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Background Briefing on President Trump’s Decision To Withdraw From the JCPOA

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MODERATOR: All right, thanks everybody. So we are glad to have with us today two folks to talk about the President’s decision today to withdraw from the JCPOA. This will be on background, embargoed until the end. Our two speakers with us today are [Senior State Department Official One], and next to him is [Senior State Department Official Two]. And so they’ll start with a few comments and then we’ll take some questions.

I think – you’d like to start?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Great, yeah. Hi.

MODERATOR: Senior State Department Official Number One.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Hi. So I thought we would just start with a little bit more substance, going one level deeper. You all heard the President’s remarks; you saw the Secretary’s statement. So we wanted to put a little bit more meat on the bones and then open it up for questions and use the time the way that you think is most useful for you all.

So the sanctions reimposition that the President talked about is going to come in two phases. There’s going to be one period for wind down that lasts about – that lasts 90 days, and one period of wind down that lasts six months. The six-month wind down – wind downs are, by the way, pretty standard across sanctions programs. So this is not Iran-specific, but oftentimes when we either impose sanctions or reimpose sanctions, we provide a wind down to allow both U.S. companies but foreign companies as well to end contracts, terminate business, get their money out of wherever the sanctions target is – in this case, Iran. Because what we want – we don’t want to do is we don’t want to impact or have unintended consequences on our allies and partners. We want to focus the costs and the pain on the target. And in this case, that’s the Iranian regime.

So wind downs are pretty natural. In this case, we’re providing a six-month wind down for energy-related sanctions. So that’s oil, petroleum, petrochemicals, and then all of the ancillary sanctions that are associated with that. So, for example, banking; sanctions on the CBI in particular, because the Central Bank of Iran is involved in Iran’s export of oil and the receipt of revenues. Shipping, shipbuilding, ports – all of those sanctions that are related to both the energy sector and then the banking and the shipping or transportation of that energy will all have a six-month wind down. Everything else is going to have a 90-day wind down. So that’s – the architecture of the Iranian sanctions program was quite complex, but everything else includes things like dealing in the rial, providing metal – precious metals and gold to the Iranian regime, providing U.S. banknotes.

So there’s a whole kind of swath of other sanctions that are all going to have a 90-day wind down. In addition, within the first 90 days, the Treasury Department is going to work to end – to terminate the specific licenses that were issued pursuant to the statement of licensing policy on civil aviation. So Treasury’s going to be reaching out to those private sector companies that have licenses and work to end – terminate those licenses in an orderly way that doesn’t lead to undue impact on the companies.

The other big action that has to be done is the re-designation of all of the individuals that were delisted pursuant to the JCPOA. There are over – I think 400 and some odd were specifically designated for conduct, and another 200 or so were identified as part of the Government of Iran. Treasury – that’s obviously a big – it’s a lot of work for Treasury. Their aim is to relist all of those individuals and entities by the end of the six-month wind down. They’re not going to relist entities and individuals overnight, and – both for practical reasons, but also for policy reasons. If some of those individuals and entities were relisted right away, it would impact the wind down, right? So if we’re allowing a six-month wind down for energy-related or petroleum-related business, and then you designate – you re-designate tomorrow an Iranian-related petroleum entity, it makes null and void the six-month wind down that you just provided. So that’s all going to be done in a coherent way to provide a real wind down period.

So that’s kind of the – putting a little bit of meat on the bones of what it means to reimpose the Iran architecture, sanctions architecture.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That’s great.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Do you want to open it up for questions?

QUESTION: I have a question. Lesley Wroughton from Reuters. You said it’s not meant to have unintended consequences, but it does. Nobody’s going to touch Iran or – and immediately I think the U.S. ambassador to Germany just said to – told all German companies to move out immediately, so it does have unintended consequences.

QUESTION: Do you have guarantees from the Europeans that they’re going to go along with this? Or like they have with the Cuba sanctions, are they going to fight it? Do you know?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: So what we’re going to do and what we’ve already – since last December, when we started working with our European allies on both the nuclear file but then also the broader array of Iranian threats, we’re going to continue to work closely with them. We’re going to broaden that engagement. And like both the President said and I think the Secretary said in his statement, he’s going to lead an effort to build a global effort to constrain and to prevent, both on the nuclear front but then also on the ballistic missile front, support to terrorism and the – kind of the six or seven areas that the President has outlined as kind of the broad array of Iranian threats. We’re going to build a global coalition to put pressure on Iran to stop that behavior. That’s —

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And let me just —

QUESTION: What was the —

QUESTION: We’ve heard from the Brits –

QUESTION: Sorry, could you just respond to her?

QUESTION: I was going to say, I mean – go on, Matt.

QUESTION: We’ve heard from others that they not only are not going to —

QUESTION: Would you mind? I had the first question.

QUESTION: Oh, sorry. Okay. Yep, I apologize.

QUESTION: And they haven’t even answered it.

QUESTION: Yep.

QUESTION: If you don’t mind.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: So I just wanted to say that those are actually intended consequences. We do think that, given the IRGC’s penetration of the Iranian economy and Iran’s behavior in the region, as well as its other nefarious activities, that companies should not do business in Iran. That’s an intended consequence. And we thank our ambassador out there for reaffirming that message.

QUESTION: So all those companies that have gone in are moving out?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: We’re certainly going to encourage them to.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah.

QUESTION: Why —

QUESTION: And what if they don’t?

QUESTION: If they don’t, are you prepared to sanction German companies, French companies?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Those are discussions we’re going to have with the Europeans.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah.

QUESTION: I mean, you’ve been having discussions —

QUESTION: Sorry, just a point of clarification on that. That would begin after the 180-day period is over, correct?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: If it’s energy-related or banking-related. If it’s related to the provision of precious metals or gold or any of the sanctions that are being re-imposed after 90 days, then that would be —

QUESTION: So you are planning to sanction European companies, or you will have those discussions? Like —

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We’ve already started the discussions this afternoon, right. The discussions are ongoing and the effort is ongoing. Hopefully we will build – and this is the Secretary and the President’s desire and focus, is to build this global effort to put renewed and strengthened pressure on Iran. And that will include trying to isolate Iran economically.

QUESTION: Well, why not keep the structure of the deal and address these concerns on the side, as has been discussed for the last few months?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, I think as the President laid out, that the problem with the deal was that it reduced our ability to pressure Iran, right. It essentially cordoned off this huge area of the Iranian economy and said, “Hey, we know about the IRGC’s penetration of the economy. We know Iran’s doing all this nefarious, malign activities in the region. But because of this nuclear angle, which is only one aspect of Iran’s behavior – a critical one, but just one – you essentially can’t sanction these entities that are involved in all this other stuff.”

QUESTION: So wait, just – so the United States has basically no economic relationships right now with the Iranians, right? So there is no power of U.S. sanctions to prevent – in preventing U.S. economic activity. The only power that U.S. sanctions have is in preventing European and other economic activity, right?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Secondary sanctions.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: The secondary sanctions, correct.

QUESTION: Why get out of the deal until you know for sure that Europe is going to go along with that secondary sanction activity or whether you’re – they’ll fight you? Because if they fight you, you’re going to be in a worse situation vis-a-vis Iran than you are now and than you are previously, right? So you don’t actually know – you’re saying that the President’s going to start this global coalition, but you don’t actually know whether even your closest allies are going to be part of that coalition, right?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: The President made clear on January 12th that he was giving a certain number of months to try to – for – try to get a supplemental agreement with the E3. We didn’t get there. We got close. We made a – we had movement, a ton of good progress, which will not be wasted, but we didn’t get there. So he was clear January 12th that if we don’t get this supplemental, he’s withdrawing the United States from the JCPOA, and that’s what he did. That being said, you could even see that President Macron tweeted only a few minutes after the President finished his statement that France is eager to be part of an effort – I forget the exact words, but part of an effort on a broader deal that addresses the nuclear file but also —

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Syria, Yemen.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: — Syria, Yemen, and others. So you already see – you already see from President Macron a willingness to work on a broader deal; you see from the Saudis have also issued a statement supporting our withdrawal; the Israelis did as well. No one is saying this is going to be easy, right, but the President made clear his intention on January 12th. He made good on that – on that promise.

