The president of the conservative watchdog group Citizens United says it is “hard to believe” that Patrick Kennedy, the State Department’s under secretary for management, was unaware that Hillary Clinton used a private email server during her stint as secretary of state.
Last week, The Daily Caller reported that the State Department claimed that Kennedy, a 42-year veteran of the agency, was unaware that Clinton was utilizing the private email server as part of her off-the-books email setup. (RELATED: State Dept: Top Official Didn’t Know About Hillary’s Email Server, Even Though He Was On Email Discussing It)
State Department spokesman Mark Toner also said that Kennedy told the House Select Committee on Benghazi during an interview earlier this month that he did not know about the server.
But an email published last month by TheDC showed that Kennedy was involved in an Aug. 2011 email chain in which the server was discussed. And in that email, State’s then-executive secretary Stephen Mull so casually mentioned Clinton’s server that is appeared to not be secret among the upper echelons at the agency.
The apparent discrepancy should spark further investigation, says Citizens United president David N. Bossie.
“If Patrick Kennedy gave false testimony to the Benghazi Committee, the committee should send the FBI a criminal referral without delay,” Bossie told TheDC.
“I’ve seen numerous emails with Patrick Kennedy’s name on them in which official State Department business is being discussed. The idea he wasn’t aware of the scope of the private server’s use is hard to believe.”
Kennedy was aware of Clinton’s use of a personal email account. The emails that have been released by the State Department show numerous exchanges in which Kennedy emailed Clinton on her personal address, HDR22@clintonemail.com.
If anyone outside of Clinton’s inner circle at the State Department would be expected to know about the server, it would likely be Kennedy. As under secretary for management he oversees many operational aspects in the agency, including the departments that control IT and technology infrastructure. He also controls the office that handles Freedom of Information Act requests, which Clinton skirted by using the personal email account and server.
“The power behind the throne,” is how Peter Van Buren, a former foreign service officer and State Department whistleblower, described Kennedy in an interview with TheDC.
“In terms of the day-to-day operations…he probably is the most powerful person in the building,” Van Buren continued, adding that Kennedy “essentially controls the personal and professional lives of almost all of the employees in the building.”
Van Buren would know. The State Department moved to fire him in 2012 after he published a book, entitled “We Meant Well,” which was critical of the State Department’s mission to rebuild Iraq. The agency accused Van Buren of eight different policy violations, including the alleged disclosure of classified information in his book. State also pointed to a post Van Buren published on his blog in which he posted a link to information on the Wikileaks website. State had forbidden employees from linking to the site and had refused to acknowledge that the cables that were published on it were official records.
Van Buren claims that the information that came out in his book and that was linked to on his blog was innocuous. He says that the information published in “We Meant Well” was gleaned from published reports about the CIA’s support for Iraqi insurgents. Ironically, Hillary Clinton is making a similar claim to downplay accusations that emails that traversed her server contained “top secret” information. Clinton has asserted that the information in the emails comes from news articles.
“Bullshit,” is how Van Buren describes the apparent double-standard.The 24-year State Department veteran eventually came to an agreement with the agency and resigned in late-2012. He received full benefits but was stripped of his security clearance. It is unclear whether Clinton still has her clearance. A State Department official did state in a letter to Congress in September that Clinton still maintained the clearance. But the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email server appears to have ramped up since then.
But on Kennedy, Van Buren says: “When you control the planning, the money, the tech, the security, you have your fingers on an awful lot of powerful buttons.”
On that point, Bossie agrees.
“Many roads in this investigation seem to lead to Patrick Kennedy,” he told TheDC. “I’m hopeful that the FBI is following these leads as well.”