Monday, November 30, 2015

Despite 'surveillance' clause, Canadian bank behind Hillary Clinton speeches denies collecting info on browsing activity

A Canadian bank that paid top US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton up to $2 million or more for speeches was accused of gathering "information on all of its customers' online activities, even those that aren't banking-related."

On November 30, Rosa Marchitelli reported for "Go Public" on CBC News, "two lines" in its "66-page Visa cardholder agreement" allowed "Canada's second-biggest collect details about anything — and everything — customers do online."

Colin Laughlan - who "has a background in privacy issues as a former journalist and communications specialist" - noticed that in the "privacy section" of TD Bank's customer agreement (pdf link), it stated that, "COLLECTING AND USING YOUR INFORMATION — At the time you request to begin a relationship with us and during the course of our relationship, we may collect information including: Details about your browsing activity on your browser or mobile device. Your preferences and activities."

"I couldn't see any reason they had to do that sort of surveillance on Canadians and they weren't being particularly forthright about it," Laughlan told CBC News. "This was slipped in to the fine print of the policy and I'm well aware that the vast majority of people don't read these things."

Laughlan said he received three separate agreements that contained the same clause, and it took over eighteen months of complaints before turning to the media."

"Go Public put the issue to TD Bank Group, which responded with an email saying the intention was to allow the bank to collect information only when customers use TD websites and TD mobile apps," Marchitelli reported.
"'TD has never, at any time, collected general information regarding details about customers' browsing activity, their browser or mobile device,' the statement said.

The bank did remove the browsing clause from its online cardholder agreement, but it remains part of the printed version mailed out to customers. The bank tells Go Public that will change when the paper agreements need to be reprinted.

It will keep, however, the line that allows it to monitor customers' 'preferences and activities.' The bank said it uses that information for banking purposes, including managing products and services and assessing risk.
The CBC report added, "Sharon Polsky, the president of the Privacy and Access Council of Canada, believes that kind of general wording in user agreements opens Canadians up to sharing far more than they intended, and not just with banks," and that "TD seemed to be keeping its options open when it put the access to browsing information clauses in its Visa cardholder agreements."

"The waters are very murky," Polsky told CBC. "People do not realize very often that their information is being disclosed...It has a creepy factor...They can create a very, very detailed profile of each of us...what we do, where we go, what we think."

Earlier today, irate TD Bank customer @fred_diblasio tweeted, "I always liked @TD_Canada but this is a serious privacy issue!!! Read the fine print! Let them know your views!" @Schtaunkhauser tweeted, "And they worked so hard to obtain my trust. @TD_Canada has just blown it."

At its Twitter account, the bank is directing concerned customers to its online response which states, "CBC Go Public published and broadcast a story about wording in TD's credit card agreements, which incorrectly implied that TD could be monitoring customers' internet browsing habits. Here are the facts, which we repeatedly provided to the CBC."
"TD does not and has never collected general information regarding details about customers' browsing activity, their browser or mobile device. The language was in our agreements because our intention was that we may collect information when our customers use TD websites and TD Mobile Apps. We understand the wording may have caused concern. We removed it from our Online Privacy Agreement on in 2014. This reference will also be removed from print applications and agreements as they come up for renewed printing, since changes to printed Agreements take time to implement.

Preferences and activities in our agreement refer to customer interactions; i.e. preference to bank online or in person. Additional examples include: Receiving information by email or hard copy; Setting up direct deposit for payroll; Transaction frequency; Customer dealings with TD (in person, over the phone, at the ATM, on mobile, through email or the Internet).

Knowing this information helps us provide the service customers need and expect. We hope this clearly explains our practices and are available to answer questions or concerns from customers.
Before the CBC report, in a November 26 interview with Brand Channel, TD Bank Group's chief marketing officer and executive vice president Dominic Mercuri said, "The essence of the TD brand is about making banking comfortable and delivering legendary customer experiences at every point of interaction—in branch, over the phone, online and through our mobile app. As we look to be there for our customers, wherever they are, this extends to creating meaningful connections in their communities and through their social networks."

"We came to the social media space pretty early for a bank with the launch of a Facebook page in 2007. To meet the needs of our customers, we’ve grown on other platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn," Mercuri added. "In 2010, we launched our flagship program, 'Social Customer Service,' to connect with customers via Twitter and Facebook, and now have more than 70 agents dedicated to monitoring and responding to customers seven days a week, 17 hours a day throughout North America."

On May 31, Ryan Grim and Paul Blumenthal reported for Huffington Post, "Two Canadian banks tightly connected to promoting the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in the United States either fully or partially paid for eight speeches made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the period not long before she announced her campaign for president. Those speeches put more than $1.6 million in the Democratic candidate's pocket. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and TD Bank were both primary sponsors of paid Clinton speeches in 2014 and early 2015, although only the former appears on the financial disclosure form she filed May 15.
"Ali Duncan Martin, a TD Bank spokeswoman, told The Huffington Post in an email that the bank sponsored a series of speeches by both Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton starting in 2008. (Bill Clinton received more than $1.6 million for speeches sponsored by TD Bank, according to past financial disclosures.) The bank was the 'title sponsor or a co-sponsor of the events, with most events having a number of sponsors participating,' according to Martin. She declined to say how much the bank spent in sponsoring the speeches."
On June 26, 2014, Philip Rucker, Tom Hamburger and Alexander Becker reported for The Washington Post, "The Post’s analysis found that TD Bank underwrote 10 of Clinton’s speeches and paid him about $1.8 million, making it his largest single sponsor in the financial industry. TD Bank is affiliated with TD Ameritrade, founded by Joe Ricketts, a prominent donor to Republican campaigns and conservative causes."

"TD Bank spokesman Gabriel Weissman said he had 'nothing to add' to the public disclosures," the Post article added. "A spokesman for Ricketts declined to comment."

As Grim and Blumenthal noted, "Some details of Hillary Clinton's Canadian speechifying were first reported by independent journalist Ron Brynaert. The Clinton campaign did not respond to The Huffington Post's request for comment."

In early November, immediately after Clinton's Democratic primary opponent Senator Bernie Sanders bashed her for equivocating for years over whether or not she would support the pipeline, President Obama rejected it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

State Dept scrubbed name of woman who Hillary Clinton bashed for apparently rejecting appointment

An email forwarded from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Senior Advisor on political appointments was scrubbed by the State Department when it was published earlier this year. The former First Lady and New York Senator Hillary Clinton - who is the leading Democratic challenger in the 2016 presidential race - bashed the unknown woman's "sense of responsibility" in response to the forwarded email.

Even though the email was published on June 30, 2015, it appears to have gone unreported, perhaps because many news organizations cut back on researchers, and most journalists quickly move on to the next story.

On June 13, 2009, Margaret Carpenter, who "served as a Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on political appointments" from 2009 to 2010, wrote Department of State Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, "I finally connected with ___ by phone again this morning. I reiterated our interest in talking with her about the __." Not only was the name of the woman scrubbed, and the rest of the two-page letter, but Carpenter's position in the State Department seems to have been apparently scrubbed, as well.

A little more than an hour later, Mills forwarded the email to Hillary Clinton, adding, "FYI."

"I respect her reasoning, although I regret her sense of responsibility," Hillary Clinton quickly responded five minutes later.

Most probably just referring to the former part of Clinton's response, Mills joked back, "Why? Because it reminds you of someone we know and love - aka you? :)"

The Washington Post reported in October, "During her first four months at the State Department, Mills also held another high-profile job: She worked part time at New York University, negotiating with officials in Abu Dhabi to build a campus in that Persian Gulf city.

