The Hillary Clinton State Department has finally come up with an honest answer to reporters on its disgraceful failure to protect our ambassador to Libya: “F*** off.” In an email exchange this morning with Buzzfeed’s Michael Hastings, Clinton spokesperson Philippe Reines went ballistic when asked about the State Department’s manifest failures in security. Hastings emailed:
A few quick questions for you. Why didn’t the State Department search the consulate and find AMB Steven’s diary first? What other potential valuable intelligence was left behind that could have been picked up by apparently anyone searching the grounds? Was any classified or top secret material also left? Do you still feel that there was adequate security at the compound, considering it was not only overrun but sensitive personal effects and possibly other intelligence remained out for anyone passing through to pick up? Your statement on CNN sounded pretty defensive–do you think it’s the media’s responsibility to help secure State Department assets overseas after they’ve been attacked?
Let me know if you have a second.Michael
At first, Reines answered with the stock talking points: CNN shouldn’t have released information about Stevens’ diary, government personnel had been evacuated from Libya. Then he got personal, attacking Hastings:
I believe that you of all people, after famously being accused of violating agreed upon ground rules and questionable sourcing, would agree that it’s important for a news organization to maintain its own integrity if it is to be trusted. That begins with keeping its word. If you can’t manage that, then don’t give it.
I realize that the way this works is that you only you get to ask me questions, but I have one for you: if you were in Benghazi, went to the scene of the attack, found the ambassador’s diary, read every word of it, would you have called them and asked their permission to use it, then when you weren’t granted that permission agree that you wouldn’t use it in any way, and then a few days later just change your mind?
If the answer is yes, then you obviously agree that CNN handled this perfectly fine.
If the answer is no, if you would have decided its contents demanded reporting immediately, how would you have handled this differently then CNN?
And you should feel free to use every word above, in its entirety. Though I suspect you won’t.
Hastings fired back:
I found your statement to CNN offensive.
From my perspective, the scandal here is that the State Department had such inadequate security procedures in place that four Americans were killed. And then the Ambassador’s diary–and who knows what else–was left behind for anyone to pick up …. The misinformation here seems largely to be coming from State and the administration. The defense that the administration has offered that there was no intelligence warning of an attack is weak.
This set Reines off:
Why do you bother to ask questions you’ve already decided you know the answers to?
Which set Hastings off:
Why don’t you give answers that aren’t bullshit for a change?
Which led Reines to call Hastings an “unmitigated a**hole,” and eventually, to tell Hastings to “f*** off.”
This is how tough questions from the press are answered by the Obama administration. No wonder they don’t like doing press conferences.