Is Hillary Clinton Sane?

                                                                             by

                                                                    Leslie U. Harris

 

In the spring of 1992 I “met” Hillary Rodham Clinton. A broadcast journalist was interviewing her husband, then the governor of Arkansas. Bill had just announced he would be entering the primaries for the Democratic presidential nomination and Hillary and Bill were sitting on a sofa in the governor's mansion holding hands. The reporter asked her husband about the claim by a woman named Gennifer Flowers that she and Bill had an affair years earlier. Bill lied about it, I later learned, but I didn't really care. His private life was his own and, besides, what did his private life have to do with his public life. But at this point Hillary broke into the conversation, “I'm not sitting here some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette,” she drawled in her best Southern accent, referring to the hit recording by the country music star. (Wynette responded the next day that she resented Hillary's “caustic remark” and Hillary later apologized.)

At the time I thought, “A nice Southern lady,” as I listened to her broad Southern speech. Shortly thereafter I found out she was born in Chicago, as I was, and grew up in Park Ridge, Illinois, 10 miles from where I grew up. In northern Illinois I never heard a Southern dialect, except in the movies or on TV, until I went to college.

When Bill won the Presidency in November against incumbent President George H.W. Bush, thanks to the third party candidacy of Ross Perot who siphoned off 19 per cent of the vote (Bill got only 43 per cent of the popular vote in the general election), Hillary became the First Lady of the United States. As the wife of the President she took an active role in the politics of the White House. But as I and the nation soon discovered, she was a “congenital liar.”

This term was first applied to her by the late William Safire of The New York Times in 1996. (I would never use that phrase because it would insult her parents.) Safire was not talking about the trivial, harmless lies she told - for example, about her name. She said she was named for Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Mt. Everest. The only problem was - she was born in 1947 and Sir Edmund conquered Mt. Everest in 1953. Before that he was an obscure New Zealand beekeeper who climbed the mountains of his native land on weekends. Why would she tell such an obvious lie?

Some traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which I described in a previous post when talking about Donald Trump (see Archive: Is Donald Trump Sane?), also apply to Hillary Clinton. She does not exhibit all of them, nor to such a marked degree, but she does present many symptoms. Let us count the ways:

  • Contradictory statements;

  • never-ending lying;

  • the belief that rules which apply to others do not apply to her;

  • a sense of entitlement and inflexible demands for unquestioning obedience;

  • an inability to assess the consequences of her actions.

These are serious character flaws, and to these must be added one more – corruption without conscience. Let's review Hillary's record.

The kind of lies Safire was referring to involved substantive lies regarding political and financial dealings. Now let's be clear about such a serious charge. We are all aware that people may make statements they believe to be true, even though they later prove to be false. These are not lies. They are sincerely held beliefs, and until shown to be untrue we continue to believe in their veracity. No, we are talking about situations where the speaker is aware that something is untrue but continues to assert it, defend it, even double down on it. That is a lie - it is knowingly false. Like Hillary's statement about her name, most lies are harmless because they hurt no one. But sometimes a lie is used to cover up something of importance - or hide a crime.

Take, for instance, her amazing record in commodities trading. In 1979 when she was the Governor's wife she opened a commodities account with $1000 when regulations required that the minimum to open an account was $5000. Within six months she had turned the value of her account into $100,000, a 10,000 percent profit. A math professor at Berkeley later calculated that the odds of accomplishing such an astonishing feat were over a trillion to one. When asked by the press about her remarkable prowess at trading commodities, an activity she had never engaged in before, she said that she read The Wall Street Journal.

But she failed to mention that a major chicken processor in Arkansas was facing a $6 million fine from the state environmental protection agency for dumping chicken blood into a nearby stream. She forgot to say that the processor's chief counsel had worked at the same law firm in Little Rock when she had been there and was now running her account. And she was silent about this: The chicken processor engaged in hedging operations, that is, it bought commodity futures contracts in advance of when it needed corn to fatten the chickens until they were ready for slaughter, thus locking in the price. Naturally, some of these trades were profits and some were losses. With the aid of an unscrupulous broker who was about to retire, the profitable trades were allocated to her account while the losses went to the chicken processor. Thus, $100,000 was secretly transferred from the processor's account to Hillary's. The processor had to pay just a $50,000 slap-on-the-wrist fine to the state agency (for a total of $150,000) instead of the $6 million penalty it was facing - all while her husband was the governor who had appointed the agency's board and held the power to fire them. The bribe was well concealed. If Hillary had stated the truth she would have had to confess that she had profited corruptly at the expense of the citizens of Arkansas. It would have been the admission of a crime.