Rosalind S. Helderman's article noted, "At the State Department, she was unpaid in those first months, officially designated as a temporary expert-consultant — a status that allowed her to continue to collect outside income while serving as chief of staff. She reported that NYU paid her $198,000 in 2009, when her university work overlapped with her time at the State Department, and that she collected an additional $330,000 in vacation and severance payments when she left the school’s payroll in May 2009."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Clinton Foundation celebrates top donor and Teneo client Coca-Cola; Coke exec took 'sabbatical' to work on Hillary Clinton campaign

Update 2/10/16: Decades before Coca Cola became a major contributor and partner for the Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton defended one of its bottling plants, after it was sued by a former worker, who claimed he was disabled while working there.

In a 2007 article called "The Making of Hillary Clinton", Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Claire wrote that she represented the "Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Arkansas in a lawsuit filed by a disabled former employee who had been denied full retirement benefits by the company." And in their 2007 book, "Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton," investigative journalists Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta - who won Pulitzer Prizes for the New York Times - reported, "In one lawsuit she successfully handled, filed in 1979, her client was the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Arkansas and its employee retirement plan. A worker, Ronnie Weeks, had sued the company in federal court, claiming he was permanently disabled and had been improperly denied retirement benefits."

On February 6, 2014, anti-Democratic candidate PAC America Rising noted, "Today Hillary Clinton will receive a medal from the Bar Association for her work as a corporate attorney at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas. It’s unclear why she would want to highlight this resume."

"Maybe she will give a passionate speech about the time she challenged a ballot initiative supported by ACORN that gave low-income Arkansans a break on their utility bills in court," the PAC's website added. "Or the time she defended Coke when they were denying a disabled man named Ronnie Weeks his retirement benefits?" (hat tip: @jethomme)

Coca-Cola has given at least $5-to-10 million to the Clinton Foundation, and, as I've reported, is a client for Teneo: a rapidly growing consulting firm co-founded by former President Bill Clinton "body man" Doug Band, who helped 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's transition into the State Department as President Obama's Secretary of State, and two of her fundraisers, including Declan Kelly, who she appointed as the Economic Envoy to No. Ireland.

On November 6th, 2015, the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas "celebrate[d]" an exhibit devoted to Coca-Cola:

"'Share a Coke' with us at the Clinton Presidential Center at the opening of our 42nd temporary exhibit, Coca-Cola: An American Original on Friday, November 6, 2015. The exhibit celebrates the art and history of the contour bottle on its 100th Anniversary. In addition to showcasing the art and history of the iconic bottle itself, the exhibit will explore how the company worked with some of the country’s most noted illustrators and artists—like Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, Haddon Sundblom, and Howard Finster—to build its global brand as well as influence pop culture here in the United States and throughout the world.

Join us on November 6, as we celebrate the opening of the exhibit with a private preview of the exhibition and a program with special guests President Bill Clinton and Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola Chairman of the Board and CEO."
Earlier today, Candice Choi reported for the Associated Press, "A nonprofit founded to combat obesity says the $1.5 million it received from Coke has no influence on its work. But emails obtained by The Associated Press show the world's largest beverage maker was instrumental in shaping the Global Energy Balance Network, which is led by a professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Coke helped pick the group's leaders, edited its mission statement and suggested articles and videos for its website."

"In an email last November, the group's president tells a top Coke executive: 'I want to help your company avoid the image of being a problem in peoples' lives and back to being a company that brings important and fun things to them.'

Coke executives had similarly high hopes. A proposal circulated via email at the company laid out a vision for a group that would "quickly establish itself as the place the media goes to for comment on any obesity issue.' It said the group would use social media and run a political-style campaign to counter the 'shrill rhetoric' of 'public health extremists' who want to tax or limit foods they deem unhealthy."
In another press release about the exhibit, Clinton Foundation executive director Stephanie S. Streett stated, "Coca-Cola is among the best-known brands in the world and we are thrilled to share its remarkable story with our guests. In addition to showcasing the art and history of the iconic bottle itself, this exhibit will explore how the brand influenced some of the country’s most noted illustrators and artists—like Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, Haddon Sundblom, and Howard Finster—as well as pop culture here in the United States and throughout the world.”

At the bottom of the press release, published at the Clinton Foundation's website, there is a paragraph "About The Coca-Cola Company", which claims the company "support[s] active, healthy living":

"The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, one of the world's most valuable and recognizable brands, the Company's portfolio features 20 billion-dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, it is the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy Coca-Cola beverages at a rate of 1.9 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, the Company is focused on initiatives that reduce its environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for its associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where it operates. Together with its bottling partners, Coca-Cola ranks among the world's top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system associates. For more information, visit Coca-Cola Journey at, follow it on Twitter at, visit its blog, Coca-Cola Unbottled, at or find it on LinkedIn"
Searching "coca-cola" at the Clinton Foundation website nets twelve pages of results.

A recent "Commitment to Action" published at the Clinton Foundation announced, "In 2013, The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC), in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, committed to refine and expand the Coca-Cola Coletivo platform through a $16 million investment across three countries in Latin America and 12 cities in Brazil. This will impact more than 34,000 people in Brazil alone by 2017. This commitment, which is integrated into TCCC's value chain and is co-funded by the Inter-American Development Bank's Multilateral Investment Fund, will enhance opportunities to find employment, create new business enterprises and strengthen the self-confidence of low income residents in affected communities. Coletivo was first launched in Brazil and this new collaboration will include three Coletivo models: Coletivo Retail, which focuses on young people in urban low-income communities who are seeking formal employment; Coletivo Recycling, which targets the professionalization of recycling cooperatives, generating increased income for waste collectors and formalizing the recycling value chain; and Coletivo Entrepreneurship, which provides practical training to begin and strengthen new businesses, with a focus on women."

Another recent one stated, "In 2013, The Coca-Cola Company, with a range of partners, committed to deploying 150 EKOCENTERs over a two year pilot phase to directly improve the physical, social, environmental, and economic wellbeing of more than 45,000 people. The EKOCENTER is an off the grid, modularly designed kiosk that will transform a standard shipping container into a hub of community activity by providing clean, safe drinking water, wireless communication, electricity, and other services to further enable community development within the world's population at the Base of the Pyramid. Coca-Cola will use a Golden Triangle approach to execute on this commitment, partnering with actors from the private, public, and non-governmental sectors. Deployment of the EKOCENTER is confirmed in Haiti, Mexico, the Philippines, Paraguay, Rwanda, South Africa, and the United States, with the intention to scale to over 10 more countries by the end of 2015."

A third recent "Commitment to Action" posted at the Clinton Foundation website adds, "In 2015, The Coca-Cola Company's Coca-Cola Africa Foundation committed $4.5 million over 3 years to underwrite the design and launch of the Youth Empowered for Success (YES!) program, a bold new initiative to create sustainable, safe, equitable, and productive jobs for youth across Africa. The YES! program will help young people access economic opportunities including: jobs, businesses, marketable skills, and financial services. The YES! program will be implemented in several African countries, to be determined based on assessment of need and partners."

As I reported in April, "In January, Teneo and American Ireland Funds sponsored "The Best of Ireland Gala" at the New York Athletic Club "to benefit The Children’s Medical Research Foundation and [Teneo Sports client Graeme McDowell's] GMac Foundation." Teneo CEO Declan Kelly - who was on the Board of Directors for American Ireland Funds (part of the Worldwide Ireland Funds) when they held Belfast luncheon for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2012 - was the "Dinner Chairman" for the January 12th, 2015 event which honored New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and former Coca-Cola Refreshments President Brian Kelley - a Clinton Foundation donor who is now CEO for Clinton Global Initiative partner Green Mountain Coffee."

As I reported in March, Coca-Cola executives were on the VIP list for a Teneo-sponsored event featuring Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and George W. Bush - that the media was excluded from - held in September of 2012, when longtime Hillary Clinton aide and vice chair of her 2016 presidential campaign Huma Abedin was simultaneously working for the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, Teneo and for the former First Lady on a personal basis.

"One Thursday evening last September, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Tony Blair met in New York to conduct what was supposed to be a high-minded discourse on terrorism, geopolitics, and the global economy," Alec MacGillis reported for the New Republic in 2013. "The setting was elegant—the beaux arts ballroom of the Essex House, an iconic tower on Central Park South. The 78-person VIP guest list included Harvey Weinstein, Eli Broad, Blackstone co-founders Steve Schwarzman and Pete Peterson, Silicon Valley impresario Sean Parker, Billie Jean King, George Pataki, and New York City police chief Ray Kelly, along with CEOs and top executives from companies like Dow Chemical, Coca-Cola, BP, and Bank of America. Somehow, these onetime world leaders, corporate titans, and other notable personages converged in the center of New York without the event ever being noticed by the press."

MacGillis added, "The guests had been wrangled, persuaded, flattered, and otherwise enticed to attend by Doug Band, a tall man with genial, unmemorable features and a deferential demeanor. In fact, the gathering was taking place in his own building, underneath his expansive eighth-floor apartment, and it represented a major triumph for him."

In a May 27, 2015 article titled "A Coca-Cola exec's Hillary campaign sabbatical", Patricia Sellers reported for Fortune, "Wendy Clark, Coke’s North American marketing chief, is back from an unusual leave of absence. In January, when Coca-Cola KO 0.17% executive Wendy Clark took a three-month unpaid leave to help Hillary Clinton with her branding, colleagues predicted Clark would get sucked into politics and not return. Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent bet against them that his rising-star marketer would come back to Coke. He won 'multiple bets,' he says."

Sellers continued, "Now back full-time as Coca-Cola’s North American marketing chief, Clark declines to talk with Fortune about her secretive sabbatical, which she described to colleagues simply as her 'passion project.' But if you look at her Facebook FB -2.10% page or Twitter TWTR -0.32% feed, you’ll know that Clark is still doing all she can to help elect Hillary—off the clock that is."

On April 8, 2015 - in an article titled, "181 Clinton Foundation donors who lobbied Hillary's State Department", Jonathan Allen reported for Vox, "Likewise, Coca-Cola has given between $5 million and $10 million to the foundation. The company announced an investment of $200 million in Burma after Hillary Clinton worked to lift sanctions on that country. Even unions that blame Bill Clinton's NAFTA deal for killing American jobs, including the AFL-CIO, pop up on the crosstab of companies that donate to the foundation and lobbied Hillary's State Department. Coke, of course, was one of the biggest beneficiaries of NAFTA, which opened up Mexico, the country with the highest per-capita Coca-Cola consumption in the world."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Analysts at consulting firm tied to Hillary Clinton are often critical of military action against ISIS

Teneo Intelligence Managing Director Crispin Hawes argued that US government "demon[ized]" the terror group

Intelligence analysts who work for Teneo - a worldwide consultant firm with strong ties to the Clintons, since two of its co-founders were fundraisers for Hillary Clinton and the third, former President Bill Clinton "body man" Doug Band, "was part of the negotiation team that handled all aspects of Hillary Clinton’s becoming Secretary of State - are often quoted by the US media after terrorist attacks, but the company is very secretive about what clients it represents. Since the attacks on France on Friday the 13th of November, Teneo Intelligence analysts have been quoted at numerous media outlets regarding the terrorist group ISIS, such as Managing Director Crispin Hawes, who I reported about yesterday.

A Teneo Insight essay [Editor's Note: Teneo scrubbed the html link some time on November 20, perhaps because they posted a new one, that expresses similar views, but here's a pdf link to it] called "MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA:THE ISIS THREAT" written by Crispin Hawes published in September of 2014 shows how the firm has often been critical of military action against ISIS. Its bullet points are "ISIS has achieved its intention of provoking US and western engagement in Iraq", "Militarily it will struggle to match the forces now committed against it but will continue to pose a security threat", and "The harder task for Western governments will be to address the growing problem of radicalization within Muslim communities, a problem that will be fueled by western military action against ISIS."

Yesterday morning, on Bloomberg Television’s "The Pulse", Hawes "discuss[ed] the market reaction to the attacks in Paris and what it may mean politically for the whole of France." The Teneo Intelligence Managing Director opined that there isn't an "obvious policy solution", other than "air strikes", but "no Nato member" will likely send "ground troops into Iraq and Syria any time soon and, without that, ISIS will continue to be the standard-bearer of Islamic radicalism." A number of "western security agencies have foiled plots" but the "unfortunate truth is that" attackers "only need to succeed once, while security providers need a 100 percent success rate," Hawes noted, rather obviously. Ten months ago, during an interview on CNBC after a terrorist attack in Paris, Hawes pretty much said the same thing: "That it only takes one to succeed." Yesterday, when asked specifically what would happen if ground troops were deployed and successful against ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria, Hawes said that "destroying that territorial control" wouldn't be enough to wipe out Islamicist activity, but offered no original thoughts on the matter.

Last December, Hawes wrote, "US President Barack Obama’s speech on 10 September, 2014 has cemented the reaction of NATO leaders in recent days to the decision of 'The Islamic State' jihadist group to behead two US nationals and distribute videos of their execution. While the president will have taken this decision publicly to target and threaten the organization reluctantly, this is precisely the reaction that the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS) was seeking and its leadership will welcome the commitment to greater US involvement. The additional threat to kill a UK national also being held in Syria is intended to push UK politicians to cooperate with the US in military action against the group. ISIS’ leaders will be hoping that greater US engagement in Iraq will reinforce its appeal amongst its target constituencies and give the conflict greater resonance around the Muslim world by characterizing the conflict in Iraq and Syria as part of a wider war between Sunni Islam and its antagonists."

In the next paragraph, the Managing Director for the Intelligence division of a firm that once employed former US President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton's longtime aide, Huma Abedin - while she still worked at the State Department and who now is the vice chair for the former Secretary of State's 2016 presidential campaign - as consultants, again, argues that talking tough about ISIS makes them grow stronger: "Obama’s well-trialed speech has completed the group’s meteoric rise to become the world’s most prominent jihadist organization – for 2014 at least. This prominence was inconceivable as recently as 2011 when the group had lost most of its leaders, while 12 months ago it was only one, although perhaps the best-organized, of a number of similar militias fighting the Syrian civil war. Now, having adjusted its nomenclature on the basis of its current domination of areas of eastern Syria and somewhat more tenuous control of parts of northwestern Iraq, the extremist jihadist ISIS has officially become the latest canvas onto which the region’s major actors – both within and beyond its borders – can paint their chosen nightmares."

In the third paragraph, Hawes argues that the US government has demonized the terror group. "Thanks to the brutal and public killings of James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, ISIS has now supplanted Al Qaeda in the US’ demonology of extremist groups but it had already occupied a similar position for a growing number of Middle Eastern states."

