These people play the press and the courts like a fiddle.
At 2 p.m. Friday — just in time for a slow-news weekend and the onset of what is supposed to be a serious blizzard in the Northeast — the State Department asked a federal court for an extension of time to February 29 to complete its interagency review and release of Hillary Clinton's private-server emails. But State didn't merely use the snowstorm to minimize news visibility. In the court filing, it also cited the weekend snowstorm as a reason why it can't its work done:
Matt Drudge is headlining the situation as "BLIZZARD STOPS EMAIL AVALANCHE" — though others would surely contend that the "avalanche" has really been months of calculated, slow-drip releases.
The Hill is the only one of three establishment press publications I reviewed which noted that State cited this weekend's snowstorm as one of its excuses:
... Roughly 82 percent of Clinton’s emails have been released, the State Department says.
However, last week the State Department realized that more than 7,200 pages of Clinton’s emails had not yet been sent to other agencies, which are required to review them for potential redactions before they can be made public.
“State overlooked some necessary consultations at a time when the Clinton email team’s efforts were focused on processing records that had already gone through interagency consultation in order to meet the monthly interim goals,” the department said in Friday’s court filing. “Thus, this oversight was not detected until the push to meet the final deadline.”
The effort to send those pages to other agencies was “interrupted” by the massive snowstorm expected to blanket Washington this weekend, it added.
“[T]his storm will disrupt the Clinton email team’s current plans to work a significant number of hours throughout the upcoming weekend and could affect the number of documents that can be produced on January 29, 2016," the Obama administration said.
Ahead of the storm, the federal government closed its doors early on Friday, and much of official Washington has shut down. The storm's closures could extend into next week, potentially delaying the department’s work even further.
Well, at least they didn't say "the dog ate our email hard copies" — yet.
Both the Associated Press and the Politico failed to mention State's citation of the DC snowstorm as an excuse. I guess the rule is, "When in doubt, don't do anything to make the government look bad — except when there's a Republican or conservative presidential administration."
The Politico story at least reminded readers of the serious problems the State Department's Inspector General noted with several previous emails:
The news comes just days after the intelligence community inspector general told lawmakers that intelligence agencies had discovered classified information in Clinton's emails that’s even more sensitive than “top secret” — the highest classification of national security information in government. Clinton has consistently maintained that none of the messages were marked classified when she sent them.
The Associated Press's Bradley Klapper mentioned those emails too — but almost seemed to ridicule the idea that there's a serious problem with them:
Some of the most contentious emails haven't yet been published. They include two that an intelligence community auditor says are "top secret" and others he claims are even more sensitive, containing information from so-called special access programs. Such programs suggest the emails could reveal details about intelligence sources.
Klapper should have replaced "so-called" with "what are known as," because everyone who needs to understand document classification should know that they are actually called "special accesss programs."
Thank goodness Matt Drudge is around to give the State Department's snow job wider visibility.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.