By Kent Clizbe and Paul Hair
Hillary Clinton struggles to justify the unjustifiable: her illegal use of a private email server while she served as Secretary of State and her actions and inaction during and after the Islamic terrorist attacks on the American installations in Benghazi, Libya during 2012. But few people have realized there is another story, reported on but under-analyzed, that could potentially be more damaging than both of these. And this story centers on how she ran her own private intelligence operation without the official consent or knowledge of the U.S. government. Mrs. Clinton appears to have violated the law by doing this. She most certainly damaged U.S. national security even more than what is already known and a special prosecutor should investigate to find out everything that she did.
Tyler Drumheller was a retired CIA officer who rose to fame years ago when he went public with allegations designed to hurt the Bush administration and its war in Iraq. Mr. Drumheller claimed that the CIA ignored his warnings that the intelligence it had on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program was faulty. His version of what actually happened has since been challenged by both members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and former CIA Director George Tenet.
Mr. Drumheller returned to the public spotlight in 2013 when it began to appear that he was involved in gathering and reporting human intelligence (HUMINT) for Hillary Clinton while she served as Secretary of State. That appearance emerged after the Smoking Gun, RT and other outlets published information alleged to be from emails that a Romanian criminal stole from the email account of long-time Clinton supporter Sidney Blumenthal. (The Romanian criminal went by the name “Guccifer.” His real name is either Marcel Lazăr Lehel” or “Marcel-Lehel Lazar.” Since there are differing reports of his correct name this article will refer to him as “Guccifer.”)
At least a portion of those alleged emails have since been verified to be authentic because the U.S. Department of State officially and lawfully released some of the emails that Mrs. Clinton sent through her private email server. And these authenticated emails prove that the appearance that Mrs. Clinton was receiving privately collected and reported intelligence from Messrs. Blumenthal and Drumheller was reality.
Some of the authenticated emails from Mrs. Clinton’s private server bear a close resemblance to real HUMINT reporting, complete with accompanying operations cables that partially describe their sources. For instance, here is an excerpt of a Sept. 11, 2012 email (obtained from the Department of State FOIA website) containing a Benghazi HUMINT report. (The email worked its way from Mr. Drumheller to Mr. Blumenthal to Mrs. Clinton. You can verify this by looking at the email forwarding history. Mr. Drumheller’s name is easily identifiable in his email ID and the email ID “sbwhoeop” has since been revealed to be an email ID that Mr. Blumenthal used.)
SUBJECT: Libya (37)
SOURCE: Sources with direct access to the Libyan National Transitional Council, as well as the highest levels of European Governments, and Western Intelligence and security services.
THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION COMES FROM AN EXTREMELY SENSITIVE SOURCE AND SHOULD BE HANDLED WITH CARE.
1. On September 12, 2012 Libyan President Mohammed Yussef el Magariaf told senior advisors that the death of the U.S. Ambassador at the hands of Islamist militia forces represents a threat to the future of the newly elected General National Congress (GNC) Government. According to a sensitive source, el Magariaf believes that the primary goal of this and other attacks on Western facilities is to demonstrate that the GNC cannot protect its non-Islamic friends. Libyan security officials believe that the attack was carried out by forces of the Islamist militia group calling itself the Ansar al Sharia brigade; working out of camps in the Eastern suburbs of Benghazi. . . .
In short, Secretary of State Clinton had organized and run a private HUMINT operation, with Mr. Blumenthal apparently having served as her de facto Director of Intelligence and Mr. Drumheller apparently having served as her de facto Deputy Director of Operations (DDO) . . . all without the U.S. government officially knowing about it.
Media Didn’t Initially Realize the Full Significance of the Rumored Operation
The media didn’t know if any of the stolen emails were valid in 2013. So while they reported on Secretary of State Clinton appearing to have received privately collected and reported intelligence when Guccifer breached Mr. Blumenthal’s email account, they didn’t focus on that story. Instead, most media reporting focused on the breach of Mr. Blumenthal’s email account, and how Mrs. Clinton may have knowingly lied with her claims that the “Innocence of Muslims” video inspired the 2012 terrorist attack on U.S. installations in Benghazi. These are important stories in their own right and the media have been correct in spending a lot of time covering them.
