Obama, Clinton, Syria, Iraq, and Benghazi
Compiled and Edited by Pete Coker
To some, this may seem to be a small and insignificant matter. But sometimes small things reveal the true nature and essence of a larger narrative. And, when lives are at stake, those things are certainly not small and insignificant to the families and friends of the deceased. Further, as we shall see, sometimes small matters left unchecked can turn into big problems with huge ramifications for the future.
As we have already learned and now know through the partial release of Department of Defense (DOD) documents that the Obama administration and (former) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew almost from the outset that the attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, was coordinated and pre-planned. Further, the DOD documents also provide confirmation that the Obama Administration was well aware that weapons were being shipped from the Port of Benghazi to rebel troops in Syria.
During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by the downfall of the Qaddafi regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The Syrian ports were chosen due to the small amount of cargo traffic transiting these two ports. The ships used to transport the weapons were medium-sized and able to hold 10 or less shipping containers of cargo. The level of detail presented in the documents suggests that the Obama administration, (at the very least) was in a position to stop any of these military weapon transfers.
Through more than 100 pages of previously classified “Secret” documents from the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of State, reveals that the DOD almost immediately reported the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was committed by al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood-linked “Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman” (BCOAR), and had been planned at least 10 days in advance.
These DOD documents were not released voluntarily, but were forced out of the “secretive” Obama Administration, thanks to a court order that followed a May 15, 2014 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against both DOD and State asking for communications between the two agencies and congressional leaders “on matters related to the activities of any agency or department of the U.S. government at the Special Mission Compound and/or classified annex in Benghazi.” These documents show that the Benghazi cover-up has been in motion for years and is only now beginning to unravel. However, the State Department has so far (as of May 2015), only released some of Hillary Clinton’s secretly held emails concerning this matter.
The documents provide us with the first official confirmation that the U.S. government was aware of arms shipments from Benghazi to Syria. The documents also include an August 2012 analysis warning of the rise of ISIS and the predicted failure of the Obama policy of regime change in Syria. It is not clear however, from the first partial release, if the information was ever shared with Congress.
A Defense Department document from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), dated September 12, 2012, the day after the Benghazi attack, details that the attack on the compound had been carefully planned by the BOCAR terrorist group “to kill as many Americans as possible.” This document was sent to Hillary Clinton, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Obama White House National Security Council. The “report” says that the attack on the Benghazi facility “was planned and executed by The Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman (BCOAR).”The group subscribes to “AQ [al Qaeda] ideologies:” The Defense Department reported that the group maintained written documents that contain information on all of the “al Qaeda” activity in Libya.”
The attack was planned ten or more days prior on approximately September 1, 2012. The intention was to not only to attack the consulate [and]; (1) kill as many Americans as possible, but to (2) seek revenge for U.S. killing of Aboyahiye (ALALIBY)) in Pakistan and (3) as a memorial to the September, 11 2001 attacks on the American World Trade Center buildings.
“A violent radical,” the DIA report says, and “the leader of BCOAR is Abdul Baset Azuz; AZUZ was sent by ZAWARI to set up Al Qaeda (AQ) bases in Libya.” The group’s headquarters was set up with the approval of a “member of the Muslim Brotherhood.” “They have large caches of weapons and some of these caches are disguised by feeding troughs for livestock. They have SA-7 and SA-23/4 MANPADS…they train almost every day focusing on religious lessons and scriptures including three lessons a day of jihadist ideology.” It should also be noted that Azuz is blamed for the Benghazi attack in an October 2012 DIA document.
So, what’s the big deal, why should the weapons transfer from Benghazi to Syria be such an important issue? Because, the whole “Libya fiasco” was allowing weapons to move into a jihadist madhouse in the Syria-Iraq region! And that, as we have seen has had huge consequences in Iraq.
In another DIA report, written in August 2012 (the same time period the U.S. was monitoring weapons flows from Libya to Syria), it said that the opposition in Syria was driven by al Qaeda and other extremist Muslim groups: “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al Qaeda Iraq are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The growing sectarian direction of the war was predicted to have dire consequences for Iraq, which included the “grave danger” of the rise of ISIS: The deterioration of the situation has dire consequences on the Iraqi situation and are as follows: (1) This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI [al Qaeda Iraq] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi, and (2) will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters. (3) ISIS could also declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, (4) which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory. So, President Obama was forewarned about the dire consequences of the situation and made the decision to allow it to proceed.
