Newly released emails raise new questions about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi

Hillary Clinton speaks in Chicago on Wednesday. (AP Photo / M. Spencer Green)

Hillary Clinton speaks in Chicago on Wednesday. (AP Photo / M. Spencer Green)

Until now, Hillary Clinton has been able to skate past most questions about Benghazi. She could acknowledge the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on an American facility in the Libyan city, which left a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans dead, was a tragedy but deny it was anything more sinister than that. She could point to a House report — by a GOP-led committee — that found the military and CIA acted appropriately concerning the attack. She could shrug off her early insistence that the attack was a spontaneous reaction to an obscure YouTube video that disparaged Muslims. You know the line: “What difference at this point does it make?”

Her free pass may be going away.

The unveiling of the mosaic that is Clinton’s time at State has been a slow, piecemeal endeavor, thanks in largest part to her exclusive use of a personal email account on a “homebrew” server for official business, in violation of department rules. But some of the emails from her tenure are gradually coming to light, and they represent small bits of fact that, taken together, give us a fuller picture — and some new, pertinent questions for Clinton to answer, specifically about Benghazi.

We have learned from the New York Times that, during her time at State — and in defiance of a directive from the president — Clinton kept longtime family associate Sidney Blumenthal as an adviser. Oh, Clinton was in technical compliance with the president’s order that Blumenthal not be employed by State; instead, the Times reports, he worked for the Clinton Foundation and two organizations built by Clinton loyalists and quite active in preparing the ground for her 2016 campaign: Media Matters and American Bridge. It all depends on what the meaning of “hire” is.

Blumenthal also worked for others, including people who tried, unsuccessfully, to win contracts from the new transitional government in Libya after the toppling of Moammar Gadhafi. In 2011 and 2012, again according to the Times, Blumenthal sent Clinton a series of memos about what was happening in Libya, sometimes omitting that the actors were potential business partners of his. Clinton would forward them on to a top deputy, Jake Sullivan, who sometimes would forward them on to other State employees but omit that the information was coming from Blumenthal. (Last month, Sullivan was named one of three senior policy advisers for the Clinton campaign.)

One of the memos Blumenthal sent Clinton was on Sept. 12, 2012, the day after the attack in Benghazi. In it, Blumenthal relayed the belief of a “senior (Libyan) security officer” that the attacks were conducted by “demonstrators” and “mobs” and were “inspired by what many devout Libyan (sic) viewed as a sacrilegious internet video on the prophet Mohammed originating in America.”

As it happens, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency also issued a memo that day about the attack which was sent to Clinton, among other top administration officials. That memo, released this week by an organization called Judicial Watch that filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain it and other related documents, described the event as a terrorist attack 10 days in the making. The motivation? To avenge the death of an al-Qaida leader in Pakistan and “in memorial of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings.” The goal? “To kill as many Americans as possible.” If there is a reference in the memo to the “sacrilegious internet video,” it has been redacted.

This raises a pertinent question: Why did Clinton trust Blumenthal’s word over the DIA’s?

Considering his memo as one source of information, even circulating it as an alternative view, isn’t necessarily unacceptable. But Clinton immediately made public statements linking the attack to the video. So it would appear she chose to believe Blumenthal, the adviser she wasn’t even supposed to hire, over America’s own intelligence agents.

Now, it’s also possible Clinton simply saw Blumenthal’s narrative as politically convenient. Just one day later, on Sept. 13, 2012, Blumenthal sent another memo that was more in line with the DIA’s explanation. Yet, the day after that, according to the father of Tyrone Woods, one of the Americans killed in Benghazi, Clinton told him the administration would “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.”

Why continue with a narrative that had already been debunked not only by her own government but by her off-the-books adviser? The Times has a succinct explanation:

“That information (about a planned attack by terrorists) contradicted the Obama administration’s narrative at the time about what had spawned the attacks. Republicans have said the administration misled the country about the attacks because it did not want to undermine the notion that President Obama, who was up for re-election, was winning the war on terrorism.”

That’s obviously true, but it’s not really a good answer to the questions about Blumenthal — who, for good measure, by October was offering advice about how to help shield Obama from those Republican allegations.

