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Posts Tagged ‘State Department’

Monday I posted this: #WatchThis Space: Arctic Activity.  Well you really have to watch! Things are moving fast, and there are a lot of moving parts. This, from Michael Grunwald in Politico.

Rex Tillerson Tried to Get This Rule Killed. Now Congress Is About To Do It For Him

Should oil companies disclose payments to foreign governments? The GOP, and former Exxon CEO, think not.

February 01, 2017

… back in 2010, ExxonMobil’s then-CEO, Rex Tillerson, was deeply worried about Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, a bipartisan amendment that required drilling and mining companies to disclose any payments they make to foreign governments. So Tillerson and one of his lobbyists paid a half-hour visit to the amendment’s Republican co-author, then-Senator Richard Lugar, to try to get it killed.

Tillerson argued that forcing U.S. oil firms to reveal corporate secrets—such as paying foreign governments—would put them at a competitive disadvantage. He also explained that the provision would make it especially difficult for Exxon to do business in Russia, where, as he did not need to explain, the government takes a rather active interest in the oil industry.

SNIP

Today, seven years later, Republicans confirmed Tillerson as President Trump’s Secretary of State, despite allegations that he’s too cozy with Russia. At the same time, the GOP is preparing to try to kill the disclosure rule created under Section 1504, despite warnings from international aid groups that the move would provide a wink-and-nod blessing to hidden corporate payments to petro-thugs. The House is expected to act this afternoon, and since the move relies on a special mechanism for reversing rules enacted late in a presidential term, Senate Republicans will need a mere majority rather than a filibuster-proof 60 votes to follow suit.

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As you probably could have guessed …

U.S. House Passes Resolution to Kill Extractive Anti-Graft Rule

Four years to the day since Hillary Clinton exited the State Department, Tillerson will occupy Foggy Bottom, and Congressional Republicans have blown smoke and fog over corporate payments to foreign governments. This in conjunction with the Arctic activity slips past much of the MSM while they occupy themselves with Trump thinking Frederick Douglass is still alive.

Just a reminder: The Benghazi-cum-server-cum emails Oversight Committee railed and wailed a lot in the course of their hearings about Hillary’s State Department initiatives promoting American businesses overseas.  That is part of the Secretary of State’s job, and all of those initiatives were transparent.

John Kerry’s successor enters with a cloak of invisibility ready made.

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Keep watching this space!  The war in Urkraine is escalating.  Remember that plank in the Republican platform that Trump had removed?

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The United States has four coasts subject to the perils presented by climate change: the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Arctic. As a nation with land above the Arctic Circle, we belong to the Arctic Council.

When she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton participated regularly in Arctic Council summits hosted by a variety of the eight member nations. This was one. I have bolded the list of member states.

Lisa Murkowski  was nice enough to post this picture on her Facebook page along with this comment about an hour ago.

Lisa Murkowski

Heading home from the Arctic Council in Nuuk, Greenland. But wanted to share a picture: with the Ministers of the eight Arctic nations in attendance, as well as Secretary Clinton and Secretary Salazar.

Here is a fact sheet released by the State Department about the Arctic Council meeting results.

Secretary Clinton Signs the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement with Other Arctic Nations

Fact Sheet

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 12, 2011

On May 12, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined representatives of the other seven Member States of the Arctic Council (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, and Sweden) in signing an Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) in the Arctic (Agreement). The Agreement is the first legally-binding instrument negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council. It coordinates life-saving international maritime and aeronautical SAR coverage and response among the Arctic States across an area of about 13 million square miles in the Arctic.

As Arctic sea ice coverage decreases, ship-borne activities are increasing significantly in the Arctic. Flight traffic is also on the rise as new polar aviation routes cross the Arctic air space in several directions. As human presence and activities in the Arctic expand, the potential for accidents increases as well. Limited rescue resources, challenging weather conditions, and the remoteness of the area render SAR operations difficult in the Arctic, making coordination among the Arctic nations imperative. The SAR Agreement will improve search and rescue response in the Arctic by committing all Parties to coordinate appropriate assistance to those in distress and to cooperate with each other in undertaking SAR operations. For each Party, the Agreement defines an area of the Arctic in which it will have lead responsibility in organizing responses to SAR incidents, both large and small. Parties to the Agreement commit to provide SAR assistance regardless of the nationality or status of persons who may need it.

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(See more like this here>>>>)

It is immediately apparent why there is a need for this council. Russia is a player.

