There's a new force in American politics. Hack into private conversations, hope for something embarrassing or criminal, and leak them to the press. Some come via Wikileaks, at least some of them stolen by Russian sources. Others come from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests or Congressional subpoenas. What they all seem to have in common is their target: Hillary Clinton.
From the 2010 State Department leaks by Julian Assange's Wikileaks to the latest release by the conservative Judicial Watch this week, we have a window into the minutiae of Secretary Clinton's correspondence with staff and colleagues. Thanks to the Russians -- who seem to have a particular interest in embarrassing Democrats this election cycle -- we have a trove of Democratic Party emails to pour over and now learn up to a hundred more Democrats' emails have also been hacked by Russia and will probably by released at whatever is determined to be the most damaging time.
2010 Hack of State Department Cables (Wikileaks):
In cables drafted by U.S. diplomats, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is described as an "alpha-dog," Afghan President Hamid Karzai is "driven by paranoia," and German Chancellor Angela Merkel allegedly "avoids risk and is rarely creative."(Washington Post, 29 Nov. 2010)However, this release did considerable damage beyond the above embarrassments. (250,000 cables)
2015 Subpoena of Clinton Emails (Benghazi Committee):
Nothing in the emails was particularly damaging, but controversy swarmed around the emails that were deemed "private" and destroyed. Suspicion that relevant information could have been destroyed. Also charges that top secret information passed through Clinton's private server, though we now know that some were later classified confidential but none at the time. (30,000 emails)
2016 Hack of DNC Emails (Russia/Wikileaks): The Washington Post examined the worst of the emails. Interestingly, all of them came from late April and May when it was already clear who the nominee would be.
On May 5, a staffer email suggested raising Sanders' religion as an issue. It wasn't picked up on and wasn't done.
On May 17, after controversy erupted over the Nevada state Democratic convention, Wasserman Schultz called Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver a "Damn liar,"
Later, "Spoken like someone who has never been a member of the Democratic Party and has no understanding of what we do," she said in response to a Politico story about Sanders saying the party hadn't been fair to him.
On May 3, Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias offered the DNC guidance on how to respond to accusations from the Sanders campaign:"My suggestion is that the DNC put out a statement saying that the accusations the Sanders campaign are not true"
On May 21, DNC national press secretary Mark Pautenbach suggested defending charges the DNC had undermined his campaign. Said Sanders "never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess." (20,000 emails)2016 FOIA Release of State Department Emails (Judicial Watch): While the Subpoena pulled emails from Clinton's server, these are emails to or from Clinton on the State Department server. Previously FBI Director Comey had uncovered a handful of emails to or from Clinton that were not included in the 30,000 turned over in 2015.
A single email has received most of the attention: one to a staffer requesting that Gilbert Chagoury, a wealthy Clinton Foundation donor of Lebanese descent, get to speak to the person at State responsible for Lebanese affairs. The staffer responded that the former ambassador to Lebanon would be the best contact. Yet there's no indication that the meeting ever took place. (Multiple FOIA requests; about 1000 pages)Still to come: Hack of Clinton campaign (Russia): We don't know what might be contained in these emails but, given Julian Assange's vengefulness against Hillary Clinton (who called for his arrest), we expect them to be released at whatever time is deemed most damaging to the campaign. Perhaps days before the election when they'll be front page news.
If we were a nation that valued law and privacy, we would be outraged over the thefts and publication of private communication. But we seem to be more a nation that values dirt. And yet, there is nothing particularly damning here.
What can we glean from these few hundred thousands of communications regarding Hillary Clinton? I glean one thing: she is very careful about what she says, as well she should be, given the previous investigations of the Clintons during her husband's administration.Or, like me, she's a lousy phone typist and has to keep messages short.