QUESTION: You don’t know right now whether you’re going to be in a better place or in a worse place; is that what you’re saying?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: No, we think we’re going to be in a better place.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: No, we know we’re —

QUESTION: But you don’t know.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We know we’re going to be in a better place because we don’t think that the current JCP – the JCPOA, as it is now, adequately protects U.S. national security. So —

QUESTION: Because?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Because it allowed Iran to enrich after sunsets, after those restrictions melted away —

QUESTION: In seven years.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yes.

QUESTION: And even then, not enriching to a level where they could build a nuclear weapon.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Listen, after – after the Israelis revealed what they were able to find —

QUESTION: All old stuff, all old – before.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Listen, it was – we have acknowledged for quite some time that the Iranians had a nuclear weapons program, but nobody knew until the Israelis found it, this well curated archive, the level of detail, right. And the – I think it reinforced in a very meaningful way that all of the Iranian statements throughout the negotiations and after were lies.

QUESTION: So the President said that we would impose sanctions on countries who helped with Iran’s nuclear program, but actually, you will reimpose sanctions on companies and countries that do any – roughly any economic activity, no matter if it has anything to do with nuclear or anything, right?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: In the buildup – in the buildup to the negotiations that led first to the JPOA and the JCPOA, we had an extensive architecture of secondary sanctions that started more or less with CISADA in 2010. We had to use those secondary sanctions very, very rarely. In fact, we only ever sanctioned two banks with secondary sanctions, Kunlun and Elaf in Iraq. The leverage that we gained from the secondary sanctions is what we used throughout the world with engagement to get countries to partner with us to build the economic isolation of Iran. That’s what we want to do again. It’s not about sanctioning foreign companies; it’s about using the leverage and engaging the way we did before.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That’s right.

QUESTION: When you say that the – when you —

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: This is a long-established practice, I mean, since ILSA in the late ‘90s, this is something the U.S. has been doing. Sorry.

QUESTION: When you say that the effort that you had in the negotiations with the E3 will not be wasted, will you be implementing any of that? Because I mean, it was the supposition that the U.S. would stay in the deal if these areas were addressed by the E3. The U.S. isn’t staying in the deal, so —

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: So we made a ton of progress on ICBMs, on access, on missiles writ large, on regional issues, and then we got stuck on sunsets, right? We didn’t quite make it. That work – we’re not sure. We have to – we’re starting those conversations with the E3 today, tomorrow, so I can’t – we can’t tell you exactly how it’s going to be used, but I can tell you it will be used. That work is not going to be wasted.

QUESTION: So you think they’ll go forward.

QUESTION: But if a ton of progress was made, then why not give it more time? Why take such a dramatic action that’s going to have you basically starting over from square one?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: The President made very clear on January 12th his intention. If we got a supplemental agreement before May 12th, he would consider it. We didn’t get there. He said this – on January 12th, he said that was his last time waiving sanctions. He followed through on that promise.

QUESTION: And what was the sticking point? Can you just sort of tell us what didn’t work?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: It was the one-year breakout.

QUESTION: The sunset program.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] DEEP STATE: Unnamed Sources Try to Undermine Trump Foreign Policy

APTOPIX White House Sunrise

 


[VIDEO] State Department Grilled on Why Obama Admin Abstained From Anti-Israel UN Resolution Vote 

Fourteen members of the U.N. Security Council raise their hands in affirmation of a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements. The U.S., which had veto power, abstained from the vote, thereby allowing it to pass. Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Zuma Press

 


[VIDEO] Reporter Laughs at State Department Dodge on China’s Influence on North Korea

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[VIDEO] State Deptartment Embarrassed During Debate Over Asian Countries Aligning With China 

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[VIDEO] State Dept Knows Nothing About FBI Reopening Clinton Private Server Case 

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And Now a Word from Hillary’s Doctor

xscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-12-36-36-pm-png-pagespeed-ic-epnhed9knyhrc_physician_letter6666603003272595841 Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] State Department Still Can’t Say When or If Clinton Received Training for Classified Information 

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[VIDEO] DNC Chair Brazile Totally Dodges Questions About Links Between State Department, Clinton Foundation

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[VIDEO] State Department: Iranian Harassment of U.S. Ships ‘Unacceptable,’ Escalates Tensions 

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[VIDEO] State Department Blames Criticism of U.S. Ransom Payment to Iran on…the Media 

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The State Department admitted Thursday that the US would not hand over $400 million in cash to Iran until it released four American hostages — two weeks after President Obama insisted the payment was not a “ransom.”