After Hillary left the State Department, she launched a series of  speaking engagements. One of these was in Canada.

Speaking to the Montreal Board of Trade last night, Hillary Clinton warned the audience of increased Russian activity in the Arctic and hung responsibility for another Cold War on Vladimir Putin’s doorknob.

As Secretary of State,  Hillary was an active participant in the Arctic Council and repeatedly echoed the message that we are an Arctic nation.  The concerns she voiced in Canada are as much an issue for the U.S. as they are for Canada.

Along with the disquiet she expressed regarding Russia’s activities in the north came further comments about recent activities in Europe.

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In light of the above, this is of some concern or should be to all the member nations including ours.

Russian servicemen of the Northern Fleet’s Arctic mechanised infantry brigade participate in a military drill on riding reindeer and dog sleds near the settlement of Lovozero outside Murmansk, Russia January 23, 2017. Picture taken January 23, 2017. Lev Fedoseyev/Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation/Handout via REUTERS
By Andrew Osborn | MURMANSK, Russia

The nuclear icebreaker Lenin, the pride and joy of the Soviet Union’s Arctic great game, lies at perpetual anchor in the frigid water here. A relic of the Cold War, it is now a museum.

But nearly three decades after the Lenin was taken out of service to be turned into a visitor attraction, Russia is again on the march in the Arctic and building new nuclear icebreakers.

It is part of a push to firm Moscow’s hand in the High North as it vies for dominance with traditional rivals Canada, the United States, and Norway as well as newcomer China.

SNIP

Grigory Stratiy, deputy governor of the Murmansk Region, told Reuters there was strong interest in sea route from Asian nations however and that new icebreakers would allow for year-round navigation in the 2020s.

“Whatever the weather, the Northern Sea Route will be needed. Its use will definitely grow,” said Stratiy, who said Russia was keen to attract foreign investment to the Arctic.

When asked about his country’s military build-up, he smiled.

“There’s no reason to be afraid I can reassure you,” he said, saying it was driven only by a need to modernize.

“Russia has never had any aggressive aims and won’t have them. We are very friendly people.”

Read more >>>>

Anyone thinking that Putin is playing nice friendly reindeer games up there is, of course, deluded despite the “peaceful and cooperative nature of the Arctic Region” as stated on the State Department page.  We should never trust Putin, as Hillary warned, especially when his military is involved. So this military build up is one thing to watch.

It’s nice to have ice breakers available when you need them, and the Russians were very helpful the time the whales were trapped under the ice as portrayed in that Drew Barrymore movie. Those missile installations, though. No wonder we sent troops to Norway.

The North Sea Route concept, characterized in the article as a mini Suez Canal, is an obvious business venture, but of course the real target is oil. Drilling in the Arctic is an enterprise popular with Republicans.

Lastly, how the hell did “newcomer China” get into this competition? It has no land above the Arctic Circle. Or does it?  Is it building synthetic islands up there, too?

The new administration has a dangerously narrow view of China’s adversarial scope. It goes beyond trans-Pacific trade and artificial islands to expand its continental limit in the South China Sea and East China Sea. China has invested in significant “development” enterprises in Africa centered largely on resource extraction with tandem infrastructure upgrades benefiting their ability to move products for shipment and not benefiting local residents or their farms or businesses in any way. I don’t think I have ever heard Donald Trump say the word “Africa.”  At the very least, China’s presence in the Arctic deserves a question.

As for Russia, and its military push, we always do well to heed the warnings of Hillary Clinton.

 

 

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In late January, 2013, only days before she left office, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was joined by former Secretary James Baker to launch the State Department Diplomacy Center.

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In early September 2014, she returned to the State Department again joined by predecessors Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Madeleine Albright, and Colin Powell as well as her successor, John Kerry, for a ceremonial ground-breaking 0f the U.S. Diplomacy Center.

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Hillary returned once more today to celebrate the completion of U.S. Diplomacy Center Pavilion, the first floor of which was dedicated and named the Hillary Rodham Clinton Pavilion. Best compliments, Mme. Secretary! You earned this!  We cannot wait to visit this impressive new landmark museum!

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Some of the recovered emails that the FBI investigators combed through had what could have been noticed or missed depending upon how far down a chain of emails you scrolled or how quickly your eye scanned the text. (c) To discern the marking you had first to know what it indicated and second had to read carefully and thoroughly through the email chain since the marking might have appeared in an early version of an email and might have been removed in later texts, or the marking might not have been removed when it should have been. Did you see it?  In testimony to the Oversight Committee, FBI Director James Comey stated that paragraphs or sentences bearing this mark were not offset with indentation.

