Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime friend of Hillary Clinton gave her advice on issues ranging from British politics to Afghanistan and Iran while she was secretary of state even though he was not employed by the US government, according to emails released on Tuesday.

    The emails from 2009 show informal adviser Blumenthal, whose ties to the Clinton family date back to former President Bill Clinton's White House years, actively trying to shape the early months of Hillary Clinton's time as America's top diplomat.

    Clinton's close links to Blumenthal could rebound on her as she runs for the Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential election.

    Republicans in Congress have sought to put a spotlight on his influence over Clinton on Libya as it descended into chaos in 2011. A former journalist, Blumenthal sent her lengthy memos about the north African country, many of them containing intelligence reports from a former Central Intelligence Agency officer.

    The emails released by the state department showed that the issues on which Blumenthal gave advice went far beyond Libya. He gave Clinton information on other sensitive issues as early as 2009.

    He seemed to be a middle-man between Clinton and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the Northern Ireland peace process, according to an email he sent on June 14 that year.

    "Gordon Brown called me today to convey his very best to you," Blumenthal wrote to Clinton. He mentioned her possible involvement in a meeting between Brown, Irish Republican leader Martin McGuinness and a man named Shaun, who appears to be Britain's former Northern Ireland secretary Shaun Woodward.

    "I said that he and Gordon should let me know before Wednesday whether your involvement is essential and what they request. That is fine with them and Shaun will get back to me," Blumenthal wrote.

    Controversy over Clinton's emails has dogged the start of her campaign for the White House in November, 2016 after she acknowledged using a personal email account rather than a government one for State Department business.

    The emails released on Tuesday are among some 30,000 work emails that she handed over to the State Department in December that a judge has ordered to be released in batches.

    Blumenthal was barred from a job at the state department by aides to President Barack Obama because of lingering distrust over his role advising Clinton's run against Obama in the acrimonious 2008 Democratic primary, according to The New York Times.

    Blunt advice

    But in July 2009, he gave the former first lady blunt instructions ahead of a speech she gave at the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank in Washington.

    "For most policy speeches a generic tone and workmanlike prose are acceptable. But for this one it's not. This speech can't afford to be lackluster," he said in an email, offering her a possible draft copy of the speech.

    On June 23, Blumenthal emailed Clinton around 10pm with the subject line, "Hillary: if you're up, give me a call. Sid." In the preceding days, he had sent her detailed memos on Iran's 2009 election crisis with media clips.

    Later that year, Blumenthal wrote to Clinton that delay in announcing a strategy for US forces in Afghanistan was putting serious strains on Washington's relations with close ally Britain.

    "Consensus across the board in Britain - center, right, left- is that the Atlantic alliance - the special relationship -the historic bond since World War II - is shattered," he wrote.

‘Pak terror group sold animal skin to fund anti-India ops’

  • Debasish Panigrahi, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • |
  • Updated: Jan 26, 2013 02:11 IST

The interrogation of alleged Hizbul Mujahideen spy Faroquee Ahmed Gulam Hasan Naiku, 37, has brought to the light the fund raising methods adopted by the Pakistan-based terror group for its anti-India operations.

Naiku claimed that a substantial portion of Hizbul’s fund is generated from the sale of skin of livestock, collected by volunteers at village fairs.

Sources in the criminal intelligence unit of the police, which arrested Naiku on Tuesday, said the Jammu and Kashmir resident had made over six trips to Pakistan prior to 2008. “He had even travelled by the Samjhauta Express on one occasion,” a source said.

Naiku said his Hizbul handler took him to training camps for ‘mujahids’  (terrorists), which are allegedly run across Pakistan with full knowledge of the government.

The handler also introduced him to a high-ranking official in the Pakistan army, who is in charge of the Hizbul’s anti-India operations.

Sources, however, refused to disclose the identity of the official saying that he may have used a fake identity while meeting the Kashmiri operative.

Naiku, sources said, was taken to the stalls put up by the terror group in village fairs in the Punjab province.

“The Hizbul volunteers would collect donations from people in general. They would collect the skin of goats, sheeps and cows, which were then sold to leather industries and the proceeds would be used in funding terror in India,” the source said.

The group would also send consignments of dry fruits, originating from Kandahar and Kabul, to India via Pakistan under the border trade agreement.

Their operatives in India, masquerading as dry fruit importers, would receive the consignments and the proceeds from the sale would be used to fund terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir, sources said.

“Naiku too operated as a dry fruit merchant in Navi Mumbai,” the source added.

 

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