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Benghazi Committee fails to meet self-imposed deadline.

House Benghazi Investigation

House Benghazi Investigation

FILE – In this Jan. 27, 2015, file photo, House Benghazi Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., left, confers with the committee’s ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., during the committee’s hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. The committee has missed a self-imposed deadline to issue a report “before summer,” the latest setback for a probe that has gone on for more than two years and drawn scorn from Democrats who say the primary goal of the Republican-led investigation is to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Waste of tax dollars as are those spent still providing Bernie Sanders with Secret Service protection.

Lord almighty!  How some people just do not want a woman, and especially the one who is the most qualified person since Adams 2 , Jefferson, Adams 6, and Buchanan (the last former SOS elected).  Well, I am not sure those guys would have liked Hillary either, but I think they would have respected her.  And a few ex-POTUSes might have liked her. Geez!  She’s funny, and she’s cute, and she’s effing smart as blazes! Yeah. I think more than a few ex-POTUSes would have liked her a lot.  Especially FDR.

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Statements

Hillary Clinton Opening Statement to House Select Committee on Benghazi

Hillary Clinton delivered the following opening statement at today’s hearing of the House Select Committee on Benghazi:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Cummings, members of the committee.  The terrorist attacks at our diplomatic compound and later, at the CIA post in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 took the lives of four brave Americans: Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods.

I am here to honor the service of those four men, the courage of the Diplomatic Security agency and the CIA officers who risked their lives that night, and the work their colleagues do every single day all over the world.

I knew and admired Chris Stevens.  He was one of our nation’s most accomplished diplomats.  Chris’s mother liked to say that he had sand in his shoes, because he was always moving, always working, especially in the Middle East that he came to know so well.

When the revolution broke out in Libya, we named Chris as our envoy to the opposition. There was no easy way to get him into Benghazi to begin gathering information and meeting those Libyans who were rising up against the murderous the dictator Qadhafi, but he found a way to get himself there on a Greek cargo ship, just like a 19th century American envoy.  But his work was very much 21st century hard-nosed diplomacy.

It is a testament to the relationships that he built in Libya that on the day following the awareness of his death, tens of thousands of Libyans poured into the streets in Benghazi. They held signs reading “thugs don’t represent Benghazi or Islam.” “Sorry people of America, this is not the behavior of our Islam or our Prophet.” “Chris Stevens, a friend to all Libyans.”

Although I didn’t have the privilege of meeting Sean Smith personally, he was a valued member of our State Department family. An Air Force veteran, he was an Information Management officer, who had served in Pretoria, Baghdad, Montreal, and The Hague.

Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty worked for the CIA. They were killed by mortar fire at the CIA’s outpost in Benghazi, a short distance from the diplomatic compound. They were both former Navy SEALs and trained paramedics with distinguished records of service, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As Secretary of State, I had the honor to lead and the responsibility to support nearly 70,000 diplomats and development experts across the globe.

Losing any one of them, as we did in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexico, Haiti, and Libya during my tenure, was deeply painful for our entire State Department and USAID family, and for me personally.

I was the one who asked Chris to go to Libya as our envoy. I was the one who recommended him to be our Ambassador to to the President.

After the attacks, I stood next to President Obama as Marines carried his casket and those of the other three Americans off the plane at Andrews Air Force Base.

I took responsibility.  And, as part of that, before I left office, I launched reforms to better protect our people in the field and help reduce the chance of another tragedy happening in the future.

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What happened in Benghazi has been scrutinized by a nonpartisan, hard-hitting Accountability Review Board, seven prior Congressional investigations, multiple news organizations, and, of course, our law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

So today I would like to share three observations about how we can learn from this tragedy and move forward as a nation.

First, America must lead in a dangerous world, and our diplomats must continue representing us in dangerous places.

The State Department sends people to more than 270 posts in 170 countries around the world.

Chris Stevens understood that diplomats must operate in many places where our soldiers do not, where there are no other boots on the ground, and safety is far from guaranteed.  In fact, he volunteered for just those assignments.

He also understood we will never prevent every act of terrorism or achieve perfect security, and that we inevitably must accept a level of risk to protect our country and advance our interests and values.

And make no mistake: the risks are real.  Terrorists have killed more than sixty-five American diplomatic personnel since the 1970s and more than a hundred contractors and locally employed staff.

Since 2001, there have been more than one hundred attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world.

But if you ask our most experienced ambassadors, they’ll tell you they can’t do their jobs for us from bunkers.

It would compound the tragedy of Benghazi if Chris Stevens’ death and the death of the other three Americans ended up undermining the work to which he and they devoted their lives.

We have learned the hard way when America is absent, especially from unstable places, there are consequences.  Extremism takes root, aggressors seek to fill the vacuum, and security everywhere is threatened, including here at home.

That’s why Chris was in Benghazi.  It’s why he had served previously in Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jerusalem during the second intifada.

Nobody knew the dangers of Libya better – a weak government, extremist groups, rampant instability. But Chris chose to go to Benghazi because he understood America had to be represented there at that pivotal time.

He knew that eastern Libya was where the revolution had begun and that unrest there could derail the country’s fragile transition to democracy.  And if extremists gained a foothold, they would have the chance to destabilize the entire region, including Egypt and Tunisia.

He also knew how urgent it was to ensure that the weapons Qadhafi had left strewn across the country, including shoulder-fired missiles that could knock an airplane out of the sky, did not fall into the wrong hands.  The nearest Israeli airport is just a day’s drive from the Libyan border.

Above all, Chris understood that most people, in Libya or anywhere, reject the extremists’ argument that violence can ever be a path to dignity or justice. That’s what those thousands of Libyans were saying after they learned of his death. He understood there was no substitute for going beyond the Embassy walls and doing the hard work of building relationships.

Retreat from the world is not an option.  America cannot shrink from our responsibility to lead.  That doesn’t mean we should ever return to the go-it-alone foreign policy of the past, a foreign policy that puts boots on the ground as a first choice rather than a last resort.  Quite the opposite.

We need creative, confident leadership that harnesses all of America’s strengths and values.  Leadership that integrates and balances the tools of diplomacy, development, and defense.

And at the heart of that effort must be dedicated professionals like Chris Stevens and his colleagues, who put their lives on the line for a country—our country—because they believed – as I do – that America is the greatest force for peace and progress the world has ever known.

My second observation is this:  We have a responsibility to provide our diplomats with the resources and support they need to do their jobs as safely and effectively as possible.

After previous deadly attacks, leaders from both parties and both branches of government came together to determine what went wrong and how to fix it for the future.  That’s what happened during the Reagan administration, when Hezbollah attacked our embassy. They killed 63 people, including 17 Americans. And then in a later attack, attacked our Marine barracks and killed so many more. Those two attacks in Beirut resulted in the deaths of 258 Americans.

It’s what happened during the Clinton administration when al Qaeda bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing more than two hundred people, wounding more than two thousand people, and killing twelve Americans.  It’s what happened during the Bush administration after 9/11.

Part of America’s strength is we learn, we adapt, and we get stronger.

After the Benghazi attacks, I asked Ambassador Thomas Pickering, one of our most distinguished and longest-serving diplomats, along with Admiral Mike Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff appointed by President George W. Bush, to lead an Accountability Review Board. This is an institution that the Congress set up after the terrible attacks in Beirut. There have been eighteen previous Accountability Review Boards. Only two have ever made any of their findings public. The one following the attacks on our embassies in East Africa and the one following the attack on Benghazi. The Accountability Review Board did not pull a single punch. They found systemic problems and management deficiencies in two State Department bureaus.

