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Plus, it turns out there was no third email, despite Director Comey's careless supposition at Trey Gowdy's House hearing on July 7th.
Revisiting Clinton and Classified Information
By Eugene Kiely
Posted on July 7, 2016
At his July 5 press conference, FBI Director James Comey said a “very small number” of emails sent and received by Hillary Clinton over her private server “bore markings indicating the presence of classified information” — contradicting Clinton’s claims that she “never received nor sent any material that was marked classified.”
But now we are learning more about those emails from Comey, who testified before the House Oversight Committee on July 7, and State Department spokesman John Kirby, who addressed these emails at press briefings on July 6 and 7:
Comey said three emails had “portion markings” on them indicating that they were classified, but they were not properly marked and therefore could have been missed by Clinton. He said the emails were marked as classified with the letter “C” in the body of the email.
Kirby said the State Department believes that at least two of the emails were mistakenly marked as confidential. He could not speak to the third email, saying the department didn’t have “all of the records and documents that the FBI used in their investigation.”
Comey told the committee he is “highly confident” that FBI investigators consulted with the State Department about the marked emails. But he said he did not know that the department believes that any of them were marked in error.
The issue is a bit complicated, but important, because it provides Clinton with a stronger defense against claims that she sent and received material that was marked as classified over her private server when she was secretary of state.
At a State Department briefing on July 6, Kirby addressed a report in the New York Times that Comey was “evidently referring to two emails that one of Mrs. Clinton’s close aides, Monica R. Hanley, sent to prepare her for telephone calls with foreign leaders.” The Times report was based on interviews with anonymous State Department officials.
New York Times, July 5: One email, dated Aug. 2, 2012, noted that Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations, was stepping down as special envoy trying to mediate the war in Syria. A second one, sent in April 2012, discussed Mrs. Clinton’s call to the newly inaugurated president of Malawi.
Each was marked with a small notation, “(C),” indicating it contained information classified as “confidential.”
Other paragraphs in the note about Mr. Annan’s resignation were marked “(SBU),” for “sensitive but unclassified.” That designation appears in more than 1,000 of the 30,000 work-related emails that Mrs. Clinton turned over to the State Department, including some later “upgraded” to higher levels of classification. The official said that the notations were part of “a standard process” when preparing a phone call, which would be “confidential” until it occurred and then considered unclassified.
Kirby confirmed the Times report but then said it appears that in both instances the markings were the result of “human error” during the development of “call sheets,” which are memos that contain information that can be used when talking to foreign leaders. The department marks a portion of the call sheets as “confidential” — the lowest level of classified information — until the secretary makes a decision whether or not to call the foreign leaders. He explained that this is done to give the secretary time to make a decision and to avoid potential embarrassment if it turns out that the secretary decides not to call the foreign leader.
Kirby said based on the email traffic, it appears that Clinton had already made the decision to call then Malawi President Joyce Banda and Annan, so the “confidential” markings should have been removed when Hanley sent the emails. (He made his remarks at about the 12-minute mark.)
Kirby, July 7: I’m not going to get into litigating each and every one of these emails. What I said yesterday is — often time it is practice to mark them confidential in advance of a decision to make a call, and then once a decision is made they’re made sensitive but unclassified and they are provided to the secretary in a way that he or she can then use as they’re on the phone. By all appearances, it appears to us the remnant C, if you will, on this particular email/call sheet was human error because it appears to me from the traffic that the secretary had been asking, had been wanting the call sheet, which I would think would indicate that the secretary was at that time intending to make the call. But I can’t say that for sure, because I wasn’t here and I wasn’t involved in the email traffic itself. So, I’m being careful about how I’m wording this because we’re making assumptions here that I simply don’t know for a fact are true.
Kirby said he had no information about the third email that Comey said also contained the letter “C” marking it as confidential.
At his hearing, Comey was asked repeatedly about the marked emails, with Republicans accusing Clinton of lying, while Democrats defended her actions. As we have written, Clinton had repeatedly said she did not send or receive any emails marked classified. As recently as July 3, Clinton said that she “never received nor sent any material that was marked classified.”
For example, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy asked Comey if Clinton was telling the truth when she said that she did not send or receive marked classified material. Comey said she wasn’t.
Gowdy, July 7: Secretary Clinton said there was nothing marked classified on her emails either sent or received. Was that true?
Comey: That’s not true. There were a small number of portion markings on I think three of the documents.
