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“What part of democracy are they afraid of? – Hillary Clinton

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Breathtaking negligence on the part of Congress.  For shame!

He’s right: Congress should be ashamed.

Just months after leaving his longtime hosting gig, Jon Stewart returned to The Daily Show.

Hillary for America

Stewart came back to the show to talk about the Zadroga Act, a law that provides health care to 9/11 responders who became sick after breathing in toxic fumes at Ground Zero.

Hillary for America Hillary for America

Republicans in Congress have actually allowed the bill to expire.

If Congress doesn’t act quickly, many responders with cancer and respiratory diseases are going to lose their medical care.

Hillary for America

As senator from New York on September 11, 2001, Hillary has been a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders. And she’s calling on Congress to do the right thing.

“There are thousands who still need help, and all this work is at risk unless Congress acts to extend the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. That is why it’s crucial that we muster the same passion and pressure to extend the law that helped pass it in the first place.”

Hillary, September 30, 2015

Hillary sponsored the Zadroga Act in the U.S. Senate when it was first introduced, and fought hard to secure health care for our heroes.

She believes Congress shouldn’t go home for the holidays until they pass a permanent extension on health care for 9/11 responders.

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There is nothing unusual about televising Congressional hearings.  When I was in elementary school, I came home to find my mom watching the Army-McCarthy hearings.  I did not understand what was happening, but TV was new to our house. Anything on the screen was miraculous and gripping to me. My mom believed what she was hearing from Joe McCarthy even though she was a Democrat.  Sometimes religion overpowered politics in our house.  McCarthy was Irish Catholic so he could not possibly be leading us all astray, could he?

McCarthy operated under a belief system that had nothing to do with the Vatican.  His credo was that the military and government agencies were infiltrated with “card-carrying” Communists.  Not only did he believe that the State Department, the Pentagon, information services, and military research facilities were crawling with seditious moles, he was an evangelist as powerful as Billy Graham at the time.

Of course he was wrong. He was wrong in his beliefs and in his methods, and he came to a sorry end but not before instilling an undercurrent of fear and paranoia among ordinary, patriotic Americans.  Perhaps some petition signed years ago,  maybe a union affiliation,  possibly an offhand remark at a party or in a bar – any innocent past action or comment could boomerang and become one’s undoing.  They spoke of him – the grown-ups did – in hushed tones.

Following an investigative report about the senator on his program, See It Now, Edward R. Murrow offered the following.

No one familiar with the history of this country can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one, and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between the internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men—not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

Joseph R. McCarthy maintained a vise-like grip on the psyche of the nation until Army representative Joseph N. Welch finally stood up to him with the famous, “Have you, at long last, no sense of decency?”  Only then did his influence begin to erode.  Only then could our long national recovery commence.

Records of closed sessions, the ones we did not see on TV, were made public in 2003-2004, a full 50 years after they were held.  Senators Susan Collins and Carl Levin prefaced the documents thus.

Senator McCarthy’s zeal to uncover subversion and espionage led to disturbing excesses. His browbeating tactics destroyed careers of people who were not involved in the infiltration of our government. His freewheeling style caused both the Senate and the Subcommittee to revise the rules governing future investigations, and prompted the courts to act to protect the Constitutional rights of witnesses at Congressional hearings … These hearings are a part of our national past that we can neither afford to forget nor permit to reoccur.

Congress is always investigating something. Our two houses have a multitude of committees and subcommittees all busily pursuing information.  Sometimes committees work in tandem.  When the secretary of defense has a budget proposal to present, both armed services and appropriations committees need to hear the proposal and ask their questions.  Now that we have C-SPAN, our government at work – or not – has become more accessible than back in the day when McCarthy and Kefauver interrupted the soap operas.  It seems that important testimony should, in our information age, be easily accessible and visible.

Last night, Politico shared this.

Benghazi panel denied ex-Hillary aide’s request to publicly testify

Hillary Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills had requested a public session to thwart GOP leaks.

09/01/15

The House Benghazi Committee rejected a request from Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s former chief of staff at the State Department, to have her testimony occur in a public session later this week, a source close to Mills said.

Mills’ desire for open testimony — a request made because she fears Republicans will leak selected information that casts her in a negative light — is just the first disagreement in what’s likely to be a tense session Thursday, when she appears before the panel a day before Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s top policy guru, is also hauled in for questions.

The private interviews with Clinton’s top brass represent the highest-profile grillings yet for the panel probing the cause of, or avoidable factors that could have led to, the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that left four Americans dead.