And the Review Board recommended twenty-nine specific improvements.  I pledged that by the time I left office, every one would be on the way to implementation.  And they were.  More Marines were slated for deployment to high-threat embassies.  Additional Diplomatic Security agents were being hired and trained.

And Secretary Kerry has continued this work.  But there is more to do.  And no administration can do it alone.  Congress has to be our partner, as it has been after previous tragedies.

For example, the Accountability Review Board and subsequent investigations have recommended improved training for our officers before they deploy to the field.  But efforts to establish a modern joint training center are being held up by Congress. The men and women who serve our country deserve better.

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Finally, there is one more observation I’d like to share:

I traveled to 112 countries as Secretary of State. Every time I did, I felt great pride and honor representing the country that I love. We need leadership at home to match our leadership abroad.  Leadership that puts national security ahead of politics and ideology.

Our nation has a long history of bipartisan cooperation on foreign policy and national security.  Not that we always agree — far from it — but we do come together when it counts.

As Secretary of State, I worked with the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to pass a landmark nuclear arms control treaty with Russia.  I worked with Republican Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, to open up Burma, now Myanmar, to find democratic change.

I know it’s possible to find common ground, because I have done it.

We should debate on the basis of fact, not fear.  We should resist denigrating the patriotism or loyalty of those with who we disagree.

So I am here. Despite all the previous investigations and all the talk about partisan agendas, I am here to honor those we lost and to do what I can to aid those who serve us still.

And my challenge to you, members of this Committee, is the same challenge I put to myself.

Let’s be worthy of the trust the American people have bestowed upon us.  They expect us to lead. To learn the right lessons.  To rise above partisanship and to reach for statesmanship.

That’s what I tried to do every day as Secretary of State.  And it’s what I hope we all strive for here today and into the future. Thank you.”

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… they always come home to roost.  There is a lot under the straw here.

WASHINGTON — The Republican leaders of a House committee who have been in a bitter partisan battle with Democrats are enmeshed in a new fight with one of the committee’s former staff members.

A former investigator for the Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi plans to file a complaint in federal court next month alleging that he was fired unlawfully in part because his superiors opposed his efforts to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic mission in the Libyan city rather than focus primarily on the role of the State Department and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The former investigator, Bradley F. Podliska, a major in the Air Force Reserve who is on active duty in Germany, also claims that the committee’s majority staff retaliated against him for taking leave for several weeks to go on active duty. If true, the retaliation would violate the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, which Major Podliska plans to invoke in his complaint, according to a draft that was made available to The New York Times.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state, testified in 2013 before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs about the terrorist attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others were killed. Credit Christopher Gregory/The New York Times

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Ex-staffer: Benghazi committee pursuing ‘partisan investigation’ targeting Hillary Clinton

We are still waiting for that front page apology from the New York Times.

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In the wake of Speaker-in-waiting Kevin McCarthy’s deliberate boast that the House Select Committee on Benghazi was directly responsible for Hillary Clinton’s polling numbers, here are a few updates.

Kevin McCarthy is a fairly common Irish name.  Some may remember that the reason former Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy ran for Congress was because in 1993 Colin Ferguson opened fire on a LIRR commuter train killing her husband Dennis and injuring and disabling her son, Kevin McCarthy. Six were killed and 19 were injured in that attack, and Rep. McCarthy ran on a gun control platform.  Carolyn served from 1997 until January of this year.  Her legacy on gun control in the House is a topic for another day. Her son happens to share a name with a former colleague of hers.  So does this guy whose Twitter account suffered a major onslaught.

Hillary’s Campaign has a video message from a Kevin McCarthy in Iowa.

@KevinMcCarthy is just a normal guy from Iowa, but lately he’s been receiving a lot of tweets because another Kevin McCarthy, the Republican speaker-in-waiting to the House of Representatives, recently confirmed that the committee investigating Benghazi is just a partisan effort to derail Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

 

Even the New York Times, which has faced its own honesty challenges regarding Hillary during this enormous abuse of power, is now calling for a dismantling of the committee.  Failing dissolution, they have a suggestion for a new name.

The Opinion Pages | Editorial

Shut Down the Benghazi Committee

By THE EDITORIAL BOARDOCT. 7, 2015

House Republicans may be disinclined to disband the Select Committee on Benghazi with the presidential race heating up. But at the very least they should rename their laughable crusade, which has cost taxpayers $4.6 million, “the Inquisition of Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, a leading candidate to become the next speaker of the House, acknowledged last week that was the point of burrowing into the details of the 2012 attacks on government facilities in eastern Libya that killed the American ambassador and three colleagues.

SNIP

Mrs. Clinton is scheduled to testify before the committee on Oct. 22. The hearing will give Republicans another chance to attack the credibility and trustworthiness of the leading Democratic presidential candidate. It will do nothing to make American embassies abroad safer or help the relatives of the four killed in Libya.

The hearing should be the last salvo for a committee that has accomplished nothing. If the Republicans insist on keeping the process alive, the Democrats should stop participating in this charade.

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Meanwhile, as noted here, Democrats on the committee are planning on releasing full transcripts of testimony as they explained in their letter of 10/05 to committee chair Trey Gowdy.

Read the Letter from Benghazi Select Committee Democrats to Trey Gowdy

October 5, 2015

There are several stories out there about the letter sent by Democrats on the Benghazi Select Committee to committee chair, Trey Gowdy.  Since, if possible, we like to see primary source material, here is the letter under the official letterhead of Ranking Minority Member Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland.

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U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives at a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa October 6, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives at a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa October 6, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

 

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There are several stories out there about the letter sent by Democrats on the Benghazi Select Committee to committee chair, Trey Gowdy.  Since, if possible, we like to see primary source material, here is the letter under the official letterhead of Ranking Minority Member Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland.  The image is followed by the press release and a printed copy that might be easier to read.

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Here is the press release followed by a print version of the letter,

 

Democrats to Release Mills Interview Transcript to Correct Public Record

Oct 5, 2015
Press Release
“We Will No Longer Sit and Watch Selective, Out-of-Context Leaks Continue to Mischaracterize the Testimony the Select Committee Has Received”

WASHINGTON—Today, all five Democratic Members of the Select Committee on Benghazi sent a letter informing Chairman Trey Gowdy that they plan to begin releasing witness interview transcripts, starting with the interview of former State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, in order to correct the public record after numerous inaccurate Republican leaks.

“Despite claims that the Committee would be run with integrity, Republicans have engaged in a series of selective leaks of inaccurate and incomplete information in an effort to attack Secretary Clinton with unsubstantiated or previously debunked allegations,” the Democrats wrote.

“The latest example occurred after the Select Committee’s interview of Cheryl Mills, the former State Department Chief of Staff.  It has become obvious that the only way to adequately correct the public record is to release the complete transcript of the Committee’s interview with Ms. Mills,” the Democrats wrote.

Democrats point to the Republican leaks as further evidence of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s stark admission that House Republicans created the Benghazi Committee to wage a taxpayer-funded political attack against Secretary Clinton’s bid for president.

