By Kenneth R. Timmerman – BarbWire guest contributor
Until Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) revealed last week that his Benghazi Select Committee was investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for her official State Department communications, no one had a good explanation for why none of the Congressional committees that had previously investigated Benghazi had ever cited a single Hillary Clinton email in their reports.
Congressional Democrats had been pooh-poohing Gowdy’s investigation, claiming that all the important questions about Benghazi had been “asked and answered” by previous committees.
Now the best that Gowdy’s counterpart, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), can do is object to subpoenas (especially when they are issued to Hillary Clinton in person, through Counsel), and to huff and puff about the investigation becoming a “ surrogate” for the “Republican National Committee.”
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What a change a single revelation can bring.
We now learn that Hillary Clinton not only used a private server, maintained at her Chappaqua, New York home for official communications, but that she never used a government email at all. Not once.
No email@example.com, or Clinton.firstname.lastname@example.org or anything of the kind. Just multiple accounts on her family server, clintonemail.com, including email@example.com, the same address used by former Clinton White House aide Sidney Blumenthal to communicate with her on Benghazi and related matters.
Federal prosecutors recently finished up their case against former CIA Director David Petraeus, who was conveniently forced to resign just three days after the November 2012 elections, before he could clarify what he knew about Benghazi. (Given that Petraeus had just returned from a September 2, 2012 trip to Ankara, Turkey, where he had been trying to tamp down publicity due to an arms shipment from Benghazi to the Syrian rebels, he certainly knew a lot.)
In a widely criticized decision, they forced him to plea bargain one count of a misdemeanor in exchange for dropping more serious charges. The full extent of the FBI’s case against Petraeus involved him sharing personal, hand-written notebooks with his biographer.
Prosecutors noted that the CIA had installed a SCIF—a specialized high-security area—in his Arlington, Virginia home where he could safely store classified materials brought home from the CIA. That facility was dismantled by the CIA without incident two months after Petraeus resigned from the Agency.
The prosecutors never accused Petraeus of improperly storing U.S. government classified materials either in the SCIF or elsewhere. Nor did they accuse him of sending classified materials over an unsecure server.
If they could prosecute Petraeus on one count of improperly handling classified material (he kept those personal notebooks in a rucksack in his attic), one can only speculate how many thousand counts of mishandling classified information could be brought against Mrs. Clinton. Of course, she denies having sent classified information over her personal server, but in that case how did she communicate on classified matters with her envoys and subordinates?
Was the private server at her residence designed, installed, and maintained by a U.S. government security agency? Was it connected to the government’s Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) and physically separated from the open Internet?
The Sid Blumenthal memos, sent from his AOL account to Hillary’s private email server, suggest that this was not the case. If so, the former Secretary of State was breaking the law—big time.
When the memos first surfaced in 2013—posted to the Internet by a Romanian hacker known as “Guccifer” —neither the State Department nor their purported author acknowledged their authenticity. Given that they initially surfaced on the website of Russia Today, Vladimir Putin’s reliably anti-American TV network, that was enough to consign them to oblivion as yet another Internet hoax.
Now we learn that former CIA official Tyler Drumheller apparently helped to gather the “intel” that Blumenthal sent to Hillary on the Benghazi attacks and other political developments inside Libya.
This is extremely significant because the initial memo sent by Blumenthal, dated September 12, 2012, cites “a sensitive source,” who purportedly met with Libyan President Magarief shortly after the attacks began and claimed that a YouTube video sparked the “protest” against the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
Magarief himself never said such a thing, although the memo is worded to suggest that he did. He blew up when he heard Susan Rice make that claim on the Sunday talk shows after the attack, as I write on pages 347 and 348 of Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi.
Drumheller became infamous for several earlier pieces of disinformation. As European Division chief at the CIA’s Directorate of Operations in 2001 and 2002, he was the one who planted the phony evidence about the Niger uranium contract that was later used by the media during the Valerie Plame affair to claim that George W. Bush had “lied” about Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs. On three separate occasions, he passed the Niger information up the food chain as validated intelligence, when the CIA had been warned that it was not (see page 63 of my book Shadow Warriors).
Then-CIA Director George Tenet was so fed up with Drumheller that he spent seven full pages in his memoir debunking claims by Drumheller regarding the defector known as CURVEBALL that Tenet said were simply untrue.
Drumheller and Sid Blumenthal have a history together. In 2007, Blumenthal used Drumheller as a source to “prove” that Bush had “lied” about pre-war intelligence on Iraqi WMD. Drumheller and Blumenthal went on to work in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2007 and 2008.
So was the Guccifer/Blumenthal memo intended as disinformation, written after Hillary Clinton put out her statement on the night of the attacks blaming them on a YouTube video? Or was it actually the source of Hillary’s false claim about the video, written and sent by someone on the ground in Libya who was attempting to plant the story?
Many reporters, myself included, have submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to the State Department, asking for all documents and communications that would show how Mrs. Clinton’s statement came to be worded as it was finally released. Where are all the drafts? Who commented on them? What did it say initially? How was it changed? By whom?
We have much of that information for the Susan Rice talking points, but nothing at all for Hillary Clinton’s statement on the evening of the attacks.
Given that there is not a single mention of a protest or the YouTube video in all the documents released to Congress, which included real-time communications from Tripoli and Benghazi from the State Department and CIA that night, exactly how Mrs. Clinton came up with that idea could provide key insight into what actually happened in Benghazi, and why.
This column was originally published at Accuracy in Media.
Timmerman is the author of Dark Forces: the Truth About What Happened in Benghazi and other books. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize in 2006 for his work on Iran and received the Reed Irvine award for Investigative Reporting in 2011 from Accuracy in Media.
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