Advertisement
VICE News

Hillary Clinton Emails Reveal Iran Hiker Prisoner, US Journalist Referred to as 'Left Wing Kid'

Bauer, now a reporter for Mother Jones, was one of three Americans arrested while hiking near Iraq's unmarked border with Iran.

by Jason Leopold
Jul 31 2015, 8:15pm

Photo by PETER FOLEY/EPA

A new batch of Hillary Clinton's emails released by the State Department Friday contains an email from the former Secretary of State's unofficial adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, about journalist Shane Bauer, described as a "left wing kid" who was imprisoned in Iran in July 2009.

Bauer, now a reporter for Mother Jones, was one of three Americans arrested while hiking near Iraq's unmarked border with Iran. He and another hiker, Joshua Fattal, were detained in an Iraqi prison for two years and charged with espionage. The third hiker, Sarah Shourd, was released after a year.

In an August 3, 2009 email sent to Clinton, Blumenthal said he wanted to share some information about Bauer "that might possibly be helpful … if charges are made that he is somehow a spy."

Bauer is an "Arabic speaker who has a grant to write on Middle East issues. He has written not only for The Nation but also for Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, and most importantly, the Al Jazeera English website. According to [redacted] he lives in the region most of the time, was traveling with his girlfriend in Kurdistan, has an interest in Kurdish affairs, was on a hiking trip, and obviously and inadvertently crossed an unmarked border. He was not acting as a journalist at the time, though is a journalist—and a left wing kid," Blumenthal wrote.

Clinton did not respond to Blumenthal's email. Another email about Bauer and the two other hikers was sent in November 2009 in which Clinton's advisers sought more information about news reports that said they were charged with espionage.

Related: The State Department Just Dumped Another Batch of Hillary Clinton's Emails

Last year, Bauer filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the FBI, the CIA and the State Department to force the release of records and find out how the Obama administration dealt with his imprisonment. In a tweet, Bauer said the email Blumenthal sent to Clinton was not included in a batch of documents the State Department turned over to him "so [Department of State] is not complying with the FOIA law."

* * *

Blumenthal also sent Clinton dozens of other emails, including a "confidential" one about Afghanistan and the controversial troop surge announced that year.

"On the eve of the president's announcement on Afghanistan the Western alliance is near-broken. The obvious: Your trip to NATO will be the final call on Afghanistan. Whatever you scrap together there will be the remains of the day. There will be no more. The spare change in troops you pick up will be the close-out deal. The Europeans will be less amenable to contributions in the future than the House Democratic Caucus," he wrote on November 26, 2009. 

Clinton sought guidance from other outside advisers about whether she should support the troop surge, including from Mark Penn, her former chief strategist and pollster during the 2008 presidential campaign, who told Clinton in a blistering email that "any strategy that says fighting the taliban are not in the strategic interests of the us should be doa."

Clinton ultimately backed the surge.

Blumenthal also sent an email to Clinton in which he advised her to get behind then-Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that he intended to prosecute alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators in federal court in New York City.

"The NYU [New York University] Center on Law and Security, (where I remain associated as a senior fellow), has doen [sic] the work on terrorism trials, especially in NY," Blumenthal wrote. "The Center is closely involved with the NYPD terrorism unit; Mike Sheehan, whom you remember as director of counterterrorism at State in the [Bill] Clinton administration and at NYPD terrorism unit, is at the Center as a fellow."

It's unclear what Blumenthal meant by the Center being "involved" with NYPD's terrorism unit. A spokesperson for the Center was not immediately available for comment. 

Blumenthal then shared a fact sheet with Clinton about the successful prosecutions of terrorism suspects in Article III courts. Holder and President Obama, however, abandoned the idea and opted for prosecuting Mohammed and the other 9/11 accused before military commissions at Guantanamo after being pilloried by Republicans and some Democrats about the costs of such a trial and fears that it could lead to attacks.

The emails, which cover Clinton's first year as the nation's top diplomat, contain discussions about a controversy surrounding a speech about combatting sexual violence Clinton gave in which she said that rape was used as a tactic in armed conflicts in countries like Sri Lanka, which angered Sri Lankans and forced her staff to prepare a statement clarifying her remarks. Responding to an email Clinton sent in November 2009 praising his work, then-Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill described Iraqis as a "collective pain in the neck" and "I truly remain worried about people."

There's also an email Sandy Berger, former national security adviser during Bill Clinton's presidency, emailed Hillary Clinton on September 19, 2009 about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, referred to in the email by the kunya Abu Mazen. Berger's email, sent four days before President Obama's speech before the United Nations in which Obama said he would work towards a two-state solution, centered around Israeli settlements and portraying Netanyahu as an "obstacle" to peace.

"The objective is to try shift the fulcrum of our current relations with Bibi [Netanyahu] from settlements -- where he thinks he has the upper hand -- to ground where there is greater understanding in Israel of the American position and where we can make him uneasy about incurring our displeasure. Ironically, his intransigence over 67 borders may offer us that possibility to turn his position against him," Berger wrote.

He emailed her again on the eve of Obama's speech.

"Going forward, if Bibi [Netanyahu] continues to be the obstacle, you will need to find the ground from which you can make his politics uneasy," Berger wrote. "I think you can do that even with current concerns in Israel about US posture. But it will be easier as we rebuild trust so that our future admonitions are accepted. (An HRC trip there to reframe perceptions?). Finally, need to be mindful of Abu Mazen's politics. Taking a lot of criticism for meeting with Bibi without settlement freeze."

Hundreds of the newly released emails are heavily redacted and portions of at least 37 were retroactively classified on grounds that it contains national security information. A cursory review of the more than 1,356 documents does not immediately reveal anything that would rise to the level of controversy. Instead, the emails show that her advisers regularly informed Clinton about what the media had written about her and what the public was saying about her.

Indeed, hundreds of emails contain copies of news stories sent to the Democratic presidential candidate, including one sent on November 5, 2009 from her former spokesman Philippe Reines, who shared the "gorgeous cover" of an issue of Time magazine that featured Clinton on the cover.

An email sent to Clinton by her assistant Huma Abedin under the subject line "For the Record" said, "The only thing anyone yelled at you was 'WE LOVE YOU HILLARY.'" The email likely refers to a speech Clinton gave.

Another email sent to Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills praised Clinton's "boogieing" skills after a video of her dancing emerged during a tour of Africa emerged. 

"Secretary of Awesome ... Which is how the attached you tube video of you boogieing (quite well by the way) at Canivore. You shake your tail feathers girl!" Mills wrote.

Ironically, one email also shows Clinton requesting a book by author David Shipley titled: "Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better."