Conflict of Interest In Clinton Foundation Funding? Hillary's Email, Part III

 

Introduction: Hillary Clinton’s secret personal email system continued last week to prompt heavy news coverage but with scant scrutiny of the most sinister implications for the public. This is the third part of a series examining  Hillary Clintonissues that are almost entirely overlooked, except occasionally in the alternative media. The focus of today's column is in red:

  • Arms Smuggling: The Obama-Clinton-Petraeus 'Iran-Contra' Scandal: Part I here
  • GOP Pre-Election 2012 Benghazi Plot With Petraeus? Hillary's Email, Part II here
  • Conflict of Interest In Clinton Foundation Funding? Hillary's Email, Part III here

Before examining those findings, we summarize recent general developments previously covered. The New York Times reported here that Clinton devised a private email system to communicate with government and personal contacts in apparent violation of federal policy that officials must use government systems for work-related emails. Critics have described it as illegal and urged that a congressional and civil court reviews be expanded to a criminal investigation.

Update: National Press Club, Clinton's use of personal email violated public record rules, panel says, Jennifer Ejim, April 9, 2015.

We next examine one of the areas the mainstream are overlooking, for the most part, in their treatment of the situation:

 
Conflict of Interest In Clinton Foundation/Hillary Clinton 2016 Funding?
 
The hidden emails lead to legitimate and largely unanswered questions about the relationship of Clinton's cabinet duties with her other agendas, including by foreign backers of the Clinton Foundation and her prospective 2016 presidential campaign. The largest donor to the Clinton Foundation, for example, is a Ukrainian "oligarch," according to a Wall Street Journal report. The mainstream media and Republicans can be expected to keep raising questions on selected issues but not the ones where their leaders share the foreign policy goals of Clinton's funders, in the Ukraine. 

We focus primarily on Clinton Foundation for now with the understanding that its leadership, albeit not its mission, overlaps to a significant degree with the likely leadership of a prospective 2016 presidential race by Hillary Clinton. There are possible matters of public interest that the deleted Clinton emails might possibly discuss. These include Ken Starr's representation of accused billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, a globe-trotting friend of Bill Clinton and other prominent Democrats. We reported that story here, in Moralist Ken Starr Explains His Help For Billionaire Pervert Jeffrey Epstein. But it is purely speculative at this point whether the former cabinet member's emails contain any comment on Clinton or Epstein philanthropy.

Regarding the Clinton Foundation, the Wall Street Journal has published an illuminating series of reports this year, including Foreign Government Gifts to Clinton Foundation on the Rise; Donations raise ethical questions as Hillary Clinton ramps up expected 2016 bid.

The Economist followed up with President v. oligarch: Building a nation means putting plutocrats in their place, including the chart below. 

Ukraine's Oligarchs Chart by The Economist 

Both the Journal and the Economist have been strong supporters of the U.S.-backed overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government in February 2014 following the public square protests. Not surprisingly, another outlet built on their research to public an even sharper report: Clinton Foundation’s Deep Financial Ties to Ukrainian Oligarch Revealed published Tyler Durden at the web-based publication Zero Hedge.

Durden reported that the foundation's leading international funders in recent years have been oligarchs from the Ukraine, which is now being ravaged by a civil war fostered in significant part by the United States acting through U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Victoria Nuland.

The number one foundation donor in the entire world, Durden reported, was Victor Pinchuck, who is listed at the third spot down on the chart at right. Durden reported him to have given at least $8.6 million to the Clinton Foundation, whose humanitarian works also provide a base for the Clinton dynasty and its followers. On the chart at right, Petro Porochenko is the U.S.-ratified new president of the Ukraine, who forced plutocrat and warlord Ihor Kolomoisky, who funds his own army, from a governorship last week in a power struggle.

Previously, Nuland was the top spokesperson for Clinton at the State Department. More significantly, she is married to neo-con Robert Kagan, a Yale Skull and Bones member who ascended to prominent insider positions as a think tank fellow, author, and Washington Post columnist.

In a Robert Parry column this month A Family Business of Perpetual War, Parry described them as an effective power couple serving the U.S. banking, foreign policy and media elite:

"She has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia – and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats. This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks."

Victoria Nuland, Geoffrey Pyattt and Petro Poroschenko 2014The photo portrays Nuland last year in action as she greeted Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, whom she helped install in a coup in February 2014 via covert plotting with, among others, U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, center. U.S. Secretary of State of John Kerry is in the background at right. After the coup Poroshenko received ratification during an election in which large proportions of dissident Russian-speaking Ukrainian residents were not able to vote.

