Inspector General Report Indicates Clinton Had Highly Classified Email On Personal Server

Clinton Email

Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III sent a letter to leaders on congressional intelligence committees last week indicating that the email on Hillary Clinton’s private server contained classified information including some on “special access programs,” which is classified above “top secret.”

The news report initially came from Fox in what was labeled as an exclusive report earlier today. Subsequently the report was verified independently by real news outlets including  CNN , CBS News, NBC News, and AP. CNN reported that, “A spokeswoman for the inspector general confirmed to CNN the report was accurate.” NBC News was among the news services which contained their own copy of the letter. They report:

Emails from Hillary Clinton’s home server contained information classified at levels higher than previously known, including a level meant to protect some of the most sensitive U.S. intelligence, according to a document obtained by NBC News.

In a letter to lawmakers, the intelligence community’s internal watchdog says some of Clinton’s emails contained information classified Top Secret/Special Access Program, a secrecy designation that includes some of the most closely held U.S. intelligence matters.

Two American intelligence officials tell NBC News these are not the same two emails from Clinton’s server that have long been reported as containing information deemed Top Secret.

While I would normally ignore reports from Fox, the independent confirmation from CNN and NBC News suggests that this aspect of the report should also be taken seriously:

Intelligence from a “special access program,” or SAP, is even more sensitive than that designated as “top secret” – as were two emails identified last summer in a random sample pulled from Clinton’s private server she used as secretary of state. Access to a SAP is restricted to those with a “need-to-know” because exposure of the intelligence would likely reveal the source, putting a method of intelligence collection — or a human asset — at risk. Currently, some 1,340 emails designated “classified” have been found on Clinton’s server, though the Democratic presidential candidate insists the information was not classified at the time.

“There is absolutely no way that one could not recognize SAP material,” a former senior law enforcement with decades of experience investigating violations of SAP procedures told Fox News. “It is the most sensitive of the sensitive.”

As I noted in a post with further information on the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email earlier this month, McClatchy has also reported that at least 1340 Clinton emails contain classified information.

This latest news, which could both be highly damaging to Hillary Clinton politically, and which could lead to criminal prosecution if she is treated the same as others who have mishandled classified information, comes when Clinton is facing additional bad news politically, with Bernie Sanders having erased her previous lead in Iowa.

The Political Debates Of The Past Week: Wins For Bernie Sanders & SNL

Both major political parties had debates in the past week. The one similarity is that in each party the front runner (Clinton and Trump) is facing a serious challenge. Neither race is likely to change very much based upon these debates alone. The Republican Debate was not all that eventful, except for Donald Trump defending New York against the attack from Ted Cruz. The coverage from Saturday Night Live in the video above is sufficient.

The Democratic Debate was largely a replay of the Rovian-style campaign which Hillary Clinton has resorted to since Sanders started to catch up with her in the polls. Rather than honestly discuss the issues, Clinton attacked Sanders by misrepresenting his views. Her strategy was to scare Democratic voters into thinking that Bernie Sanders plans to take away their guns and Obamacare. She would have fit in much better with the Republicans.

As I noted last week, Clinton has also been far to the right of her current position on gun control in the past, such as when she debated Barack Obama in 2008. Clinton has taken multiple positions on gun control over the years, campaigning even further to the right at times in 2008 when she described herself as a “pro-gun churchgoer.” Despite her major flip-flops on guns, Clinton also sent out a dishonest flier attacking Obama on guns, which is just one way she is repeating the same dishonest tactics employed in her unsuccessful 2008 campaign.

Sanders responded early in the debate to Clinton’s distortions of his record:

Well, I think Secretary Clinton knows that what she says is very disingenuous. I have a D-minus voting record from the NRA. I was in 1988, there were three candidates running for congress in the state of Vermont, I stood up to the gun lobby and came out and maintained the position that in this country we should not be selling military style assault weapons.

I have supported from day one and instant background check to make certain that people who should have guns do not have guns. And that includes people of criminal backgrounds, people who are mentally unstable. I support what President Obama is doing in terms of trying to close the gun show loop holes and I think it should be a federal crime if people act as dormant.

Clinton was confronted with her distortions of Sanders’ position on health care by Andrea Mitchell, who asked:

Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders favors what he calls “Medicare for all.” Now, you said that what he is proposing would tear up Obamacare and replace it.

Secretary Clinton, is it fair to say to say that Bernie Sanders wants to kill Obamacare?

Clinton evaded the question and Sanders responded:

SANDERS: Secretary — Secretary Clinton didn’t answer your question.

Because what her campaign was saying — Bernie Sanders, who has fought for universal health care for my entire life, he wants to end Medicare, end Medicaid, end the children’s health insurance program. That is nonsense.

What a Medicare-for-all program does is finally provide in this country health care for every man, woman and child as a right. Now, the truth is, that Frank Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, do you know what they believed in? They believed that health care should be available to all of our people.

I’m on the committee that wrote the Affordable Care Act. I made the Affordable Care Act along with Jim Clyburn a better piece of legislation. I voted for it, but right now, what we have to deal with is the fact that 29 million people still have no health insurance. We are paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, getting ripped off.

And here’s the important point, we are spending far more per person on health care than the people of any other country. My proposal, provide health care to all people, get private insurance out of health insurance, lower the cost of health care for middle class families by 5,000 bucks.

That’s the vision we need to take.

Sanders continued to discuss the limitations to Obamacare such as “the 29 million still have no health insurance, that even more are underinsured with huge copayments and deductibles.” He describing his plan as building upon Obamacare, not tearing it up.

In other highlights of the debate, Sanders had a strong response to abuse of police powers:

“I believe there’s a huge conflict of interest when local prosecutors investigate cases of police violence within their communities. Most recently, we saw this with a non- indictment of the officers involved in the case of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. How would you presidency ensure incidents of police violence are investigated and prosecuted fairly?”

SANDERS: Absolutely. This is a responsibility for the U.S. Justice Department to get involved. Whenever anybody in this country is killed while in police custody, it should automatically trigger a U.S. attorney general’s investigation.

Second of all, and I speak as a mayor who worked very closely and well with police officers, the vast majority of whom are honest, hard- working people trying to do a difficult job, but let us be clear.

