Yes, they are important. Here's why.
Hillary Clinton’s secret personal email system continued last week to prompt heavy news coverage but with scant scrutiny of the most sinister implications for the public. There are frightening national security intrigues and political backstabbing.
Today, we begin a series examining three such issues that are almost entirely overlooked, except occasionally in the alternative media that includes the Justice Integrity Project.
Some names like Benghazi, David Petraeus (shown below), and the Clinton Foundation are familiar to the public even if the hidden angles are not. Other topics have not yet reached their deserved prominence.
- Arms Smuggling: The Obama-Clinton-Petraeus 'Iran-Contra' Scandal: Today's Part I in the series below and here
- GOP Pre-Election 2012 Benghazi Plot With Petraeus? Hillary's Email, Part II here
- Conflict of Interest In Clinton Foundation Funding? Clinton Emails: Part III here.
Before examining those findings, first let’s summarize recent general developments that have been covered by the mass media.
Clinton's attorney David Kendall told the House Select Committee on Benghazi March 27 that Clinton's server for the personal email account she used as secretary of state no longer contains any emails. The New York Times reported the story here.
Clinton had devised a private email system to communicate with government and personal contacts in apparent violation of federal policy that officials must use government systems for work-related emails.
Clinton has said her emails to fellow government employees have always been available via their “.gov” addresses for appropriate purposes. Furthermore, she said her staff has examined all of her messages, and delivered to authorities the 55,000 pages relevant to government work culled from about 30,000 emails before deleting the rest of a total of about 60,000 emails. At a press conference at the United Nation's headquarters in New York City March 10 to defuse the issue, she said, as reported by the Huffington Post, 'I Thought It Would Be Easier' To Use One Email Address."
Critics have charged that her process was legally improper, violated Obama’s promise of transparency, and probably hid embarrassing information, including regarding fund-raising from foreign sources representing an at least implied conflict with her government duties. Republicans such as Rep. Trey Gowdy (SC), chair of the House Benghazi committee, have been in the forefront of demanding records and accusing her of scandal.
Her critics claim she used her personal system to hide:
1) State Department’s laxity in the 2012 deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three support personnel in Benghazi;
2) Steps she and her team have taken to leverage her State Department post into support for the Clinton Foundation and her prospective 2016 presidential run; and
3) Suppression of other emails that might prove embarrassing to her or former President Bill Clinton.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, shown in a file photo, has taken a lead in attacking the Obama administration via litigation and press releases. Fitton, whose watchdog group focuses on conservative themes, said earlier this month:
"The latest news that Hillary Clinton, while serving as secretary of state, conducted all of her official business on a private account may impact nearly a dozen of our Freedom of Information Act lawsuits now active in federal courts as well as dozens of pending FOIA requests. As with what happened when Judicial Watch forced the disclosure of the 'missing' IRS emails, I am convinced that these emails would never have been disclosed but for our FOIA lawsuits that broke open the Benghazi scandal and first exposed the scandal of her and Bill Clinton raising money illicitly while she was Secretary of State."
Judicial Watch describes itself as a conservative, non-partisan body. It has filed nearly 20 actions seeking information Benghazi and more recently Clinton's emails.
At a Judicial Watch panel March 31, he predicted "significant criminal liability for Mrs. Clinton" if an "honest" Justice Department investigation ever occurs.
Fellow-panelist Joseph E. diGenova, a Republican former prosecutor in multiple high-profile investigations, described previous congressional investigations of Benghazi by Congress as disgracefully deferential to the State Department and also described Clinton as apparently committing multiple offenses. "She took it upon herself and upon the advice of counsel, Cheryl Mills," diGenova said, "to destroy evidence."
Another panelist was Daniel J. Metcalfe, an adjunct law professor at American University who retired from the Justice Department after serving as the founding director there for its Office of Information and Privacy. He described himself as a liberal Democrat who would vote for Clinton if she were the party's 2016 nominee and adjunct professor of law but who nonetheless believe she apparently violated a number of standard practices for records management and disclosure.
