Former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was asked in an official congressional inquiry from former House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) about whether she used a private email for government work as far back as 2012.
The letter from Issa to Clinton, sent on Dec. 13, 2012 and obtained by Breitbart News after an explosive New York Times expose on it late Tuesday evening, specifically asks eight detailed questions about government record-keeping.
“Have you or any senior agency official ever used a personal e-mail account to conduct official business?” the first question reads. “If so, please identify the account used.”
The next two questions asked about whether she or other senior agency officials used text messages or alias email accounts to send or receive government work messages – and the fourth question asks for specific details on the agency’s policies on such accounts.
“Please provide written documentation of the agency’s policies regarding the use of non-official e-mail accounts to conduct official business, including, but not limited to, archiving and record keeping procedures, as well as disciplinary proceedings for employees in violation of these policies,” Issa asked Clinton.
The next question follows up on that. “Does the agency require employees to certify on a periodic basis or at the end of their employment with the agency they have turned over any communications involving official business that they have sent or received using non-official accounts?” Issa asked Clinton.
The next question asks about social media accounts before the final two of the eight questions to Clinton hone in yet again on agency policies.
“What agency policies and procedures are currently in place to ensure that all messages related to official business sent or received by federal employees and contractors on private, non-governmental e-mail accounts or social networking platforms are properly categorized as federal records?” the seventh question to Clinton from Issa reads.
“Have any agency employees been subject to disciplinary proceedings for using non-official e-mail accounts to conduct official business since January 20, 2009?” the final question from Issa to Clinton reads. “If so, please provide a list of names, dates of proceedings, and final outcomes.”
An identical version of Issa’s letter to Clinton was also sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Attorney General Eric Holder, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, NASA administrator Charles Bolden, GSA administrator Daniel Tangherlini, Small Business Administration administrator Karen Mills, and Office of Management and Budget director Jeffrey Zients.
At this time, it is unclear if any other of the agencies responded to Issa’s inquiry. But thanks to a New York Times report from Michael S. Schmidt on Tuesday evening, it is now known that the State Department – through Thomas B. Gibbons, the acting assistant secretary for legislative affairs – responded to Issa’s letter after Clinton left office.
Clinton resigned from the State Department on Feb. 1, 2013 – as Schmidt wrote on Tuesday evening, “seven weeks after the letter [from Issa] was sent to her.”
Gibbons waited several more weeks, until March 27, 2013, to respond to Issa’s letter on the State Department’s behalf. Gibbons did not answer in that letter whether Clinton used a personal email address, and it’s unclear based on the Times report – which does not include the full text of the letter Gibbons sent back to Issa – how specific he was in answering any of the other questions Issa had for Clinton and her State Department.
“When Mr. Issa received a response from the State Department on March 27, all he got was a description of the department’s email policies,” Schmidt wrote.
From the two sections of the letter Schmidt did quote in his piece, however, it is clear that Clinton was in violation of the State Department policy that employees should not be using personal email addresses to conduct official business.
Any employee who had a personal account, Gibbons wrote in the letter according to Schmidt’s report, “should make it clear that his or her personal email is not being used for official business.”
Gibbons added, according to Schmidt, that “employees may use personal email on personal time for matters not directly related to official business, and any employee using personal email ‘should make it clear that his or her personal email is not being used for official business.’”
Schmidt also paraphrased another portion Gibbons’ letter by writing that the “State Department offered training on its record management programs to its employees.”
State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach on Tuesday, Schmidt wrote, “declined” to “answer questions about why it had not addressed Mr. Issa’s question about whether Mrs. Clinton or senior officials used personal email accounts.”
“The department responds to thousands of congressional inquiries and requests for information each year,” Gerlach told Schmidt instead of answering specific questions. “In its March 2013 letter, the department responded to the House Oversight Committee’s inquiry into the department’s ‘policies and practices regarding the use of personal email and other forms of electronic communications’ with a letter that described those policies in detail.”
There are several major takeaways from this development, as it breathes brand new life into the scandal rocking Clinton as she just launched her 2016 presidential campaign this week.
The first is that she was clearly aware that her private email account was a serious issue as far back as during her time at the State Department.
Secondly, she deliberately decided to not respond to the inquiry – waiting for officials at the State Department to do so well after she resigned, and even further after the deadline for a response. The actual deadline was Jan. 7, 2013.
