Are You SURE You Want Those Emails?

When I read about this the first time, I was sure it was a story from the Onion.

It wasn’t.

As everyone not living on Mars is aware, the Republicans’ six hundredth Benghazi Investigative Committee (okay, so maybe I exaggerate a bit) forced disclosure of emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server. It turned out that some of those emails were from the prior administration, and one of them– from then Secretary of State Colin Powell to President George Bush–confirmed Tony Blair’s promise to sign on to the Iraq conflict a year before the invasion began… a time when Blair and Bush were assuring their respective countrymen that they were taking great care to confirm the presence of weapons of mass destruction and that no definitive decision to invade had been made.

The British press has made much more of this revelation than the American media, but even here, it has been fairly widely reported. If the members of the Benghazi Inquisition were capable of embarrassment, you’d think they’d rethink their approach. But of course, they aren’t.

Then, this week, we had Clinton’s much-anticipated 11 hour testimony, and a whole series of further embarrassments centered on the committee’s obsession with her emails. (For a detailed “take down” of the day’s effort by a Clinton partisan, you can read this diatribe from Kurt Eichenwald, who noted–among many, many other things–the absence of similar expressions of concern over the twenty-two million Bush Administration emails that mysteriously disappeared.)

The continuing revelations about his brother should keep Jeb! quiet, but he weighed in with a tweet to the effect that the security failures at Benghazi were evidence of Clinton’s “incompetent” foreign policy; that prompted a post at Daily Kos “reminding” Jeb! that his brother’s administration had overseen not just 9/11, but deadly attacks on at least thirteen overseas American embassies and consulates as well as numerous other successful attacks against American diplomatic personnel and their staff.

It’s fair to assume that this week’s hearings did little to sway partisans on either side. But I was struck by a Facebook post by a friend who is a well-respected foreign policy expert at another university–someone I know to be a Republican, someone who has previously shared lukewarm-at-best feelings about Clinton, and who reported watching the whole thing.

If there is one truth that has come out of this ridiculous committee hearing for me, it’s that the search for wrongdoing in Benghazi is a tempest in a tea pot. The death of four Americans in a terrorist attack is a tragedy. But I wish the Republicans controlling Congress would have spent 1/10 of the time and energy (and the $4.7 million) investigating the decision to go to war in Iraq and all the decisions made after that that destroyed Iraq, killed over 4,000 American servicemen and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians. Why isn’t that worthy of at least one investigation (let alone eight)?

I think Kevin McCarthy accidentally answered that question.


  1. Thanks, Sheila, for bringing this part of the story to our attention. I too watched much of the congressional hearing. The Republicans did more for her campaign than all the endorsements she has won so far. Toward evening time, as Hillary had been under verbal attack for ten plus hours, it occurred to me that the one person who should be worried about this woman as president of the United States was Vladimir Putin.

  2. Yesterday talking about climate change I posited that one difference that leads people to conservatism is their tolerance for faith based wisdom. That’s as compared to fact based.

    So their prime attribute is susceptibility to suggestion or opinion rather than proof.

    The perfect subjects for brand marketing of politics.

    Of course some with those attributes are on the liberal side of the aisle as well. I get posted on my Facebook feed stuff from organizations like Daily Kos which are just as faith based and can be considered informative only if the information one is looking for is acknowledged to be exclusively items that can be slanted to endorse liberalism.

    Of course I also get feeds from science based sites that are scrupulously factual.

    So faith vs fact based analysis turns out to be essential in today’s information soaked world.

    This critical thinking skill is heavily taught in some curriculums like science and law and medicine (with the exception of Ben Carson) and ignored in others.

    Too bad as it is critical for life in the modern world.

  3. All those who give their lives in service of their beliefs are heroes. IMO even those who honestly support regimes that we are on the different side of.

    While I have a dream that one day we’ll all be of one race, religion and world, it is admirable to offer up the ultimate price for sincerely held beliefs if all other options have failed. That’s key. War is the last resort.

    So those Americans who died in Benghazi are heroes and should be saluted as such.

    To have that honor defiled in the name of politics is morally wrong. It should be off limit for those pandering to single issue faith based minions.

  4. I have thought the very same thing as your Facebook poster. Only I would say that Benghazi probably wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Iraq.

    In 1972 I was in Paris, France on a high school trip and I was truly alarmed by the amount of hate that was shown for Richard Nixon by Europeans. There were very few places we traveled in Paris where there wasn’t graffiti or posters claiming that Nixon was a war criminal over our involvement in Vietnam. In my opinion, we have the same thing with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condaleeza Rice; the should be charged with war crimes. The deaths of the American military and the hundred thousand Iraqis for the sake of oil is just unconscionable, so we should not be surprised if there will always be a certain amount of hate for the US, just as it was in the 70s.

    I would welcome just one Congressional Committee investigation of Bush, et al .

  5. Benghazi should never have been politicized, and though a disaster, pales by comparison with the (now known) pack of lies the Bush-Cheney neocon crowd visited upon us with their propaganda in re WMD leading to a war that has totally upset the political balance of the area. While that balance was far from perfect then, take a look at the area now. Thanks, George and Dick and your oil-thirsty neocons, we appreciate your help! GRRRR!

  6. Teresa Kendall – Your posting strengthens my faith that my contempt for Nixon, Dubya, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz et al in the real time when they (and others) were doing their dirty work was well founded. I question the motives of Hoosiers who re-elect such as these and support them year after year. The same types are conspiring to slash our safety nets allegedly due to the ballooning debt and the very same types never mention tax advantages to the very wealthy. Also sickening is parsimony and self-righteous hypocrisy. The real modern regional mind blowers are Mike Pence and that Kentucky lady clerk who declines to issue certain licenses.

  7. I admire your optimism, Pete. And I admit I share the most of it. Do we have the time to turn this thing around? Are there yet Wolowitz’s lurking in the shadows?


  8. There actually were attempts to impeach Bush-Cheney. Per WIKI – The most significant of these efforts occurred on June 10, 2008, when Congressman Dennis Kucinich, along with co-sponsor Robert Wexler, introduced 35 articles of impeachment against Bush to the U.S. House of Representatives. The House voted 251 to 166 to refer the impeachment resolution to the Judiciary Committee on June 11, where no further action was taken on it. ( Odd note 24 Republicans were among the 251 votes) – Strangely, enough Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House then, but did not vote on articles of impeachment.

    In fact in an interview House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that aired on The View earlier this week (July 2008). She was asked about impeachment. Here is what Pelosi said. ” I saw it as my responsibility to try to bring a much divided country together to the extent that we could. I thought that impeachment would be divisive for the country. ” Further, this simply backed up a prior statement Pelosi made in Nov 2006. – “I have said it before and I will say it again: Impeachment is off the table,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said during a news conference.

    So thank Democrat Nancy Pelosi for stonewalling the impeachment of G.W.B.
    By the way Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraqi War Authorization, Bernie Sanders voted against it.

  9. Teresa, I was also in Paris in 1972 among other countries in Western Europe for 30 days. I recall the graffiti all over about Nixon. The young people in Europe I met were livid about the US War in Vietnam. They were discerning enough to verbally attack our US Foreign Policy rather than Americans as individuals.

    Here in the USA we had the renaming of French Fires to Freedom Fries since France opposed Iraq War 2. On March 11, 2003 Republican U.S. Representatives Bob Ney and Walter B. Jones directed the three House cafeterias to change all references to French fries and French toast on menus, and replace them with Freedom fries and Freedom toast, respectively.

  10. I was in Switzerland a lot during the reign of Bush II. Same European reaction. What the hell were we thinking?

    I think that people outside of a culture are pretty objective while people inside a culture are oblivious because they believe the culture is the way things are suppose to be.

  11. While Congress has make a mockery of Benghazi IMO there is nothing fundamentally wrong with investigations with the aim of improving anything. If there is in government or business or family or any human institution questions about did we do the best thing uncovering the facts is essential to improvement.

    The facts of Benghazi were known relatively quickly while the witch hunt has taken forever.

    It did as was intended by the perpetrators make a mockery of America and our government thus perpetrating the oligarchic myth that government is inherently incompetent.