In late 2013, Nuland had bragged that U.S. taxpayers had spent $5 billion to bring democracy to the Ukraine in previous years. Two months later, Nuland was exposed on a pirated tape recording as conspiring with Pyatt in plotting who should lead the Ukraine after its elected government was overthrown. Also, she profanely dismissed on the pirated tape potential concerns by the Europe Union. "Fuck the EU," the ambassador memorably stated. 

Although Clinton had resigned by early 2013 there is little reason to believe she has had serious objection to plans undertaken by Nuland. The specific actions under Secretary of State John Kerry, Clinton's success, parallel Clinton's own interventionist policies and those of other war hawks in the Obama administration who often cite democratic or humanitarian rationales for what can evolve, as in Libya, to violent revolutions and civil wars devastating entire nations. In Libya, Clinton had been a leading advocate within the administration of the U.S.-led overthrow of Libya's government, ostensibly for human rights reasons but besmirched also by unseemly focus on Libya's oil assets, many of which were located in the Benghazi region.

Any Clinton Foundation benefit from Ukrainian billionaire gifts might reasonably resemble the disgraceful but lawful efforts of other Democratic cronies to exploit the new war and the chaos there.

Burisma, the Ukraine's largest private natural gas company, last year named to its board Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, and Secretary of State John Kerry's former chief fund-raiser, as reported by Politico in Hunter Biden named to Ukraine gas board. 

Hunter BidenThe younger Biden is shown in a file photo at left.

The web commentary site, Naked Capitalism reported a somewhat similar story, Meet and Greet Natalie Jaresko, U.S. Government Employee, Ukraine Finance Minister, regarding the Ukraine's finance minister, who gave up her U.S. citizenship the same week she was appointed to office. Jaresko, shown at right, was further described as as co-owner of a troubled Delaware-based hedge fund whose major income source had been a $150 million grant from the US Agency for International Development.

The mainstream media such as the Washington Post rarely report the inside story behind such appointments (including the harsh claims of financial misconduct made by Jaresko's ex-husband and hedge fund co-founder). The stories are controversial. Therefore, they conflict with Washington's pervasive go-along, get-along mind-set, which is obscured by partisan fights on issues that are more superficial for the most part.

But the pattern of crony capitalism could hardly be clearer, especially when combined with the Ukrainian oligarch donations to the Clinton Foundation. The implied deal is that the clout of the United States, especially taxpayers, will help the oligarchs and also help encourage the new Ukraine government to repay international bankers by imposing austerity measures on the Ukrainian population, especially those in the Russian-speaking Eastern provinces. In return, family and cronies of Democratic political leaders will benefit financially.

That is not the whole story, of course, but it is an angle that will rarely be articulated in the U.S. mainstream media. That's because virtually all of the major outlets, especially those of Republican and other "conservative" inclination, support the same neo-con policies. Furthermore, Republicans have a similar pattern of crony capitalism buried deep within the Military-Intelligence Complex, especially during Republican control of the White House but thriving also now.

Especially via Sen. John McCain, Republicans have been advocating far more U.S. taxpayer aid to the Ukraine than the Obama White House. Thus, Republicans and their affiliated media have only a narrow interest in the topic: alleging laxity by the Obama administration in support of the Ukraine's oligarchs. Less important by far, then, would be any unseemly investigations that might use the Clinton emails to expose the full corruption of the process, the danger of escalating war, the austerity imposed on the U.S. public to help pay for foreign interventions.

 
What To Expect?

To recap, this series has focused on three under-reported aspects of the Clinton email scandal and not the less sinister themes the mainstream media reports. We can safely predict that Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy Officicial portraitTrey Gowdy, the South Carolina Republican shown in a file photo, will continue to churn out partisan commentary providing only part of the story.

So will the relentless and equally conservative Judicial Watch, whose seminar on the topic I watched March 31 near the Capitol. It featured Judicial Watch's President Tom Fitton moderating a panel that included a former Bush-era U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Joseph diGenova, and former career Justice Department official Daniel Metcalfe, who described himself as a likely Clinton supporter in the 2016 presidential race who nonetheless believed she had incurred serious problems with her email system.

The National Press Club has scheduled a forum on the topic April 9.

 Yet such events are mere building blocks for the alternative media to tell the real story.

We must not shy away from the implications of the material reported above. U.S.-assisted smuggling of arms and jihadist fighters from Libya into Syria as early as 2012 means a vastly greater failure and ongoing deception in our Middle East policies under Obama and Clinton than even Republicans dare to allege.

Evidence of "October Surprise" plotting, whether under the Carter-Reagan or Obama-Romney elections, suggests how deeply our democracy is imperiled. At the minimum, it suggests that much of our standard political commentary avoids the important issues and wastes our time for weeks and months on end watching a charade of pretenders while the real players operate unreported in the background.