Lawmakers — who don’t often attend the closed-door interviews with Benghazi witnesses, allowing staff investigators to take the lead — are making the rare move of returning to Washington, D.C., early from their summer break to be present for the interviews with Mills, who no longer works for Clinton, and Sullivan, who remains Clinton’s No. 1 policy staffer on the campaign.

Read more >>>>

Wow! That’s one way to get them all back to DC and on the job. But what, exactly, is the job?  Originally, the Select Committee on Benghazi was assembled to find out what went wrong there and how to avoid similar incidents in the future.   That commission has been retrofitted for political reasons as Democrats on the committee made clear in a July 15 letter.

Select Committee Dems Call Out Republicans for Turning Political Turrets on Hillary Clinton

July 15, 2015
An article in The Hill today reveals a letter from Select Committee Democrats to their GOP counterparts accusing them of refitting the objectives of the committee from inquiry and prevention into a political weapon aimed at the former secretary of state.

Read more and see letter >>>>

So, while public, televised testimony is as old as TV networks in this country, the GOP is using its leadership power to prevent the public from hearing a witness.  This is unfair to Ms. Mills and to the nation.  Certainly all parties, including the media, are well-versed in cutting into broadcasts when sensitive testimony arises.  What is to be feared from broadcasting Cheryl’s testimony?

Given the true GOP agenda, throwing a veil of secrecy wholesale over the proceedings succeeds in accomplishing one objective, promoting the false and toxic allegation that Hillary Clinton and her staff have something to hide.

Hillary has made 55,000 pages of email available, has agreed to testify and answer all of the questions the committee might have, and has explained time and again her decision to use a private server.

Cheryl Mills is an accomplished attorney who served as legal counsel at the State Department and was referred to by another witness in hearings at the House Oversight Committee as the person who reminded him of the rules of engagement for department staff interacting with members of Congress.

Benghazi-Spin: Myth-Busting and Reality Check

May 10, 2013

Spin: Gregory Hicks, demoted for speaking out. Leaving aside for the moment that you chose to speak to a Congress person without a lawyer present as that terrible witch Cheryl Mills pointed out to be State Department protocol….

Read more >>>>

Note:  Hicks did not name her, but we all knew who advised him.

She knows her stuff.  She also knows theirs, and that is why she asked for her testimony to be public. The GOP, and in particular, Trey Gowdy, should honor that request.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, leaves the White House after a national security team meeting with President Barack Obama on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, leaves the White House after a national security team meeting with President Barack Obama on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Someone should give us a reason why we should trust that we will see and hear all that we should.  When I see this in the Politico article,  I remember that statement above from Senators Collins and Levin.  I have a fear that it will be a 50 year wait before closed session documents are released.

Republicans did not wish to comment specifically on the Mills request but have said they’ll release the information after they’re completed their entire investigation and issued their final report.

Let Cheryl Mills testify publicly!

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Hillary was back in DC today for a luncheon and a series of meetings, one of which was with other former secretaries of state.  She spoke briefly to the press about the Iran deal for which she laid the groundwork years ago as secretary of state with the crippling sanctions that ultimately brought Iran to the negotiating table with current Secretary of State John Kerry.

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton listens at left as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Clinton, who spoke to reporters on the deal reached with Iran, attended meetings on Capitol Hill with House and Senate Democrats. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton listens at left as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Clinton, who spoke to reporters on the deal reached with Iran, attended meetings on Capitol Hill with House and Senate Democrats. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, walks with David McCallum, Deputy Chief of Staff for Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nev., right, as they arrive for the weekly policy luncheon with Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Clinton is on Capitol Hill meeting with House and Senate Democrats. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, walks with David McCallum, Deputy Chief of Staff for Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid of Nev., right, as they arrive for the weekly policy luncheon with Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Clinton is on Capitol Hill meeting with House and Senate Democrats. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton poses for a group photo with Senate pages on Capitol Hill in Washington July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton poses for a group photo with Senate pages on Capitol Hill in Washington July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leaves after the Senate Democratic weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leaves after the Senate Democratic weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives at the Senate Democratic weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives at the Senate Democratic weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton walks with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Clinton is attend meetings on Capitol Hill with House and Senate Democrats. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton walks with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Clinton is attend meetings on Capitol Hill with House and Senate Democrats. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton walks away from the microphones after speaking to reporters on the deal with Iran, Tuesday,  July 14, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Clinton attended meetings on Capitol Hill with House and Senate Democrats. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton walks away from the microphones after speaking to reporters on the deal with Iran, Tuesday, July 14, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Clinton attended meetings on Capitol Hill with House and Senate Democrats. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton walks with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Clinton is attend meetings on Capitol Hill with House and Senate Democrats. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton walks with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Clinton is attend meetings on Capitol Hill with House and Senate Democrats. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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Attacking financial reform is risky and wrong. Better for Congress to focus on jobs and wages for middle class families.

