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.
A House panel Tuesday formally requested Hillary Clinton to testify about the private server and email account she used while serving as secretary of state.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, sent a request to Clinton’s personal attorney, David E. Kendall, requesting that Clinton appear before the committee no later than May 1 for a transcribed interview about the server and email.
The request comes after Kendall told Gowdy that the server had been wiped clean and that it would be impossible to recover the 30,000 emails Clinton deleted last year.
Gowdy, in his request to Kendall, also asked Clinton to “reconsider” her refusal to turn over the server to a neutral third party, which he called “highly unusual, if not unprecedented.”
Clinton said she only deleted personal emails and turned over every work-related message to the State Department, which is reviewing the data to filter out classified information.
“Because of the Secretary’s unique arrangement with herself as it relates to public records during and after her tenure as Secretary of State.” Gowdy wrote, “this Committee is left with no alternative but to request Secretary Clinton appear before this Committee for a transcribed interview to better understand decisions the Secretary made relevant to the creation, maintenance, retention, and ultimately deletion of public records.”
In Tuesday’s letter, Gowdy warned that Clinton’s decision not to turn over the server, “the House of Representatives as a whole will need to consider its next steps.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, of Maryland, who serves as the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner that Gowdy’s depiction of Clinton is inaccurate because Clinton has always been willing to talk to the panel under oath.
“Secretary Clinton agreed to testify months ago – in public and under oath – so the Select Committee’s claim that it has no choice but to subject her to a private staff interview is inaccurate,” Cummings said. “Rather than drag out this political charade into 2016 and selectively leak portions of a closed-door interview, the Committee should schedule the public hearing, make her records public and re-focus its efforts on the attacks in Benghazi.”
The House has the power to subpoena the server, but neither Gowdy nor House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will say whether it will use that authority. Boehner has demanded Clinton turn over the server.
Gowdy said he wants a neutral party to examine the deleted emails to find out of there is any information related to the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The House panel wants to examine the State Department’s role before, during and after the attack.
Gowdy noted in the letter that even though Clinton said she deleted the emails, it is “technically possible,” to retrieve them.
Hillary Clinton’s top aides used their personal email accounts to correspond with her about the attack in Benghazi while she was Secretary of State, the New York Times reported Monday.
That detail comes after Clinton, earlier this month, held a news conference to address questions about her use of her personal email account to conduct official business while she was in office. During that event, she said “vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.”
Critics said the likely presidential contender’s use of her personal email account may prevent official records from becoming public. Clinton’s email was run from its own server out of her New York state home, and she has said that she deleted thousands of emails she deemed personal.
About 300 emails have been turned over to the Congressional committee investigating the Benghazi attack, the New York Times reported. Some of those emails, according to people who saw them and described them to the Times, showed Clinton and her staff reacting as the Obama administration’s explanation of what happened in Benghazi changed from a “spontaneous” attack – as then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice called it – to a planned act of terrorism.
Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s foreign policy adviser, kept her updated on the developments, the Times reported:
Two weeks after that first email assessing Ms. Rice’s appearance, Mr. Sullivan sent Mrs. Clinton a very different email. This time, he appeared to reassure the secretary of state that she had avoided the problems Ms. Rice was confronting. He told Mrs. Clinton that he had reviewed her public remarks since the attack and that she had avoided the language that had landed Ms. Rice in trouble.
“You never said ‘spontaneous’ or characterized their motivations,” Mr. Sullivan wrote.
Hilarious, so she’s not responsible for what her effective understudy, Susan Rice did in her place, in their view. That she didn’t answer questions on the Sunday shows because she was “too tired”.
Actually, Mr. Sullivan, Hillary did characterize the motivation.
About 10:00 p.m.: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issues a statement confirming that one State official was killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Her statement, which MSNBC posted at 10:32 p.m., made reference to the anti-Muslim video.
Clinton: Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.
Subsequently, over the next few days, she continued to refer to the video.
When meeting the bodies of the dead with the family, she lied to the families, saying that the government was going to “arrest the man behind the video” which, of course, they went on to do.
The group Veterans for a Strong America plans to sue the State Department over a Freedom of Information Action request it filed for Hillary Clinton’s emails and phone logs from the days before and after the attack at Benghazi.
Joel Arends, the group’s chairman and founder, has brought on Mark Zaid, an attorney who specializes in national security and FOIA litigation cases, to handle the lawsuit.
Arends filed a FOIA request in July 2014 for Clinton’s emails and phone logs for around the time of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
“We didn’t embark on a fishing expedition,” Arends told The Daily Caller. “All that we want are the records from the night before and the day after [Benghazi].”
Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed during that attack.
Arends said his group filed the FOIA request to obtain information to use in a book “What Difference Does It Make?” The title is borrowed from a question Clinton asked during a January 2013 Senate hearing on Benghazi.
Arends set out to write the book for veterans to find out “what it would mean to them if they knew their government or their chain of command was not going to come to their aid or assistance when there’s resources or assets available, similar to what happened in Benghazi.”
“We want to know who she was talking to, what kind of command and control she had, what kind of situational awareness she had,” Arends told TheDC.
Finding out how Clinton immediately reacted to news of the Benghazi is crucial given Clinton’s likely presidential bid, Arends asserted.
“It’s fair game to know what kind of commander-in-chief she’s going to be.”
“Was she talking to President Clinton? Was she talking to a PR crisis team? Because if she making those kind of phone calls it means that that was time wasted or time that she could have been talking to the State Department crisis communications team.”
Clinton turned over 55,000 emails from her personal email account to the State Department in December. Around 300 of those were given to a House committee investigating the Benghazi attack.
That committee, headed by South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, has subpoenaed Clinton’s emails.
Arends said that like everyone at the time, when he filed his FOIA request he had no idea Clinton exclusively sent private emails that were routed through a private server she had set up in her Chappaqua, N.Y. home.
In light of that revelation, “the most prudent thing to do is to seize that server so that we can make sure that we’re getting all of the documents,” Arends said.
Getting control of that server is crucial because the emails Clinton has turned over to State so far were selected by her and her staff.
“It shouldn’t be up to her staff, given the lack of credibility that they have, to determine what gets turned over and what doesn’t,” Arends said.
Zaid, whose most famous case was a successful lawsuit against the Libyan government on behalf of the families killed in the Pan Am 103 flight over Lockerbie, said that the FOIA lawsuit could force a court to confront “grey areas” regarding how federal agencies manage officials’ records.
“The State Department, if they decline to search for telephone records that might reveal what the Secretary did on certain days because she was on her home phone, that explanation may set off a chain reaction elsewhere to Trey Gowdy’s special committee where he subpoenas the phone records,” Zaid told TheDC.
“If we go to court we can certainly dispute what constitutes an agency record,” he added.
With the lawsuit, Veterans for a Strong America joins the government watchdog Judicial Watch and The Associated Press in challenging the State Department over its handling of FOIA request for Clinton documents.