Monday, October 12, 2015

Letter from Trey Gowdy to Elijah Cummings, Oct. 8, 2015

Excerpts. Complete PDF available at: http://d1u7i8c4jvis7m.cloudfront.net/Gowdy-Cummings-1510-7.pdf

… When we began this investigation, Sidney Blumenthal was not on our potential interview list. Secretary Clinton’s exclusive use of private email, housed on her own private server, was not a topic of our inquiry. Yet when we learned nearly half of Secretary Clinton’s entire email correspondence regarding Benghazi and Libya before the attacks was with Sidney Blumenthal, that became a fact we could not ignore. When we learned Secretary Clinton exclusively used private email to correspond for her official duties and that the State Department did not even have access to these records until this Committee asked for them, that became a fact we could not ignore. …

Blumenthal was neither a State Department employee nor an employee of the federal government nor an expert on Libya, by his own admission. The fact that former Secretary Clinton relied so heavily on an individual for the Libyan intervention, her quintessential foreign policy initiative, whom the White House explicitly prohibited from working at the State Department is mind boggling. … Blumenthal was not merely acting as a steward of information to Secretary Clinton but was acting as her de facto political advisor. …

In a six day span in February 2011, Blumenthal sent Clinton detailed reports titled “Latest Libya intel,” “Libya intel,” “No fly zone over Libya,” “Intel on Gaddafi’s reinforcements,” “Libya WMD,” “Qaddafi’s Scuds and strategy for holding on,” “Option on WMD,” “Phone #s that may work,” and “Q location, new defections, beginnings of interim govt.” These daily emails, filled with unvetted intelligence, continued for nearly six weeks. Secretary Clinton often responded to Blumenthal, and almost always forwarded them to her top policy advisor, Jake Sullivan, in some cases cautioning him not to “share until we can talk.” Much of the information in Blumenthal’s emails came from Tyler Drumheller, a controversial former CIA operative, and Cody Shearer, another old Clinton friend. Interestingly, Secretary Clinton even took the further step to hide from Sullivan the fact that some of this information came from Shearer. It is unclear why she did this, and it is not at all clear what intelligence tradecraft was undertaken to ensure the reliability of this information, or whether the State Department’s very own intelligence bureau, funded by taxpayers for that very purpose, was even aware of these matters.

Dozens of emails between Clinton and Blumenthal show an individual who tried to heavily influence the Secretary of State to intervene in Libya. Blumenthal pushed hard for a no-fly zone in Libya before the idea was being discussed internally by senior U.S. government officials. Clinton told Blumenthal that she was pushing the option with the “[U.N.] Security Council,” and to “[s]tay tuned!” Shortly thereafter, the U.S. pushed a no-fly zone through the U.N. Security Council.

The emails also show Blumenthal firmly as a political body who pulled no punches towards the White House or others in government with whom he disagreed. In one email he discussed “National Security Adviser Tom Donilon’s babbling rhetoric about ‘narratives’ on a phone briefing of reporters” that “inspired derision among serious foreign policy analysts here and abroad.” In another email he described “[Obama] and his political cronies in the WH and in Chicago are, to say the least, unenthusiastic about regime change in Libya or anywhere else in the ME. Why is that? Hmmm. Obama’s lukewarm and self contradicting statements have produced what is at least for the moment, operational paralysis.”

Once Blumenthal got his way and a no-fly zone was established, he pushed for a more aggressive posture by the U.S. in the conflict, including arming the rebels. To support his rationale to Secretary Clinton, he used sagging polling numbers. …

Beyond the pure politics that were occurring at this time, perhaps more disturbing is that at the same time Blumenthal was pushing Secretary Clinton to war in Libya, he was privately pushing a business interest of his own in Libya that stood to profit from contracts with the new Libyan government — a government that would exist only after a successful U.S. intervention in Libya that deposed Qaddafi. This business venture was one he shared with Tyler Drumheller and Cody Shearer, the authors of the information sent to Secretary Clinton. It is therefore unsurprising that somebody who knew so little about Libya would suddenly become so interested in Libya and push an old friend in a powerful place to action — for personal profit. …

“You should be aware that there is a good chance at the contact meeting in Turkey the TNC [National Transitional Council of Libya] ambassador to the UAE, a man you have not yet met, whose name is Dr. Neydah, may tell you the TNC has reached an agreement with a US company. The company is a new one, Osprey, headed by former General David Grange, former head of Delta Force. Osprey will provide field medical help, military training, organize supplies, and logistics to the TNC. They are trainers and organizers, not fighters. Grange can train their forces and he has drawn up a plan for taking Tripoli similar to the plan he helped develop that was used by the first wave of Special Forces in the capture of Baghdad. This is a private contract. It does not involve NATO. It puts Americans in a central role without being direct battle combatants. The TNC wants to demonstrate that they are pro-US. They see this as a significant way to do that. They are enthusiastic about this arrangement. … As I understand it, they are still working out funding, which is related to the overall TNC funding problems. Grange is very low key, wishes to avoid publicity and work quietly, unlike other publicity hungry finns. Grange is under the radar. Tyler, Cody and I acted as honest brokers, putting this arrangement together through a series of connections, linking the Libyans to Osprey and keeping it moving. The strategic imperative: Expecting Gaddafi to fall on his own or through a deus ex machina devolves the entire equation to wishful thinking. The TNC has been unable to train and organize its forces. The NATO air campaign cannot take ground. The TNC, whose leaders have been given to flights of fancy that Qaddafi will fall tomorrow or the day after, have come to the conclusion that they must organize their forces and that they must score a military victory of their own over Qaddafi that is not dependent solely on NATO in order to give them legitimacy. …

In addition to Sidney Blumenthal’s business interests, Secretary Clinton also apparently received classified information from Blumenthal — information she should have known was classified at the time she received it. In one email, Blumenthal writes “Tyler spoke to a colleague currently at CIA, who told him the agency had been dependent for intelligence from [redacted due to sources and methods].” This information, the name of a human source, is some of the most protected information in our intelligence community, the release of which could jeopardize not only national security but also human lives. Armed with that information, Secretary Clinton forwarded the email to a colleague — debunking her claim that she never sent any classified information from her private email address. …