On Monday morning, CNN posted what it described as an advanced look “Inside Clinton’s Benghazi Emails,” a body of correspondence that will soon be reviewed by Rep. Trey Gowdy and his House Select Committee on Benghazi. The CNN article is based on “several government officials” who anonymously characterized the emails.
Naturally, CNN leads off with an email from a Senator John McCain staffer praising former Secretary of State Clinton for her “wonderful, strong and moving” statement to State Department employees after the Benghazi attack, which is supposed to stand as an ironic, or possibly even hypocritical, contrast with McCain’s later criticism of how Clinton and her State Department handled security before the attack and political spin afterwards. If praising a politician for giving a good speech somehow invalidated criticism of that politician’s previous and subsequent official conduct, our government would be even more opaque and corrupt than it already is.
The “characterizations” of Clinton’s email that these nameless officials offered read like positioning to separate Hillary Clinton from the rest of the Obama administration; she is portrayed as tired and overwhelmed after September 11, 2012, and maybe a bit hesitant to repeat the “spontaneous video protest” spin the rest of the administration was pushing. There are supposedly emails between Clinton and her aides expressing “relief” that she did not go as far as then-U.N. ambassador and administration point spinner Susan Rice in portraying the Benghazi attack as an unplanned demonstration gone off the rails.
CNN does not mention that Clinton is the one who sidled up to the families of the Benghazi dead and promised to put the video maker behind bars. That has not surfaced in her emails, but it is still highly relevant context when those emails are supposed to prove she never bought into the “spontaneous video protest” claim.
Much is also made of how Clinton’s emails supposedly contain no “smoking gun” evidence about a “stand-down” order, from Clinton and/or Obama, that callously left the men under siege at the Benghazi consulate to die. That is a positively Herculean effort at raising the bar. True, there were suspicions in 2012 about such an order, but that was by no means the only, or even primary, criticism of the administration. It is far more damning to consider that there were not any rescue forces on deck to receive a hypothetical stand-down order.
As Clinton prepares for yet another presidential campaign, it is worth noting that it was she who zinged Obama during the 2008 campaign for being less prepared than she was to handle early-morning phone calls about foreign policy crises. The Secretary of State needed to keep a low profile after the first murder of a U.S. ambassador in decades, in a country that was melting down after her administration decapitated the previous regime with no plans for the aftermath because she was tired, if these emails are to be believed.
CNN mentions the little detail that Clinton only handed over part of her correspondence and nuked the rest of it into a billion untraceable electrons, which makes all the dismissive talk about how her emails were “short, colorless, and to the point” ring hollow. CNN also notes that her “inner circle” still used private email accounts to communicate with her private account, and the State Department has sheepishly admitted they were not doing the kind of archiving Clinton was supposedly banking on to meet her transparency needs.
“The Benghazi attack has persisted as an area of inquiry for Republicans for years and it promises to drag on for months,” writes CNN, adding:
Clinton’s campaign and the committee are in a feud over how and when Clinton would testify as part of their inquiry. She wants to testify in public. Republicans on the committee want a private session first. In any event, a final report from the Congressional inquiry might not be released until early 2016.
Strange how CNN doesn’t mention that the reason these hearings are “promising to drag on for months,” as explicitly noted by Rep. Gowdy in his request for Clinton’s testimony, is that she hid a huge volume of pertinent material on her private server until very recently. Also explained in that letter is that one of the major reasons for holding a private session before her public testimony is to address concerns Clinton herself raised; she said that public discussion of her private server’s security provisions and possible hacker penetration would further jeopardize national security.
CNN’s sources tell us the 300 emails Clinton eventually decided to give the House Benghazi Committee contain no “smoking guns.” That is hardly surprising, and is becoming a tediously predictable cry of Clinton apologists.