Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Charles Daniel W. Clayton | Clinton smear a web of deception

Published:Saturday | October 22, 2016 | 10:00 AMCharles Clayton
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

I am writing in response to the article by Ewin James captioned 'Liar, Liar' starring Hillary Clinton' (The Gleaner, October 21, 2016).

First, I would like to suggest that there is an exaggerated narrative of untrustworthiness that has been carefully orchestrated around Hillary Clinton by conservatives in America from the day it became apparent that she would be the Democratic candidate for presidency at the end of Barack Obama's term in office. This began from 2014, even before her presidency was announced, when it was sensed that she would be the likely candidate in 2016 and a formidable opponent for any Republican nominee.

The main arguments being presented revolve around (1) the claims that she was responsible for the Benghazi attacks because of negligence on her part; (2) she was reckless in the use of private emails and lied abut it; (3) she commingled the work of the State Department with that of the Clinton Foundation to the point where she offered special access to the State Department to those who donated funds to the foundation.

With regard to the Benghazi affair, following a series of congressional hearings by a Republican-established Select Committee, they were unable to find any evidence that the security mission was underfunded and that Hillary had blocked any support requested by the embassy in Benghazi. Despite this, Republicans, particularly Trump supporters, have continued unabated with their false claims. The author of the article has continued the falsehood without any reference to the hearings by the select committee or impartial research done by other bodies.

Regarding the email scandal, she is accused of recklessly using a private server and of erasing 33,000 emails while denying inclusion of official and classified emails among those erased. First, evidence was presented through WikiLeaks that she had sought the advice of highly respected Republican and her predecessor, Colin Powell, regarding the use of a private email server to do the State Department work. He, it turned out, had told her that he had used his personal server and that the concerns of the civil servants were exaggerated. This approach suggests that, at worst, she was ill advised and careless for taking the advice, but certainly not reckless.

 

REPUBLICAN HYPOCRISY

 

Further, it points to hypocrisy on the part of Republicans who had done much worse, having used the GOP platform to exchange official information emanating from the White House during the G.W. Bush presidency. This was disclosed in a CNN investigation. The actual email address used was gwb43.com (short for George W. Bush). This was discovered in 2007 during the investigation of the dismissal of eight US attorneys and publicised by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which sent a letter to Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Henry A. Waxman requesting an investigation.

According to Waxman, in some instances, White House officials were using non-governmental accounts specifically to avoid creating a record of the communications. In his words, "The Republican National Committee claims to have erased the emails, supposedly making them unavailable for congressional investigators." In this regard, in 2009, it was announced that as many as 22 million official emails may have been lost from this exercise. The 33,000 lost to the Clinton server pales in comparison.

Further, it turns out that the emails erased from the Clinton server were not personally scrutinised by her, but were erased under her instructions that all personal emails should be erased from the server by a team of IT specialists contracted for the purpose, before handover to the FBI. She would, therefore have been under the impression that her instructions were followed and may not have known that the 33,000 erased had in fact included official correspondence. The FBI also declared that she had been truthful in her meeting with them.

The disjuncture appears to have been what she said to the public versus what was disclosed to the FBI. Certainly, the accusation of her being a liar with regard to the emails might well have amounted to not much more than (1) incomplete disclosure to the public and (2) misunderstanding of the facts based on her understanding of what the IT persons were supposed to have done versus what had actually been done.

With regard to the commingling of State Department with the affairs of the Clinton Foundation, the suggestion does appear to have been made in correspondence between State Department workers and potential donors to the foundation that some of the officials were tying donations to the foundation to favours from the State Department. No proof was provided, however, that these inclinations were ever acted upon.

Further, there is no evidence that Clinton was linked directly to the suspicious exchanges that took place among the parties. At worst, then, it could be said that things seemed highly suspicious. At best, the temptation to link the foundation with favours from the State Department were never acted upon. Further, based on the audited reports of the Foundation and the Clinton's personal affairs, it is clear (1) that the Clintons have never received any personal benefits from the foundation and (2) the foundation has been a genuine charity that has benefited millions around the world.

On the basis of the foregoing, while Hillary Clinton may not be a saint, she is certainly not the ogre that the conservatives have carefully constructed through bad press. In fact, on closer inspection of the operations of many of her predecessors in the State Department and the White House, she may well have been more the saint when compared to them.

Certainly, Trump's erratic and shamelessly dishonest and classless behaviour should not put him on the same platform with Hillary, much less a competitor for the job of president of the USA.

- Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and chadanworth@yahoo.com.