Monday night, it was revealed that Hillary Clinton used a personal email account the entire time she served as Secretary of State. Not only does conducting official business with a private account violate federal law, it raises a host of concerns ranging from whether or not her communications were secure from foreign intelligence services, to whether we'll be able to piece together an accurate historical record. Given Hillary Clinton's legal troubles in the 1990s relating to keeping track of documents, it seems implausible she was not aware of the illegality of what was going on.
But one aspect of this story that deserves special focus is what this revelation about the former secretary of state's peculiar email habits tell us about how thorough the investigations of Benghazi have been to date. Indeed, the notion that investigators did not have access to Hillary Clinton's email would suggest that investigators lacked crucial information. And yet, the media largely bought the spin from Clinton's camp and the White House that GOP investigations into Benghazi had crossed into overreach. Journalists even propagated a cutesy social media gimmick to make this point.
However, the media's obvious desire to attack the credibility of the GOP Benghazi inquiries has always been far from justified. When the House Intelligence Comittee released a report last November the media eagerly spun the report as the GOP "debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies." Granted, there are a fair number of questions regarding the competence of the congressional Republicans' investigations into Benghazi. But it's also true that the media misread the report badly, and did not dwell on the fact that report completely discredited the New York Times' faulty claim that "no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault." Unsurprisingly, the media did not dwell on their own failures and continued to cover Benghazi as domestic partisan debate rather than take responsibility for ascertaining how four Americans, including an ambassador, died in a terror attack and whether or not there was any political cover-up.
While the New York Times deserves credit for breaking the story that Hillary Clinton was illegally using private email for official business, its report notes, "The existence of Mrs. Clinton’s personal email account was discovered by a House committee investigating the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi as it sought correspondence between Mrs. Clinton and her aides about the attack." As CNN's Dan Merica put it, "GOP aides on the Benghazi committee have long said they were going to find something others hadn't. And they did."
Now the question is, what else about Benghazi do we not know? The Times report also includes this remarkable detail: "It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department." In other words, Hillary Clinton was allowed to decide which of her emails she would turn over to the State Department. It seems very unlikely that any of those emails would happen to provide evidence of any incriminating behavior.