If a police officer breaks the law, like any public official, that officer must be held accountable.

And thirdly, we have got to de-militarize our police departments so they don’t look like occupying armies. We’ve got to move toward community policing.

And fourthly, we have got to make our police departments look like the communities they serve in their diversity.

In another of her distortions of Sanders’ record Clinton claimed, “He even, in 2011, publicly sought someone to run in a primary against President Obama.” Sanders had entertained in principle having a primary challenge to Obama from the left in response to questions, but he never sought to have someone run, and he campaigned for Obama when he ran for reelection. Sanders responded by highlighting one of Clinton’s major weaknesses:

SANDERS: Set the record right. In 2006 when I ran for the Senate, Senator Barack Obama was kind enough to campaign for me, 2008, I did my best to see that he was elected and in 2012, I worked as hard as I could to see that he was reelected. He and I are friends. We’ve worked together on many issues. We have some differences of opinion.

But here is the issue, Secretary touched on it, can you really reform Wall Street when they are spending millions and millions of dollars on campaign contributions and when they are providing speaker fees to individuals? So it’s easy to say, well, I’m going to do this and do that, but I have doubts when people receive huge amounts of money from Wall Street. I am very proud, I do not have a super PAC. I do not want Wall Street’s money. I’ll rely on the middle class and working families…

Throughout the debate Clinton also tried to present herself as the next Barack Obama, speaking of him as Republicans speak of Ronald Reagan. Of course Clinton is far to the right of Obama on issues including foreign policy, civil liberties, and separation of church and state. She is also counting on viewers failing to recall how often she has attacked Obama from the right on foreign policy since she left the State Department.

Sanders was once again declared the winner of the debate by large majorities in the non-scientific on line polls. Pundits differed but most seemed to agree that Sanders beat Clinton. Examples include Chris Cillizza and John Podhoretz.

The debate received more attention than the previous ones, and there was a lot of interest in the candidates as measured by Google searches. Google even listed the top trending questions for each candidate, and the results were fascinating:

Top Trending Questions on Hillary Clinton
1 Will Hillary Clinton get prosecuted?
2 Will Hillary Clinton win the nomination?
3 What did Hillary Clinton do that is illegal?
4 Where did Hillary Clinton grow up?
5 Is Hillary Clinton a Democrat?
The first and third should serve as a warning of what is to come should Clinton be the nominee. Some background information on those can be found here. The FBI is still investigating and we do not know if Clinton will be prosecuted, but she did commit enough ethical violations and violations of government policy that it is a disgrace that the Democratic Party would consider nominating her for President. The fifth depends upon whether you really consider a DLC type Democrat who has spent her career undermining liberal values to truly be a Democrat.
The questions on the other candidates:
Top Trending Questions on Bernie Sanders
1 Why is Bernie Sanders so popular?
2 Can Bernie Sanders win?
3 How old is Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders?
4 What religion is Bernie Sanders?
5 What are Bernie Sanders’ positions on the issues?
Top Trending Questions on Martin O’Malley
1 Why is Martin O’Malley running for President?
2 Martin O’Malley was Governor of which state?
3 Is Martin O’Malley still running for President?
4 What does Martin O’Malley think about Obamacare?
5 What does Martin O’Malley do?
The questions about Sanders are far more typical of questions about a candidate people are thinking of voting for.

Clinton Campaign Underestimated Sanders–But Also Underestimated Clinton’s Weaknesses

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to a speaker during a campaign stop at the YMCA in Rochester, New Hampshire June 15, 2015.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RTX1GLP8

With Clinton falling in the polls and acting desperate, it is no surprise to see The New York Times run a headline saying, Clinton Campaign Underestimated Sanders Strengths, Allies Say.

Advisers to Hillary Clinton, including former President Bill Clinton, believe that her campaign made serious miscalculations by forgoing early attacks on Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and failing to undercut his archliberal message before it grew into a political movement that has now put him within striking distance of beating her in Iowa and New Hampshire.

According to Democrats close to the Clintons and involved with her campaign, Mrs. Clinton and the former president are also unnerved by the possibility that Mr. Sanders will foment a large wave of first-time voters and liberals that will derail her in Iowa, not unlike Barack Obama’s success in 2008, which consigned Mrs. Clinton to a third-place finish. They have asked her advisers about the strength of the campaign’s data modeling and turnout assumptions in Iowa, given that her 2008 campaign’s predictions were so inaccurate.

…Mrs. Clinton’s problems are broader than just her message: Opinion polls show that some Democrats and other voters continue to question her trustworthiness and whether she cares about their problems. Recent polls show that her once-formidable lead over Mr. Sanders in Iowa has all but vanished, while he is holding on to a slight lead over her in New Hampshire.

While they have underestimated Sanders, as they underestimated Obama eight years ago, this isn’t the real problem. The problem for the Clinton campaign is that they failed to see the weaknesses in their candidate and they hopefully underestimated the ability of Democratic voters to recognize them. Clinton lost in 2008 and is struggling today not only because of the attributes of Obama and Sanders, but because Clinton does not have what it takes to a leader in the Democratic Party. She should have remained a Republican.

As the linked article notes, she is weak on ethics. She is weak in policy, both in terms of a history of showing poor judgment on the big issues and in term of opposing liberal viewpoints. By now everyone is aware of the considerable differences between the two with regards to Wall Street, despite Clinton’s attempts to distort the issueThe Nation did an excellent job of succinctly summarizing how often she has been wrong on foreign policy in their endorsement, briefly quoted here. Democratic voters, especially the young, also do not want a candidate who is so conservative on social issues that she teamed up with The Fellowship in the Senate, or who who has a long history of taking conservative stands on civil liberties and government transparency. She has similarly opposed campaign finance reform in the past as she has benefited from money from the special interests, making it hard to believe she will take serious action on the issue. Her record on the environment suggests she is more concerned about protecting the special interests she is indebted to as opposed to supporting any serious change to deal with climate change.

These are many of the same issues which led Democrats to support Obama over Clinton eight years ago.