(c) Now you see it.

At yesterday’s State Department press briefing, these little (c)s were the subject of a great deal of interest.  John Kirby is the State Department spokesperson.

QUESTION: Firstly, the marking of a parentheses “C” – where does that come from? What law designates a parentheses “C” as a valid classification marking?

MR KIRBY: I don’t know.

QUESTION: Can you check on that, so that we know?

MR KIRBY: I don’t know that it is governed by law, but I’ll be happy to check and see.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, if it isn’t, I would be interested to know how it’s indeed classified.

MR KIRBY: Not everything in terms of procedure is governed by legislation, Brad. But I’ll check and see where – if that’s covered in any way.

QUESTION: Well, I looked at Executive Order 13526, which seems to be – well, which proclaims to be the rule on classified national security information. And it doesn’t talk about anything about parentheses “C”s or anything like that. It talks about three valid terms – Secret, Top Secret, and Confidential. And it explicitly says any other marking is invalid. So if you could figure that out, that’d be great.

And then secondly —

MR KIRBY: I would – let me just – I will do what I can, Brad.

QUESTION: Yeah, okay.

MR KIRBY: But I mean, you’re – the issue of classification and markings is not a State Department responsibility in the government. I mean, we obviously have our responsibilities to obey the executive order, but I don’t want to set us up as the authority to speak to every issue of marking that the U.S. Government follows.

QUESTION: Well, I don’t know that the U.S. Government follows this writ large. It seems that you follow it. But I’d like to know why, or based on what.

MR KIRBY: I’ll check.

QUESTION: Secondly, on the category of classification, I think yesterday you said it was to protect the idea of a call or to not get ahead of the Secretary’s decision-making process. Again, there are strict rules, as I see them, for classification, what can be classified – WMDs and critical infrastructure, covert intelligence. Can you tell me what protecting the Secretary’s decision-making process falls under?

At this point, the email in question marked with a (c) involved the scheduling of a call sheet.  There was a proposed call to perhaps be scheduled or perhaps not to a head of state offering condolences.

MR KIRBY: I don’t have the advantage of having that document in front of me, Brad. And I’m not an expert on it; I’m not going to pretend to be or purport to be. I’m happy to further research your question.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR KIRBY: Happy to do that. But as I said yesterday, this was a – this is a fairly common practice and it’s designed to try to treat with care and prudence and not to close down decision space of the Secretary in advance of a recommended call – in case, for instance, that call doesn’t get made or it gets made under a different set of circumstances. So the degree to which it’s governed by regulation or order, I don’t know. And again, I’m happy to look. But I —

QUESTION: I have one more you might need to look into.

MR KIRBY: But – but I – but I think we need to take 10 steps back, take a deep breath, and look at this in perspective. This is a practice which many people use here as a way to try to protect what we believe is sensitive information and to try to preserve decision space for the Secretary of State in advance of, in this case, making a call. So look, I mean, we could have the debate over and over again —

QUESTION: Let me just have my last question. It also under classification rules say you have to put a specific date or event for declassification that must be stated. It doesn’t say when the Secretary decides and there’s a cognitive process inside the Secretary’s brain to make a call that that ends the classification. So can you tell me where this practice on kind of ad hoc expiration comes from as well?

MR KIRBY: I’ll ask the question, Brad.

QUESTION: And then —

MR KIRBY: I have to tell you, though – I mean, I’ll ask these questions; they’re fair questions.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR KIRBY: But again, we’re talking about people trying to do the best they can to protect some sensitive information and protect decision space for the Secretary, and we’re – and of the entire universe of documents, we’re talking about an extraordinarily small amount. So I don’t – I am – again, I’m not pushing back and I will be happy – first of all, I’m happy to admit what I don’t know, happy to go try to find out for you, but I do think it’s important to keep this whole matter in some sense of perspective here in terms of the universe of the issue.

QUESTION: I do. But here’s why I think it’s relevant, and I’ll pose this as a statement/question.

MR KIRBY: There’s a surprise.

QUESTION: We had a discussion earlier this week where you forcibly rejected the notion that there’s a lax culture when it comes to classification in this agency, and now you’re saying that there are practices here that don’t – maybe don’t ascribe to any guidelines or rules, but just are done as a matter of practice for protecting decision-making processes or what, when there are strict guidelines on how you are supposed to classify things. And I don’t quite see what’s wrong with the law, as it is for the entire government —

MR KIRBY: Well, let’s not presume —

QUESTION: — that we need this separate process.

