FLOTSAM & JETSAM: The tangled web of Benghazi and birth certificates

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The tangled web of Benghazi and birth certificates

Sam Smith - As Sir Walter Scott noted in his poem "Marmion," about the 1513 Battle of Flodden Field, "Oh what tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive."

In neither of the Republicans’ two favorite scandals about Obama – Banghazi and his birth certificate – is there any evidence pointing to significant misdoings or constitution problems. What there is in both cases, however, is evidence of Obama and his crew attempting to manipulate a story in a way that ultimately badly backfired on them.

 As I wrote in 2011 of the birth certificate controversy:
If you want to insist that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii then you not only have to believe that Governor Abercrombie is a liar but that the notices in the newspapers of the time were false. And why? Could it be that Obama’s parents were launching his presidential campaign that early?
Unfortunately, however, one hard fact makes this story more complicated, namely that the state of Hawaii, citing its laws, will not release the president’s full birth record and Obama has failed to asked it to do so.
While the first problem can be written off to legalistic obstinacy, the second is, to put it gently, curious. Why does a Harvard lawyer let such a claim continue to fester in public without taking the simple steps necessary to quash it?
The state has produced what might be called a certificate of the certificate, giving the basics of what the original document purportedly says. CNN has suggested that the original certificate no longer exists since all such records were discarded in 2001 but the state denies it. Hawaii is, in effect, denying the absence of something it can’t or won’t produce.
No one has come up with a good answer for all this, but several explanations spring to mind: perhaps the original birth certificate has disappeared. Perhaps there is some other information on the form that might embarrass Obama. Or that perhaps that natural born problem, Rahm Emmanuel, told Obama to screw it and let the complainers go to hell.
Certainly the way Obama handled the matter during the campaign was strange.
After going through the legal and historical evidence supporting Obama’s right to be president, I concluded: “The matter, however could be far more easily resolved if someone would just come up with that damn birth certificate. Hawaii, for example, could change its law to permit it, or Obama could simply request that it be released. As it is, he has hurt himself and provided a feast for fools.”
One year later – and four since it had first became an issue – a copy of the full certificate showed up but Obama is still paying the price for trying to manipulate the story.
The Benghazi saga has some of the same feel. There is no evidence that anything unusual happened real time in that incident. Probably equivalent miscalculations are made weekly in Afghanistan and nobody even notices.
But, once again the attempt to reorganize and reinterpret the story after the fact has come back to haunt Obama and Hillary Clinton. When you have a long term admired State Department veteran blowing the whistle, you know something may be wrong.
To understand how this happens, it helps to remember that Obama, the Clintons, and their ilk consider themselves extremely clever. They also are post-modernists who believe that reality is just another thing to be repackaged.

Only sometimes it doesn’t work.

I was, in fact,  trying to ignore the Benghazi story as a waste of time. And then I heard, as CBS noted, “Greg Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya, said lawyers from the State Department told him not to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi.”

And this in the Washington Post: “In two blockbuster bits of testimony, Hicks stated that Cheryl Mills, Clinton confidante (and her husband’s impeachment lawyer) called him to instruct him not to speak with a congressional delegation and specifically Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah); meanwhile, Nordstrom indicated that State’s Accountability Review Board never interviewed the top decision makers in the department.”

Below are some clips from the Progressive Review that mention Cheryl Mills in the past. Note the similarities in the tangled webs she and Hillary Clinton weaved to accomplish their ends back then and are apparently still doing.

So far, however, Hillary Clinton has shown that, if clever enough, one can practice to deceive and get away with it, but the Benghazi incident is a healthy warning of what lies in wait if she runs for President. Such stories may be exaggerated and distorted, but they are seldom buried.

1998 Report of The House Committee on Government Reform And Oversight:
The committee believes that there is substantial evidence that in September 1996 then-Associate (now-Deputy) Counsel to the President Cheryl Mills, with the knowledge and concurrence of then-White House Counsel Jack Quinn, knowingly and willfully obstructed the investigative authority of this committee by withholding documents that were plainly responsive to the committee requests for documents and information. Moreover, when this obstruction was brought to light in a hearing before the committee, Ms. Mills lied under oath about the documents and the circumstances surrounding their non-production. Ms. Mills's actions, withholding responsive documents from the committee, delayed the committee for more than a year from obtaining important evidence . . . Moreover, the failure to produce these documents when they were discovered in September 1996 had the effect of delaying the committee's investigation long enough to allow memories of relevant witnesses to fade for more than a year until they could plausibly testify that they could no longer remember the meetings or conversations reflected in the documents. The committee believes that Ms. Mills was fully aware of these potential effects and deliberately engaged in the withholding of documents for that purpose. In the second term, she was promoted from Associate Counsel to the President to Deputy Counsel to the President.