(Editor's Note: In 2010, when I was Executive Editor of RAW STORY, James Foley contacted us while embedded with the US troops in Afghanistan, and I convinced the owner that we should commission some of his articles. I edited one of Foley's articles - "In Kunar province, civilian deaths from Special Forces turn some Afghans against US" - myself, and assigned other staff members to work with him on other RAW STORY exclusives. "One Iraq veteran’s harrowing journey from the battlefield to suicide" and "Iraq vet, rattled by IEDs, ‘carried Ziploc bags full of pills’" are two other examples of Foley's work for RAW STORY.)

According to Hawes, ISIS "dragged US forces back into direct military involvement in Iraq", and "in UK and in other parts of Europe the media is convulsed by the possible threat posed by the apparent attraction ISIS offers to radicalized British Muslims, at least several hundred of whom are believed to be fighting with the group. Now ISIS’ decision to behead two US nationals has ensured its elevation to a new status as the West’s 'Public Enemy Number One'"

That "convuls[ion] and "possible threat" obviously was realized last Friday, when ISIS-linked terrorists killed over 120 people in France.

"But is ISIS really a strategic threat and if so, to whom?" Hawes asks, before conceding it is one. But then he quickly adds that its "battlefield successes and "prominence", along with "the professed enmity of the US" would "help in securing the assistance of allies."

Many Teneo consultants have criticized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which, perhaps, might be related to thwarted business schemes by some of its clients. Kevin Roland, Managing Director at Teneo Strategy, once "served as the Trade and Investment Team Leader at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq from 2008-2009, working with Iraqi government, industry and foreign investors." Hawes continues the trend by essentially blaming the two government for allowing ISIS to reach "its current position of strength".

In June of 2014, another widely quoted Managing Director at Teneo Intelligence who used to consult for the Eurasia Group - Wolfango Piccoli - told CNBC Maliki is now paying the price for his often-combative approach to regional and international relations. At this juncture his inability or unwillingness to develop personal relationships is proving a weakness."

Last November, Bloomberg News reported, "The surge in violence across northern and central Iraq, three years after U.S. troops withdrew, has raised the prospect of a return to sectarian civil war in OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government is struggling to retain control of Sunni-majority regions, and his army units in northern Iraq collapsed in the face of the Islamist advance."

Hawes told Bloomberg News, "This can’t be looked at as anything other than a comprehensive failure by the Iraqi army. If the army can’t protect Mosul, how are they going to protect other cities, like Baiji. Moving southward would be the logical thing to do for ISIL." However, just a few weeks ago, as Michael R. Gordon reported for the New York Times, "Iraqi forces and the Shiite militias fighting alongside them announced Friday that they had retaken the oil refinery at Baiji from Islamic State militants, in some of the first significant progress against the extremist group after months of stalled efforts."

"The American-led coalition said that it had carried out numerous airstrikes at Baiji to weaken the militants as the Iraqi forces moved in," Gordon added. "A coalition spokesman said Thursday that there had been 43 airstrikes in Baiji over the past 30 days."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated a willingness to work with the US and France to retaliate against ISIS for the Paris attacks, but Teneo analysts have been arguing that his ties to Syrian President Assad will put a crimp in any cooperation on joint military strikes.

On Tuesday, The Chicago Tribune reported, "Coordination with Russia will be hampered by 'Moscow's unchanged long-term goal of sustaining' the Assad government, Carsten Nickel, an analyst at political-risk consultancy Teneo Intelligence, said in an email. Moreover, the risk remains of flare-ups in Ukraine that could 'help to re-ignite the conflict as soon as Moscow and the West seem to re-align their interests on Syria,' Nickel said." According to his Teneo bio, Senior Vice President for the Intelligence division Carsten Nickel used to be a consultant at the Eurasia Group, too.

One day after this article was published, on November 19, 2015, yet another Teneo Intelligence consultant who once worked for the Eurasia Group - Senior Vice President Otilia Dhand - was interviewed on Bloomberg Television's "Countdown" about "the changing relationship between Russia and the West over the fight against the Islamic State." Dhand said that Russia's aim was "strategic" and that it hoped to capitalize on the Paris attacks by portraying itself as a similar victim of ISIS, but that one of the issues that would be "difficult to compromise" with the US and UN would be the "non-negotiable aim of stabilizing the regime" of the Assad government.

As noted above, many Teneo consultants previously worked for the Eurasia Group, which some conservatives claim is tied to Clinton Foundation donor George Soros. The billionaire gave at least $1 million to "Priorities USA Action, a super PAC dedicated to airing ads supporting [Hillary] Clinton and attacking her opponents, Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel reported in July. Cliff Kupchan, who joined the Eurasia Group in 2005 was named chairman in October of 2014, and he once "held a senior position at the State Department, where he served as deputy coordinator of US assistance to Eurasia during the Clinton administration."

At least eleven Teneo employees hail from the Eurasia Group: Antonio Barroso, Wolfango Piccoli, Kevin Kajiwara, Carsten Nickel, Crispin Hawes, Anne Frühauf, Bob Herrera-Lim, Peter Hsieh, Marc Mercer, Otilia Dhand, and Alexandra Rogan.

According to, some analysts at Eurasia Group - which claims to be "the world’s leading political risk advisory and consulting firm" - earned close to $140,000 a year. The Wikipedia entry for Eurasia Group claims it generates $75-100M a year, while Glass Door claims only $1 to $5M. However, the latter appears to be outdated since it only lists 50 employees for the consulting firm, while the former claims 150 full-time and 500 part-time staff members.

In 2011, Bank of America "struck a deal with Eurasia Group to deliver the political-risk consultancy’s analysis to wealth-management clients and develop investment portfolios based on its opinion on geopolitical events."

"Under the accord, BofA’s 20,000 Merrill Lynch and US Trust advisers will have access to Eurasia’s global research," Justin Baer reported for the Financial Times on February 16, 2011. "The bank will also host conference calls with the consultancy’s analysts. Terms were not disclosed."

According to SourceWatch, "Eurasia Group used to publish a partial list of clients on its website, but no longer does." The most recent list from 2005 as shown at the Internet Archive included Amerada Hess Corporation, Bechtel, ChevronTexaco Corporation, ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil and the Shell Corporation.

Teneo earned $3.4M in 2011 just from one of its first clients, the Rockefeller Foundation, as I previously reported. It's even more secretive about its clients and revenue than Eurasia Group, since only around 10 to 15 are known.

SourceWatch doesn't have an entry for Teneo. Lisa Graves, the Executive Director at the Center for Media and Democracy - which operates PRWatch, ALECexposed, KochExposed, and Source Watch - "formerly served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, during President Bill Clinton's administration.

[Editor's Note: Eurasia Group was reportedly launched by its founder, journalist Ian Bremmer, with only $25,000, and while its funding is secretive, I couldn't find any evidence - except his appearance at a 2002 summit debate - that Soros is linked to it.]


Monday, November 16, 2015

During terror attacks, Teneo Intelligence Managing Director Crispin Hawes reassures oil investors

Got stock in oil? Well, then, you probably heard of Crispin Hawes.

Whenever there's a Middle Eastern related terrorist attack, media outlets can count on Teneo Intelligence Managing Director Crispin Hawes for consistent quotes on how it affects oil investors, as if that's all that matters.

No matter the time, the place or the specifics, Crispin Hawes seems to be making a nifty living talking up oil, and reassuring investors that terror attacks come with the territory when you profit off of black gold.