MR KIRBY: First of all – so first of all, let me go —

QUESTION: And why —

MR KIRBY: Let me go research it —

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah.

MR KIRBY: — and we’ll find out if there’s some sort of violation here. But when I refer to questions about a lax culture, it was a broad-brush statement that was made about a lax security culture at the entire State Department – which, as I said the other day, we don’t subscribe to. We don’t share that assessment. Now, you could look at it your way and say, “Well, if we’re not following the rules, then that proves the point.” I would look at it the other way, is that you have people that are trying to take extraordinary care in a pre-decisional environment for the Secretary of State and to preserve what could be sensitive information in advance of a call that might not be taking place. That to me doesn’t connote a culture of negligence and lackadaisical disregard for sensitive information. It actually, to me, says the opposite.

So let’s just agree that I’m going to go ahead and try to see what I can do to put some fidelity on these questions, but I am – still stand by my comment the other day that a broad-brush assessment that the State Department is lax, doesn’t have a healthy security conscience here, is simply without base.

So this (c) marking is a common practice at the department, elsewhere referred to as a “standard practice,” and may simply indicate that at the moment there is a suggestion to make this call but we are not making it public unless/until the secretary decides to make or not make the call.  In other words, it may be temporary.

QUESTION: Okay, great. Second thing: Going back to the discussion that you had yesterday and just now with regard to the practice of putting a “C” on such a memo prior to a decision that has been made for the secretary to place such a call, the – one of the emails talks about having a call at 7:30 a.m. or at some other point during the course of the day. Is it your view that the decision to make the call – this is the one about the condolences to the president of Malawi. Is it your view that the decision to make the call had indeed been made when those emails were sent and you were just talking about what time it would be?

MR KIRBY: I have no idea. There’s no way for me to know that.

QUESTION: Well, if you don’t know whether the decision to make the call had been made at that point, then how do you know the information wasn’t – wasn’t not just marked classified but actually classified when the secretary sent it – when the secretary’s aide sent it?

MR KIRBY: I don’t know – I don’t know how to answer your question. What I said yesterday – I’m not going to get into litigating each and every one of these emails. What I said yesterday is oftentimes it is practice to mark them Confidential in advance of a decision to make a call, and then once the decision is made they’re made Sensitive but Unclassified and they’re provided to the Secretary in a way that he or she can then use as they’re on the phone, and that – that by all appearances, it appears to us that the remnant “C”, if you will, on this particular email call sheet was human error because it appears to me from the traffic that the secretary had been asking, had been wanting the call sheet, which would, I think, indicate that the secretary was at that time intending on making the call.

But I can’t say that for sure because I wasn’t here and I wasn’t involved in the email traffic itself. So I’m being careful about how I’m wording this because we’re making assumptions here that I simply don’t know for a fact are true. But that’s why we believe in this case it was – it was simply human error in terms of the transmission of that particular subparagraph labeled “C”.

QUESTION: Okay. So it’s your assumption that the secretary had at that point made the decision, hence the information would no longer have been classified, hence the marking was a rogue or —

MR KIRBY: A human error.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR KIRBY: A mistake. That’s our assumption, Arshad. But again, not having been here and party to that entire exchange, I don’t know that for – to be a fact 100 percent.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: I have one more on this if people are – want to go on. I just wanted to ask if, in the event the secretary decides not to make the call, when does the classification expire?

MR KIRBY: I don’t know, Brad.

QUESTION: Well, isn’t that useful information given that there are strict rules as well on classification cannot be indefinite in this country?

MR KIRBY: We’re – I’m not going to get into a circular argument with you here on this. I told you I will look at the regulation.

QUESTION: Yeah, okay.

MR KIRBY: I will do the best I can to answer your questions, Brad. But all I’m trying to do is put some perspective on this.

QUESTION: It was – it’s a very confusing policy. That’s why there are so many questions.

MR KIRBY: I didn’t – it’s a – I didn’t call it a policy. I said oftentimes it is standard practice —

QUESTION: Practice. It’s a very confusing practice.

MR KIRBY: — for it to be deemed Confidential in advance of the secretary making a decision – hang on, Goyal – making a decision, and then it is rendered SBU so that the secretary can use the document in an unclassified setting to make the call. And again, I am not an expert enough to debate the expiration of the classified setting, the markings on it. I will do the best I can to answer your questions. I think, again, taking a couple of steps back, look at this in broad terms – it is staff members working hard to try to protect decision space for the secretary in case that call doesn’t get made.