Some of the “dire consequences” are blacked-out in the report, but the DIA presciently warned one such consequence would be the “renewing facilitation of terrorist elements from all over the Arab world entering into Iraqi Arena.” As it turned out, the DIA warnings were right on the nose as Isis terrorists are now on the march in Iraq. And now the murderous Islamic radicals, with volunteers courtesy of Obama’s Libya creation, have embarrassed America and taken many American military assets that we gave to the Iraqi military! Obama has essentially handed Iraq over to “radical Islamic extremists” and thrown away its previous liberation! This is Obama’s big “F–U” to the American soldiers who fought to free Iraq, to the once liberated Iraqi people, and to the former President George Bush administration. President Obama’s policies have increasingly destabilized the entire region and expanded the influence of radical extremists.
Presently — for corrupt and incompetent politicians like President Obama and Hillary Clinton, “process” happens to be in their favor. Acquiring the necessary records and sludging through the judicial process is slow-going at best. (Not to mention the politically inspired stalling tactics of the Obama Administration in conjunction with Hillary Clinton). This slow-going process essentially provides cover for their cover-up. The strategy and hope for them is that the public will forget or dismiss what really happened in Benghazi, Libya. But, as we are clearly finding out; they lied, they mocked, and they covered-up (more than was suspected). And, remember what Hillary Clinton said at the time; “what difference at this point does it make.” Hillary’s words attempted to minimize the importance of her neglect, incompetence and suppression of evidence. In other words, in Hillary’s view, yesterday’s lies don’t matter, (because) I’m compassionate, my intentions are good, and besides, I need to get to work for the American people; blah, blah, blah.
But, as government records are revealing, the “difference” at this point has been devastating for the war on worldwide terrorism. And truly “caring” people are asking, “why are we allowing worldwide terrorism to continue?”
In a follow-up, covering November and December 2015, from politico.com comes this:
State Department belatedly finds 1,300 emails on Anwar Al-Awlaki
Last month (Dec. 2015), the State Department belatedly discovered about 1,300 emails relating to deceased Islamic cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki in official accounts belonging to top aides to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, more than four years after a legal watchdog group requested all such records, a new court filing reports.
At a federal court hearing in Washington, Justice Department attorneys assigned to the case brought by Judicial Watch told a federal judge that State‘s “executive secretariat” — the repository of records for the secretary’s office — was searched in response to the initial Freedom of Information Act request from Judicial Watch.
In the new filing the lawyers representing the State Department said the records of Clinton’s former office were searched initially. The filing is vague about whether any responsive records were found at that time. However, it says a batch of emails about Al-Awlaki — who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011 — turned up only during the follow-up search.
“Upon review of the initial search of S/ES, State determined to conduct targeted supplemental searches,” Justice Department attorney Stephen Elliott wrote. “Accordingly, State conducted searches of the state.gov email accounts of six individuals, including Ms. [Huma] Abedin, Ms. [Cheryl] Mills, and Mr. [Jake] Sullivan.
In total, State’s searches of the state.gov email accounts for the six individuals identified 1,317 potentially responsive records, many of which are multiple-page documents.”
Previously, at the Nov. 20 hearing, Elliott said State had located a modest total of 127 Al-Awlaki-related emails in messages that former State officials Abedin, Mills and Sullivan had turned over to the agency from their private accounts at State’s request earlier this year. The new filing makes clear the 1,317 messages are from official accounts, not the trove of messages State received in recent months.
State’s recent discovery of the Al-Awlaki-related emails appears to be similar to the belated discovery of roughly 81,000 emails former Clinton aide Philippe Reines exchanged with journalists on his official account during his tenure at State. Gawker requested those messages under FOIA and was initially told that “no responsive records” could be located. The 81,000 messages appear to have turned-up only after the website filed suit in March of this year, following the disclosure that Hillary Clinton exclusively used a private email account and server for official business while serving as Secretary of State.
At a recent hearing in the Gawker case, Elliott declined to concede that the initial search which discovered no records was inadequate. A State spokesman had no comment beyond confirming the statements in the court filing. However, former State officials have said it is possible initial FOIA searches found no messages because the employees in question had left the agency several months before the searches began. If so, their accounts would likely have been empty. However, a more diligent effort could have retrieved the messages in some instances because some employees regularly moved their entire mailboxes to shared servers because of limits on State’s email boxes, the former officials said.
