On Friday night, at Pacific Research Institute’s annual Southern California dinner, Weekly Standard columnist and Fox News contributor Stephen Hayes told why, as a presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may already be Dead Woman Walking – yet he hardly touched on her email scandal.
Hayes reprised and elaborated on his Thursday Wall Street Journal op-ed (http://bit.ly/natsecurityfraud, written with Thomas Jocelyn of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy). In case you missed it, the article focused on the documents seized in Seal Team Six’s 2011 bin Laden raid. In addition to killing the al Qaeda leader, during their short time in the compound the SEALs swept up everything that their specialists could find that might bear on the terrorist network’s operations and plans.
Seized were more than a million documents on dozens of storage formats (thumb drives, cell phones, hard drive, DVDs, even papers). The commandos transported the cache back to the U.S. for processing and analysis. Except that, after a brief four months of study, the intelligence community received top administration orders to stand down. Don’t translate the documents, videos and other material. Don’t read them. Put them under lock and key and walk away.
Never mind that in those first few months of review, the materials had revealed a doubling of Islamist global capacity, first steps towards incursions into Africa (where on Saturday Nigeria’s Boko Haram declared it allegiance to ISIS), plans for attacks in Europe, a limited rapprochement between al Qaeda and the Pakistani government, and likely Iranian complicity in the 9/11 attacks. The administration didn’t want to hear the news or details that would facilitate future action again the terrorist network. Any of it.
The prime reason for the cease and desist order, Hayes suggested, was that the 2012 election campaign had begun. The president and his aides were claiming that they had defeated al Qaeda, a message captured in Vice President Joseph Biden’s slogan: “General Motors is alive and Osama bin Laden is dead.” In other words, the seized materials had begun to unveil a truth too inconvenient not only for the public to hear but for even the most highly ranked national security experts to investigate. Narrow politics trumped the most essential duty of high federal office, providing for the common defense.
In his remarks, Hayes put this data denial scandal in the context of other Obama administration denials – denial that the Fort Hood shooter, who shouted “Allahu Ackbar” throughout his rampage, was anything but a lone shooter; denial that the Boston Marathon bombers, whose flights to and from to Chechnya and training there were paid by jihadist elements, acted other than alone.
This is where Secretary Clinton comes in. It defies reason that she did not know that the administration had quarantined a breakthrough intelligence haul on the only enemy to have successfully scored multiple direct attacks on our soil since the War of 1812? What do those materials reveal about planned attacks yet to be launched? What could they tell our senators and representatives that might bear on Iran and the issues Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised in his joint session address this past week?
We have here a bigger scandal than the playing of election year politics. It is the denial to our national security professionals information essential to carrying out their – and the president’s, and the secretary of state’s – sworn duty to defend the nation. If Hayes is right, whether for political reasons or to play some deeper game, they have made the nation vastly more vulnerable.
How can anyone of any party win the presidency while carry the burden of such a legacy?