QUESTION: Right.

MR KIRBY: And maybe we don’t want that out there that we decided no, we’re not going to call that foreign leader, we don’t think it’s okay to send him a condolence message. And that’s not information necessarily that we want to have in the unclass environment. And so you have people that are doing the best they can to try to protect decision space for the secretary and to protect – and to protect what we still would render as sensitive information. Again, that doesn’t connote to me a culture of laxity and negligence and —

QUESTION: Oh, I mean, I didn’t ask that on this question. But if you classify something and it’s to protect the possibility that maybe the secretary doesn’t make the call, that information still has to become public at some point. Whether you don’t want it to or don’t think it should be is regardless. It’s public information after a point of declassification.

MR KIRBY: No it doesn’t.

QUESTION: That’s how it works in this country.

MR KIRBY: It doesn’t automatically become public; it becomes declassified at a certain point.

QUESTION: It becomes declassified.

MR KIRBY: That doesn’t mean it has to be put in the public domain.

QUESTION: Well, it becomes declassified at a certain point, isn’t that right?

MR KIRBY: Eventually Classified information will have an expiration on it.

QUESTION: But in this case there was no expiration, so it just kind of was undefined.

MR KIRBY: Well, you and I don’t know that, do we? Because what we have is an email that was put on the unclass side. It was taken to – put on the unclass side, and one marking on one paragraph was labeled “C,” which we believe was a human error. But you and I haven’t seen what was the actual Confidential call sheet that was prepared before it was transferred over to the unclass side, so I don’t know how you and I could know what markings were on that call sheet or what dates were put on there, if any.

QUESTION: I don’t know —

MR KIRBY: Right.

QUESTION: — but I also didn’t know that this sentence comes from a Classified – a fully Classified document. I don’t think anyone had told me that before.

MR KIRBY: I said yesterday that call sheets are generally —

QUESTION: So this sentence —

MR KIRBY: — considered Confidential, and that doesn’t mean that —

QUESTION: This sentence was lifted from a Classified document and put into an Unclassified document?

MR KIRBY: No, Brad. I mean, the call sheets are generally held at a Confidential level in advance of the secretary making a decision to make a call. Not every paragraph of that have to be Confidential. Like, you could still have a Confidential document with four paragraphs, right, and maybe three of those paragraphs are Confidential but one’s Unclassified. So, again, I haven’t seen the actual call sheet that was drafted, so I can’t tell you for sure that every paragraph in there was labeled Confidential with a “C” or Unclassified with a “U.” All I do know is that the email that was processed through FOIA and released contained one paragraph – I think it was actually a sentence; it was like the purpose of the call, I think – that was – that the “C” marking was retained when it was transmitted over an unclass system to former Secretary Clinton. Again, we believe that that was simply human error as the call sheet was moved over to a format that the secretary could use. That “C” should’ve been removed; it wasn’t, because – I mean, the line was really – it was the purpose of the call, I believe is what it was, and so you can see if that’s the document being moved over, that’s the paragraph being moved over, it should have been – the “C” marking should have been taken off.

The bottom line is that, in picking needles out of the haystack, the FBI investigators, reading tediously carefully, found a few of these (c)s  – perhaps remnant (c)s – in texts of strings of emails. None of the emails had headings using the three valid terms – Secret, Top Secret, and Confidential according to Executive Order 13526. The FBI found three emails with this mark.  The State Department as of yesterday only knew of two of the three. (To see more of yesterday’s press briefing, click here.)

Hillary’s campaign released this statement on the subject.

FBI’s Comey: Emails Reported as “Marked Classified” Were Improperly Marked and Could Be Reasonably Judged as Not Classified

In a key development at today’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, FBI Director James Comey clarified an apparent inconsistency between his remarks earlier this week and Secretary Hillary Clinton’s long-running public statements.

Clinton has long stated that none of the emails she sent or received were marked classified at the time. Comey, however, said Monday that there was a “very small number” of emails that bore markings.

Moments ago, Comey reconciled this apparent contradiction. He acknowledged for the first time that there were only three such emails, and that in each case the emails contained only “partial” markings — meaning, he acknowledged, that they were improperly marked and that as a result, the materials could have been reasonably judged as not classified.

Comey’s statements add to the findings announced by the State Department yesterday. At a press briefing, a State Department spokesman said the markings on these emails were the result of “human error” and did not belong in these emails, as the underlying contents were not classified.