Yet even now many in the media still have not focused on this story. Some, however, have.
Media Begin to Understand the Significance in March 2015
The first signs that some in the media were beginning to understand that Mrs. Clinton had been running a shadow HUMINT operation began to appear in early March 2015 when the New York Times reported that Mrs. Clinton used her private email account for official business, and when the Smoking Gun published what appeared to be screen captures of the actual emails that Guccifer had allegedly stolen in 2013. On top of this, in May 2015 the House Benghazi Committee issued a subpoena for Mr. Blumenthal. These three news items helped generate renewed media interest in what Mrs. Clinton had been doing while at the Department of State. And a handful of media began to look at her private intelligence operation. And when they did, they produced article that provide quite a bit of information.
For instance, ProPublica and Gawker jointly published a story on March 27, 2015 called, “Private Emails Reveal Ex-Clinton Aide’s Secret Spy Network.”
And Monica Crowley of the Washington Times wrote at least two columns focusing on Mrs. Clinton’s shadow HUMINT operation (one in March and the one at the link in May).
Additionally, Mark Hemingway wrote two articles at the Weekly Standard that focused on it—one in March that expanded on the ProPublica and Gawker article, and another one in September that uncovers further information that hints that Mr. Drumheller may have been engaged in information manipulation for Mrs. Clinton as well.
Mr. Hemingway’s September article looks into how Mr. Drumheller was working for (or a consultant for) CBS News at the same time he was acting as the DDO for Mrs. Clinton’s shadow HUMINT operation. Read the article to get an idea of how much we still don’t understand about what Mrs. Clinton and her subordinates were doing and how much damage they inflicted.
But apart from these few and notable exceptions, the media haven’t focused on Mrs. Clinton’s shadow HUMINT operation. Yes, the media have focused on her failure in Benghazi and her subsequent attempts to shift the blame for that failure. And, yes, the media have focused on her using a private server to conduct official government business. But in general, there has been far too little media attention on the fact that Mrs. Clinton was running a shadow HUMINT operation.
And that is unfortunate because Mrs. Clinton’s shadow HUMINT operation truly was scandalous and damaging to U.S. national security.
Damage Done by the Shadow HUMINT Operation
Operation Bypassed the IC, Oversight and More
Mrs. Clinton’s shadow HUMINT collection and reporting operation bypassed the entire intelligence community, bypassed oversight (so Congress, the Judiciary and FOIA requests wouldn’t be able to learn what she was doing), was partially executed for political and business purposes (by politically connected former intelligence professionals and political operatives serving in the IC) and possibly carried out cover-up operations to serve Mrs. Clinton’s political purposes.
Operation Damaged NATSEC
On top of this, the U.S. government has already determined that Mrs. Clinton violated national security by way of transmitting classified information over unsecured private email system. And these classification violations weren’t some inconsequential administrative error. They had real-world consequences, with the U.S. government having officially acknowledged at least one instance of Mrs. Clinton having revealed the name of an intelligence source who is (or was) supplying information to the U.S.
Operation Relied on Unverified HUMINT
Furthermore, Mrs. Clinton’s shadow HUMINT operation meant that she was receiving human intelligence reports from sources that she couldn’t possibly verify or authenticate, and which Messrs. Blumenthal and Drumheller couldn’t do either.
Remember, the shadow HUMINT operation was collecting and disseminating intelligence reports about the 2012 Benghazi attack the day after it occurred. These reports contained information providing intelligence on both terrorists and the Libyan government from “sensitive sources.”
This means that Mrs. Clinton’s shadow HUMINT operation was relying on sources/assets in Libya to provide her with information about what was happening, who it could trust, and what her potential courses of action were for responding to the attack and deteriorated security situation.
A May 2015 article from the New York Times provides some insight into just how big a mistake this was.
The emails suggest that Mr. Blumenthal’s direct line to Mrs. Clinton circumvented the elaborate procedures established by the federal government to ensure that high-level officials are provided with vetted assessments of available intelligence.