Recalling the now-documented CIA involvement in the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy after he fired its top leadership and started de-escalating the Vietnam War (as documented in our "JFK Readers Guide" here), the CIA's current and largely covert role in presidential politics should provide a chilling reminder to the public, as it already does to Obama, that history can repeat itself. 

Sadly, these concerns will resonate into reform only with an aroused public that appreciates that reflexive partisan loyalties in the ongoing Clinton email debate will not protect the country from the bipartisan and rarely reported intrigues, corruption, and democracy-destroying power plays described above. Only if Democrats challenge their own leaders, Republicans do the same, and everyone challenges the media will the truth keep the public free.

 
 
Contact the author Andrew Kreig
 
 

 

Related News Coverage Most Relevant To Part III In This Series

Update: National Press Club, Clinton's use of personal email violated public record rules, panel says, Jennifer Ejim, April 9, 2015. The use of a personal email account by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while “stunning,” is just one example of high-level public officials violating public record rules, Patrice McDermott, director of OpenTheGovernment.org said Thursday at National Press Club Newsmaker. McDermott, one of four panelists who discussed issues arising from Clinton's use of a private server for email communications during her tenure as Secretary of State, said such practices extended to every post-Internet administration and encompassed electronic records as well as email. Clinton's use of the private server to conduct official government business was inconsist with longstanding policies set forth by the Federal Records Act, Jason Baron, co-chair of the Information Governance Initiative, said. The law requires agencies to have adequate recordkeeping controls to ensure “appropriate documentation of the activities of the agency," Baron said.

Wall Street Journal, Foreign Government Gifts to Clinton Foundation on the Rise; Donations raise ethical questions as Hillary Clinton ramps up expected 2016 bid, James V. Grimaldi and Rebecca Ballhaus, Feb. 17, 2015. The Clinton Foundation has dropped its self-imposed ban on collecting funds from foreign governments and is winning contributions at an accelerating rate, raising ethical questions as Hillary Clinton ramps up her expected bid for the presidency. Recent donors include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Australia.

Zero Hedge via Global, Clinton Foundation’s Deep Financial Ties to Ukrainian Oligarch Revealed, Tyler Durden, Global Research, March 22, 2015. Between 2009 and 2013, including when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, according to that foundation, which is based in Kiev, Ukraine. It was created by Mr. Pinchuk, whose fortune stems from a pipe-making company. He served two terms as an elected member of the Ukrainian Parliament and is a proponent of closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union. In 2008, Mr. Pinchuk made a five-year, $29 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a wing of the foundation that coordinates charitable projects and funding for them but doesn’t handle the money. The pledge was to fund a program to train future Ukrainian leaders and professionals “to modernize Ukraine,” according to the Clinton Foundation. Several alumni are current members of the Ukrainian Parliament. Actual donations so far amount  to only $1.8 million, a Pinchuk foundation spokesman said, citing the impact of the 2008 financial crisis. The Pinchuk foundation said its donations were intended to help to make Ukraine “a successful, free, modern country based on European values.” It said that if Mr. Pinchuk was lobbying the State Department about Ukraine, “this cannot be seen as anything but a good thing.”  Of all the oligarchs connected to foreign governments who donated to the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State, Ukraine was at the very top. I thought this to be strange, but as I read on I just couldn’t believe how connected the main donor was to the current regime in power. Considering this is the main geopolitical hotspot on earth right now, many, many questions need to be asked.

Consortium News, Nuland's Mastery of Ukraine Propaganda, Robert Parry, March 11, 2015. An early skill learned by Official Washington's neoconservatives, when they were cutting their teeth inside the U.S. government in the 1980s, was how to frame their arguments in the most propagandistic way, so anyone who dared to disagree with any aspect of the presentation seemed unpatriotic or crazy. One of those quick learners was Robert Kagan, who Victoria Nuland State Departmentwas then a protege of Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams. Kagan got his first big chance when he became director of the State Department's public diplomacy office for Latin America. At one point, Kagan warned me that I might have to be "controversialized," i.e. targeted for public attack by Reagan's right-wing media allies and anti-journalism attack groups, like Accuracy in Media, a process that did indeed occur. Kagan is perhaps best known these days as the husband of neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, one of Vice President Dick Cheney's former advisers and a key architect of last year's coup in Ukraine, a "regime change" that toppled an elected president and touched off a civil war, which now has become a proxy fight involving nuclear-armed United States and Russia. In an interview last year with the New York Times, Nuland indicated that she shared her husband's criticism of President Obama for his hesitancy to use American power more assertively. But Nuland, shown in a photo, also seems to have mastered her husband's skill with propaganda, presenting an extreme version of the situation in Ukraine, such that no one would dare quibble with the details. In prepared testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, Nuland even slipped in an accusation blaming Russia for the July 17 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 though the U.S. government has not presented any proof. See also, Consortium News, A Family Business of Perpetual War, Robert Parry, March 20, 2015. Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan, and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business.

