President Obama Grants Hillary Clinton A Full, Free, & Absolute Pardon For All Crimes Committed As Secretary of State

With the FBI moving onto a new phase of its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server, President Obama has granted Hillary Clinton a full, free, and absolute pardon for all crimes committed as Secretary of State. This includes protection against any charges related to mishandling of classified information, as well as influence peddling as Secretary of State due to payments to her husband and the Foundation from parties Clinton was making decisions about.

There was immediate opposition from both the left and right. Anti-war activists expressed concern that the pardon would also protect Clinton from any possible war crimes charges related to her role in Libya and in the Honduran coup.

Donald Trump, in an exclusive interview with CatCo Worldwide Media while campaigning in National City, said that when he is elected he will still prosecute Clinton, stating that Obama’s pardon is not valid as Obama is not a natural born American citizen. During the interview, Trump also bragged about how women love him, and repeated campaign promises to destroy ISIS wherever they may be working, stating that if he was president he would bomb Brussels in response to the recent terrorist attack.

April 1 was also a good day for Clinton as, besides receiving the pardon, she received a Medal of Honor for dodging sniper fire in Bosnia. While previous reports, undoubtedly coming from the vast right-wing conspiracy against Clinton, had question whether this event occurred, we have new video confirming Clinton’s story:

Not everything is going well for Hillary Clinton today. If it wasn’t bad enough that she is being subjected to lies from Bernie Sanders, along environmentalists and from fact-checkers who verify the charges against Clinton, she is under attack from another source, which Sanders also appears to be responsible for:

bird-hillary-site

Hillary Clinton was attacked by a bird on live television this afternoon.

Clinton campaign manager Sheev Palpatine was quick to blame the rival campaign of the late Bernie Sanders for orchestrating the attack.

“We have evidence that proves Sanders was recently associating with a bird in Portland,” said Palpatine. “These attacks will not be tolerated. We already have an army of the nation’s finest bird lawyers working on our best legal options.”

Political analyst and bird watcher John James Audubon III claims that if the Sander’s campaign has actually tapped into the bird constituency, then it could mark the turn of the electoral battle…

Update: Related Stories for April 1

Clinton’s Latest Deceitful Statement: “I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me.”

Hillary Clinton, one of the most dishonest and corrupt politicians in recent history, has made a statement (video above) which ranks with Richard Nixon’s classic, “I am not a crook.” While running a campaign based upon one lie after another about Bernie Sanders, she responded to a truthful complaint about her by saying, “I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I’m sick of it.” The Hill reports:

Hillary Clinton on Thursday accused Bernie Sanders‘s campaign of lying about her in a heated exchange with an environmental activist.

“I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I’m sick of it,” the visibly angry Democratic presidential hopeful said, pointing a finger in a woman’s face, in a video posted by Greenpeace.

The exchange came as the woman pressed Clinton on taking donations from the fossil fuel industry and asked if she would reject their campaign contributions in the future.

“I do not have — I have money from people who work for fossil fuel companies,” Clinton responded, before calling the rival campaign’s claims lies.

Clinton’s campaign has accepted sums from fossil fuel companies. According to a Huffington Post report from July of last year, most of her campaign’s largest bundlers at the time were lobbyists for the industry.

In other words, Clinton is accusing the Sanders campaign of lying in response to an environmental activist making a true accusation against Clinton.

In contrast, Clinton has been caught telling multiple lies about Sanders, and was even been chastised for her lying about Sanders by many people, including a former adviser to Bill Clinton, and  The New York Times, which has endorsed Clinton. Among her top lies of the campaign

Clinton has also been caught telling other lies beyond lying about Sanders during this campaign, such as when she was caught  rewriting history on her support for the defense of marriage act.  (She has also been caught lying about Donald Trump and other Republicans by the factcheckers, but there is already too much here to go into that today.)

Of course Clinton has a long history of lying which is not limited to her political opponents, such as her false claims of a tie between Saddam and al Qaeda to justify the Iraq war, and the many lies she has told about her conduct as Secretary of State.

There was no reason for Clinton to run such a dishonest campaign considering the degree to which Sanders has wanted to stick to the issues, but Clinton could not help herself. Lying is what she does (and having a habitual lier and warmonger as Commander in Chief is quite scary). This is also not very wise politically. There are already many Sanders supporters who will probably not vote for her if she wins the nomination, and bogus attacks on Sanders such as this will not help matters.

Clinton Liar

Obama, Clinton, and Sanders & The Drug War (Sanders Has The Best Position)

Commuted Sentences Obama

The drug war is one of several areas where Obama has tried to move in the right direction, but his overall accomplishments over the last seven years have been disappointing. Far too little has changed. The White House has now announced that President Obama is reducing the sentences of sixty-one more individuals imprisoned due to drug laws, bringing the total to 248:

Today, the President announced 61 new grants of commutation to individuals serving years in prison under outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws. More than one-third of them were serving life sentences. To date, the President has now commuted the sentences of 248 individuals – more than the previous six Presidents combined. And, in total, he has commuted 92 life sentences.

Underscoring his commitment not just to clemency, but to helping those who earn their freedom make the most of their second chance, the President will meet today with commutation recipients from both his Administration and the previous administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. During the meeting, the commutation recipients will discuss their firsthand experiences with the reentry process and ways that the process can be strengthened to give every individual the resources he or she needs to transition from prison and lead a fulfilling, productive life…

While this is welcome news, both liberal and libertarian commentators have expressed regrets that Obama hasn’t done more. Vox notes:

…the White House is still falling far short of the expectations it set for itself two years ago, when it encouraged thousands of prisoners to apply for shorter sentences. Then–Attorney General Eric Holder even went so far as to speculate that 10,000 prisoners might get their sentences reduced by the end of the Obama administration.

In that context, the 61 new commutations — and even the 248 total commutations — look different: a very small, incremental change that may signal the White House will do more in future but almost certainly won’t help it live up to its own expectations.

This comes not long after considerable discussion in the medical field regrading the negative impact of handling drug abuse as a criminal as opposed to a health matter, including in an article in The Lancet:

In a report published Thursday in The Lancet medical journal, Beyrer and an international team of researchers assessed the growing body of evidence for the public health impacts of programs such as opioid substitution therapy and needle exchange programs. In addition to criminal justice changes, the researchers made specific recommendations for policy makers to improve access to services that can reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C virus, also known as HCV.

“We think there is the first opportunity in a generation to have meaningful drug reform,” said Beyrer, who led the research for the report , which was commissioned by The Lancet and Johns Hopkins University

The report comes weeks before the United Nations General Assembly Special Session convenes on April 19 to discuss drug policy for the first time since 1998.

“There is pressure from a number of countries who feel the war on drugs has failed them, particularly Central and South America, where there is some of the worst drug-related violence,” Beyrer said. “We sought to review all the scientific evidence so it would be available to the U.N. member states when this is being debated.”

According to the report, injection drug use has led to increases in new HIV and HCV infections. Unsafe injection practices, such as sharing needles, are linked to about 30% of HIV transmission outside of sub-Saharan Africa. HCV transmission is also high among people who inject drugs, and a study in the United States found that more than half of people got infected in the first year they were injecting.

Hillary Clinton’s opposition to needle exchange programs, along with her hard line overall on the drug war, was an issue in the 2008 election. This year Bernie Sanders differs from his current opponents in going the furthest to oppose the continuation of the drug war:

Bernie Sanders’ campaign is now officially neck and neck with Hilary. Considered by many of us, to be a voice of progress and a champion for a new America. Much of his platform is forward-looking and based on reimagining what Americans should value in the future. To reinforce this outlook, many of his major policies address the redistribution of wealth and the reevaluation of some of the country’s long-standing campaigns—with the the War on Drugs being at the top of the list. Bango, Bernie!

Now pay close attention here, his mandates related to the War on Drugs are to treat and rehabilitate non-violent drug offenders rather than imprison them, to prevent large companies from further profiteering off of prisons and to legalize cannabis. If he is elected and this reform is passed by Congress, America would look very different—for the better, we like to think.

As much as Big Bernie is an advocate for policy change, he’s also focused on creating a major cultural shift. This is most strongly evidenced by his plan to create treatment facilities for non-violent drug offenders. If implemented correctly, the plan would encourage Americans to be more sympathetic towards those who have fallen victim to drug addiction, regardless of how or why. As Sanders sees it, it takes a community to help someone get back on their feet, and we need to be in the business of creating the infrastructure to make this happen…

There were also recent reports that a top Nixon aide had described the real reasons for the war on drugs:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman told Harper’s writer Dan Baum for the April cover story published Tuesday.

“You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

This also fits into the Clinton model of expanding police power. I fear that if Clinton is elected we will slide backwards on continuing the disastrous drug war.

White House Denies Claims That Obama Backed Clinton At Private Fundraiser

Trumps and Clintons

A report in The New York Times claiming that Obama Privately Tells Donors That Time Is Coming to Unite Behind Hillary Clinton was not received well by Sanders supporters today. The White House promptly walked back this claim. Multiple media outlets, including Reuters and Bloomberg, report that Obama Didn’t Back Clinton at Private Fundraiser.

