Benghazi fog up: ‘secret channels,’ emails, foreign policy and public testimony

The recent “digital dumping” of United States State Department emails from Hillary Clinton’s personal accounts may be raising eyebrows all over the world, as some of the communications reveal that before then-Secretary Clinton relinquished her job with the Obama Administration to John Kerry in early 2013, suggestions on setting up “secret channels between insurgents,” handling security requests from transitional Libyan leaders, and communiqués from people close to the situation came into her digital email box.

Very suddenly perhaps, Secretary Clinton had to make leadership decisions. What should be done during the the turmoil and what could be done in the sudden end of the Qadhafi Regime appeared in her personal inbox. Now, as she is running to become the next President of the United States, voters may want to read something of her leadership in her previous job at State.

The ‘al-Qaeda’ enemy

Former Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta gives a glimpse of the situation in a November 2012 speech in Washington D.C., according to a transcript.

“Over the past decade, we have successfully directed our military, and intelligence capabilities at fighting terrorism.  And yet, we are still struggling to develop an effective approach to address the factors that attract young men and women to extreme ideologies, and to ensure that governments and societies have the capacity, and the will to counter, and reject violent extremism,” Panetta stated.

Later Panetta offered remarks on the September 11, 2012 tragedy. “To truly end the threat from al-Qaeda, military force aimed at killing our enemy alone will never be enough.  The United States must stay involved and invested through diplomacy, through development, through education, through trade in those regions of the world where violent extremism has flourished.”

Panetta told his listeners then that “an historic transition” which would offer more people in the chaotic regions “hope for a better future” needed the influence of the international community or it would result in a “greater turmoil.” The Defense Secretary also stated that Americans “were outraged by the loss of Ambassador Chris Stevens, and three others in Benghazi.”  These individuals, in Panetta’s words, “… were emissaries of peace, and friends of Libya.  And the Libyan people have turned against the violent extremists who killed them.”

A ‘secret channels’ email

While the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) examines the handling of “sensitive information” during the former Secretary of State’s term, per a recent story from McClatchydc, the Department she used to head has released another batch of emails. The previous news, mentioned in this story, was that “[a]t least 671 emails she sent or received now contain classified information.”

Reporters everywhere are digging into the thousands of messages sent and received. Here are some important findings, however.

An email chain shared among Hillary Clinton, Sid Blumenthal and Jonathan Powell (a man who may be described as Tony Blair’s former chief-of-staff) mentions the idea of setting up covert communications channels. (This one was found by Chuck Ross working for the Daily Caller and can be seen JohnPowellemail.)

John Powell idea.

John Powell: “We are trying to replicate what we did in Northern Ireland by setting up secret channels between insurgents and governments and then, where appropriate, developing these into negotiations.”

“We are starting work in Syria, in conjunction with Kofi Annan, in Yemen, in Somalia and in Burma,” Powell wrote also. He had arrived in the U.S. “to talk about what we do,” and was going to be accompanied by his deputy, an ex-United Nations and ex-FCO, perhaps meaning  previously an employee of the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Libyan airstrikes

Much information has been discovered by Sarah Westwood over at the WashingtonExaminer. “New emails released Friday also reveal the internal pressure Clinton faced while serving as secretary of State to coax the administration into launching airstrikes against Libya,” writes Westwood in her story. “Sidney Blumenthal and Tony Blair, two close Clinton friends, fed Clinton information about Libya as the civil war there escalated, and encouraged her to take military action. [Clinton] was ultimately successful in rallying the U.S. government to do just what her friends were asking her to do, raising questions about how seriously she regarded the ‘unsolicited memos’ Blumenthal sent her throughout her tenure.”

Chris Stevens worked hard to accomplish the State Department goals in the chaos of April 2011.  A ChrisStevensEmail  was forwarded to Hillary Clinton from Huma Abedin, a trusted staff member, regarding his situation. The first line reads: “Security: Today’s focus is on the security situation in Benghazi. There is new local reporting that hotels are being targeted.”

Security update from Chris Stevens, 2011.

Clinton receive a security update on Security and Chris Stevens in April 2011.


‘Benghazi Update’

Another email from Hillary Clinton at her HClintonEmail  was sent in August 2011 to Secretary Clinton’s underlings at the State Department, and the subject line reads “Re: Benghazi update (1200 local) Can we arrange shipments of what’s requested?” It included an update from “Rep. [Chris] Stevens in Benghazi” and begs the question that if Stevens was mentioning a “move to Tripoli” because “[Ali] Tarhouni said security arrangements would need to be made before they could send the TNC leadership to the capital,” perhaps things were getting worse?

Here is the email from August 2011:

Things getting worse in August 2011.

“… Tarhouni said security arrangements would need to be made before they could send the TNC leadership to the capital.”


At the time, per this email, the Transitional National Council was searching for Qadhafi so regime change could be declared. A statement was already being prepared by the Libyan TNC, per the email.

Sadly, also mentioned in this communiqué regarding the situation are two concerning statements from Stevens: “TNC chairman Abd al Jalil and PM Jibril made statements to the media last night, urging people to refrain from revenge attacks and destruction of public buildings,” so apparently the situation was dangerous, and although he added that thus far there had been “no bloodbath” or serious looting, we know on September 11, 2012 Chris Stevens was killed in Benghazi.

Testimony on Benghazi

In her recent statements to the Congressional Committee on Benghazi, Hillary Clinton is quoted by the WashingtonPost. “When the revolution broke out in Libya, we named Chris as our envoy to the opposition. There was no easy way to get him into Benghazi to begin gathering information and meeting those Libyans who were rising up against the murderous dictator Gadhafi. But he found a way to get himself there on a Greek cargo ship, just like a 19th- century American envoy. But his work was very much 21st-century, hard-nosed diplomacy.”

Testimony from Clinton when she was questioned by Representative Roby of Alabama came later in the conversation on what happened in Benghazi.

ROBY: But I — real quickly, Mr. Chairman, I want to run through one quick timeline and — and — and make an observation. On August 17th, you received a memo on the deteriorating security in Libya. The same day, you were asked to give $20 million to the Libyan government to beef up its own security.

Your department issued a — a — a warning telling American citizens to get out of Libya and not to travel there. And then Libya itself issued a, quote, “maximum alert” for Benghazi.

You several times made the statement — and we believe you — that Ambassador Stevens was your friend. And I’m wondering why, with all of this in front of you, the Secretary of State, why did it not occur to you to pick up the phone and call your friend?

I know you’ve — you’ve mentioned experts. I know you’ve said that Ambassador Stevens and — and — and other diplomats go into these high-threat situations with their eyes wide open.

But I just want to hear from you why, with all of this information in front of you, particularly on the date of August 17th, did it not occur to you to pick up the phone and call your friend, Ambassador Stevens, and ask him what he needed?

CLINTON: We knew what he was asking for. Those requests went to the security professionals. And I would only add, with respect to the travel warning, we issue travel warnings for many, many places in the world.

They are really aimed at informing American travelers, business travels — travelers, tourists about conditions that they might face if they go to countries. They are not a criterion for determining whether we keep or end a diplomatic presence.

And I just want to go back to the point you were making, and read from the Accountability Review Board. “For many years, the State Department has been engaged in a struggle to obtain the resources necessary to carry out its work, with varying degrees of success.

“This has brought about a deep sense of the importance of husbanding resources to meet the highest priorities — laudable in the extreme, but it has also had the effect of conditioning a few State Department managers to favor restricting the use of resources as a general orientation.

“It is imperative for the State Department to be mission-driven rather than resource-constrained, and one overall conclusion in this report is that Congress must do its part to meet this challenge and provide necessary resources to the State Department to address security risks and meet mission imperatives.”

Private email and server issue

As voters consider who they want to lead the nation next as President, the newly available information may prove quite important to a wise choice. The facts seem to be that HillaryClinton used a private email account and server. Some suggest she did this to shield her official communications, and wonder why Chris Stevens, the Ambassador in Benghazi did not appear to have direct access to her private email if he was such a valued friend. It appears that Clinton only gave a few trusted aides and pals, inside and outside the State Department, this email address.


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