Clin­ton smear a web of de­cep­tion

Jamaica Gleaner - - SATURDAY TALK - Charles Clay­ton Guest Colum­nist Email feed­back to columns@glean­ and chadan­worth@ya­

IAM writ­ing in re­sponse to the ar­ti­cle by Ewin James cap­tioned ‘Liar, Liar’ star­ring Hil­lary Clin­ton’ (The Gleaner, Oc­to­ber 21, 2016). First, I would like to sug­gest that there is an ex­ag­ger­ated nar­ra­tive of un­trust­wor­thi­ness that has been care­fully or­ches­trated around Hil­lary Clin­ton by con­ser­va­tives in Amer­ica from the day it be­came ap­par­ent that she would be the Demo­cratic can­di­date for pres­i­dency at the end of Barack Obama’s term in of­fice. This be­gan from 2014, even be­fore her pres­i­dency was an­nounced, when it was sensed that she would be the likely can­di­date in 2016 and a for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent for any Repub­li­can nom­i­nee.

The main ar­gu­ments be­ing pre­sented re­volve around (1) the claims that she was re­spon­si­ble for the Beng­hazi at­tacks be­cause of neg­li­gence on her part; (2) she was reck­less in the use of pri­vate emails and lied abut it; (3) she com­min­gled the work of the State De­part­ment with that of the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion to the point where she of­fered spe­cial ac­cess to the State De­part­ment to those who do­nated funds to the foun­da­tion.

With re­gard to the Beng­hazi af­fair, fol­low­ing a se­ries of con­gres­sional hear­ings by a Repub­li­can-es­tab­lished Se­lect Com­mit­tee, they were un­able to find any ev­i­dence that the se­cu­rity mis­sion was un­der­funded and that Hil­lary had blocked any sup­port re­quested by the em­bassy in Beng­hazi. De­spite this, Repub­li­cans, par­tic­u­larly Trump sup­port­ers, have con­tin­ued un­abated with their false claims. The au­thor of the ar­ti­cle has con­tin­ued the false­hood with­out any ref­er­ence to the hear­ings by the se­lect com­mit­tee or im­par­tial re­search done by other bod­ies.

Re­gard­ing the email scan­dal, she is ac­cused of reck­lessly us­ing a pri­vate server and of eras­ing 33,000 emails while deny­ing in­clu­sion of of­fi­cial and clas­si­fied emails among those erased. First, ev­i­dence was pre­sented through Wik­iLeaks that she had sought the ad­vice of highly re­spected Repub­li­can and her pre­de­ces­sor, Colin Pow­ell, re­gard­ing the use of a pri­vate email server to do the State De­part­ment work. He, it turned out, had told her that he had used his per­sonal server and that the con­cerns of the civil ser­vants were ex­ag­ger­ated. This ap­proach sug­gests that, at worst, she was ill ad­vised and care­less for tak­ing the ad­vice, but cer­tainly not reck­less.


Fur­ther, it points to hypocrisy on the part of Repub­li­cans who had done much worse, hav­ing used the GOP plat­form to ex­change of­fi­cial in­for­ma­tion em­a­nat­ing from the White House dur­ing the G.W. Bush pres­i­dency. This was dis­closed in a CNN in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The ac­tual email ad­dress used was (short for Ge­orge W. Bush). This was dis­cov­ered in 2007 dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the dis­missal of eight US at­tor­neys and pub­li­cised by the Ci­ti­zens for Re­spon­si­bil­ity and Ethics in Wash­ing­ton (CREW), which sent a let­ter to Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee chair­man Henry A. Wax­man re­quest­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Wax­man, in some in­stances, White House of­fi­cials were us­ing non­govern­men­tal ac­counts specif­i­cally to avoid cre­at­ing a record of the com­mu­ni­ca­tions. In his words, “The Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee claims to have erased the emails, sup­pos­edly mak­ing them un­avail­able for con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tors.” In this re­gard, in 2009, it was an­nounced that as many as 22 mil­lion of­fi­cial

emails may have been lost from this ex­er­cise. The 33,000 lost to the Clin­ton server pales in com­par­i­son.

Fur­ther, it turns out that the emails erased from the Clin­ton server were not per­son­ally scru­ti­nised by her, but were erased un­der her in­struc­tions that all per­sonal emails should be erased from the server by a team of IT spe­cial­ists con­tracted for the pur­pose, be­fore han­dover to the FBI. She would, there­fore have been un­der the im­pres­sion that her in­struc­tions were fol­lowed and may not have known that the 33,000 erased had in fact in­cluded of­fi­cial cor­re­spon­dence. The FBI also de­clared that she had been truth­ful in her meet­ing with them.

The dis­junc­ture ap­pears to have been what she said to the pub­lic ver­sus what was dis­closed to the FBI. Cer­tainly, the ac­cu­sa­tion of her be­ing a liar with re­gard to the emails might well have amounted to not much more than (1) in­com­plete dis­clo­sure to the pub­lic and (2) mis­un­der­stand­ing of the facts based on her un­der­stand­ing of what the IT per­sons were sup­posed to have done ver­sus what had ac­tu­ally been done.

With re­gard to the com­min­gling of State De­part­ment with the af­fairs of the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, the sug­ges­tion does ap­pear to have been made in cor­re­spon­dence be­tween State De­part­ment work­ers and po­ten­tial donors to the foun­da­tion that some of the of­fi­cials were ty­ing do­na­tions to the foun­da­tion to favours from the State De­part­ment. No proof was pro­vided, how­ever, that these in­cli­na­tions were ever acted upon.

Fur­ther, there is no ev­i­dence that Clin­ton was linked di­rectly to the sus­pi­cious ex­changes that took place among the par­ties. At worst, then, it could be said that things seemed highly sus­pi­cious. At best, the temp­ta­tion to link the foun­da­tion with favours from the State De­part­ment were never acted upon. Fur­ther, based on the au­dited re­ports of the Foun­da­tion and the Clin­ton’s per­sonal af­fairs, it is clear (1) that the Clin­tons have never re­ceived any per­sonal ben­e­fits from the foun­da­tion and (2) the foun­da­tion has been a gen­uine char­ity that has ben­e­fited mil­lions around the world.

On the ba­sis of the fore­go­ing, while Hil­lary Clin­ton may not be a saint, she is cer­tainly not the ogre that the con­ser­va­tives have care­fully con­structed through bad press. In fact, on closer in­spec­tion of the op­er­a­tions of many of her pre­de­ces­sors in the State De­part­ment and the White House, she may well have been more the saint when com­pared to them.

Cer­tainly, Trump’s er­ratic and shame­lessly dis­hon­est and class­less be­hav­iour should not put him on the same plat­form with Hil­lary, much less a com­peti­tor for the job of pres­i­dent of the USA.

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton.

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