Bloomberg, Ukraine Unity Holds Up as Backers of Ousted Governor Hold Rally, Volodymyr Verbyany and Daryna Krasnolutska, March 28, 2015. Allies of former regional Governor Igor Kolomoisky pledged their support for Ukrainian unity in the face of a pro-Russian rebellion to the east, even as they criticized moves in Kiev this week that led to his departure. Kolomoisky, 52, a billionaire and who has funded volunteer troops fighting insurgents just to the east in Donetsk, was forced out this week in a spat with President Petro Poroshenko. Kiev is trying to win a war against separatists it claims is supported by Russia, overhaul the economy under a $17.5 billion International Monetary Fund deal, crack down on corruption, bring state companies linked to Ukraine’s wealthiest people back under state control and negotiate new terms with international bond holders, including Russia.

Economist, President v. oligarch: Building a nation means putting plutocrats in their place, Staff report, March 28, 2015. For the past year, Ukraine’s government has enlisted the help of the country’s powerful oligarchs in fighting its war against pro-Russian separatists. This week a new war opened up, pitting the government against one of the very oligarchs it had relied upon. On March 25, Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, forced Ihor Kolomoisky, a business magnate, to resign from his post as governor of the central region of Dnipropetrovsk. Mr Kolomoisky had financed pro-Kiev battalions and played a vital role in stemming the spread of separatism. Yet after Mr Kolomoisky deployed his personal militia in Kiev to block the government from regulating his business interests, the president had no choice but to sack him.  The clash was the biggest skirmish yet in an unfolding confrontation between the government and the oligarchy. It may be the single most important front in the struggle for Ukraine’s future. (Chart below by The Economist.)

Hunter BidenPolitico, Hunter Biden named to Ukraine gas board, Lucy McCalmont, May 13, 2014. Hunter Biden, the younger son of Vice President Joe Biden, will be joining Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, the company announced in a statement. “The company’s strategy is aimed at the strongest concentration of professional staff and the introduction of best corporate practices, and we’re delighted that Mr. Biden is joining us to help us achieve these goals,” Alan Apter, Burisma Holdings’ chairman of the board of directors, said in a statement, which was reported by The Moscow Times on Tuesday. Biden, shown in a file photo, said the company will help strengthen Ukraine’s economy. "Burisma’s track record of innovations and industry leadership in the field of natural gas means that it can be a strong driver of a strong economy in Ukraine,” Biden said in a statement.

Naked Capitalism, Meet and Greet Natalie Jaresko, U.S. Government Employee, Ukraine Finance Minister, Yves Smith, Dec. 4, 2014. The new finance minister of Ukraine, Natalie Jaresko, may have replaced her U.S. citizenship with Natalie JareskoUkrainian at the start of this week, but her employer continued to be the U.S. government, long after she claims she left the State Department. U.S. court and other records reveal that Jaresko has been the co-owner of a management company and Ukrainian investment funds registered in the state of Delaware, dependent for her salary and for investment funds on a $150 million grant from the US Agency for International Development. The records reveal that according to Jaresko’s former husband, Ihor Figlus, she is culpable in financial misconduct. Natalie Jaresko was appointed on Monday, and approved by a vote of the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday evening. A presidential tweet and an announcement from the office of President Petro Poroshenko say a decree has been signed granting Jaresko Ukrainian citizenship to qualify her to take office. The legality of the decree was challenged today by the head of Poroshenko’s bloc in parliament, Yury Lutsenko. Jaresko was born into the Ukrainian émigré community of Chicago. Figlus was at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev when Natalie was posted there. They married in 1989. Figlus went on to run the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine. He then took charge of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund. Since Jareshko and Figlus divorced in 2010, he has been airbrushed out of the business history she has portrayed as the basis of her experience and of her prepping to be the new finance minister of Ukraine. It hasn’t been rare for American spouses to go into the asset management business in the former Soviet Union, and make profits underwritten by the U.S. government with information supplied from their government positions or contacts. It is exceptional for them to fall out over the loot.