The revelations about Blumenthal also fit into the emerging picture of the Clinton Foundation as a nexus of political and business interests more than a charity. Have an old hand the new boss won’t let you hire? Stash him at the foundation. We already knew donations came from businesses with interests pending before the State Department, recipients of State Department awards, and foreign governments. So did speaking fees for Bill Clinton. Did Blumenthal play any kind of role as a facilitator of these cash flows? If so, might his memos to Clinton about them have been among the thousands of emails she deemed “personal” and decided to destroy?

***

The intermingling of personal/business matters with official duties. The disregard for rules. The questionable judgment of which sources to trust in grave matters. The apparently conscious decision to embrace narratives of political convenience that had already been discredited. This is the gradually fuller picture we are getting of Hillary Clinton in public office. It rings familiar to those of us who remember her husband’s presidency, but these are choices she has made all on her own. They are choices that deserve to be front and center as Americans weigh whether to put her in the White House herself.

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87 comments
MarkVV
MarkVV

Even now there is no definitive answer regarding the role played by the “sacrilegious internet video” in the attack on the US facilities in Benghazi, and the best one can conclude is that the militants most likely took advantage of it as a cover for their planned attacks. But that has little to do with the utter idiocy of the charges the Republicans keep making. NYT: “Republicans have said the administration misled the country about the attacks because it did not want to undermine the notion that President Obama, who was up for re-election, was winning the war on terrorism.”

Kyle: “That’s obviously true.”

Stated as fact, without a shred of evidence. So let’s examine the “logic” of that accusation. In the days after the events the White House, Secretary Clinton, they all are receiving contradictory interpretations of the events. (A big deal is made of the conclusion, in the immediate aftermath of the event, made by the DIA. Apparently, the intelligence sources are now to be considered completely reliable in their assessment, in spite of the known history.) If the Administration believed that DIA were right, they must have been aware that the interpretation of a terrorist action rather than religiously inspired one would be revealed very soon. This was first half of September 2012, almost two months before the election. And they would intentionally claim something, for political reasons, that they knew/believed would soon be shown to be false, and thus backfire? Utter idiocy.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@MarkVV

And they would intentionally claim something, for political reasons, that they knew/believed would soon be shown to be false, and thus backfire? Utter idiocy.

That's what has never, ever, made any sense to me.

and furthermore--what kind of lame diabolical plot would that be, anyway? How would it help the Administration in any way to have the violence instigated as originally assumed?

I've had a few fumble and stumble as they tried to explain this to me, but have never heard a satisfactory answer.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Visual_Cortex @MarkVV Seriously? This explanation is easy as pie.

It was just under two months to the election. Obama was essentially running on "GM is alive and bin Laden is dead" -- i.e., the economy has been saved and the war has been won -- and it was the latter part that most people believed more strongly.

A spontaneous uprising about a video the government had nothing to do with is tough to pin on your anti-terrorism efforts. A planned operation by an al-Qaida affiliate that was filling the vacuum in a country whose leader you'd helped depose is a lot harder to explain away. That's even more true if you immediately pounce on the former explanation, as the administration did, and don't want to be seen backtracking on that.

Always keep in mind: Politicians, regardless of stripe, don't think like you, me or most other normal people.

And if you think the "soon be shown to be false" part would dissuade them, just look at the news pages on a weekly basis. There is bound to be a story about something, whether big or small, some politician thought he could keep hidden. In this case, all they needed was two months.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Visual_Cortex @MarkVV 

One more time, to me the important part is the following: The Republican charge that the Administration had intentionally misled the country about the attacks. The important word is “intentionally,” with a political justification about election. That presumes that those Administration officials KNEW the truth, and intentionally told a falsehood. But all the evidence shows that there were different opinions in a short period after the attacks. Even if those principals chose a version that was more favorable for them politically, the charge of intentional misleading the country is false. It is just another of the many attacks, in which the Republicans, without evidence, make up their interpretations of events and pretend that those must be true. And it is unthinkable that the savvy political machine of the Administration intentionally chose what they knew was wrong explanation, which would become known just in time to work against them in the election.

No wonder that gullible people, who are inclined towards anything unfavorable to the Democrats, make statements like Dusty has about Mrs. Clinton, “she is usually as guilty as sin,” without bothering to have any facts.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Visual_Cortex "and that's where you're wrong"

Kind of hard to prove the negative ...

