One of the more eyebrow-raising stories from the Clinton Foundation “pay to play” scandal is Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain – whose kingdom donated up to $150,000 directly to the Foundation, plus another $32 million to the Clinton Global Initiative – securing a meeting with the Secretary of State, after which she approved some highly controversial arms sales to Bahrain.
Josh Rogin at the Washington Post tried to give Clinton a little cover on the pay-to-play scandal, although he was highly critical of the Bahrain arms deal. Rogin slammed the deal as “part of the Obama Administration’s overall muddled reaction to the Arab Spring,” but dismissed the idea that Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Kahlifa obtained his meeting with Clinton by pumping money into her family foundation:
Of course, the heir to the throne of a major non-NATO ally does not need to donate to get a meeting with the U.S. secretary of State. Salman met regularly with Clinton and other senior Obama administration officials throughout the first term of the administration, and there’s no evidence he donated to foundations related to President Obama, Vice President Biden or then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, who all gave him the red carpet treatment.
“Secretary Clinton’s closeness to the Crown Prince of Bahrain, along with the rest of the Obama administration, is problematic but it would be true with or without the Clinton Foundation connection,” said Stephen McInerney, executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy. “Our government being too close to Gulf dictators was true before Clinton came to office and it continues to be a problem now.”
The problem, as Rogin sees it, is that Clinton and the rest of the Obama Administration gave numerous speeches about the importance of political freedom, but then, after a year of queasy hesitation, sold weapons to Bahrain, which conducted a brutal crackdown on dissenters and human-rights activists.
Rogin does not explicitly connect the Bahrain deal to Obama’s Iran disaster, but he describes the exact same muddled moderates-vs-hardliners strategy: “The hope inside the Obama administration was that sending the crown prince home with a gift basket of weapons deals would empower him inside the Bahraini system. The thinking was that he was more moderate than his regime rivals and would be in a better position to push reforms Washington wanted.”
The documents Judicial Watch finally managed to pry from this shady Administration and its even shadier Madame Secretary make it clear Crown Prince Salman did try to get a meeting with Clinton through normal channels, as “the heir to the throne of a major non-NATO ally.” It didn’t work, so he invoked his Platinum Club V.I.P. membership in the Clinton Foundation’s pay-to-play scheme, and got results.
As Judicial Watch reported:
Included among the Abedin-Band emails is an exchange revealing that when Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain requested a meeting with Secretary of State Clinton, he was forced to go through the Clinton Foundation for an appointment. Abedin advised Band that when she went through “normal channels” at State, Clinton declined to meet. After Band intervened, however, the meeting was set up within forty-eight hours.
Huma Abedin is a top aide to Hillary Clinton, who figures in many of these long-hidden emails as a “fixer” for Clinton Foundation donors. Douglas Band was an executive of the Foundation, with a long history of working for the Clinton family.
Judicial Watch cites “more than a dozen email exchanges” where Abedin “provided expedited, direct access to Clinton for donors who had contributed from $25,000 to $10 million to the Clinton Foundation,” often coordinating closely with Band.
It is further noted that in a deposition to Judicial Watch, Abedin admitted one of her duties at the State Department was to take care of “Clinton family matters,” an outrage in and of itself, especially since she was treated to an unprecedented double (really, triple) dipping arrangement that allowed her to collect private sector paychecks while working full-time for State.
Did Prince Salman get what he wanted from Secretary Clinton? It sure looks that way. “Soon after the correspondence about a meeting, Clinton’s State Department significantly increased arms export authorizations to the country’s autocratic government, even as that nation moved to crush pro-democracy protests,” writes International Business Times.
More specifically, IBT notes that “between 2010 and 2012 the Clinton-led State Department approved $630 million worth of direct commercial arms sales to Salman’s military forces in Bahrain. That was a 187 percent increase from the period 2006 to 2008, and the increase came as Bahrain was violently suppressing uprisings.”
Most disturbingly, Clinton’s State Department approved the sale of over $700,000 worth of “toxicological agents” to a regime accused of using chemical agents like tear gas against its own people.
International Business Times recalls that the State Department tried to keep its Bahrain arms sales on the down-low, but Congress found out, and grew sternly opposed to the business until Salman used his Clinton Foundation connections to get that meeting with Hillary Clinton, and some of the weapons started flowing again, despite objections from even some fellow Democrats like Senator Pat Leahy.
(Platinum Club status in the Clinton Foundation apparently had some limits, however, because Reuters reported at the time that “tear gas, tear gas launchers, and stun grenades” were still among the items on hold.)
CounterJihad brings it all home by reminding readers that the American people, their representatives, and law enforcement were never supposed to see these Clinton documents. She blatantly broke the law to destroy them, instead of handing them over to the State Department.
No thanks are due to our vaunted mainstream media and its “investigative reporters,” either – we have only learned these vital facts about Hillary Clinton, in the final months of a presidential election, because of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, and the chain of events that led to an FBI criminal investigation of Clinton’s private email server.
“Clinton’s lawyers deleted these emails without turning them over to the State Department, though it turns out that they are clearly public records that explain just how a momentous decision was made on a major arms deal. In spite of that, the FBI recommended no prosecution,” writes CounterJihad, in a fitting epitaph for the rule of law.