But later in the hearing, Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman asked Comey if he knew that the State Department had said that the emails were marked classified in error. Comey replied, “No.”
Likewise, Rep. Matt Cartwright, also a Democrat, asked Comey if the emails were properly classified, and Comey said they were not. (Executive Order 13526 spells out how documents should be properly classified, including a header on the document clearly identifying the email as classified as “confidential,” “secret” or “top secret.”)
Cartwright asked if Clinton could have missed the improper markings. Comey said that that was possible.
Cartwright, July 7: So, if Secretary Clinton really were an expert at what’s classified and what’s not classified and we’re following the manual, the absence of a header would tell her immediately that those three documents were not classified. Am I correct in that?
Comey: That would be a reasonable inference.
There are still unanswered questions. We don’t know anything about the third email that Comey said was improperly marked classified, for example. We’ll update this item if more information becomes available.
Posted by flpoljunkie | Mon Aug 8, 2016, 09:02 AM (3 replies)
Chomsky says vote for Clinton if you live in a swing state.
And, if you live in, say Massachusetts, vote for whomever you like. He lives in the real world and thinks it's most important not to have a Republican president.
That said, I will vote for the Democratic nominee in November--after voting for Hillary Clinton in the Florida primary by absentee ballot.
Posted by flpoljunkie | Mon Feb 29, 2016, 02:11 PM (20 replies)
Supreme Court Snub Is Ultimate Delegitimization Of First Black President
President Barack Obama said it best this week.
When it comes to who gets to appoint Supreme Court justices, the Constitution is pretty freaking clear.
"I'm amused when I hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the Constitution suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there," Obama said.
But in the blatant declaration that Obama should not even put forward a new Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia's death, Republicans are continuing to delegitimize a president that they have long sought to undercut. Many observers view the Supreme Court emerging drama in the Senate as the pinnacle of the drawn out, deep-seated and racially tinged effort to block America's first black president from leaving a lasting legacy on the country that elected him twice.
Posted by flpoljunkie | Mon Feb 22, 2016, 08:08 AM (25 replies)
Editorial: Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination
Friday, February 12, 2016
With much of the attention during this unpredictable presidential campaign focused on conservative Republicans eager to back an uncompromising outsider, many Democrats are just as determined to buck the establishment and pursue a more liberal direction. The battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination has been surprisingly close and could stretch beyond Florida's March 15 primary. But only Clinton has the skill and experience to appeal to general election voters and build on President Barack Obama's record.
The frustration over the economic recovery that benefits too few Americans, the shortcomings of health care reform and the high cost of college education is genuine. So are the concerns about global terrorism, personal security at home and the nation's relationships with old adversaries abroad. Democrats are as worried about these issues as Republicans, and they are just as hungry for real change in gridlocked Washington.
Clinton is clearly the best prepared to achieve results in each of those areas. She has long been a persuasive advocate for women, minorities and middle-income families. She knows the gritty specifics of health care policy, and she gained extensive foreign policy experience as secretary of state. The former first lady and U.S. senator is a planner, a detail-oriented leader with refined positions that are not easily condensed into an applause line. She also has demonstrated her skill as a negotiator and as a determined advocate in all sorts of situations over a lifetime in the public eye.
Improving economic opportunities for every American will require multiple approaches. Clinton has a diversified strategy that includes raising the minimum wage, closing corporate tax loopholes and investing in infrastructure and renewable energy. While she is criticized for her ties to Wall Street, she is a strong supporter of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations and would strengthen oversight of the biggest banks. She has achievable goals for lowering college costs and reducing student debt, and she would build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act by seeking to lower deductibles and drug costs.
Posted by flpoljunkie | Mon Feb 15, 2016, 05:09 PM (3 replies)
Why this Socialist Feminist is for Hillary
by Suzanna Danuta Walters
At first glance, you’d probably guess that I would proudly don a “Feel the Bern” T-shirt and make a generous donation to the democratic socialist firing up the Democratic Party. Born to leftists themselves born to leftists, I am what is known in some circles as a “red-diaper baby.”
My immigrant Jewish grandparents met in New York City, at a meeting of the Young People’s Socialist League on the Lower East Side, and I grew up more familiar with the words to labor anthems than to those of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” My mother was an activist in the civil-rights movement who later engaged with feminism, antiwar activism, and the vast panoply of progressive issues that ebbed and flowed through our national politics over the past half-century.
In other words, I come by my democratic socialism organically and deeply. And truth be told, I am not immune to the gruff charms of Bernie, which are as familiar to me as the radical Passover seders that punctuated my childhood. His sharp critiques of wealth inequality and unfettered corporate control of the political process were articles of faith at my own family’s dinner-table debates. And his Brooklyn cadence and pedantic self-righteousness remind me of… everyone I knew growing up.
For those of us on the left, the pressure to join the Bernie Express is intense. Friends and colleagues, casual Facebook acquaintances and lifelong political allies alike, all throw up their hands in despair or sneer in disgust if you don’t pledge allegiance to the candidate whose strength and broad appeal in the primary has been both surprising and energizing to progressives used to “holding our noses” and voting for the lesser of two evils. Never mind that I will gladly vote and work for Bernie if he is the nominee, and I applaud the way he has pushed Hillary to the left. For refusing to back Bernie in the primary, I’m a dupe and a traitor; I’m a tool of (take your pick) imperialist, war-mongering, militaristic, in-the-pocket-of-Wall-Street corporate hacks.
Posted by flpoljunkie | Fri Feb 12, 2016, 08:26 AM (61 replies)
Why It's OK to Accept Wall Street Campaign Cash
By Bill Scher
February 08, 2016
What do Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Franklin Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson all have in common? They all accepted campaign contributions from Wall Street tycoons.
And, for those on that list who have already been president, all successfully imposed regulations on corporations anyway.
The Internet Age has dramatically changed fundraising in the ensuing 100 years—or has it? On one hand, then-Sen. Barack Obama was able to tap nearly 4 million individual donors in 2008. On the other, when it came to actual dollars donated, the share coming from small donors was a similar one-third. Not only did some of Obama’s top bundlers hail from the world of finance, but he also took in almost twice as much Wall Street money as his Republican opponent, John McCain.
Sanders doesn’t name-check Woodrow Wilson on the trail, perhaps because the Wilson administration prosecuted his socialist hero Eugene Debs and imprisoned him. Sanders does, however, lean heavily on the two Roosevelts in making the case for his platform. Yet both of them tapped the financial industry to make it to the White House.
Approximately 25 percent of FDR’s donations in 1932 came from Wall Street. For the progressive Republican Teddy Roosevelt, the extent of his reliance on Wall Street was kept secret during his successful 1904 campaign. It was only fully revealed in the midst of his 1912 third-party challenge with this scathing headline: “Wall Street Favored Roosevelt, Admits Monster 1904 Slush Fund.” J.P. Morgan himself ponied up $150,000. The Standard Oil monopoly gave $100,000 while the question of whether Roosevelt would bust them up was up in the air.
Posted by flpoljunkie | Mon Feb 8, 2016, 04:42 PM (20 replies)
Health Reform Realities
Paul Krugman Paul Krugman
JAN. 18, 2016
Health reform is the signature achievement of the Obama presidency. It was the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare was established in the 1960s. It more or less achieves a goal — access to health insurance for all Americans — that progressives have been trying to reach for three generations. And it is already producing dramatic results, with the percentage of uninsured Americans falling to record lows.
Obamacare is, however, what engineers would call a kludge: a somewhat awkward, clumsy device with lots of moving parts. This makes it more expensive than it should be, and will probably always cause a significant number of people to fall through the cracks.
The question for progressives — a question that is now central to the Democratic primary — is whether these failings mean that they should re-litigate their own biggest political success in almost half a century, and try for something better.
My answer, as you might guess, is that they shouldn’t, that they should seek incremental change on health care (Bring back the public option!) and focus their main efforts on other issues — that is, that Bernie Sanders is wrong about this and Hillary Clinton is right. But the main point is that we should think clearly about why health reform looks the way it does.
Posted by flpoljunkie | Mon Jan 18, 2016, 09:51 AM (17 replies)
The president doesn’t have any magic solutions for defeating ISIS. And neither does anyone else.
By Fred Kaplan
The question, after President Obama’s prime-time televised speech Sunday night, is whether common sense and an awareness of limits still have a place in American politics.
He has delivered similar speeches before, though this one was more forceful in tone and more specific in language, laying out the elements of what to do, and not do, in a bullet format. (First … Second … Third …) His critics had failed to voice any substantive alternatives to his previous proposals. When a moderator would ask what the critics would do differently, they had no answer, except for some who thought that repeating the words “radical Islam” while dropping smart bombs would somehow make the war go faster.