State Department spokesman John Kirby was asked at Thursday’s press briefing: “In basic English, you’re saying you wouldn’t give them $400 million in cash until the prisoners were released, correct?”

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“That’s correct,” Kirby replied.

In an Aug. 4 press conference, President Obama said the opposite.

“We do not pay ransom. We didn’t here, and we won’t in the future,” the president told reporters, speaking of the Jan. 17 payment and hostage release.

Families “know we have a policy that we don’t pay ransom. And the notion that we would somehow start now, in this high-profile way, and announce it to the world, even as we’re looking in the faces of other hostage families whose loved ones are being held hostage, and saying to them ‘We don’t pay ransom,’ defies logic,” Obama added at the time. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Reporter Calls Out State Department for Repeatedly Avoiding on Clinton Emails

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[VIDEO] Clinton On Benghazi Mother: ‘She May Not Fully Recall What I Told Them About The Video’

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[VIDEO] Kirby: We Don’t Know How Many Other Videos Have Been Edited, Editor Doesn’t Know Who Ordered It 

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[VIDEO] State Department: It Is Possible That Some Clinton Emails Could Have Been Classified When Sent 


GLOBAL PANIC UPDATE: State Department Issues Worldwide Travel Alert for U.S. Citizens

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“Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests.”

—  Statement from the State Department

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“Authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL/Da’esh return from Syria and Iraq.  Additionally, there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis.”

—  State Department warning

“…Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services.  In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali.  ISIL/Da’esh has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt.”

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Alyssa Zauderer reports: The department says all U.S. citizens should remain vigilant when in public places or using transportation.

Last week, ISIS released a video making threats against New York City. The video showed Times Square, Herald Square and images of terrorists wearing suicide belts. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Brutal: What They’re Saying About Obama’s Defensive ISIS Press Conference 


[VIDEO] The Syrians Have Arrived in New Orleans: No Women, No Kids?

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Justin Holcomb reports: Heads up America, Syrian refugees have arrived and they are here to stay.

Your State Department funds are being well invested in one-way tickets for Syrian refugees to New Orleans, Louisiana.

“As with former immigration crises and federal relocation policy, Louisiana has been kept in the dark about those seeking refuge in the state and it is irresponsible and severely disconcerting to place individuals, who may have ties to ISIS, in a state without the state’s knowledge or involvement.”

— Governor Bobby Jindal, in a letter to the president

Former FBI Special Agent-In-Charge Jim Bernazzani gave his opinion on the matter.

“If I was in charge of ISIL, logistically I’d take advantage of this situation and put my people in, into the United States.” 

Governor Bobby Jindal expressed his concerns to the president by writing a letter to the executive office….(read more)

[Also see – Jindal Protests Sending of Syrian Refugees to New Orleans – NRO]

[More – “Not welcome”: Unsentimental after Paris]

Source: townhall.com

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[VIDEO] Michael Bay’s ’13 Hours The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’ Official Trailer #1


[FLASHBACK] One Year Ago Today, May 22, 2014: White House Contacted YouTube During Benghazi Attack, Darrell Issa Says

“The e-mail shows the White House had hurried to settle on a false narrative — one at odds with the conclusions reached by those on the ground — before Americans were even out of harm’s way or the intelligence community had made an impartial examination of available evidence.”

— Darrell Issa

For ABC NewsJohn Karl reports: A still-classified State Department e-mail says that one of the first responses from the White House to the Benghazi attack was to contact YouTube to warn of the “ramifications” of allowing the posting of an anti-Islamic video, according to Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

[Issa’s full statement can be read here]

The memo suggests that even as the attack was still underway — and before the CIA began the process of compiling talking points on its analysis of what happened — the White House believed it was in retaliation for a controversial video.