Some firms reportedly pay Teneo hundreds of thousands of dollars a month for consulting. But if Hawes' consulting work is anything like his media soundbites and interviews, they probably aren't getting much bang for their bucks, since he never really says much of anything.

When asked what can be done to prevent future attacks, Hawes adds little to the conversation, even though media outlets keep contacting him for quotes.

Earlier today, on Bloomberg Television’s "The Pulse", Hawes "discuss[ed] the market reaction to the attacks in Paris and what it may mean politically for the whole of France." The Teneo Intelligence Managing Director opined that there isn't an "obvious policy solution", other than "air strikes", but "no Nato member" will likely send "ground troops into Iraq and Syria any time soon and, without that, ISIS will continue to be the standard-bearer of Islamic radicalism."

A number of "western security agencies have foiled plots" but the "unfortunate truth is that" attackers "only need to succeed once, while security providers need a 100 percent success rate," Hawes noted, rather obviously.

Ten months ago, during an interview on CNBC after a terrorist attack in Paris, Hawes pretty much said the same thing: "That it only takes one to succeed."

Today, when asked specifically what would happen if ground troops were deployed and successful against ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria, Hawes said that "destroying that territorial control" wouldn't be enough to wipe out Islamicist activity, but offered no original thoughts on the matter.

"Mr. Hawes has been covering political and investment risk issues in the Middle East and Africa for over 20 years," his bio at Teneo - a firm launched by former President Bill Clinton's "body man" and two Hillary Clinton fundraisers, one of whom served as her Economic Adviser to No. Ireland when she served as President Obama's Secretary of State - states. "In addition to two stints leading Eurasia Group’s MENA practice, Mr. Hawes has covered the region for Control Risks Group, The Economist Intelligence Unit, Credit Lyonnais Securities and as a partner in Horizon, a boutique upstream oil and gas consultancy."

According to his resume at LinkedIn, Crispin Hawes left Horizon in October of 2011 to return to the Eurasia Group. His resume states, "Research and consulting firm focused on political and commercial environment for energy investment. We specialize in analyzing the impact that individuals have on government decisions in the energy industry in countries where the real decision-making power does not necessarily lie in the hands of people that hold formal positions of power but in opaque networks. We cover, among others, countries such as Libya, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Indonesia." In the October 11, 2011 Eurasia Group press release announcing Hawes was rejoining the consulting firm, it said that "he was consulting primarily on the regional oil and gas sector as a partner and head of Middle East and North Africa research for Horizon, a boutique consultancy."

Like many of the consultants at Teneo, who used to include former President Bill Clinton, former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Hillary Clinton's longtime aide, Huma Abedin - while she still worked at the State Department - in their ranks, many Teneo employees had stints working for or advising governments. According to his bio, Teneo Intelligence Managing Director Crispin Hawes has "consulted with government agencies in the US, Canada, the UK and Germany."

"King Salman has abandoned the balancing act by which predecessors tried to keep the Al Saud family’s various branches in harmony, and opted for rapid change that’s already ruffling some royal feathers," Bloomberg News reported on April 30, 2015. "Change in the conservative Gulf monarchy, the world’s biggest oil exporter, has typically involved inching forward."

But count on Hawes to be a reassuring voice for any panicking oil investors: "When the older generation started to die, we expected to see major changes. The details of the outcome are surprising, but the situation was always going to change. Salman is trying to make changes in a concentrated period of time."

Reuters reported on January 18, 2013, "Libya rushed to beef up security at its oil fields and energy firms were considering similar measures in Egypt as Islamist militants threatened to attack new installations in north Africa. More than 20 foreigners were still being held hostage or missing inside Algeria's In Amenas gas plant on Friday after Algerian forces stormed the desert complex near the Libyan border to free hundreds of captives taken by Islamist militants."

"That attack and the warning triggered a mass exodus of expatriates from Algerian oil and gas production sites and security experts have said similar evacuation could be on the way across other north African countries," the Reuters report continued. "BP said on Friday hundreds of workers from international oil companies had been evacuated from Algeria on Thursday and many more would follow."

However, none of this seemed to stir or shake Hawes: "Crispin Hawes, from Eurasia consultancy, who said he had visited the In Amenas site several times, said oil companies removed non-essential staff in such circumstances as part of their established protocols."

"In other nearby countries, similar responses are also almost automatically triggered," Hawes reassured oil investors through Reuters. "Every international oil company operation in Algeria will be obliged by insurers to take certain precautions to avoid and mitigate such instances. Premiums are likely to rise and the expatriation of staff will add to operating costs."

The Reuters article continued, "He said the exodus of expats might delay some projects but added that very big outages were unlikely as the biggest fields in southern Algeria such as Hassi Mesaoud were 'extremely secure'".

On August 8, 2013 Julie Payne at Reuters reported, "Unrest that has already slashed Libya's oil output to the lowest levels since the 2011 civil war and more than halved its exports is now spreading, with serious implications for its economy, foreign companies and consumers of crude...Although oil provides 95 percent of Libya's revenues, analysts say its economy can manage for a while." An optimistic Hawes chimed in, "They are not that straightened because they have significant (monetary) reserves. It would take a couple of months of zero exports before they would not be able to pay for things. It's a medium term issue."

Many times Hawes doesn't even add much to the premise of the article, but reporters still count on him for quotes. In a December 2, 2013 Wall Street Journal article, Emre Peker reported, "The autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan said it agreed to supply Turkey with oil through a pipeline in a landmark deal that raised tensions with Baghdad, which fears the move could spark independence drives by other Iraqi governorates. But the Monday announcement here, in the region's capital, was tempered by Baghdad's refusal to approve the deal, which it considers illegal."

"In retaliation, Baghdad could move to cut off the pipeline, which connects to Turkey through an Iraqi-Turkish pipeline, and it could confront Turkey in an international court, lawyers say," Peker noted. "Baghdad, in a last resort, could intervene militarily, though many observers see that as less likely." But the only quote from Hawes: "The risk to Turkey of selling this crude without Iraqi approval is incredibly high."

Hawes - whose "core specializations are hydrocarbons politics in the Gulf and political transitions in MENA states, particularly Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Libya" - tends to sound a constant alarm about renegade terrorists who are more of a threat to oil investors than whomever actually controls the oil.

7/17/12 Gulf News report: "'A new cycle of Shiite protests against the Saudi regime and its policing tactics is developing in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia,' Crispin Hawes, director for the Middle East and North Africa at Eurasia Group in London, wrote in an e- mailed note yesterday. 'The immediate implications for state stability and crude oil production are limited, but the repercussions for the stability of the province in the longer- term are potentially significant'".

1/29/13 CNN report:"Crispin Hawes of Eurasia Group says Libyan oil production has made a strong recovery since Gadhafi's overthrow, but security issues, protests and labor disputes are putting further gains at risk. 'The operating security environment continues to deter some service companies from operating in the country at all while others that have returned to Libya are still only slowly ramping up their activities,' Hawes writes."

4/24/13 Times Live report: "What we are now likely to see in western Iraq is a deteriorating cycle of confrontation between the central government and protesters that will benefit extremist groups," said Crispin Hawes at Eurasia Group."