Below is the full exchange just now between Director Comey and Rep. Matt Cartwright:

KEY EXCHANGE WITH DIRECTOR COMEY AND REP. CARTWRIGHT

MATT CARTWRIGHT: You were asked about markings on a few documents, I have the manual here, marking national classified security information. And I don’t think you were given a full chance to talk about those three documents with the little c’s on them. Were they properly documented? Were they properly marked according to the manual?

JAMES COMEY: No.

MATT CARTWRIGHT: According to the manual, and I ask unanimous consent to enter this into the record Mr. Chairman

CHAIRMAN: Without objection so ordered.

MATT CARTWRIGHT: According to the manual, if you’re going to classify something, there has to be a header on the document? Right?

JAMES COMEY: Correct.

MATT CARTWRIGHT: Was there a header on the three documents that we’ve discussed today that had the little c in the text someplace?

JAMES COMEY: No. There were three e-mails, the c was in the body, in the text, but there was no header on the email or in the text.

MATT CARTWRIGHT: So if Secretary Clinton really were an expert about what’s classified and what’s not classified and we’re following the manual, the absence of a header would tell her immediately that those three documents were not classified. Am I correct in that?

 JAMES COMEY: That would be a reasonable inference.

Last night, several readers contacted me concerned about the news that the State Department has reopened its investigation into the matter of the emails and the server.  This is an internal inquiry that was underway and was suspended while the FBI investigation was ongoing.  It is set to continue, as it was expected to, now that the FBI investigation is complete and Justice Department has issued its decision.
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Seven days late and seven million dollars short, the Republicans of the Select Committee on Benghazi released their report today.  No Democrats on the Committee were involved in crafting the 800-page Republican report.  They released a report of their own yesterday.

To the surprise of no one, the Republican report contains no new evidence that Hillary Clinton did anything wrong, slept through the 3 a.m. phone call, gave any stand-down command, or that she blamed the attack on a video – which did exist – but she never cited that video as the motivation behind the attack.  Neither did any “Clinton administration” have anything to do with these attacks. One ended in 2001 and the other doesn’t begin until 2017.  Trey Gowdy’s slips of the tongue really say it all.

Nothing has been so wasteful in time and tax dollars as this so-called investigation.

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Hillary’s defense team was quick to respond to the Republican move.

“New Revelations” From Benghazi Report Notably Old

Republican efforts to exploit the Benghazi tragedy to score political points against Hillary Clinton has been both disturbing and fruitless.

Two years and $7 million after its inception, the taxpayer-funded partisan witch hunt known as the Benghazi Committee concluded quite fittingly: Republican members, who insisted in breaking precedent and releasing their own report rather than a bipartisan one from the committee, selectively leaked out portions of their report in the middle of the night.

As objective viewers quickly determined, the report offers no new evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton. So, having once again failed in their efforts to uncover a smoking gun, committee Republicans have opted to repackage previously known information and present it as new. Here are a few examples:

“NEW REVELATION” – A team of Marines was delayed on a runway in Spain as there were deliberations over what uniforms they should wear.

Benghazi Republicans Report Summary: “The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part I… A Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain, for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times.”

FACT – The uniform issue was revealed in 2013. It was again confirmed by Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee in 2014. Moreover, it had zero impact on the mission, and safety was the driving concern.

Fox News, 1/22/2013: “Fox News has learned that U.S. Marines who were part of a FAST (Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team) responding to Libya were told by the State Department to deplane, change out of their U.S. military uniforms and put on civilian clothes before flying to Tripoli… Defense Department spokesman George Little says that the FAST team would not have been in Libya in time to save any lives, and any delays to change out of military uniforms likely did not make a difference since all surviving State Department personnel left the consulate for the CIA Annex about an hour and 45 minutes after the attack began”

GOP Armed Services Committee Report on Benghazi, 2/2014: “Presumably, warfighters changed out of uniform because of concerns that the arrival of combat-ready troops might unduly alarm or inflame Libyan observers.  Although General Dempsey acknowledged to the Senate that this action delayed the platoon’s arrival in Libya, he said it was not enough to prevent it from getting to Benghazi before attack survivors departed.”

Select Committee on Benghazi Interview of Marine FAST Commander, 9/2/2015: QUESTION: And you mentioned that, even had you had aircraft collocated and loaded up within an hour, you could not have made it to Benghazi prior to the second attack. Is that right?

