The U.S. issues a worldwide travel alert for its citizens in response to “increased terrorist threats”. The alert advises US citizens to “exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation”and to “be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places”. The alert will remain in place until 24 February 2016. State Department:
[There is] currently… no reason to believe that US citizens would be specifically targeted.
Citizens United files a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit describing a dozen Benghazi-related emails that were withheld in whole or in part when the State Department responded to one of the group’s requests seeking information about contacts between a top aide to Clinton and officials with the Clinton Foundation. Most of the documents also appear to have been withheld from the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is investigating State’s response to the attack. A panel spokesman says he could not immediately confirm which of the documents had been turned over to the committee, but Citizens United President Bossie told reporters that staffers at the House panel told the group State never produced the records to Congress.
To the best of their knowledge, they do not have these documents either, even though they are under subpoena for an extended period of time.
The Department has made every effort to cooperate with the Benghazi Committee, providing 32 witnesses for interviews and over 70,000 pages of documents, including over 20,000 pages in the last month alone. We will continue to respond to the Benghazi Committee’s requests, but as they mount and modify over time, so too must we plan accordingly for the time and resources they consume.
The State Department says 150 of 7000 pages of emails it will release today from clinton’s server have had their status upgraded to ‘classified’. Spokesperson:
The information we’ve upgraded was not marked classified at the time the emails were sent…That’s our estimation right now.
A State Department official says the department could not do anything in response to the March 2013 hack of longtime Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal because it occurred on a non-governmental computer system. The hacked emails, which included Blumenthal’s frequent correspondence with Clinton while she was in office in 2012, were sent by the Romanian hacker to media organizations, which later posted them online.
The State Department reports to a Federal court that it is getting back on schedule for publicly releasing Clinton’s emails after falling more than 1,000 pages behind in July, when the need to screen messages for secret information overwhelmed the department. Five security agencies are involved in the review, and have checked 20 percent of the emails, finding 305 messages (5.1%) that needed to be referred to the security agencies to determine whether they did, in fact, have secret information that needed to be redacted before public release. State Dept spokesperson:
We’re taking this very seriously.
The State Department inspector general’s office says it is reviewing the use of “personal communications hardware and software” by Clinton’s former top aides after requests from Congress. Clinton, herself, is not a target. At least four top aides have turned over records, including copies of work emails on personal accounts, to the Department, which is collecting them in response to a subpoena from Capitol Hill. Lawmakers have demanded records, including personal emails, from six other aides, but it’s unknown whether they used personal email for work. Spokesperson:
We will follow the facts wherever they lead, to include former aides and associates, as appropriate.
Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Grassley:
Both the State Department and Intelligence Community inspectors general should be looking into the staff use of the Clinton private server for official State Department business. This means giving both inspectors general access and custody of all emails that haven’t already been deleted. From what is publicly known, it appears that the investigation thus far has focused so much on the former secretary of state, that it’s gotten lost that high-level staff apparently also used this server too.
The U.S. State Department offers a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Guzman. The tip line is being managed by the DEA’s San Diego field office.
Rosenberg, acting head of the DEA, says Guzman is most likely in Mexico, hiding in his home state of Sinaloa, Mexico. But Rosenberg acknowledged that the elusive Guzman could be anywhere.
I think he is still in Mexico. Do I know that? No. It’s an educated guess.
Thailand continues to be blacklisted in the U.S. State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report for consecutive second time for not combatting modern-day slavery. This comes after the country presses charges against more than 100 people, including an army general, on counts of human trafficking after dozens of bodies were found in a jungle prison camp earlier this year.
Thailand investigated and prosecuted some cases against corrupt officials involved in trafficking, but trafficking-related corruption continued to impede progress. Relevant agencies have intensified their efforts, which led to the crackdowns of trafficking syndicates as well as many arrests and punishments of high-ranking officials complicit in human trafficking.
Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
[The report] does not accurately reflect the significant efforts undertaken by the government.
The State Department elevates Malaysia in its latest human trafficking report. The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report gives Malaysia a boost to the Tier 2 Watch List from Tier 3. State Department:
The Government of Malaysia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, however, it is making significant efforts to do so.
Elections are held in Burundi amidst unrest. Turnout is low in the capital, and one province but 16 other provinces has a good level of voters. U.S. State Department:
The legitimacy of the electoral process in Burundi over the past few months has been tainted by the government’s harassment of opposition and civil society members, closing down of media outlets and political space, and intimidation of voters.