[Sean Smith Condolence Memo Mentions Video]

The subject line of the e-mail, which was sent at 9:11 p.m. Eastern Time on the night of the attack, is “Update on Response to actions – Libya.” The was written hours before the attack was over. Read the rest of this entry »


CLINTON EMAILS RELEASED: ‘As You Can See, the First Batch is Full of Bombshells’

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Via Ian Tuttle, The Corner 


John Boehner to Hillary Clinton: Hand It Over

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WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner says former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton must turn over her computer server to a neutral third party.

The Ohio Republican told reporters on Tuesday that Clinton surrender all of her emails so an independent party can decide what was personal and what was government-related.

Boehner said there are no changes in the House investigations. A special select committee is investigating the deadly 2012 attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. The panel’s chairman says he wants Clinton, a potential presidential candidate, to testify twice. Read the rest of this entry »


New York Times: No Classified Emails by Clinton? Some Experts Are Skeptical

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WASHINGTON — Anyone who has tried to pry information from the federal government may have been surprised on Tuesday by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s assertion that in all her emails in four years as secretary of state she never strayed into the classified realm.hillary-tall

“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”

After all, a consensus of both Republicans and Democrats for many years has been that the government routinely hotairheadlineoverclassifies information, reflexively stamping “secret” on mountains of documents with marginally sensitive content. The government classified more than 80 million documents in 2013, according to the Information Security Oversight Office, which publishes an annual count.

“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email,” Mrs. Clinton said at a news conference on Tuesday at the United Nations. “I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] EXCLUSIVE: Preview of Hillary Clinton’s Address to the Nation

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[VIDEO] REWIND 2007: Hillary Clinton Complains about Secret Email Accounts

Hillary Clinton demonstrating her hypocrisy by complaining about secret email accounts in the Bush administration. Later she did far worse with her secret email accounts.

 


Americans Disappointed Hillary’s Email Scandal Doesn’t Live Up to High Standards of Sordidness Set by Clintons in the Past

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‘Hillary Email Story About to Metasticize’: Clinton Ran Own Computer System

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The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives

WASHINGTON (AP) – Jack Gillum and Ted Bridis report: The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Clinton’s emails – on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state – traced back to an Internet service registered to her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

“In November 2012, without explanation, Clinton’s private email account was reconfigured to use Google’s servers as a backup in case her own personal email server failed, according to Internet records. That is significant because Clinton publicly supported Google’s accusations in June 2011 that China’s government had tried to break into the Google mail accounts of senior U.S. government officials.”

The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton’s secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

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Most Internet users rely on professional outside companies, such as Google Inc. or their own employers, for the behind-the-scenes complexities of managing their email communications. Government employees generally use servers run by federal agencies where they work.

“The AP has waited more than a year under the open records law for the State Department to turn over some emails covering Clinton’s tenure as the nation’s top diplomat, although the agency has never suggested that it didn’t possess all her emails.”

In most cases, individuals who operate their own email servers are technical experts or users so concerned about issues of privacy and surveillance they take matters into their own hands. It was not immediately clear exactly where Clinton ran that computer system.

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“Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails.”

Clinton has not described her motivation for using a private email account – hdr22@clintonemail.com, which traced back to her own private email server registered under an apparent pseudonym – for official State Department business.

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Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton’s home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.

“It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches.” 

But homemade email servers are generally not as reliable, secure from hackers or protected from fires or floods as those in commercial data centers. Those professional facilities provide monitoring for viruses or hacking attempts, regulated temperatures, off-site backups, generators in case of power outages, fire-suppression systems and redundant communications lines.

A spokesman for Clinton did not respond to requests seeking comment from the AP on Tuesday. Clinton ignored the issue during a speech Tuesday night at the 30th anniversary gala of EMILY’s List, which works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.

It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches. Hoteham was listed as the customer at Clinton’s $1.7 million home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua in records registering the Internet address for her email server since August 2010. Read the rest of this entry »


State Department Concerned About Spying at Waldorf Astoria: Investigating Sale to Chinese

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The State Department said it is reviewing the sale of the hotel to Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group, and that it may stop leasing space for the U.S. ambassador to the UN or the General Assembly. Anbang is reportedly linked to China’s Communist Party, which has overseen a massive effort to use cyberspying to steal U.S. trade and military secrets.