Newsmax, 2000: In an affidavit sworn by former Freedom of Information Act division head Sonya Stewart, Stewart details the efforts of the administration to withhold secret documents demanded under the FOIA by Judicial Watch and Congress. In her affidavit Stewart voiced fears of retribution for coming forward with her explosive charges.

"I come forward to present my declaration to this Court with great trepidation and grave concern about retribution and retaliation which may be directed at me, both professionally and personally, as a result of this affidavit," she wrote. "Nevertheless, I present this declaration out of my obligation to uphold the interests of justice as I swore to do upon my installation as a federal employee. I hope, believe, and expect that the Court will protect me" . . .
As head of the FOIA offices Stewart said she was aware of the political manipulations involved in the administration's attempts to hide documents subject to the act. Among those named by Stewart as having been involved in the cover-up was former White House Deputy Counsel to the President Cheryl Mills, one of the lawyers representing Clinton in his Senate impeachment trial . . . "I know that Ms. Mills, in her position as Deputy Counsel to the President, advised Commerce officials to withhold certain documents. In my many years working for the federal government on FOIA and other matters, and in my experience gathering and responding to FOIA and Congressional requests for information, I have never known or heard of a federal agency collaborating or discussing releasing or withholding documents with White House officials . .

Progressive Review - We reported the other day that former White House lawyer Cheryl Mills, called to testify in the e-mail scandal, couldn't remember key facts and instead lectured a House committee on the issues it should be looking into rather than the missing correspondence. We have proposed a neologism for this sort of non-responsiveness: "to Hillary," after the president's wife who once told a House committee "I don't recall" or its equivalent 50 times in 42 paragraphs.

Since the media gave scant or no coverage to Mills' appearance, however, we were unable until now to find the full citation. Here is Mills hillarying the committee in all its glory:

CHERYL MILLS (upon being asked about the missing e-mails: "[Your investigations will not] feed one person, give shelter to someone who is homeless, educate one child, provide health care for one family or offer justice to one African-American or Hispanic juvenile . . . You could spend your time making the lives of the individuals you serve better, as opposed to tearing down the staff of a president with whose vision and policies you disagree."

Remember, however, that Mills is a highly trained professional. The average reader should not attempt such a reply in a court of law or before a congressional committee.

Mills performance was not reported by major media, which had lionized her during the impeachment trial. Among the slobberers was NBC's Tom Brokaw: "When Cheryl Mills, an African American lawyer, speaking to a mostly male, mostly white audience, concluded her arguments with a forceful defense of the President's record on civil rights, the note taking stopped and she had their complete attention, many of the Senators rushing up afterwards to congratulate her."

On Today, Pete Williams spoke of "A devotion that led her to conclude her defense with an emotional tribute to the President as a champion of civil rights." Said Newsweek: "A star is born."

Lost in the praise was the fact that on November 6, 1997, Mills had admitted to the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee that she and White House Counsel Jack Quinn had withheld documents for 15 months, including a memo suggesting Clinton wanted the $1.7 million White House Office Data Base shared with the DNC. A House Committee report declared her testimony to be false.

Marc Ambinder, Atlantic, 2010 - The authors [of  Game Change by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann] write on page 50 about the "war room within a war room" that Hillary Clinton put together to deal with questions about her husband's "libido." The circle of trust included media strategist Howard Wolfson, lawyer Cheryl Mills and confidant Patti Solis Doyle. The war room within a war room dismissed or discredited much of the gossip floating around, but not all of it. The stories about one woman were more concrete, and after some discreet fact-finding, the group concluded that they were true: that BIll was indeed having an affair -- and not a frivolous one-night stand but a sustained romantic relationship. . . For months, thereafter, the war room within a war room braced for the explosion, which her aides knew could come at any moment.

Progressive Review, 1995 - A burglar breaks into the car of White House lawyer Cheryl Mills as she was preparing to testify before a Senate committee on the Whitewater affair. Taken, according to a friend, were her notes on handling Vince Foster's papers after his death.