By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
Hillary Clinton’s reputation is taking repeated blows as the drip, drip, drip of email productions from her private email server draw attention to her many lies. The Obama administration has admitted that she did not, in fact, turn over all the necessary emails from her private mail server to the government. It also has released nearly 3,000 pages of emails implicating members of the Obama administration in their own lies.
As Vice President Joe Biden appears to be preparing to jump in the race for the Democratic nomination later this summer, questions are also emerging as to whether or not the Obama administration is throwing Hillary under the bus through these emails.
Each new batch of these emails expose additional lies made by the Obama administration and Mrs. Clinton, despite MSNBC, Newsweek, and other news organizations maintaining that there is little to be found. This is the same treatment that the Benghazi scandal has regularly received.
“…I hear it all the time from your previous guest and others, is that seven or eight previous congressional committees looked into Benghazi,” said chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on CBS’ Face the Nation on June 28. “Well, none of those other committees looked at a single one of her e-mails… So our committee has done things that none of those seven other committees were able to do.”
The Committee has also gained access to the documents from the Accountability Review Board investigation which failed to interview Secretary of State Clinton—documents which were not turned over to other members of Congress. It also recently received information related to Clinton aides Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills, as well as former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice.
As Accuracy in Media (AIM) asked when the Clinton email scandal initially broke, the key question is what did President Obama and Secretary Clinton “know, and when did they know it?” A recent set of emails obtained by Judicial Watch confirms that the White House coordinated with the State Department on the night of the attack to make Mrs. Clinton’s statement blaming it on a YouTube video the official U.S. government line.
But for the media, it’s old news and hardly worth a mention. Their tactic is, whenever possible, to repeat assertions by various administration supporters that the Benghazi investigation is a partisan witch hunt.
When the first set of emails was produced, the media dismissed those emails as revealing no relationship between Mrs. Clinton and the security situation in Libya or an order to stand down. That’s not surprising, since reporters made similar claims before they actually saw the emails.
The excuses offered by the media are further attempts to throw sand in the eyes of the public. These emails were first stored on a private email server under Mrs. Clinton’s control, then vetted by her advisors, and then partially redacted by a State Department with a vested interest in ensuring that Mrs. Clinton’s reputation, and its own, are preserved.
In other words, the State Department emails were Hillary Clinton’s and the Obama administration’s attempt at self-exoneration.
The media now complain that the mission of the Select Committee on Benghazi has become overbroad, wasteful, and doesn’t focus on the attack. Yet many in the media focused on the cost of this investigation, and Democrat accusations that it is wasteful and duplicative, even when the Committee was narrowly focusing on the attack.
“She said that the public record was complete,” noted Rep. Gowdy on CBS. “You will remember in her single press conference she said that she had turned over everything related to work to the Department of State. We know that that is false.”
As for the emails from Sidney Blumenthal being unsolicited, “We know that that was false,” he said. “So, so far, she also said that she had a single device for convenience,” he continued.
“So every explanation she’s offered so far is demonstrably false.”
It’s even worse than that. As Kimberly Strassel reported for The Wall Street Journal, we now “know that the State Department has now upgraded at least 25 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails to ‘classified’ status. State is suggesting this is no big deal, noting that it is ‘routine’ to upgrade material during the public-disclosure process. But that’s beside the point. This isn’t about after-the-fact disclosure. It’s about security at the time—whether Mrs. Clinton was sending and storing sensitive government information on a hackable private email system. Turns out, she was. For the record, it is a federal crime to ‘knowingly’ house classified information at an ‘unauthorized location.’”
In addition, Strassel stated that “The real bombshell news was the State Department’s admission that, in at least six instances, the Clinton team altered the emails before handing them over. Sentences or entire paragraphs—which, by the way, were work-related—were removed. State was able to confirm this because it could double-check against Mr. Blumenthal’s documents.” Strassel wonders, “But how many more of the 30,000 emails Mrs. Clinton provided have also been edited?”
