Emails released by the State Department on Friday show that Hillary Clinton’s longtime friend Sidney Blumenthal reached out to her on behalf of a former United Kingdom diplomat who was interested in “setting up secret channels between insurgents and governments.”
Clinton was receptive to the idea which came via Blumenthal from Jonathan Powell, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s chief of staff.
“Hillary, Jonathan Powell has launched a new NGO that has already initiated some very interesting work below the radar,” Blumenthal wrote in the March 18, 2012 email.
“Sid We are trying to replicate what we did in Northern Ireland by setting up secret channels between insurgents and governments and then, where appropriate, developing these into negotiations,” Powell wrote to Blumenthal.
“We have been very successful at getting this off the ground quickly and we have live projects in Nigeria, Colombia, Bahrain, Afghanistan and — bizarrely — North Korea. We are starting work in Syria, in conjunction with Kofi Annan, in Yemen, in Somalia and in Burma.”
Powell’s email signature shows that he is the chief executive of an organization called Inter Mediate.
According to its website, “Inter Mediate focuses on the most difficult, complex and dangerous conflicts where other organisations are unable to operate.”
“It brings together some of the world’s leading experts on dialogue and negotiation, who operate as a small and flexible team that fills a vital gap in the conflict resolution landscape. Through the facilitation of negotiation, Inter Mediate hopes to contribute towards a sustainable end to conflict.”
Powell co-founded the organization in 2011 after leaving a position with Morgan Stanley.
Clinton forwarded Blumenthal’s email to two of her aides writing, “I’d like to see Powell when he’s in the Building.”
It is unclear whether Clinton and Powell met to discuss negotiating with insurgents and what the plan entailed.
It is also unclear whether Blumenthal was paid by Inter Mediate to lobby Clinton. Clinton’s emails have revealed that Blumenthal did reach out to Clinton on behalf of companies that he had financial stakes in. One of those companies, Osprey Global Solutions, was interested in providing private security services in Libya after the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Blumenthal and the company were in favor of arming insurgents to accomplish that overthrow. Clinton also entertained the idea of arming insurgents, her emails show.