The third major takeaway is that after Clinton was made aware this was an issue, she deleted upwards of 30,000 emails that she or her staff deemed to be private and not government-related. Since the full text of Gibbons’ response to Issa at this time is unavailable, it’s unclear what the official policy was – according to him – for preserving or archiving such records, or ensuring as Issa put it proper categorization of such messages.
At her widely panned press conference at the United Nations last month, Clinton herself claimed that it is a government official’s personal responsibility to determine what messages are worthy of keeping records of and which ones are not.
“In going through the emails, there were over 60,000 in total, sent and received. About half were work-related and went to the State Department and about half were personal that were not in any way related to my work,” she said in response to a question about that angle of the scandal. “I had no reason to save them, but that was my decision because the federal guidelines are clear and the State Department request was clear. For any government employee, it is that government employee’s responsibility to determine what’s personal and what’s work-related. I am very confident of the process that we conducted and the e-mails that were produced. And I feel like once the American public begins to see the e- mails, they will have an unprecedented insight into a high government official’s daily communications, which I think will be quite interesting.”
It’s absolutely clear at this time, however, that she deleted emails after receiving Issa’s inquiry.
In fact, in a document released in early March 2015 – in response to the widespread media scrutiny she was receiving – the “Office of Hillary Rodham Clinton” made clear the decisions about which emails to delete and which ones to keep was made after a 2014 correspondence with senior State Department officials, well after Issa’s letter.
“Following conversations with Department officials and in response to the Department’s October 28, 2014 letter to former Secretaries requesting assistance in meeting the Department’s record-keeping requirements, Secretary Clinton directed her attorneys to assist by identifying and preserving all emails that could potentially be federal records,” the Clinton document reads. “This entailed a multi-step process to provide printed copies of the Secretary’s work-related emails to the Department, erring on the side of including anything that might potentially be a federal record. As the State Department has said, Secretary Clinton was the first to respond to this letter.”
Kurt Bardella, a former senior adviser to Issa when he was chairman of the committee–who, in the interest of full disclosure, now serves as a communications aide for Breitbart News Network–but served with Issa at the time this letter was sent to Clinton, said there are more questions than answers that are coming from this development.
“The fact is in December of 2012, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was directly asked if she used a private e-mail account,” Bardella said. “Why did the State Department wait until after Secretary Clinton left office to respond to the Issa letter? Were Secretary Clinton’s efforts to deliberately conceal her official activities through use of her private e-mail prompted by then-Chairman Issa’s request? As is status-quo with the Clintons, there are far more questions than answers and it’s likely that these revelations of her secrecy are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Clinton has been oddly secretive in her first few days as a presidential candidate. In an interview with Breitbart News earlier on Tuesday, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus argued that Clinton’s campaign rollout has been deliberately underwhelming, and she is “hiding” because she is afraid of answering any real questions from press or voters about her email scandal.
“The reason why she didn’t give a speech is because she can’t avail herself to the media,” Priebus said. “She cannot get herself in a situation where she’s going to have to deal with a question about Benghazi or about the emails or about her speeches or about the Clinton Foundation or about her disastrous tenure as Secretary of State. She wants to be able to have a few days and a couple weeks of peace and change the subject from what’s been plaguing her and the only way she can do that is by hiding and that’s what she’s doing: Hiding.”
According to a new investigative report from CBS4, two TSA screeners have been fired from their jobs at Denver International Airport after one of them admitted to manipulating the system to allow one of them to grope the genitals of male passengers he found attractive. The alleged incidents occurred about a dozen times over the past year.
“He related that when a male he finds attractive comes to be screened by the scanning machine he will alert another TSA screener to indicate to the scanning computer that the party being screened is a female,” a law enforcement report reads. “When the screener does this, the scanning machine will indicate an anomaly in the genital area and this allows (the male TSA screener) to conduct a pat-down search of that area.”
The TSA first learned of the scheme last November, but did not take action until months later when a supervisor caught the employees in the act. When confronted, the female agent “admitted that she has done this for (the male TSA officer) at least 10 other times” and “knew that doing so would allow (the male TSA officer) to perform a pat down on a male passenger that (the male TSA screener) found attractive.”