FAST COMMANDER: That is correct, ma’am. And as per FAST mission, we are not designed as a hostage rescue force. We are not—what was happening on the deck on the evening of the 11th to the morning of the 12th is not within the parameters of FAST mission. […]

QUESTION: And you mentioned in the last hour even the confusion you had over the uniforms did not make a difference in your ability to complete your mission. Is that right?

FAST COMMANDER: Absolutely not.

Pentagon Joint Staff Director For Operations Admiral Kurt Tidd, Interview with Select Committee on Benghazi, 4/4/2016: “It was from a security perspective that, I think, they were thinking of not moving uniformed marines at night in buses through the—you know—or, actually, in the early hours of the morning through downtown Tripoli to the embassy.”

“NEW REVELATION” – Clinton had planned to visit Libya at the end of 2012, and witness testimony asserted that she wanted the Benghazi post made permanent.

Benghazi Republicans Report Summary: “The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part III… Emails indicate senior State Department officials, including Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and Huma Abedin were preparing for a trip by the Secretary of State to Libya in October 2012. According to testimony, Chris Stevens wanted to have a “deliverable” for the Secretary for her trip to Libya, and that “deliverable” would be making the Mission in Benghazi a permanent Consulate.”

WaPo: House Benghazi report: Clinton was planning a trip to Libya before the attacks

The Hill: “Among the report’s new revelations is the notion that Ambassador Chris Stevens, one of the Americans killed, was in Benghazi with the aim of erecting a permanent diplomatic post, to replace the temporary one that came under fire.”

FACT – In 2013, Gregory Hicks, the Deputy Chief of Mission to Libya, publicly testified that Clinton had wanted the Benghazi post made permanent and had planned to visit Tripoli.

House Oversight Committee Hearing, 5/8/2013: REP. THOMAS MASSIE [R-KY]: Did you tell the Accountability Review Board about Secretary Clinton’s interest in establishing a permanent presence in Benghazi? […]

GREGORY HICKS: Yes, I did tell the Accountability Review Board that Secretary Clinton wanted the post made permanent. Ambassador Pickering looked surprised. He looked both ways on the — to the members of the board, saying, “Does the 7th floor know about this?” And another factor was our understanding that Secretary Clinton intended to visit Tripoli in December.

 

“NEW REVELATION” – Hillary Clinton attended a video conference that was held on the night of the attacks.

NBC News: “In a newly revealed two-hour secure video conference on the night of the attacks led by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and attended by Clinton and others…”

FACT – The video conference was previously known about; Hillary Clinton even wrote about it in her own book, ‘Hard Choices’.

Hillary Clinton, Hard Choices, pg. 327: “I headed to the Operations Center for a secure videoconference between various government agencies and the White House Situation Room, officials from the National Security Council, the CIA, the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other agencies. This was a Deputies meeting that did not include Principals, but protocol was the last thing on my mind. I downloaded to the group my discussions with Greg and President Magariaf, and I stressed how critical it was to get our people out of Benghazi as quickly and safely as possible.”

Hillary chimed in briefly from the campaign trail in Denver where she unveiled a technology and innovation agenda.

Time to move on and worry about the almost 33,000 gun-related deaths a year in the United States.
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Last week, the Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi failed to meet their own self-imposed deadline for issuing a report. Democrats on that committee, mindful of their accountability to the American people who employ them, have proactively issued a report of their own with recommendations for better security at diplomatic missions.

The committee, established pursuant to H. Res. 567 passed on May 8, 2014, has spent two years chasing its own tail in efforts to bring down the then potential candidacy of Hillary Clinton who testified before the committee in an astounding 11-hour marathon on October 22, 2015 and essentially wore the adversarial Republicans down and out.

10-22-15-Z-07

No committee has been more transparently and abusively political except the House UnAmerican Actitives Committee (HUAC) which functioned from 1938 to 1975 and investigated alleged disloyalty and subversive activities of private citizens for the stated purpose of combating communism in government, education, entertainment and other aspects of American life.  Many innocent lives were scarred.

The Democratic report, just under 340 pages, heavy with documented testimony, and broad in scope, takes explicit and direct aim at the Republican political agenda and misuse of the committee and the information sought and gathered.  It is not Janet Evanovich,  Mary Higgins Clark or Dan Brown, but it is recommended summer reading that is sure to figure in the debates.

Read the report here >>>>

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You may have seen a story today about some emails found to be “beyond classified” (classified Special Access Program or SAP).  According to an exchange at the State Department Daily Press Briefing today, this story, like so much that has come before, emerges from an unreliable source and the flimsiest of bases. (Emphasis is mine.)