The NYDaily News‘  reports: The sale of the Waldorf Astoria to a Chinese insurance giant is really bugging the State Department.

Grand plans by Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group “to restore the property to its historic grandeur” has some Washington diplomatic and security insiders wondering if the Chinese will be adding more than a view to kill for.

Officials said Monday they are reviewing the sale — and implied the glittering renovation scheme for the iconic Park Ave. hotel may mask a nefarious purpose: espionage.

State Department officials said they are reviewing the sale of the famous hotel to a Chinese insurance company with possible ties to the country's Communist Party. JUSTIN LANE/EPA

State Department officials said they are reviewing the sale of the famous hotel to a Chinese insurance company with possible ties to the country’s Communist Party.  JUSTIN LANE/EPA

“We are currently in the process of reviewing the details of the sale and the company’s long-term plans for the facility,” said Kurtis Cooper, a spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

The State Department said it may end a 50-year practice of leasing a residence at the hotel for the U.S. ambassador to the UN.

Evan Vucci/ASSOCIATED PRESSIt remains to be seen if President Obama (with daughters Sasha, left, and Malia) will continue staying at the Waldorf's presidential suite during his trips to New York City.

It remains to be seen if President Obama (with daughters Sasha, left, and Malia) will continue staying at the Waldorf’s presidential suite during his trips to New York City.  Evan Vucci/ASSOCIATED PRESSI

Also at stake is the department’s rental of two floors of the Waldorf during the annual UN General Assembly.

The White House declined to say if President Obama will continue staying at the hotel’s presidential suite during trips to New York. Every commander-in-chief since Herbert Hoover has stayed there. Read the rest of this entry »


Increased Violence Leads State Department To Issue Advisory For Americans Traveling To 1861

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“Events are developing quickly in 1861 and the potential for widespread violence is high, so we recommend that all citizens planning to visit that year exercise abundant caution and make proper arrangements.”

— State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Responding to reports of political turmoil and growing instability, officials from the U.S. State Department issued an advisory on Tuesday for all Americans traveling to the year 1861. “Events are developing quickly in 1861 and the potential for widespread violence is high, so we recommend that all citizens planning to visit that year exercise abundant caution and make proper arrangements,” said State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, strongly advising against any non-essential travel to 1861 and the broader time period of the early 1860s in general. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] State Department Briefing’s ‘Routine Matters’: Shepard Smith ‘Highly Inappropriate’

Good capture from The BlazeShepard Smith could not hide his disgust regarding how State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki began the agency’s daily press briefing on the heels of a Malaysian Airlines plane going down over Ukraine.

“Well this is just highly inappropriate I would say…”

Smith said. He was reacting to Psaki starting the press briefing going over normal business and talking bout elections in Afghanistan instead of starting with reaction to the breaking crash news.

[Also see – Video: Shep Smith incredulous as State Department opens briefing … by ignoring Ukraine plane crash]

“Each day the State Department has a briefing. Each day there are State Department reporters who are there, that is their beat, they are assigned to be there. And you get a long list of things that are going on over the world and then you get to ask questions…”

Read the rest of this entry »


Jen Psaki Preps For Press Conference

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The Hammer: ‘Clinton Flailed’

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From NRO:

Hillary Clinton’s interview with Bret Baier last night failed to win over noted columnist Charles Krauthammer. When questioned on Benghazi, Hillary Clinton flailed in response, according to Krauthammer.

Baier questioned Clinton on public statements made by the State Department announcing the cause of the attacks. Her answer, however, was “a flail,” Krauthammer said. “She had no answer to that. It was a pointed question.”

