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Hillary Clinton: The Seldom-Informed Secretary

- April 3, 2014

This Afternoon, State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf Claimed USAID’s Controversial Cuba Program “Did Not Reach” Clinton’s Desk While She Served As Secretary Of State.  JACK GILLUM: “So was Secretary Clinton aware of this program? Did she authorize it?” … MARIE HARF: “It is my understanding that this did not reach the Secretary’s office, either the previous Secretary of State – obviously this ended before Secretary Kerry came in. He also was unaware of this program. It went through the normal USAID chain in terms of approval, as well.” (State Department Press Briefing, 4/3/14)

In 2010, USAID Began Implementing A Discrete “Cuban Twitter” Social Media Project “Aimed At Undermining Cuba’s Communist Government.” “In July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a U.S. government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government. … According to documents obtained by The Associated Press and multiple interviews with people involved in the project, the plan was to develop a bare-bones ‘Cuban Twitter,’ using cellphone text messaging to evade Cuba’s strict control of information and its stranglehold restrictions over the Internet. In a play on Twitter, it was called ZunZuneo — slang for a Cuban hummingbird's tweet.” (Desmond Butler, Jack Gillum, and Alberto Arce, “US Secretly Created ‘Cuban Twitter’ To Stir Unrest,” The Associated Press, 4/3/14)

  • NBC’s Andrea Mitchell: “[T]his Program Was Started When Hillary Clinton Was The Secretary Of State.” (NBC’s “Today,” 4/3/14)

The Associated Press: “The Program's Legality Is Unclear…” “The program's legality is unclear: U.S. law requires that any covert action by a federal agency must have a presidential authorization. Officials at USAID would not say who had approved the program or whether the White House was aware of it. McSpedon, the most senior official named in the documents obtained by the AP, is a mid-level manager who declined to comment.” (Desmond Butler, Jack Gillum, and Alberto Arce, “US Secretly Created ‘Cuban Twitter’ To Stir Unrest,” The Associated Press, 4/3/14)

THE CUBA PROGRAM ISN’T THE FIRST TIME CLINTON HAS DOWNPLAYED HER RESPONSIBILITY AT STATE DEPARTMENT

Halted State Department Investigation Of Inappropriate Behavior

In June 2013, Allegations Surfaced That “Senior State Department And Diplomatic Security Officials May Have Covered Up Or Stopped Investigations Of Inappropriate Or Even Criminal Misconduct By Staff” During Former Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton’s Tenure. “Senior State Department and Diplomatic Security officials may have covered up or stopped investigations of inappropriate or even criminal misconduct by staff, according to an internal memo from the department's Office of the Inspector General. The timeline surrounding the allegations places the incidents during former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's tenure, opening the possibility that a widening scandal might taint both her record and her possible political aspirations. Clinton has also taken heat for the department's response to the September 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.” (Ashley Fantz and Jill Dougherty, “Prostitution, Drugs Alleged In State Department Memo,” CNN, 6/11/13)

  • CBS News “Uncovered Documents That Show The State Department May Have Covered Up Allegations Of Illegal And Inappropriate Behavior Within Their Ranks.”  “CBS News has uncovered documents that show the State Department may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within their ranks.” (“State Department Memo Reveals Possible Cover-Ups, Halted Investigations,” CBS News, 6/10/13)

Clinton Spokesman Nicholas Merrill Claimed Clinton Was Completely Unaware Of The Investigations And “Learned Of It From The Media.” “On Tuesday, Nicholas Merrill, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton, said Clinton was completely unaware of any of the investigations mentioned in the Office of the Inspector General's reports and memos, including the case involving her personal security detail allegedly soliciting prostitutes. ‘We learned of it from the media and don't know anything beyond what's been reported,’ Merrill told CNN in a written statement.” (Ashley Fantz and Jill Dougherty, “Prostitution, Drugs Alleged In State Department Memo,” CNN, 6/12/13)

Requests For Additional Security In Benghazi

The State Department Denied Requests For More Security In Benghazi In The Months Leading Up To The September 2012 Attacks. “Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks after having made requests for more security to the State Department. State has acknowledged that security was not adequate but has defended itself by saying that it never received intelligence indicating an attack of the ferocity of the terrorist assault. Numerous attackers were involved in the assault, which lasted several hours.” (Oren Dorell, “Democrats Join GOP To Blame State In Benghazi,” USA Today, 1/15/14)

  • According To Deputy Chief Of Mission Greg Hicks, Ambassador Stevens’ Requests For Additional Security For Benghazi “Were Denied Or Ignored.”  “To sum up: Chris Stevens was not responsible for the reduction in security personnel. His requests for additional security were denied or ignored. Officials at the State and Defense Departments in Washington made the decisions that resulted in reduced security. (Gregory N. Hicks, Op-Ed, “Gregory Hicks: Benghazi And The Smearing Of Chris Stevens,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/22/14)

In Her January 2013 Testimony Before The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Then-Secretary Clinton Said She Never Saw Requests For Additional Security In Benghazi. “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said she never saw the requests for additional security for the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, which was attacked in September, because they were handled by other State Department officials and normally would not reach her level. Clinton was testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the September attack in Benghazi by Islamist militants in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed. Her testimony had been delayed for health reasons.” (“Clinton Says She Never Saw Security Requests For Benghazi,” Reuters, 1/23/13)

  • “‘The Specific Security Requests Pertaining To Benghazi, You Know Were Handled By The Security Professionals In The Department. I Didn’t See Those Requests, They Didn’t Come To Me, I Didn’t Approve Them, I Didn’t Deny Them,’ Clinton Said.” (“Clinton Says She Never Saw Security Requests For Benghazi,” Reuters, 1/23/13)

Diplomatic Information-Gathering Activities

A July 2009 Cable Signed Under Clinton’s Name Ordered “American Diplomats To Engage In Intelligence Gathering” On Foreign Diplomats. “The leaked papers include an purported order from ‘SECSTATE WASHDC’ signed ‘CLINTON’ to American diplomats to engage in intelligence gathering. In the July 2009 document, Clinton directs her envoys at the United Nations and embassies around the world to collect information ranging from basic biographical data on foreign diplomats to their frequent flyer and credit card numbers and even ‘biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats.’ Typical biometric information can include fingerprints, signatures and iris recognition data.” (Pam Benson and Jill Dougherty, “U.S. Officials Insist Clinton Not Ordering Diplomats To Spy,” CNN, 12/1/09)

The State Department Downplayed The Cable, Calling It Largely A “Wish List,” And Claimed That “Clinton’s Name Was Automatically Attached.” “The State Department insisted at the time that the directive was largely a ‘wish list’ that came from outside agencies and did not require or bind diplomat to do anything, saying Clinton’s name was automatically attached to cables sent out.” (Andrew Kaczynski, “Bill Clinton Condemned The Sort Of NSA Surveillance His Wife May Have Known About,” BuzzFeed, 2/19/14)


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