Hillary Clinton was warned that the Lebanese Islamist militant group Hezbollah might attack American diplomatic posts or banks in Latin America in 2011 by Sidney Blumenthal, her long-time confidant who, as a non-government employee, relayed confidential international secrets to Clinton from unnamed foreign sources during her time as Secretary of State.
Blumenthal's role as Clinton-whisperer has come under scrutiny since a US federal judge ordered the release of Clinton's emails in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by VICE News last summer.
The disclosures have revealed a raft of intelligence memos from Blumenthal to Clinton citing unidentified, "sensitive" sources with access to the "highest levels" of foreign governments providing intelligence on issues from Libyan security to relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Blumenthal also advised Clinton on US domestic politics, including on how to use photographs of the dead Osama bin Laden to the administration's advantage.
On Saturday, a new batch of 550 emails containing roughly 1,000 pages of email transcripts was released, including a copy of the Hezbollah terror warning sent directly to Clinton's personal email via the private server located in her Chappaqua, New York home in 2011.
In the memo, Blumenthal said "extremely sensitive sources" told him that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad warned the Israeli government that Hezbollah was setting up an operational base in Cuba. The base was "designed to support terrorist attacks throughout Latin America."
Israel was the main target, Blumenthal wrote, but "these sources believe that Hezbollah supporters have been instructed to also begin casing facilities associated with the United States and the United Kingdom, including diplomatic missions, major banks, and businesses in the region."
The sources told Blumenthal that "Hezbollah military commanders in Lebanon and Syria view these US and UK entities as contingency targets to be attacked in the event of US and British military intervention in either Syria or Iran, at some point in the future."
Blumenthal said Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, had been in direct communication with Cuban intelligence, and had promised "to avoid any trail of evidence that could lead back to Cuba in the event of a Hezbollah attack in Latin America."
In another memo, Blumenthal gave Clinton advice on how to use pictures of dead Osama bin Laden to political advantage, saying President Barack Obama could turn members of Congress into "liegemen bowing before him."
The Obama administration should show the pictures to members of Congress in a "special, secured room" instead of releasing them publicly, Blumenthal urged in a memo dated May 5, 2011.
"Having the members file through will provide testimony to the President's feat. They will be not only be acknowledging but also enhancing his power," Blumenthal wrote. "They will serve as witnesses to the magnitude of what he has done. Each of them will emerge speaking to the national and local press on what they have seen. Their words will be descriptive, but they will not be equivalent to graphic images that could be circulated themselves and have mischievous consequences."
Blumenthal attached a story from the Daily Beast entitled "The Rise of Osama Death Conspiracies," which discussed the theory that the administration's refusal to release photographs of Bin Laden's corpse meant the official story of his death at the hands of a team of Navy SEALs might be false.
Above the article, Blumenthal commented that the government "could have done more turning an absolute triumph into a PR fiasco. But I don't quite know how."
The State Department has been releasing Clinton's emails from her tenure as Secretary of State in batches since last summer, following an order from US District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras.
On Thursday, Contreras ordered State to release the rest of the emails in four batches — on February 13, 19, 26 and 29 — with the final delivery due on the day before Super Tuesday's dozen Democratic primaries and caucuses.
The State Department missed its original Jan. 29 deadline, citing an "oversight" of thousands of emails that should have been sent to other government agencies for review, and a delay caused by a snowstorm.
On Friday, Eric Stein, an attorney for the State Department, said the documents had been overlooked because the requirement to process a "large number of sensitive documents" meant that the department "did not have the time to implement best practices in terms of planning, tracking, and reviewing progress of interagency referrals."
The Clinton email release "has been a tremendous, unprecedented undertaking by a team that has worked to the point of exhaustion," Stein said in a filing, demanded by Judge Contreras last week, offering an explanation of how the delay had occurred.
"Every effort was made to meet the monthly production goals established by the Court while ensuring that any sensitive information appropriately exempt from release was not disclosed," Stein wrote. "I regret that this error occurred and was not detected and corrected earlier."
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