Well, you heard it here first.
Today, the State Department released Benghazi-related email from the private server and one of the (at least) two private email accounts on which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conducted official business – recklessly and in violation of laws and guidelines relating to the exchanging and preservation of electronic communications. Within hours, the Obama administration was forced to concede that at least one of the emails contained classified information.
Mrs. Clinton has previously and dubiously claimed that she did not discuss classified information on her private email account(s). Despite today’s disclosure, she is standing by that claim as, apparently, is the State Department. Her rationale is that the information in question – which relates to suspects in the Benghazi attack and remains highly sensitive - was not classified “secret” at the time of the email exchange. Instead, it was upgraded to “secret” status just today by the FBI, which was plainly alarmed at the prospect of its disclosure.
I warned about this situation back in March, when Mrs. Clinton’s violation of federal laws and guidelines in connection with using private email to conduct official business first surfaced. The problem with the rationalization offered by Mrs. Clinton and the administration is twofold.
First, at the time of the Benghazi attack, Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state and an old hand at dealing with classified information. She thus had to have known at the time of the communication in question that information of the type she was dealing with should have been classified as “secret” even if it had not been so classified yet. Obviously, the FBI instantly recognized the significance of the information upon learning that it was about to be disclosed.
Second, it is frequently the case that highly sensitive information is not classified (or not yet classified); nevertheless, government officials are instructed that it is not to be disclosed publicly and not to be discussed on non-government email systems.
As I explained back in March:
Mrs. Clinton [in her press conference] stressed that she never stored classified documents on her private e-mail system. To the uninitiated, this sounded like the strongest point in her defense. Mostly, however, it is a red herring, exploiting the public’s unfamiliarity with how classified information works – and fueling no small amount of irresponsible speculation over the last few days about how the nature of her responsibilities meant classified material must have been stored on her private system. In the government, classified documents are maintained on separate, super-highly secured systems… [I]n general, Mrs. Clinton would not have been able to access classified documents even from a .gov account, much less from her private account – she’d need to use the classified system… That said, there are two pertinent caveats.
First, since we’re dealing with Clintonian parsing here, we must consider the distinction between classified documents and classified information – the latter being what is laid out in the former. It is not enough for a government official with a top-secret clearance to refrain from storing classified documents on private e-mail; the official is also forbidden to discuss the information contained in those documents. The fact that Mrs. Clinton says she did not store classified documents on her private server, which is very likely true, does not discount the distinct possibility that she discussed classified matters in private e-mails…
Second, most of the important but mundane information exchanged in government is not classified. It is a truism that too much information in Washington is classified. Still, it is also true that, for government officials, dealing with classified information is very inconvenient – you are usually not allowed to read it on your office computer, certainly not on your personal computer, not while commuting to work, not at home, etc. Thus, much of the information that government officials deal with is categorized as “sensitive but unclassified” (SBU).
To listen to the commentary over the past week, and to listen to Mrs. Clinton yesterday, one would think there are only two realms of government information: something is either a national defense secret or the seating chart for Chelsea’s wedding reception. Most information, though, is neither classified nor private. When I was a federal prosecutor, for instance, the SBU information I routinely dealt with included: grand-jury transcripts, the secrecy of which must be maintained by law; investigative reports by the FBI, DEA, NYPD, and other investigative agencies; wiretap affidavits that disclosed that investigations were underway, the suspects, the evidence, the wiretap locations, and the identity of government undercover agents, informants, and witnesses; memos outlining investigative or litigation strategies to deal with organized crime and terrorism organizations; plans to orchestrate arrests in multi-defendant cases where flight risk was a concern; financial information of subjects of investigations; personal information (sometimes including family financial and medical information) of lawyers and staff whom I supervised; contact information (including home addresses) of agents with whom I worked on cases often involving violent crime and public corruption; contact information (including home addresses) of judges in the event it was necessary to get a search warrant after hours; and so on.
None of that information was classified. I was permitted to – and needed to – have it ready to hand, but it was also my duty to maintain it in a secure, responsible manner… a duty that became even more important once I was a boss and was expected to set an example for junior lawyers and staff to follow. And mind you, I was just a government lawyer. I was not the secretary of state.
The inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of SBU can do enormous damage. It can even get people killed. That is why the State Department has elaborate rules about SBU – rules that include instructing State Department employees to conduct their e-mail business via government e-mail accounts on government communications systems that have “the proper level of security control to provide nonrepudiation, authentication and encryption, to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of resident information” (U.S. Dept. of State, Foreign Affairs Manual, vol. 12, sec. 544.3 ). As Fox News relates, it was on the basis of these concerns that Mrs. Clinton, as secretary of state, directed State Department employees in June 2011 to “avoid conducting official Department [business] from your personal e-mail accounts.”
