In her early months in office, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in contact with unofficial adviser Sidney Blumenthal more often and on a wider range of topics than was previously known, a set of about 3,000 Clinton emails released Tuesday night by the State Department revealed.
While Blumenthal’s role as a provider of off-the-books intelligence reports on Libya has stirred controversy, the newly disclosed emails show he also acted as an intermediary with officials involved in the Northern Ireland peace process and shared advice with Clinton on issues from Iran to British politics to how to blame China for the breakdown of global climate talks.
When Blumenthal sent Clinton notes on themes to strike in speeches she was to give in Germany, she passed them on to her most senior aides.
“The speechwriting crew is taking Sid’s points below and massaging them into a set of remarks,” Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan assured Clinton.
In a June 14, 2009, email on Iran’s elections “and CIA/torture,” Blumenthal forwarded Clinton two articles about rigged elections in the Middle Eastern nation — and a third about a yet-to-be-published New York Times story detailing the administration’s internal deliberations on torture. The author had interviewed CIA director Leon Panetta.
But Blumenthal advised Clinton not to go that route. Don’t comment, he urged.
“Jane Mayer’s piece details the many moving and uncontrolled parts of the torture debate, which has become chronic and will flare up again and again,” he said of the story. “The ‘distraction’ will not go away. I would avoid ever being drawn into commenting on any aspect.”
A few days earlier, on June 12, 2009, he sent Clinton a note suggesting he may have had some sort of hand in a post criticizing National Security Adviser James Jones, written by Steve Clemons, top editor at The Atlantic and director of the American strategy program at the New America Foundation.
“Your request is being processed …” was all Blumenthal wrote, linking to a story that summarizes Jones’ critics labeling him as a “plodding, slow-moving, out of touch retired general who was better prepared to think about the last era rather than the one we are moving into.”
Blumenthal has been questioned by Republican Benghazi investigators about similar exchanges in which he wrote messages such as “got all this done,” then linked to Media Matters blog posts blasting the GOP’s reaction to the Benghazi attacks. Blumenthal has said he had no part in writing, editing or placing the posts — despite the fact that he seemed to take credit for them while passing them on to Clinton.
Clinton has described Blumenthal’s advice as unsolicited. However, it’s clear from the emails that — at least in her first year in office — the two were in regular contact and Clinton sometimes sought Blumenthal’s counsel.
“Are you still awake?” she wrote in an email to Blumenthal sent on Oct. 8, 2009, at 10:35 p.m. that does not provide details on the issue prompting the message. “I will call if you are.”
Clinton even attempted to get Blumenthal a State Department post in 2009, but aides to President Barack Obama blocked the appointment because of what they viewed as Blumenthal’s role in spreading rumors about Obama during the 2008 presidential primary fight with Clinton.
However, the idea of a job at State for Blumenthal seemed to be a live one through June 2009, although aides to Clinton were nervous about Blumenthal’s role getting too much attention.
“We have heard from an AP reporter that Sydney [sic] outed himself about coming to the Department, mentioning it without realizing he was talking to someone who actually covers our building,” State spokesman P.J. Crowley wrote to Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills on June 5, 2009.
Original article here.