The Republican-led House Select Committee on Benghazi hastily deleted the name of a high-level Libyan defector from one of its public releases on Monday, shortly after Yahoo News reported the panel had inadvertently revealed the defector’s name in an effort to embarrass Hillary Clinton.
The disclosure, followed by the quick wiping out of the name of ex-Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa (who had defected and become a source for the CIA on Libya), once again put the panel on the defensive on the eve of Thursday’s slated testimony from Clinton.
The incident was especially awkward for GOP chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy because just two weeks ago he had sought to make an issue over Clinton’s handling of an email that contained Koussa’s name.
At the time, Gowdy said, an email sent to Clinton on March 18, 2011, by her longtime friend and adviser Sidney Blumenthal contained the “name of a human source” for the CIA and was therefore “some of the most protected information in our intelligence community.”
“Armed with that information, Secretary Clinton forwarded the email to a colleague — debunking her claim that she never sent any classified information from her private email address,” wrote Gowdy in an Oct. 7 letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the panel’s ranking Democrat, which he released publicly.
But over the weekend, the CIA undercut Gowdy’s assertion by informing the committee it did not seek any redactions in that or 126 other Blumenthal emails sent to Clinton, a sign that the panel did not view the information as classified.
Gowdy quickly pushed back on Sunday, countering that the Blumenthal email still contained “sensitive” information that should have been protected. He then publicly released the full text of the Blumenthal email with the name of the CIA source redacted.
But, as Yahoo News pointed out in a story published this morning, Gowdy’s release included Blumenthal’s subject line — which had Koussa’s name in it. Shortly after the story appeared, the committee then redacted Koussa’s name from the subject line. (You can read the original Gowdy release here and see the current version, with the Koussa redaction, here.)