Clinton and her defenders have noted that previous Republican secretaries of state are among those officials who used private email systems. Additionally, a federal court decision permitted former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to keep records he had removed from office.
Similarly, former Bush White House Senior Advisor Karl Rove (shown below) failed to comply with a congressional subpoena in 2009 demanding his White House emails. He explained that many of his emails had been deleted by his private service. He suffered no reprisal from either the Democrat-controlled Congress or Justice Department. Furthermore, Clinton's defenders argue that State Department and three previous GOP-controlled congressional committee have failed to find scandal on her part regarding Benghazi.
These accusations from Judicial Watch and responses by Clinton defenders such as the liberal advocacy group Media Matters, will surely percolate throughout the 2016 presidential campaign if Clinton is a candidate, much like accusations regarding Benghazi have continued after Republicans first raised allegations against the Obama administration during the 2012 election campaign.
Gowdy's committee has obtained approximately 30,000 of the emails from Clinton and government sources. The committee and others are searching for other emails, which Clinton estimates at about the same number of other emails her staff deleted on the grounds they were personal communications. Experts
So far, relatively little is publicly known about the contents of sensitive emails except for those disclosed by a Romanian hacker, Marcel-Lehel Lazar. He seized and publicized under the name "Guccifer" 19 political intelligence memos totaling 66 pages from former 1990s Clinton White House aide Sidney Blumenthal to Clinton between August 2012 and early February 2013. Lazar is now serving a seven-year prison term in Romania for his crimes in violating the privacy of Blumenthal's email system. Lazar also illegally hacked emails from or about other U.S. officials, including former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Stolen Blumenthal correspondence with Clinton is available on Cryptome, a website for sensitive and often hacked documents. The Blumenthal-Clinton material there offers a revealing look into high-level intrigue that mainstream reporters avoid for the most part, excerpt to emphasize familiar themes, such as Republican vs. Democrat bickering.
We connect the dots below on several of these important matters thanks in significant part to Wayne Madsen, an author, commentator and former Navy intelligence officer shown in a file photo at left. He broke several major story angles referenced below in his 127-page 2012 book, L’Affaire Petraeus: The Benghazi Stand-down and the Plot to "Carterize' Obama, and on his subscription-blog WMR, which is short for “The Wayne Madsen Report.”
Madsen has published oped columns on conventional political topics that have appeared well over two hundred times in mainstream newspapers the past three years by his count. But, as demonstrated below, he is also a controversial writer on cutting-edge investigative topics. His allegations have at times infuriated the Bush and Obama White Houses, Democrats and Republicans, and many important U.S. and foreign interest groups, as reported here.
Nonetheless, the purloined Blumenthal-Clinton emails, particularly one from Blumenthal to Clinton on Nov. 12, 2012, have helped vindicate in significant part his explosive report earlier that week in 2012 on a Petraeus role involving Benghazi. Beginning in 2013, the Justice Integrity Project Project independently re-reported, confirmed and amplified the gist of Madsen's report on Petraeus, as indicated below and by such links as Critics Condemn Petraeus Chronology, Drone Killing, Detention Tactics.
Arms Smuggling: The Obama-Clinton-Petraeus 'Iran-Contra' Scandal
Republicans have relentlessly investigated Benghazi, a scandal that encompasses the terrorist killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, portrayed below, along with staffer Sean Smith, and two contractors and would-be rescuers, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty. Both of the latter were ex-Navy SEALs who were working as security contractors and were part of an eight-man rescue team arriving from Benghazi from Tripoli.
The killings began with a rocket attack by Islamist radicals on Sept. 11 on a small, thinly protected consulate in Benghazi that Stevens had visited. The attack and rescue effort spread in the early morning hours the next day to a supposedly secret "safe house" for U.S. personnel, where the two contractors died.
The attack shortly before the 2012 federal elections energized Republicans, who used the tragedy to portray the Obama administration's foreign policy as weak and otherwise failing. Republicans this year created in the new Congress, for example, the Select Committee on Benghazi.
