Al Jazeera America freelancer Steve Friess reported Wednesday night that the House Foreign Affairs Committee was making inquiries into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email. Friess knew partly because Thomas Alexander, an investigator from the committee, emailed him earlier that day seeking information.
Alexander wanted to speak to an employee on the State Department’s cybersecurity team, who was quoted anonymously by Al Jazeera America Tuesday saying Clinton’s private email service was “at greater risk of being hacked, intercepted or monitored,” according to Friess’ story.
— Steve Friess (@SteveFriess) March 5, 2015
About seven hours later, Friess published his story, which included a public denial of Alexander’s request and a no-comment from Alexander and the committee’s communications director.
Al Jazeera declined to participate. Neither Alexander nor the committee’s communications director, Audra McGeorge, replied to requests to explain the parameters of the investigation or what Alexander is seeking to find out.
A lesson for government officials — information is only off the record if both parties agree in advance.