Monday, March 09, 2015

Speaking of emails...

This whole Hillary email flap reminds me of this testy exchange between her body man Philippe Reines and the late Michael Hastings a few days after Benghazi in 2012.

The general context is that after CNN found Stevens' personal diary lying on the floor of the burned out consulate a few days after the attack (while the administration was officially saying it was a spontaneous attack based on a protest) they agreed via State and the family not to publish its contents out of respect. But after Susan Rice's blitz on five Sunday shows a few days later, essentially doubling down on the protest meme, CNN went to other sources and confirmed an entry in the diary where Stevens had expressed concern about being on "an AQ hit list" before the attack.

This unset the spontaneous protest lie and the State people were pissed, whereupon Reines and others dropped the hammer on CNN and Cooper while Hillary feigned ignorance about everything.  In response to being challenged, Cooper admitted the next day CNN had the diary (to save their reporting) and were getting it from the contents, which caused more flaming from the State Dept towards CNN.

Hastings then got involved in response to the bitching, emailing Reines in an exchange that became infamous, in part as follows:
From: Michael Hastings Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2012 12:04 PM
 To: Reines, Philippe I 
Cc: Nuland, Victoria J 
Subject: Re: Request for comment Philippe:
Thanks for getting back to me. No, you read my email correctly—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. Thankfully, it was CNN—and not Al Qaeda or some other militia—that found it and was able to return it to the family. That CNN used portions of the material in the diary they found at the scene—material that appears to contradict the official version of events that State/WH has been putting out—is completely in line with practices of good journalism.
I don’t know how involved Arwa Damon has been in this. But for what it’s worth, Arwa is one of the best war correspondents working today. She’s consistently risked her life to get these stories, and to find out what actually happens in these conflict zones.I do agree that the media has lots of responsibilities, and CNN fulfilled its responsibility by returning the diary while still managing to inform the American public of newsworthy information. So it’s unfortunate that you are trying to make a scapegoat out of CNN. That State was forced to flee Benghazi—again, because of such inadequate security, leaving behind all sorts of sensitive information—tells us more about DoS than CNN.
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. If there was no intel, then clearly the CIA and other intel agents stationed in Benghazi weren’t doing their jobs well. If there was intel, then we have some kind of cover-up—whether out of incompetence or ass covering before the election or just the trauma of losing four good men, it’s hard for me to say at this point.

All the best, 

On Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 12:45 PM, Reines, Philippe I wrote: 
Why do you bother to ask questions you’ve already decided you know the answers to?


From: Michael Hastings Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2012 12:50 PM
 To: Reines, Philippe I 
Cc: Nuland, Victoria J 
Subject: Re: Request for comment 

Why don’t you give answers that aren’t bullshit for a change?


On Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 1:38 PM, Reines, Philippe I wrote:

I now understand why the official investigation by the Department of the Defense as reported by The Army Times The Washington Post concluded beyond a doubt that you’re an unmitigated asshole. How’s that for a non-bullshit response? Now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, have a good day. And by good day, I mean Fuck Off
It's obvious State was upset about that diary, mainly because it confirmed that Stevens was worried well beforehand about "AQ" while the administration was simultaneously pushing an "AQ is decimated and on the run" campaign theme.  Maybe they felt they could slide past the whole affair--at least through the coming election--and the diary exploded the spontaneous protest BS explanation.  Maybe somebody could ask.

But there's also a tone of betrayal in Reines' replies, as if he was disappointed in CNN. This exchange would have never happened in regards to Fox News, but it's likely they felt hurt CNN would actually report something factual without helping them spin it as usual.  They had a deal.  Hillary knew what was in that diary, about his fears of AQ, but if they kept it under wraps it would be hard for the media to discover.

It's odd that Hastings later died in a car accident while Reines went on to work at a consulting group along with CIA numero uno Michael Morell, who inexplicably ignored his people on the ground in Libya who said it wasn't about a protest.  That was the main finding of the House Intelligence Committee report, by the way.

Anyway, back to the present.  Not surprisingly, Hillary wasn't listed on any of these emails and Buzzfeed didn't provide actual addresses. It's likely the exchange occurred via formal State Dept email since it was an inquiry from Hastings. The question is, did Reines or others also have private email accounts they used to communicate with Hillary's private account to coordinate responses to stuff like this?  If so, how would anyone know? 

It makes no sense otherwise. Why would Hillary need a private email system other than to quickly communicate with Bill and other political operatives across vast distances during breaking events WITHOUT LEAVING A SUBPOENA TRAIL?  Her entire tenure as SoS was about getting to the White House one day, therefore she needed political people around at all time to clean up messes, which required some method of secure communication to enable candid exchanges.

She and Bill knew at some point Republicans would come after the messages but without knowing what they needed to know they couldn't possibly find the good stuff, especially if the messages were sent to other private email accounts.  All the good stuff on the personal server could be dumped to a memory stick before taking a sledge hammer to the hard drives.  Committee chairmen doing investigations would need help from the NSA to find all her emails, which ain't gonna happen.

The only way Gowdy and company win this round is to get the idea out in public that Hillary is both sneaky and arrogant who expects underlings to do things she won't do.  That's a tough sell in our current Kardashian existence.  

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