Those archived mailboxes would likely survive an employee’s departure, although current staff might not immediately know where to look. In addition, disaster recovery backup systems might contain some records, though those systems aren’t routinely searched for FOIA requests. Subpoenas from the House Benghazi Committee and a flurry of FOIA lawsuits that followed Clinton’s revelation in March may have prompted State to conduct more aggressive searches, the ex-officials said.
Born in New Mexico and serving as imam at a Falls Church, Virginia, mosque at the time of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Al-Awlaki became the focus of intense FBI surveillance and eventually left the U.S. for England and, later, Yemen. There, he became a fiery preacher of anti-American sermons on the Internet. Fingered by U.S. officials as a leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al-Awlaki was killed by an unmanned U.S. drone in September 2011. The move was controversial and raised novel legal questions because Al-Awlaki was a U.S. citizen and was not on a conventional military battlefield when he was targeted.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Friday that his group does not think State ever searched Clinton’s office for records when the request was filed. “To put it directly, we don’t believe they searched Secretary Clinton’s office in 2012” he said. His group filed requests with State and the FBI on the same day Al-Awlaki was killed in 2011 and filed suit in June 2012 after not receiving any records. A large trove of FBI records on its surveillance was later made public as were a smaller number of State records.
It is unclear how many of the newly discovered Al-Awlaki-related messages are substantive and how many are news reports forwarded by State officials. The new filing says “a number” of the messages in the new batch consist of “news clipping[s,] but is not more specific.
*Oops! But wait, there’s more…check this out:
Here’s an interesting (Benghazi) tidbit from Judicial Watch on Christian Dominionists:
Also of interest is an email from former Ambassador Joe Wilson to Hillary Clinton concerning the Benghazi attack, in which he suggests the military is being compromised by “Christian Dominionists” in the U.S. military:
From: Joe Wilson
Sent: Saturday, September 15, 2012 10:27 AM
Subject: From Joe Wilson
Glen Doherty [CIA contractor killed in the Benghazi attack] was a fellow member of the Military Religious Freedom Advisory Board, which fights to ensure that our military is not further compromised by the Christian Dominionists who seek to turn it into an instrument of their religious zealotry, an army for Christ rather than for the defense of our nation. He was invaluable in helping us uncover several cases where religious indoctrination was taking place under the guise of military training….
Why would Wilson send such a vicious attack on our military to Hillary Clinton unless he believed it would be welcomed?
Update: January 7, 2016
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton made the following statement regarding the report released today by the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) regarding the Hillary Clinton email scandal and the mishandling of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department:
The Clinton email scandal is worsening. Today’s State OIG report confirms what we’ve been saying all along – that Hillary Clinton and the Obama State Department thwarted specific Judicial Watch FOIA requests by lying about her email system with “inaccurate” and “incomplete” responses. The State Department OIG report is half-baked but nonetheless devastating in laying out the violations of law and regulations by Hillary Clinton and her then-Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills. Judicial Watch plans to share this report with several federal courts considering our requests for discovery about the Clinton email issue. The OIG admits it still doesn’t know the extent of the inaccuracies and other violations of FOIA and correctly suggests that officials could be held in contempt of court for FOIA fraud. This is exactly why Judicial Watch is asking the courts for discovery, which could include putting current and former Obama administration officials under oath. Judicial Watch wants to know the facts behind Hillary Clinton’s and the Obama State Department’s purposeful thwarting of FOIA so we can be sure that all of the emails from her illicit email system are reviewed and released to the public as the law requires.
Update: January 11, 2016
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that the Obama State Department recently found “thousands” of new records from Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State. According to information provided to Judicial Watch by various Justice Department attorneys, the new documents appear be “working” records in electronic format located on both “shared” and “individual” drives accessible to or used by persons identified as being relevant to Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits on the Benghazi scandal and controversies from Clinton’s term at State. The State Department confirmed the new find in a court filing late this past Friday in a FOIA lawsuit concerning records about Clinton aide Huma Abedin:
After State filed its motion for summary judgment in this case [on November 11, 2015], State located additional sources of documents that originated within the Office of the Secretary that are reasonably likely to contain records responsive to Plaintiff’s request. State has informed Plaintiff that it intends to search these locations, produce non-exempt portions of any responsive records, and file a supplemental declaration in support of its motion for summary judgment (which is presently stayed).