No, the deaths of four Americans weren't "going to look good no matter the cause." (Of course, it's also kind of hard to imagine four Americans dying like that from a spontaneous protest.) But I don't think the reaction would have been nearly the same.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Kyle_Wingfield @Visual_Cortex @MarkVV


A spontaneous uprising about a video the government had nothing to do with is tough to pin on your anti-terrorism efforts

and that's where you're wrong. It would just be another club that the right could use to show that the Middle East was fundamentally unstable, to the point where some inflammatory video would set off this kind of violence.

It wasn't going to look good no matter the cause. And to imagine that some conspiracy existed to play up a fake story, in hopes of looking slightly-less-bad, is just silly.

And it gets no less silly with repetition.

JKLtwo
JKLtwo

Bill was a great liar and could charm is way out of anything.  Hillary has the charisma of a piece of lawn furniture.  It looks like their goal is to just run ads from now until the election and have her speak as less as possible aka Joe Biden.

Hillary 2016:  Because you're dumb enough!

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Although I rarely agreed with Dennis Kucinich's political philosophy, I always admired his sincerity. This most recent revelation regarding Blumenthal makes me wonder just how complicit Hillary was in the attack on our embassy in Benghazi. And Obama? Was he just gullible or what? Exclusive: Secret tapes undermine Hillary Clinton on Libyan war

Joint Chiefs, key lawmaker held own talks with Moammar Gadhafi regime

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/28/hillary-clinton-undercut-on-libya-war-by-pentagon-/
Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. It appears as though Hillary Clinton has no integrity, and HOPEFULLY, no success in becoming president.Enough is enough! 

Eustis
Eustis

" So it would appear she chose to believe Blumenthal, the adviser she wasn’t even supposed to hire, over America’s own intelligence agents."


Maybe she was leery of our Intelligence "Experts" considering how they blew the WMD situation. Even then there were many voices saying there was no good evidence of a program justifying war.

EliasDenny
EliasDenny

Don't you wish the gop could make something stick on the Clintons.

lvg
lvg

"""Sources at the State Department say this context explains why there was so much debate over those talking points. Essentially, they say, the State Department felt it was being blamed for bungling what it saw as largely a CIA operation in Benghazi.

Current and former U.S. government officials tell CNN that then-CIA director David Petraeus and others in the CIA initially assessed the attack to have been related to protests against an anti-Muslim video produced in the United States.

They say Petraeus may have been reluctant to conclude it was a planned attack because that would have been acknowledging an intelligence failure."""


http://thelead.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/15/analysis-cia-role-in-benghazi-underreported/

MarkVV
MarkVV

I have already commented about mudslinging and accusations without evidence against Mrs. Clinton on the national scene, and here is a prime example on this blog

Dusty2: “She is usually as guilty as sin but makes her way out of it.”
In a different setting it would be slanderous or libelous, but here people like Dusty see no obstacle and have no decency to resist the impulse to make such an accusation without having any evidence supporting it.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

The questions might be new but the answer is the same as it always is with the Clintons. Corrupt, lying, self-absorbed trash.

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

Bill was smart enough not to get caught, this is the dumb one here.

MarkVV
MarkVV

With the popularity of Mrs. Clinton, and an unattractive bunch of Republican wannabes, the Republican mudslinging machinery is in full swing. With no evidence of wrongdoing on Mrs. Clinton part, it is a campaign of innuendo and insinuation. And they get big help from journalists, whose dictum is “if I am not allowed to see something, it proves that it there is something bad hidden. If do not get an answer to my question, it means that person is hiding something nefarious.” (Just do not try to ask them such a question about themselves – they get very nasty.)

Claver
Claver

A government official gives more weight to information provided by a lobbyist than to information provided by a government employee?  If that were illegal, every politician I have ever met would be in jail.

Dusty2
Dusty2

OH my, the liberals here are trying to change Hillary into the Mother Theresa of politics.  But it isn't possible.  Her activities have been under question ever since she worked for the Rose Law firm. She is usually as guilty as sin but makes her way out of it.  And now she'd like to be president?  You betcha!  Dragging her failures behind her and the gullible Dems applaud!


Now that is even more amazing! 

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@Dusty2 So far I see from the left ("the liberals", "gullible Dems", etc) : "Yep, Hillary acts like a politician. That can make her look bad.  She's still better than the Republicans choices so far." 

JakeJohnson
JakeJohnson

@Dusty2 "The liberals"? LIberals do not, for the most part, support Ms. Clinton. She is a conservative, yes?