Krauthammer explained,

“Your own State Department is saying–Beth Jones, acting Assistant Secretary, Near East Affairs–telling the Libyans it was the terror group Ansar al-Sharia, and you, your State Department issues a statement that it’s the video. It’s a direct contradiction. She had no answer. She said you have to hold both ideas and then she goes off, but there’s nowhere to hide on this. And clearly, on the Sunday when Susan Rice goes on…(read more)

National Review Online


[VIDEO] Lovell Benghazi Testimony: “The military should have made a response…”

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“There are accounts of time, space and capability discussions of the question, could we have gotten there in time to make a difference. Well, the discussion is not in the “could or could not” in relation to time, space and capability—the point is we should have tried. As another saying goes: ‘Always move to the sound of the guns'”

From HotAir‘s Ed Morrissey:

…The House Oversight Committee heard testimony today from a man near the top of both command structures, retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell, who served as Deputy Director for Intelligence and Knowledge Development Directorate for AFRICOM at the time of the attack. Lovell insisted that intelligence knew full well that the attack on Benghazi had nothing to do with a YouTube video from the very beginning of the attack:

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Lovell also sternly testified that the US should have provided some kind of response when the attack began. Katie Pavlich reports on his testimony:

“The military should have made a response of some sort”

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Analysis: What the New Benghazi E-mails Show, and What They Don’t

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For National Review OnlinePatrick Brennan writes: Charles Krauthammer argued on Special Report tonight that the new Benghazi e-mails from the White House are a “smoking gun,” but that the media will plead that the scandal is too complicated, so the issue is dead. Alas, the scandal is complicated enough that Krauthammer is either mistaken about the facts of what he calls “a classic cover-up of a cover-up,” or he’s eliding the details for his audience”the CIA and the State Department assembled talking points pinning the attacks partly on the video, without any input from the White House.

“…the CIA and the State Department assembled talking points pinning the attacks partly on the video, without any input from the White House…”

An e-mail revealed today shows a White House official recommending that U.N. ambassador Susan Rice play up the importance in the Benghazi attacks of an anti-Islam YouTube video that was mentioned in an unclassified summary from the intelligence community (the “talking points”), in order to help burnish the administration’s image.  Krauthammer claims this demolishes the White House’s longstanding claim that “this stuff” — the involvement of the video — “all came from the CIA, or from intelligence, that it was completely clean.” What the batch of e-mails (most of which aren’t new, they can be read here) show is the opposite: that the CIA and the State Department assembled talking points pinning the attacks partly on the video, without any input from the White House.

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Then the White House told Susan Rice to argue that the intelligence community had concluded, on balance, that an exogenous factor (the video) had caused the protests, and that administration policy (in terms of the stability of Libya and the fight against al-Qaeda) wasn’t to blame here. Read the rest of this entry »


Washington Post Editors: Keystone XL’s Continued Delay is Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs

Obama is full of talk about cutting red tape on job- and energy-creating projects, but it’s just talk.

Obama is full of talk about cutting red tape on job- and energy-creating projects, but it’s just talk.

: IF FOOT-DRAGGING were a competitive sport, President Obama and his administration would be world champions for their performance in delaying the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Last Friday afternoon, the time when officials make announcements they hope no one will notice, the State Department declared that it is putting off a decision on Keystone XL indefinitely — or at least, it seems, well past November’s midterm elections. This time, the excuse is litigation in Nebraska over the proposed route, because that might lead to a change in the project that various federal agencies will want to consider. The State Department might even decide to substantially restart the environmental review process . This is yet another laughable reason to delay a project that the federal government has been scrutinizing for more than five years.

At this point, there is little doubt about the big picture. After two thorough environmental analyses, State Department experts determined that the pipeline’s impact probably would be minimal, even on climate change-inducing carbon dioxide emissions. The economic rewards of extracting Canadian oil are too attractive and the options for getting it out of the country are too numerous. We would rather see Canadian crude traveling a well-built, well-regulated pipeline in the United States than on the rail cars, barges and ocean tankers that will move it until cheaper options inevitably come online. Read the rest of this entry »


To the Surprise of No One, The U.S. Delays Review of Keystone XL Pipeline

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is extending indefinitely the amount of time federal agencies have to review the Keystone XL pipeline, the State Department said Friday, likely punting the decision over the controversial oil pipeline past the midterm elections.

“This decision is irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable.”