Then there was the claim she made in a speech while campaigning for president on March 17, 2008. She was describing her visit to Bosnia with her daughter Chelsea on March 25, 1996. “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.” Never mind that the Bosnian War had ended three months earlier with the Dayton Accords and there was no more fighting, nor that she was actually landing at a heavily fortified U.S. Air Force base which her husband, the President, had visited just two months before. But according to Hillary, there she was, our intrepid First Lady, sent by our President with their only child into a war zone, bravely dodging bullets, her 16 year old daughter by her side, highlighting her dauntless courage.

The only problem is, it never happened. Mrs. Clinton calmly walked off the military plane with daughter Chelsea close behind and was warmly greeted by various dignitaries, the general in charge of U.S. Forces in Bosnia and a group of Bosnian children who presented her with floral bouquets (tranquilly scooped up by her aides) while an eight year old Bosnian girl read a poem in English. Mrs. Clinton paused and listened politely, smiling as she accepted a bouquet, then bent down, kissed the child on the cheek and casually walked to the hanger where she was greeted by other dignitaries. And all the while, as always happens with the First Lady (no matter who she is), the news cameras were rolling and a microphone boom was being held over her head to catch Mrs. Clinton's every word. Didn't she notice?

Why would she tell such a stupid lie? The answer is, for Hillary Rodham Clinton the line between what she imagines and objective reality is blurred. She cannot clearly distinguish between what is real and what is not. She cannot confront a world where not everyone values her as a woman of considerable abilities (which, in fact, she has), either because they are prejudiced against her as a female or because she has had to walk in the shadow of a husband with undoubted political skills, or both. So she invents a universe that conforms to her self-image and not to the facts. Thus, lying becomes a way of life compounded by constant attempts to cover up misdeed after misdeed, and one lie leads to the next in a virtual cascade of falsehoods. Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted with the next dangerous moment because she will misjudge it and then lie about her errors. Nor can she be relied upon to distinguish the sharp line which separates public service from self-interest. In other words, she has no conscience; what is good for Hillary is all that counts. And this character flaw is incurable because she will not admit to having it.

“But that was then, this is now,” her supporters will protest, while denying what she did or said, though these matters were well-documented. Again, let's look at her record.

When the Crown Prince of Bahrain, that country's next-in-line as head-of-state, requested a last-minute meeting with Secretary of State Clinton while he was visiting Washington in June, 2009, Clinton was hesitant to commit, according to an email discovered by the FBI in the in-box of Huma Abedin, Clinton's deputy chief-of-staff. Bahrain is an important American ally: the U.S. naval fleet in the Persian Gulf is stationed there. But Bahrain is also a violator of basic human rights, having violently suppressed internal voices of peaceful protest.

So the Crown Prince approached an official with the Clinton Foundation who in turn reached out to Abedin. She promptly arranged the meeting with the Secretary through normal government-to-government channels. The Kingdom of Bahrain had previously donated between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation and Bahrain Petroleum gave an additional $25,000 to $50,000, but that was four years earlier when Hillary was still a senator.

After this meeting in 2009 Clinton approved arms sales to Bahrain (approval by the Secretary of State is required by law) of $630 million between 2010 and 2012, an increase of 187 percent over the period 2006 to 2008. Bahrain subsequently suppressed dissenters using some of these weapons, which Clinton condemned in Cairo in June, 2011: “We deplore the use of force against demonstrators and we deplore the use of force by demonstrators. We want a peaceful resolution." A peaceful resolution would have been far more possible had Bahrain not used weapons supplied by the United States upon its own citizens.

