If Hillary Clinton becomes president of the United States, she will undoubtedly bring with her to the White House her long-time trusted aide, confidant, and spinmeister, journalist Sidney Blumenthal. Blumenthal served in Bill Clinton’s White House as a special advisor, and was recently a staff member at the Clinton Foundation.
Perhaps the most noteworthy revelation coming out of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails from the time she was secretary of state is what they show about her relationship with Blumenthal. The New York Times report summarized it well:
In 2011 and 2012, Hillary Rodham Clinton received at least 25 memos about Libya from Sidney Blumenthal, a friend and confidant who at the time was employed by the Clinton Foundation. The memos, written in the style of intelligence cables, make up about a third of the almost 900 pages of emails related to Libya that Mrs. Clinton said she kept on the personal email account she used exclusively as secretary of state. Some of Mr. Blumenthal’s memos appeared to be based on reports supplied by American contractors he was advising as they sought to do business in Libya. Mr. Blumenthal also appeared to be gathering information from anonymous Libyan and Western officials and local news media reports.
Secretary Clinton wanted Blumenthal to come to the State Department with her, but — remembering how he orchestrated vicious attacks against Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign — the Obama administration turned down her request to bring him aboard. Nevertheless, while she was paying his salary for his work at the Clinton Foundation, she appointed him a special advisor to the State Department anyway, getting around the administration’s wishes.
As for the Blumenthal e-mails, Clinton forwarded his reports on Libya — where he had never been and about which he knew nothing — to others at State and elsewhere without identifying who wrote them. Most importantly, Blumenthal was sending out recommendations favoring those with whom he was involved in a prospective business deal.
Especially damaging was one sent in January 2012, about which the Times noted:
Blumenthal said that Libya’s prime minister was bringing in new economic advisers, and that a businessman, Najib Obeida, was among “the most influential of this group.” At the time, Mr. Obeida was a potential business partner for a group of contractors whom Mr. Blumenthal was advising.
Blumenthal was also one of the first to tell her that, according to Libyan officials, the Benghazi attacks were prompted by the obscure film Innocence of Muslims. A “’senior security officer’ had told Libya’s president,” the Times reported, “that Blumenthal reported that the attacks on that day were inspired by what many devout Libyan [s] viewed as a sacrilegious internet video.” Blumenthal added: “Some of the Libyan officials believe that the entire demonstration was organized as a cover for the attack.”
As we know, Hillary decided to go with the first version.
To those of us who have had contact with and are familiar with Blumenthal’s reporting, there is no doubt that he is incapable of being non-partisan or objective. Blumenthal always saw himself as a partisan fighter in the war against what Hillary Clinton famously called “the great right-wing conspiracy” — a term suggested to her by none other than Blumenthal.
To see what Blumenthal was all about in the ’80s, one must read Joshua Muravchik’s devastating review of Blumenthal’s 1986 book, The Rise of the Counter-Establishment, in which Blumenthal argues that a new conservative “elite” has been created and has built “an alternative presence” that, he claims, is more powerful and potent than the old liberal Establishment. Muravchick dissects the book, writing that it is nothing less than “an outburst, a formless outpouring of venom, bounded by no ethics of discourse, nor by logic, consistency, or accuracy.”
What it does show is that Blumenthal’s obsession with and hatred of those he brands “the Right” started in this era, if not before. And, as Muravchick shows, Blumenthal remains true to the New Left origins from whose ranks he started his political life.
Blumenthal would use any ammunition against her enemies, even if they came from conservative sources he hated. First, during the early days of the 2008 campaign, when Hillary was running in the primaries against Barack Obama, Blumenthal himself decided to use the work of various conservative news sources that were exposing Obama’s leftist background. Blumenthal sought to use this information in the hope of mitigating the damage that might be done by the release of information that showed Hillary herself was on the far left in her youth.
I wrote this up for the Weekly Standard in a column titled “Dueling Redbaiters: Which Candidate is the real Leftist?” I explained it this way:
Before you could say Comrade, Clinton’s close adviser Sidney Blumenthal was emailing out blog posts, articles, and reports from a wide array of conservative sources. Blumenthal’s missives went to “an influential list of opinion shapers — including journalists, former Clinton administration officials, academics, policy entrepreneurs, and think tankers,” as the left-wing activist and professor Peter Dreier reported on the Huffington Post (May 1).
Blumenthal sent out pieces from the ultra-conservative Accuracy in Media (AIM) –”With Obama, It’s the Communism, Stupid,” “Obama and the Fifth Column,” “Is Barack Obama a Marxist Mole?” — as well as items from more mainstream conservative publications, such as a Fred Siegel cover story from National Review, Fred Barnes’s “Republicans Root for Obama” from the Weekly Standard, and an older City Journal article by Sol Stern reporting Bill Ayers’s current role in developing a radical curriculum for K-12 teachers (“Ayers’s texts on the imperative of social-justice teaching are among the most popular works in the syllabi of the nation’s ed schools and teacher-training institutes”).”
This was shocking in its own way. Dreier noted that Blumenthal, the very man who coined the term “vast right-wing conspiracy” by circulating articles from the conservative media, was attempting to exploit “that same right-wing network to attack and discredit Barack Obama.”
The man would clearly stop at nothing to put Hillary over. But Blumenthal’s viciousness — which led those who knew his real character to call him “Sid Vicious” — led him during the time of the Clinton impeachment drama to go to new extremes. At that time, he served the same function for Bill Clinton that he did in the 2008 campaign waged by Hillary in the Democrat primaries. After Clinton’s tryst with Monica Lewinsky was made public, he painted the picture that it was Lewinsky who was the responsible party and had been stalking the president.
That led to a famous break with his once-close friend, the late Christopher Hitchens, who knew it to be untrue and detested both Clintons’ attempts to always blame his prey.
Paul Mirengoff explains more at Powerlineblog.com:
During the 1980s, Blumenthal became alarmed by the rise of conservatism as an intellectual-political movement. As a reporter for the Washington Post, he attacked those whom he viewed as in the vanguard of that movement, especially, it seemed, if they happened to be Jewish. Among his targets were Elliott Abrams (who, Blumenthal thought, didn’t take John Lennon’s death seriously enough), Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, and David Horowitz.
To that end, Blumenthal made an accusation that Michael Ledeen was responsible for a post appearing on Drudge Report, in which Drudge had accused Blumenthal of beating his wife. Blumenthal sued Ledeen for defamation, and he and his wife Barbara were subject to what any reader can see was a broad-based witch hunt meant to smoke out Ledeen’s political views, as well as scores of other personal and business matters having nothing to do with the allegation made by Blumenthal. Drudge eventually had to apologize and retract his accusation, which had no basis in fact. But Blumenthal used the accusation to go after the Ledeens — and possibly two-dozen other conservatives he listed as accomplices.
It was an opportunity to harass the Clintons’ critics, and to conduct a fishing expedition into the phrase he had given Hillary to use — that of “the great right-wing conspiracy.”
Michael Ledeen responded with an Open Letter to conservatives, warning others of what they would face when questioned by Sidney Blumenthal’s lawyers: the questions would deal with their views of Blumenthal, Clinton, and what one might have written critical of Blumenthal or the president, he warned. Ledeen noted that these forced appearances would be a chance to show how Blumenthal, contrary to his own claims, was anything but a defender of free speech.