People wonder why Hillary Clinton communicated via a private email server. The answer is obvious: She wanted to communicate with friends and family about the world situation -- and about private matters -- without having to share those communications with any oppo researcher waving an FOIA request.
No, her intent was not
to share classified information. Why on earth would she want to do that? As we've seen, none of that stuff was classified at the time.
Even the Obama administration's retroactive
overclassification campaign has made clear that none of the "sensitive" info came from intelligence sources. We've known for a long time that this infamously secretive administration could put a classification stamp on a ham sandwich.
Much of what you've been hearing about emailgate is garbage: "Hillary exposes classified materials! She did it because she's arrogant! Arrogant arrogant arrogant! Clintons think they're above the law!"
Propaganda. All of it. The only thing it proves is that trolls will type if you toss a few quarters at them.
Hillary's email system existed to give confidantes -- not least among them Sid Blumenthal -- a chance to express themselves freely: Shoes off, tie loosened, belt unbuckled and no snoops
Or so they thought.
As I predicted would happen, the name of Max Blumenthal (Sidney's son, and the world's most effective critic of Israel) has popped up in this controversy. In one of the emails, Hillary praises Max's first book, Republican Gomorrah
. Although that book is not about Israel, the email establishes that Hillary considers Max to be worth reading. She probably has
, although she will never admit it.
, we learn that...
[Sidney] Blumenthal had lots of frustrations with Israel, in particular Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He forwarded opinion pieces critical of the Israeli leader and government, some of which were written by his son, Max Blumenthal.
In one email with the subject line “an idea, perhaps useless, but nonetheless,” Blumenthal argues that the U.S. may want to reveal its own position on the latest attempt at peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, one that “should incorporate at its heart what the Israeli government has already agreed to in the final status negotiations at Camp David, along, of course, with certain adjustments and amendments" to account for the past 10 years in terms of boundaries, etc.
The upshot? “This puts the burden on Bibi [Netanyahu] to repudiate [former Israeli Premier Ehud] Barak in principles and details if he pushes back, splitting his coalition, and appearing to be the rejectionist. Also it makes the U.S. seem utterly reasonable...” Blumenthal writes.
Sid may keep his true feelings hidden in public, but the emails reveal that he is not exactly fond of Bibi Netanyahu. Although this anti-Bibi stance is shared by many other American Jews, it is considered Thoughtcrime in DC.
Moreover -- and this is the sweetly shocking part -- Sidney Blumenthal obviously thinks that his message will fall on receptive ears when transmitted to Hillary Clinton. Example:
Re: AIPAC speech
This memo does not address specific policy initiatives. What I've written are options. Use what you like, or none at all. Here are some ideas:
1. Hold Bibi's feet to the fire, remind everyone he was at Wye, his key participant event in the peace process, and that it was successful.
2. Reassure all players of our commitment to the process and the solution (whatever the language is).
3. Perhaps most controversial, I would argue something you should do is that, while praising AIPAC, remind it in as subtle but also direct a way as you can that it does not have a monopoly over American Jewish opinion. Bibi is stage managing US Jewish organizations (and neocons, and the religious right, and whomever else he can muster) against the administration. AIPAC itself has become an organ of the Israeli right, specifically Likud. By acknowledging J Street you give them legitimacy, credibility and create room within the American Jewish community for debate supportive of the administration's pursuit of the peace process. Just by mentioning J Street in passing, AIPAC becomes a point on the spectrum, not the controller of the spectrum. I suggest a way how to do this below.
The elder Blumenthal also emphasized the surprising results of recent polling of American Jews:
March 23, 2010
Re: US Jewish and Israeli public opinion
Three new polls released: from AVO07 (all US), J Street (US Jews), and Ha'aretz (Israelis). I've sent Lauren the whole J Street poll to print out for you; its internals are the most detailed, relevant and suggestive. My reading of that poll is that the administration is in a pretty good spot with US Jewish opinion and that the drag (about 10 points, I think) has less to do with the Middle East and Israel than with the economy. Jewish opinion is far more solidly supportive of the administration generally than the general population (except minorities). Those adamantly opposed to the administration stance on Israel are preconceived to be against; they are predictable, a minority of the US Jewish community and have reached their natural limits. The institutional US Jewish position backing Bibi and against the administration does not have majority support among Jews.
When Blumenthal wrote these words, he did not expect the messages to be leaked.
So how did the leak come about?
Whodunnit, and why?
Ostensibly, the leak first came to us by way of a Romanian cab driver named Marcel Lehel, a.k.a. Guccifer, the same fellow who revealed Dubya's oil paintings to the world. Lehel is a nutcase who thinks that Dubya is a Klansman and that Sidney Blumenthal is a secret neocon.
More importantly, the guy -- by his own admission -- isn't much of a hacker. High-level hacking requires high-level smarts, and Lehel has a whole bunch of loose nuts and bolts and springs rattling around his noggin. So how did this conspira-kook skulk his way into the secret communications of George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton?
I think he had help.
help. So secret that even Lehel didn't know about it.
It would have been child's play for those lovable scamps at Unit 8200 or the NSA or GCHQ to commandeer Lehel's computer. They could stay hidden as they arranged for Lehel get "in" -- all the while allowing him to think that he was doing the job all by himself
Here's how the NYT
described Lehel in action:
Instead of burrowing into his victims’ email accounts using computer worms and other hacking tools, the prosecutor said, Mr. Lazar trawled the web for information about his targets and then simply guessed the right answers to security questions.
There are several problems with this claim, but we need not go into those issues here. My point is this: Unseen helpers could have allowed Lehel to slip into the secret places of George and Hillary, and Lehel did not even need to guess that the correct passphrases were "ImTheBestestPainterSinceAdolf" and "DieMonicaDie."
Lehel was the perfect cyber-patsy.
The purpose of this operation is clear: To humiliate Hillary by exposing the Blumenthal correspondence. (The Dubya infiltration was unimportant, except insofar as it establishes that the hack was non-partisan.)
I have little doubt that the spooks were reading Sidney's emails to Hillary in real time, back in 2009. The problem was figuring out a way to let the world know about those messages without also revealing that spooks read the private emails of American politicians.
It's not just a matter of hurting Hillary Clinton's public image, although this country's right wing will never miss an opportunity to do just that. The main purpose of this operation is to thin her wallet.
To illustrate the point, let me run one name past you: Haim Saban.
He's the ardently pro-Netanyahu billionaire who has been backing Hillary, and who has advised his wealthy friends to do likewise. How do you think Haim reacted when he read those letters from Sidney?
In July, Hillary felt obligated to send a letter to Saban outlining her opposition to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel -- a movement which Max Blumenthal has embraced. I believe that she was trying to minimize the damage of those email leaks.
Even if she wrote another dozen letters of that sort, the damage has been done. I doubt that Saban will ever cut Hillary another check. You can have Haim Saban as a friend or you can have Max Blumenthal's dad as your friend -- but not both. That's the way the world is.
Moreover, it is fair to presume that the Kagan clan is now reconsidering its support of Hillary.
Of course, the Blumenthal correspondence makes me like Hillary more
. Alas, I do not have a billion dollars. Sorry, Hillary!