  12. The time- and money-wasting investigation of Hillary Clinton was obviously calculated and conducted at this precise time to try to bring down her campaign for the Presidency of the United States. Anybody who has endured and will continue to endure what she has is more than capable of handling the job of POTUS. She carried the day at the debate and she certainly carried the day at this week’s grilling. Lesser folks, be they male or female, would have withered under the badgering by certain members of the committee. She handled it with complete calm. The plot failed.

  13. Should we give the Republicans credit for finding a way to combine Benghazi and those damn E-mails into one fruitless investigation? Has their waste of time attacking Hillary on this issues separately and now combined, resulting in proving nothing of value against her, totaled the amount of time…and tax dollars…they have spent attempting to repeal or defund the ACA? Has anyone totaled the number of days and number of elected officials who are ignoring vital issues, plus the waste of our tax dollars on these three issues separately or combined? Someone needs to. Just sayin’

  14. Perhaps I’m one of the few people on this forum who didn’t view any of Clinton’s testimony re: Benghazi and more specifically her emails from a private server.

    Speaking as a female who’s within months of being Clinton’s exact chronological age, I have scratched my head on more than one occasion when attempting to wrap my mind around a reason for an intelligent, educated person’s co-mingling professional emails/correspondence with personal emails/correspondence, meaning co-mingling of her professional emails on both her .gov account and her personal email account.

    Maybe others in top-level Federal jobs similar to her job did exactly that; however, most savvy people in my generation would never consider this as a good idea. Public business correspondence is public; personal business is personal/private. And, that’s the reason savvy people do not mix the two, especially in separate email accounts.

  15. BSH; Colin Powell used a single server when he was SOS, many government officials do. It is and was government approved; Hillary explained it has a way to “catch and route” all official E-mails to the correct, protected, government recipients. It must be safe or the government would not approve high level officials using them; of course we cannot expect high level Republican officials to accept that Hillary opted to use the same system as their Republican SOS, Colin Powell, and approved by Bush.

  16. If Clinton was fully immersed in her job and I believe that she typically is, I could picture the line between personal and professional being blurry.

    Emails have become very often like texts – quick responses. Lots of things to be dealt with in between endless meetings.

    Under those circumstances I’m sure that some of her decisions could be questioned like a referee or umpire’s calls. Does that mean she was wrong to the degree that national security could be compromised? Possibly. But after extensive review nobody has found one that can be judged that.

  17. JoAnn, for sure, I did not make my post from a partisan mindset. In fact, I prefaced one sentence that perhaps other similarly situated high-level Federal employees also may have conducted Federal business on occasion from private email accounts or private servers. However, whether Colin Powell or Senator Such and So corresponded via private emails maintained by private servers does not make it a wise choice, a savvy decision.

  18. Pete, like you I have no idea if national security was compromised via Ms. Clinton’s maintaining a private server and occasionally sending professional emails via her private family server. However, professional people of my age know that the first thing any entity, any employer, or any foe will investigate undoubtedly will be your electronic communication, whether via work server, public server, or especially a private server.

    Regardless if a person emails via personal/private servers or public/professional work servers, it takes only a nanosecond to switch between email accounts on a mobile cellular device or a PC in your work office or your home office.

  19. BSH; do you really believe government officials use the same quality technical equipment you and I can buy at Walmart, Costco, Best Buy, Sears, et al? Even their personal equipment requires highly specialized protection levels; whether it is their phone, their computer, their Blue Tooth, whatever, it would have to be provided and approved for their specific use by the government. They don’t use “over the counter” equipment; even for personal contacts.

  20. JoAnn, I’m choosing not to enter into an argument with you, a discussion involving the informational technology devices available to the masses vs the government elite. Let’s agree that those in the masses and those in the government possess the wisdom, the common sense not to confuse their personal communication servers with their work/professional communication servers.

    Putting this on a level of a more local comprehension, would you have approved of my sending a personal email to a co-worker where I discussed the educational plan for one of your children or your grandchildren even if I referenced them only by initials?

  21. I supported Hillary in 2008. I support her now and will do so in 2016. Not because I think we need a female President (which I do) but because she is a competent lawyer, with a vast knowledge of government and the political process. The Congressional
    Hearings only helped in letting the general public become aware of her many fine qualities. We should thank the idiotic GOP members of the Committee for giving her that opportunity,

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