US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter continued to use a personal e-mail account for government work for at least four months last year after the White House questioned the Pentagon about why he was using it, according to copies of Carter’s e-mails released by the US Department of Defense on Friday.
The New York Times reported in December last year that Carter had relied on the account at least through May, two months after the newspaper reported that former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had exclusively used a personal e-mail account while she was in office.
According to the e-mails released on Friday, Carter continued to use the account for government work until at least September.
Carter said in December he had made a mistake in using the account. Since 2012, the Defense Department has prohibited its employees from using personal e-mail accounts for official work.
The Pentagon on Friday released 1,336 pages of Carter’s e-mails and attachments in response to Freedom of Information Act requests by the Times and other media outlets.
In May, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough directed the White House counsel’s office to contact the Defense Department to ensure that Carter was following all laws and regulations on e-mail use.
Many of the released e-mails were heavily redacted. Others deal with administrative matters, speaking engagements, personnel decisions and news reports. One of the redacted e-mails says “for official use only.” That designation is usually given to sensitive government information that is not classified.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said that Carter had taken responsibility in December for his actions.
“While still acknowledging the mistake, the e-mails released today again show that he did not e-mail anything classified and all of his work-related e-mails are preserved within the federal records system,” Cook said.
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