Five Clinton crimes that won’t be investigated

October 22, 2015

Hillary Clinton is on the hot seat for congressional hearings on Benghazi this week--but lawmakers should be asking about far worse crimes, says Elizabeth Schulte.

THIS WEEK, Hillary Clinton will appear before a congressional committee investigating allegations that her role in security lapses led to the deaths of several U.S. embassy personnel in the Libyan city of Benghazi during an attack in 2012.

The Republican members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi hope to uncover further evidence of Clinton's mishandling of the crisis and discredit her tenure as Barack Obama's Secretary of State during his first term in the White House. At Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings two years ago, Clinton took responsibility for what happened at the embassy compound, but said that other State Department officials handled security decisions.

Republicans are looking forward to another opportunity to try to depict the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination as an incompetent at best--to get another crack at her much-talked-about and ever-controversial e-mails.

Actually, Hillary Clinton racked up far worse crimes during her years as Secretary of State. But it's pretty safe to say that none of them will become the focus of a congressional committee investigation.

Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, receiving honors at a Department of Defense ceremony
Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, receiving honors at a Department of Defense ceremony (Chad J. McNeeley)

What are the crimes? Here's your list.

1. "Humanitarian" War in Afghanistan

Today, Hillary Clinton supports the Obama administration's recent reversal of its plans to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan. This means continuing the misery and violence of a U.S. occupation that Clinton helped to escalate during her years as Secretary of State.

In 2009, Clinton stood with Obama's Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a Republican, and called for a 30,000-troop surge in Afghanistan. U.S. officials said the aim of the surge was to stabilize Afghanistan, turn back the Taliban and bring the war to an end. But the surge did the opposite.

Two years after the increase in U.S. troops--and 10 years after the initial invasion--Afghanistan was still in chaos, with an increase in attacks on Afghan civilians and aid workers.

The real motivation for the surge wasn't to bring the end of the U.S. military presence closer, much less the empty promise of democracy for Afghan people. It was to tighten the U.S. grip--and the resulting violence and war hardly factored into the decision.

Secretary of State Clinton made this clear in a speech to a conference of NATO foreign ministers in 2011: "We need to worry less about how fast we can leave and more about how we can help the Afghan people build on the gains of the past 15 months."

On most foreign policy decisions--including Libya after the U.S. turned against its sometime-ally, sometime-enemy Muammar el-Qaddafi--Clinton was in favor of equally aggressive action, if not more so, than the hawkish former Bush appointee Gates. But Clinton and Obama got away with hawkish policies Bush never would have because they stuck to the language of "humanitarian intervention" and "liberation."

In Libya, Clinton argued for intervention against the backdrop of a popular uprising against a dictator. But the end game for the U.S. was little different from the Bush Doctrine strategy of unilateral regime change across the Middle East. Hillary Clinton helped assert the "right" for the U.S. government to intervene in any country of its choosing, using the most brutal means possible to carry out its "peaceful" ends.

2. Killer Drones

Clinton was also an enthusiastic supporter of the Obama administration's increased use of drone warfare in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. In her memoir Hard Choices, Clinton writes that drone strikes quickly became "one of the most effective and controversial elements" of the "war on terror" under the Obama administration.

Clinton and the administration sold the drone program as a precise and effective way to target terrorists, with fewer risks of collateral damage.

But the numbers tell a different story. A 2014 analysis of media reports by the New America Foundation estimated that drones probably killed some 250 to 300 civilians over the preceding 10 years. Other estimates put the figure higher, according the New Yorker:

Researchers working under Chris Woods at the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism conducted field interviews to supplement a separate analysis of media reporting. They estimated that American drones killed between 400 and 950 civilians.

3. Supporting Israel's War on Palestine

A longtime supporter of Israel, as Secretary of State, Clinton devoted herself to strengthening Israel's already powerful military and consistently took the side of the Israeli government, even when it was carrying out punishing attacks against the Palestinian people.

As her campaign website notes, Clinton backed increased spending on Israel every year she was Secretary of State, "from $2.55 billion when she took office to $3.1 billion in FY2013, a nearly 20 percent increase. She worked to build stronger defense programs for Israel, including upgraded Patriot missiles and the Iron Dome system."

This support never wavered. In July 2014, after the Israeli government shelled the Jabaliya refugee camp, destroying a United Nations school, Clinton defended Israel's crimes. "I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets. Israel has a right to defend itself," Clinton said in an interview with the Atlantic.

Asked about the targeting of a school, she said that Israel makes "mistakes," even though it tries, "like the United States," to "be as careful as possible in going after targets to avoid civilians." Clinton continued: "We've made them. I don't know a nation, no matter what its values are--and I think that democratic nations have demonstrably better values in a conflict position--that hasn't made errors, but ultimately the responsibility rests with Hamas."

Clinton isn't going to let opposition to Israel's apartheid get in the way either--she's made clear her disdain for the Palestinian rights movement.

Earlier this year, for example, Foreign Policy magazine reported on a Clinton letter to billionaire Haim Saban, written on "Hillary for America" stationary, in which she vowed to fight the boycott, divestment and sanction campaign against Israel.

"I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority," she wrote, adding that she wanted Saban's advice on how they could work together across party lines to "fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel."

4. The World Is Our Piggy Bank

As Secretary of State, Clinton made it her business to make sure the world is open for U.S. business, transforming her State Department to prioritize securing contracts between foreign governments and U.S. companies. Clinton described her "Economic Statecraft" approach this way: ""We have to position ourselves to lead in a world where security is shaped in boardrooms and on trading floors as well as on battlefields."

The State Department under Clinton had a laser-focus on satisfying Corporate America, instituting a chief economist's office headed by former Lehman Brothers banker Heidi Crebo-Rediker. Clinton ordered promotions for embassy economic officers on the grounds that: "We need to be a Department where more people can read both Foreign Affairs and a Bloomberg Terminal."

Clinton and her ambassador-CEOs made plenty of stops across the globe, to secure defense contracts for Lockheed Martin or deals to construct nuclear power plants for Westinghouse.

Her State Department also used its international access to increase the use of fracking around the globe. Working with energy companies, Clinton promoted "energy diplomacy," devoting extra resources to integrating energy into every aspect of foreign policy and encouraging governments to embrace shale gas production.

It goes without saying that ecological destruction and health dangers for the people who lived in the areas where fracking was to take place weren't part of the equation. "This is a moment of profound change," she told a crowd at Georgetown University. "Countries that used to depend on others for their energy are now producers. How will this shape world events? Who will benefit, and who will not?...The answers to these questions are being written right now, and we intend to play a major role."

It seems that Clinton also made sure was a special deal for those who donated to the Clinton Foundation. According to a report by David Sirota at Truthdig, American military contractors and their affiliates who donated to the Clinton Foundation were awarded some $163 billion worth of arms deals authorized by the Clinton State Department.

And governments seeking to buy arms got the same preferential treatment if they sent money the foundation's way--no matter what their human rights record. Clinton's department authorized $151 billion in Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that gave to the Clinton Foundation. This included "toxicological agents" to the government of Algeria.

5. Supporting the Coup-makers in Honduras

When the democratically elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, was overthrown by right-wing golpistas in 2009, Hillary Clinton cheered on the coup.

At the time, the Obama administration said it supported returning Zelaya to power. But according to e-mails released in July as a consequence of the scandal, Clinton was trying to set up a line of communication with Roberto Micheletti, installed as leader after the coup.

In an e-mail chain, she discussed a meeting between State Department officials and Lanny Davis, a longtime Clinton confidant who was working as a consultant to a group of Honduran businessmen who had supported the coup. Clinton asked, "Can he help me talk w Micheletti?"

Clinton pretended to be brokering a deal to bring Zelaya back to power through a national unity government, but the deal fell apart, and the coup-makers organized a sham election denying Zelaya's return, and the Clinton State Department cheered them on, as Lee Fang reported at The Intercept:

In an e-mail titled "Notes from the Peanut Gallery," Thomas Shannon, the lead State Department negotiator for the Honduras talks, gushed over the election results in a message that was sent to Secretary Clinton.

"The turnout (probably a record) and the clear rejection of the Liberal Party shows our approach was the right one," wrote Shannon, who recommended that the U.S. should "congratulate the Honduran people" and "connect today's vote to the deep democratic vocation of the Honduran people." Shannon, then the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, expressed gratitude that Zelaya was out of power, referring to the ousted president as a "failed" leader.

Earlier this year, Zelaya appeared on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! to talk about the coup and the U.S. attitude:

On the one hand, they condemned the coup, but on the other hand, they were negotiating with the leaders of the coup. And Secretary Clinton lent herself to that, maintaining that ambiguity of U.S. policy toward Honduras, which has resulted in a process of distrust and instability of Latin American governments in relation to U.S. foreign policies.

Since the coup, poverty and gang violence has skyrocketed in Honduras, leading thousands of families to make the desperate decision to flee the country and try to reach the U.S., in spite of the many dangers.

This is the face of Hillary Clinton's true crimes around the globe.

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