Clinton’s campaign based upon inevitability and electability against Sanders has fallen apart, as the same strategy did eight years ago, as her lead in the polls has evaporated, and as many head to head polls against Republicans show that Sanders is more electable than Clinton is. Plus, as a general rule of thumb, it is not wise for a political party to nominate a candidate involved in a major scandal, and who has the FBI investigating their actions.

As Van Jones put it last week, the Democratic base is in “full-on rebellion” against Hillary Clinton. This can also be seen in the endorsements from MoveOn and Democracy for America, as well as in DFA’s defense of Sanders from the dishonest attacks from the Clinton campaign.

If there wasn’t a Barack Obama in 2008 and a Bernie Sanders today, somebody else would be challenging Clinton as they are because of the weaknesses of Hillary Clinton.

Smoking Gun In Latest Email Release Could Potentially End Hillary Clinton’s Political Career

Clinton Email

Email released during the middle of the night might bring about the end of Hillary Clinton’s political career, and possibly result in  felony charges against her. One of the emails shows Clinton instructing an aide to remove the “identifying heading” and send information trough non-secure channels when they were having difficulty sending over secure fax.  The Hill reports:

In order to speed up the transmission of a set of talking points, Hillary Clinton asked an aide to send information to her through a “nonsecure” channel.

In an email marked June 17, 2011, that was released by the State Department on Friday, Clinton informs aide Jake Sullivan that she has not yet received a set of talking points.

“They say they’ve had issues sending secure fax,” Sullivan says. “They’re working on it.”

“If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure,” Clinton responds.

It is not clear what the contents of the email were, whether information sent was classified or secure or whether the order was carried out.

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the email “disturbing.”

“The State Department’s latest Freedom of Information Act release contains a disturbing email that appears to show the former Secretary of State instructing a subordinate to remove the headings from a classified document and send it to her in an unsecure manner,” he said in a statement on Friday.

“It raises a host of serious questions and underscores the importance of the various inquiries into the transmittal of classified information through her non-government email server,” he added.

If Hillary Clinton did instruct someone to remove the markings on classified information and send it over her private email system, this would be a felony, violating laws such as such as U.S. Code 793. The question remains whether the information was classified, but from the context it is hard to accept any other explanation. If the information wasn’t classified, it wouldn’t have been an issue that they were having difficulty with the secure fax.  Ed Morrissey’s thoughts on this are hard to argue with:

  • Unclassified material doesn’t need to be transmitted by secure fax; if the material wasn’t classified, Sullivan would have had them faxed normally.
  • Ordering aides to remove headers to facilitate the transmission over unsecured means strongly suggests that the information was not unclassified. On top of that, removing headers to avoid transmission security would be a violation of 18 USC 793 anyway, which does not require material to be classified — only sensitive to national security.

Contrary to Clinton’s previous claims that she did not send or receive classified email on her private server, by McClatchy’s count there were at least 1,340 emails contained classified material, including sixty-six in the latest release. While not marked as classified, “intelligence officials say some material was clearly classified at the time. Her aides also sent and received classified information.” As Reuters explained in August, when a smaller amount of classified information had already been discovered in Clinton’s email, this information could have been “born classified” and be considered classified regardless of whether the State Department had labeled it classified:

In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department’s own “Classified” stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign government information.’ The U.S. government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts.

This sort of information, which the department says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be “presumed” classified, in part to protect national security and the integrity of diplomatic interactions, according to U.S. regulations examined by Reuters.

“It’s born classified,” said J. William Leonard, a former director of the U.S. government’s Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Leonard was director of ISOO, part of the White House’s National Archives and Records Administration, from 2002 until 2008, and worked for both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

“If a foreign minister just told the secretary of state something in confidence, by U.S. rules that is classified at the moment it’s in U.S. channels and U.S. possession,” he said in a telephone interview, adding that for the State Department to say otherwise was “blowing smoke.”

Reuters’ findings may add to questions that Clinton has been facing over her adherence to rules concerning sensitive government information. Spokesmen for Clinton declined to answer questions, but Clinton and her staff maintain she did not mishandle any information.

“I did not send classified material, and I did not receive any material that was marked or designated classified,” Clinton told reporters at a campaign event in Nevada on Tuesday.

Although it appears to be true for Clinton to say none of her emails included classification markings, a point she and her staff have emphasized, the government’s standard nondisclosure agreement warns people authorized to handle classified information that it may not be marked that way and that it may come in oral form.

Two of the emails were previously “top secret” with one later downgraded to “secret.”

Previously there were questions as to whether Clinton’s actions were intentional or if she understood enough about the computer systems to understand what was occurring. This email statement, “If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure” should end the possibility of any defense along these lines.

The email also displayed further evidence of Clinton’s attitude that the rules which apply to others do not apply to her. The latest batch of emails include one where Clinton was surprised that a staffer was using private email. As I noted in this summary of the email scandal from July, an ambassador under Clinton was fired with failure to abide by rules against using private email being cited as a reason by the Inspector General (pdf of report here).

With the FBI investigating Clinton’s email practices at the State Department, there has been growing speculation in recent weeks that she will be facing criminal charges. While this tends to be more in the conservative media, it does appear that the FBI had already stepped up its probe late in 2015, and this latest “smoking gun” should increase the chances.

At this point nobody outside of the FBI knows were their probe is headed, but regardless of whether Clinton is indicted, her violations of Obama’s stricter standards for government transparency initiated in 2009, along with previous regulations, unethically receiving money (in the form of donations to the Foundation and extraordinarily high speaking fees to Bill, as well as questions of improperly handling classified information will be a major impediment to running in a general election, should Clinton fight off a challenge from Bernie Sanders which is looking much like Obama’s challenge eight years ago in terms of generating support, including a thirteen point lead today in New Hampshire.

Joe Biden said this week that he regrets his decision not to run “every day.” With many Democratic Party insiders appearing determined to keep Sanders from winning the nomination, it is just possible that they might offer Biden a second chance should they recognize how damaging the latest emails could be to Clinton’s election chances, or should she be indicted.

