At the end of November, a House committee released a report on Benghazi that the media interpreted as a complete exoneration of the Obama administration’s handling of the terrorist attack and aftermath in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. Without reading the report, which ran many hundreds of pages long, journalists gave their responses within moments of the report’s release. “GOP should be ashamed,” read a tweet by National Journal’s Ron Fournier, for instance.
I read the report before weighing in and wrote “20 Ways Media Completely Misread Congress’ Weak-Sauce Benghazi Report” in response. The report was beyond inadequate. And, it turned out, the work of the committee in general was flawed.
Another Benghazi committee, this one chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-SC, began its work, promising a more thorough investigation. It already is, if this bombshell it dropped in the New York Times’ lap is any indication.
WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record. Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.
The previous committee didn’t interview Hillary Clinton, or ask for emails regarding Benghazi! Had they done that basic level of research, we might have known about this violation of the law years ago.
This is 1996 all over again
Let’s revisit another New York Times story, this time from 1996. It begins:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5— After nearly two years of searches and subpoenas, the White House said this evening that it had unexpectedly discovered copies of missing documents from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s law firm that describe her work for a failing savings and loan association in the 1980’s.
I know that some of you were too young to remember the 1990s, but this was basically what happened with the Clintons all the time. That revelation of a discovery of law firm billing documents that had been subpoenaed by federal investigators two years prior (the Clintons claimed they didn’t have them) came not 24 hours after another revelation of a missing document.
That document was a 2-year-old memo that admitted Hillary Clinton had, according to the Times, “played a far greater role in the dismissal of employees of the White House travel office than the Administration has acknowledged.”
That’s why I tweeted this in response to BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski.
Seriously, the original investigation into the Clintons dealt with alleged corruption in a land deal years earlier. Close business partners were sent to prison on fraud, conspiracy, federal mail fraud and tax evasion charges. Then it somehow involved the firing of White House travel agents, the improper use of FBI files and a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee of Clinton’s. And, as you may have heard, it involved President Clinton’s lies regarding his sexual relationship with a young intern named Monica Lewinsky. He was impeached not for the sex but, as it happened, for obstructing justice and committing perjury in that case. (Though I have even read the footnotes of the Starr report, and you would not believe how detailed they are. We’ll leave that for another time.)
This administration also had a fundraising scandal that involved China trying to influence American politics by giving money to the Clintons. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Or, I should say, since. Here’s the Washington Post last week:
The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration, foundation officials disclosed Wednesday.
This is not surprising behavior from the Clintons. Surprising behavior would be if they were transparent with their record-keeping and not involved in fundraising scandals involving foreign countries.
It’s not just Hillary’s problem
Hillary Clinton’s lack of transparency is newsworthy as investigators attempt to ascertain her work around the time of the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi. Certainly the media could stay quite busy investigating how Clinton communicated with her colleagues and the White House, how secure her email communications were, whether they were hacked, who was privy to this law-breaking (or “rule-breaking” in the parlance of the media), and assorted other questions. For instance, was it a GMail account? Did she get targeted ads based on the content of possibly top secret emails? Were classified documents sent to this email address? Did that violate any other laws? What, exactly, was she trying to hide? What Benghazi information, if any, was hidden by this workaround? How do we know?
But U.S. citizens are unable to view the workplace correspondence of many Obama officials. Here’s an Associated Press story from a few years ago:
WASHINGTON (AP) – Some of President Barack Obama’s political appointees, including the Cabinet secretary for the Health and Human Services Department, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press. The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees’ email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses.
The HHS Secretary in question is, of course, Kathleen Sebelius of Obamacare fame. And then there’s this.
The bottom line, though, is that this story couldn’t be more vintage Clinton if it tried. Some people have fond memories of the Clintons but that’s mostly because they’ve repressed all the memories of the constant idiotic scandals they dragged the country through — all while protesting that a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy was to blame.