May 22, 2015

SHE WAS IN OVER HER HEAD AT STATE, NEVERMIND THE OVAL:

The unbearable lightness of Hillary Clinton's management style : Two stories about Hillary Clinton's tenure at State raise some troubling questions that will need to be answered at some point before November 2016. (Daniel W. Drezner, May 20, 2015, Washington Post)

[T]wo stories this week do give me some serious pause.

First, the New York Times' Nick Confessore and Michael Schmidt add some detail to an ongoing story about former speechwriter Sidney Blumenthal's access to Hillary Clinton during her time in the office.

[There are] a series of memos that Mr. Blumenthal -- who was not an employee of the State Department -- wrote to Mrs. Clinton about events unfolding in Libya before and after the death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. According to emails obtained by The New York Times, Mrs. Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time, took Mr. Blumenthal's advice seriously, forwarding his memos to senior diplomatic officials in Libya and Washington and at times asking them to respond. Mrs. Clinton continued to pass around his memos even after other senior diplomats concluded that Mr. Blumenthal's assessments were often unreliable [emphasis added].

But an examination by The Times suggests that Mr. Blumenthal's involvement was more wide-ranging and more complicated than previously known, embodying the blurry lines between business, politics and philanthropy that have enriched and vexed the Clintons and their inner circle for years. [...]

Every policy principal comes into office with a coterie of close friends and private advisers that can bend the principal's ear from time to time. It happened fairly frequently when I was working in government. As a result, an op-ed or private correspondence by a close friend gets pulsed into the system by a cabinet secretary that otherwise would have disappeared into the ether. This phenomenon is hardly unique to Hillary Clinton.

But the depth of this phenomenon might be unique to Clinton. I can't recall a private person being able to insert 25 memos into the system -- especially someone like Blumenthal, who was in no way, shape or form a Libya expert. And it's costly for a bureaucracy to shoot these things down, particularly when they come from the secretary. [...]

Even more disturbing, however, is the Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler's report on how Clinton's political staff at the State Department interfered with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests:

When Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, her staff scrutinized politically sensitive documents requested under public-records law and sometimes blocked their release, according to people with direct knowledge of the activities. [...]

There is simply no way to spin this as anything other than Clinton's staff contravening the rules of the bureaucratic game to protect her political viability for a 2016 campaign.

Posted by at May 22, 2015 4:04 PM
  

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