Throwback Thursday: Young Hillary Clinton Video Mocked Clinton’s Dirty Campaign Tactics In 2008

We have already seen signs of Hillary Clinton getting dirty in this year’s campaign against Bernie Sanders, but so far this has been rather tame compared to her 2008 campaign against Barack Obama. During the early primaries there was already criticism of Clinton  in the liberal blogs for her dirty campaign tactics, with matters getting worse as the campaign progressed. Her campaign played fast and loose with primary laws while her allies, such as Sidney Blumenthal, waged a vicious smear campaign against Obama.

Clinton’s corruption as Secretary of State subsequent to this campaign is likely to be a major campaign issue next fall. The Wall Street Journal has foreshadowed what to expect in an article this week on how “more than two dozen companies and groups and one foreign government paid former President Bill Clinton a total of more than $8 million to give speeches around the time they also had matters before Mrs. Clinton’s State Department.” Clinton also failed to abide by an agreement to release information on all donors to the Foundation when Secretary of State.

The above video, Young Hillary Clinton, which I posted in May 2008, captures the type of dishonesty seen by Clinton throughout the 2008 campaign, humorously speculating on  how such behavior might have stemmed from her childhood.

Related Posts:

Throwback Thursday, January 1, 2008: Barack Obama: Hillary Clinton ‘is just like Bush’
Throwback Thursday: Hillary 1984

Outrageous Statements From Donald Trump Distract From Serious Flaws In Other Conservative Candidates (Including Clinton)

Trumps and Clintons

One of the many problems with Donald Trump’s outrageous statements (undoubtedly made more to attract attention and support from a certain segment of the Republican Party than out of conviction) is that it might be making people fail to realize that many other candidates running also have positions which in a normal year might disqualify them from serious consideration. This is most clearly true within the Republican Party, but Hillary Clinton also benefits from the non-stop vulgar and sexist attacks on her from Trump. Donald Trump’s views make the flaws in the other candidates look far less significant in comparison, but there remains reasons why other candidates would be unacceptable as president.

Politico looked at The Wild Ideas You Missed While Donald Trump Was Talking, finding that many people are not noticing extreme views from other Republican candidates when Trump gets most of the attention:

The good news for Republicans, arguably, is that their rhetoric has been so consistently over-the-top that it has started to sound routine; academics call this “shifting the Overton window,” the range of what’s considered politically acceptable. I’ve watched all the debates as well as the undercards live, but when I reviewed the transcripts, I was amazed how many radical statements had slipped under my radar. Ted Cruz called for putting the United States back on the gold standard. Marco Rubio accused President Barack Obama of destroying the U.S. military. Huckabee said Bernie Madoff’s rip-offs weren’t as bad as what the government has done to people on Social Security and Medicare. Lindsey Graham said his administration would monitor all “Islamic websites,” not just jihadist ones. I had even forgotten Trump’s claim that vaccines caused autism in a 2-year-old girl he knew.

Vaccines do not cause autism. Goldbuggery is crackpot economics. The U.S. military is still by far the strongest in the world. And what the government has done to people on Social Security and Medicare is give them pensions and health care. But none of those statements drew any pushback from the other Republican candidates, or, for that matter, the media moderators. Neither did Ben Carson’s assertion that if the United States had set a goal of oil independence within a decade, moderate Arab states would have “turned over Osama bin Laden and anybody else you wanted on a silver platter within two weeks,” which is wackadoodle on multiple levels.

On the other hand, the Republican debates do present an extremely distorted view of Obama’s record, with nobody present to present the facts:

These are presumably winning messages in a Republican primary. It’s not clear whether they would be in a general election. The reality of the Obama era, for all its warts, is that unemployment has dropped to 5 percent, the deficit has shrunk by two thirds, illegal immigration has plateaued, far fewer U.S. soldiers are dying abroad and Americans are more likely to be killed by lightning than by terrorists at home. The question is whether the run-for-your-lives talking points will crash into statistical reality, or whether they will gradually help create a new political reality.

The Republicans do deserve some credit for being willing to display their views in public. The article does chastise the Democrats here in concluding that the Republicans are “acting like a confident party—perhaps an overconfident party—while the Democrats are acting like they’ve lost their feck.”

In reality, it is the Clinton campaign (which only wanted four debates) and the DNC, which expanded the number to six but hid most of them on nights when few would be watching, which are acting cowardly. Both Sanders and O’Malley have been pushing for more debates. I also think that Clinton has benefited from the exaggerated coverage paid to Trump. If not for his unexpected success in the Republican race, the big story of the year might be Sanders’ challenge to Clinton. After all, Sanders does beat Trump in head to head contests–and often by a larger margin than Clinton does.

Clinton benefits in other ways from Trump being in the race. The large number of lies from Trump dominated the year-end report from Factcheck.org. This led to a fairly long list of lies from Clinton being less obvious, posted further down in the story after Trump’s lies.

The concentration by the media on outrageous comments from Trump distracts from talk about the unethical conduct from Clinton, as well has the poor judgment she has shown throughout her career. Most importantly, it distracts from a more thorough look at Clinton’s views, including her neoconservative views on foreign policy, her conservative views on social/cultural issues, and her turn to the right on economic issues and health care. It also might be kept in mind that, with all his unacceptable statements and views, Donald Trump did oppose the Iraq war which Clinton pushed so hard for, and which turned out to be a disaster.

Third Democratic Debate Showed Sanders’ Strength On Foreign Policy, Health Care, And Social Justice

Third Democratic Debate ABC News

The third Democratic Debate (transcript here) was most significant for Sanders doing his best job yet in the debates of taking on Hillary Clinton on foreign policy. Unfortunately, with the debate airing on the Saturday night before Christmas, The Guardian might have it right in this headline: Sanders outshone Clinton on foreign policy at the debate. But who watched? Both Sanders and O’Malley were also critical of Clinton’s Wall Street ties and economic views. During much of the evening I felt like I was watching a debate between two Democrats and a Republican.

While Sanders was prepared to take on Clinton’s foreign policy views, he did begin with his usual themes in his opening statement:

I am running for president of the United States because it is too late for establishment politics and establishment economics. I’m running for president because our economy is rigged because working people are working longer hours for lower wages and almost all of new wealth and income being created is going to the top one percent. I’m running for president because I’m going to create an economy that works for working families not just billionaires.

