Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

It’s been a bad 2-3 weeks for republicans first with the surprise announced resignation of John Boehner seeing the vultures circling or simply tired of dealing with repeated calls for his head from the extreme factions of the party when he dares govern according to the will of the people, compromise on common ground held by either party and the American majority alike, rather than by moral, religious ideology or lead what he has been placed in charge of, refusing to go down roads that have no chance of getting past the senate, will be DOA on the president’s desk. Either way recognizing it is time to get out, throwing the house GOP into semi-chaos. Then there where the supposed to be off-hand comments of presumptive speaker, poised to replace Boehner,   Kevin McCarthy, which one would guess were meant to be about taking down the corrupt and purportedly untouchable, but what people got out of what he said regarding forming the Benghazi committee to deal a significant blow to Hilary Clinton only supported what democrats have said all along, it was a witch hunt. Because, he didn’t list ways the committee was discovering incompetence, maleficence, actual lying, attempts to cover up who did what, people’s negligent actions, ineffective inaction as it pertained to the 4 American’s killed and the violent eruption in Libya, even charging Mrs. Clinton was a horrible secretary of state,  didn’t pay attention  when pleas for help came across he desk, allegations she ignored phone calls that very night as ambassador Chris Stevens died, all past theories floated by republicans to sensationalize the already profound horror in Benghazi. Instead what did he point to implying the true purpose of the select committee lasting longer than Watergate, Iran Contra and others, her e-mails, her private server, the fact that no one, i.e. the American public, would know she had it if they hadn’t uncovered it calling her “untrustable” then crowing at their own, his own accomplishment saying look at her poll numbers today. Beyond someone hand this guy a dictionary demonstrating untrustable isn’t a word, the committee wasn’t ever supposed to be about poll numbers, it was supposed to be about improving the security for U.S. diplomats abroad, getting to the bottom of any wrongdoing. At least that’s what his fellow committee members sold to reluctant congressional members, the slain American’s families, was by extension still trying to sell to the American people, after McCarthy’s gaffe, of accidentally stumbling upon and telling the non-spin truth in Washington, sticking to the agenda serving, good PR line “it was designed to get to the truth.” The truth finally reviled without a doubt; republicans put their little committee together solely for partisan purposes, to take down Hilary Clinton, a political rival, because they can’t do it any other way. They can’t win against her on policy, they can’t contend with her in a debate as evidenced by her strong performance in the first democratic debate early last week, most importantly they can’t turn the hearts and minds of the public, voters toward them and now we have living, breathing, talking proof. Lastly, in a could things get any worse trifecta, now not one but two republican whistleblowers have come forward one, Major Bradley Podliska, stating he was fired for not targeting Hilary Clinton enough, corroborating at the very least she was being targeted; something that shouldn’t have happened at all after 8 separate governmental investigatory agencies cleared her of any wrong doing in the tragedy known as Benghazi, where the focus should be we lost 4 Americans including ambassador Chris Stevens. The other Richard Hanna backing up the formers story sans the dubious  questions about his employment, the fact his fellow committee member could have been legitimately fired for poor job performance not just a refusal to go after a specific person, though one doesn’t preclude the other. Hanna getting it right in this quote: I think that’s the way Washington works. But you’d like to expect more from a committee that’s spent millions of dollars and tons of time.” Cumulative result, those poll numbers Mr. McCarthy was bragging about bringing down are doing just fine; McCarthy meanwhile looked at reality, noticed he didn’t have the votes to become speaker and dropped out. Republicans now can’t get anyone to take the job, leaning on prior GOP darlings like Paul Ryan pleading with him to step up; Boehner forced to resume his job until they can find a replacement, if they ever can, leaving the United States House of Representatives leaderless, a ship without a rudder, as if they were doing so well before this. And political watchers are wondering, not for the first time, if they are seeing the final death knell of the Republican Party as a viable political force; oh if it were only that easy to get rid of insanity, particularly the political kind.