“These alleged acts are egregious and intolerable,” a TSA spokesperson said in a statement. “TSA has removed the two officers from the agency. All allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated by the agency. And when substantiated, employees are held accountable.”
Notably, CBS requested surveillance video of the known groping incident for its report but was denied.
Pinal County, AZ Sheriff Paul Babeu (R) said that he cannot get access to the names of the nearly 500 criminal illegal immigrants released in his county on Tuesday’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto” on the Fox News Channel.
“30,000 this year, 36,000 the year prior, and these aren’t the run of the mill illegals. There’s 11 to 20 million illegals that are here in the United States. This is the group that everybody, even President Obama, said that are the worst of the worst actors, that everybody agreed need to be shipped out of our country back to their country of origin. There [were] 193 of them that were convicted of murder. 300-plus that were convicted of rape and sexual assault, and there [were] another 200 to 300 that were convicted of kidnapping [that were released in 2013]. So, these are the worst criminals in our society, and they were not returned to their country of origin because of what she [ICE Director Sarah Saldana] said and Jeh Johnson said, ‘well, their countries don’t want them back’” he stated.
Babeu added, “we have no clue where they’re at today… they released nearly 500 in my county alone… I have demanded not only in formal letter, through FOIA, and legally have even talked to Senator McCain. Senator McCain, who’s a powerful Senator, said, ‘Sheriff, I promise you, I’m going to get you these names.’ He can’t get me the names. Nobody will get me these names, and the reason why they will refuse to provide the names is then we have a list of all these illegals that our government – President Obama has released into our communities that are committing new crimes, that are committing murder, that are committing rape, that are committing aggravated assault, armed robbery, and then we can directly link them back to the president’s action of this unlawful mass prison break.”
Egypt is accusing Turkey of providing more than 10,000 Turkish passports to members of ISIS, the Islamic State, to facilitate travel of fighters across the region.
An Egyptian intelligence official who asked not to be named told WND his country delivered a report to the U.S. documenting the astonishing claim.
The official further charged that Istanbul is serving as the “headquarters” for ISIS planning.
“Turkey continues to allow free passage to Iraq and Syria to IS fighters,” the official added.
If the Turkish passport charge is true, it would present a worldwide ISIS travel threat.
Already, there have been major passport concerns regarding ISIS and its sympathizers.
Earlier this month, a French senate report showed about 47 percent of European jihadists known to have traveled to ISIS-held territory hold French passports.
Scores of British citizens are also known to have joined ISIS. Last month, nine British medical students reportedly travel`ed to Syria to work in hospitals in areas held by ISIS.
In a move that clearly is part of the terrorist group’s symbolic creation of a caliphate, ISIS militants themselves reportedly started issuing their own international ISIS passports.
There are concerns ISIS plans to expand beyond the Middle East to Europe.
In February, WND reported documents released by ISIS supporters and propagandists revealed ISIS is planning to use Libya as a “gateway” to Europe.
The documents, obtained by the Quilliam Foundation, a Britain-based think tank that focuses on counter-extremism, raised the possibility of storming southern European cities to cause “pandemonium” or closing international shipping lines in the Mediterranean Sea.
The purported ISIS documents, obtained and reviewed by WND, received widespread news coverage.
However, some of the more sensational possibilities described within the pages were largely overlooked.
The documents indicate ISIS views Libya as not just fertile ground for a headquarters but as a staging base to infiltrate Europe by boat along with the hundreds of migrants who daily attempt to flee to Italy.
One ISIS document recognized Libya has a “long coastline” that “looks upon the southern Crusader states, which can be reached with ease by even a rudimentary boat.”
The document notes “the number of ‘illegal immigration’ trips from this coast is massive, estimated to be as high as 500 people a day, as a low estimate.”
It states that “according to many [of these immigrants], it is easily possible to pass through Maritime Security Checkpoints and arrive in [European] cities.”
“If this was even partially exploited and developed strategically, pandemonium could be wrought in the southern Europe. It is even possible that there could be a closure of shipping lines because of the targeting of Crusader ships and tankers.”
The Quillium Foundation warns: “Therefore, the opportunities that lie in the exploitation of human trafficking rings make Libya unparalleled as a launching platform for attacking European states and shipping lines.”
