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US Republicans hunt for treasure in State's Clinton trove

Hillary Rodham Clinton's e-mails give insight into the former secretary of state's office. But the first batch of messages released did not appear to support accusations made against the presidential hopeful.

E-mails

show that Clinton's aides had fretted over how the media and members of the Republican Party would portray her after a 2012 attack in Benghazi that killed the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. In March, it emerged that Clinton used a private account as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, though

the 2016 Democratic frontrunner

said the server had "numerous safeguards."

The State Department released 296 e-mails totaling 900 pages and covering January 2011 to December 2012 on Friday The e-mails deal with Libya and the September 11, 2012, attacks on a US diplomatic compound and CIA base in Benghazi.

The official description of the attackers' motivation has become important as Republicans have attempted to make political hay following the assault. The messages didn't appear to support nearly three years of accusations that the former senator and

first lady

had downplayed terrorism - nor indicate that Clinton's decisions resulted in weak security, as Republicans have alleged.

"I'll be nursing my cracked head and cheering you on as you 'remain calm and carry on,'" she wrote Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides, who attended the hearings after she fell in 2012. "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger (as I have rationalized for years) so just survive and you'll have triumphed."

Thousands to come

When the attack occurred, US President Barack Obama was battling Mitt Romney for re-election. His administration initially called the assaults a protest against an anti-Islam film posted on the Internet.

Republicans quickly criticized Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations at the time, for repeating the claim on Sunday TV political talk shows after new intelligence indicated that terror groups had plotted the attacks. Various congressional probes into Benghazi launched by Republican have produced little damaging evidence to administration officials.

A judge ordered the State Department to release e-mails in batches rather than all next year, as the agency had initially proposed. The other approximately 44,700 emails will be released over the next several months. Clinton or her aides have deleted another 30,000 e-mails termed as personal from the same private account, causing Republicans in Congress to accuse her of picking and choosing what she wants to make public.

mkg/sms (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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