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

As someone who used to investigate the mishandling of classified information, the whole Clinton Rube Goldberg personal email server makes my skin crawl.  The importance of properly handling classified information is drilled into anyone with a security clearance.  The thoughts that she deliberately discussed classified information with a non government employee on a personal computer in itself makes her unqualified to serve.   The arrogance she displayed by refusing to follow Obama's guidelines and government rules that have been on the books since the first computer was installed in a government facility is just beyond the pail.  


Government computer experts have opined that the chances of her system being hacked is just about 100%, so the Russians and Chinese had a leg up on our foreign policy during her term.  The highly protected Pentagon and WH email systems have been hacked and we thought they were nearly impenetrable.  


A non political federal employee who had used a personal computer to discuss even FOUO information to a non government person would have been disciplined and if the info was classified would have been fired.  The computer would be seized and an intensive investigation as to the probability of compromise would have occurred.  Once complete the investigation would go to the local US Attorney for possible prosecution, if the compromise was deliberate.


Apparently the Hillasaurus, unlike regular federal employees,  is above being scrutinized, by our Dept of (Social) Justice, but she is not above being rejected at the polls.

sssinff
sssinff

@RafeHollister I'm not expert, but might you consider that Hillary didn't use email, but other communication methods to discuss classified information?

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@sssinff @RafeHollister Kinda hard to send a "memo"  in real time, as Kyle discussed, without email.  You are not allowed to discuss/fax classified info over commercial phone lines either, they have classified telephone equipment with shielded lines.  I doubt seriously that Blumenthal had access to a classified phone.  

Juanx
Juanx

@RafeHollister  ...you sound like a staff member of a company I worked for who called me a liar when I explained that the Tech would not be on site to remedy a computer problem and would remote in. The person took retirement shortly there after. Hillary will be a great First American President.

sssinff
sssinff

There's what, 50, 60 people running for the GOP nomination? And it's always Hillary, Hillary, Hillary with you.

sssinff
sssinff

@Kyle_Wingfield


4 posts in the last month on Hillary. We get it, you think she is a bad person. Why not spend some time telling us why we should support some candidate over another? The GOP ran as the "not Obama" party in 2012 and got their clock cleaned. Try standing for something, instead of against the Democrats. 


2016 is already an uphill climb for any GOP candidate. But this approach seems unwise. I wouldn't vote GOP in any circumstance, but my advice might make 2016 a little less inevitable for the Democrat candidate.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@sssinff If the Democrats are going to stage a coronation, that means their one legitimate candidate will get most of the attention. As for the GOP candidates, I intend to sit down with each of them between now and year's end.

(Well, maybe not Trump.)

sssinff
sssinff

@Kyle_Wingfield


You'd better get writing. Given your output, I'm not sure there are enough weeks left between now and the first debate to cover the many, many GOP candidates and near candidates.


The media like a horse race, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that the nominee plays a relatively small role in the outcome of the election. You can play around with the wouldas, couldas, and shouldas as you did in a previous posting, but 2008 and 2012 provide very telling information about the GOP candidates chances of winning in 2016.


Here's a hypothetical, say one of the FL guys get the nomination and Walker is the Veep. GOP somehow takes FL, WI, and OH back. That still leaves the Dem with 272 EC votes. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@sssinff Actually, you have it exactly backward. The nominee matters a great deal, and the lack of enthusiasm for McCain and Romney was a killer.

Btw, I would just about guarantee any Republican who can take FL, WI and OH will win at least one more swing state, and thus the presidency.

sssinff
sssinff

@Kyle_Wingfield


Are you implying that Republicans stayed home instead of voting for Romney and McCain? Romney received nearly 1 million more votes than McCain did. Even accounting for population growth, that would be several hundred thousand more. So I'm not really sure that I follow that point. 


The reality is that most people will vote D and R no matter who the nominee is. So that means it's the independent vote that matters, right? Wrong. In fact, Obama lost the independent vote in nearly every swing state:


http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2012/11/13/infographic-obama-lost-the-independent-vote-in-almost-every-swing-state


And yet he won all of those states except North Carolina. For better or worse, the country is more partisan. The share of people who would actually vote for a Republican OR a Democrat for the is rapidly declining, at least in national elections (despite the argument made in the article I posted). 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@sssinff "Are you implying that Republicans stayed home instead of voting for Romney and McCain? Romney received nearly 1 million more votes than McCain did."