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Following the attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, convened, as required by law, an Accountability Review Board (ARB).   It was the 12th ARB to have been convened since the law was established.   The ARB submitted their report to her, and on December 18, 2013,  Hillary Clinton submitted the board’s classified and unclassified reports along with a cover letter to Congress while recovering from serious health issues at home.

Both documents were made available here at the time and remain available in the sidebar on the right.  In the wake of their publication, I posted sections of the report in small portions on Facebook.  Several friends thought that was a good way to make the information available.

Apparently in response to demands from the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the State Department Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently conducted a review of ARBs and issued that report this week.  Four former secretaries of state, including Hillary Clinton, were interviewed in the process of conducting this review.  As I have been reading through it I have found some items that deserve to be brought to the fore in light of criticisms that have been lodged against Hillary.

Since small portions appear effective, here are a few statements from the  Special Review of the Accountability Review Board Process (ISP-I-13-44A) that clarify some issues that some perhaps have not understood.

As for accusations that the ARB was somehow covering information to protect Secretary Clinton.

P 1 ¶ 1 The Accountability Review Board process operates as intended—independently and without bias—to identify vulnerabilities in the Department of State’s security programs.

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Then, of course there is the accusation that Hillary, herself, appointed board.

P 6 ¶ 1 ARB membership consists of five individuals. The Secretary names four members, and the Director of National Intelligence names the remaining member.

01-23-13-Z-10

Darrell Issa and his minions who have railed and roiled since the ARB did not interview Hillary Clinton.  Here is the record.  The emphasis is mine.

P 14 ¶ 6 None of the 12 ARBs interviewed the Secretary to ascertain her/his role in the events leading up to the incident under review. ARB members interviewed by the OIG team stated that after reviewing documentation, they did not find reason to interview the Secretary; rather, the ARBs focused their inquiries at the operational levels of the Department responsible for implementing and overseeing security policies and programs. ARB members were unanimous in saying that they felt empowered to interview anyone, including the Secretary, as the facts or events warranted.

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Hillary submitted the ARB reports, both classified and unclassified, and made the unclassified report public.   The day she testified before Congress it appeared that there were those (Republicans) in both houses who had not familiarized themselves with the contents of the reports.  This is  especially egregious negligence on their part since she was not required to submit the actual reports but did so nonetheless.  She, in fact,  went above and beyond the call of duty in providing the documents since all she was actually required to do was provide her own report to Congress based on these reports.  Instead, she sent them all of the information gathered by the ARB, something she did not have to do.

P 17  ¶ 1The Secretary has a legislated mandate to submit a report to Congress on each recommendation but is not required to forward to Congress a copy of the ARB report itself. The Department submitted the ARB reports on the Nairobi/Dar es Salaam and the Benghazi attacks to Congress in their entirety. Because the recommendations in these reports were so far-reaching and had such significant resource implications, the Secretary considered it important that the findings be shared with both houses of Congress. In the other 10 ARB investigations reviewed, the secretaries’ reports to Congress provided a summary of the key elements of the ARB report, transmitted the ARB’s recommendations for action, and informed Congress of the Department’s response to those recommendations. The OIG team’s review of the secretaries’ reports to Congress over the last 14 years indicated that they accurately conveyed the key elements of the ARB reports.

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Should I, as I continue reading the report,  find additional information to shed clear light and offer evidence of Hillary’s transparency on issues at the center of  the Tea Party Benghazi obsession, I will be certain to share them.

The bottom line, of course, is that Hillary followed the letter of the law and went beyond by providing the ARB report in two forms when that was not required.  She is above reproach in this review process while the Tea Party Republicans show no respect for law or order in this case or in their current attempts to bring the country to its knees over a law  (the Affordable Care Act) that, while not perfect, is helpful to many and thus good.   Instead of tweaking the imperfections of the law and improving what we have (their job), they would prefer to drive us to insolvency for purely partisan reasons.

Their war against Hillary and their strategy of pulling the emergency brake on the whole country because of a law they do not like although  the country re-elected the president who signed it are shameful and unconscionable.

