Category Archives: Hillary Clinton

Strassel: Hillary’s Email Escapade

Congress’s entire Benghazi investigation, we now know, was based on an incomplete record.

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Hillary Clinton has made some disingenuous statements over her political career, but none remotely compare to the tweet she issued Wednesday night: “I want the public to see my email,” she said. This requires—how to say it—a willing suspension of disbelief.

Mrs. Clinton was referring to the gracious permission she had just bestowed upon the State Department to release her email correspondence as the nation’s former top diplomat. She’s only in a position to grant such favors because it turns out all of her correspondence as Secretary of State was conducted on private email, run out of a server she alone controlled. The Clinton camp has spent this week explaining that none of this was untoward, that no laws were broken, and that she’s being transparent.

Were you just awakening from a 40-year coma and still a bit fuzzy, this might strike you as remotely plausible. For everyone else who has lived through the Bill and Hill years, this email caper is pure Clinton.

First, historical context. There are few politicians alive today who have a better understanding than the Clintons of the perils of paper trails—and the benefits of not having them. It really wasn’t all that long ago that Mrs. Clinton was failing to answer questions about how her Rose Law firm billing records vanished. Or using executive privilege to sit on documents that showed her involvement in the Travel Office firings. Or grappling with testimony from a Secret Service agent who said Mrs. Clinton’s top aide had removed files from Vince Foster ’s office. Or explaining her connection to Sandy Berger, who was prosecuted for stealing Clinton-related National Archives records.

If you don’t think all this wasn’t informing Mrs. Clinton’s decision—on the day of her first confirmation hearing—to register clintonemail.com, you aren’t thinking.

Mrs. Clinton’s decision to ignore records laws also has to be viewed in the context of what she knew. In recent years she served as a senator and secretary of state, where she’d have been through rounds of ethics training. She was working for an Obama administration that had issued guidance requiring employees to use official email accounts.

She also clearly knew what any government watchdog group will tell you: That State has the most robust records-keeping rules of any department, with policies that go well beyond federal law. Her duties were very clear.

Then again, Mrs. Clinton is a lawyer. And here’s what she presumably understood, even if most of the media still hasn’t worked it out: The federal records law is very fuzzy. It is advisory, and says only that documents must be “preserved.” According to Team Clinton, turning over documents now is all that is required. And even if it isn’t, what Mrs. Clinton also knows is that there is no penalty for violating that statute. The Clintons thrive in gray areas.

Finally, the email escapade has to be viewed in the context of a Clinton presidential run, and the need to control the story line. The beauty of the Clinton home-brew system is that it puts her in total control. She runs the Clinton email cloud. She alone decides what documents to hand to State. This is why her agreement to allow State to release the 55,000 pages she has now sent it is hilariously hollow; she’s agreeing only to the release of emails she’s selectively provided. Even if she turned over the entire contents of her server (which she has no intention of doing), there’s no way of knowing what she already deleted.

The chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, claims to have evidence of a second Clinton email account. Her team says that’s not true. There’s no way to find out.

The Clinton folks are pointing out that there is a record of any email Mrs. Clinton sent to people with government accounts. But how many personal emails did she send to actors who were also using personal accounts (as she did with political operative Sidney Blumenthal )? There’s no way to find out.

Mrs. Clinton is the sole arbiter here of what is “preserved,” made public, or available to freedom of information requests or to congressional overseers. Don’t think any of this was by accident.

The timing is also notable. Mrs. Clinton only sent those 55,000 pages in December, and only after congressional investigators discovered the private address and demanded State explain what exactly had happened to all the emails from the nation’s top diplomat. In short, Congress’s entire investigation of Benghazi has been based on an incomplete record. (You can almost picture Mrs. Clinton smiling.)

State has meanwhile said it will release the (selective) 55,000 pages, though only after a review, which will “take some time to complete.” Here’s to betting it finishes in December of 2016. As for the fight over Mrs. Clinton’s server, and what it contains, that may never be resolved.

All of which is fortunate for Mrs. Clinton. And if we know anything, it is that Mrs. Clinton is good at creating her own fortune.

Write to kim@wsj.com
http://www.wsj.com/articles/kimberley-strassel-hillarys-email-escapade-1425600459

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Doesn’t Hillary Clinton Know the Law?

Mrs. Clinton and President Obama must have had the same US Law professor.
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Victoria Toensing – June 17, 2014 7:22 p.m. ET

In her interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer last week, Hillary Clinton said “I was not making security decisions” about Benghazi, claiming “it would be a mistake” for “a secretary of state” to “go through all 270 posts” and “decide what should be done.” And at a January 2013 Senate hearing, Mrs. Clinton said that security requests “did not come to me. I did not approve them. I did not deny them.”

Does the former secretary of state not know the law? By statute, she was required to make specific security decisions for defenseless consulates like Benghazi, and was not permitted to delegate them to anyone else.

The Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999, or Secca, was passed in response to the near-simultaneous bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Aug. 7, 1998. Over 220 people were killed, including 12 Americans. Thousands were injured.

Bill Clinton was president. Patrick Kennedy, now the undersecretary of state for management, was then acting assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security. Susan Rice, now the national security adviser, was then assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

As with the Benghazi terrorist attacks, an Accountability Review Board was convened for each bombing. Their reports, in January 1999, called attention to “two interconnected issues: 1) the inadequacy of resources to provide security against terrorist attacks, and 2) the relative low priority accorded security concerns throughout the U.S. government.”

Just as U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens did in 2012, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Prudence Bushnell, had made repeated requests for security upgrades in 1997 and 1998. All were denied.

Because the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania had been existing office structures, neither met the State Department’s security standard for a minimum 100 foot setback zone. A “general exception” was made. The two review boards faulted the fact that “no one person or office is accountable for decisions on security policies, procedures and resources.”

To ensure accountability in the future, the review boards recommended “[f]irst and foremost, the Secretary . . . should take a personal and active role in carrying out the responsibility of ensuring the security of U.S. diplomatic personnel abroad” and “should personally review the security situation of embassy chanceries and other official premises.” And for new embassy buildings abroad, “all U.S. government agencies, with rare exceptions, should be located in the same compound.”

Congress quickly agreed and passed Secca, a law implementing these (and other) recommendations. It mandated that the secretary of state make a personal security waiver under two circumstances: when the facility could not house all the personnel in one place and when there was not a 100-foot setback. The law also required that the secretary “may not delegate” the waiver decision.

Benghazi did not house all U.S. personnel in one building. There was the consulate and an annex, one of the two situations requiring a non-delegable security waiver by the secretary of state.

In October 2012 the Benghazi Accountability Review Board convened, co-chaired by Amb. Thomas Pickering (Ms. Rice’s supervisor in 1998) and Adm. Michael Mullen. It failed even to question Mrs. Clinton for its report about the attacks. It also obfuscated the issue of her personal responsibility for key security decisions by using a word other than “waiver,” the passive voice, and no names. Recognizing that the Benghazi consulate (like the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam embassies) was a previously nongovernmental building, the Benghazi review board reported that this “resulted in the Special Mission compound being excepted [my emphasis] from office facility standards and accountability under” Secca. No Hillary fingerprints revealed there.

Mrs. Clinton either personally waived these security provisions as required by law or she violated the law by delegating the waiver to someone else. If it was the latter, she shirked the responsibility she now disclaims: to be personally knowledgeable about and responsible for the security in a consulate as vulnerable as Benghazi.

Ms. Toensing was chief counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee and deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration

Victoria Toensing: Doesn’t Hillary Clinton Know the Law? – WSJ.

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