Libya

January 17, 2019 – Charles Ortel Opinion: The ‘Benghazi’ scandal likely involves national security offenses, money laundering, campaign-finance crimes, charity fraud, and public corruption

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press)

“The recent ruling by US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth may become a breakthrough in the 5-year long Clinton email scandal, Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel told Sputnik, asking how it happened that the Obama administration, the CIA and FBI had apparently overlooked “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”

“The ‘Benghazi’ scandal likely involves national security offenses, money-laundering, campaign-finance crimes, charity fraud, and public corruption”, says Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist Charles Ortel, commenting on a US federal judge ordering former Obama officials to answer the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch’s (JW) questions on Hillary Clinton’s private email issue and the Benghazi scandal.

On 15 January, US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that former national security adviser Susan Rice, former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, fmr. secretary of state Clinton’s former senior advisor and deputy chief of staff Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap must answer the watchdog’s written questions about the State Department’s response to the deadly 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.

BREAKING: Citing government shutdown, DOJ/State seek to stall court-ordered discovery ordered to begin yesterday on Clinton Email, Benghazi Scandal: Top Obama-Clinton Officials, Susan Rice, and Ben Rhodes to Respond to @JudicialWatch Questions Under Oath https://t.co/kka1QCEWtG pic.twitter.com/WYHLLTFP0G

— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton)

​”In time, historians will likely document that the Clintons and Obamas entered office in January 2009 with a grand plan to transform America’s relations with key powers, especially in the Middle East,” Ortel said. “This plan involved toppling national leaders in many nations by fomenting local uprisings using clandestine resources, in actions that were not likely validly authorized by Congress, as is certainly required under US laws.” (Read more: Sputnik News, 1/17/2019)

The State Department says that around 30 Clinton emails discovered by the FBI could relate to Benghazi.

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US District Judge Amit Mehta (Credit: public domain)

US District Court Judge Amit Mehta is presiding over a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit initiated by Judicial Watch regarding the public release of information relating to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. The FBI recently gave the State Department almost 15,000 previously unknown Clinton emails, so Mehta wants to know if any of them relate to Benghazi.

State Department spokesperson John Kirby says, “Using broad search terms, we have identified approximately 30 documents potentially responsive to a Benghazi-related request. At this time, we have not confirmed that the documents are, in fact, responsive, or whether they are duplicates of materials already provided to the department by former Secretary Clinton in December 2014.” The department says it will need until the end of September 2016 to review the 30 or so emails and redact any classified information in them.

However, Mehta doesn’t understand why it would take the department so long to process so few emails. He orders the department to return in a week to try to justify the processing time.

Starting in mid-2014, Clinton was specifically asked for all her emails related to Benghazi, months before she was asked for all her work-related emails in general. The Benghazi-related emails were the first of her emails to be released, in early 2015.

Jason Miller, senior communications adviser for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, says, “Clinton swore before a federal court and told the American people she handed over all of her work-related emails. If Clinton did not consider emails about something as important as Benghazi to be work-related, one has to wonder what is contained in the other emails she attempted to wipe from her server.” (The Hill, 8/30/2016)

The House Benghazi Committee releases their final report, which lacks any new politically damaging revelations.

The report is over 800 pages. and comes after 15 months of investigation, at a cost of over $7 million. However, the New York Times comments that the report “offers a handful of new details but nothing that will alter the conventional narrative about the events of September 11, 2012,” the date of the terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The report does point out numerous failures regarding the US government’s response to the attack, but those were mostly outside the control of Clinton’s State Department, such as a slow response time from the US military.

The Times also comments that “after nearly four years and eight congressional investigations, Mrs. Clinton emerged largely unscathed. […] In the end, the biggest revelation unearthed by the [committee] came 15 months ago: the disclosure that Hillary Clinton had used a private email address and server during her four years as secretary of state.”

Clinton comments, “I’ll leave it to others to characterize this report, but I think it’s pretty clear that it’s time to move on.” (The New York Times, 6/28/2016)

 

March, 2016 – Newt Gingrich paid Judicial Watch to hunt for Clinton server hack

Newt Gingrich (Credit: Nicholas Kamm/Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

“In the summer of 2016, the FBI interview report noted, the interviewee reported that a senior staff member of the US Senate Judiciary Committee contacted him “out of concerns data from Clinton’s e-mail server might end up overseas. Specifically [name redacted] wanted to determine if there was an intrusion into Clinton’s server and, if so, whether exfiltrated data fell into the hands of a foreign power”—and whether that data could endanger the Senate staffer’s sons, who were in the military.

The interviewee told FBI investigators that he had told the Senate staffer that he would have to look for data that was “genuine, authentic and relevant” to determine that there had been a breach. But the staffer had no money to fund the research, so the project was brought to Newt Gingrich—who obtained funding for the investigation from Judicial Watch.