Former intelligence officials said it was not uncommon for top officials, including secretaries of state, to look outside the intelligence bureaucracy for information and advice. But Paul R. Pillar, a former C.I.A. official who is now a researcher at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, said Mr. Blumenthal’s dispatches went beyond that sort of informal channel, aping the style of official government intelligence reports but without assessments of the motives of sources.
“The sourcing is pretty sloppy,” Mr. Pillar added, “in a way that would never pass muster if it were the work of a reports officer at a U.S. intelligence agency.”
Collecting and evaluating HUMINT is a time-consuming, labor-intensive and expensive process. There are a lot of things that professional HUMINT collectors and intelligence need to verify before they will certify they have solid sources/assets. For instance, a professional HUMINT collector must ask and answer the following questions: How can I verify my source has access to the information they’re giving me? How can I verify that my source’s information is accurate? How do I know my source isn’t being fed false information without him knowing it? How does my source’s information compare with what other sources (human and other intelligence disciplines) reveal? Is my source’s information timely and relevant? What consequences might come to my source and me for receiving and using his information?
In short, HUMINT is difficult to collect and evaluate correctly even when you have the money and resources that only can come from the backing of a government. It’s easy to be fooled even with this level of support.
With this understanding, think about how irresponsible it was for Mrs. Clinton to rely on the information being provided to her by her private, un-vetted shadow HUMINT operation. She had no way of knowing if the intelligence she was receiving from it was accurate. Some of it was accurate (such as the information that terrorists, and not people protesting over the “Innocence of Muslims” video, were responsible for the Benghazi attack) but then again, some of the rumors we all hear are true too. Other information that she received from her shadow HUMINT operation (and of which we don’t yet know about) undoubtedly was inaccurate.
Operation Warrants a Special Prosecutor
But the lack of attention on Hillary Clinton’s shadow HUMINT operation likely won’t last. Stories of the FBI investigating her along with rumors that she will eventually be charged have been regularly appearing in the news cycle since late 2015. And if she is charged, the public likely will learn a lot more about her shadow HUMINT operation and just how much damage she did with it. If she isn’t charged, there are going to be a lot of angry people.
Remember the hysteria over Watergate? That looks like amateur hour peccadillos compared to Mrs. Clinton’s massive shadow HUMINT operation.
People went to prison for Watergate and that was a third-rate burglary of a Washington, DC office.
Additionally, people have been punished for offenses similar to (or smaller than) Mrs. Clinton’s offenses.
Servicemen have been relieved of command for mishandling classified information. People have been convicted of mishandling and improperly storing classified information. And people have been fined and imprisoned for the same or related misdeeds.
So if Mrs. Clinton and those involved with her shadow HUMINT operation (minus Mr. Drumheller who died last year) get away with what they did, what does that mean for the concept of law and order?
It would be another devastating blow to what little there is left of it in the United States.
And in order to keep that from happening there is only one solution to deal with what they did: appoint a special prosecutor. (A Special Joint Congressional Committee wouldn’t be a bad idea either.)
A special prosecutor is required because of the political nature of the crimes, and because of the highly politicized Obama government.
The FBI is under direct pressure from the executive branch to do the politically expedient thing. After all, the Director of the FBI works for the Department of Justice, headed by Loretta Lynch. And she works for President Obama.
Hillary Clinton’s shadow HUMINT operation was worse than useless; it was horribly counter-productive and damaging to American interests. A special prosecutor not only would reveal all the details of that system—which would include the unofficial communications channel on which she received the reports—it would likely uncover as yet unimagined high crimes and misdemeanors by her and others.
Kent Clizbe (www.kentclizbe.com) served as a staff CIA case officer in the 1990s, and as an ops contractor after 9/11. He worked in counter-terrorism against Islamic Extremism in Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, and was awarded the Intelligence Community Seal Medallion in 2004. He provides Credibility Assessment and risk mitigation consulting services to businesses.
Paul Hair writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of national organizations. His books, Mortal Gods: Ignition and Winning through Losing, are available now. Paul also honorably served in the U.S. Army Reserve as an intelligence analyst and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Connect with him at http://www.liberateliberty.com/. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in hiring him for ghostwriting, intelligence analysis or other work.