The State Department seeks at least until February 1 to provide additional information about these new records.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton made the following statement in response to the new disclosures:
This latest find of Clinton records, at this late date, is astonishing. The State Department waited to last possible moment, as it did with the Clinton emails, to tell Judicial Watch and the federal courts about thousands of records that haven’t been searched, as the law requires. Who knew what – and when did they know it – about these new Clinton documents?
These newly recovered Clinton records are a potential game changer – and will be of interest to the courts, Congress, and the FBI’s criminal investigation. It sure looks like more of the same in terms of Obama administration officials’ obstructing our FOIA requests, obstructing the courts, obstructing Congress, and obstructing justice.
Judicial Watch exposed this new cover up on the heels of a finding by State Department’s Inspector General that Hillary Clinton and the Obama State Department thwarted specific Judicial Watch FOIA requests by lying about her email system with “inaccurate” and “incomplete” responses.
Here we go again! Another Update – Another Cover-Up exposed…
Update: April 26, 2016
Email Info Could Have Exposed Clinton Server in 2014
(Washington, DC) – The Obama State Department last week admitted it withheld a key Benghazi email of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from Judicial Watch since at least September 2014. If the State Department disclosed the email when first supposedly found, Clinton’s email server and her hidden emails would have been disclosed nearly two years ago, before Clinton authorized the alleged deletion of tens of thousands of emails.
The developments come in a July 2014 Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit seeking records related to the drafting and use of the Benghazi talking points (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). The lawsuit, which forced the disclosure of the Clinton email records, seeks records specifically from Clinton and her top State Department staff:
Copies of any updates and/or talking points given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency concerning, regarding, or related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Any and all records or communications concerning, regarding, or relating to talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency.
Also, upon further review, the Department has determined that one document previously withheld in full in our letter dated November 12, 2014 may now be released in part.
The referenced November 12, 2014, letter does not reference any withheld emails. A search declaration suggests the hidden email was found in September 2014 as a result of a search in response to Judicial Watch’s lawsuit.
The September 29, 2012, email to Clinton from then-Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan concerns talking points for Clinton calls with senators about the Benghazi attack. The email contains Clinton’s non-state.gov address.
It is in this litigation that U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth granted “limited discovery” to Judicial Watch into Clinton’s and her aides’ email practices. Judge Lamberth ruled that “where there is evidence of government wrong-doing and bad faith, as here, limited discovery is appropriate, even though it is exceedingly rare in FOIA cases.” (U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan also granted Judicial Watch discovery into the Clinton email matter. The discovery plan, agreed to by the State Department, is awaiting Judge Sullivan’s approval.)
Last week’s document production also includes material from a records cache of thousands of new Clinton State Department records supposedly only discovered in December 2015. The new material shows the State Department compiled extensive Libya/Benghazi-related dossiers on Republican and Democrat senators.
“Now we know the Obama administration consciously refused to give up key information about Hillary Clinton’s email in 2014. It covered up this email both from the court and Judicial Watch,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judge Lamberth was right when he suggested that Obama’s State Department acted in bad faith. This cover-up provided Hillary Clinton enough time to hide potentially thousands of government records. One aim of our court-order discovery will be to get to the bottom of this cover-up.”
To be continued…?
Yet, Another New E-mail Scandal Update: 8/10/16
Huma Abedin Emails Show Clinton Foundation
Donor-Demands on State Department
(Washington DC) – Judicial Watch today released 296 pages of State Department records, of which 44 email exchanges were not previously turned over to the State Department, bringing the known total to date to 171 of new Clinton emails (not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over to the State Department). These records further appear to contradict statements by Clinton that, “as far as she knew,” all of her government emails were turned over to the State Department.
The new documents reveal that in April 2009 controversial Clinton Foundation official Doug Band pushed for a job for an associate. In the email Band tells Hillary Clinton’s former aides at the State Department Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin that it is “important to take care of [Redacted]. Band is reassured by Abedin that “Personnel has been sending him options.” Band was co-founder of Teneo Strategy with Bill Clinton and a top official of the Clinton Foundation, including its Clinton Global Initiative.
Included in the new document production is a 2009 email in which Band, directs Abedin and Mills to put Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire and Clinton Foundation donor Gilbert Chagoury in touch with the State Department’s “substance person” on Lebanon. Band notes that Chagoury is “key guy there [Lebanon] and to us,” and insists that Abedin call Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman to connect him to Chagoury.