11/6/14 Bloomberg News report: "The surge in violence across northern and central Iraq, three years after U.S. troops withdrew, has raised the prospect of a return to sectarian civil war in OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government is struggling to retain control of Sunni-majority regions, and his army units in northern Iraq collapsed in the face of the Islamist advance." Hawes's take: "This can’t be looked at as anything other than a comprehensive failure by the Iraqi army. If the army can’t protect Mosul, how are they going to protect other cities, like Baiji. Moving southward would be the logical thing to do for ISIL."

11/19/14 Institutional Investor report "Chaos and Crashing Oil Prices Are Raising Anxieties in Middle East": "'ISIS has now supplanted al-Qaeda in the U.S.’s demonology of extremist groups, but it has already occupied a similar position for a growing number of Middle Eastern states,” says Crispin Hawes, a Middle East analyst at Teneo Intelligence in London. 'To Iran and its Hezbollah allies, ISIS is the bastard child of Western intervention and Wahhabi extremist anti-Shiism. To the Saudis, it is a revisitation by the Rule of Unintended Consequences, originally written during the 1980s Afghan war. To governments in Amman, Baghdad, Abu Dhabi and beyond, ISIS appears a very real and immediate threat.'"

9/24/15 Bloomberg News report: "The crushing of more than 700 people near the Saudi holy city of Mecca, the worst tragedy at the Hajj pilgrimage in a quarter century, poses the latest political challenge for a kingdom roiled by plunging oil prices and war...'A lot of money has been spent in Mecca, so there will be questions about accountability,' Crispin Hawes, managing director of Teneo Intelligence, said in a phone interview. 'This has the potential for a nasty political firestorm for the regime, and there will need to be a political response to what will be perceived as another egregious failure.'"

(Editor's Note: This article originally [embarrassingly] confused 2001 and 2011 when it was originally published, and wrongly claimed Crispin Hawes left Horizon shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Also, the Horizon consulting firm based in the UK that Hawes worked at until 2011 doesn't appear to be related to Horizon Oil and Gas Services, whose headquarters are in Iraq, so I nixed that from this article. )

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Hillary Clinton aide was relieved that sexually abused kids didn't blame State Dept. on NBC News report

November 8 update: Former Foreign Service Officer with the State Department responds to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton staffer's email which politicized her criticism, mostly blowing it off, but said that it strikes her as "typical and in character", since "people in the Secretary's office would have zero idea how these programs are really run. They think it's all happy Fulbright scholars falling in love with America."

An email released by the State Department on Friday shows that a top Hillary Clinton aide was mostly relieved that an NBC News report which was a response to a story called "Critics blame State Department for turning a blind eye on sex abuse" wasn't "worse" when it aired on television. It took months for the State Department to suspend an organization it worked with that was singled out in the report, and it wasn't until nearly nine months later - after a host father went to prison for sexually abusing a foreign exchange student featured in the NBC News report - that it was removed from the list of sponsors. However, the State Department - under Hillary Clinton and after she left in 2013 - never apparently even publicly admitted that the sexual abuse charges had anything to do with dropping the organization, which appears to have gone defunct.

Jason Leopold - who once falsely reported that Karl Rove was indicted - noted the email in a story ("Hillary Clinton's Response to a Bank Robber in a Hillary Mask: 'Should I Be Flattered?'") for VICE News that focused on a much lighter one.

"One email dated March 15, 2012 was highly critical about NBC News coverage of a story, the content of which is unclear," Leopold reported. "But it does note that in order to rebut the story the State Department would have had to provide emails to "prove our side, which I'm sure would have to go through rigorous legal vetting."

However, the email certainly wasn't "highly critical", and was mostly pleased with the on-air report, and it only took a quick Google search to figure out which NBC News report was being reviewed by Caitlin Klevorick, who was then Senior Advisor to the Counselor and Chief of Staff at the State Department. Leopold's story left out key clues that made it easy to find such as the name of a critic, Jessica Vaughan from the Center for Immigration Studies, and that it had to do with kids and referred to a case that occurred in Montana in December of 2011. Leopold has been at the forefront of the Freedom of Information Act battles with the State Department on releasing Clinton emails, but he doesn't appear to be very critical of the top Democratic presidential candidate.

Leopold's story continues, "'This was clearly an agenda-laden job that brian Williams and kate snow didn't seem to comfortable with,' wrote Caitlin Kevorick, then a senior State Department aide [all sic]. 'It was bad. There's no question, but toria's [Victoria Nuland, State Department spokesman] tone and poise were incredibly clutch. They used a bunch of broil of S [Secretary Clinton] without saying anything to me, despite my grilling, but the broil [sic] is public footage and it never blames S [Secretary Clinton] if anything it shows her 'fix it now' mentality and that this can't be tolerated … Surprisingly the person who was the worst during the day was [NBC News reporter] Andrea Mitchell who teased the piece on her show.'"

Kevorick wrote Hillary Clinton's aide Cheryl Mills - who later helped select which emails to delete from Clinton's server, "On the most recent case they mentioned, from December/Montana, the facts we have contradict those NBC has but did not know until too late and would have had to provide emails to prove our side which I'm sure would have to go through rigorous legal vetting."

Anna Schecter reported for NBC News on March 14, 2012 ("Critics blame State Department for turning a blind eye on sex abuse"), "Despite reforms, just this past Christmas a 16-year-old boy from Germany says he did not know what to do after he was allegedly sexually abused by his host father and did not know what to do. In an interview to be broadcast tonight on Rock Center, he said he did not know about the State Department’s 24/7 hotline."

"His mother said when she spoke to the local coordinator by phone and asked her what she should do, the coordinator told her, 'It’s up to you,'" the NBC News story continued. "She quickly flew to the U.S. on her own dime to retrieve her son at her own expense. Three months later she and her son flew back to the U.S., again at their own expense, to file a police report."

In the email, Kevorick wrote, "One thing to note, none of the kids mentioned the state department or usg. Only Jessica Vaughan who is at the center for immigration studies and has long been a critic (and was a former junior [Foreign Service Officer] mentioned State with incredible disdain and explicit culpability."

Vaughan told NBC News, "Through their mismanagement of the program, they essentially are looking the other way. They’re in denial about how much of it actually goes on. I’m ashamed as an American that the government agency that’s responsible for bringing them over under the auspices of [being] about cross-cultural understanding is exercising only token oversight to protect these kids."

"The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit, research organization," the CIS About page states. "Since our founding in 1985, we have pursued a single mission – providing immigration policymakers, the academic community, news media, and concerned citizens with reliable information about the social, economic, environmental, security, and fiscal consequences of legal and illegal immigration into the United States." CIS claims, "Our board, our staff, our researchers, and our contributor base are not predominantly 'liberal' or predominantly 'conservative'. Not all of the "Kudos for the Center" are from Republicans: Former Democratic Colorado Gov. Richard D. Lamm is quoted as saying it's "one of the best organizations working on one of America’s most important problems" and Wisconsin Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette said, "The Center is doing important work to focus attention on the important role of the current rapid U.S. population growth in dealing with the many environmental problems we face in this country."

In addition, Joaquin Otero - a former Deputy Under Secretary of Labor who was once nominated by former President Bill Clinton "to serve as the Assistant Secretary for International Labor Affairs at the Department of Labor," and donated $1,000 to the Hillary Clinton for President campaign - reportedly said, "Your analyses and other immigration reporting are excellent and I want to congratulate you and CIS for keeping this vital policy issue on the front burner."