The Democrats’ letter released several excerpts from Ms. Mills’ interview that rebut Republican allegations against Secretary Clinton and the administration, but were never made public by Republicans.

Before releasing the full transcript, Democrats are giving Gowdy five days to identify any specific information in the transcript he believes should “be withheld from the American people.”

“We understand that you have not released any of the Select Committee’s transcribed interviews to date, but we believe it is time to start.  We note that you have objected to Democrats releasing Committee documents until the conclusion of the investigation, but you already crossed that bridge yourself when you unilaterally released a subset of Secretary Clinton’s emails on June 22 with no debate or vote by Committee Members,” the Democrats wrote.

“Therefore, we plan to begin the process of correcting the public record by releasing the transcript of Ms. Mills’ interview.  Since you have indicated your unwillingness to do this in a bipartisan manner, we plan to do so ourselves.”

Read the full letter set forth below or online here:

 

October 05, 2015

 

The Honorable Trey Gowdy

Chairman

Select Committee on the Events Surrounding

the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C.  20515

 

Dear Mr. Chairman:

 

On September 29, 2015, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy admitted during a nationally televised interview on Fox News that House Republicans created the Benghazi Select Committee from the very beginning to wage a taxpayer-funded political campaign against Hillary Clinton’s bid for president.  Obviously, this is an unethical abuse of millions of taxpayer dollars and a crass assault on the memories of the four Americans who were killed in Benghazi.

 

Although some Republicans attempted to explain away Rep. McCarthy’s admission, it reflected exactly what has been going on within the Select Committee for the past year-and-a-half.  The Committee has now spent more than $4.5 million in one of the longest and least productive congressional investigations in history.  It has held no hearings of any kind since January, and it has completely abandoned its plans to hear public testimony from top defense and intelligence officials so Republicans can focus almost exclusively on Hillary Clinton.

 

Despite claims that the Committee would be run with integrity, Republicans have engaged in a series of selective leaks of inaccurate and incomplete information in an effort to attack Secretary Clinton with unsubstantiated or previously debunked allegations.  The latest example occurred after the Select Committee’s interview of Cheryl Mills, the former State Department Chief of Staff.  It has become obvious that the only way to adequately correct the public record is to release the complete transcript of the Committee’s interview with Ms. Mills.

 

We understand that you have not released any of the Select Committee’s transcribed interviews to date, but we believe it is time to start.  We note that you have objected to Democrats releasing Committee documents until the conclusion of the investigation, but you already crossed that bridge yourself when you unilaterally released a subset of Secretary Clinton’s emails on June 22 with no debate or vote by Committee Members.

 

Therefore, we plan to begin the process of correcting the public record by releasing the transcript of Ms. Mills’ interview.  Since you have indicated your unwillingness to do this in a bipartisan manner, we plan to do so ourselves.

 

Claim That Mills Interview Transcript Should Be Treated As “Classified”

 

After the nine-hour interview of Ms. Mills concluded on September 3, 2015, you left the room and announced to the assembled reporters that you planned to keep the transcript shielded from public view.  You stated:  “The Members of the Benghazi Committee on our side are going to treat the conversation as if it were classified.”

 

This assertion made little sense since you and other Republicans, as well as your own staff, took numerous steps prior to, during, and after the interview that would have violated security rules had any classified information been discussed.

 

For example, prior to the interview, your counsel confirmed that staff without security clearances could attend the unclassified interview.

 

In addition, at the beginning of the interview, your counsel stated on the record:  “Our session today is unclassified.  If you feel that any question calls for a classified answer, please let us know and we will reserve its answer until another time.”  Your counsel also acknowledged on the record:  “It is my understanding that not everybody has the appropriate level of clearance to hear the classified information.”

 

The stenographers who recorded the interview also considered the session to be unclassified.  In fact, they prepared and transmitted the interview transcript to the Select Committee as an unclassified document.

 

In addition, your staff emailed a copy of the transcript to our staff on our unclassified email system which, ironically, is precisely what Republicans have accused Secretary Clinton of doing. The difference is that your own staff transmitted Ms. Mills’ interview transcript on an unclassified email system after you declared publicly that you were treating it as classified.

 

Finally, just hours after the interview concluded, Select Committee Member Lynn Westmoreland appeared on Fox News and freely discussed numerous details from the interview.  Despite your direction to treat the interview as classified, he emphasized that he was providing first-hand information “[a]ccording to what we heard today.”  As he explained, “I’m just telling you what they said.”

 

During Ms. Mills’ interview, she conducted herself professionally, she answered every question posed to her, and she debunked numerous Republican conspiracy theories that have been made for several years—and that continue to be repeated even today—yet Republicans did not make any of that information public.

 

Republicans may have their own partisan political reasons for wanting to keep Ms. Mills’ interview transcript out of the public view, but they may not suddenly claim it is now classified merely to prohibit its release to the American people.  According to Executive Order 13526, information may not be classified merely to “prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency”—including embarrassment to the Select Committee.

 

Inaccurate Republican Leaks

 

Republicans began leaking inaccurate information about Ms. Mills’ interview within minutes after your public declaration that it should be treated as classified.

 

Prior to her interview, Ms. Mills’ counsel wrote to request that the interview be held in public in light of the “numerous reports in the press, as well as public comments from members of your Committee regarding Ms. Mills’ upcoming interview.” At the beginning of the interview, Ms. Mills’ counsel renewed her request to make the transcript public, stating, “I would only ask today that at the end of the day, because this is an unclassified hearing, as was just explained to us, that the transcript be released publicly.”

 

Instead, Republicans began leaking inaccurate information about the interview out of context.  For example, Politico published an article on the front page of its website entitled, “What Cheryl Mills Told Benghazi Investigators.”  Relying on multiple “GOP” and “Republican” sources, Politico wrote that “one of the biggest surprises” from the interview was that Ms. Mills “had reviewed and made suggestions for changes” to the report of the Accountability Review Board (ARB).  According to “a separate, GOP source,” this supposedly new revelation was “raising alarms on the right” and “call[s] into question the ‘independence’” of the report’s conclusions.  Select Committee Member Jim Jordan later provided an interview to another media outlet raising these same concerns.

 

In fact, this claim was already known—and had been debunked—two years earlier during the investigation led by former Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa.

 

On June 4, 2013, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, the Chairman of the ARB who served with distinction under both Republican and Democratic Administrations,‎ testified before the Oversight Committee in a sworn deposition.  In the transcript made public two years ago, he explained that the ARB provided a draft of the report to the Secretary’s office to ensure “the accuracy and the focus of our recommendations” before they were released.  He also testified then that while the ARB considered some of Ms. Mills’ thoughts about the report, neither Secretary Clinton nor Ms. Mills tried to influence the outcome of the ARB’s findings in any way and had no editing rights.

 

A review of the ARB by the State Department Inspector General issued in September 2013 concluded:

 

ARB members were conscious of the need to protect their impartiality by limiting their contact with senior managers of the Department during the process.  Former members unanimously told OIG team that they encountered no attempts to impede, influence, or interfere with their work at any time or on any level.

 

Instead of being part of a process to interfere with the findings of the ARB, Ms. Mills participated in the same kind of routine process used by the Government Accountability Office, Inspectors General, and other independent investigative entities that provides agencies under review an opportunity to provide comments before reports are publicly released so investigators can make changes they deem appropriate to ensure their accuracy.