And both of them received a couple of million fewer votes than Bush did in 2004. Despite that population growth you pointed out.

"The reality is that most people will vote D and R no matter who the nominee is. So that means it's the independent vote that matters, right? Wrong. In fact, Obama lost the independent vote in nearly every swing state:"

Yes, and the reality is also that these R's-or-D's people will either show up to vote or not show up to vote. There's a good bit of evidence to suggest the D's didn't show up in 2004 and the R's haven't shown up since. What could explain that? I dunno, maybe the quality of the candidates?

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

How can anyone question the intentions of the anointed Queen of the Democrats? Everyone needs to cut her some slack, after all she and Bill were broke when they left the White House and living off SNAP funds.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

You folks really wish you could say she killed those people,  why the hate ?  Blah, blah is all you will hear......

MHSmith
MHSmith

Hillary cannot be trusted to keep emails safe and now she wants us to trust her to keep our country safe?!




Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

@MHSmith  You will find out it appears....keep a stiff upper lip, thats what the Brits do.

Caius
Caius

This appears all we get from this investigation - more questions. No answers,


I will predict now that when this is over, what we are going to have is another example of the failure of US intelligence.  The testimony of Michael Morrell in April 2014 is telling.  He did the official CIA report on the 9/11 Benghazi attack that bore the title " Extremist Capitalized on Benghazi Protests” that was dated 9/13/2012.

This is the same guy who was giving the daily intelligence briefings to Bush on 9/11/2001 and afterward. -  another US intelligence failure. 

So my question: starting with Sept 2000, has US intelligence gotten anything right in the Middle East?

 


lvg
lvg

@Caius Amazing how the Cons deflect blame from Petreaus and the CIA. Probably busy with his biographer taking shorthand during the attack. This was a CIA snafu and cover up of a classified operation. You thing they want the talking points to show they flubbed a terrorist attack on 9-11 while they are guarding the ambassador and monitoring local terrorists?

straker
straker

A good test of the intelligence level of most Republican voters is how much importance they will give to the non-issues of Benghazi and Hillary's E-mails.

MHSmith
MHSmith

Bewhozi again?!



delete delete delete

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

The Cons just need to put their elite "finder of truths" guy on this case: Darrell Issa.


mwuahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa


Where's old Darrell been lately, anyway?

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

" Defense Intelligence Agency also issued a memo that day . . .  described the event as a terrorist attack 10 days in the making. The motivation? To avenge the death of an al-Qaida leader in Pakistan and “in memorial of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings.” 


Did the DIA tell the CIA?  Evidently the CIA were on the ground there and supposedly had first-hand experience on what to release. Could the DIA have warned people a couple of days before, or were they going by claims made after the act? 

There are conflicting accounts all the time, and many sources claim credit for things they never did. Until the intelligence is worked out completely (or the best you can get), you go with the best intelligence available. 

And sometimes you choose the most politically expedient version of events while saying "this is still being investigated." 


I see ANY administration doing the exact same thing under the exact same circumstances.  Bush (GW, W, JEB) woulda done it, Romney (M) woulda done it, and Clinton (B, H) woulda done it. 



Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@LogicalDude "Did the DIA tell the CIA?  Evidently the CIA were on the ground there and supposedly had first-hand experience on what to release. Could the DIA have warned people a couple of days before, or were they going by claims made after the act? "

I don't think the memo claimed knowledge of the attack beforehand. It is only making the case the attack was not spontaneous -- i.e., the result of a demonstration by people mad about a movie they just heard of.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Kyle_Wingfield @LogicalDude Mike Morrell, Dept Dir CIA, in recent interviews reported that the CIA never thought the video had anything to do with the attack, BTW!  He said the CIA talking points never made that claim.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister @Kyle_Wingfield @LogicalDude Mike Morrell, Dept Dir CIA, in recent interviews reported that the CIA never thought the video had anything to do with the attack, BTW!  He said the CIA talking points never made that claim


He also pretty much said Bush lied about the WMD Iraq thing.


Morell noted, "What they were saying about the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda publicly was not what the intelligence community" had concluded. He added, "I think they were trying to make a stronger case for the war." That is, stronger than the truth would allow.


Bet you don't believe him there do you ?