Thus far, there has been disclosure of only a fraction of Mrs. Clinton’s existing private email – i.e., the email that she did not unilaterally delete despite being on notice that it was relevant to government investigations. Yet it is already clear that, as secretary of state, she did business in a way that was, at a minimum, grossly irresponsible… and quite possibly worse. She had to have realized the near certainty that an official of her stature would have been targeted for surveillance of her private emails by foreign intelligence services. Yet, in her determination not to leave a paper trail that might damage her political prospects, she ignored the risks. The Justice Department, which has prosecuted high government officials for mishandling national defense information, should be investigating – and that includes acquiring custody of Mrs. Clinton’s private server.
Conservative political pundit Charles Krauthammer reacted to the release of the first batch of Hillary Clinton emails, calling the “whole release” a “farce.”
“This is an echo of what her own press secretary said, who said there isn’t a shred of evidence. And as I’ve said there is no shred of evidence because she shredded the evidence. This whole release is a farce,” the syndicated political columnist said. “What is being released now… is stuff that was scrubbed and cleansed and decided upon, chosen by her own people, acting in her own interest, rather than… people with obligation to the public.”
“So we are getting the cleaned up version,” he continued. “And I think they are succeeding, the Clinton people. Because everybody is hungrily looking through stuff pre-scrubbed. They are not going to find anything. The Clinton’s are secretive and deceptive, but they are not stupid.”
Krauthammer then explained how he thought the process will benefit Clinton in the presidential election.
“Whatever is indicating has been scrubbed and removed. So we are going to have this long saga of the release. She will take the credit for, ‘I asked for it to be released, I wanted it to be released.’ But it’s the wrong stuff. And when people attack her later in the campaign, she will say it’s all been released, the press has looked at it,” he said.
Hillary Clinton slept through the president’s daily briefing on Benghazi. She didn’t wake up until 10:45 AM.
What difference does it make?
The State Department is releasing a batch of the Hillary emails, because the best way to make sure no one notices is to do it on the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. Hidden in one email is a pretty deplorable absence of interest and care from Hillary.
The night a U.S. ambassador was killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, Hillary Clinton sent a message three senior State Department officials.
The recepients were Jake Sullivan, Deputy Chief of Staff to then-Secretary of State Clinton, Cheryl Mills, an adviser to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and Counselor and Chief of Staff to the Secretary, and Victoria Jane Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
“Cheryl told me the Libyans confirmed his death. Should we announce tonight or wait until morning?” Clinton says in the email, time stamped 11:38 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2012.
The email had as its subject line: “Chris Smith.” The murdered ambassador was Chris Stevens.
The Secretary of State didn’t even know the name of the U.S. ambassador to Libya – even after terrorists stormed an American compound and killed him.
How deplorable is that. And this is who the Democrats want to make president? Disgusting.
Not that there was ever much doubt. Three days after the Benghazi attack, the White House admitted it had pressured Google and YouTube to yank “Innocence of Muslims” as some sort of terms-of-use violation. Google refused. A week after that, having failed to twist a major corporation’s arm into censoring a politically unhelpful bit of free speech on its behalf, the State Department started running ads in Pakistan denouncing the movie, in hopes that jihadi savages would be appeased by the show of national contrition and not target any more embassies. Also around this time, YouTube did agree to censor “Innocence of Muslims” by blocking it in Egypt and Libya, the two nations that saw the most violent attacks on U.S. diplomats on September 11, 2012. Hillary Clinton had to have known about and signed off on all this, we naturally assumed. And now here’s evidence that she did: Although the message below is vague, I assume it’s referring to the ban that Google imposed on the video in Africa.
Leaning on corporate cronies to suppress Americans’ speech for political ends would be a disqualifying offense for a candidate in a sane world.
Fun fact: On the very day that e-mail was sent, the man who made “Innocence of Muslims” was arrested by the feds on a “parole violation.” Hillary’s leisure reading in the weeks before that was interesting too:
From the Washington Post:
The Clinton Foundation reported Thursday that it has received as much as $26.4 million in previously undisclosed payments from major corporations, universities, foreign sources and other groups.
Thursday’s disclosure is one of a number of instances in recent weeks in which the foundation has acknowledged that it received funding from sources not disclosed on its Web site.