According to her biography at the CIS website, "Jessica M. Vaughan serves as Director of Policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, DC-based research institute that examines the impact of immigration on American society and educates policymakers and opinion leaders on immigration issues. She has been with the Center since 1992, and her area of expertise is immigration policy and operations, covering topics such as visa programs, immigration benefits and immigration law enforcement. Ms. Vaughan recently completed several major projects on immigration and crime, including a Department of Justice-funded project studying the use of immigration law enforcement in transnational gang suppression efforts. In addition, she is an instructor for senior law enforcement officer training seminars at Northwestern University’s Center for Public Safety in Illinois."

"Prior to joining the Center, Mrs. Vaughan was a Foreign Service Officer with the State Department, where she served in Belgium and Trinidad & Tobago," the biography adds.

When told about the staffer's email which politicized her criticism, Jessica Vaughan mostly blew it off, but said that it strikes her as "typical and in character." She added, "There has been no leadership-level interest in the exchange programs and their proper management. Nor any authentic concern about the participants. That is why the oversight is outsourced to the designated sponsor organizations, who - as a result - have near free rein to operate these programs."

Vaughan complained that "people in the Secretary's office would have zero idea how these programs are really run. They think it's all happy Fulbright scholars falling in love with America. It's just not an area of interest for them, regardless of crimes or other problems. Same with most members of Congress, who hear only glowing Kumbaya stories from the sponsoring organizations. No different from the au pair problems a few years back -- nothing changed until a baby was killed by a nanny who was incompetent/inexperienced."

"I suspect that some of the more reputable outfits are doing a better job of screening participants, but I'm sure there are still some bad actors operating exchanges," Vaughan said. "State will ignore it until there's another scandal. They just don't like having to take responsibility for it, they aren't trained for it, it's a placeholder job for someone."

In the 2012 email - after a series of online NBC news reports about how State Department was allegedly "'in denial' about how many high school foreign exchange students are sexually abused by their American host parents," reached a larger television audience - Kevorick happily noted, "They also continually said that the vast majority have great experiences."

However, as Schecter reported two days before the email, "Nuland said that from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's point of view even one child abused under these programs is one child too many."
"'Our standard has to be zero tolerance. So to the degree that which we still have cases reported we are not there yet. Are the reforms that we've put in place sufficient? I think we need to watch that over the next couple of months and see where it goes. But we are absolutely committed to continuing to tighten these regulations and improve this program until we get to zero.'"
While the State Department aide concluded in the "bottom line" that the NBC News story was "bad", she was evidently relieved because it could "have been worse."

Another article - "State Dept: Fifty teens allegedly sexually abused or harassed by host parent last year" - published on March 15, 2012, includes the State Department responses to the NBC News investigation, which Kevorick was specifically referring to in her email to Mills.

The article says Nuland told NBC News, "The vast majority of these kids have a rich, enormously gratifying experience that lasts with them for a lifetime. That doesn't change the fact that we have to have zero tolerance for any of these cases, even one child abused is one too many. And it is our job to fix this and we will."

In actuality, Nuland's over the top quote was "these kids have a enormously, gratifying, rich, fantastic experience."

. Regarding the Montana case, while Kevorick claimed that "the facts we have contradict those NBC has but did not know until too late and would have had to provide emails to prove our side which I'm sure would have to go through rigorous legal vetting," Nuland told NBC News, "Assuming the case is as you explained it, it's absolutely unacceptable, and it's one that needs to be looked at by us, and we will do that."

On August 7, 2014, a United States District Court judge dismissed the Montana case due to jurisdiction concerns and New York contract laws. (Editor's note: I'm not linking to the ruling since it includes the alleged victim's name). But according to the ruling, the alleged German victim, "while a minor in 2011, enrolled in a foreign student exchange program here in the United States, which was run by Defendant International Student Exchange, Inc. ("ISE")" and that "on December 23, 2011, when he was sixteen years old and residing in the Preiss home as part of the exchange student program, [Defendant Theodore R] Preiss subjected Plaintiff to unwanted sexual contact. That evening, Plaintiff contacted Ashley Pulsipher ("Pulsipher"), the Area Representative assigned by ISE to supervise and monitor Plaintiff's placement with the Preiss family. Plaintiff advised Pulsipher that there were private issues that he urgently needed to discuss with her, in person, as soon as possible."

Oddly, ISE didn't contact the police, according to the judge's ruling, and waited until the following day to contact the State Department.

"Plaintiff met with Pulsipher on December 26, 2011 and reported Preiss's sexual abuse. Pulsipher immediately contacted her supervisor, Area Manager Carol Toews ("Toews"), who in turn called ISE's corporate headquarters in New York. On December 27, 2011, Toews, following instructions from ISE's New York office, contacted the Child and Family Services Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and notified them of Plaintiff's report of sexual abuse. That same day, ISE's corporate office in New York notified the United States Department of State of Plaintiff's report of sexual abuse."

"Plaintiff left Montana to return to Germany on December 27, 2011," the judge added. "The District Attorney's Office for Gallatin County, Montana declined to prosecute Preiss."

On March 14, 2012, the AP reported, "Despite dozens of allegations of neglect and sexual abuse over the years, the U.S. State Department has scrapped a plan to require FBI-based fingerprint searches for people hosting foreign high school exchange students, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The federal agency in recent years considered but dropped a plan to require FBI background checks similar to what's used by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts because it wasn't "feasible," according to the State Department documents."

"Danielle Grijalalva, executive director of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students, said she has found dozens of cases of sexual abuse over the years and forwarded the complaints to the State Department," the AP article noted. "Yet the agency has done little to investigate them, she said."

Grijalalva complained to the AP, "The State Department is watching exchange agencies like the Catholic Church watched its (pedophile) priests."

According to California attorney Andrea Leavitt - who represented four exchange students sexually abused in Arkansas, two of which who were interviewed in the NBC News report - told the AP, ""Most often we see the inclination by the foreign exchange sponsoring agency, camps, schools and churches is to bury it and discredit the kid. The cover-ups often result in more victims and escalation in the nature and severity of the abuse by the perpetrator. There is a huge, glaring, gaping hole in the regulations in what must be done when there's an allegation of child abuse.

The AP story added, "Allegations of abuse aren't usually reported immediately to law enforcement or child protective services, she said."
"Leavitt would like to see a federal law that requires officials, employees and agents of entities that are licensed by the government or receive financial benefits from the government to report an allegation to law enforcement before running it up the company's chain of command.

There should be a mandatory jail sentence and no plea bargains when people don't first report the matter to law enforcement by email or fax within 24 hours of hearing an allegation, she said.

'There's too much witness tampering, too much wagon circling by the entities to protect them from liability and penalties over the protection and best interests of the victims,' she said.
In December of 2014, ABC Fox Montana reported, "A German exchange student claims his Belgrade host parent sexually abused him...The student filed the suit in Montana federal courts against International Student Exchange (ISE), one of the world's largest exchange companies, saying the company should be held responsible for placing him with a Belgrade host parent who later sexually abused him in 2011."

"Attorneys for the host father say the student fabricated these claims because he was unhappy in Montana and wanted to return to Germany," the article added. "The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $6 million."

According to a Montana court docket, Preiss and the teenage boy apparently agreed to a settlement in June. On June 11, the judge announced that the "jury trial set for March 7, 2016, is VACATED."

In July, a judge dismissed the case against ISE, for similar reasons cited in New York: jurisdiction and contract issues. (Editor's note: Again, I'm not directly linking to the court document since it contains the alleged victim's name). There are more details provided in the ruling, the alleged victim claimed the "unwanted sexual contact" included "touching his intimate body parts under the guise of 'tickling'" and "performing oral sex on him."