Chagoury is a close friend of former President Bill Clinton and a top donor to the Clinton Foundation. He has appeared near the top of the Foundation’s donor list as a $1 million to $5 million contributor, according to foundation documents. He also pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative. According to a 2010 investigation by PBS Frontline, Chagoury was convicted in 2000 in Switzerland for laundering money from Nigeria, but agreed to a plea deal and repaid $66 million to the Nigerian government.
Clinton’s top aides’ favors for and interactions with the Clinton Foundation seem in violation of the ethics agreements that Hillary Clinton agreed to in order to be appointed and confirmed as Secretary of State. For example, Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton on January 5, 2009, in a letter to State Department Designated Agency Ethics Official James H. Thessin:
“For the duration of my appointment as Secretary if I am confirmed, I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter involving specific parties in which The William J. Clinton Foundation (or the Clinton Global Initiative) is a party or represents a party….”
As preparation for Hillary’s upcoming visit to Asia, Stephen Roach, chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, on Feb. 11, 2009, sends Hillary a copy of his upcoming testimony before Congress in which he would condemn any U.S. efforts to criticize Chinese monetary policy or enact trade barriers. Several days later, Hillary asked Abedin about Roach possibly “connecting” with her while she was in Beijing: “I forwarded you my email to him about connecting in Beijing. Can he come to the embassy or other event?” Morgan Stanley is a long-time financial supporter of the Clintons.
The emails also reveal that Abedin left then-Secretary Clinton’s daily schedule, a presumably sensitive document, on a bed in an unlocked hotel room. An email on April 18, 2009, during a conference in Trinidad and Tobago, from aide Melissa J. Lan to Huma Abedin asks for the Secretary’s “day book binders.” Abedin replies: “Yes. It’s on the bed in my room. U can take it. My door is open. I’m in the lobby.Thx.” Moreover, the emails show the annoyance of another Clinton aide that the schedule was sent to an authorized State Department email address and not to an unsecured non-state.gov account.
The emails reveal that Clinton campaign adviser and pollster Mark Penn advised Clinton on NATO and piracy. Another major Clinton fundraiser, Lana Moresky, also pushed Clinton to hire someone for a position at State. Clinton directed Abedin to follow up and “help” the applicant and told Abedin to “let me know” about the job issue.
The emails show that Hillary Clinton relied on someone named “Justin” (presumably Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton and Clinton Foundation employee), to set up her cell phone voicemail, rather than having State Department personnel handle it. This was in a February 11, 2009, email from Clinton aide Lauren Jiloty to Clinton, using Clinton’s email@example.com address.
This is the ninth set of records produced for Judicial Watch by the State Department from the non-state.gov email accounts of Huma Abedin.
The documents were produced under a court order in a May 5, 2015, Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit against the State Department (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00684)) requiring the agency to produce “all emails of official State Department business received or sent by former Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin from January 1, 2009 through February 1, 2013, using a ‘non-state’.gov email address.”
“No wonder Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin hid emails from the American people, the courts and Congress,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “They show the Clinton Foundation, Clinton donors, and operatives worked with Hillary Clinton in potential violation of the law.”
In March, Judicial Watch released Clinton State Department emails dating from February 2009 that also call into question her statements about her emails. Those emails contained more evidence of the battle between security officials in the State Department, National Security Administration, Clinton and her staff over attempts to obtain secure BlackBerrys.
Hillary Clinton has repeatedly stated that she believes that the 55,000 pages of documents she turned over to the State Department in December 2014 included all of her work-related emails. In response to a court order in other Judicial Watch litigation, she declared under penalty of perjury that she had “directed that all my emails on clintonemail.com in my custody that were or are potentially federal records be provided to the Department of State, and on information and belief, this has been done.” This new email find is also at odds with her official campaign statement suggesting all “work or potentially work-related emails” were provided to the State Department.
How Many Exposed Cover-Ups Will it Take…
FBI: Extensive Evidence Hillary emails Violated Federal Records Laws
by John Solomon and Kellan Howell
September 1, 2016
Though it was not their primary mission, FBI agents who investigated Hillary Clinton’s emails collected significant evidence suggesting she and her team violated federal record-keeping laws, including persisting to use a private Blackberry and server to conduct State Department business — after being warned they posed legal and security risks. The evidence was compelling enough to convince FBI Director James Comey that the Clinton team had not complied with record-keeping laws and to cause at least one witness to raise their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during an investigative interview, the sources said. In public, the FBI recommended not filing criminal charges against Clinton on national security grounds.