The ISIS documents extensively discuss what they claim are massive caches of light, medium and heavy munitions in Libya. Jihadists are urged to make their way to Libya to help expand the caliphate.
“Not only will pressure on the land of the Caliphate in ash-Sham be relieved, but the territories of the Caliphate in ash-Sham, Iraq and Hijaz will be linked with those of their brothers in Libya and the Islamic Maghreb and the defeat of all regimes and tyrants in their way will be enabled.”
How real are ISIS’s claims of migrant boats flooding Europe?
In February, Italy reportedly rescued some 2,164 migrants coming from Libya on about a dozen boats. The incident took place the same day Italian coast guard members were reportedly threatened by four armed men who approached them by speedboat from the Libyan coast.
The U.N. refugee organization, UNHCR, estimates that at least 218,000 migrants from North Africa crossed the Mediterranean by boat last year, with some 3,500 dying on the way.
Italy’s defense minister, Roberta Pinotti, told the country’s Il Messaggero newspaper in February the potential for terrorists infiltrating Italy in boats carrying immigrants from Libya “could not be ruled out.”
Iran announced that China has agreed to assist in the building of five new nuclear plants across the country, according to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI).
Iran plans to enlist the Chinese in the construction of five new nuclear plants similar in size and scope to the plant currently operating near Bushehr.
Iran’s insistence on building more nuclear power plants has become a key concern for critics of the Obama administration’s diplomacy with the Islamic Republic, as these nuclear structures could potentially be used to assist its nuclear weapons program.
The Obama administration has said in the past that the construction of light water reactors such as the one in Bushehr does not violate existing United Nations restrictions or the interim accord struck with the country in 2013.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the AEOI, announced on Tuesday that Iran is pursuing at least five new nuclear power plants to produce nuclear fuel at an “industrial scale.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran plans to produce at least 190,000 SWUs (Separative Work Units) of nuclear fuel at the industrial scale, while we also think about 1,000,000 SWUs, which will be needed to fuel 5 power plants like Bushehr,” Kamalvandi was quoted as saying during an address Tuesday in Tehran at an event described by the state-controlled Fars News Agency as an “Analysis of Lausanne Statement.”
Russia has already helped to start construction of at least two plants in southern Iran, while the Chinese will assist with the rest, Kamalvandi revealed.
“This is the reason why we have inked an agreement with the Russians to construct two nuclear power plants for the generation of electricity while the Chinese will also enter this arena soon,” he was quoted as saying.
Touching on the contents of a recently agreed to framework nuclear deal with the United States, Kamalvandi said Tehran will retain the Fordow nuclear enrichment facility – a former military site – and operate more than 1,000 centrifuges there.
Nuclear research and development work also will continue and return to full capacity after around 10 years, he said.
In addition to the light water reactors, Iran plans to build “small nuclear power plants” around the Persian Gulf area for the reported purpose of desalinating water, Fars reported.
“The AEOI plans to build small power plants in the Southern parts of the country for desalination purposes. Construction of such power plants are on the agenda and will be materialized in the next few years,” Fars quoted Kamalvandi as saying.
When asked about Iranian efforts to build new nuclear reactors, the State Department has said that this type of work is still permissible under existing agreements.
“In general, the construction of light water nuclear reactors is not prohibited by U.N. Security Council resolutions, nor does it violate the [interim agreement,” a State Department official told the Washington Free Beacon in January.
“We have been clear in saying that the purpose of the negotiations with Iran is to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains exclusively for civilian, peaceful purposes,” the official said at the time. “The talks that we have been engaged in for months involve a specific set of issues relative to closing off all possible pathways to Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb. That remains our focus.”
Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser, said that years of diplomacy with Iran have nearly unraveled a sanctions regime that brought the Iranian economy to its knees.
“Obama’s partisans like to bash Republicans as anti-diplomacy and they vilify men like [former U.N. Ambassador] John Bolton,” Rubin said. “But it was John Bolton who crafted unanimous and near unanimous U.N. Security Council Resolutions to bring Iran to its knees, while it is the likes of Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry who have unraveled multilateral pressure and opened the floodgates both to Iranian enrichment and to adversaries like China and Russia to jump in with deals that make Iranian cheating even easier.”
“For all their rhetoric and fawning press, Obama and Kerry have confirmed themselves as the real JV team in the region,” Rubin said.