The Benghazi affair is beginning to shape up as a bi-partisan scandal — making Trey Gowdy’s life doubly difficult, of course. But the former prosecutor has been doing a bang-up job with his select committee, demolishing the mantra that there is “nothing new” to be learned about Benghazi and building a sober, far-reaching inquiry. Without Gowdy, recall, there would be no Clinton secret server, no Sidney Blumenthal trail, no new emails, and no upcoming testimony from Mrs. Clinton and her inner circle .
On the latter, Gowdy is holding firm, saying he will not schedule testimony until all relevant emails and documents have been turned over. This week, the House turned up the pressure on the State Department by threatening to withhold funding until the material is produced. Later, the full House could move to subpoena Mrs. Clinton’s server. Game on.
Gowdy correctly notes that the first Clinton email release is “self-selected” and self-serving — but still, quite revealing. Mr. Blumenthal — a man actually barred from a State Department position by the Obama team — is revealed as a key Clinton advisor, up to his neck in murky and dubious Libyan schemes. Mrs. Clinton herself is shown to be contemptuous of the president — Obama be damned, she’ll take Sid — and deeply involved in Libya policy. Key aides closely follow the media and political fallout over the Benghazi attack. Gems are buried, but you need to know the map and where to dig.
Perhaps most intriguing in the recent email batch is a one-line note to Mrs. Clinton from a top advisor, Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan. The subject of the September 10, 2011 email is simply “Rogers.” The note in its entirety reads: “Apparently wants to see you to talk Libya/weapons.”
“Rogers” is then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Republican. The email was unearthed at the deep end of the document dump and first noted in a piece by Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne of Fox News.
Chairman Rogers and other GOP House committee chairman spent a good deal of time opposing the formation of the Benghazi Select Committee. As Eli Lake reported last year, Rogers “warned his colleagues” about the committee. Lake reported that “the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Armed Services, and Government Reform committees — Reps. Rogers, Buck McKeon, and Darrell Issa, respectively — all opposed the formation of a select committee on Benghazi.”
Rogers abruptly resigned from the House in 2014 and embarked on a career as a radio and TV talking head. Around the same time, his wife, Kristi Rogers, quietly departed from a top position at the private defense contractor Aegis Defense Services, which had interests in Libya. Last year in the DC, Judicial Watch reported on Mike and Kristi Rogers and the Aegis connection.
“Both Rep. Rogers’ committee and Ms. Rogers’ company were focused on the Libyan security and intelligence environment in the months surrounding the Benghazi attack,” the story noted. “Both Rep. Rogers and Aegis pursued Libyan border security issues. And both Rep. Rogers and Ambassador Stevens were linked to efforts to secure Gadhafi’s arsenals … a high-stakes venture that involved both the State Department and the CIA.”
The new emails flash a few signals from Benghazi darkness. We can now add Mr. Blumenthal to the list of those focused on the Libyan security and intelligence environment. And as Herridge and Browne note, the emails also reveal Mrs. Clinton’s interest in arming the Libyan rebels using private security contractors.
The “issue remains so sensitive that the emails recently released by the State Department redacted a key line on the matter,” Herridge and Browne write. “But the unredacted version of the same email, released to the congressional Benghazi Select Committee and first posted by The New York Times … showed Clinton appearing to endorse the idea of using private contractors.”
The Clinton email, sent to Deputy Chief of Staff Sullivan, includes a Libya report from Mr. Blumenthal discussing “clandestine military support to the [Libyan] rebels” and noting that Libyan factions “are considering the possibility of hiring private security firms to help train and organize their forces.”
Mrs. Clinton sends the Blumenthal report on to Mr. Sullivan, noting: “FYI. The idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered.”
The timeline here is intriguing. Mrs. Clinton’s email was sent in April 2011, as it was becoming clear that Gadhafi could not hang on to power. Christopher Stevens had been named special envoy to the Libyan opposition — the same people Mr. Blumenthal was talking to — and NATO airstrikes had begun. The long knives were out and there were profits to be made in oil-rich Libya.
By August, according to the AP, “State Department and CIA officials” were working “closely” on locating Gadhafi’s weapons of mass destruction and shoulder-fired missiles known as MANPADS — particularly prized by terrorists and insurgents. State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, the AP reported, “said the State Department’s envoy to the Libyan opposition, Chris Stevens, was working with officials in Benghazi on how to take control over the yellowcake and chemical facilities and on destroying MANPADS as they are discovered.”
A month later, Chairman Rogers was reaching out to Secretary Clinton “to talk Libya/weapons.”
Mr. Rogers was at the time a central player in global intelligence activities. As a member of the so-called “Gang of Eight” — the eight leaders of Congress and the House and Senate intelligence committees — he would have had a hand in all highly sensitive covert actions. Did Mr. Rogers and Mrs. Clinton eventually meet to talk about Libya and weapons? Was “the idea of using private security experts” in Libya, as Mrs. Clinton wrote to her deputy, discussed? Was Aegis Defense Services — the private security company led by Mr. Rogers’ wife — involved? Was Mr. Blumenthal?
The Clintons, of course, have been much in the news lately for their apparent conviction that the public good and private profit often go hand in hand, usually through the Clinton Foundation and its various satellites. Mr. Blumenthal — a longtime Clinton insider — was on the payrolls of the foundation and associated entities at the time of his Libyan adventures.
As author Peter Schweizer noted in his groundbreaking study, Clinton Cash, the Clintons frequently “operated at the fringes of the developed world, often appearing to assist in facilitating huge resource-extraction deals that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The era of globalization has opened up a Wild West bonanza where profits can be made on a scale not seen since the height of nineteenth-century colonialism. The Clintons’ most lucrative transactions originate not in places like Germany or Great Britain, where business and politics are kept separate by stringent ethical rules and procedures, but in despotic areas on the world where the rules are very different.”
Mr. Gowdy has said he will interview Mr. Blumenthal, among others. He also should interview everyone associated with Mr. Blumenthal’s activities in Libya and scoop up the financial paper trail. As a former prosecutor, he knows the key question in any inquiry often is, cui bono? Who profits?
Mr. Gowdy also should interview Mr. Rogers. He needs to know what the Gang of Eight — Republicans as well as Democrats — knew about Libya operations and when they knew it. He needs to find out what the CIA was up to with the State Department in Libya and if Aegis Defense Services or other private contractors were involved. Critically, he needs to learn what Mr. Blumenthal was doing in Libya and if his employers at the Clinton Foundation were involved.
According to the spin from Mr. Blumenthal’s side of the story, he was in Libya on some sort of business/humanitarian mission, looking to build floating hospitals and schools. How Clintonian. And what a ridiculous lie.
Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch.