Editor’s note: let me start by apologizing for my brief absence from writing on this website; as I’ve explained a few times on Twitter – roughly twelve days ago I tripped on some loose debris that should not have been on the stairs and took an eight foot header down the staircase; an act that I’m still not entirely sure how I survived. I ended up with a cut on one of my toes, a scrape over my eye and some sort of injury to my lower ribs on the left side. Frankly, I’m not really sure if it’s a bruised rib or some cartilage that was damaged but I can say for certain that I have only just now recovered enough to write (mostly) pain-free. I realize the timing of this injury isn’t ideal, but you’re just gonna have to take my word for it that I didn’t fall down a flight of stairs, head first on purpose my friends – my writing is simply going to be a little slower until I heal fully; my apologies.
In the meantime, we’re back part two of “C.R.E.A.M. A Study & Review of Clinton Cash (Documentary)” and you’ll probably want to read part one here first if you haven’t already. Although, I don’t agree with everything presented in the film Clinton Cash, it does represent an excellent primer on obvious conflicts of interest surrounding the Clinton charities, the questionable spending of donations collected and whether or not the Clinton Foundation is actually a global, influence trading firm masquerading as a charity. As I mentioned previously, this review was undertaken as part of a larger study on the potential threat a Hillary Clinton presidency would present for America (and the world) as a whole – you can find parts one and two of that discussion here.
Finally, you can find an embedded copy of Clinton Cash at the start of the article below. Please note that in this case I do not own this film and since it’s currently being shown in select theaters – I can’t be held responsible if YouTube takes it down, nor do I have a hard-copy to load up in that event; sorry folks.
In part one of C.R.E.A.M., I spent a great deal of time looking at all of the reasons why you shouldn’t necessary trust Clinton Cash at face value – namely that author/narrator Peter Schweizer is a longtime Republican who’s actively in the business of taking down Democrats and the movie itself was officially supported by alt-right tabloid rag Breitbart Magazine. There is no question whatsoever that this obvious political bias affects Schweizer’s approach to the documentary and as I noted, this makes it necessary to diligently separate the author’s factual claims from the wild conclusions he frequently draws from them.
While many would attempt to disqualify Clinton Cash as a worthy documentary right there however, the simple truth is that Schweizer has presented an extremely damning case that strongly suggests the Clinton Foundation is actually a global influence peddling scam that’s masquerading as a charity for entirely political purposes – while newly developed evidence in the media continues to support Clinton Cash’s central thesis more and more as each day passes.
These facts (when taken together) make studying Clinton Cash both an important but also an extremely frustrating endeavor – as we discovered when mythbusting Schweizer’s clear implication that Clinton had cancelled a law designed to stop corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo; when in reality, she simply refused to enforce the statue’s legal power to punish the oligarchs who run the country by withholding US aid.
Despite these problems however, when we last left off Schweizer had successfully tied the Clintons or charities they run with unrepentant human rights violators, utterly amoral speculators who trade with warlords and unscrupulous businessmen across five different nations in Africa – many of which are notoriously corrupt and dominated by brutal dictators or wealthy oligarchs.
The Foundation, the IHRC & the Tragedy of Haiti
Shifting away from Africa, the documentary then turns its investigative eye towards the tragic 2010 earthquake that utterly destroyed portions of the island of Haiti; a nation already among the poorest in the world prior to the catastrophe.
Schweizer begins by (rightfully) noting that the Haitian earthquake represented “the most devastating humanitarian crisis that Hillary Clinton faced during her tenure at the State Department” before spending a somewhat curious two whole minutes pointing out that Clinton’s first visit to Haiti after the tragedy required blocking off the Port-au-Prince airport and thus temporarily disrupted aid distribution in affected areas. While this claim is probably true and is in fact supported by a clip from an interview Clinton herself gave at the time, it really pales in comparison to the massive boondoggle the rest of the Clinton’s involvement in rebuilding Haiti represents.
As the film details, through both Hillary’s role as US Secretary of State and Bill’s position as co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, the Clintons exerted a tremendous amount of control over how relief money would be spent on the island – in particular, American taxpayer funded relief money, which amounted to billions of dollars.
This relationship immediately caused friction with the locals attempting to rebuild Haiti because the Clinton’s largely perused their own pro-US, pro-Clinton Foundation donor agenda at the expense of the poorest people in the devastated nation. As Schweizer notes, this produced a series of decisions that were not only monumentally bad for the people of Haiti as a whole, but also conveniently aided major Clinton donors and US corporations at virtually every turn – decisions like:
- Building the $300 million Caracol industrial park in northeast Haiti (far from the disaster zone) that primarily benefited American corporations like the Gap, Target and Walmart. The factory complex was built with the promise of 60,000 jobs and required evicting 366 Hatian farmers from their lands but ultimately only delivered just over 5,000, low-paying jobs and immense profits for US corporations.
- Although the documentary doesn’t mention it, this is not the only time Clinton has intervened on behalf of US garment corporations against the wishes and greater well-being of the Haitian people; documents released by Wikileaks and a 2011 story in The Nation revealed that under Clinton the US State department intervened on behalf of companies like Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s to block an overwhelmingly popular measure that would raise the minimum wage in Haiti to 62 cents an hour or $5 a day.
- Awarding contracts to rebuild more than 100,000 homes destroyed by the earthquake to laughably inexperienced and inefficient contractors based on their donations to the Clinton foundation; while ignoring more experienced contractors who’d donated less – resulting in only 9,000 (roughly) such homes being built instead of the promised (and needed) 100,000 originally planned for.
- Awarding a $1.5M State Department contract to assess possible habitable sites for thousands of Haitian refugees near the Corail displacement camp to a NY-based consulting firm (with ties to Clinton charities) named Dalberg Global Development Advisors. To say that Dalberg lacked expertise in the field would be something of a massive understatement and the company’s poor performance prompted one expert to suggest they may not have even left their cars; only one of the six sites DGDA recommended turned out to be a viable relocation site – they even recommended moving refugees to the side of a small mountain with an open mining pit on one side; in an area with numerous hundred foot vertical drops and ravines!
At this point the documentary shifts to examine how billionaire Clinton foundation mega-donor Denis O’Brien almost certainly profited from his existing and ongoing relationship with the Clintons to reap massive profits from the Haitian rebuild; through his telecommunications company, Digicel.
In the film, Schweizer focuses on a massive, digital money transfer systems grant in Haiti awarded by the US State department to Digicel a mere two months after the company sponsored a $225,000 speech by Bill Clinton in Jamaica. Not discussed in Clinton Cash however is O’Brien/Digicel’s involvement in building an obscene, largely unnecessary Marriott luxury hotel in Haiti that has produced little if any benefit for the people of the island as a whole – although there is some dispute about exactly which paid or unpaid Bill Clinton speeches sponsored by Digicel might have been involved in securing US aid money this deal.
Even as presented however, the Digicel case in Clinton Cash strongly implies that O’Brien’s financial contributions to the Clintons and their Foundation may have influenced the US government in awarding Digicel taxpayer-funded grants; but for once Schweizer has the sense to let the data speak for itself and leave the implication hanging – rather than directly claiming the evidence proves quid pro quo (as opposed to strongly suggesting it.)
Finally, Clinton Cash closes it’s heartbreaking examination of the failed relief efforts in Haiti with one last, blatant example of the stunning power the Clintons had over the country – the awarding of one of the country’s first two gold mine concessions in fifty years to VCS Mining; a company with little experience mining gold who would shortly thereafter appoint Tony Rodham (Hillary’s brother) to it’s advisory board.
As a Schweizer voice-over summarizes the second, man-made disaster inflicted on Haiti by Clinton cronyism, the screen pans out to breathtaking shot of a ruined Haitian church finally crumbling under the weight of it’s own damaged spires in slowed down, silent footage- the effect is both terribly sad and surprisingly poetic for a film otherwise shot like a spy thriller.
Climate Change, Pipe Dreams & Speaking Fees
In part one of this review, I mentioned the “curious, off-beat leftist tone” that Clinton Cash adopts despite the clearly, hardcore conservative origins of it’s creators and nowhere does this ring more true than in Schweizer’s discussion of the debate around the XL oil pipeline and Hillary Clinton’s involvement as Secretary of State. After examining the Clinton’s horrifying friendships in Africa and the utterly tragic failure of the Clinton-directed efforts to rebuild Haiti in the wake of a devastating earthquake, the film shifts away from neocolonialism and looks at the hypocrisy behind Hillary’s changing position on the environmentally destructive oil pipeline.