Among items which Josh Earnest told reporters:

  • “I was there for the fundraiser, and I was there when the comments occurred”: Earnest
  • Obama said “that as Democrats move through this competitive primary process, we need to be mindful that our success in November in electing a Democratic president will depend on the commitment and ability of the Democratic Party to come together behind our nominee”: Earnest
  • Earnest declined to say whom Obama voted for in the Ill. primary

(As an aside, if anyone gets a chance to pose questions to Obama or Earnest, ask whether Obama would pardon Clinton and/or her top aides if indicted.)

Clinton is all set to claim will give us the third term of Barack Obama. Looking at her policy views, it would more likely be a third term for the neoconservative foreign policy of George W. Bush, and would be no better on civil liberties. Or in terms of ethics, it would be the third term of Richard Nixon, including a restoration of the views of Henry Kissinger.

Of course it is possible that Obama said one thing in private, but does not want to admit to this. Should Clinton get elected, he might some day also regret tying his legacy to her. Ironically, in a recent interview, he made statements which greatly undermined Clinton’s ability to be Commander In Chief based upon her mistakes on Libya and Syria.

Clinton also made a gaffe which will probably be repeated in GOP commercials this fall in saying “We didn’t lose a single person”is Libya. Her statement was technically true in the context she intended, ignoring all the bloodshed which her policy led to, and the death of four Americans. This is as foolish as Republicans claiming that George Bush kept us safe from terrorism, if you ignore 9/11.

We are also seeing plenty of arguments that Democrats must unite behind Clinton to stop Donald Trump. First of all, we also do not know for certain whether Trump will be the Republican nominee. Secondly, if stopping Trump is so important, we should all unite behind Bernie Sanders, who has a better chance than Clinton of beating Trump in a  general election. Besides, if Trump is so terrible, why support the conservative Democratic candidate who is far closer to Trump ideologically, even if she is the lesser evil?

Obviously it is an uphill battle for Sanders to win the nomination and Clinton has a substantial lead. If it was two near identical Democratic candidates, then perhaps it would make sense to unite behind one. However we have two candidates with vastly different ideologies, a true liberal running against a Republican-lite DLC style Democrat. The stakes are too high to give up now, regardless of the odds.

Clinton Lies About Her Lying In Interview With Scott Pelley

Clinton Pelley Interview

Scott Pelley asked Hillary Clinton a hard question considering that a recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 67 percent of voters said they don’t think Clinton honest and trustworthy, with only  30 percent saying she is. Even 3o percent of Democrats do not think she is honest and trustworthy.

PELLEY: You know, in ’76, Jimmy Carter famously said, “I will not lie to you.”

CLINTON: Well, I have to tell you I have tried in every way I know how literally from my years as a young lawyer all the way through my time as secretary of state to level with the American people.

PELLEY: You talk about leveling with the American people. Have you always told the truth?

CLINTON: I’ve always tried to. Always. Always.

PELLEY: Some people are gonna call that wiggle room that you just gave yourself.

CLINTON: Well, no, I’ve always tried —

PELLEY: I mean, Jimmy Carter said, “I will never lie to you.”

CLINTON: Well, but, you know, you’re asking me to say, “Have I ever?” I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever will. I’m gonna do the best I can to level with the American people.

Chris Cillizza discussed what a horrible answer this is:

First, it does nothing at all to quell concerns about her ability to be honest and straightforward. In the New Hampshire exit poll, more than one in three (34 percent) of all Democratic primary voters said that honesty was the most important trait in their decision on which candidate to support. Of that bloc, Bernie Sanders won 92 percent of their votes as compared to just 6 percent for Clinton.

That’s broadly in keeping with national polling over the last year, which has consistently shown large majorities of voters voicing skepticism about Clinton’s trustworthiness. Her answer to that criticism has, to date, been to blame it on a Republican party obsessed with her and willing to say or do anything to tarnish her reputation.  There’s truth in that but, as the New Hampshire exit numbers suggest, the problem is bigger than just Republicans out to get her.

Second, the answer from Clinton on honesty reinforces a perception that the former secretary of state tries to play with words, giving a heavily couched response when a simple one would — and should — do. You can imagine people rolling their eyes or saying, “Why doesn’t she just answer the question?” while watching that painful response by Clinton.

I’ve been told that there are 2, 10 and 15 minute versions of “Clinton Lies Compilation” on YouTube. I am more concerned about the four or eight year version of Clinton Lies we will see if she is elected.