But, in private, the Bureau chose to defer to the State Department on whether to recommend anyone to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution on records law violations, the sources said, speaking only on condition of anonymity.
Each email transmission of a government document that was not preserved or turned over to the State Department from Mrs. Clinton’s tenure could theoretically be considered a violation of the Federal Records Act, the main law governing preservation of government records and data. Other federal laws make it a felony to intentionally conceal, remove or destroy federal records as defined under the Act, punishable with a fine and imprisonment of up to three years. A single conviction also carries a devastating impact for anyone looking to work again in government because the law declares that any violator “shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.” The FBI “indirectly documented hundreds, and likely thousands, of violations of the Records Act.” Using forensics, the FBI recovered from computer drives and other witnesses about 15,000 emails from Mrs. Clinton’s private account that dealt with government business, most that had not been turned over by her or her aides, the sources said.
Accounts from witnesses suggested the efforts to keep Mrs. Clinton’s government email communications on a device and server outside the reach of public records laws or congressional oversight were “systemic and intentional” and began as soon as Mrs. Clinton took office in 2009.
For instance, the sources said agents secured testimony and documents suggesting that Mrs. Clinton’s team:
-Was informed in 2009 that she had an obligation under the records law to forward any government-related records contained in private email to a new record preservation system known as SMART but Mrs. Clinton purposely chose not to comply with federal law because her office wanted to keep secret control over possibly “sensitive” messages. -Was specifically questioned by a technical worker, (who was involved with her private and secretive email server in the Clinton family home in New York), whether the arrangement was appropriate for a government official under the federal records law. The worker was assured there were no problems.
-Wanted to keep her private Blackberry email service because of fears a government email address would be subject to public scrutiny under the Freedom of Information Act.
-Was aware that government officers complying with FOIA requests did not have access to search Mrs. Clinton’s private email for responsive records.
-Persisted in allowing her to use private email to conduct State Department business even after a cable was sent under her name in 2011 to all diplomats worldwide urging them to stop using private email because of foreign hacking fears.
-Allowed Clinton to keep using the private email system after she personally received a 2011 presentation warning of dangers of the private email for government business.
-Failed to preserve private emails from Clinton that clearly involved significant government business, including discussions with Army Gen. David Petraeus, the Benghazi tragedy, meeting requests with foreign leaders and the State Department’s quadrennial policy and performance review.
-Had prior reason from earlier legal cases involving their conduct to know that emails covering government business were legally required to be preserved and turned over to their agency and the National Archives.
During a brief aside at a House Judiciary Committee hearing in July, Comey, the FBI Director, was asked by a congressman if he believed Clinton complied with State Department procedures and federal record keeping laws. “I don’t think so. I know you have the State inspector general here, who’s more of an expert on all the department’s policies, but at least in some respects, no,” Comey answered, however, he offered no explanation why charges weren’t filed. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who is seldom honest when speaking publicly, said in mid-July that she did not believe her department had assessed whether Clinton or her team violated the Records Act. “I don’t know if that was under the purview of the investigation. I don’t recall a specific opinion on that,” she said. Lynch has a lot of foggy memory lapses when she doesn’t want to answer questions honestly. She is more of a political hack than she is a true Attorney General for the United States of America. She apparently possesses a very limited view of Justice.
Mrs. Clinton has said she regrets using private email to conduct official State Department business. Her former chief of staff Cheryl Mills also expressed regret, saying the Clinton team thought her records would be preserved because her private emails usually went to other government email accounts, but that was mistaken. It seems more obvious now that whatever rewards were gleaned from this escapade, the risk was worth the rewards.