Naturally, this is a primarily emotional argument and Schweizer makes it well by playing clips from as far back as Hillary Clinton’s days as a New York Senator to demonstrate her consistent concern with climate change and the environment as a whole. By comparison, the factual basis of the case are rather mundane – when Clinton became Secretary of State she was presented with an opportunity to kill the Keystone XL pipeline by refusing to sign an environmental and economic impact statement. At that precise time, Bill Clinton gets an offer to give 10 speeches for roughly $2M from TD Bank Investment Group in Canada; a company which happened to be one the largest shareholders in the Keystone XL Pipeline. Unsurprisingly, Hillary Clinton would go on to sign the impact statement and indicate her intention to support the pipeline in a speech at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club.
Of course in the time since then, the Keystone XP pipeline plan has been formally rejected by President Obama and after literal years of foot dragging, openly opposed by Hillary Clinton.
These facts do lessen the overall impact of Schweizer’s case in late 2016, but it is important to remember that the primary reason for the pipeline’s cancellation was likely the falling price of oil and TD Bank continued to pay Hillary Clinton for speeches right up until she declared her run for President last year. As Clinton Cash notes; when the chips were on the table Clinton supported the Keystone XL pipeline and should economic conditions again favor oil imports from the Canadian tar sands – there’s every reason to believe she’d support it again.
This section then transitions into a discussion about Bill Clinton’s speaking fees in general with a note that the former President’s payouts increased dramatically once Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State – from roughly $150K per speech to at times $500K or more per speech. To say that it is highly unusual for an ex-president’s speaking fees to rise over time would be something of an understatement and while it remains impossible to definitively prove Schweizer’s claim that this rise was tied to Hillary Clinton’s role at the State Department – there is literally no other, obvious way to explain the increased fees that I am currently aware of.
Ericsson, Iranian Sanctions & Bill’s Biggest Payday
The film’s focus on Bill Clinton’s speaking fees while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State ultimately culminates in an in depth look at the former president’s largest fee for a single speech; $750K from Swedish telecom giant Ericsson on November 12, 2011 in Hong Kong.
In the years just prior to Ericsson’s sudden interest in Bill’s unique speaking talents, the company had come under the eye of US lawmakers for selling sophisticated telecom equipment to interests in Iran; a nation openly hostile to America at the time. A mere week after Bill’s speech however, the Hillary Clinton lead State Department released it’s new sanctions list and despite previous scrutiny (from both inside and outside her own department) telecom sanctions were not on it; nor would they appear on the 2012 list either. Of course, in 2012 President Obama did sign an executive order imposing sanctions on certain aspects of telecom sales to Iran — curiously, those sanctions did not affect Ericsson’s operations or profits in Iran either.
Does Clinton Cash definitively prove the Hillary Clinton didn’t put telecom on the State Department list or influenced Obama’s decision in Ericsson’s favor because of the $750K speaking fee? No and indeed, critics of Schweizer’s work have noted that the US has continued to avoid sanctions against the telecom industry operating in Iran long after Hillary left the State Department. I believe it’s important however to examine the context in which those decisions were made, both then and now:
- According to since-leaked State Department cables, it wasn’t just Ericsson trying to get Clinton’s attention but rather the entire government of Sweden that was aggressively lobbying Hillary’s State Department at the highest levels on behalf of politically connected companies like Ericsson (as well as Volvo and the ABB Group.)
- It has also since been revealed in a remarkably thorough and fact based Washington Times story from June of 2015 that at the exact same time Clinton’s State Department and the Obama administration were debating and negotiating sanctions on Iran that could negatively affect companies like Ericsson; a Swedish arm of the Clinton Foundation was taking in millions of dollars worth of donations – much of which was coming from Swedish lottery corporations at least partially controlled by the Swedish government!
- The charity, called the William J. Clinton Foundation Insamlingsstiftelse was conveniently established in 2011 for the express purpose of allowing Swedish entities otherwise legally unable to donate to the Clinton Foundation (such as Swedish government-controlled lottery corporations) to do so and served no other function than to collect donations. As if the absurdly incriminating timing of this whole deal wasn’t enough however, this Swedish charity was never disclosed to or approved by State Department ethics officials – despite the fact that it was essentially taking money directly from Sweden’s government while Hillary Clinton was debating sanctions against companies with tremendous political power in Sweden.
