Benghazi panel outs CIA source it accused Clinton of not protecting

Trey Gowdy © Kevin Lamarque
House Benghazi Committee chair Trey Gowdy has accused Hillary Clinton of failing to sufficiently protect sensitive information such as CIA sources in her emails, but on Monday he accidentally outed the name of one such source before hastily deleting it.

When asked about the mishap, aides for Gowdy (R-South Carolina) blamed the State Department for the disclosure, which acknowledged that “human error” had been responsible for the failure to delete the name from the redacted emails which were included in the press release published on Monday, according to Politico.

The named CIA source was ex-Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa, who is one of the people at the center of the panel’s fresh accusations against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Gowdy argues that the presence of Koussa’s name in Clinton’s emails, which were not stored on State Department servers or sent via a government email address, constituted a security breach and put sensitive information at risk.

Koussa’s name had been redacted from the body of an email from Clinton’s adviser and friend Sidney Blumenthal on March 18, 2011, in which he gave his take on the situation in Libya. In the copy of the email released by Gowdy, however, the subject line included Koussa’s name.

Benghazi Committee spokesman Jamal Ware said the State Department had cleared the email for release in the form in which it had initially appeared.

“The State Department failed to redact a name in the subject line, so the committee took steps to remove this information so it was consistent with State Department’s redaction of it in another line,” said Ware, according to Politico.

The committee will not confirm the name in question is the alleged source.”

The State Department said they had wanted the name withheld for privacy reasons.

Yahoo News first reported that the panel’s disclosure of the CIA source was part of an effort to embarrass Clinton.

Two weeks ago, Gowdy had said in a letter that the email from March 18, 2011, contained the “name of a human source” for the CIA and was therefore “some of the most protected information in our intelligence community.”

Armed with that information, Secretary Clinton forwarded the email to a colleague – debunking her claim that she never sent any classified information from her private email address,” wrote Gowdy on October 7 in a public letter to Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), the panel’s ranking Democrat.

Gowdy took a further hit over the weekend when the CIA informed the panel that it was not seeking any redactions to that email or 126 other Blumenthal emails sent to Clinton, suggesting Koussa’s name was not as important as Gowdy had stated.

Yahoo News reported that Koussa had been a top official in ex-Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s government for years, serving as intelligence chief before becoming foreign minister. He was widely suspected of having been a mastermind behind the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 243 passengers and 16 crew members.

The spat comes just days before Clinton is due to give testimony to the panel. Her appearance before the Benghazi Committee is scheduled for Thursday.