Hillary’s husband, Former President Bill Clinton, (who was previously convicted of lying to Congress, the American people, and to a Federal Grand Jury, while he was president) strongly dismissed Comey’s and the FBI’s criticism of his wife, said, “This is the biggest load of bull I ever heard.” This, coming from a guy who is not only a stranger to the truth but was also impeached as a sitting president. A retired federal prosecutor said the FBI and DOJ could easily have brought a case against Hillary Clinton if the evidence pointed toward being able to legally prove intentional violations. “If you get enough instances of people violating the Federal Records Act and if it’s a group of folks then you could look at things like a conspiracy, or a criminal enterprise, that could bump it up to a felony,” said Matt Whitaker, who served as U.S. Attorney for Iowa under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. “There are a lot of intentional acts including the setting up of the private email server that probably could go to a question of was this intentional and was this violation of both the records act and the handling of classified material.” Whitaker said he believes a special prosecutor should be appointed to review the Records Act questions because “in this political season it appears that the FBI and especially the Department of Justice doesn’t have the stomach to pursue the potential charges that emanate from this behavior.” Ronald Hosko, who retired two years ago as the Assistant FBI Director in charge of the bureau’s criminal division, agreed Mrs. Clinton’s actions at the State Department showed a disregard for her obligation to preserve and protect sensitive government information. He said such responsibilities were “taken seriously” inside the FBI, but that “does not appear to be the case in the State Department under Hillary Clinton. To me, this was a systemic failure at State, top to bottom.” But Hosko said a misdemeanor case wouldn’t be sexy enough for an FBI — stretched by higher terrorism, organized crime and cybersecurity priorities — to pursue, especially against a candidate leading the presidential race right now in a polarizing election. “The FBI is an agency with finite resources. Seldom do you expend resources when the top available penalty is a misdemeanor,” he said. I’m not saying you don’t consider it or contemplate it. I would say you contemplate it if the facts are so compelling and the intent is so overwhelmingly clear, that her desire was to violate that statute “But we are in a hyper-politicized time in America. Would the electorate take to that? You have to take that all into consideration.” Sources directly familiar with the FBI’s thinking said the bureau was not concerned about the election and did make a short reference to Federal Records Act issues in its final report to the Justice Department. But it chose to defer to the State Department to decide if criminal charges should be filed. “It’s their records and their determination to make,” one source said, describing the philosophy that governed the FBI’s final decision. In a non-investigative report in June, the State Department’s internal watchdog concluded Mrs. Clinton was one of only three senior department officials in the last two decades to use a private email account exclusively for government business and that her team did not comply with the record-keeping policies of the Federal Records Act. The Federal Records Act was passed by Congress 66 years ago to ensure federal agencies properly managed and maintained government records so they are preserved for historical purposes at the National Archives and for public access and congressional oversight. The law was updated by lawmakers in 2014, legislation that President Obama himself signed. Since the mid-1990s, the State Department has made clear to its employees that emails were public records covered by the Act, even those sent on their private accounts. In 2009, State employees were instructed if they used personal email for work they had an obligation to upload the emails to a special system called SMART to preserve the records.
Much of the focus during the presidential race has been on the more than 100 emails that moved between Mrs. Clinton and her top aides that contained intelligence classified at the confidential – secret — and top-secret levels at the time it was transmitted. After her private email system was discovered, Mrs. Clinton eventually turned over 55,000 pages from about 30,000 emails involving State Department work. But FBI officials recovered about 15,000 additional emails on her private account that involved government business by sweeping her old devices and servers or scouring the government emails of other people she corresponded with. “There was plenty of evidence from our interviews, especially from technical and compliance staff, as to the intention of creating a private email system outside the State Department’s record keeping. It was well known, and it persisted even after people raised legal and security concerns. At least one witness in the technical community involved in setting up, maintaining or wiping Clinton’s email equipment was concerned enough about their legal liability under federal records laws to invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during an FBI interview, sources said. Hosko said if there is compelling evidence of intent to evade the law, the FBI could consider recommending misdemeanor charges.
Among the strongest evidence gathered by investigators occurred in late 2010, when Mrs. Clinton was directly approached by one of her top deputies and informed that her government emails from her private account were not reaching State Department officials and possibly were going to spam. Mrs. Clinton was encouraged to get an official State email address. Mrs. Clinton told her deputy she was willing to get a government email address if she could be assured her personal emails wouldn’t be “accessible” to the public. Rather than create the government email address, State officials went to a technical person maintaining her private server and made adjustments to the server to ensure emails wouldn’t be treated by the agency’s email screening systems as spam, the sources said. (One has to wonder – if Mrs. Clinton’s personal emails were so boring, as she claims they were about wedding plans and yoga, then why was she so paranoid about “the public” or the State Department seeing them) Around the same time, two information management employees inside State began raising concerns that material in Clinton’s personal email server likely contained government records that needed to be preserved under the Federal Records Act. One raised the concern to a supervisor at a staff meeting but was scolded and eventually told never to raise the issue of Secretary Clinton’s personal email account again, according to the sources. Agents also found evidence Mrs. Clinton herself was acutely aware of the security and legal dangers of using her private Blackberry to conduct government business. For instance:
-In 2009, Mrs. Clinton and her chief of staff were briefed in a classified memo from the Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security on the security dangers of private Blackberry service and the secretary of state responded to that official a few days later that she “gets it.”