The Republicans' continued congressional investigation feeds the ongoing media attacks on Clinton and other Democrats. A major claim is that authorities could have done more to prevent the attacks, rescue the victims, or admit responsibility more decisively before the 2012 elections.
But the critics have failed to provide conclusive evidence of misconduct by Clinton in particular, especially regarding the deaths. Former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Robert Gates, a Republican who has also served in the Democratic Obama and Carter administrations, is among those who have said it was impossible for the United States to have mounted a successful rescue operation in the time that was available.
Gates is shown at bottom right next to Clinton in the iconic photo the White House released in 2011, saying it showed top White House officials watching the successful killing of Osama bin Laden in a raid at a Pakistani villa near a government training facility there. Among others portrayed, in counterclockwise fashion, are (standing at right): Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan (now CIA director), and (moving to the far left) President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Many details regarding the raid and photo remain unexplained and doubtless unasked, at least frequently, given the media deference to the Executive Branch and intelligence agencies these days.
Regarding Benghazi, we do know the CIA had a far heavier presence in the locale than the State Department.
The agency and its director Petraeus also had a large role in reporting the factual background afterward to the administration and ultimately to the public via U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. During the then-close presidential election race between Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney, Rice and others in the administration initially minimized terror-related themes adverse to Obama's re-election. For their remarks, they drew on multiple sources, including CIA inputs from Petraeus and his CIA colleagues.
Democrats have conceded little blame at their high levels aside from mismanagement of Rice's comments that drew on joint White House, State Department and CIA preparation. The security cutbacks, poorly managed though they were, were in part to meet overall budget cuts that Congress mandated for State Department security.
However, the full story about Benghazi, as in several other matters described below, involves covert intelligence and other secret deal-making that neither party wants disclosed to the public.
Madsen reported the following in his column during the fall of 2012 and afterwards in his book, L'Affaire Petraeus. Here is a key part of his columns and book:
Contrary to the Obama administration's public statements, the administration was secretly smuggling Libyan arms and fighters to help rebels in Syria overthrow the government of President Bashar Al-Assad. Assad is an Alawite from a sect related to the Shia. He is shown in a file photo with his wife Asma, who has a Sunni background and who was educated in part in the United Kingdom.
The CIA controlled the operation with the assistance of the Clinton State Department and other agencies. The arms were part of the loot following the U.S.-orchestrated overthrow of Libya's government.
The fighters included jihadists drawn from Libya and elsewhere whom the United States and its allies wanted to rebrand falsely as Syrians seeking freedom from the longstanding autocracy of Assad, a British-educated eye doctor who succeeded his father in a dictatorship ratified with controlled elections.
Benghazi, located in Libya's oil-rich east, was a transit point for arms and fighters headed to Syria for the rebellion fostered secretly by the United States, Turkey and other allies that included the Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The major smuggling route for the arms and fighters was by sea to Turkey and then into northern Syria. Stevens, the U.S. ambassador, seldom visited Benghazi but met a Turkish representative in a flimsily secured U.S. compound the day before a surprise attack by radicals killed him and three staff and would-be rescuers on Sept. 11, 2012. A CIA outpost approximately a mile away could not provide rescue.
The Justice Integrity Project has independently confirmed key details in the account above, reported them on this site, as here Critics Condemn Petraeus Chronology, Drone Killing, Detention Tactics. Also, they are included in this editor's 2013 book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. Several others in the alternative media have also reported these matters, but very few in the mainstream media have done so.
Obvious difficulties arise for anyone in the media in confirming highly secret matters whose disclosure might bring imprisonment to sources under the Obama administration's harsh crackdown on whistleblowers and those journalists who report on such matters.
These news angles bring special difficulties for the establishment media, whose reporters depend on access to powerful government officials. Even more important, the reporters must be well regarded by their own top news managers and outlet owners, who sometimes operate with political and ideological agendas hidden from the public on issues of this magnitude. That should not surprise anyone. The mass media, capital intensive and often regulated as it is, has long been a part of the nation's top power structure for more than a century.
The actions reported above show that much of the congressional debate over how much to arm U.S.-backed Syrian rebels has avoided a fundamental fact: The Obama administration has already been arming and training rebels for years. The plan arguably helped cause the Benghazi deaths of U.S. personnel. The initiatives also have amounted to a long-running deception of the public by the Obama administration, including Clinton, Petraeus and their successors.
The scandal is akin to that of the criminal Iran-Contra arms running in the late 1980s under the Reagan Administration whereby covert national security executives smuggling arms to Contra rebels in Central American in violation of public announcements and a clear-cut law passed by Congress.
Several differences exist, however, including today's much more vague legal environment. Bipartisan support in Congress for regime change in Syria is more evident than the clear-cut congressional ban in the 1980s against violating the arms trading in Iran-Contra. Another difference is a news media far more deferential to the military and intelligence agencies.
That is the view of, among others, Robert Parry, who while working for the Associated Press and Newsweek was the main reporter who broke the Iran-Contra scandal. Parry (shown in a file photo) also covered the criminal prosecutions that President George H.W. Bush, regarded as the main proponent of the program as Reagan's vice president, largely ended with pardons. Parry, who left the mainstream media to found an alternative web-based platform called Consortium News and write books, has said he encountered major resistance on his stories and believes news outlet owners now kowtow excessively to claims of "national security."
In sum, knowledgeable Democrats do not to want reveal the smuggling angle because it would embarrass Obama, Clinton, and others.
Republicans similarly in the know -- with a few rare exceptions such as Frank Wolf, the just-retired longtime Congressman from the Northern Virginia district surrounding Langley -- prefer to keep the story out of the news. Focusing on the Democratic scandal would be counterproductive for Republicans and their militaristic backers. Here's why: Exposure would tends to show that Obama, Clinton and their teams were already waging in secret the kinds of aggressive military tactics that Republicans like Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ), shown at right, repeatedly criticizes Democrats for not undertaking.
Additionally, too much scrutiny would bring into sharper focus the role of the CIA and its then-director Petraeus, who was then as now the number one hero of the powerful neo-conservative movement that dominates United State foreign affairs in both parties, with the major exceptions of flare-ups with the White House over policies involving Iran, Syria and Israel.
Serious as the deceptions were in the scenario portrayed above, they were not the only secrets involving Petraeus that the Clinton emails could reveal, as indicated in the second part of this series.
Related News Coverage Most Relevant To Part I Of This Series
Clinton Email Scandal: General
Update: National Press Club, Clinton's use of personal email violated public record rules, panel says, Jennifer Ejim, April 9, 2015. The use of a personal email account by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while “stunning,” is just one example of high-level public officials violating public record rules, Patrice McDermott, director of OpenTheGovernment.org said Thursday at National Press Club Newsmaker. McDermott, one of four panelists who discussed issues arising from Clinton's use of a private server for email communications during her tenure as Secretary of State, said such practices extended to every post-Internet administration and encompassed electronic records as well as email. Clinton's use of the private server to conduct official government business was inconsist with longstanding policies set forth by the Federal Records Act, Jason Baron, co-chair of the Information Governance Initiative, said. The law requires agencies to have adequate recordkeeping controls to ensure “appropriate documentation of the activities of the agency," Baron said.
Huffington Post, Hillary Clinton: 'I Thought It Would Be Easier' To Use One Email Address, Paige Lavender and Sam Stein, March 10, 2015. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) addressed the controversy over her use of a private email address while at the State Department, saying she thought it would be easier to use one email address. "I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two. Looking back, it would have been better if I'd simply used a second account and carried a second phone," Clinton said at a press conference on Tuesday. "I thought using one device would be simpler, and obviously, it hasn't worked out that way," Clinton added. Clinton also said she didn't see an issue with the private email because she was emailing State Department employees with government email addresses. She said the private server on which she was sending emails was built with security protections and would remain private despite calls for it to be turned over.
WMR, Was Clinton's personal email system courtesy of Soros's techies? Wayne Madsen, March 5, 2015 (Subscription only, excerpted here with permission). There is no question that Hillary Clinton and George Soros are very close politically and socially. However, did Mrs. Clinton's tight relationship with Soros result in the multi-billionaire mogul instructing his army of tech-savvy social networking gurus to install the private e-mail server at the Clinton home in Chappaqua, New York?