Either Clinton is lying again here, or she is delusional. Maybe she thought she was telling the truth when she claimed that there were ties between Saddam and al Qaeda in the run up to the Iraq war. In that case she was either lying or showed she is incompetent to manage our foreign policy. She took plenty of heat last fall for her revisionist history on supporting the Defense of Marriage Act.

As I mentioned in December, Factcheck.org had quite a list of lies from Clinton in their article naming Donald Trump the King of Whoppers. And that list of whoppers from Clinton was far from complete. I discussed the types of dishonesty we have seen from Clinton back in November. Plus there were her lies in the last Democratic debate, which even a former Clinton adviser has chastised her for.

Hillary Clinton claiming she is not a liar is as ridiculous as Richard Nixon saying he is not a crook. Or as ridiculous as Clinton claiming to be a progressive.

Clinton Liar

Marijuana And The Death Penalty: Sanders and Clinton Engage In More Significant Off Stage Debate Than The Republicans In Colorado

Bernie Sanders Marijuana

The third Republican debate was widely considered to be a train wreck. It was probably the worst for Jeb Bush as it largely turned into an excuse for pundits to write off his chances to win the Republican nomination. Failing to inspire enthusiastic support is a greater political sin than to fail to show up to one’s job in the Senate (a failing common to candidates running for the presidential nomination of either party). Meanwhile the Democratic candidates have spent the last couple of days disagreeing over issues, including marijuana and the death penalty.

While the Democrats could not actually debate, as this would violate Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s rules, they had a far more interesting disagreement on the issues. Marijuana barely came up at the Republican debate in Colorado, where recreational use has been legalized, but Bernie Sanders did make major news on the issue. He took a position quite different from the pro-drug war views of Hillary Clinton, and far more significant than Martin O’Malley’s position:

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders announced his support Wednesday for removing marijuana from a list of the most dangerous drugs outlawed by the federal government — a move that would free states to legalize it without impediments from Washington…

“Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use,” Sanders told a live audience of more than 1,700 students, which erupted with applause. “That’s wrong. That has got to change.”

No other presidential candidate has called for marijuana to be completely removed from the schedule of controlled substances regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Long-shot Democratic hopeful Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, has said that he would put marijuana on Schedule 2, a less-strict designation. The party’s front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has repeatedly said she wants to see how legalization experiments in Colorado, Washington and other states play out before committing to any changes at the federal level…

His plan would also allow marijuana businesses currently operating in states that have legalized it to use banking services and apply for tax deductions that are currently unavailable to them under federal law.

Sanders previously indicated his interest in legalization of marijuana when appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Sanders’ proposal would put an end to raids by the federal government on medical marijuana facilities where medical marijuana is legal and block the current impediments to research on medical uses of marijuana. Wonkblog also points out that this would restore marijuana to the status which was intended before Richard Nixon interfered. (With Hillary Clinton taking the more Nixonian position here, it is yet another in a long list of similarities between Clinton and Nixon which seem to keep coming up).

Marijuana was originally placed on Schedule 1 as a temporary measure in 1970 while a government-convened panel of experts figured out how to handle it from a legal standpoint. Two years later, the panel recommended complete decriminalization of small amounts of the drug: “the Commission recommends … [that the] possession of marijuana for personal use no longer be an offense, [and that the] casual distribution of small amounts of marijuana for no remuneration, or insignificant remuneration, no longer be an offense.”

But President Richard Nixon ignored his own commission’s findings and kept marijuana on Schedule 1, saying “we need, and I use the word ‘all out war,’ on all fronts” when it came to weed.

Sanders and Clinton also disagreed on the death penalty this week:

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stood by his long-standing opposition to the death penalty on Thursday, calling for an end to the policy during a Senate speech on criminal justice.

“When we talk about criminal justice reform, I believe it is time for the United States of America to join almost every other Western, industrialized country on Earth in saying no to the death penalty,” Sanders said during his speech on the Senate floor. “We are all shocked and disgusted by some of the horrific murders that we see in this country, seemingly every week. And that is precisely why we should abolish the death penalty. At a time of rampant violence and murder, the state should not be part of that process.”

Sanders’ remarks come one day after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is also running for president, came out against ending capital punishment, adding that she believes the use of the death penalty should be “very limited and rare.”

…The Vermont senator has publicly opposed the death penalty for his entire tenure in Congress. In 1991, his first year as a member of the House of Representatives, Sanders spoke out against the policy during debate on the Violent Crime Prevention Act of 1991, which sought to expand the death penalty.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, another primary rival of Clinton and Sanders, is also opposed to the death penalty. In 2013, he signed a bill abolishing the practice in Maryland.