 

During her interview, Ms. Mills corroborated both Ambassador Pickering’s testimony and the Inspector General’s findings:

 

Q:           Did you ever, in that process, attempt to exert influence over the direction of the ARB’s investigation?

A:            No.

Q:           Did you ever try to—did Secretary Clinton ever try to exert influence over the direction of their investigation?

A:            No.

 

Ms. Mills also explained that the Secretary’s objective in selecting members of the ARB was, “could they be people who could give hard medicine if that was what was needed.  And I felt like, in the end, that team was a team that would speak whatever were their truths or observations to the Department so that we could learn whatever lessons we needed to learn.”

 

According to the same Politico article on September 3, “Mills said they didn’t know it was solely a terrorist attack until Sept. 21, and, according to a separate Republican source, she said she didn’t know why Rice went on TV to make such claims.”

 

During her interview, however, Ms. Mills never questioned or disagreed with the accuracy of Ambassador Rice’s statements.  Instead, she explained that she did not know the information because she did not participate in Ambassador Rice’s preparation for the interviews:

 

I don’t know the answer to that question.  I know that she had received preparation materials and points, and I’m assuming that that’s how she relied on them and she relied on them to relate what she related on the program.  But I don’t know, because I didn’t participate in her prep or in the materials for her prep.

 

Rebuttal of Republican Allegations

 

During her interview, Ms. Mills also rebutted several Republican allegations against Secretary Clinton and the administration, but Republicans have not made any of this information public to date.

 

For example, contrary to the allegation that Secretary Clinton ordered Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to “stand down,” Ms. Mills explained Secretary Clinton’s actions on the night of the attack:

 

Q:           Did Secretary Clinton request that military assets be deployed?

A:            She actually on our SVTCS [Secure Video Teleconference]—which obviously had the presence of a number of different agencies, of which I believe DOD was one—said we need to be taking whatever steps we can, to do whatever we can to secure our people.  And I can remember that someone from the White House said that the President was 100 percent behind whatever needed to be done and we needed to do whatever needed to be done.  And that’s, you know, that’s what he would expect, but it’s also what was said.

 

Ms. Mills also explained how Secretary Clinton pressed for rapid action in response to the attacks:

 

She was pretty emphatic about wanting whatever to be done and whatever were assets that could be deployed, if that was both effective and possible to be done.  Obviously, it was a challenging environment, given that our compound had been overrun.  And so you want to ensure that, as you also are thinking about who else might go in, how they are able to do that effectively.  But my observation and impression and, obviously, engagements were around what can be done, what can be sent, and how can that be done best.  There was not any notion of not doing that to the fullest amount that was practical, effective, and possible.

 

Ms. Mills also had the following exchange about Secretary Clinton’s level of engagement on the night of the attacks:

 

A:            She was very concerned.  She was also very determined that whatever needed to be done was done.  And she was worried.  She was worried not only about our team on the ground in Benghazi but worried about our teams that were on the ground in Libya and our teams on the ground in a number of places, given what we had seen unfold in Egypt.

Q:           Did she seem uncertain as to how to respond?

A:            No.  She was very—she was very certain.  And, indeed, when we said it was going to be a staff SVTCS, which was our diplomatic way of saying that maybe she shouldn’t be attending, she said, “I’m coming.”  And so we tried to make sure the rest of the interagency knew ahead of time that she was going to be on, but we were unsuccessful, so they were surprised when she sat down.

Q:           So were you surprised by that?

A:            I’m not surprised, because that’s her approach.  She’s a person who steps in and leads.  She’s someone who, when there is accountability, takes it.  So I wasn’t surprised.  But I know that it can sometimes be intimidating to other staff that there is a principal present.  And what she really was communicating that night is, “I’m here because I want my team safe.  I’m not here because I’m here for any other reason than trying to get their safety.  And whatever we need to do to do that I want to do.”

 

Ms. Mills also explained Secretary Clinton’s response to the loss of life:

 

I think she was devastated.  Ambassador Stevens was someone she had a lot of confidence and respect for.  And his guidance and his way was a compelling one.  And the notion that he had been murdered, I think, was something that all of us thought was unbearable, but I think she particularly felt the pain of that.  She also felt the pain of the loss of other Americans that were there that night, whom she didn’t have a personal relationship with but who she knew were there because they were trying to further our own interests.  And so she felt very strongly about claiming all of them, even at a time where there was ambiguity about how that should or shouldn’t be done, but also in honoring their service and what they had done.  And, in the days afterwards, she spent time reaching out to our team in Tripoli, constantly trying to determine if they had what they needed, constantly trying to remind people that, while we all have jobs, people are fragile and you have to remember the fragility of people and their humanity and you have to give respect to that.  And she made herself consistently present to people on her team because she wanted them to know that, as hard as this was, this was something that required us all to bear witness, to learn, and to try to be the very best we could in those moments.

 

Finally, Ms. Mills explained that this commitment was shared throughout the interagency, including by the President:

 

Absolutely everything was on the table.  And, like I said, obviously, the President made that clear too, and that was important.  My impression was that we really had a lot of support from the interagency, who I felt like were very not only just humanly empathic but operationally committed to doing what needed to be done to try and secure our folks and get them out of there.

 

Republicans have never disclosed any of this information from the interview of Ms. Mills to the public because it directly contradicts their political narrative.

 

Conclusion

 

We believe it is time to begin releasing the transcripts of interviews conducted by the Select Committee in order to correct the public record after numerous inaccurate Republican leaks, and we plan to begin this process by releasing the full transcript of Ms. Mills’ interview.

 

Our authority to take this action should be clear since you took similar unilateral action on June 22, 2015, when you publicly released a subset of Secretary Clinton’s emails—without any debate or vote by Committee Members.  Therefore, just as you unilaterally released these Committee documents, we plan to release Ms. Mills’ interview transcript.

 

We do not take this action lightly.  We have held off on taking such action for more than a year, but we will no longer sit and watch selective, out-of-context leaks continue to mischaracterize the testimony the Select Committee has received.

 

Please notify us within five days if you believe any information in the full transcript should be withheld from the American people.  We are providing the State Department and Ms. Mills’ attorneys with this same opportunity.

 

 

Sincerely,

Rep. Elijah E. Cumming      Rep. Adam Smith      Rep. Adam B. Schiff

Rep. Linda T. Sánchez           Rep. Tammy Duckworth

114th Congress
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 accompanied by her Chief-of-Staff, Cheryl Mills, Jan. 5, 2010, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Please note that in the right sidebar here are links to both the ARB Report and Secretary Clinton’s cover letter that accompanied the report.  They will remain there as long as is necessary. If you have never read them, I encourage you to.

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So Jason Chaffetz wants (and gets!) an apology from the Secret Service for disclosing details related to his rejected application to join the force,  but the newly transparent Republican Party feels no such compunction to apologize to Hillary Clinton for investing $4.5 million and more than a year trying to damage Hillary’s reputation.  That, of course, was the purpose of the committee, and when it was articulated by majority leader and Speaker-in-waiting, Kevin McCarthy, the remark was intended as an indication of success in getting stuff done by the majority party.

In the public interest, this is what your $4.5 million tax dollars have gone to finance.

The Select Committee on Benghazi has a website.  These are the members.

 

This is the stated scope and mission of the Select Committee.