I’m running for president because we have a campaign finance system which is corrupt, where billionaires are spending hundreds of millionaires of dollars to buy candidates who will represent their interests rather than the middle class and working families. I’m running because we need to address the planetary crisis of climate change and take on the fossil fuel industry and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

I’m running for president because I want a new foreign policy; one that takes on Isis, one that destroys ISIS, but one that does not get us involved in perpetual warfare in the quagmire of the Middle East but rather works around a major coalition of wealthy and powerful nations supporting Muslim troops on the ground. That’s the kind of coalition we need and that’s the kind of coalition I will put together.

The breech in security on the DNC’s voter data base came up. Sanders explained the situation, including an open admission of what staffers had done wrong, and then was asked if Clinton deserved an apology:

Not only — not only do I apologize to Secretary Clinton — and I hope we can work together on an independent investigation from day one — I want to apologize to my supporters. This is not the type of campaign that we run.

And if I find anybody else involved in this, they will also be fired.

Clinton appeared shocked, as if she didn’t see this coming. Such an honest response to a scandal is so foreign to her.

It didn’t take long for the debate to turn to foreign policy. Sanders criticized Clinton’s interventionist foreign policy views and support for regime change. There was a detour on gun control when Clinton was asked, ” Secretary Clinton, in the wake of the San Bernardino attack, you all emphasized gun control. But our latest poll shows that more Americans believe arming people, not stricter gun laws, is the best defense against terrorism. Are they wrong?”

Clinton stumbled in answering but I do think she was trying to say the right thing here. She finally did say, “Guns, in and of themselves, in my opinion, will not make Americans safer.”

O’Malley took advantage of this to attack the records of both Clinton and Sanders on guns. He is right, as I have discussed here, that Clinton changes her position on this every election year. He is also right that Sanders has had some votes which gun control advocates could rightly criticize, but as has generally been the case when this issue has come up, Sanders’ general history of support for gun control was distorted. Among the issues was that O’Malley raised was that, “Senator Sanders voted against even research dollars to look into this public health issue.”

The problem with citing a single vote against any Senator is that bills contain multiple items, and it is possible that Sanders voted against the amendment based upon details unrelated to the general issue. This vote took place in 1996 and in more recent interviews Sanders has not been able to recall the specifics of why he voted against this at the time. More importantly, Sanders now favors funding for this research. All three candidates are strongly promoting gun control.

Hillary Clinton often seemed to deflect from questions by bringing up criticisms of Donald Trump. Most were valid, but Clinton was wrong on one point:

And we also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don’t fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. So I want to explain why this is not in America’s interest to react with this kind of fear and respond to this sort of bigotry.

The fact check sites, including Factcheck.org, states that no such video exists. This is apparently as fictitious as the videos which Carly Fiorina claimed to have seen regarding Planned Parenthood at the second Republican debate.

Clinton was confronted with the contradictions in her statements on Syria by Martha Raddatz, who tried to force Clinton to defend her foreign policy failures several times during the debate:

Secretary Clinton, you too have ruled out a large U.S. combat force, yet you support sending in special operations forces to Syria, and sending those 100 to 200 troops to Iraq to do exploitation kill raids.

We’ve already lost one Delta Force member in a raid. It has looked very much to me like we’re already in ground combat on frequent trips I’ve made there.

After a weak answer from Clinton, Raddatz followed up:

Secretary Clinton, I want — I want to follow up on that. You do support sending special operations forces there. You support what the president has done already. One of the lessons people draw from Vietnam and war since is that a little force can turn into a little more and a little more. President Obama certainly didn’t expect to be sending 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan the first year of his presidency.

Are you prepared to run the risk of a bigger war to achieve your goals to destroy ISIS, or are you prepared to give up on those goals if it requires a larger force?

Clinton continued to struggle to defend her foreign policy views. After Clinton mentioned her support for a no-fly zone in Syria, Raddatz asked, “Secretary Clinton, I’d like to go back to that if I could. ISIS doesn’t have aircraft, Al Qaida doesn’t have aircraft. So would you shoot down a Syrian military aircraft or a Russian airplane?”

Both O’Malley and Sanders criticized Clinton’s views, with Sanders putting it all in perspective:

I have a difference of opinion with Secretary Clinton on this. Our differences are fairly deep on this issue. We disagreed on the war in Iraq. We both listened to the information from Bush and Cheney. I voted against the war.

But I think — and I say this with due respect — that I worry too much that Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be.

Yes, we could get rid of Saddam Hussein, but that destabilized the entire region. Yes, we could get rid of Gadhafi, a terrible dictator, but that created a vacuum for ISIS. Yes, we could get rid of Assad tomorrow, but that would create another political vacuum that would benefit ISIS. So I think, yeah, regime change is easy, getting rid of dictators is easy. But before you do that, you’ve got to think about what happens the day after. And in my view, what we need to do is put together broad coalitions to understand that we’re not going to have a political vacuum filled by terrorists, that, in fact, we are going to move steadily — and maybe slowly — toward democratic societies, in terms of Assad, a terrible dictator. But I think in Syria the primary focus now must be on destroying ISIS and working over the years to get rid of Assad. That’s the secondary issue.

With Clinton lacking any arguments of substance to defend her views, Clinton resorted to her usual tactic of deception. She tried to deflect from such criticism, and deny the substantial difference in their views, by distorting  Sanders’ record in saying, “With all due respect, senator, you voted for regime change with respect to Libya. you joined the Senate in voting to get rid of Qaddafi.” As Politico pointed out after the debate, the vote referred to a nonbinding resolution he voted for, which asked the dictator to “desist from further violence, recognize the Libyan people’s demand for democratic change, [and] resign his position.” This was hardly comparable to the removal of Qaddafi by force which Clinton backed.

O’Malley criticized Clinton’s antiqued thinking, with this not being the only time he contrasted his age to his two older opponents:

During the Cold War — during the Cold War, we got into a bad habit of always looking to see who was wearing the jersey of the communists, and who was wearing the U.S. jersey. We got into a bad habit of creating big bureaucracies, old methodologies, to undermine regimes that were not friendly to the United States. Look what we did in Iran with Mosaddegh. And look at the results that we’re still dealing with because of that. I would suggest to you that we need to leave the Cold War behind us, and we need to put together new alliances and new approaches to dealing with this, and we need to restrain ourselves.