According to a Gallup poll conducted earlier this year, 61 percent of Americans are in favor of the death penalty in murder convictions, while 37 percent are not.

Of course. Hillary Clinton remains guided by the polls as opposed to principle. In calling for the death penalty to be rare, it is interesting that she uses the same word she uses for what should come of abortion, a position which has long frustrated many abortion rights activists for the manner in which it stigmatizes women who choose to have an abortion, and it provides cover for the religious right’s battle to restrict access to abortion.

The Democrats were disagreeing over real issues, while the Republicans were engaged in distortions of the facts and bashing of the mainstream media. Among the Republican lies debunked, PolitiFact classified Chris Christie’s claim that Bernie Sanders is “going to raise your taxes to 90 percent” as “pants on fire.”

Mat Bai on Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders

Clinton Biden Sanders

“Siri sounds more spontaneous when she’s finding me a gas station.” –Matt Bai on Hillary Clinton in an article at Yahoo! Politics entitled, Whether or not Biden runs, Clinton has a problem

He also wrote in comparing Clinton to Biden:

What Biden is, even to those who dismiss him as slightly doddering and in over his head, is as real and authentic as they come. The toll of tragedies etched into his face, the well of emotion he keeps so close to the surface, the once celebrated hair plugs — all of it makes him unusually and compellingly human.

With Biden, you get the politically incorrect verbal lapses, the “Veep”-like comedic value. But you also get warmth and authenticity and a handshake that means something.

Clinton’s pitch is pretty much the polar opposite. If there was any doubt about that, it was dispelled when Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s senior communications aide, told my Yahoo colleague Michael Isikoff this week that honesty and trustworthiness were, in Isikoff’s words, “beside the point.”

There followed this pretty remarkable quote from Palmieri: “That’s not the question voters have in their heads when they decide who to vote for. It’s who is fighting for me, and who has the solutions for the American people. She’s still the person who is most likely to be the next president.”

In other words, Clinton’s argument is, at its core, like Richard Nixon’s in 1968: You’re not hiring a friend or a babysitter. You just have to believe that I get what’s wrong, and I’m the only one with the competence to fix it.

There are just so many comparisons between Hillary Clinton and Richard Nixon, and that is not a good thing. The real characteristic Clinton shares with Nixon is dishonesty, not competence. Clinton has showed poor judgment and a lack of competence many times during her career. This includes how she botched heath car reform as First Lady. This includes her time in the Senate, when she made errors ranging from pushing for the Iraq war based upon false claims of a tie between Saddam and al Qaeda to pushing for measures such as making flag burning a felony and censoring video games. This also includes her time as Secretary of State when she pushed for greater military involvement abroad, and failed to follow rules designed to preserve transparency at home.

He concluded:

I don’t know what Clinton is supposed to do about this. I doubt there’s an easy way to recast the personality of a candidate who’s been in public life for 30-plus years, and who’s learned by this point to be guarded and calculating around anyone who isn’t an old friend or loyalist.

But I do know that, sooner or later, Clinton and her advisers are going to have to confront this trust issue head-on, rather than trying to change the subject with a bunch of jargon and vague policy goals. If Biden’s flirtation serves only to make that clear, he will have done her a favor.

I agree with much of what he said about Clinton but question his view on Bernie Sanders: “Sanders’s brand of leftist populism has a modest ceiling in a Democratic primary contest, and he’s not far from hitting it.” I would have believed that a few months ago, but looking at both Sanders and Trump suggests that the old conventional wisdom no longer holds. Voters do not want candidates of the status quo or party insiders.

Sanders transcends the old ideas of the linear left/right political spectrum. People care more about his authenticity than where he is placed on this spectrum. Perhaps his twenty-five years in Congress gives him more legitimacy than the mainstream media gives him credit for. Regardless of this, being viewed as an outsider is a plus for Sanders in the current political atmosphere.

Clinton Out-Nixons Nixon And Erases The Email

Rose_Mary_Woods

The conventional wisdom is that Richard Nixon would have survived Watergate if he had erased the tapes. Democrats were outraged by the eighteen and a half minutes which were “accidentally” erased by Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods. In a late Friday news dump we learned that Hillary Milhouse Clinton, who once accused the Bush administration of shredding the Constitution with their use of private email, out-Nixoned Nixon. The New York Times and Politico reported that Clinton has deleted all of what she claims to be private email after October 28 when the State Department first requested that Clinton turn over the email kept on her private server, violating rules in effect as of 2009. The server has been wiped clean.

