A little over a week before the 2016 US Presidential Election and the Hillary Clinton campaign finds itself in the midst of another potentially damaging email scandal. Yesterday, FBI Director James Comey wrote a letter to several congressional committee chairs informing them that the bureau learned of the existence of new emails pertinent to the now closed investigation into Clinton’s private email server.
It turns out that they were investigating allegations Anthony Weiner (remember him, Carlos Danger) sexted a fifteen year old girl. They were looking at one of his computers and found emails to and/or from his now ex-wife, current Clinton Campaign co-chairwoman and former State Department Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin.
The emails are related to Abedin’s boss in some way, but Comey won’t say how. He also won’t say if they are potentially damaging or merely irrelevant communications that need to be logged for procedural reasons.
This has, of course, led to speculation that it could shift the result of the election in Donald Trump’s favour as much as it has led to anger at Comey and Weiner (some of the anti-Weiner tweets are actually quite funny). It has proven to be quite the distraction.
I’m not talking about distracting from whatever Donald Trump has been saying or new revelations from his past proving again he is exactly the creep we all thought he was. I mean it has, but that’s not the point.
The biggest Clinton scandal in the past few days isn’t Friday’s letter about emails, it’s what happened Thursday in Brooklyn.
Clinton Silent on Standing Rock
Water protectors from Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires, and the Standing Rock Sioux Nation entered her campaign headquarters demanding that Clinton break her silence and speak out against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“We are coming directly to Hillary at her headquarters because as the future president, she is going to have to work for us,” Gracey Claymore said, “and we want her to uphold the treaties and her promise to protect unci maka (Mother Earth).”
Despite the size of the demonstration and the way that Claymore treated a Clinton victory as a foregone conclusion, campaign staff refused to even take a letter the protectors had written to the candidate. Around the same time this was happening in New York, militarized police started moving in on the protectors in North Dakota.
Trying to Keep Things Quiet
In case you haven’t been following this story, and it’s understandable given the mainstream media’s focus on political scandal, the largest convergence of Native American tribes has been happening near the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota for months. They are there to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline’s planned route through unceded Sioux territory.
Building this section of the $3.8 billion pipeline would mean destroying sacred burial grounds. It also poses a huge risk to the community’s drinking water (and that of other communities downstream as well, it is the Missouri River, after all) in the event of a spill. And spills happen quite a bit in North Dakota, even when they aren’t reported, as the Associated Press found out.
In early September, Energy Transfer Partners, the firm behind DAPL, used private security to attack water protectors with dogs and pepper spray. Local authorities decided to respond by issuing an arrest warrant for…wait for it…the journalist who broke the story by filming the attack.
Tresspass charges against Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman were dropped in favour of “riot” charges before she was ultimately acquitted. Emmy-winning documentarian Deia Schlosberg may not be so fortunate, as she still faces 45 years in prison for filming a protest.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has also been fighting the pipeline through legal channels. At first they won an injunction, but that was overturned by a Federal Appeals Court.
President Obama did order construction stopped on all federally owned land until environmental impact could be fully assessed, but the results are still weeks away. So with the injunction overturned for now, construction resumed and the protectors decided to move directly in the path of the pipeline instead of just nearby.
Massive Police Escalation
Last Monday there were over 100 arrests and then, on Thursday, local and state police in full riot gear and armored vehicles equipped with sound cannons descended on the protest. They were joined by law enforcement from six other states brought in through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), something that is designed to be used for disaster relief.
And just what state of emergency prompted North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple to activate EMAC? Potential loss of revenue by a private pipeline company.
Yes, there were reports of gunfire, but Tribal Law Enforcement apprehended and photographed the man with the rifle and identified, through insurance documents, that he exited a vehicle owned by Dakota Access Pipeline.
Agent Provocateurs, the proverbial oldest trick in the book. But these water protectors have read that book, too and know how to spot people who clearly don’t have the best interests of their community at heart.
Police also used pepper spray and rubber bullets on the peaceful protectors and made 141 arrests. There are now reports that those taken into custody were held in dog kennels, strip searched and had numbers written on their arms.
At least it looks like the water protectors do have some backers. Namely some wild buffalo who decided to pay a visit.
The Big Picture
Let’s put this all in perspective:
- A company wants to build a pipeline on land that belongs to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
- The tribe, not wanting their sacred burial sites destroyed and not wanting to drink oil-soaked water (and also not wanting others to drink oil-soaked water) oppose the pipeline and invite other tribes and non-native allies to join them.
- The company hires private security to attack water protectors with pepper spray and dogs.
- Local authorities charge journalists for reporting on what happened.
- The Governor declares a state of emergency and sends in militarized police from his state and other states to stop peaceful protectors.
- Armed agent provocateurs are used
- Human beings standing up for everyone’s water are held in dog kennels to protect the profits of a private company.
This is happening now. Silence from Clinton is disturbing and sad. Silence from Trump, well, that’s probably a good thing. The last thing we need is some speech about how he would make “the best pipelines” before digressing to talk of China.
It’s quite unfortunate that the Clinton Campaign is more concerned with a handful of emails than their silence on Standing Rock and DAPL. The real sad thing, though, is that they’re probably doing the politically smart thing.
As long as the electorate is privileged and ignorant enough to care more about emails than the treatment of their fellow human beings and the future of the planet they live on, too and the water they drink, too, what’s happening at Standing Rock won’t be the top story.
It is, though, what’s really being hidden by Hillary’s emails. So this post did deliver on its click-bait and switch headline after all.