I mean, I know Secretary Clinton was gleeful when Gadhafi was torn apart. And the world, no doubt is a better place without him. But look, we didn’t know what was happening next. And we fell into the same trap with Assad, saying — as if it’s our job to say, Assad must go.

We have a role to play in this world. But we need to leave the Cold War and that sort of antiquated thinking behind.

O’Malley was strong in criticizing Clinton’s ties to Wall Street and pointed how in the second debate she “very shamefully, she tried to hide her cozy relationship with Wall Street big banks by invoking the attacks of 9/11.” Clinton down played her contributions from Wall Street by ignoring her super PAC contributions, while Sanders pointed out, “Secretary Clinton, I don’t have a super PAC. I don’t get any money from Wall Street.” I am even more concerned about the corrupting effects of the contributions to the Foundation and unprecedented speaking fees paid to her husband.

The debate moved to health care with Sanders repeating his support for Medicare for All and Clinton objecting based upon the tax increases this would require. Sanders defended his proposal from Clinton’s attacks:

But Secretary Clinton is wrong.

As you know, because I know you know a lot about health care. You know that the United States per capita pays far and away more than other country. And it is unfair simply to say how much more the program will cost without making sure that people know that, we are doing away with cost of private insurance and that the middle class will be paying substantially less for health care on the single payer than on the Secretary’s Clinton proposal.

Clinton continued to channel right wing attacks on progressive programs by concentrating on their costs while ignoring their benefits in saying, “I don’t think we should be imposing new big programs that are going to raise middle class families’ taxes.”

Sanders responded by once again showing how he supports the economic policies of FDR and LBJ:

Number one, most important economic reality of today is that over the last 30 years, there has been a transfer of trillions of dollars from the middle class to the top one-tenth of one percent who are seeing a doubling of the percentage of wealth that they own.

Now, when Secretary Clinton says, “I’m not going raise taxes on the middle class,” let me tell you what she is saying. She is disagreeing with FDR on Social Security, LBJ on Medicare and with the vast majority of progressive Democrats in the House and the Senate, who today are fighting to end the disgrace of the United States being the only major country on Earth that doesn’t provide paid family and medical leave.

Sanders was the strongest candidate in speaking out for social justice:

Well, this whole issue concerns me. And I agree with much of what the secretary and the governor have said. But let’s be clear. Today in America we have more people in jail than any other country on earth, 2.2 million people. Predominantly African-American and Hispanic.

We are spending $80 billion a year locking up our fellow Americans. I think, and this is not easy, but I think we need to make wage a major effort, to come together as a country and end institutional racism. We need major, major reforms of a very broken criminal justice system. Now, what does that mean?

Well, for a start it means that police officers should not be shooting unarmed people, predominantly African-Americans.

It means that we have to rethink the so-called war on drugs which has destroyed the lives of millions of people, which is why I have taken marijuana out of the Controlled Substance Act. So that it will not be a federal crime.That is why we need to make police — and I speak as a former mayor. I was a mayor for eight years, worked very closely with a great police department. And what we did is try to move that department toward community policing, so that the police officers become part of the community and not, as we see, in some cities an oppressive force.

We need to make police departments look like the communities they serve in terms of diversity. We need to end minimal sentencing. We need, basically, to pledge that we’re going to invest in this country, in jobs and education, not more jails and incarceration.

Towards the end, Martha Raddatz returned to Clinton’s failed policy on Libya, which Clinton has received considerable criticism for:

Secretary Clinton, I want to circle back to something that your opponents here have brought up. Libya is falling apart. The country is a haven for ISIS and jihadists with an estimated 2,000 ISIS fighters there today. You advocated for that 2011 intervention and called it smart power at its best. And yet, even President Obama said the U.S. should have done more to fill the leadership vacuum left behind. How much responsibility do you bear for the chaos that followed elections?

Clinton tried to deflect and Raddatz followed up:

Secretary Clinton, I want to go back. That — government lacked institutions and experience. It had been a family business for 40 years. On the security side, we offered only a modest training effort and a very limited arms buy-back program. Let me ask you the question again. How much responsibility do you bear for the chaos that followed those elections?

Sanders also showed his disagreements with Clinton on regime change:

SANDERS: Look, the secretary is right. This is a terribly complicated issue. There are no simple solutions. But where we have a disagreement is that I think if you look at the history of regime changes, you go back to Mossaddegh (ph) in Iran, you go back to Salvador Allende who we overthrew in Chile, you go back to overthrowing Saddam Hussein in Iraq, you go back to where we are today in Syria with a dictator named Assad.

The truth is it is relatively easy for a powerful nation like America to overthrow a dictator but it is very hard to predict the unintended consequences and the turmoil and the instability that follows after you overthrow that dictator.

So I think secretary Clinton and I have a fundamental disagreement. I’m not quite the fan of regime change that I believe she is.

After many questions of substance, the final questions were rather lame regarding the role of the president’s spouse. The candidates then gave their closing statements, with Clinton going last and concluding, “Thank you, good night and may the force be with you.”

The force was strong in Bernie Sanders, while Hillary Clinton (and Debbie Wasserman Schultz) have been taken away by the dark side.

Sanders Wins Battle With DNC & Shows He Is Better Than Clinton At Responding To Scandals

DWS v Sanders

It didn’t take long after the Sanders campaign carried out its threat to file suit against the Democratic National Committee for the DNC to give in and allow Sanders access to his voter data:

After midnight, Sanders and the DNC put out statements that both indicated the impasse had been resolved but that put remarkably different spins on the outcome. Sanders’s campaign said the DNC had “capitulated” and that Sanders would soon regain access to the data. The DNC said what happened was “completely unacceptable” and that it would continue to investigate the circumstances even as Sanders regained access to the valuable information.

I think that this result was inevitable. First, Clinton supporter Debbie Wasserman Schultz was clearly taking advantage of the situation to hinder the Sanders campaign at a moment when it was showing increased strength. Her actions were far out of proportion to the infraction committed by a Sanders staffer, who was subsequently fired. Secondly, the actions were in clear violation of party rules:

The suit, filed in federal court in Washington, argued that under a contract between the DNC and the campaign governing the data system’s use, formal notice in writing is required if either side believes the other has violated the deal. In addition, each side is supposed to be allowed 10 days to address any concerns, the suit said.