About the Select Committee

On May 8, 2014, the House of Representatives adopted H. Res. 567, Providing for the Establishment of the Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, Libya. (Roll Call Vote 209)

The Select Committee is authorized and directed to conduct a full and complete investigation and study and issue a final report of its findings to the House regarding–

  1. All policies, decisions, and activities that contributed to the attacks on United States facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, as well as those that affected the ability of the United States to prepare for the attacks;
  2. All policies, decisions, and activities to respond to and repel the attacks on United States facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, including efforts to rescue United States personnel;
  3. Internal and public executive branch communications about the attacks on United States facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012;
  4. Accountability for policies and decisions related to the security of facilities in Benghazi, Libya, and the response to the attacks, including individuals and entities responsible for those policies and decisions;
  5. Executive branch authorities’ efforts to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012;
  6. Executive branch activities and efforts to comply with Congressional inquiries into the attacks on United States facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012;
  7. Recommendations for improving executive branch cooperation and compliance with congressional oversight and investigations;
  8. Information related to lessons learned from the attacks and executive branch activities and efforts to protect United States facilities and personnel abroad; and
  9. Any other relevant issues relating to the attacks, the response to the attacks, or the investigation by the House of Representatives into the attacks.

Number 9 looks like a catch-all item meant to license anything related in any kind of webby way, and, of course, “relevant” is not defined and obviously is left to the discretion of members.

Here are the hearings.

Hearings

There are no hearings currently scheduled.

Past Hearings

Tue, 01/27/2015 – 10:30am
HVC-210, The Capitol

Subject Matter: Status Review of Outstanding Requests

Witnesses

Neil Higgins

Director of Congressional Affairs

Central Intelligence Agency

Joel Rubin

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs

Wed, 12/10/2014 – 10:00am
HVC-210

Topic: Reviewing Efforts to Secure U.S. Diplomatic Facilities and Personnel

Witnesses:

Greg Starr

Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security

Steve Linick

The Inspector General, Department of State

Wed, 09/17/2014 – 10:00am
HVC-210, Capitol Visitor Center

Topic: Implementation of the Accountability Review Board recommendations

One report has been issued.

Reports

H.Res. 567 authorizes and directs the Select Committee to conduct a full and complete investigation and study of the events surrounding the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi and issue a final report of its findings to the House.

The non classified versions of this final report, as well as any interim reports, will be published on this page.

May 8, 2015- Interim Progress Update

Statements can be accessed here >>>>

Republicans are tripping all over their own feet trying to walk back McCarthy’s assertion.  Three hearings, none since January 27, and one interim report from May that is 15 pages long – that is what $4.5 million have bought.  Ten hearings have been canceled according to the July 15 letter from committee Democrats to the chairman.

In contrast, the current status of the Warren Commission Report is about 900 pages with 26 volumes of supporting material.  More will be released in 2017.

Has there been any Congressional endeavor as dysfunctional, wasteful, and disingenuous?  The only real inaccuracy in McCarthy’s statement is the damage to Hillary Clinton’s image.  We have known all along that the committee had a political mission and that Hillary was the target. The truth is that despite their expensive, extended efforts she is looking very good!

09-19-15-Z-09

McCarthy’s candidness is as refreshing as the toothpaste Republicans are trying to get back into the tube.  We just don’t want to buy any more toothpaste right now.
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So this happened.

Pope Francis, in Congress, Pleads for Unity on World’s Woes

By PETER BAKER and JIM YARDLEY SEPT. 24, 2015

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, challenged Congress and by extension the mightiest nation in the world on Thursday to break out of its cycle of paralysis and use its power to heal the “open wounds” of a planet torn by hatred, greed, poverty and pollution.

Taking a rostrum never before occupied by the bishop of Rome, Francis issued a vigorous call to action to lawmakers who have spent years stalemated over major issues and even now are days away from a potential government shutdown in a dispute over the moral boundaries of federal spending.

Read more >>>>

Then this happened.

John Boehner, House Speaker, Will Resign From Congress

WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner, an Ohio barkeeper’s son who rode a conservative wave to one of the highest positions in government, said Friday he would relinquish his gavel and resign from Congress, undone by the very Republicans who swept him into power.

Mr. Boehner, 65, made the announcement in an emotional meeting with his fellow Republicans on Friday morning as lawmakers struggled to avert a government shutdown next week, a possibility made less likely by his decision.

Read more >>>>

And now this.

House Conservatives Push Trey Gowdy for Leadership Job

By JENNIFER STEINHAUER SEPT. 29, 2015

WASHINGTON — House conservatives, fearful that the post-John A. Boehner era of leadership may look more like a modestly renovated old house than a newly built one, have begun to cast about for one of their own to join the upper ranks: the head of the committee that has been ripping into Hillary Rodham Clinton for well over a year.

Read more >>>>

Yes, that Trey Gowdy!   It is hard to know whether this script could be more absurd if Samuel Beckett had written it.  An element of drama is suspension of disbelief.  But this is not dramatic fiction.  This is taking place in our Capitol, and it is very real.

There is no question as to whom Gowdy has been targeting.  He has twisted and contorted himself every which way like Brody on that crane hook to aim at Hillary Clinton. Like a mouse in a maze he has tried every avenue.  Now his Tea Party partisans want to place him in the leadership position.

You cannot make this stuff up.  We can never put the absurd past the Republicans.  I know this hits you like an “And now this” segment from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight.  It should.  Like everything in those segments, this is actually happening.

There is only one explanation for an option so extreme.  They fear Hillary Clinton.  It is as pathetic as it is possible.

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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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One thing that needs to be emphasized given the slant of the stories we are seeing and hearing today is that the hardware was turned over to the Department of Justice, not to the House Select Committee on Benghazi.  There is a big difference.  It is not that she has finally turned over the server and flash drive, as so many are saying (implying that she has relented to the demands of Trey Gowdy & Co.).  She has turned them over to DOJ in a most timely fashion as and when asked, i.e. immediately.  There is a difference between the GOP and the DOJ.

Hillary has not given the hardware to Trey Gowdy (much to his consternation) or to any elected officials.  Republicans have been pursuing a political agenda ever since those on the Select Committee relinquished their appointed task.   Preventing Hillary Clinton from assuming political office is, to them,  of far greater import and urgency than finding the security gaps that need to be closed to prevent another Benghazi.

In simple language that any fifth-grader should be able to understand, Jennifer Palmieri’s email answers pretty much every question you might have about the news that has obsessed the media today.

You might hear some news over the next few days about Hillary Clinton’s emails. Because you are an important part of this team, we wanted to take a few minutes to talk through the facts — we need your help to make sure they get out there.

There’s a lot of misinformation, so bear with us; the truth matters on this.

Here are the basics: Like other Secretaries of State who served before her, Hillary used a personal email address, and the rules of the State Department permitted it. She’s already acknowledged that, in hindsight, it would have been better just to use separate work and personal email accounts. No one disputes that.

The State Department’s request: Last year, as part of a review of its records, the State Department asked the last four former Secretaries of State to provide any work-related emails they had. Hillary was the only former Secretary of State to provide any materials — more than 30,000 emails. In fact, she handed over too many — the Department said it will be returning over 1,200 messages to her because, in their and the National Archives’ judgment, these messages were completely personal in nature.

