Monday, October 26, 2015

Public vs Private

I'm not aware of a more blatant example of a high government official outright lying to the American people than Hillary Clinton's lies about Benghazi. Here's an analysis:

No wonder Hillary Clinton feels aggrieved by her congressional grilling on Benghazi. She had the hard luck to be secretary of state in the Internet era, when digital secrets escape despite the best efforts to keep them hidden. Unintended transparency is better than none.
In an earlier era, the American public would never have learned Mrs. Clinton knew during the attack that it was a planned operation by terrorists and not a spontaneous protest as the administration insisted.
Mrs. Clinton kept her more than 60,000 emails off the State Department’s server. They came to light only because the House Select Committee on Benghazi discovered her secret email system. Those emails—not Mrs. Clinton—were the star witness at last week’s hearing, disclosing with precision who knew what when.
Publicly, Mrs. Clinton issued a statement at 10:32 p.m. Sept. 11, 2012, the evening of the attack, blaming the YouTube video. But the committee disclosed that at 11:12 p.m., she told her daughter, Chelsea, by email: “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Qaeda-like group.” At 11:49 p.m., according to a State Department email, she told the president of Libya: “There is a gun battle ongoing, which I understand Ansar [al] Sharia”—the local al Qaeda affiliate—“is claiming responsibility for.”
The day after the attack, Mrs. Clinton gave two public comments again blaming the video. The White House press secretary declared: “We have no information to suggest that it was a planned attack.”
But the same day, Mrs. Clinton told the Egyptian prime minister by phone: “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack—not a protest.” In other words, we’re not so na├»ve as to believe what we’re telling American voters to further the re-election claim that we’ve put “al Qaeda on the run.”
Two weeks later, the administration was still blaming the video. “There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy,” President Obama told the United Nations General Assembly Sept. 25. “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” On Sept. 27 federal agents arrested the Egyptian-born Coptic Christian who made the video, supposedly for violating his parole. (Earlier this year, Islamic State terrorists beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians on a Libyan beach.)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) summed up his view of the administration’s and Mrs. Clinton’s motives: “You can live with a protest about a video. That won’t hurt you. But a terrorist attack will. So you can’t be square with the American people. You tell your family it’s a terrorist attack, but not the American people. You can tell the president of Libya it’s a terrorist attack, but not the American people. And you can tell the Egyptian prime minister it’s a terrorist attack, but you can’t tell your own people the truth.”
The email saga is not over. The facts are coming out only now because it took almost a year for Mrs. Clinton to produce a fraction of the emails from her homebrew server. The FBI is reportedly investigating whether the setup constituted criminal “gross negligence” in handling classified information. Cybersecurity experts say her unprotected emails were almost certainly hacked by the Chinese and Russians. If so, foreign intelligence agencies possess emails the State Department has withheld from Congress, as well as those Mrs. Clinton withheld from the State Department.
This kind of unplanned disclosure through technology rarely happened in the pre-digital era. One exception was the incriminating 18½-minute gap in Richard Nixon’s Oval Office tapes. In recent years, WikiLeaks and routine email hacks by foreign intelligence agents have taught government officials that their communications aren’t secure.
Mrs. Clinton no doubt genuinely regrets her decision to use a private server. Her assumption that her emails were confidential gave her the confidence to be honest in her private communications—and to assume that conflicts between her public and private comments would never be exposed. Government officials are usually more cautious, aware that their communications on required government servers are subject to the public-disclosure laws Mrs. Clinton almost evaded.
As technology allows more information to be recorded, it raises expectations for greater transparency and more disclosure. The Obama administration came to office promising to be the “most transparent” ever, but instead ignores information requests and stonewalls journalists. Thanks to her private emails, Mrs. Clinton managed to shed some light on the truth, though that was the opposite of what she intended.

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