What is particularly troubling, however, is that after Clinton's meeting with the Crown Prince in 2009, he donated $32 million to the Clinton Global Initiative, an arm of the Clinton Foundation since 2005. Coincidence or corruption? We simply don't know (other than it took place, from the Secretary's appointments calendar) because the official State Department record of the content of this meeting has mysteriously "disappeared," along with over 33,000 “personal” emails Hillary had her lawyers delete from her private server while they were the subject of a Congressional investigation and subpoena seeking to examine these federal documents. How did she generate 33,000 "personal" emails in just four years - more than 22 a day - while she was working full-time as America's chief diplomat? None of the thousands of "personal" emails so far released by Wikileaks even remotely mentions weddings, church dinners or yoga classes. All are work-related federal government documents protected by law.

Another disturbing case is that of the “Russian reset.” This was a major policy initiative by the Obama Administration, led by the Secretary of State, to improve relations between the United States and Russia, a seemingly laudable goal, though just five months after Russia invaded the Crimea. According to The New York Times, several high-level officials privately expressed doubts about the reset and were concerned that it was overly optimistic, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle and even Secretary Clinton herself.

As part of the reset, the U.S. agreed to help Russia develop a high technology center just outside Moscow called Skolkovo, Russia's own version of Silicon Valley. The Skolkovo Foundation was established specifically to attract American high-tech companies. Cisco, Google, Intel and Microsoft were among the first to sign on to the project. But unlike entrepreneurial Silicon Valley, Skolkovo was dominated by Russian government operatives. At the urging of Secretary Clinton, Russian President Dimitri Medvedev visited Silicon Valley June 22-24, 2010, accompanied by Clinton and California Governor and former movie star Arnold Schwartzenegger. As he left, Medvedev turned to Schwartzenegger and repeated a line from the action film Terminator 2: “Hasta la vista, baby. I'll be back” The Russian President meant it in more ways than one.

Companies participating in Skolkovo were to receive special tax treatment and access to the multi-billion dollar Russian market. Prior to the U.S.-Russia agreement, American technology companies were restricted from transferring sensitive technologies, including encryption and cybersecurity. The State Department has primary responsibility for approving export licenses and maintaining the list of restrictions. Under Clinton's State Department, however, dozens of export licenses were issued for U.S. high tech firms to transfer sensitive technologies to Skolkovo. The Skolkovo Foundation released a report in 2012 that included the list of its Russian, American and European “key partners,” which totaled 28 (included among American companies, in addition to the four cited above: IBM, Boeing, GE and Honeywell). Of these, 17 (60 percent), were donors to the Clinton Foundation or sponsored speeches by Bill. Since the Clinton Foundation only reports donations in ranges (for example, Cisco donated between $1 million to $5 million), it is impossible to determine the exact amount but they totaled between $6.5 million to $23.5 million. Also, the Clinton Foundation has publicly admitted that it failed to release the names of all its contributors, so the amounts could be more. (In fact, the Foundation had to refile five years of tax returns, unprecedented for any charity, after a Reuters investigative reporter disclosed in April, 2015, that it failed to report, or had under-reported, millions in donations from foreign governments while Hillary was running the State Department.)

This technology transfer was so alarming to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is responsible for enforcing counter-espionage laws, that in 2014 it issued “an extraordinary warning...to technology companies.” In its warning the FBI stated that activities with Skolkovo could draw them unwittingly into industrial espionage. “The foundation may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research development facilities and dual-use technologies with military and commercial application,” stated the FBI bulletin. It noted that the Skolkovo Foundation had signed contracts with at least one Russian military contractor which builds vehicles for the Russian army. “The FBI believes the true motives of the Russian partners, who are often funded by their government, is to gain access to classified, sensitive, and emerging technology from the (U.S. technology) companies,” the notice concluded.

This warning had been preceded by an assessment by the U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Program which issued a report a year before the FBI warning. The Army's report cautioned that Skolkovo was a “vehicle for worldwide technology transfer to Russia in the areas of information technology, biomedicine, energy, satellite and space technology, and nuclear technology.” The report noted that “the Skolkovo Foundation has, in fact, been involved in defense-related activities since December 2011, when it approved the first weapons-related project—the development of a hypersonic cruise missile engine. The project is a response to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, part of the Prompt Global Strike program. Sophisticated physical security, consisting of cameras, thermal imaging, and alarms, also suggests that not all of the center’s efforts are civilian in nature.” The report concluded, “the (Russian) government’s operation of Skolkovo and investment positions in companies will likely provide its military awareness of and access to technologies...Skolkovo is arguably an overt alternative to clandestine industrial espionage—with the additional distinction that it can achieve such a transfer on a much larger scale and more efficiently.”

