The chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Sunday accidentally leaked what he had characterized as classified information in a testy back-and-forth with the panel’s ranking Democrat, Politico reported.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) appeared to leak the name of a CIA source by accident while responding to a scathing letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (R-MD). Cummings wrote Gowdy early Sunday demanding that he apologize to Hillary Clinton for falsely claiming she mishandled classified information by forwarding an email containing the CIA source’s name to an aide. His letter noted the CIA notified the select committee on Saturday that the email contained no information it deemed classified.
Yahoo News first noticed that the CIA source’s name, Mousa Kousa, appeared in a subject line but was redacted elsewhere in the full text of a March 2011 email between Clinton and her confidante Sidney Blumenthal that the chairman released on Sunday. By Monday morning, the document had been replaced with another in which Kousa’s name did not appear at all, according to Politico.
A spokesman for the State Department said Monday in a press briefing that “human error” caused Kousa’s name to appear in the first version of the email that the committee released, according to Politico. The spokesman, Mark Toner, said the State Department wanted to protect the source’s privacy even though the CIA had no objections to releasing his name.
Ironically, Gowdy responded to Cummings’ letter by playing up the gravity of Clinton’s having forwarded the email containing the CIA source’s name to one of her aides.
“The fact that the CIA says it didn’t do it does not mean the material was not sensitive or classified,” Gowdy wrote before his own goof was revealed. “And in fact, additional information remains in the document that ordinarily would be considered highly sensitive. This appears to mean either Mr. Blumenthal conveyed false and unreliable information to Secretary Clinton about Libya and misrepresented it, or the review process is faulty or has been politicized.”