“The DNC may not suspend the Campaign’s access to critical Voter Data out of haste or desperation to clean up after the DNC’s own mistakes,” the suit says.

This incident shows the difference between the Sanders campaign and the Clinton/DNC camp. The Sanders campaign showed its integrity in both immediately reporting the breach and  firing the person responsible. Will Debbie Wasserman Schultz or anyone at the DNC be held accountable for their improper response to this on Friday?

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has also been talking about an independent audit. In contrast, look how hard Clinton fought to try to prevent her emails as Secretary of State from being released, with half of her emails having been deleted under the false claim of all the deleted email having been personal. How about a full audit of  donations to the Clinton Foundation, as suggested by Common Cause, in light of the unethical manner in which Clinton ruled on matters as Secretary of State involving parties contributing to the Foundation and paying unprecedented speaking fees to her husband?

The response by the Sanders campaign shows a major contrast with how the Clintons handle scandals. Instead of the usual denials and stone walling, the Sanders campaign took responsibility and resolved the matter. The Sanders camp also showed their strength in quickly winning this battle with the DNC.

It will be interesting to see if the increased conflict between Sanders and Clinton is reflected in tonight’s debate. Maybe now Sanders won’t be so quick to defend Clinton if her far more serious scandals should come up.

Sanders Campaign Sues DNC; Response To Crisis Shows Difference From Clinton Crisis Management

Sanders Sues DNC

Bernie Sanders’ campaign has filed suit against the Democratic National Committee after they were suspended from access to the party’s voter database. The database is being used by all three campaigns, with each campaign adding their own voter data. A breech in the system led to members of Sanders’s campaign improperly obtaining access to information from the Clinton campaign. While the actions of the staffers involved do appear to be wrong, the incident does demonstrate differences between how Sanders and Clinton respond to ethical questions.

The staffer responsible for members of the Sanders campaign accessing the Clinton’s vote file claimed that he was doing this to evaluate the breech and to provide proof to the vendor of the existence of the breach. He was interviewed by CNN:

The Bernie Sanders campaign staffer who was fired for accessing data unique to the Hillary Clinton campaign’s vote file, told CNN on Friday that he was only trying to “understand how badly the Sanders campaign’s data was exposed” and not attempting to take data from the Clinton campaign.

“We knew there was a security breach in the data, and we were just trying to understand it and what was happening,” said Josh Uretsky, reached by phone on Friday morning, a day after the campaign let him go.

He added, “To the best of my knowledge, nobody took anything that would have given the (Sanders) campaign any benefit.”
The Sanders campaign fired Uretsky over the breach. “That behavior is unacceptable and that staffer was fired immediately,” Sanders’ spokesman Michael Briggs said Thursday night.

It is impossible to know if Uretsky was being honest about his motives. Due to the questions caused by his actions, the Sanders’ campaign was right to immediately fire Uretsky.

The Sanders’ campaign had been threatening to file suit throughout the day on Friday after they were subsequently denied access to their voter data on the sever by the DNC, and ultimately did file suit late Friday afternoon.

The suit claims that the loss of the voter file could “significantly disadvantage, if not cripple, a Democratic candidate’s campaign for public office.” It also argues that the agreement between the candidate and the DNC mandates that a candidate get 10 days written notice to fix any issue before the party can restrict access.

“The DNC’s unwarranted, unilateral suspension of the Campaign’s Voter Data access directly impacts one of the nation’s most important electoral races, and carries political implications on a national scale,” the suit says.

“The DNC should not be permitted to tip the scales of the Democratic presidential primary without clear justification and contractual cause. The fairness of this pivotal national election should not be compromised because of security flaws introduced by the DNC and its vendor.”

Politico described the consequences of the DNC’s action:

The DNC’s punishment is a potentially crippling blow to the Vermont senator’s campaign: it means he temporarily loses access to critical voter data just weeks before voting is set to begin in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he is within striking distance of Clinton. Without access to the voter file, on-the-ground organizing will become far more difficult for Sanders.

This also hinders fund raising efforts, and the Sanders campaign is suing for damages.

Democracy for America, which endorsed Sanders the previous day, and Move On have both defended Sanders and called on the DNC to allow his campaign access to their data.

The rather extreme manner in which the DNC handled the situation has exacerbated tensions in the Democratic Party due to the manner in which DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a long-time Clinton ally, has used her position to favor Clinton. This includes both the limiting the number of debates allowed, as requested by the Clinton campaign, which only wanted a total of four debates,  along with scheduling the debates at times they were less likely to be viewed–such as this Saturday night.

While the improper actions of staffers does not reflect well on Bernie Sanders, sometimes it takes a crisis to show the true character of the candidates. There was a considerable difference between the reaction of the Clinton campaign to this matter and how Bernie Sanders desired to keep the Clinton email scandal out of the Democratic debates.

It is debatable whether Sanders made the right decision considering the far more serious nature of the scandals surrounding Hillary Clinton. Considering the number of supporters who question voting for Hillary Clinton if she wins the nomination, it might be prudent for Clinton to support Sanders’ right to access to his voter information to avoid further alienation of progressive voters. Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon has not been helping her campaign by attacking Sanders on Twitter over this.

Other differences between Sanders and Clinton came to mind after Debbie Wasserman Schultz defended her decision on CNN:

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schutz, speaking on CNN, said its action to suspend Sanders’ access to the voter file was “certainly not unreasonable.”

She said if the shoe was on the other foot, and the Clinton camp had accessed Sanders’ data, “I’m confident that this is the decision that they would expect from us.”

Except that if it was the Clinton camp, they [probably would not have notified the vendor of the security vulnerability as the Sanders camp did, they probably would not have fired the individual responsible, and they would have come up with a series of lies to justify their actions as they were exposed by fact checkers of doing regarding the email scandal.

While it is unfortunate that such a crisis has developed during the campaign, there is the risk of scandal in any campaign. There is also the risk of scandal during a presidency. Sanders actions suggest that he would respond to a scandal in his administration far more honorably than Clinton would. Is there any doubt that any crisis in another Clinton administration would lead to endless stonewalling, dishonesty, and attacks?