The State Department was aware of these issues as early as 2010 when Russian spy Anna Kushchyenko Chapman was arrested in New York, along with nine other Russian spies, who then were deported from the U.S. to their homeland in exchange for three U.S. spies in Russian custody (espionage is a fact of life in the military-industrial complexes of both countries). She turned up at – you guessed it - Skolkovo. But none of these sensitive technology transfers seemed to matter to the Clinton State Department as long as many of the U.S. companies doing business with Skolkovo were making multi-million dollar donations to the Clinton Foundation. 

Another aspect of the Russian reset was allowing Russian entities to invest in U.S. assets. It didn't take the Russians long to act. The Nuclear Cluster at Skolkovo, which is dedicated to enhancing Russia's nuclear capabilities, is affiliated with Rosatom, the government agency responsible for Russia's nuclear arsenal. Through a subsidiary, in 2010 Rosatom purchased a controlling interest in a Canadian uranium company named Uranium One which held extensive mining assets and ore processing facilities in the U.S. totaling almost 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity. The transaction required approval of a committee consisting of nine U.S. government agencies, including State, and separately the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) which had to approve transfer of the uranium processing license, or it would wind up on the President's desk for review and possible veto. The transaction was unanimously approved by the committee, and the license transfer by the NRC, and was never subject to White House review or veto.

By 2013 Rosatom had gradually acquired 100 percent of Uranium One at a substantial profit to its original investors. Although Russia could not obtain any of Uranium One's output without an export license granted by the NRC, the transaction gave Russia control over 20 percent of U.S. uranium ore production. Thus, by withholding ore from the market Russia is in a position to raise the price of uranium within the U.S. This can potentially have a significant impact on utilities generating electricity from nuclear power, forcing them to raise rates to consumers. For example, Commonwealth Edison, which serves northern Illinois including Chicago, generates 80 percent of its power from nuclear fuel, the highest percentage in the nation.

According to The New York Times, the Chairman of Uranium One, Ian Telfer, donated between $1.3 million and $5.6 million to the Clinton Foundation during and after the review process for the Russian deal. In addition, eight other investors in Uranium One and its predecessor, UrAsia which merged into Uranium One, donated substantially to the Clinton Foundation prior to the review process. Investors in mining companies are used to investing large sums in advance of a payoff because it takes years, sometimes decades, to develop a mine before there is any return. Apparently, this same mechanism was at work with regard to Uranium One. The largest of these investors, Frank Giustra, the founder of UrAsia, donated $131 million to the Clinton Foundation between 2005 and 2007. He told PolitiFact that he sold all his shares in Uranium One in the fall of 2007, "at least 18 months before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State" and three years before the Russian deal. PolitiFact was unable to independently verify Giustra’s claim from the public filings of UrAsia or Uranium One. 

Further, a Russian investment bank with close ties to the Kremlin, Renaissance Capital, acted as the broker for Russia's purchases of Uranium One stock and made millions in commissions. It invited Bill Clinton to Moscow in 2010, all expenses paid, to give a one hour speech for which he was paid $500,000. On June 12, 2014, a year and three months after she had left the office of Secretary of State, Clinton told the BBC that she "thought (the reset) was a brilliant stroke which in retrospect it appears even more so because look at what we accomplished."­

Not since President Warren G. Harding in the early 1920s has there been corruption by a Cabinet officer on such a scale. In the Harding Administration, the Secretary of the Interior, Albert B. Fall, was discovered to have accepted cash bribes to award lucrative oil drilling leases in the Teapot Dome Naval Oil Reserve in Wyoming. After a Senate investigation and criminal trial, Fall was convicted of bribery and sentenced to prison.

If Hillary Clinton is elected, as seems likely at this point in the campaign (though nothing about the future is certain except death and taxes), the American people will have installed in the White House a serial liar and probable criminal. In this strangest of election years, a liar and criminal may be preferable to a liar and a psychopath. It will then be for the next Congress to determine if she has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” as required by the Constitution to impeach a President of the United States.

 

September 24, 2016

 

The author lives in Brazil where he is watching the campaign for U.S. President with interest and disgust.