Obama listed the things that he and other world leaders have done, and stepped up doing since the attacks in Paris. At home, law enforcement and intelligence have thwarted countless plots. Abroad, the military has mounted airstrikes, trained and equipped Syrians and Iraqis fighting ISIS on the ground, sent special-operations forces to accelerate those efforts, and surged intelligence-sharing, while diplomats are trying to negotiate a political cease-fire in Syria, so that the “coalition” of countries—including Russia, he intriguingly noted—can pursue their common interest of defeating ISIS. (The White House also put out a fact sheet, cataloguing these activities in somewhat greater detail.)
He proposed a few things Congress could do: pass a law forbidding anyone on a terrorist watch list from buying semi-automatic weapons (the fact that Senate Republicans voted down such a bill is staggering); step up screenings for those who come to the United States (that should be popular); and pass a bill authorizing the president to use military force against ISIS (congressional Republicans’ persistent refusal to do so reflects an unwillingness to share any responsibility for the war that they keep pushing Obama to wage more fiercely).
Posted by flpoljunkie | Mon Dec 7, 2015, 03:59 PM (0 replies)
How Much Is George W. Bush Responsible for 9/11?
Poor Jeb. Or I should say, Poor Jeb! (I'm not given to exclamation points, but Jeb! is so magnetic.) It's unfathomable how he thought that he could run for the Republican nomination without having to wrestle with his brother's record as president.
Soon enough, he was so entangled in the question of whether he would have gone into Iraq, knowing what we know now, that it took him four tries to come up with the currently politically acceptable answer: No. But while the war in Iraq is widely accepted to have been a disastrous mistake, another crucial event during the George W. Bush administration has long been considered unfit for political discussion: President Bush's conduct, in the face of numerous warnings of a major terrorist plot, in the months leading up to September 11, 2001.
The general consensus seems to have been that the 9/11 attacks were so horrible, so tragic, that to even suggest that the president at the time might bear any responsibility for not taking enough action to try to prevent them is to play "politics," and to upset the public. And so we had a bipartisan commission examine the event and write a report; we built memorials at the spots where the Twin Towers had come down and the Pentagon was attacked; and that was to be that. And then along came Donald Trump, to whom "political correctness" is a relic of an antiquated, stuffy, political system he's determined to overwhelm. In an interview on October 16, he violated the longstanding taboo by saying, "When you talk about George Bush--I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time."
Trump's comments set up a back and forth between him and Jeb Bush--who, as Trump undoubtedly anticipated, can't let a blow against him by the frontrunner go by without response--but the real point is that with a simple declaration by Trump, there it was: the subject of George W. Bush's handling of the warnings about the 9/11 attacks was out there.
Posted by flpoljunkie | Wed Nov 4, 2015, 08:26 AM (4 replies)
Comment in parentheses entirely mine.
Obama vs. the Republican Cavaliers
Those who counsel Obama to be more conciliatory toward Republicans in defending an agreement that could block Iranian nuclear ambitions for at least a decade (and probably more) are nostalgic for a time when many Republicans supported negotiated settlements, saw containment policies as preferable to the aggressive rollback of adversaries and were committed to building international alliances.
Such Republicans still exist, but there are not many of them left in Congress. And we should have enough respect for the party’s presidential candidates to believe that they mean what they are saying when, for example, one of them (Scott Walker) insists that “Iran is not a place we should be doing business with,” while another (Jeb Bush) declares that “we need to stop the Iran agreement, for sure, because the Iranian mullahs have . . . blood on their hands.”
(Wow! This is incredibly rich coming from JEB! whose brother Dubya has far more Middle East blood on his hands than anyone on earth--other than perhaps Dick Cheney.)
Obama is defending a long bipartisan tradition of negotiating even with adversaries we deeply and rightly mistrust, the prime example being the Soviet Union. For now, the consensus across party lines in favor of such diplomacy is broken. Many of us would like to see it restored, but the evidence of Obama’s time in office is unambiguous: Friendly gestures won’t win over those determined to block his policies.
In the short run, Obama simply has to win enough votes for his Iran deal. For the long run, he has to convince Americans that his measured approach to the world is the safest path for the country. Defending this view aggressively is no vice.
Posted by flpoljunkie | Mon Aug 10, 2015, 05:21 PM (0 replies)