The ethics agreement was reached between the foundation and the Obama administration to provide additional transparency and avoid potential conflicts of interest with Hillary Clinton’s appointment as secretary of state.
The agreement placed restrictions on foreign government donations, for instance, but the foundation revealed in February that it had violated the limits at one point by taking $500,000 from Algeria.
There was one entity clearly associated with a foreign government that provided speaking fees, of $250,000 to $500,000 for a speech by Bill Clinton: The energy ministry in Thailand.
The U.S. Islamic World Forum also provided $250,000 to $500,000 to the foundation for a speech by Bill Clinton, according to the new disclosure. The event was organized in part by the Brookings Institution with support from the government of Qatar.
In addition, the list is studded with overseas corporations and foundations.
They included the South Korean energy and chemicals conglomerate Hanwha, which paid $500,000 to $1,000,000 for a speech by Bill Clinton.
China Real Estate Development Corp. paid the foundation between $250,000 and $500,000 for a speech by the former president. The Qatar First Investment Bank, now known as the Qatar First Bank, paid fees in a similar range. The bank is described by Persian Gulf financial press as specializing in high-net-worth clients.
The Telmex Foundation, founded by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, provided between $250,000 and $500,000 for a speech by Hillary Clinton.
Read the rest of the story here.
Gee, I wonder why this would happen? Don’t expect this to get better anytime soon.
BALTIMORE – Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called the city’s recent spike in violence “disheartening” Thursday as police work to address a dramatic increase in homicides and nonfatal shootings.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” the mayor told reporters at a news conference. “It is disheartening, but I am still resolved to continue to reduce violent crime in our city.”
Rawlings-Blake said the city’s faced spikes in crimes in the past and police have been able to successfully reverse them. She said she’s “confident” police do so will again.
The city’s had 98 homicides so far this year, which is 42 percent higher than over the same period in 2014. Nonfatal shootings are up more than 70 percent with at least 19 people shot on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Read more: Baltimore Sun
A group of 14 Democrat senators has written a letter to President Obama urging him to “dramatically increase” the number of Syrian refugees being resettled into American cities and towns.
They say the U.S. needs to take in at least 65,000 Syrians as permanent refugees over the next year-and-a-half.
“While the United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees, we must also dramatically increase the number of Syrian refugees that we accept for resettlement,” says the four-page letter to Obama, copied to Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
More than 3.5 million Syrians are registered with the United Nations as refugees, and the U.N. wants to assign about 350,000 of them to so-called “third-party countries.”
The 14 senators, led by Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., cite the research of the Refugee Council USA to make their case for 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. RCUSA is the main lobbying arm of the nine agencies that contract with the federal government to resettle refugees in cities and towns across America.
The more refugees brought into the country, the more government grants doled out to the nine resettlement agencies. Among them are the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Church World Service, International Rescue Committee and the National Association of Evangelicals’ World Relief.
More than 90 percent of Syrian refugees will be Muslim
Of the 843 Syrians resettled in the U.S. since the start of the Syrian civil war, 92 percent have been Muslim and about 7 percent Christian. Syria’s overall population is 90 percent Muslim and close to 10 percent Christian.
“The vast majority of these refugees are women and children, including two million children,” the letter states, using language similar to what Democrats used to justify the entry of some 60,000 unaccompanied alien children from Central America last year. “An entire generation of Syrian children is at risk.
“More than ten thousand Syrian children have been killed, and half of Syrian refugee children are not attending school, more than one-hundred thousand are working to support their families, and thousands are unaccompanied or separated from their parents.
“[W]e urge your Administration to work to accept at least 50 percent of Syrian refugees whom UNCHR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] is seeking to resettle, consistent with our nation’s traditional practice under both Republican and Democratic Presidents.”
The letter also addresses the security concerns about accepting Syrians who may have ties to the various Islamic extremist factions fighting to overthrow and replace Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Among them are ISIS, Jabat al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army.
“We fully support your Administration’s efforts to ensure that any potential security concerns are addressed by strengthening security checks for refugees with the latest technology and information,” the letter states.
“Refugees are the most carefully vetted of all travelers to the U.S., with extensive biometric, biographic, intelligence, and law enforcement checks involving numerous agencies,” the letter says, parroting the U.S. State Department talking points about the quality of the screening process for refugees.
The problem with that argument, however, is that it has been debunked by FBI counter-terrorism experts who have openly admitted it is virtually impossible to screen Syrian refugees, precisely because U.S. agents don’t have access to reliable biometric and law enforcement data. As WND previously reported, Michael Steinbach, deputy assistant director of the FBI counter-terrorism unit, admitted at a hearing before the House Homeland Security committee on Feb. 11 that reliable records are not available in a “failed state” like Syria.
The House Homeland Security Committee was schedule to hold another hearing this week on the national security risks associated with the Syrian refugees, but that hearing was postponed Thursday until further notice.
The letter being sent to Obama makes the upcoming House hearing even more pivotal as the battle over this issue heats up on both sides of the aisle, with Democrats pushing for more Syrians and Republicans pushing for less.
‘A serious mistake’
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, says resettling Syrian refugees in the U.S. is a “serious mistake” and should be stopped until safeguards are in place.
“We have no way… to know who these people are, and so I think bringing them in is a serious mistake,” said McCaul during a press conference Thursday.
McCaul said the U.S. has “no intelligence footprint or capability” inside Syria to ensure refugees mean no harm.
“We don’t have databases on these individuals so we can’t properly vet them,” he added, “to know where they came from, to know what threat they pose, because we don’t have the data to cross-reference them with.”
McCaul, who has visited Syrian refugee camps overseas, said that while there are “a lot of mothers and kids, there are [also] a lot of males of the age that could conduct terrorist operations.”
“That concerns me,” he added.
‘Give me your tired…’
The U.S. takes in more refugees than any other country by far. In the current fiscal year it has committed to accept 70,000 and some years it has been as high as 200,000. Almost all of the refugees coming to the U.S. are selected by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.
Also playing against the Democratic senators argument is the recent string of arrests of Somali refugees and children of Somali refugees. Just last month six Somali young men were arrested and charged with trying to leave the country to fight for ISIS. Two of them used their college student loan money to pay for plane tickets to Turkey.
Dozens of others have gone to fight with al-Shabab in Somalia and still others have been arrested, charged and convicted of providing money or other material support to overseas terrorist organizations.
Somalia, like Syria, is a failed state where the U.S. has no military presence and no access to reliable law enforcement data.
“This issue has obviously come up before. We’ve had a bunch of people who have come in as refugees and committed terrorist acts, or tried to commit terrorist acts,” said Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies. “But I think the underlying question is, one, the ability to vet people from a war-torn country that had poor record keeping to begin with is virtually nonexistent now. There’s simply no way to know what people have done in the past from a country like Syria.
“All we know about Syria is that powerful and well-organized terrorist groups operate throughout the country,” he said.
Lessons learned or mistakes repeated?
Even if they could be adequately screened, experience proves that the children of Muslim immigrants are sometimes more in danger of being radicalized than their parents, Camarota said.
He points to numerous recent cases like that of Hoda Muthana, the 19-year-old daughter of Muslim parents who emigrated from Yemen more than 20 years ago and settled in Birmingham, Alabama. She left to fight for ISIS in November after being recruited over the Internet. Her parents have been “traumatized” by losing their oldest daughter, according to an article by AL.com.
The fact that some arrive as “children” is also no guarantee against radicalization. Some are radicalized in American mosques after they grow into teens and young adults.
That’s what happened to the Tsarnaev brothers, who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing. They came as asylum seekers as young boys with their parents from war-torn Chechnya.
“Unfortunately, a number of people who have come as refuges became radicalized after they arrived in the United States, including the Tsarnaev brothers. The younger brother, who just got convicted, was a young boy when he arrived with his family,” Camarota said.
“We’ve had a number from Somalia who have gone to fight for ISIS or al-Shabab who came to America at young ages,” he added. “Unfortunately, we’ve also seen a number of cases where people have been radicalized after they got here from Somalia.”
There is an alternative that low-immigration advocates such as Camarota say could be more effective in helping the plight of true refugees.
“We can help countries in the region resettle these folks, provide resources to countries like Jordan, and countries like Saudi Arabia, which is a rich country with lots of space,” he said. “And because they would be close to their home countries they could return once the war is over.”
Resettling refugees costs the American taxpayer $1.5 billion a year, and that does not include the cost of social welfare benefits. Unlike other immigrants, refugees immediately qualify for government benefits such as food stamps, temporary assistance for needy families, or TANF, subsidized housing and Medicaid health care.
“Instead, that money could be used to help a lot more people resettle in the Middle East region, making it more likely that their life would be less disrupted and they would be more likely to return home,” Camarota said. “We could help more people and make it more likely rather than bring a tiny number here at huge costs and bring these risks to national security.”
Clare Lopez, vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy, said taking in more Syrian refugees poses risks that must be balanced against humanitarian concerns.