From the beginning top lawmakers remained skeptical of the motivations driving the select committee assembled to once more investigate Benghazi, so was anyone following Benghazi committee developments around the time they relinquished their obsession with Susan Rice and who gave her the, later deemed inaccurate, talking points; next the New York Times broke the story in March of this year about Mrs. Clinton’s use of only a private server during her tenure as secretary of state and all hell broke loose for her and the conspiracy theorists. Arguments back and forth between political camps, various government agencies about did she or didn’t she violate the law, did she or didn’t she violate Obama administration policy on private e-mail, did she or didn’t she break state department policy in failing to turn over her e-mails for record keeping, answers it took weeks to get. Except, quelling the idea, perception she had anything to hide, was engaging in something nefarious, she had already gone through and sorted personal e-mails from business correspondence, state department business relinquishing the latter to twin separate requests originating in the national archives and the Benghazi committee when committee chair Tray Gowdy held a press conference vowing to get to the “new” emails exposed by the media, to subpoena her sever though they had no power or authority to demand such a thing. Initially Clinton too fed the fire refusing to hand over the server, handing it over once it had been wiped clean of any data; however, she did tell the state department to publicly release the e-mails she summited under both requests well prior to the Benghazi committee’s identical demand. For months afterward we’ve been hearing a resounding chorus of oohs and ahhs every time another round was released detailing information on her daughter’s wedding, favorite TV shows, excitement over an i-pad and a request for her daughter to teach her how to use it, to serious issues, meetings with top officials, foreign and domestic, yet when she says nothing that was on her private server was deemed classified at the time political analysts point out the debate has become a turf war between intelligence agencies and the state department bickering regarding what should be termed classified, it’s worth noting too, now after the fact,  absent any indication Hillary was lackadaisical about secure, classified content. Also missing, as much as media tried to sensationalize it, any smoking gun, any hint of wrongdoing or any information on what the committee says they filed the request for, Benghazi. FBI investigating her use of said e-mail doesn’t make sense either seeing they have yet to clarify what exactly they are looking for, what grounds they believe they have to warrant an investigation, a still developing story one might add; similarly news reporting the DOJ (department of justice) was launching a criminal investigation was indeed false, grossly exaggerated and overstated. Fact, the DOJ looked into it, found nothing even going so far as to say she did actually have the legal right to delete personal e-mails from her account private server or government either one. Meanwhile are the people singing like canaries; contrast the media hype of what Hillary Clinton might have done, what laws she might have broken against a top GOP officials broadcast television admission, backed up by a second committee member, a third, set to come on the 10-15-15 airing of Hardball with Chris Mathews to defend that committee’s work, canceled last minute compounded by both threatening a subpoena they had no authority to come up with and the whistle blower. Mr. Gowdy chairman of the house select committee on Benghazi’s only response, to call his allegations he was terminated from the job for not ultra-focusing on Hillary Clinton a damn lie then chastise him because “he no longer wants to talk about it in public.” Actually, Mr. Podliska’s lawyer slapped the committee, committee chair with a cease and desist order on grounds they violated employer/employee confidentiality going on television, discussing in the committee the terns of Podliska’s firing, counseling or mediation gone through by either party towards solving this growing employment dispute.  Keeping a tally of laws, rules broken, McCarthy’s admission at the very least amounts to misuse of taxpayer funds, threatening a subpoena you have no way to produce misuse of authority, and however erroneous the charge about what privacy laws were or were not violated regarding Podliska, possible assassination of character, slander engaged in based on how Mr. Gowdy characterized Podliska’s actions, as a potential future legal filing, the cease and desist letter is a legal document and is legally binding.  Mrs. Clinton on the other hand has received no such type of documents related to either Benghazi or her e-mail.