In March of 2016, Judicial Watch paid the contractor’s side company $32,000 for the first phase of the project—determining whether Clinton’s server had been directly attacked. “Judicial Watch awarded the contract to [name redacted] because they were confident he understood both the Deep Web and the Dark Web,” the interviewee told the FBI. The investigation also targeted data from Sidney Blumenthal’s e-mail account, but Clinton’s and Blumenthal’s actual e-mail services were off-limits for the search.

Some of Blumenthal’s files—but no e-mails—were found on a server in Romania, according to the FBI interview. The investigation also found an Excel file listing names of known or suspected jihadists in Libya—but part of that file was in Russian. “The file did not come from Blumenthal’s server, but contained a reference to an IP address range that included the IP address of Clinton’s server,” the FBI report recounts. “Upon viewing this file, [name redacted] became concerned he had found a classified document and stopped the project.”

(Read more: Ars Technica, 10/17/2016)

 

Colin Powell thinks Benghazi was a “stupid witch hunt” and Condoleezza Rice agrees.

Condoleeza Rice (Credit: Fox News)

Condoleeza Rice (Credit: Fox News)

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell writes an email to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on this day about the Republican-led House Benghazi Committee investigation. “Benghazi is a stupid witch hunt. Basic fault falls on a courageous ambassador who thoughts [sic] Libyans now love me and I am ok in this very vulnerable place.” He is referring to former ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, who was killed in the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack.

Powell also comments, “But blame also rests on his leaders and supports back here. [Patrick] Kennedy, Intel community, [State Department] and yes HRC,” referring to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“Completely agree,” Rice responds. (Washington Post, 09/14/16)

The hacker website DCLeaks.com will publish Colin Powell’s hacked emails on September 13, 2016.

The State Department won’t reveal which Clinton aides used her private server or other non-government accounts.

Bradley Moss (Credit: public domain)

Bradley Moss (Credit: public domain)

In March 2015, the House Benghazi Committee subpoenaed records, including work-related emails from personal accounts, from ten former Clinton aides, for a two-year period surrounding the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack. The State Department then asked those ten people for their records. It is known that four of the aides—Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines—have turned over records, including from personal email accounts. However, it is not known what happened with the other six, or even who they are.

Clinton wrote in a sworn affidavit on August 6, 2015 that Abedin had an email account on Clinton’s private server and that Mills did not. Otherwise, department officials and Clinton’s staff have failed to reveal who else had an email account on Clinton’s server or even which other aides had any kind of personal email account.

The Intelligence Community inspector general’s office says it is not currently involved in any inquiry into Clinton’s former top aides because it is being denied full access to the aides’ emails by the State Department.

The media outlet Gawker is suing for access to Reines’ emails. Bradley Moss, a lawyer for Gawker, says: “I think the headline is that there’s nothing but murkiness and non-answers from the State Department. I think the State Department is figuring this out as it goes along, which is exactly why no one should be using personal email to conduct government business.”  (McClatchy Newspapers, 8/11/2015)

The House Benghazi Committee requests Clinton should preserve and then hand over all her emails, not just those related to Benghazi.

The committee already had requested that the State Department turn over all of Clinton’s emails relating to Benghazi or Libya. But on March 2, 2015, the New York Times reported a front-page story that revealed Clinton’s lawyers had deleted over 31,000 of Clinton’s emails without input from anyone else, deeming them “personal” in nature.

The committee gives a letter to Williams & Connolly, the law firm of Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, requesting the preservation and production of all documents and media related to hdr22@clintonemail.com, the email Clinton used while she was secretary of state. In addition, they ask the same for her hrcl7@clintonemail.com account. This account was only used by Clinton starting one month after she left the State Department, but at the time that isn’t clear. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

One day later, the committee will issue two subpoenas to Clinton, but they have a more limited scope.

In Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, the FBI will summarize her as saying, “Concerning the Congressional preservation request on March 3, 2015 for email and other records, Clinton trusted her legal team would comply with the request.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Clinton and her future campaign chair Podesta appear to discuss classified information before Podesta warns her to stop.

John Podesta and Hillary Clinton in 2007. (Credit: Flickr)

John Podesta and Hillary Clinton in 2007. (Credit: Flickr)

Clinton forwards an email to her future campaign chair John Podesta. It is not clear where the forwarded email comes from, especially considering that Clinton is a private citizen at the time, since the sender’s name is not included. But it discusses nine detailed points on how to deal with the ISIS Islamist movement in Iraq and Syria. The forwarded email starts with the sentence: “Note: Sources include Western intelligence, US intelligence and sources in the region.”

Podesta replies with some brief commentary on the email.

Then Clinton emails him back, writing, “Agree but there may be opportunities as the Iraqi piece improves. Also, any idea whose fighters attacked Islamist positions in Tripoli, Libya? Worth analyzing for future purposes.”

Podesta then replies, “Yes and interesting but not for this channel.” (WikiLeaks, 11/3/2016)

The email chain will be released by WikiLeaks in November 2016. Thus, it is unknown what parts of the chain might be deemed classified by the US government.

February 16, 2013 – Missing Clinton email claims Saudis financed Benghazi attacks

“Something that has gone unnoticed in all the talk about the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails is the content of the original leak that started the entire investigation to begin with. In March of 2013, a Romanian hacker calling himself Guccifer hacked into the AOL account of Sidney Blumenthal and leaked to Russia Today four e-mails containing intelligence on Libya that Blumenthal sent to Hillary Clinton.

For those who haven’t been following this story, Sidney Blumenthal is a long time friend and adviser of the Clinton family who in an unofficial capacity sent many “intelligence memos” to Hillary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State. Originally displayed on RT.com in Comic Sans font on a pink background with the letter “G” clumsily drawn as a watermark, no one took these leaked e-mails particularly seriously when they came out in 2013. Now, however, we can cross reference this leak with the e-mails the State Department released to the public.

The first three e-mails in the Russia Today leak from Blumenthal to Clinton all appear word for word in the State Department release. The first e-mail Clinton asks to have printed and she also forwards it to her deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan. The second e-mail Clinton describes as “useful insight” and forwards it to Jake Sullivan asking him to circulate it. The third e-mail is also forwarded to Jake Sullivan. The fourth e-mail is missing from the State Department record completely.

The original Blumenthal email released by Guccifer and missing from Clinton’s emails. (Credit: Guccifer)

This missing e-mail from February 16, 2013 only exists in the original leak and states that French and Libyan intelligence agencies had evidence that the In Amenas and Benghazi attacks were funded by “Sunni Islamists in Saudi Arabia.” This seems like a rather outlandish claim on the surface, and as such was only reported by conspiracy types and fringe media outlets. Now, however, we have proof that the other three e-mails in the leak were real correspondence from Blumenthal to Clinton that she not only read, but thought highly enough of to send around to others in the State Department. Guccifer speaks English as a second language and most of his writing consists of rambling conspiracies, it’s unlikely he would be able to craft such a convincing fake intelligence briefing. This means we have an e-mail from a trusted Clinton adviser that claims the Saudis funded the Benghazi attack, and not only was this not followed up on, but there is not any record of this e-mail ever existing except for the Russia Today leak.

Why is this e-mail missing? At first I assumed it must be due to some sort of cover up, but it’s much simpler than that. The e-mail in question was sent after February 1st, 2013, when John Kerry took over as Secretary of State, so it was not part of the time period being investigated. No one is trying to find a copy of this e-mail. Since Clinton wasn’t Secretary of State on February 16th, it wasn’t her job to follow up on it. (Read more: William Reynolds, 3/07/2016)

October 10, 2012 – Blumenthal appears to be secretly working with Media Matters to influence the portrayal of Clinton and the State Department on Benghazi

Sidney Blumenthal, poses for Vanity Fair in October, 1987. (Credit: Jonathan Becker/Vanity Fair)

“Clinton confidant Sid Blumenthal sends Clinton an email with the message, “Got all this done. Complete refutation on Libya smear. Philippe can circulate these links. Sid.” The email also includes links to four recent Media Matters stories questioning aspects of the House Benghazi Committee’s investigation of the government’s response to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack that is very critical of Clinton and her State Department. For instance, one of the stories, published the same day Blumenthal’s email is written, has the title: “Right-Wing Media’s Libya Consulate Security Mythology Falls Apart.”

None of the articles have a Blumenthal by-line, but his “got this done” comment suggests he is somehow involved in making them. Media Matters is a pro-Clinton media watchdog group chaired by David Brock, who will later head Clinton’s main Super PAC for her 2016 presidential campaign.

Clinton replies with the message “Passing on,” and forwards the email to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines, as Blumenthal requested. (US Department of State, 11/30/2015) (Media Matters, 10/10/2012) (Media Matters, 10/10/2012) (Media Matters, 9/26/2012) (Media Matters, 10/9/2012)

In June 2015, Blumenthal will reveal under oath that he was paid around $200,000 a year by Media Matters for a part-time consulting beginning in late 2012, or around the time of this email. (Fox News, 6/19/2015) (The Los Angeles Times, 6/27/2016)

In early 2009, President Obama banned Clinton from giving Blumenthal a State Department job, but this email suggests the ban was not entirely effective.”