense. The Powell memo was unclassified in January 2014, while Hillary didn’t begin turning over documents from her server to the State Department until December 2014, and a document on her server would not be updated with “declassified” information after she left office. So I tried to verify that the Powell memo was, in fact, one of the documents that came from Hillary’s server.
If you search the State Department’s general FOIA page, the Powell memo comes up:
However, if you search the page at the State Department’s site where the emails from Hillary’s private server are posted on a monthly basis, the Powell memo does not come up, nor does any other document from the 2002 time frame:
So I think the Daily Mail made a mistake–the Powell memo did come from the State Department, but not from Hillary’s server. I think Lifson and others who have commented on the DM story did not catch the error. So it would be a mistake for the Benghazi committee to feature this issue when they interrogate Hillary next week.
I could be wrong, and would be happy to be shown to be incorrect. Others are invited to weigh in. But unless I am missing something, I think this is a blind alley.