It's unclear why the Montana District Attorney's office didn't press charges against host parent Theodore R. Preiss, but I'm hoping to get more information from the alleged victim's attorney. Since the State Department was involved - to some respect - it's also unclear why they weren't named in any of the lawsuits.

There are three videos in total at the last NBC News link. Viewers should be warned that watching Kate Snow is extremely disturbing, since she smiles inappropriately even when talking to teenagers who claimed to be sexual abuse victims. Her questions to Nuland are complete softballs, and even though the mother of the Montana teen specifically said none of the material provided to families before sending their kids to America mention sexual abuse, Snow does a disservice to Kevorick's hard work by not even asking the State Department to respond to that claim.

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It took four months before the State Department appears to have finally taken any other significant action about the program, even though Hillary Clinton said that there should be "zero tolerance" for child abuse.

A July 23, 2012 Associated Press report claimed, "An organization that has brought thousands of foreign exchange students to the United States is telling its staff and host families that it will fight a State Department decision to suspend the company from the popular visa program, according to an email obtained by The Associated Press...The State Department suspended PIE from the program last week for undisclosed rule violations."

However, it was unclear at the time if that suspension had anything to do with the sex abuse claims, since the AP story added, "The State Department has not said exactly why PIE was suspended from the program. The company has had problems in recent years. The State Department put it on probation last year, reduced the number of students it could sponsor by 15 percent and ordered it to improve program administration."

On September 7, 2012, Anna Schecter reported, "The State Department has punished a student exchange organization in the wake of a Rock Center probe which examined cases of sexual abuse of high school foreign exchange students".

"San Diego-based Pacific Intercultural Exchange (P.I.E), one of the organizations highlighted in the March 14 report, was banned from participating in the State Department program," Schecter wrote. "As reported by Rock Center, P.I.E. placed a 16-year-old German exchange student in the home of a single host father, 51-year-old Craig Ley, who repeatedly sexually abused the student in his Oregon home over the course of the 2009 academic school year."

But an unnamed State Department official still pushed "the vast majority have great experiences" angle.

Shecter's September 7, 2012 report continued, "Fifty high school foreign exchange students reported being sexually abused or harassed by a host parent during the 2010-2011 school year alone, according to data released by the State Department in response to the March Rock Center report. A State Department official said this is a small percentage of the 25,000 foreign high-school students who come to America on special visas each year."

"Rock Center interviewed two students who were sexually abused by the same host father," Schecter noted. "Educational Resource Development Trust (E.R.D.T.) placed the second student in the home of the perpetrator in 2005 even after the first student had alerted the organization about the host father’s inappropriate conduct the year before. The students filed suit in 2010 and E.R.D.T. settled for an undisclosed amount without admitting liability. E.R.D.T. was never sanctioned by the State Department and is still operating."

The website for the Pacific Intercultural Exchange at is no longer active, and it appears that it stopped updating in August of 2012. A July 20, 2012 message (archive link) stated, "We are heartbroken by the Department of State's decision to temporarily suspend Pacific Intercultural Exchange's (P.I.E.) operation during the height of the 2012-2013 academic year placement cycle. Since our founding in 1975, P.I.E. has provided a positive, meaningful and safe exchange experience for more than 20,000 secondary school participants. We remain committed to offering these culturally enriching programs well into the future. Because the suspension directly relates to a civil suit that is currently in litigation, we cannot provide detail at this time. We can say that the safety of all our participants is and always has been P.I.E.'s highest priority. During the temporary suspension, we are working with our partner programs and government officials to ensure that no inbound students are adversely affected. In addition, we are preparing a formal response to the Department of State contesting the suspension, and we will provide more information when we are able."

A video of then Secretary Clinton was featured at the P.I.E. website, and can still be viewed YouTube.

In October of 2012, one of the host fathers agreed to a a settlement with an abused teenager featured in the NBC News report. Emily E. Smith at the Oregonian reported, "A German exchange student reached a settlement Wednesday in his lawsuit against the Beaverton host father who sexually abused him and the exchange program that matched them. The teen sued his former host father, Craig Ley, for $2 million. Ley is now serving a prison sentence for sexually abusing the then-16-year-old exchange student when the teen attended Beaverton High School and lived with him during the 2009-10 school year."

The story added, "The suit also sought $4 million from Pacific Intercultural Exchange, the San Diego-based exchange program that continued using Ley as a host father even after his 2004 felony mail fraud conviction. PIE reached a confidential settlement Wednesday with the teen, who is now 19. Also, Ley resolved the case against him by agreeing to pay $100,000 to child abuse assessment center CARES Northwest. As part of the agreement, if Ley does not fulfill the payment within 10 years, the teen may seize the money."

But it wasn't until late November of 2012, that the State Department took final action against P.I.E.

"An organization has lost its government designation to bring foreign exchange students to the United States after facing allegations of mismanagement and lax oversight that included students being placed in homes where they were sexually abused," Holbrook Mohr reported for the Associated Press on November 30, 2012. "State Department spokeswoman Susan Pittman told The Associated Press on Friday that Pacific Intercultural Exchange, or PIE, was removed Wednesday from the department’s list of official sponsors."

However, Mohr added, "State Department officials haven’t said exactly what problems led to PIE’s removal, but documents and emails obtained by AP in July showed allegations of serious problems, including sexual abuse by host fathers."

This is the full email:
"By the time the piece ran pretty much everything was already posted in stories on the website. This was clearly an agenda-laden job that brian Williams and kate snow didn't seem to comfortable with. It was bad. There's no question, but toria's tone and poise were incredibly clutch. On the most recent case they mentioned, from December/Montana, the facts we have contradict those NBC has but did not know until too late and would have had to provide emails to prove our side which I'm sure would have to go through rigorous legal vetting. One thing to note, none of the kids mentioned the state department or usg. Only Jessica Vaughan who is at the center for immigration studies and has long been a critic (and was a former junior FSO) mentioned State with incredible disdain and explicit culpability. They used a bunch of broil of S without saying anything to me, despite my grilling, but the broil is public footage and it never blames S if anything it shows her 'fix it now' mentality and that this can't be tolerated. They also continually said that the vast majority have great experiences. Both Brian and Kate said that in the live follow-up on the piece. Surprisingly the person who was the worst during the day was Andrea Mitchell who teased the piece on her show. And again, this was only about the private sector exchanges not the ones that are usg-funded.

Bottom line:

So, was it bad? Yes

Could it have been worse?


And the show literally went from Toria sayng zero tolerance and the talk back in the studio to a story about the gifts office and the grill obama gave Cameron...
In his VICE article, Leopold also didn't note Klevorick - like longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin - was given "special government employee" status so that she could work for the State Department and Clinton Foundation at the same time.

"Klevorick was one of several Clinton aides who was granted a "special government employee" status that allowed her to collect paychecks from a private company and the State Department at the same time, according to Pro Publica," Sarah Westwood reported for Washington Examiner in July.

Westwood added, "Klevorick worked both as a consultant for the Clinton Foundation and in Mills' office that year, according to her professional biography."

(Editor's Note: Jason Leopold and I have a long history going back over a decade. After once contacting me to praise me for a story I did on a plagiarist - which was strange, since he had previously lost reporting jobs for alleged plagiarism - Leopold later turned against me, and used a sock to spread outrageous lies about me a few years ago. After I discovered a few of his stories for RAW STORY - before I was promoted to Executive Editor - were full of misinformation, we stopped publishing his work.)