Clinton isn’t hiding her real crimes

March 19, 2015

It takes a village of obsessively partisan fanatics to raise a scandal about e-mails. Elizabeth Schulte observes these creatures from a safe distance.

AL GORE may have invented the Internet, but it took Hillary Clinton to turn it into a national security crisis.

At first glance, the uproar over Clinton using an unsecure personal e-mail account and not archiving messages during her time as secretary of state looked like a simple case of Republicans trying to score political points against the acknowledged frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

House Republicans are threatening to issue a subpoena for the e-mails, which were sent and received under the domain name and stored on a server linked to the Clintons' address in Chappaqua, N.Y.

Well, all except for the more than 31,000 e-mails from that time, supposedly personal messages about such subjects as "yoga routines," "family vacations" and "planning Chelsea's wedding," that have been deleted, according to Clinton.

Republicans were beside themselves--especially the "Benghazi Committee," which continues to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Or to be more accurate, continues to investigate whether Hillary Clinton is personally to blame for Benghazi.

Hillary Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state
Hillary Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state (U.S. State Department)

Clinton's response to the scandal was, well, Clinton-esque: "I thought using one device would be simpler--obviously, it hasn't worked out that way."

Still, Hillary Clinton doesn't have a monopoly on arrogance among U.S. political leaders. And she isn't the only government official who used a non-government e-mail for official government business. According to a roundup by ProPublica, one of her predecessors, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, used a personal e-mail, and so did others in the Bush administration:

The Bush administration admits that as many as 22 political advisers to the president, including Karl Rove, used their Republican National Committee e-mail accounts for White House-related business. At the time, the RNC automatically purged e-mails after 30 days. Later, a White House spokesperson reported that as many as 5 million e-mails could have been lost from the White House's official server.

WHETHER OR not Clinton is hiding something in her tens of thousands of deleted e-mails, a few things are clear.

One is that Hillary Clinton thinks she can do whatever she wants to do, regardless of how much it contradicts her rhetoric. Like everyone in Washington, Democrat and Republican, Clinton lectures piously about holding political leaders accountable and keeping government transparent. But those are apparently rules that other people need to follow--not her.

So "e-mail-gate" is a classic example of Washington hypocrisy--on all sides. But the scandal, such as it is, is nothing compared to the crimes against humanity Hillary Clinton committed--routinely and out in the open--while secretary of state between 2009 and 2013.

Dedicated to maintaining U.S. dominance around the globe, financially and militarily, Clinton's term in office involved the rebranding of U.S. imperialism with a kinder, gentler face after the belligerence of the Bush years--while continuing to assert the right of the U.S. to intervene unilaterally around the globe and to guarantee Corporate America's pre-eminence.

In 2009, Clinton pushed for the troop surge in Afghanistan that sent 30,000 additional U.S. soldiers into the first stop in the "war on terror." The surge turned out to be a disaster for Afghan civilians. More than a year after the additional deployments, UN observers found that civilian deaths weren't down, but had risen by 15 percent.

Clinton supported the Obama administration's increased use of drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, which have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians, according to estimates. On a 2009 trip to Pakistan, Clinton was peppered with questions from family members of people who had been killed by drones. Her peevish response? "There is a war going on."

IN 2011, Clinton pushed for the NATO air war in Libya. She made the case for intervention against the forces of dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi on "humanitarian" grounds, arguing that the U.S. had to intervene to free the Libyan people. In the long run, however, this "humanitarian" policy was little different from the strategy of unilateral regime change pursued in the Bush years. Washington's war in Libya was also designed to affirm the U.S. government's power to intervene in any country around the globe.

While Clinton insisting that ousting a dictator in Libya was in the interest of "democracy," she made no such argument during the flowering of the Arab revolutions earlier that year. Her first instinct in early 2011 was to push for more support for the U.S.-allied dictators of Tunisia and Egypt.

In Tunisia, President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali was carrying out the dictates of the U.S. and International Monetary Fund programs that imposed austerity and privatization. When the first signs of revolt emerged, Clinton declared: "We are not taking sides."

In the early days of the Egyptian Revolution, Clinton was likewise hesitant to part ways with longtime U.S. friend Hosni Mubarak. Even as Mubarak's police forces--armed with U.S.-supplied weapons and gear--attacked and killed pro-democracy protesters, the U.S. stuck to its support of the regime. "We are monitoring Egypt's military," Clinton told ABC News. "They are demonstrating restraint, trying to differentiate between peaceful protesters--who we support--and potential looters and other criminal elements who are a danger to the Egyptian people."

Back in the U.S. government's self-declared "backyard," Hillary Clinton had been more than willing to support the ouster of the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, in 2009, overthrown by right-wing golpistas. The Center for Economic and Policy Research's Mark Weisbrot wrote:

The homicide rate in Honduras, already the highest in the world, increased by 50 percent from 2008 to 2011; political repression, the murder of opposition political candidates, peasant organizers and LGBT activists increased and continue to this day...

Despite this, however, both under Clinton and [Clinton's successor as secretary of state, John] Kerry, the State Department's response to the violence and military and police impunity has largely been silence, along with continued U.S. aid to Honduran security forces. In Hard Choices, Clinton describes her role in the aftermath of the coup that brought about this dire situation...Clinton admits that she used the power of her office to make sure that Zelaya would not return to office.

"In the subsequent days [after the coup] I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico," Clinton writes. "We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot."

WHEN CLINTON wasn't raining bombs on Afghanistan or backing despots in North Africa or enabling coup-makers in Central America, she was using her position as secretary of state to score lucrative contracts for U.S. military contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Electric. As Bloomberg explained:

To ensure the State Department keeps its business focus, Clinton has tried to change the way the 69,000-person global bureaucracy operates. In one directive, which she calls the "Ambassador-as-CEO" memo, she ordered embassies to make it a priority to help U.S. businesses win contracts. Science officers now extol American clean-technology companies. Military affairs officers promote U.S. fighter planes.

Likewise, during her eight preceding years in the U.S. Senate, Clinton showed the same dedication to strengthening Washington's grip around the world. She joined the Bush administration as an outspoken supporter of the invasion and occupation of Iraq--and helped spread the lie that Iraq was a threat because it had supposedly obtained "weapons of mass destruction." She said in 2002:

In the four years since the [weapons] inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members...It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.

It was hard then, and still hard today, to tell the difference between the Democrat Hillary Clinton's cheerleading for invasion and the warmongering of the supposed mortal enemies of the Bush White House.

In the run-up to the 2016 election, this month's e-mail scandal will be one of many, many attacks on Clinton by the right wing--and Clinton's supporters will use these attacks to try to galvanize support among liberals and progressives. But she doesn't deserve an ounce of it.

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