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When Hillary Clinton accepted the prestigious American Bar Association Medal last month, she spoke out on the Supreme Court decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act and announced a series of policy speeches the next of which she will deliver in Philadelphia this coming Tuesday upon acceptance of the Liberty Medal from Jeb Bush.

Tea Partiers, of course, are in meltdown mode over the coincidence of this presentation with the upcoming anniversary of the attack on the outpost in Benghazi which, in the interim, has come to be known to have been a CIA operation (thanks to Jason Chaffetz’s public announcement on live TV).

The policy speeches Mme. Secretary has announced are to address transparency and national security.  In an op-ed, published in yesterday’s New York Times, Representative Alan Grayson also addressed these issues as they relate to the classified information available to members of Congress regarding the proposed attacks on Syria that President Obama has referred to Congress for approval.

Grayson has some issues with the available data and documentation to back up an attack on Syria that he addresses in this article.  Most interestingly,   he compares that availability with the documents Hillary Clinton’s State Department provided on Benghazi.

Grayson in the NY Times on Syria Intel: “Trust, But Verify”


On Syria, “Trust, but Verify”

This op-ed written by Congressman Alan Grayson appeared in The New York Times today. Read it, share it with your friends and family, and join more than 75,000 others who oppose U.S. military intervention in Syria by signing on at DontAttackSyria.com.

WASHINGTON — THE documentary record regarding an attack on Syria consists of just two papers: a four-page unclassified summary and a 12-page classified summary. The first enumerates only the evidence in favor of an attack. I’m not allowed to tell you what’s in the classified summary, but you can draw your own conclusion.

On Thursday I asked the House Intelligence Committee staff whether there was any other documentation available, classified or unclassified. Their answer was “no.”

The Syria chemical weapons summaries are based on several hundred underlying elements of intelligence information. The unclassified summary cites intercepted telephone calls, “social media” postings and the like, but not one of these is actually quoted or attached — not even clips from YouTube. (As to whether the classified summary is the same, I couldn’t possibly comment, but again, draw your own conclusion.)

SNIP


Compare this lack of transparency with the administration’s treatment of the Benghazi attack. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to her credit, made every single relevant classified e-mail, cable and intelligence report available to every member of Congress. (I know this, because I read them all.) Secretary Clinton had nothing to hide.

Her successor, John Kerry, has said repeatedly that this administration isn’t trying to manipulate the intelligence reports the way that the Bush administration did to rationalize its invasion of Iraq.

But by refusing to disclose the underlying data even to members of Congress, the administration is making it impossible for anyone to judge, independently, whether that statement is correct. Perhaps the edict of an earlier administration applies: “Trust, but verify.”
Read more >>>>

Most ironic is the statement of sources of the intel – sources that are being withheld.   Social media is cited.  Last October, in the wake of the Benghazi attack,  there was a great deal of hand-wringing over the issue of some leaked emails that Hillary Clinton addressed directly.

Hillary Clinton, those emails, and the truth

In the dust up around the leaked emails and among the events of her busy day, Hillary Clinton made the following remarks regarding the emails and the attack on the Benghazi consulate in a press availability today.

Now finally, on Benghazi, look, I’ve said it and I’ll say it one more time. No one wants to find out what happened more than I do. We are holding ourselves accountable to the American people, because not only they, but our brave diplomats and development experts serving in dangerous places around the world, deserve no less. The independent Accountability Review Board is already hard at work looking at everything – not cherry-picking one story here or one document there – but looking at everything, which I highly recommend as the appropriate approach to something as complex as an attack like this.

Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence, and I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be. What I keep in mind is that four brave Americans were killed, and we will find out what happened, we will take whatever measures are necessary to fix anything that needs to be fixed, and we will bring those to justice who committed these murders. And I think that that is what we have said, that is what we are doing, and I’m very confident that we will achieve those goals.

Read more >>>>

There are two major takeaways here: 1) Attestation from a member of Congress, who is in a position to make the comparison,  that Hillary Clinton provided Congress with every scrap of relevant documentation on Benghazi all of which he read. 2) Hillary Clinton does not consider postings on social media to be evidence – in her own words.

Thank you, Representative Grayson, for defending our girl prior to a week that is guaranteed, on every front, to be hell on wheels, and thank you and our Hillary for your dedicated service.  It is satisfying to know that some members of Congress read everything she sent since, during her testimony in January,  she was obliged regularly to refer some members to the ARB Report that they seemed to have neglected to read.   The unclassified ARB report is available in the sidebar on the right for anyone who would like to see it.

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