-Mrs. Clinton received a second classified email in March 2011 about foreign government hacking attempts specifically aimed at State Department officials. The memo included this warning: “We also urge Department users to minimize the use of personal Web email for business” citing evidence of “compromised home systems.” A version of that briefing was found in Mrs. Clinton’s personal files at State.
-In June 2011, a cable entitled “securing personal email accounts” was sent to all U.S. diplomatic posts worldwide under Clinton’s own name that highlighted growing cybersecurity threats and specifically warned “to avoid conducting official department business from your personal email accounts.”
-By that time, officials maintaining Mrs. Clinton’s private email server had already detected attempts to hack into it but still she persisted in using the private email to conduct government business. Agents also found evidence hinting at a possible motive for Clinton’s team to maintain a private email server: an ultra-paranoid fear that records could be obtained by the public via FOIA if they were moved to a government system.
In 2011, shortly after the information management staff raised concerns about her private email, Clinton’s top aides discussed replacing her private Blackberry with a government-owned device, but that idea was scrapped after a top aide warned the materials on the government Blackberry would be subject to FOIA. “You should be aware that any email would go through the Department’s infrastructure and be subject to FOIA searches,” a top State official warned. The government Blackberry was never issued to the secretive ultra-paranoid Hillary Clinton.
When Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff, was recently deposed in a civil lawsuit over FOIA practices brought by the watchdog group Judicial Watch, she admitted that State Department FOIA officers would not have had access to Mrs. Clinton’s private email to search for responsive records. “No is the answer,” Mills testified. “I don’t think I reflected on, were there occasions where there might still be something with respect to a personal e-mail where someone had either e-mailed me or I had responded back or the system had been down and we ultimately needed to use it, that there was information that hadn’t been captured. And I wish it had.” We are probably seeing more of Secretary Clinton’s emails now than we would have if they had actually been stored at State Department…
But it’s not just the State Department. Experts say the federal government as a whole has a serious problem when it comes to maintaining electronic records. Regret for lost government records isn’t new to the Clinton political machine. Both Cheryl Mills and Mrs. Clinton were mentioned in a lawsuit in the late 1990s during Bill Clinton’s presidency over the loss of more than 1 million White House emails that were not saved for FOIA, congressional or criminal investigations. The Clinton White House blamed a technical error for the loss of the records. Let’s not also forget the 900+ FBI files that were supposedly missing in the White House under President Bill Clinton – until they magically re-appeared several weeks later, in plain view.
But subsequent litigation by the Judicial Watch group found evidence that a White House official disabled the archiving function for White House emails. A federal judge sharply criticized the Clinton White House for what he called a “fiasco” and singled out Cheryl Mills, who had been a deputy White House counsel for Bill Clinton, for having “failed miserably” to resolve the problem or give the court accurate information.
In another embarrassment, Sandy Berger, President Clinton’s national security adviser and a longtime confident of both Bill and Hillary Clinton, was caught a decade ago trying to steal secret classified information about terrorism out of the National Archives, in his socks. He pleaded guilty and apologized. Berger recently died this last December after a brief illness.
Whether Secretary Clinton’s deleted her emails with the intention of evading records laws or not, the FBI and other experts agree conducting government business on a private email account was reckless. “It was irresponsible of state to let her do it,” McDermott said. “I know it’s difficult to manage the head of your agency and tell her she can’t do something. But, the attorneys should have told her she can’t do this.” McDermott’s take on this is almost comical except that he is attempting to provide cover for Secretary Clinton. “The attorneys should have told her she can’t do this”(?); it’s more likely she told the attorneys to find a way to let her do it and get away with it! That’s the Clinton legacy.
A note to “the people:” pay no attention to the denials of the men or women ‘behind the bureaucratic curtain.’ Pay attention to what they actually do and how transparent they are overall.
Note: These articles and updates are basically taken from news reports, e-mail briefings from Judicial Watch, politico.com, and an article from John Solomon and Kellan Howell; which I compiled, edited and added some of my own snarky comments. – P.C. Coker