QUESTION: Emails. Fox has a report out citing a letter from the inspector general to the intelligence community responding to a – it’s an unclassified letter responding to a member of Congress. And the letter, as has been described to me, says that intelligence community elements, whatever that means, have told the inspector general that some of the emails that were found on former Secretary Clinton’s home email server had so-called SAP classified information on them – Special Access Program. Do you have any comment on this, and do you have any reason to believe that there was any such highly classified information on her email server?

MR KIRBY: Well, I wouldn’t speak to a letter written by the intel community. I think that would be for them to speak to. What I’ll tell you is that we are focused on and remain focused on releasing the rest, the remainder, of former Secretary Clinton’s emails in a manner that protects sensitive information. And as you know, nobody’s going to take that more seriously than we are.

We’ve said repeatedly that we do anticipate more upgrades throughout our release process, and we’ve been very open and honest about that – those upgrades when they’ve occurred. Our FOIA process – I’m sorry, our FOIA review process is still ongoing. And once that process is complete, if it is determined that information should be classified as top secret, then we’ll do so, as we have consistently done throughout the process.

QUESTION: I understand you don’t want to comment on a letter written by a different set of agencies or by the inspector general to a different set of agencies. But it makes an allegation that concerns a former secretary, and therefore I think it’s a reasonable thing to ask you about. Are you in a position to say anything about whether you believe there may have been information classified at that level, which I gather is beyond top secret, on her home email server, or deny it?

MR KIRBY: I’m not in a position to comment any more than what I’ve already done here. I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave it at how I left it.

QUESTION: Do you have in your book there the number of redactions made because of top secret information?

MR KIRBY: I do not. You mean total from —

QUESTION: Total top secret. You said, “as we have consistently done throughout the process.” And I’m just – I don’t remember off the top of my head. Do you remember how many were redacted because of top secret, not confidential or – I mean, if you don’t have it there, it’s okay. I can get it afterwards.

MR KIRBY: I’ll see if I can dig up the redactions. I mean, as you know, every time we’ve done this we’ve kind of laid out how many redactions there were. Most of them – in fact, the vast majority of them – have been at the confidential level. I don’t have the accumulated number, but we’ll see if we can get it for you.

QUESTION: Are you still on track to wrap up by the 29th of this month, which I think is the final deadline?

MR KIRBY: We’re still working very hard to be able to meet that deadline.

QUESTION: Do you think you will?

MR KIRBY: Well, I don’t want to predict right now. We’re working —

QUESTION: It’s like the Syria talks.

MR KIRBY: We’re working very hard to meet that deadline. And look, if we’re not going to meet it, just like last month, we’re going to be open and honest about it, not just to the court but to the public and to all of you. But that’s what we’re still working towards.

QUESTION: If you won’t comment specifically on the IG’s report, can you – I mean, wouldn’t you consider this a pretty serious matter, if this is true? I mean, the IG report was released and then sent to members of Congress.

MR KIRBY: As I understand it, it’s a letter, right?

QUESTION: Right, letter, sorry.

MR KIRBY: It’s not an IG report. And I won’t speak to a letter we didn’t write. And I’m not going to – because I haven’t seen the letter, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment about it either. I’m not going to – I mean, I’m not going to try to characterize what it says or what’s in it.

What I can tell you is serious is the manner in which the Secretary wants this building to do two things: one, to be responsive to Freedom of Information Act reports, and we’re trying very hard to do that. We’ve upped the number of staff, we’ve put more resources into it, we’ve made some process changes, and I suspect you’ll see us continue to do more. And the other thing that we take very seriously is the handling of sensitive information, which is why we’re working so hard as we release all these that we take a look very carefully to make sure that we redact sensitive information appropriately. Those two things I can tell you we take very, very seriously.

There are reviews and investigations going on about past email practices here at the department, and I am simply not at liberty to discuss the content or the things that may or may not be being investigated. I think you can understand why I wouldn’t want to get ahead of that.

Read more >>>>

At that point, they moved on to other topics.  Today, I received this graphic breakdown of the time, money, and labor spent in pursuit of one classified email on Hillary Clinton’s server.  The graphic tells the story.  Spoiler alert.  The number of such emails remains zero, but the story this graphic tells is one of monumental waste. I thought some readers might want an update.

Click to Enlarge

The Hillary Clinton Email Saga, By The Numbers

Via logikcull

 

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