“Welcoming more Syrian refugees to the U.S. would be a generous move to make, so long as they can be vetted to exclude any who identify with a jihadist ideology or worse yet, are jihadis themselves,” she said. “It would also make sense to be sure we select for those who will most easily assimilate to America’s Judeo-Christian-based legal system and Western-style democratic society.”
While the lobbying organization National Council of Refugees USA, refers to itself as nonprofit and bipartisan, refugee watchdog Ann Corcoran doesn’t buy it.
She said conservatives shouldn’t be fooled by the “church sounding names.”
“Looking at this list they all appear to be from the hard left,” said Corcoran, who follows the refugee movement at her blog, Refugee Resettlement Watch.
The senators’ letter closes by saying: “[I]t is a moral, legal, and national security imperative for the United States to lead by example in addressing the world’s worst refugee crisis of our time by greatly increasing the number of Syrian refugees who are resettled in our country. Thank you for your time and consideration.”
Assistant US Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, Thomas Countryman, recently visited Israel and held talks with senior Foreign Ministry officials, about the possibility of making the Middle East nuclear-free.
Washington seeks to advance the idea after reaching agreement with Russia about the matter.
The State Department confirmed Countryman’s visit and sources in the U.S. Administration said that Israeli agreement to the idea would be a catalyst for bringing additional countries into discussions on the matter.
The Americans have been attempting to convene an international conference on the subject for some time, without success. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the idea with pessimism, and said it was “a very tough challenge.”
The Foreign Ministry did not want to respond to the report about Countryman’s visit and told Arutz Sheva that “the subject is a sensitive one, we will not talk about it.”
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) knew last year that an illegal alien California camp counselor known as “Papa Bear” was being investigated on child molestation and child pornography charges but did nothing about it, Iowa U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley claims in a letter sent to DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson on Wednesday.
Edgar Covarrubias-Padilla was arrested May 7 and charged with four felonies including child molestation and the distribution of child pornography. According to local news reports, authorities believe that Covarrubias-Padilla also produced child pornography.
Covarrubias-Padilla recently worked as a night counselor at Walden West, an environmental science camp near San Jose. Besides the recovery of 600 child porn images from his computer, Covarrubias-Padilla has been accused of sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy. The Santa Clara County Office of Education told Grassley’s office that it had received over 100 phone calls and 50 emails from parents concerned that their child may have been victimized. Covarrubias-Padilla worked at two other camps over the past two years.
In his letter to Johnson, Grassley stated that whistleblowers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — a DHS sub-agency — claim that the federal authorities knew as early as Nov. 17 that Covarrubias-Padilla was being investigated for child sex abuse charges.
Yet, nothing was done about his DACA status until his recent arrest, Grassley claims.
The whistleblowers claim that on Oct. 8, 2012, Covarrubias-Padilla applied for amnesty protection under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. His amnesty and work eligibility were scheduled to last through this month, at which point he would have been allowed to re-apply for the program.
“These allegations are deeply troubling because, if true, they suggest that DHS was aware for months or years that Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla posed a public safety threat to the children he was monitoring, yet took no action to revoke his DACA authorization,” Grassley, a Republican, wrote to Johnson.
“These allegations are particularly alarming because they suggest that Mr. Covarrubias-Padilla would not have been placed in a position to abuse and exploit children had DHS properly vetted DACA recipients,” Grassley added.
Grassley has recently shed light on other cases involving felonious DACA recipients. One particular egregious case of DHS failure was Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez. Rangel-Hernandez was slated for deportation following a 2012 marijuana charge. He applied for amnesty under DACA in Feb. 2013, and his application was approved in Aug. 2013. But the application was approved even though U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) was aware that Rangel-Hernandez was gang-affiliated. Gang members are not eligible for DACA status.
After Grassley raised questions about Rangel-Hernandez’s case, USCIS admitted in a response letter that it erred in approving his DACA application and ensured that steps were taken to prevent gang members from being given amnesty in the future.
In his latest letter to Johnson, Grassley asked 11 questions about Covarrubias-Padilla’s DACA application, immigration status, and known criminal history.
He asked for a response by May 29.
Grassley also sought information on how ICE and USCIS coordinated and shared information about Covarrubias-Padilla.
“Did USCIS know or have reason to know that ICE was investigating Edgar Covarrubias-Padilla in connection to crimes involving either possession or distribution of child pornography or child exploitation, including molestation?” Grassley asked.
“If Edgar Covarrubias-Padilla was under investigation by ICE, please provide the procedures in place for when, and in what manner, ICE would have notified USCIS.”