Clinton had given contradictory answers regarding the email at her news conference, in which media fact checkers found multiple untrue statements. From The New York Times:

At a news conference this month, Mrs. Clinton appeared to provide two answers about whether she still had copies of her emails. First, she said that she “chose not to keep” her private personal emails after her lawyers had examined the account and determined on their own which ones were personal and which were State Department records. But later, she said that the server, which contained personal communication by her and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, “will remain private.” The server was kept at their home in Chappaqua, N.Y., which is protected around the clock by the Secret Service.

Multiple investigations so far have failed to show any evidence for the Republican conspiracy theories on Benghazi, but the disclosure from Clinton on Friday that she has deleted email requested by Congress will only serve to keep the witch hunt alive. While Republicans deserve to be faulted for the witch hunts they are pursuing, this does not excuse Clinton’s actions of using her private server to prevent disclosure of requested evidence to a Congressional committee. Clinton also used her private server to avoid complying with Freedom of Information Act requests for information from the news media.

One of Clinton’s many bogus excuses for failing to follow government protocol in maintaining her email on a government server was that her email would be preserved because of being sent to State Department email addresses. It has since been found that the entire State Department was sloppy in maintaining email. Current Secretary of State John Kerry, who has admirably followed the law in using government email since assuming the post, has asked the Inspector General’s office to conduct “a review of our efforts to date on improving records management, including the archiving of emails as well as responding to FOIA and Congressional inquiries.” There have also been requests from the Republican National Committee and from House Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy for the Inspector General to get involved. With the revelations that Clinton has erased the email, it might also be time for a special prosecutor to be appointed to handle the investigation of her actions.

The claim that her email is public due to being sent to State Department or other government addresses is also bogus as not all of Clinton’s email regarding State Department matters was even sent to government addresses. The first reports of Clinton’s private email came when Gawker found the email address on hacked email from Sidney Blumenthal in 2013. Gawker has recently discussed her email further, reporting that “longtime Clinton family confidante Sidney Blumenthal supplied intelligence to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gathered by a secret network that included a former CIA clandestine service officer.” The post has further information regarding information sent to Clinton by Blumenthal regarding the situation in Benghazi. At this point it is not known if Clinton responded to Blumenthal while in office or if email from Blumenthal is included in the email she did release.

Hillary Clinton Stonewalls On Email Scandal

Clinton News Conference

Hillary Clinton held a press conference to discuss the email controversy but wound up stonewalling and creating even more questions. The news conference was basically an expanded version of her tweet, just as misleading and reveling little actual information. Considering the Nixonian feel to this scandal, I was waiting for someone to ask if, besides whether Hillary will be keeping her private server, whether Chelsea will keep Checkers.

Clinton began with a statement with four points (full transcript here), which included misleading statements, following by further misleading statements in answers to questions. First:

First, when I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.

Looking back, it would’ve been better if I’d simply used a second email account and carried a second phone, but at the time, this didn’t seem like an issue.

There are so many problems with this response, besides the obvious of violating the rules based upon convenience. Phones were able to handle multiple email accounts, so there might not have been a need to carry more than one device. If her preferred device could not handle more than one, what is the big deal about carrying more than one? Before smart phones got to their current state, I generally carried two, and sometimes three, devices to handle my professional and personal communication. Today she said she didn’t want to carry two phones but in recent interviews she has stated she uses two phones, and has also discussed the large purse she carries–large enough for all the phones and electronic devices she needs.

Her comments on convenience also suggest that Clinton might have wanted to continue to use the email system she was accustomed to, rather than changing to a government system as Obama did when he took office. However, hacked email has demonstrated that the domain she used was not set up until January 13, 2009–one week before she took office and the day her Senate confirmation hearings began. How was it more convenient to set up her own domain as opposed to using a government email address?

Her second point is technically true but misses the point:

Second, the vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.

What about the minority which weren’t sent to the State Department? We know for a fact that Clinton discussed government matters with people who weren’t even in government at the time as a result of Sydney Blumenthal’s email being hacked. It will be interesting to see if this email is included in the email she ultimately sent to the State Department.

Her third point:

Third, after I left office, the State Department asked former secretaries of state for our assistance in providing copies of work- related emails from our personal accounts. I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work-related, which totalled roughly 55,000 printed pages, even though I knew that the State Department already had the vast majority of them. We went through a thorough process to identify all of my work- related emails and deliver them to the State Department. At the end, I chose not to keep my private personal emails — emails about planning Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes.

No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy.

She did not release the email until well after she left office in response to demands. She failed to release all the email and refuses to have an independent source judge which is personal and which should be preserved on government servers. In the meantime, she has used her private servers to fail to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests and requests from Congress for her email.