As I said in my original piece comparing Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal to ‘the dress that broke the internet’ ( utterly ignored in the extreme focus on Hillary Clinton’s supposed mishandling of documents from her own government correspondence to classified materials, where were the other periphery people involved, namely state department IT her first day utilizing her office informing her, Clinton aid staff of the record keeping laws/rules, setting up her .gov account, performing routine maintenance, encryption updates, noticing they never did so for her? Why did she have to, as one reporter put it, bother to get one, meaning a .gov account instead of one being provided for her? Where were the people on her last day in office come to collect those records for the national archives; why the intense scrutiny of Hillary when the national archives personnel requesting her e-mails, precisely when  they did years not months later, were trying to correct a record gap going all the way back to Madeline Albright? Archive comments heavily gloss over too by republicans and Benghazi committee members alike when they informed journalist for a plethora of newspapers it usually takes the threat of embarrassment and litigation, that’s legal action for people [cough tea party republicans] who need it broken down into smaller words, to achieve compliance with record requests; not Mrs. Clinton who handed over 55,000 pages calling it routine. What her released e-mails did uncover was a conversation between her and an assistant regarding a message sent to the state department computer help desk where they had no idea it was her, thus e-mailing her staff with questions; that right there should indicate, if you want to nail someone for negligence regarding use of e-mail, nail the help desk for not either looking into it, forwarding it to a superior or nail the state department for not setting up account to begin with. By all appearances it seems Hillary Clinton saw a security gap and sought to close it on her own since no one else provided her with a way to do it; god forbid she focus on fulfilling the duties associated with being secretary of state rather than her e-mail. Another conversation showing a bit of personality talked about working from home due to Washington snow days and calling them silly; highlighting the need for top government personnel to have a secure, protected means to work at home for a variety of reasons in the technology, work form anywhere age. Continuing, the only real concerns related to security and a private home server, her private home server which was, contrary to aghast republican outrage, not just a standard server and popular e-mail account option Google mail or Yahoo the average person would get for their home office, but managed by a private electronic security firm, came from phishing e-mails disguised as speeding tickets out of the New York State DMV, designed to put a RAT (remote access trogon) onto someone’s computer if clicked. But for all the pontifications about what could have happened, who could have gotten personal, government information thanks to her use of a home server shouting, “they demonstrate the risks of using a private server to conduct sensitive government business,” there is zero evidence she was stupid, ignorant, naive enough to click on them, a RAT was ever installed or anyone who wasn’t supposed to ever got anything. Put alongside significant government hacks of The Pentagon, our military’s twitter account, Whitehouse non-classified computers, where everyone from the notorious hacking group anonymous to foreign governments’ cyber espionage divisions, terror groups got truly sensitive, damaging information, Clinton spokesperson absolutely correct, their presence only proves she received spam like the rest of us. Remind us which one is, has been not could be, more detrimental to national security; which one gave ISIS a list of military personnel’s names, addresses they attempted to turn into a hit list? Similar to what I stated in my first piece on the topic, that home server may have kept sensitive things out of the hands of bad people, foreign governments, oh. Next putting egg on republican’s faces, the FBI told media outlets, end of September, they can recover the previously deleted, presumed gone forever, e-mails shifting all their fluster and bluster, threats of  subpoena into the column of needless and unnecessary, bolstering attitudes  this was just political grandstanding, dirty politics at its most despicable. Worse, it substantiates the complete incompetence of the committee in understanding how technology works or incorporating the knowledge of who they need to, to determine if something wrong definitively occurred. Interestingly enough, though the FBI predicted it would take several months to recover and sort server contents, they have yet to find anything sans e-mails labeled secret they claim should have been classified, i.e. not found on a home, unsecure server reverting us back to the aforementioned turf war between intelligence agencies with prudential candidate Clinton caught in the middle.

Nor is Hillary Clinton the only one to use a private e-mail in her time as a government official added to Colon Powel and Condoleezza Rice who used both private and government e-mail accounts, are names like ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Lois Lerner. Interesting Ms. Lerner’s name is included considering the downright temper tantrum Paul Ryan threw over her supposed violation of IRS policy on record keeping, her reportedly lost hard drive that crashed; why didn’t congressional investigators vowing to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal targeting conservative non-profit groups enlist the help of the FBI to locate then examine the crashed drive? Because while a crash is different than an intentional data wipe, some data is usually retrievable; cost a determining factor in whether ordinary citizens opt to pay roughly $1,000 for that retrieval short of documents such as medical records, home based business records, a master’s thesis as opposed to buying a new computer and suffering through lost