Gawker in cooperation with Pro Publica, Leaked Private Emails Reveal Ex-Clinton Aide's Secret Spy Network, Jeff Gerth and Sam Biddle, March 27, 2015. The dispatches from Blumenthal to Clinton's private email address were posted online after Blumenthal's account was hacked in 2013 by Romanian hacker Marcel-Lehel Lazar, who went by the name Guccifer. Lazar also broke into accounts belonging to George W. Bush's sister, Colin Powell, and others. He's now serving a seven-year sentence in his home country and was charged in a U.S. indictment last year. Blumenthal, a New Yorker staff writer in the 1990s, became a top aide to President Bill Clinton and worked closely with Hillary Clinton during the fallout from Whitewater investigation into the Clinton family. She tried to hire him when she joined President Obama's cabinet in 2009, but White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reportedly nixed the idea on the grounds Blumenthal was a divisive figure whose attacks on Obama during the Democratic primary had poisoned his relationship with the new administration.
FireDogLake, More on Hillary Clinton’s Use of Personal Email Account at State Department, Peter Van Buren, March 3, 2015. 2016 just got a lot more interesting with the revelation that as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton conducted all official business using a personal email account on her own web domain. Here’s what happened, and why it matters. A lot. As Secretary of State, Clinton was required to maintain her emails as official records. She did not. It also matters because Clinton’s email actions were deliberate, and included an effort to hide what she was doing.
Judicial Watch, Obama Lawyers Afraid to Go to Court on Email Scandal, Tom Fitton (shown in file photo), March 27, 2015. The Obama administration's fraud, misconduct and misrepresentation on the Hillary Clinton email scandal continues in federal court. Crafty, corrupt politicians realize that transparency and accountability go hand-in-hand. So that is why Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (with the federal bureaucracies at their beck and call) have a personal and political interest in keeping their records away from the American people - even if it means violating the federal transparency law: the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). So it will not surprise you to learn that Hillary Clinton's former colleagues at the Obama State Department (with the help of taxpayer-funded lawyers in the Justice Department) continue to mislead the court and oppose Judicial Watch's work to obtain emails and other documents sent by Hillary Clinton and her aides using secret email accounts.
HotAir.com, Trouble: Liberals that attacked Republicans for their email scandals cannot defend Hillary, Noah Rothman, March 3, 2015. You just know that the usual suspects are rushing to posit that the Federal Records Act is an outmoded and onerous law that should have been repealed long ago. For now, however, the reaction of the political media to the revelation that Hillary Clinton violated the law and used a private email exclusively while she served as secretary of state has been refreshingly free of excuse making. In combination with the Clinton Foundation’s scandalous fundraising practices and ethical violations, the Clinton family’s reputation as scandal-prone and opaque has been well and fully resurrected.
Arms Smuggling: The Obama-Clinton-Petraeus Iran-Contra Scandal
Justice Integrity Project, Learn the Truth About Benghazi Before Syria Vote! Andrew Kreig, Sept. 4, 2013. The public deserves to know the facts about the Benghazi massacre in 2012 before approving the bombing of Syria sought by President Obama. persistent reports suggest the CIA was using Benghazi last year as a base to smuggle arms and foreign fighters to overthrow Syria’s government. Was Benghazi President Obama’s version of the Iran-contra scandal?
Justice Integrity Project, Brennan, Hagel, Obama, Petraeus, and Benghazi Back In the Line of Fire, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 10, 2013. A Republican senator threatened Sunday to try to block in an unprecedented manner two of President Obama's top national security opponents over administration secrecy regarding the Benghazi massacre of four Americans in September. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, left, said he would the nominations of John Brennan as CIA director and Chuck Hagel as defense secretary unless the Obama administration gives him more information on the president's reaction to the Sept. 11 attack on U.S. outposts in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Meanwhile, revelations continue regarding key figures in the administration, including Brennan, former CIA Director David Petraeus and their secret activities.