Her elaboration on personal email while answering questions raised another red flag. She spoke of email with her husband. It sounds reasonable that she might not want personal email with her husband released–until you read that Bill Clinton has only sent two emails in his entire life, and none since leaving office.

Her fourth point:

Fourth, I took the unprecedented step of asking that the State Department make all my work-related emails public for everyone to see.

A minor point compared to many of her other comments, but while she talks about the public seeing her email, it will be quite some time before her email goes through the screening process and is really available to the public. Again, only the email she selected to release will be reviewed for eventual release to the public.

Since this scandal began, Clinton supporters have been engaged in a campaign of denial, distortion, and attacking their critics as described by David Corn. One way they have misled, repeated by Clinton with her claims that she did not violate the rules, has been to discuss rules made after she left office and pretend that changes in the rules in response to abuses during the Bush years never occurred. Of course Clinton was well aware of such ethical breaches when she accused the Bush administration of shredding the Constitution with acts such as using private email for government business. Politico debunked the claims that Clinton did not violate the rules last week:

Unfortunately for these pro-Hillary groups, the regulations that are relevant to Schmidt’s report – the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) requirements – have been in place since at least 2009, when Clinton became secretary of state.

According to Section 1236.22 of the 2009 NARA requirements, which Schmidt provided in an email, “Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system.”

In short, the State Department was required to ensure that Secretary Clinton’s emails, including those on personal accounts, were preserved in an agency record-keeping system. The failure to ensure such preservation would therefore likely be in violation of the federal requirements, though it’s not clear whether all of her personal emails – or just those related to official business – would be required.

Schmidt believes that all of Clinton’s emails would be required, and pointed to a 2008 definition from NARA that defines federal records as “documentary materials that agencies create and receive while conducting business that provide evidence of the agency’s organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and operations, or because they contain information of value.”

In addition to the regulations from 2009, President Obama issued a memorandum in 2011, also when Clinton was still in office, strengthening these ethical requirements. AP added, in fact-checking the news conference today, that Clinton ignored “very specific guidance” from the White House:

CLINTON: “I fully complied with every rule I was governed by.”

THE FACTS: At the very least, Clinton appears to have violated what the White House has called “very specific guidance” that officials should use government email to conduct business.

Clinton provided no details about whether she had initially consulted with the department or other government officials before using the private email system. She did not answer several questions about whether she sought any clearances before she began relying exclusively on private emails for government business.

Federal officials are allowed to communicate on private email and are generally allowed to conduct government business in those exchanges, but that ability is constrained, both by federal regulations and by their supervisors.

Federal law during Clinton’s tenure called for the archiving of such private email records when used for government work, but did not set out clear rules or punishments for violations until rules were tightened in November. In 2011, when Clinton was secretary, a cable from her office sent to all employees advised them to avoid conducting any official business on their private email accounts because of targeting by unspecified “online adversaries.”

Even if Clinton’s defenders were right that she did not violate any rules, her conduct was clearly both unethical and foolish, contributing to the reputation of the Clintons for opposing transparency and believing that different rules apply to them than to others.

AP also debunked other statements from Clinton. She said, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.” AP pointed out how this might be technically true but is misleading:

The assertion fits with the facts as known but skirts the issue of exchanging information in a private account that, while falling below the level of classified, is still sensitive.

The State Department and other national security agencies have specified rules for the handling of such sensitive material, which could affect national security, diplomatic and privacy concerns, and may include material such as personnel, medical and law enforcement data. In reviewing the 30,000 emails she turned over to the State Department, officials are looking for any security lapses concerning sensitive but unclassified material that may have been disclosed.

Plus we can never be certain of the facts when Clinton decided which email would be sent to the State Department and which would remain on her private server or be destroyed. She was somewhat contradictory on this point, but it appears that she did destroy tens of thousands of email.

AP also questioned the security measures used by Clinton:

CLINTON: “It had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service. And there were no security breaches.”

THE FACTS: While Clinton’s server was physically guarded by the Secret Service, she provided no evidence it hadn’t been compromised by hackers or foreign adversaries. She also didn’t detail who administered the email system, if it received appropriate software security updates, or if it was monitored routinely for unauthorized access.

Clinton also didn’t answer whether the homebrew computer system on her property had the same level of safeguards provided at professional data facilities, such as regulated temperatures, offsite backups, generators in case of power outages and fire-suppression systems. It was unclear what, if any, encryption software Clinton’s server may have used to communicate with U.S. government email accounts.

Recent high-profile breaches, including at Sony Pictures Entertainment, have raised scrutiny on how well corporations and private individuals protect their computer networks from attack.

Vox has more on the security questions, along with a good summary of the controversy prior to the press conference.