Hillary didn’t send any classified materials over email: Hillary only used her personal account for unclassified email. No information in her emails was marked classified at the time she sent or received them. She viewed classified materials in hard copy in her office or via other secure means while traveling, not on email.

What makes it complicated: It’s common for information previously considered unclassified to be upgraded to classified before being publicly released. Some emails that weren’t secret at the time she sent or received them might be secret now. And sometimes government agencies disagree about what should be classified, so it isn’t surprising that another agency might want to conduct its own review, even though the State Department has repeatedly confirmed that Hillary’s emails contained no classified information at the time she sent or received them.

To be clear, there is absolutely no criminal inquiry into Hillary’s email or email server. Any and all reports to that effect have been widely debunked. Hillary directed her team to provide her email server and a thumb drive in order to cooperate with the review process and to ensure these materials were stored in a safe and secure manner.

What about the Benghazi committee? While you may hear from the Republican-led Benghazi committee about Hillary’s emails, it is important to remember that the committee was formed to focus on learning lessons from Benghazi to help prevent future tragedies at our embassies and consulates around the globe. Instead, the committee, led by Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, is spending nearly $6 million in taxpayer money to conduct a partisan witch-hunt designed to do political damage to Hillary in the run-up to the election.

Hillary has remained absolutely committed to cooperating. That’s why, just as she gave her email server to the government, she’s also testifying before the Benghazi committee in October and is actively working with the Justice Department to make sure they have what they need. She hopes that her emails will continue to be released in a timely fashion.

It’s worth noting: Many of the Republican candidates for president have done the same things for which they’re now criticizing Hillary. As governor, Jeb Bush owned his own private server and his staff decided which emails he turned over as work-related from his private account. Bobby Jindal went a step further, using private email to communicate with his immediate staff but refusing to release his work-related emails. Scott Walker and Rick Perry had email issues themselves.

The bottom line: Look, this kind of nonsense comes with the territory of running for president. We know it, Hillary knows it, and we expect it to continue from now until Election Day.

It’s okay. We’ll be ready. We have the facts, our principles, and you on our side. And it’s vital that you read and absorb the real story so that you know what to say the next time you hear about this around the dinner table or the water cooler.

Take a look at more details here, including a complete Q&A, and pass them along:

https://www.hillaryclinton.com/email-facts/

Thanks,

Jennifer

Jennifer Palmieri
Communications Director
Hillary for America

Here is the Recommended Reading.  I know a lot of people prefer the quick inoculation of a poster or video.  I also know that serious Hillary loyalists take the time to read, study and prepare.  It is a battle out there.  Be armed with the facts!

Updated: The Facts About Hillary Clinton's Emails

Factsheets

Updated: The Facts About Hillary Clinton’s Emails

We’ve put all of the information about Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails here. Just the facts, all in one place.

Why did Clinton use her own email account?

When Clinton got to the Department, she opted to use her personal email account as a matter of convenience. It enabled her to reach people quickly and keep in regular touch with her family and friends more easily given her travel schedule.

That is the only reason she used her own account.

Her usage was widely known to the over 100 State Department and U.S. government colleagues she emailed, consistent with the practice of prior Secretaries of State and permitted at the time.

As Clinton has said, in hindsight, it would have been better to just have two accounts. While she thought using one account would be easier, obviously, that has not been the case.

Was it allowed?

Yes. The laws, regulations, and State Department policy in place during her tenure permitted her to use a non-government email for work.

The 2009 National Archives regulation in place during her tenure required that “[a]gencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.” The regulation recognizes the use of non-government email accounts.

As she has stated, Clinton’s practice was to email government officials on their “.gov” accounts, so her work emails were immediately captured and preserved. In fact, more than 90% of those emails should have already been captured in the State Department’s email system before she provided them with paper copies.

A Politifact analysis also confirmed that Clinton’s practices complied with laws and regulations, including support from the former director of a prominent government accountability organization: “In Clinton’s defense, we should note that it was only after Clinton left the State Department, that the National Archives issued a recommendation that government employees should avoid conducting official business on personal emails (though they noted there might be extenuating circumstances such as an emergency that require it). Additionally, in 2014, President Barack Obama signed changes to the Federal Records Act that explicitly said federal officials can only use personal email addresses if they also copy or send the emails to their official account. Because these rules weren’t in effect when Clinton was in office, ‘she was in compliance with the laws and regulations at the time,’ said Gary Bass, founder and former director of OMB Watch, a government accountability organization.”

Clinton said she did not use her email to send or receive classified information, but the State Department and two Inspectors General said some of these emails do contain classified information. Was her statement inaccurate?

Clinton only used her account for unclassified email. No information in Clinton’s emails was marked classified at the time she sent or received them.

When information is reviewed for public release, it is common for information previously unclassified to be upgraded to classified if the State Department or another agency believes its public release could cause potential harm to national security, law enforcement or diplomatic relations.

After reviewing a sampling of the 55,000 pages of emails, the Inspectors General have proffered that a small number of emails, which did not contain any classified markings and/or dissemination controls, should have been classified at the time they were sent. The State Department has said it disagrees with this assessment.

Clinton hopes the State Department and the agencies involved in the review process will sort out as quickly as possible which of the 55,000 pages of emails are appropriate to share with the public.

How did Clinton receive and consume classified information?

The Secretary’s office was located in a secure area. Classified information was viewed in hard copy by Clinton while in the office. While on travel, the State Department had rigorous protocols for her and traveling staff to receive and transmit information of all types.

A separate, closed email system was used by the State Department for the purpose of handling classified communications, which was designed to prevent such information from being transmitted anywhere other than within that system.

Is Department of Justice conducting a criminal inquiry into Clinton’s email use?

No. As the Department of Justice and Inspectors General made clear, the IGs made a security referral. This was not criminal in nature as misreported by some in the press. The Department of Justice is now seeking assurances about the storage of materials related to Clinton’s email account.

Is it true that her email server and a thumb drive were recently turned over to the government? Why?

Again, when information is reviewed for public release, it is common for information previously unclassified to be upgraded to classified if the State Department or another agency believes its public release could cause potential harm to national security, law enforcement or diplomatic relations.

Clinton hopes that State and the other agencies involved in the review process will sort out as quickly as possible which emails are appropriate to share with the public, and that the release will be as timely and as transparent as possible.

When the Department upgraded some of the previously unclassified email to classified, her team worked with the State Department to ensure copies of her emails were stored in a safe and secure manner. She also directed her team to give her server that hosted her email account while she was Secretary to the Department of Justice, as well as a thumb drive containing copies of her emails that already had been provided to the State Department. Clinton has pledged to cooperate with the government’s security inquiry.

Would this issue not have arisen if she used a state.gov email address?

Even if Clinton’s emails had been on a government email address and government device, these questions would be raised prior to public release.

While the State Department’s review of her 55,000 emails brought the issue to the Inspectors Generals’ attentions, the emails that recently were upgraded to classified prior to public release were on the unclassified .gov email system. They were not on the separate, closed system used by State Department for handling classified communications.

Have Clinton’s State Department aides also been asked to provide the Department and Congress with emails from their personal accounts?

We understand that members of her State Department staff were recently asked to assist the Department in its record-keeping by providing any work-related emails they may have on personal accounts. They have received requests from Rep. Gowdy as well.

