You have probably heard about it, but if you haven’t yet read the email exchange between Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines, Hillary Clinton’s personal spokesman, and Michael Hastings of BuzzFeed, you should read it in its entirety. It begins with Hastings asking legitimate questions about the State Department’s Libya fiasco. The immediate subject was CNN’s discovery of Ambassador Chris Stevens’s diary at the unguarded consulate in Benghazi:
A few quick questions for you. Why didn’t the State Department search the consulate and find AMB Steven’s diary first? What other potential valuable intelligence was left behind that could have been picked up by apparently anyone searching the grounds? Was any classified or top secret material also left? Do you still feel that there was adequate security at the compound, considering it was not only overrun but sensitive personal effects and possibly other intelligence remained out for anyone passing through to pick up? Your statement on CNN sounded pretty defensive–do you think it’s the media’s responsibility to help secure State Department assets overseas after they’ve been attacked?
Let me know if you have a second.
The exchange continued through several more emails. Hastings criticized the State Department, although not, in my view, unfairly:
From my perspective, the scandal here is that the State Department had such inadequate security procedures in place that four Americans were killed. And then the Ambassador’s diary–and who knows what else–was left behind for anyone to pick up. Thankfully, it was CNN–and not Al Qaeda or some other militia–that found it and was able to return it to the family. That CNN used portions of the material in the diary they found at the scene–material that appears to contradict the official version of events that State/WH has been putting out–is completely in line with practices of good journalism. …
The misinformation here seems largely to be coming from State and the administration. The defense that the administration has offered that there was no intelligence warning of an attack is weak. If there was no intel, then clearly the CIA and other intel agents stationed in Benghazi weren’t doing their jobs well. If there was intel, then we have some kind of cover-up–whether out of incompetence or ass covering before the election or just the trauma of losing four good men, it’s hard for me to say at this point.
The email exchange deteriorated rapidly from there. Hastings was the first to use a profanity:
Why don’t you give answers that aren’t bullshit for a change?
Which prompted this remarkably unprofessional response from the Secretary of State’s official spokesman:
I now understand why the official investigation by the Department of the Defense as reported by The Army Times The Washington Post concluded beyond a doubt that you’re an unmitigated asshole.
How’s that for a non-bullshit response?
Now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, have a good day.
And by good day, I mean Fuck Off
There was a little more, but that was the highlight.
There is an obvious irony in the Secretary of State’s spokesman–the diplomat’s diplomat–being reduced to this sort of profane, out of control spluttering, which one would normally expect from a left-wing blogger. One can only imagine–it is a cliche, but nonetheless true–what a sensational news story it would have been had such emails issued from Condoleezza Rice’s spokesman, or Dick Cheney’s. But the reality goes far beyond the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State’s meltdown. It appears that the Department itself is in disarray. First it failed to protect its own employees, including an American ambassador, against obvious threats which the ambassador himself, among many others, recognized. Then it tried to mislead the American people about the circumstances of the Benghazi terrorist attack, an effort that continues to this day, although Barack Obama admitted on The View today that what happened in Benghazi “wasn’t just a mob action.” Not unless mobs typically plan staged military attacks featuring RPGs, machine guns and mortars; but Obama was not willing to call it a terrorist act, either.
We can add the scandal of Hillary Clinton’s State Department to that of Eric Holder’s Department of Justice and many others that have accumulated over the last four years.