- In the time since 2011-2012 when all of these events occurred, the Obama administration and indeed America in general have largely softened or even warmed their position on Iran (with a few notable exceptions) – a change of heart that may in part be attributable to the hawkish, tough on Iran Clinton actually leaving the State Department and being replaced by the more conciliatory John Kerry might I add. In light of the 2015 US Iran Nuclear deal, the years worth of negotiations it took to obtain that deal and the evidence that Iran is at least on the surface complying with that deal; it doesn’t seem particularly odd to me that the State Department has not revisited telecom restrictions on Iran – it certainly doesn’t prove Clinton wasn’t involved back in 2011 & 2012, that’s for damn sure.
In my opinion, it is highly unfortunate that Clinton Cash only chooses to linger on the Ericsson/Clinton scandal for a few moments and in that time chooses to focus entirely on the single (albeit profitable) speech the company hired Bill Clinton to give; a week before his wife announced there would be no State Department sanctions on telecom sales to Iran. I’m hardly an ethics professor, but it seems to me that there is sufficient evidence that virtually everyone important in Sweden was trying to lobby the Clintons on behalf of politically connected companies like Ericsson. This really only leaves one question – why would official and non-official entities tied to the government of Sweden so aggressively lobby both Bill and Hillary Clinton if it wasn’t likely to influence the State Department sanctions or Obama’s decision?
I mean, we’re all reasonable adults here right? We are all aware that it is extremely rare for conspirators to write down which money is for bribes and what decisions that bribe money truly affected; aren’t we? Is it actually, in any goddamn way reasonable to assume that half the country of Sweden was simply attempting to sway Hillary’s opinion by mistake? Of course not.
The Evil & the Damage Done
In the past two weeks since my injury kept me from continuing the Clinton Cash review, numerous, utterly damning conflict of interest scandals have broken into the public discourse as a result of newly released documents and various news organizations finally realizing the severity of the Clinton Foundation “scandal.” I type “scandal” in quotes because the simple truth is that the Clintons’ influence trading through various charity organizations actually represents tens of thousands of individual crimes spread out over at least the past seven years.
This discovery/reporting process is ongoing and is in no way helped by disingenuous attempts to discredit the very real, serious and effective journalism working to expose the Clinton Foundation for what it really is – a global influence trading corporation/consulting firm that specializes in hiding fucking truck-fulls of lobbyist cash as a charitable, non-taxable, humanitarian endeavor.
Indeed, some of these stories have been so effective that I no longer have a real reason to keep reviewing Clinton Cash a mere two weeks after I started writing about it; I could probably finish my Lesser of Two Evils essay series right now with the information (mostly non-mainstream) journalists have finally dug up on the Clinton Foundation. I am however a completeist at heart, so I will wrap up the C.R.E.A.M. Clinton Cash review in the next few days regardless.
In the meantime however, I would like to take this opportunity to draw attention to three completely different sources of excellent investigative work on the Clinton Foundation and to encourage people looking to understand why the obvious conflicts of interest the Clinton charities create are a problem, to read them:
International Business Times Clinton Foundation Investigation Summary – the IBTimes (along with one of my favorite journalists, David Sirota) have been leaders in exposing all kinds of corruption on both sides of the political aisle this election season and in my humble opinion, currently represent some of the finest quasi-mainstream reporting on the Clinton Foundation available. This piece collects summaries and links to each of the separate investigations into the Clinton Foundation that have broken out into the public eye so far. The summaries are concise and informative, but the true value here are the links to full investigative stories about Clinton Foundation conflict of interest scandals like those covered in Clinton Cash and this review series.
What does Hillary have to do for it to be ‘corruption’? – this enlightening op-ed by Will Bunch primarily builds on work from the IBTimes to point out the hypocrisy and mental gymnastics openly on display in the mainstream media towards the obvious Clinton Foundation/conflict of interest scandals. If you’re looking for a short, honest and definitive repudiation of mainstream media actively ignoring Clinton’s obvious quid pro quo arrangements with various corporate and foreign entities; this is the story for you.
The Thread: What Does the Clinton Foundation Do? – a long, complex and meticulously detailed Twitter thread by anonymous political observer Alan Smithee (warning some language) that to my knowledge represents the single most detailed takedown of the Clinton Foundations supposed “charity” work to date. There are literally 100 individual tweets in this thread, it includes numerous replies and the format can be a little hard to follow – you’re looking for the tweets by @ActualFlatticus himself and they’ll be numbered 1 through 100 at the start of each individual post.
Concluded in C.R.E.A.M Part Three
- Nina Illingworth
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