Update: Sanders Wins Battle With DNC & Shows He Is Better Than Clinton At Responding To Scandals

Many Young Women Not Necessarily Ready For Hillary, And Will Consider Sanders

Young Voters For Sanders

Support for Hillary Clinton has been characterized by a tremendous gender gap in many polls as women voters, along with some men, are so eager to have a female president that they are willing to overlook Clinton’s rather serious flaws, both on policy matters and character. It is encouraging to see a report in The New York Times  which found that many younger women are looking more at the candidate than their gender. The article begins:

Barbara Schierenbeck, a 59-year-old nurse in Brooklyn, is swept up in the excitement of potentially electing Hillary Clinton the first female president. She cannot understand why her 19-year-old daughter, Anna, does not feel the same way.

“Fifteen or 20 years ago, no one would even think about a woman being president,” Mrs. Schierenbeck said. “Certainly, when I was 20 years old in the 1970s, I don’t think I would even have thought about it.”

But for her daughter, electing a woman, while a nice idea, is not a motivating factor. “I want to see someone who, like, has the fervor to fight for me,” Anna Schierenbeck said. A woman will be elected president “pretty soon” anyway, she said, regardless of what happens in 2016. Why does that woman have to be Mrs. Clinton?

The problem is with Mrs. Clinton, which is exacerbated by how much she has moved to the right this fall, along with her life-long record of undermining liberal causes. While her supporters often claim that opposition to her is based upon sexism, in reality it is based upon principle, as many of the left do not want to see what would amount to a third term for George Bush on far too many policy matters, with the ethics of Richard Nixon.

If Elizabeth Warren was the nominee there would be no objection from the left. Should Clinton win the nomination, many on the left, especially those of us who do not live in battleground states, are now talking about happily voting for a woman candidate. Except she would be Jill Stein of the Green Party, not Hillary Clinton.

The objection is not to a woman president. The objection is to Hillary Clinton.

Getting back to the article:

The mother-daughter debate unfolding in the Schierenbeck household reflects a debate taking place across the country, as women of varying ages and backgrounds confront the potential milestone implicit in Mrs. Clinton’s bid very differently. As her chances of becoming the first woman to be nominated by a major political party improve, many women are considering how much gender should play into their decisions to embrace Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy — or not.

The generational divide in how they answer that question has added urgency to Mrs. Clinton’s efforts to focus on how she appeals to younger women, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic but who might sit out an election if they are not excited by a candidate. After beginning her candidacy in April with hopes of inspiring women that this was their moment, she is now more intent on trying to forge common cause on specific issues, and less on merely shattering the glass ceiling.

Unlike in her 2008 campaign, Mrs. Clinton has this year leaned heavily on her gender, often ending speeches by invoking an America “where a father can tell his daughter, ‘Yes, you can be anything you want to be, even president of the United States.’ ”

It is a powerful line for Mrs. Clinton’s most avid supporters: college-educated women in their 50s and 60s. “For baby boomer women, in particular, it’s ‘I fought this whole war, and now we’re running out of time, and if not Hillary, then who would it be?’ ” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who is herself a baby boomer.

But younger women are less impressed.

Meghan Speed, a 20-year-old college junior from Concord, N.C., said she expected a woman to be elected president in the next 20 years, but planned to vote for Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary because of his record on issues like income inequality.

“For me it was very difficult to wrap my mind around not fully supporting Hillary, because she is a woman,” she said. “But I came to the realization that if I am supporting her because she is a woman, that’s equally as bad as not supporting her because of her gender.”

Yes, supporting Clinton because of her gender, ignoring her conservative views and history of unethical behavior, would be the wrong decision. So is it for Democrats who would oppose the same policies or behavior coming from Clinton if they came from a Republican, but ignore them because of her gender or party affiliation. Candidates should be judged by the same standards, regardless of party.

The generational gap, with the young supporting Sanders over Clinton regardless of gender, is reminiscent of the generational gap between those who supported Obama over Clinton eight years ago:

The generational gap haunted Mrs. Clinton in the 2008 primary: In Iowa, Mr. Obama took 51 percent, John Edwards 19 percent and Mrs. Clinton just 11 percent of the caucus vote among women younger than 24. The only demographic cohort that Mrs. Clinton won, exit polls showed, was women older than 65…

Mrs. Clinton’s standing among white women has declined in some recent polls, but women remain the backbone of her support. More than half of all women said they had a favorable opinion of Mrs. Clinton, compared with 36 percent of men, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this month.

But just 38 percent of women aged 18 to 29 said they supported Mrs. Clinton in the Democratic primary, compared with 40 percent for Mr. Sanders, according to a poll of 2,011 young people released Thursday by Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

A major question in this campaign will be how young voters, former Obama voters, and voters who have not typically participated in the nominating system turn out in Iowa and New Hampshire. Polling does not give a reliable indicator of such caucus and primary states, as I have discussed many times before, as most voters do not decide until the last minute, and pollsters cannot reliably determine who will turn out to vote. It is always dangerous to count on young voters, who vote in smaller percentages than older voters. I am hopeful that having the Iowa caucus take place this year after students are back at school, as opposed to over the holiday break eight years ago, will lead to an improvement in their participation.

Sanders’ views are far more in tune with those of the young, and hopefully his support will increase as more people become aware of the vast differences in his views compared to Clinton’s. Those who are concerned about the state of the economy and getting good jobs, are likely to join Sanders’ coalition as opposed to supporting the policies from Clinton to benefit her Wall Street cronies. While fear of terrorism is once again affecting the electorate, overall Sanders’ views should be preferable to the militaristic, neoconservative views of Hillary Clinton. Younger voters who tend to be more secular and socially liberal should prefer Sanders over Clinton’s socially conservative and more theocratic views. Younger voters who tend to be more libertarian on civil liberties issues should prefer Sanders over Clinton.

The important thing is that voters look at the actual candidates, and not vote simply based upon gender. It is a hopeful sign that young women are not making the same mistake which many older women are with their knee jerk support of Hillary Clinton.