semi-important data. Might it have been they succeeded in forcibly compelling Lerner to resign over implied wrongdoing specifically on her part, blaming her solely for things occurring on her watch she had no direct involvement in without it? Perhaps it was that pesky need for a little thing called probable cause and the fact they didn’t have it, the infinite reality the FBI has far better things to occupy their time handling far more important issues, terror threats foreign and domestic, child sex trafficking to reference just two? Never fully detailed in Lerner’s case, the antiquated systems the IRS is forced to use, that procedure dictated recycling unusable drives or documents were only backed up for 6 months electronically subsequently relying on print and save due to outdated technology; still Lerner is guilty, leveraged into stepping down, Clinton remaining in their crosshairs exactly because she will not give up her hoped for career in politics. But this isn’t partisan; it isn’t a witch hunt, uh-huh. If anything it says all government agencies need to get their houses in order on a clear electronic correspondence, record keeping policy, need to consult existing laws, rules and guidelines in that order including those set forth by the Obama administration, their commander in chief, then follow them; if they are without the tools, technology and means to do so, speak up. And for all hoopla attached to Clinton, the bad things Donald Trump had to say during one of his numerous rallies about ambassador Kennedy, bad on trade, insinuations about how she got the job, she got a few seconds in the news, a verbal slap on the wrist, never once did he mention her use of private e-mail; on the other hand, never failing to condemn Clinton’s use of it claiming it illegal, suggesting she should go to jail for it. It wouldn’t have anything to do with Hillary Clinton is his opponent in the race for 2016 and Caroline Kennedy isn’t, would it, hmm. Again contrast Hillary Clinton’s actions, repeated cooperation in almost every aspect, agreeing to testify not once but twice, her second round of questioning to start on Thursday, to the tangible, calculable actions, results of the Benghazi committee’s nearly 2 years of investigation. Breaking their own rules on informing democrats also on the committee of scheduled witness testimony, refusal to honor witness requests that transcripts of said testimony be released to the public, the American people, in their entirety so they can make up their own minds, judge for themselves, Sheryl Mills being one. Even leaking partial transcript pieces thought to be damming to their political opposition, concurrently burying testimony that doesn’t fit any of the increasingly farfetched, implausible, out their conspiracy theories, simultaneously condemning democrats when they leak their own documents in an attempt to correct the imbalance, inaccuracies. And the only smoking gun to be found lies in the committee itself examining witnesses called, dropping hearings to be held with the DOD (department of defense), a person having knowledge of, allegedly pointing to, destruction of evidence pertaining to Benghazi by Clinton, Clinton staff, head of the CIA, witnesses present in Benghazi, people it would seem useful to interview if your goal was to find out what happened, recommend steps to keep it from happening in the future. Suddenly substituted on the list of must talk to people, anyone associated with Hillary Clinton including speech writers.

Further all the conspiracy theories A to Z and back again have officially been thoroughly debunked; findings revealed in the House intelligence committee’s republican led report concluded last year and made known to citizens in a Friday, thanksgiving week news dump where no one would pay attention. Why, it didn’t substantiate one scrap of the speculated cover ups, secret activities on the part of top Obama, Whitehouse staff, government personnel to hide the horror in Benghazi, hide incompetence or secret operations held there. 17 findings were mentioned complete with highlights and utter oddities the Huffington Post accurately termed “That thing you heard about on Fox News? It didn’t actually happen, because we fully investigated and debunked that theory.” Example, turns out the culprit in the faulty talking points was the CIA endorsing the long held supposition a “misinformation campaign” using the inflammatory YouTube video was launched in a concerted effort to catch those responsible for the embassy attack, not to purposefully deceive the American people, adjacent members of the American government. Here’s a hint if the CIA did, it means Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and whoever else’s name republicans, Clinton haters, tinfoil hat conspiracists want to shove in there, didn’t; meaning you can stop spending 4.5 million dollars of hard earned taxpayer money grilling speech writers over talking points they had nothing to do with.  Equally there was no intelligence failure on behalf of the CIA, they weren’t caught with their pants down, playing on social media instead of comprehending a quickly escalating situation in Benghazi, there was no delay in sending a rescue team comprised of members from the same agency or the military. Shredding the allegation Hillary Clinton ordered either to stand down, as if she has that power; in fact, her chief of staff recently testified before the shamed select committee when she was immediately pushing for intervention to secure and/or extract American personnel there, a Whitehouse representative said all parties present including her had the 100% backing of the president to do whatever they needed to in helping our people. Effectively cutting the legs off more outlandish GOP assertions she sat callously by and let her friend Chris Stevens die, cravenly ignoring phone calls, pleas for help from him, people stationed there. Addressing the totally bizarre speculations, ideas that shouldn’t qualify to the level of theories, but have been elevated to such by persons chiefly because they hold the title U.S. congressmen, finding #16 would be laughable if this wasn’t a serious matter, if people didn’t still believe there was a real chance intelligence personnel did what they alleged; “There is no evidence that the CIA conducted any unusual polygraph exams related to Benghazi.” Or any at all being the true end of that sentence according to further testimony. Rand Paul who has had good strategies on reforming criminal justice and could be a force for changing our carceral state ruins his chances of ever gaining the political steam to do so with statements like this taken from MSNBC’s The MaddowBlog and subsequent MSNBC author analysis penned shortly after the report’s release, “The Associated Press claims the report debunks, ‘A series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.’ None of these accusations contain even a modicum of truth? It’s important to appreciate Paul’s intellectual rigor: there are lots of allegations, and even though the evidence proves the allegations false, maybe, since there are so many of them, one of them is a little true? As Simon Maloy noted, the Republican senator proceeded to suggest his own GOP allies may be ‘helping the Obama administration cover-up the truth about Benghazi.’ That’s right, it’s come to this: Republicans have uncovered a conspiracy so vast, it involves Republicans who went looking for evidence of a conspiracy. I get the feeling that the Beltway media considers Rand Paul so “interesting” that his antics, no matter how ridiculous, simply cannot be disqualifying. But that’s a shame – his approach to Benghazi is itself a cringe-worthy embarrassment.” Covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria; the resounding question would be why and when did the CIA have time to pull it off?   Cringe worthy embarrassment is all too right and entirely too polite reiterating the 4.5 million in taxpayer dollars clearly wasted chasing those types of beyond erroneous claims, so called investigations still ongoing, still draining U.S. government coffers despite what Kevin McCarthy said reverberating across national television, 2 separate whistleblowers and one formal letter, similar to the one sent by republicans to Iran, sent by democrats to the committee and to speaker Boehner demanding they stop the already established witch hunt disguised as an investigation. Hardly lost on anyone, namely droves of ordinary American people, they can do this, they can laser focus on this, intensify their efforts, double with every odd stacked against them, but they can’t govern; longingly we imagine what they could accomplish if they put that intensity and focus into producing, passing legislation we care about, achieving the things we sent them there to do.  And still, with their shouted necessary shift in focus onto Hillary Clinton’s e-mail, private server and what might be hiding there, not only didn’t they find anything relating to Benghazi, indicating negligence, criminality there; they haven’t found anything in either the setup of her e-mail, private server or the documents housed, produced via those means demonstrating self-incrimination to any criminal, suspicious activity, attempt to hide anything, evidence she was unsure about setting it up on moral or legal grounds, knowingly did something in a gray area to circumvent a law, a rule, a guideline one.

Long and short of it is Hillary Clinton did something unusual, unconventional, perhaps unwise, ill-advised but not illegal, nor irresponsible, reckless regarding her e-mail, and the true irresponsibility belongs to other entities and agencies in failing to possess then implement a clear policy on electronic records, clear understanding about how technology works before screaming someone is guilty of criminal, negligent behavior. Attention Benghazi committee, how about reimbursing the American government their $4.5 million or yourselves putting it towards technology and IT staff upgrades for both the state department and the IRS, technology specialists for the FBI, so the next time you want to do this it takes less time and costs significantly less money. Looking to seriously prevent something like Benghazi, the part where 4 Americans died among them at least one diplomat, as I’ve also said discussing the tragedy itself, when presented with a request by persons in a foreign, known volatile part of the world, don’t dismiss it don’t say no, exactly what the congressional committee it came before, bypassing the secretary of state’s desk, did. None of those people ever standing before the select committee on Benghazi to answer for their rejection of those funds, no hint republican, at least committee members, are aware of the request, the vote, the resulting denial. Here’s another one for all GOP government members at the national level, understand those line items, dollar amounts in budget proposals aren’t the same as items you can delete from your grocery, Wal-Mart shopping wish- list; remembering you not Hillary Clinton, any democrat slashed the budget for foreign diplomatic security. Minimally listen when people, Hillary Clinton in capacity as secretary of state, being one, warn you your cuts, could be, will be harmful to objectives and American citizens filling posts abroad. Something else done by GOP members then ignored when it came time to investigate what really happened. Yet no one is owning their mistakes in the events that transpired, no other person at the state department apart from Hillary Clinton has been subject to the scrutiny, opinions they should be put in jail, if it was indeed state department personnel who denied the repeated requests for more security. At the very least they should be sharing the stage with her in this unquestioned debacle asserting its existence is to get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi while creating tabloid level news about her e-mails. You know it’s bad, you know you’ve virtually lost when presidential candidate Bernie Sanders practically gives away huge points, and likely any hope at the nomination on the democratic side, to support his opponent in telling debate audiences he and the American people were sick of hearing about her [Clinton’s] damn e-mails to thunderous applause; applause signaling the American people, to a certain extent, agree.