Clinton is proud of the work of all the dedicated public servants that were part of her team at the State Department. She was proud of her aides then and is proud of them now, as they have committed – as she has – to being as helpful as possible in responding to requests.

Press reports say she used multiple devices – a Blackberry and an iPad – is that true?

Clinton relied on her Blackberry for emailing. This was easiest for her. When the iPad came out in 2010, she was as curious as others and found it great for shopping, browsing, and reading articles when she traveled. She also had access to her email account on her iPad and sometimes used it for that too.

Was she ever provided guidance about her use of a non-“.gov” email account?

The State Department has and did provide guidance regarding the need to preserve federal records. To address these requirements, it was her practice to email government employees on their “.gov” email address. That way, work emails would be immediately captured and preserved in government record-keeping systems.

What did Clinton provide to the State Department?

On December 5, 2014, 30,490 copies of work or potentially work-related emails sent and received by Clinton from March 18, 2009, to February 1, 2013, were provided to the State Department. This totaled roughly 55,000 pages. More than 90% of her work or potentially work-related emails provided to the Department were already in the State Department’s record-keeping system because those e-mails were sent to or received by “state.gov” accounts.

Early in her term, Clinton continued using an att.blackberry.net account that she had used during her Senate service. Given her practice from the beginning of emailing State Department officials on their state.gov accounts, her work-related emails during these initial weeks would have been captured and preserved in the State Department’s record-keeping system. She, however, no longer had access to these emails once she transitioned from this account.

Why did the Select Committee announce that she used multiple email addresses during her tenure?

In fairness to the Committee, this was an honest misunderstanding. Clinton used one email account during her tenure at State (with the exception of her initial weeks in office while transitioning from an email account she had previously used). In March 2013, a month after she left the Department, Gawker published the email address she used while Secretary, and so she had to change the address on her account.

At the time the printed copies were provided to the Department in 2014, because it was the same account, the new email address established after she left office appeared on the printed copies as the sender, and not the address she used as Secretary. In fact, this address on the account did not exist until March 2013. This led to understandable confusion that was cleared up directly with the Committee after its press conference.

Why didn’t Clinton provide her emails to the State Department until December 2014?

In 2014, after recognizing potential gaps in its overall recordkeeping system, the State Department asked for the help of the four previous former Secretaries in meeting the State Department’s obligations under the Federal Records Act.

Clinton responded to this request by providing the State Department with over 55,000 pages of emails. As it was Clinton’s practice to email U.S. government officials on their .gov accounts, the overwhelming majority of these emails should have already been preserved in the State Department’s email system.

In providing these emails to the Department, Clinton included all she had that were even potentially work-related—including emails about using a fax machine or asking for iced tea during a meeting—erring on the side of over-inclusion, as confirmed by the Department and National Archives’ determination that over 1250 emails were “personal” records (which they have indicated will be returned to her).

After providing her work and potentially work-related emails, she chose not to keep her personal, non-work related emails, which by definition, are not federal records and were not requested by the Department or anyone else.

Why did the State Department ask for assistance in collecting records? Why did the State Department need assistance in further meeting its requirements under the Federal Records Act?

The State Department formally requested the assistance of the four previous former Secretaries in a letter to their representatives dated October 28, 2014, to help in further meeting the Department’s requirements under the Federal Records Act.

The letter stated that in September 2013, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued new guidance clarifying records management responsibilities regarding the use of personal email accounts for government business.

While this guidance was issued after all four former Secretaries had departed office, the Department decided to ensure its records were as complete as possible and sought copies of work emails sent or received by the Secretaries on their own accounts.

Why did Clinton decide not to keep her personal emails?

As Clinton has said before, these were private, personal messages, including emails about her daughter’s wedding plans, her mother’s funeral services and condolence notes, as well as emails on family vacations, yoga routines, and other items one would typically find in their own email account, such as offers from retailers, spam, etc.

Did Clinton delete any emails while facing a subpoena?

No. As noted, the emails that Clinton chose not to keep were personal emails—they were not federal records or even work-related—and therefore were not subject to any preservation obligation under the Federal Records Act or any request. Nor would they have been subject to the subpoena—which did not exist at the time—that was issued by the Benghazi Select Committee some three months later.

Rep. Gowdy’s subpoena issued in March 2015 did not seek, and had nothing to do with, her personal, non-work emails nor her server nor the request by State Department last year for her help in their own record-keeping. Indeed in his March 19th letter, Rep. Gowdy expressly stated he was not seeking any emails that were “purely personal in nature.”

In March 2015, when Rep. Gowdy issued a subpoena to Clinton, the State Department had received all of Clinton’s work-related emails in response to their 2014 request, and indeed, had already provided Clinton’s relevant emails to Rep. Gowdy’s committee.

Rep. Gowdy, other Republicans, and some members of the media have seized on a CNN interview with Clinton to question her on this point. Rep. Gowdy has even gone so far as to say Clinton is lying. But he and the others are clearly mistaken.

As Vox reported, “[S]he didn’t lie about the subpoena. … Clinton clearly wasn’t responding to the question of whether she’d ever been subpoenaed by the Benghazi Committee but whether she’d been subpoenaed before she wiped the emails from her server.” Additionally, Factcheck.org said in its analysis, “Clinton’s denial came in response to a question about deleting emails ‘while facing a subpoena,’ and Clinton objected to Keilar’s ‘assumption.’ Clinton’s campaign said that the emails were deleted before she received the subpoena and that was the point Clinton was making.” Politifact added, “Suggesting that Clinton deleted emails while facing a subpoena contradicts what we know about the controversy so far.”

Vox went on to further decry Rep. Gowdy’s reaction, saying, “[T]his one’s a particularly absurd gimmick, even for a committee that is selectively leaking from depositions and documents to justify its existence. If there was a more extreme category of dissembling than ‘pants on fire,’ now would be the time for Politifact to roll it out on the House Republicans.”

Why was the State Department given printed copies?

That is the requirement. The instructions regarding electronic mail in the Foreign Affairs Manual (the Department’s policy manual) require that “until technology allowing archival capabilities for long-term electronic storage and retrieval of email messages is available and installed, those messages warranting preservation as records (for periods longer than current E-mail systems routinely maintain them) must be printed out and filed with related records.” [5 FAM 443.3].

Were any work items deleted in the course of producing the printed copies?

No.

How many emails were in her account? And how many of those were provided to the State Department?

Her email account contained a total of 62,320 sent and received emails from March 2009 to February 2013. Based on the review process described below, 30,490 of these emails were provided to the Department, and the remaining 31,830 were private, personal records.

How and who decided what should be provided to the State Department?

The Federal Records Act puts the obligation on the government official to determine what is and is not a federal record. The State Department Foreign Affairs Manual outlines guidance “designed to help employees determine which of their e-mail messages must be preserved as federal records and which may be deleted without further authorization because they are not Federal record materials.” [5 FAM 443.1(c)].

Following conversations with State Department officials and in response to the State Department’s 2014 letter to former Secretaries, Clinton directed her attorneys to assist by identifying and preserving all emails that could potentially be federal records. This entailed a multi-step process to review each email and provide printed copies of Clinton’s emails to the State Department, erring on the side of including anything that might be even potentially work-related.

A search was conducted on Clinton’s email account for all emails sent and received from 2009 to her last day in office, February 1, 2013.

After this universe was determined, a search was conducted for a “.gov” (not just state.gov) in any address field in an email. This produced over 27,500 emails, representing more than 90% of the 30,490 printed copies that were provided to the State Department.

To help identify any potential non-“.gov” correspondence that should be included, a search of first and last names of more than 100 State Department and other U.S. government officials was performed. This included all Deputy Secretaries, Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, Ambassadors-at-Large, Special Representatives and Envoys, members of the Secretary’s Foreign Policy Advisory Board, and other senior officials to the Secretary, including close aides and staff.

Next, to account for non-obvious or non-recognizable email addresses or misspellings or other idiosyncrasies, the emails were sorted and reviewed both by sender and recipient.

Lastly, a number of terms were specifically searched for, including: “Benghazi” and “Libya.”

These additional three steps yielded just over another 2,900 emails, including emails from former Administration officials and long-time friends that may not be deemed by the State Department to be federal records. And hundreds of these emails actually had already been forwarded onto the state.gov system and captured in real-time.

With respect to materials that the Select Committee has requested, the State Department has stated that just under 300 emails related to Libya were provided by the State Department to the Select Committee in response to a November 2014 letter, which contained a broader request for materials than prior requests from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Given Clinton’s practice of emailing State Department officials on their state.gov addresses, the State Department already had, and had already provided, the Select Committee with emails from Clinton in August 2014 – prior to requesting and receiving printed copies of her emails.

The review process described above confirmed Clinton’s practice of emailing State Department officials on their .gov address, with the vast majority of the printed copies of work-related emails Clinton provided to the State Department simply duplicating what was already captured in the State Department’s record-keeping system in real time.

Did Clinton use this account to communicate with foreign officials?

During her time at State, she communicated with foreign officials in person, through correspondence, and by telephone. The review of all of her emails revealed only one email with a foreign (UK) official.

Did she withhold any work emails? What about the 15 emails that Sid Blumenthal provided to the Select Committee that she did not provide to the State Department?

She provided the State Department with all work and potentially work-related emails that she had, including all of her correspondence with Sid Blumenthal. We understand that Mr. Blumenthal had some emails that Clinton did not have, and Clinton had some emails that Mr. Blumenthal did not have, but it is important to note that none of those emails provide any new insights on the attack on our facilities in Benghazi.

Do you think a third party should have been allowed to review what was turned over to the State Department, as well as the remainder that was not?

The Federal Records Act puts the obligation on the government official, not the agency or a third party, to determine what is and is not a federal record. The State Department Foreign Affairs Manual outlines guidance “designed to help employees determine which of their e-mail messages must be preserved as federal records and which may be deleted without further authorization because they are not Federal record materials.” [5 FAM 443.1(c)].

Clinton responded to the State Department’s request by providing approximately 55,000 pages of her work and potentially work-related emails. She has also taken the unprecedented step of asking that those emails be made public. In doing so, she has sought to support the State Department’s efforts, fulfill her responsibility of record-keeping, and provide the chance for the public to assess the work she and officials at the State Department did during her tenure.

After her work-related emails were identified and preserved, Clinton chose not to keep her private, personal emails that were not federal records, including emails about her daughter’s wedding plans, her mother’s funeral service, family vacations, etc.

Government officials are granted the privacy of their personal, non-work related emails, including personal emails on .gov accounts. Clinton exercised her privilege to ensure the continued privacy of her personal, non-work related emails.

Can’t she release the emails she provided to the State Department herself?

Because the printed copies of work-related emails she provided to the State Department include federal records of the Department, the Department needs to review these emails before they can be made public. She called for them to be made available as soon as possible, and is glad to see the Department has begun releasing them.

Some of the emails released show Clinton emailed aides at times on their personal, rather than .gov accounts. Was she trying to hide these communications?

As Clinton has said before, it was her practice to email U.S. government officials on their .gov accounts if it was work-related. This is evidenced in the emails released so far. In reviewing her emails in 2014, there was a fraction of emails with work-related information sent to U.S. government officials’ personal accounts, and those were provided to the State Department. The overwhelming majority of her work-related emails were to .gov accounts.

Where was the server for her email located?

The server for her email was physically located on her property, which is protected by U.S. Secret Service.

What level of encryption was employed? Who was the service provider?

The security and integrity of her family’s electronic communications was taken seriously from the onset when it was first set up for President Clinton’s team. While the curiosity about the specifics of this set up is understandable, given what people with ill intentions can do with such information in this day and age, there are concerns about broadcasting specific technical details about past and current practices. Suffice it to say, robust protections were put in place and additional upgrades and techniques employed over time as they became available, including consulting and employing third party experts.

Was the server ever hacked?

No, there is no evidence there was ever a breach.

Was there ever an unauthorized intrusion into her email or did anyone else have access to it?

No.

What was done after her email was exposed in February 2013 after the hacker known as “Guccifer” hacked Sid Blumenthal’s account?

While this was not a breach of Clinton’s account, because her email address was exposed, steps were taken at that time to ensure the security and integrity of her electronic communications, including changing her email address.

Was the State Department able to respond to requests related to FOIA or Congressional requests before they received printed copies of her work-related emails?

Yes. As the Select Committee has said, the State Department provided the Committee with relevant emails it already had on the state.gov system before the State Department requested any printed copies from former Secretaries, and four months before the State Department received the printed copies.

For example, in the well-publicized hack of Sid Blumenthal’s email account, a note he sent Clinton on September 12, 2012, was posted online. At first blush, one might not think this exchange would be captured on the state.gov system. But in fact, Clinton forwarded the email, that very same day, onto the state.gov system. And the email was produced by the State Department to the Select Committee, and acknowledged by the Select Committee, in August 2014.

This example illustrates: 1) when an email from a non-“.gov” sender had some connection to work or might add to the understanding of State Department officials, it was Clinton’s practice to forward it to officials at their “state.gov” address; and 2) the State Department was able to search and produce Clinton’s emails when needed long before, and unrelated to, receiving the printed copies as they were already captured on state.gov accounts.

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Hillary Clinton has complied with every reasonable request, is cooperating fully, and has nothing to hide from her government, Trey Gowdy, or the American people.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton answers reporters questions about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after announcing her college affordability plan, Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, at the high school in Exeter, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton answers reporters questions about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after announcing her college affordability plan, Monday, Aug. 10, 2015, at the high school in Exeter, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

 

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In astoundingly transparent fashion, the Republicans on the Select Committee on Benghazi have abandoned all pretense plans for investigating departments and agencies outside the State Department and individuals other than Hillary Clinton.

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.  Thank you, Karen Finney, for sharing this because regardless of what “we all knew all along,” here is the evidence. In the end evidence is all that really counts.  It is our only weapon.

Dems: Benghazi panel has ‘abandoned’ its work to focus on Hillary

Greg Nash

Democrats serving on the House Select Committee on Benghazi say the panel’s GOP chairman has “abandoned” plans for hearings to shift the focus of the investigation to Hillary Clinton.

“At the beginning of this year, Select Committee Republicans provided Democrats with detailed information about their plans to hold 11 hearings between January and October on a wide range of topics relating to the Benghazi attacks,” the panel’s five Democrats wrote Wednesday in a letter to chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).

“Since then, however, Republicans have completely abandoned this plan — holding no hearings at all since January and instead focusing on former Secretary Hillary Clinton,” they added.

Here is the letter.

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