The United States and Cuba restore diplomatic relations after half a century. The Cuban embassy opens in Washington, and a Cuban flag is added to the lobby of the State Department. Presidents Castro and Obama mark the relationship with a letter exchange. Secretary of State Kerry will visit Cuba later in the summer to formally raise the flag there:
Nothing is more futile than trying to live in the past. We’re taking a historic and long overdue step in the right direction.
Outside of the Cuban embassy, crowds of people cheered as the Cuban national anthem plays while three Cuban soldiers stood at attention while the flag was raised. One protester is removed by police.
The United States helps evacuate American, Canadian and other foreign citizens from Burundi, saying it has assisted more than two dozen people to leave on planes to Rwanda. All US nationals that request evacuation are able to leave Burundi, and that Washington routinely provides such assistance to foreign citizens on a space-available basis. State Department:
In addition to approximately 20 US citizens on the three commercial charter flights that went out on May 17 to Kigali, the US helped four Canadian citizens as well as other foreign citizens,..The security situation remains fluid and volatile because of militia, military and security forces activity in Bujumbura. There may be increased political tensions and civil disturbances related to these actions.
Iran Revolutionary Guard patrol boats fire shots at a commercial cargo ship, the Marshall Islands-flagged M/V Maersk Tigris, and then intercept the vessel, which is crossing the Strait of Hormuz. The Tigris issues a distress call and the USS Farragut is ordered to head towards the incident. The Navy says it is “to be determined” what the USS Farragut will do when it reaches the vicinity of the incident.
The Pentagon thinks about 30 individuals are on board. According to a U.S. official, there are no Americans on board the vessel and the U.S. believes that Iranians will “send the ship on its way.” A State Department spokesperson notes that the U.S. has a security compact with the Marshall Islands on defense issues. But he adds that there hasn’t been a specific request for assistance from the Marshall Islands and says it is premature to say whether this could require the use of force.
It’s a key concern of the United States to ensure that sea lanes in the region remain open and safe.
The United States condemns President Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in office, warning that the central African country is losing an historic opportunity to strengthen its democracy. State Department:
We regret this significant missed opportunity, but the hard work of building democratic practices and institutions must continue…In that spirit, we urge all parties to participate in the legislative and national elections and ensure these electoral processes are inclusive, transparent, credible, free and conducted in an environment without threats, intimidation, or violence…We specifically call on the Burundian government to respect the rights of all peaceful political parties and their candidates to campaign, hold meetings and rallies and express their views…The United States will continue to monitor the situation in Burundi closely and take targeted measures, including, where appropriate, by denying US visas, to hold accountable those individuals who participate in, plan, or order violence against the civilian population…Violence has no place in democratic elections, and perpetrators of such violence will not be welcome to travel to the United States and risk being held accountable in a court of law for any crimes for which they are responsible.
Assange writes in When Google Met Wikileaks that he met Schmidt while under house arrest in in mid-May 2011 in Norfolk. Schmidt had requested the meeting. He says Schmidt and Cohen, the head of Google Ideas and a former State Department official (government bio here), were writing a book and wanted an interview. Schmidt, his (then) partner Shields, Cohen, and book editor Malcomson, who would later join the State Department as a speechwriter, turned up at their mid-June appointment:
At this point, the delegation was one part Google, three parts U.S. foreign-policy establishment, but I was still none the wiser.
They talk about geopolitics and Schmidt refuses a request to leak to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks later attempts to contact the State Department to give a heads-up on the early publication of the group’s book. They are eventually contacted by Shields. Assange:
It was at this point that I realized Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, D.C., including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton’s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel.
The State Department creates a mock ISIS propaganda video intended to dissuade potential recruits from joining. The video titled ‘Welcome to the ‘Islamic State’ Land’ promises viewers they will ‘learn useful skills for the Ummah’ such as ‘blowing up mosques,’ ‘crucifying and executing Muslims,’ and ‘suicide bombings inside mosques.’ It shows clips from ISIS’s own propaganda videos of the group’s atrocities such as crucifixions, displays of mutilated corpses in the public square, mass executions and disposal of bodies in a pit. Tagline:
Run, Do Not Walk, To ISIS Country