Hillary Clinton isn’t the only one who can’t name her concrete accomplishments as President Barack Obama’s first Secretary of State. Apparently the State Department can’t list them, either.
The subject of one of the e-mails released in the latest tranche–sent directly to Hillary’s chief of staff by her spokesman, Philippe Reines, and then forwarded on to Hillary herself–is “Achievements,” and the body of the e-mail contains a list with only four bullet points. And what did Reines characterize as Clinton’s major achievements in his January 2013 e-mail to Hillary’s top staff?
Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officials within the State Department, we’ll never know:
Hillary’s achievements, as recounted by Reines, were redacted not because they were deemed classified, or because their public release might jeopardize American national security. The list wasn’t redacted because it contained personal information.
No, that information was redacted because redaction officials, citing exemption (b)(5) of the federal FOIA, determined that the information constituted “privileged” agency communications. Abuse of the (b)(5) exemption within FOIA is rampant within the Obama administration, according to the National Security Archive, an open records research institute within George Washington University:
The use of this “withhold it because you want to” exemption has skyrocketed over the past two years of the Obama administration. As a result, transparency advocates, including the National Security Archive, as well as members of House and Senate committees responsible for FOIA have targeted b(5) reform as a vital inclusion to any FOIA bill that passes Congress.
The State Dept.’s decision to prohibit the release of a January 2013 list of Hillary Clinton’s achievements is especially curious since Clinton left office on February 1, 2013, just two days after Reines sent the “Achievements” e-mail to Hillary’s chief of staff. It strains credulity to assert that these communications consisted of vital data informing ongoing decision-making at Foggy Bottom. In all likelihood, the e-mail was sent only to help burnish Hillary’s legacy, which apparently consisted of only four achievements covering less than one-third of one page.
Rather than putting the issue of Hillary’s legacy to rest, the redactions raise a troubling question about what she actually accomplished as Secretary of State: if her accomplishments were so obvious and so important, why are bureaucrats at Hillary’s old agency terrified of letting the public know what her own staff thought of her four-year tenure as America’s top diplomat?