Two big Clinton stories landed last week. The first is that Hillary Clinton destroyed the electronic copies of her State Department emails on her private server after the State Department subpoenaed her emails. The second is that Hillary Clinton had an aide running a "secret spy network" that was, among other things, feeding her information on Benghazi, according to a report by Pro Publica and Gawker. Earlier this month, I noted the myriad ways that Clinton running her own private email server breathes new life into the Benghazi investigation, but this last revelation takes things to a whole new level.
Specifically, this new report suggests that three men -- Sidney Blumenthal, Tyler Drumhiller, and Cody Shearer -- were involved in her private intelligence gathering efforts. Each of these men has a reputation for being associated with scandal.
We only know about Clinton's spy ring because a hacker who goes by the moniker "Guccifer" hacked the email account of former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal and posted his emails online. (Guccifer is now serving a prison sentence in his native Romania.) Guccifer's emails reveal Blumenthal was providing Clinton with detailed intelligence briefings on events in the Middle East and running the ad hoc spy ring. This arrangement is very curious, considering that the Obama White House made it clear that they didn't want Blumenthal working for the administration after Hillary Clinton previously tried to formally hire him to work at the State Department.
Blumenthal is a controversial figure to put it mildly; Andrew Sullivan called the former New Yorker scribe "the most pro-Clinton writer on the planet." He was the subject of intense scrutiny during the Clinton impeachment hearings. The late Christopher Hitchens submitted an affidavit during the Clinton impeachment hearings aleging that Blumenthal had told him that Monica Lewinsky was a "stalker," and subsequently excoriated his former friend for his lack of ethics in his book on the Clintons, No One Left To Lie To. Blumenthal carries a lot of other baggage, as well, such as his virulently anti-Israel, frequently factually challenged son, Max.
Insofar as Blumenthal's briefings relate to Benghazi, they do raise some questions about what Hillary Clinton said in the aftermath of the attacks:
One memo was sent on August 23, 2012, less than three weeks before Islamic militants stormed the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. It cites “an extremely sensitive source” who highlighted a string of bombings and kidnappings of foreign diplomats and aid workers in Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata, suggesting they were the work of people loyal to late Libyan Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi.
While the memo doesn’t rise to the level of a warning about the safety of U.S. diplomats, it portrays a deteriorating security climate. Clinton noted a few days after the Benghazi attack, which left four dead and 10 people injured, that U.S. intelligence officials didn’t have advance knowledge of the threat.
On September 12, 2012, the day after the Benghazi attack, Blumenthal sent a memo that cited a “sensitive source” saying that the interim Libyan president, Mohammed Yussef el Magariaf, was told by a senior security officer that the assault was inspired by an anti-Muslim video made in the U.S., as well as by allegations from Magariaf’s political opponents that he had CIA ties.
Blumenthal followed up the next day with an email titled “Re: More Magariaf private reax.” It said Libyan security officials believed an Islamist radical group called the Ansa al Sharia brigade had prepared the attack a month in advance and “took advantage of the cover” provided by the demonstrations against the video.
So Clinton knew the security situation in Libya was deteriorating before Benghazi, and she was told it was a premeditated terror attack two days afterward. Nevertheless, the Obama administration continued to insist it was not a terror attack and was merely the result of a spontaneous uprising in reaction to a blasphemous YouTube video.
It should also be noted that Blumenthal's intelligence reports weren't limited to the Middle East; they also dealt with the goings-on in Europe. Here Blumenthal had an interesting source: