The State Department has belatedly discovered about 1,300 emails relating to deceased Islamic cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki in official accounts belonging to top aides to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, more than four years after a conservative group requested all such records, a new court filing reports.
At a federal court hearing in Washington last month, Justice Department attorneys assigned to the case brought by Judicial Watch told a federal judge that State‘s “executive secretariat” — the repository of records for the secretary’s office — was searched in response to the initial Freedom of Information Act request from Judicial Watch.
In the new filing Thursday evening, the lawyers representing the State Department said the records of Clinton’s former office were searched initially. The filing (posted here) is vague about whether any responsive records were found at that time. However, it says a batch of emails about Al-Awlaki — who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011 — turned up only during the follow-up search.
“Upon review of the initial search of S/ES, State determined to conduct targeted supplemental searches,” Justice Department attorney Stephen Elliott wrote. “Accordingly, State conducted searches of the state.gov email accounts of six individuals, including Ms. [Huma] Abedin, Ms. [Cheryl] Mills, and Mr. [Jake] Sullivan. In total, State’s searches of the state.gov email accounts for the six individuals identified 1,317 potentially responsive records, many of which