This is unlikely to be the deciding issue in the election, especially considering that so many Republicans also have issues with private email. The significance is more in how Hillary Clinton responded to the first major controversy of her soon-to-be announced campaign.

I’m sure her supporters bought every word, but others will question her claims that she used a personal server for convenience as opposed to avoiding scrutiny. It is especially difficult to believe Clinton considering she has already used her private servers to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests. She is asking Americans to trust her while preventing any  verification in destroying email, and refusing any independent review of the email she did not turn over to the State Department.

If Clinton handled this crisis so poorly, will she self-destruct during a presidential campaign? At this point I don’t believe that any other candidate can stop Hillary Clinton, but Hillary Milhouse Clinton sure might stop herself.  At least she self-destructed during the primaries in 2008, leading to the nomination and election of Barack Obama. As she is likely to win the Democratic nomination in 2016 with only token opposition, this time many Democrats fear (and Republicans hope) her self-destruction will lead to a Republican victory in 2016.

Update: AP Files Suit Over Clinton Email, Media Fact Checks Clinton, and Al Gore Goes To Iowa

Left and Right Join Together To Oppose Militarization Of Police

Police Missouri

The militarization of the police force seen with the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri has led to another case of portions of the left and right joining together. This includes a push for legislation in Congress with the backing of both the American Civil Liberties Union and Gun Owners of America.:

Groups on the left and right are uniting behind calls to end what they say is the rise of a “militarized” police force in the United States.

They say the controversial police tactics seen this week in Ferguson, Mo., are not isolated to the St. Louis County Police Department and warn the rise of heavily armed law enforcement agencies has become an imminent threat to civil liberties.

“What we’re seeing today in Ferguson is a reflection of the excessive militarization of police that has been happening in towns across America for decades,” said Kara Dansky, senior counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The ACLU is aligned with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and groups on the right who are calling for an end to a controversial Defense Department program that supplies local police departments with surplus military equipment, such as armored tanks, machine guns and tear gas.

According to the Defense Logistics Agency, more than $4 billion in discounted military equipment has been sold to local police departments since the 1990s.

“Why are those guns available to the police?” asked Erich Pratt, spokesman for the conservative Gun Owners of America. “We don’t technically have the military operating within our borders, but they’re being given the gear to basically operate in that capacity.”

Gun Owners of America and the ACLU are both backing a forthcoming bill from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) that would curtail the sale of DOD weapons to local police departments.

More libertarian factions of the Republican Party are speaking out on this issue:

The killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., has produced a rare and surprisingly unified response across the ideological spectrum, with Republicans and Democrats joining to decry the tactics of the city’s police force in the face of escalating protests.

Most notably, the reactions reflect a shift away from the usual support and sympathy conservatives typically show for law enforcement in such situations. Although possibly unique to the circumstances of the events in Missouri this week, the changing reaction on the right is clear evidence of a rising and more vocal libertarian wing within the Republican Party.

No better sign of that came Thursday than in an article by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) published on Time’s Web site.

“If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off,” he wrote. “But, I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.”

In his piece, Paul criticized what he called the growing militarization of local police forces. “There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace,” he wrote, “but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.”

This comes as a change from what we generally expect from Republicans:

Since Richard M. Nixon made cracking down on crime a central issue of his 1968 presidential campaign, Republicans have held themselves up as the alternative to a Democratic Party they have derided as soft on issues of law and order. But an appetite for changes in the criminal justice system has been building among Republicans, many of whom believe the tough-justice approach has run its course.

Mr. Paul, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio and Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin are among those who say that the federal and state governments need to rethink the way convicts are sentenced and imprisoned, arguing that the current system is inhumane and too costly.

Mr. Paul’s remarks on Thursday were similar to those of other leading conservatives who have weighed in on the events in Ferguson.

“Reporters should never be detained — a free press is too important — simply for doing their jobs,” Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday, reacting to news that journalists from The Washington Post and The Huffington Post had been held by the police. “Civil liberties must be protected, but violence is not the answer.”

Erick Erickson, a conservative writer, took to Twitter to question why the police needed to display so much firepower. “It is pretty damn insane that people who spend all day writing speeding tickets,” he wrote, “hop in tanks with AR-15s at night.”

But not all conservatives are as concerned about the civil liberties aspects:

Other conservatives have focused on instances in which chaos has broken out in the streets. Images and headlines on The Drudge Report and Breitbart.com have singled out acts of violence among demonstrators and shown looters breaking store windows…

In much of the conservative news media, the protesters in Ferguson are being portrayed as “outside agitators,” in the words of Sean Hannity, the Fox News host.