— Sen. Mary Landrieu (D)

The State Department didn’t say how much longer agencies will have to weigh in but cited a recent decision by a Nebraska judge overturning a state law that allowed the pipeline’s path through the state, prompting uncertainty and an ongoing legal battle. Nebraska’s Supreme Court isn’t expected to rule for another several months, and there could be more legal maneuvering after that. The delay potentially frees President Barack Obama to avoid making a final call on the pipeline until after the November election.

In an ironic show of bipartisanship, prominent Democrats from energy-dependent states joined Republicans in blasting the Obama administration for delaying the decision once again.

“The agency consultation process is not starting over. The process is ongoing, and the department and relevant agencies are actively continuing their work in assessing the permit application,” the State Department said in a statement.

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Republicans were quick to blast the latest delay in a review process that has dragged on for more than five years. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused Obama of kowtowing to “radical activists” from the environmental community, while House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the decision “shameful” and said there were no credible reasons for further delay. Read the rest of this entry »


$6 Billion Goes Missing at State Department

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For The Fiscal TimesBrianna Ehley reports: The State Department has no idea what happened to $6 billion used to pay its contractors.

In a special “management alert” made public Thursday, the State Department’s Inspector General Steve Linick warned “significant financial risk and a lack of internal control at the department has led to billions of unaccounted dollars over the last six years.

The alert was just the latest example of the federal government’s continued struggle with oversight over its outside contractors.

[Related: Government Blatantly Wastes $30 Billion This Year]

The lack of oversight “exposes the department to significant financial risk,” the auditor said. “It creates conditions conducive to fraud, as corrupt individuals may attempt to conceal evidence of illicit behavior by omitting key documents from the contract file. It impairs the ability of the Department to take effective and timely action to protect its interests, and, in tum, those of taxpayers.”

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[VIDEO] Goldberg: New Benghazi Report Puts ‘A Lot of the Blame Squarely on State Dept.’

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So Much For The ‘Year of Action’

Obama is full of talk about cutting red tape on job- and energy-creating projects, but it’s just talk.

Obama is full of talk about cutting red tape on job- and energy-creating projects, but it’s just talk.

FREE THE PIPELINE

Jonah Goldberg writes:  Welcome to the “year of action.” In last week’s State of the Union address, the president vowed to do whatever he must to help the economy, even if that means working around Congress: “What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still, and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

The White House has touted the fact the president has a “phone and a pen” and he’s not afraid to use them.

[The Tyranny of Clichés is now on sale in paperback.]

The president also vowed to cut red tape, and not for the first time. In 2013’s State of the Union, he insisted that “my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.” And in 2012: “In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects.”

All of this was in the wake of Obama’s 2011 executive order requiring the elimination of “redundant, inconsistent, or overlapping” regulations. The administration had hailed the order as an “unprecedented” move to boost growth. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal touting the order, the president wrote: “We’re also getting rid of absurd and unnecessary paperwork requirements that waste time and money.”

Laymen might have the impression that the president wants to cut red tape and take action on job-creating infrastructure, particularly oil and gas projects.

The fools.

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Keystone Pipeline Review Likely to Show Little Climate Risk

Protesters against the proposed Keystone pipeline hold placards across the street from where U.S. President Barack Obama was to hold a Democratic Party fundraiser, in San Francisco November 25, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Protesters against the proposed Keystone pipeline hold placards across the street from where U.S. President Barack Obama was to hold a Democratic Party fundraiser, in San Francisco November 25, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

The U.S. State Department is poised to issue an environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline that will likely say the project will not appreciably increase carbon emissions, sources said late Thursday, forcing President Barack Obama closer to a tough decision.

“We’re expecting to hear the same conclusion that we’ve heard four times before: no significant impact on the environment”

Rumors swept through Washington late Thursday that the long-delayed review of the 1,179-mile (1,900-km) pipeline to bring oil from Canada to Nebraska would finally be released as soon as Friday.

“The Environmental Impact Statement is in the final stages of preparation and we anticipate a release of the document soon,” a senior State Department official said late on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The comment gives a clearer insight into where the long-awaited assessment stands. One government official said the overdue report, part of a process lasting more than five years that has strained relations with Ottawa, would be released on Friday.

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