The U.S. Department of Defense has released the first batch of emails sent from Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s personal email account to department and armed forces officials, in a situation that closely mirrors the email scandal that has engulfed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. In all, 27 emails were sent during a period in April, two months after the Pentagon chief assumed control of the country’s defense.
Government officials are not supposed to use personal email when corresponding for official purposes.
The released emails, which are in response to a New York Times Freedom of Information request, do not cover the entire period in which Carter used his personal email for work purposes. It’s expected the Pentagon will release more emails once they have been security cleared, Defense News reported Friday.
The newly released emails focus on logistical arrangements and speaking engagements, but some do allude to future appointments in the department. One email sent to “Fanning,” who is likely Eric Fanning, secretary of the Army, is titled “Paying for Dinner” and contains just one word: “How?”
Carter emails focus on WH concerns, media. Shows a White House worried about leaks. https://t.co/sygkGc4W2s
— Ray Locker (@rlocker12) December 18, 2015
In an email from April 30 with the subject line “Call tonite,” Carter raises concerns about information leaks. He asked Fanning and Lt. Gen. Ronald F. Lewis to arrange calls with a name that had been redacted. Carter later fired Lewis.
On the same day, a separate email was sent that said, “call was made by boss,” likely referring to President Barack Obama since Carter reports directly to the president. The email continued: "Find a way for me to make a quiet call to [redacted] in morn. In meantime, stand down all else. WH very/very touchy re leaks (Colburn called them which set off opsec alarms."
"Colburn" refers to Brent Colburn, who served as assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs before he stepped down in July.
In yet another email, Carter mentions he had gained some input on his search for a press secretary from “Wolf,” seemingly referring to Wolf Blitzer of CNN, suggesting that Carter may be close to naming a top Pentagon official.
Another email offers an ironic twist and contains information from a group whose sole mission is to mitigate cyberrisks and enhance secure information management. Carter forwarded the email from his private account to aides.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has said his committee will conduct a full investigation into Carter's email use to ensure no sensitive information was compromised, the Associated Press reported Thursday.