Apparently Blumenthal, long time hatchet man for the Clintons, was not prepared to withhold documents from the Select Committee, and risk a contempt citation. Instead he chose, in effect, to throw Mrs. Clinton under the bus.
The Obama administration has now asserted executive privilege to withhold a “small number” of documents from the Select Committee, reports Byron York. The plot thickens.
“He sent me unsolicited emails, which I passed on in some instances, and I see that that’s just part of the give-and-take,” Mrs. Clinton told the press in May.
“I’m going to Paris tomorrow night and will meet w TNC [Transitional National Council] leaders so this additional info useful,” wrote Clinton to Blumenthal on August 30, 2011. “Let me know if you receive this,” she writes.
“This strains credulity based on what I know,” writes Clinton in another email. “Any other info about it?”
That particular April 2012 email exchange, in which Blumenthal says he will “seek more intel,” does not appear in the State Department’s documents. But an exchange between close Clinton aide Jacob Sullivan and Christopher Stevens using that same Blumenthal information does. Sullivan forwarded Stevens’ response to Hillary Clinton within 15 minutes.
Stevens was appointed Ambassador to Libya in late May of 2012. On July 6, 2012 the State Department’s Charlene Lamb told Regional Security Officer at Embassy Tripoli Eric Nordstrom “NO, I do not [I repeat] not want them to ask for the MSD [security] team to stay!”
That same day, Blumenthal sent Clinton another memo regarding the Libyan election. “Greetings from Kabul! And thanks for keeping this stuff coming!” she replied the next morning, on July 7. Within a couple of hours her aide, Sullivan, had again sent the memo to Ambassador Stevens, and Stevens provided his impressions of Blumenthal’s information promptly. Sullivan again sent Stevens’ communication on to Mrs. Clinton in under 20 minutes.
If these lines of communication were open through her aides, how much did Mrs. Clinton actually know about the security situation in Libya, and when did she know it?
Blumenthal received $10,000 a month from the Clinton Foundation at the same time that he provided his assistance to the Secretary of State, also serving as “an on-and-off paid consultant for Media Matters.”
One of his 2011 emails released by the State Department warns that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb might be inspired by the death of Osama bin Laden to conduct attacks on American and western targets using weapons they had diverted from the Libyan rebels.
Clinton forwarded the May 2, 2011 email from Blumenthal regarding al Qaeda to Sullivan with the words, “disturbing, if true.”
AQIM participated in the Benghazi attacks, according to the Senate. A Defense Intelligence Agency message dated September 12, 2012 indicates that the Benghazi attacks were planned ten or more days in advance by al Qaeda elements partially in revenge for a U.S. killing in Pakistan. As Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton received that message, yet continued to blame the YouTube video, as did others in the Obama administration.
As we have repeatedly argued, America already knows enough to demonstrate that there is, and continues to be, a widespread cover-up of the many aspects of the Benghazi scandal.
“The public record has already established that President Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, AFRICOM’s Carter Ham, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey were all told that the assault in Benghazi was a terrorist attack almost immediately after they began,” we reported in May. “Yet the President and his administration still continued to blame a YouTube video titled ‘The Innocence of Muslims.’”
Also, we reported, “the former Secretary of State’s aides became aware that this was a terrorist attack about a half an hour after the initial attack began on the Special Mission Compound…”
Any additional information the Select Committee finds on Benghazi, Blumenthal, or Clinton’s role in the scandal can only confirm the breadth and depth of the dereliction of duty that took place. Yet the media argue that this has somehow become a political circus because the Committee is exploring the background of someone informing Clinton’s Libya policy.
AIM’s articles, along with the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, have exposed how the administration blindly pushed for an intervention in Libya, switched sides in the War on Terror, and passed over an opportunity for a truce with Muammar Qaddafi. It defies reason to continue to report that broader administration actions had little to no influence on creating the climate and circumstances which led to the death of four Americans in Benghazi.