 

Catching Our Attention on other Foreign Affairs, Justice & Integrity Issues

New York Times, A Promising Nuclear Deal With Iran, Editorial Board, April 2, 2015. The preliminary agreement between Iran and the major powers is a significant achievement that makes it more likely Iran will never be a nuclear threat. President Obama said it would “cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.” Officials said some important issues have not been resolved, like the possible lifting of a United Nations arms embargo, and writing the technical sections could also cause problems before the deal’s finalization, expected by June 30. Even so, the agreement announced on Thursday after eight days of negotiations appears more specific and comprehensive than expected. It would roll back Iran’s nuclear program sufficiently so that Iran could not quickly produce a nuclear weapon, and ensure that, if Iran cheated, the world would have at least one year to take preventive action, including reimposing sanctions. In return, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations would lift sanctions crippling Iran’s economy, though the timing of such a move is yet another uncertainty.

Washington Post, Nuclear ‘framework’ reached, Sanctions would be lifted if Iran abides by limits, Carol Morello, April 2, 2015. Iran and world powers have agreed on parameters of a deal to be reached by June 30. Officials say it would sharply limit Iranian nuclear activities and sanctions would be lifted if Iran complies.

President Obama and Ben Rhodes Examining Iran Nuclear Deal April 2, 2015

President Obama goes over his statement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran’s nuclear program that was decided in Lausanne, Switzerland, with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, in the Oval Office, April, 2, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

BBC, Yemen crisis: Rebels storm presidential palace in Aden, Staff report, April 3, 2015. Houthi rebels and their allies in Yemen have stormed the presidential palace in Aden following heavy clashes. The rebels pushed through to the heart of the port city using tanks and armoured vehicles, despite air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition. At least 44 people have been killed in the violence, including 18 civilians, according to AFP. The Saudi government says the aim of its operation in Yemen is to protect President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi's "legitimate government." It says it has no plans to deploy ground forces for now. Aden was President Hadi's last seat of power before he fled to Saudi Arabia last week, as the Shia rebels advanced on the city.

BBC, Yemen crisis: Rebels storm presidential palace in Aden, Staff report, April 3, 2015. Houthi rebels and their allies in Yemen have stormed the presidential palace in Aden following heavy clashes. The rebels pushed through to the heart of the port city using tanks and armoured vehicles, despite air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition. At least 44 people have been killed in the violence, including 18 civilians, according to AFP. The Saudi government says the aim of its operation in Yemen is to protect President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi's "legitimate government." It says it has no plans to deploy ground forces for now. Aden was President Hadi's last seat of power before he fled to Saudi Arabia last week, as the Shia rebels advanced on the city.

New York Times, Qaeda Militants Attack Port City in Yemen, Freeing Prisoners, Saeed Al-Batati and Kareem Fahim, April 2, 2015. Militants from Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate stormed this southern port city early on Thursday, attacking several government buildings including the central prison, where they freed hundreds of inmates, according to residents. It appeared to be the first large-scale operation by the affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, since the beginning of a military offensive led by Saudi Arabia on Yemen more than a week ago, and a further expansion of the violence rapidly spreading across the country.

Washington Post, Menendez indictment marks first big corruption case involving a super PAC, Matea Gold, April 2, 2015. The federal bribery case against Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey marks the first time Robert Menedezlarge-scale super PAC donations have figured prominently as evidence of a political corruption scheme, renewing questions about how truly independently such groups operate. The 22-count indictment against Menendez, shown in an official photo, and wealthy Florida opthalmologist Salomon Melgen hinges in part on $600,000 that Melgen gave to the Senate Majority PAC — a Democratic super PAC — earmarked to support the senator’s 2012 reelection.

Center for Public Integrity, Menendez's million-dollar defense, Embattled senator's legal bills already into seven figures — before federal indictment, Carrie Levine, April 1, 2105. When news broke last month on the Department of Justice’s plans to indict Sen. Robert Menendez on criminal corruption charges, the New Jersey Democrat signaled he would fight. From early 2013 through the end of 2014, Menendez reported spending more than $1.2 million on legal fees, using a combination of cash from his campaign committee, political action committee and a legal defense fund, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal documents.

Washington Post, Nearly a dozen found guilty in Atlanta school cheating trial, Mark Berman, April 1, 2015.  Dozens of former educators in the Atlanta school system had been indicted for racketeering.

Reuters via The Star, Nigeria's Buhari praises Jonathan for peaceful handover, Alexis Akwagyiram, April 1, 2015. Nigerian election winner Muhammadu Buhari  congratulated outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan for peacefully Muhammadu Buhari Nigeriarelinquishing power on Wednesday, a day after becoming the first politician in Nigeria's history to unseat a sitting leader at the ballot box. In an unprecedented step, Jonathan phoned Buhari to concede defeat and urged his supporters to accept the result, a signal of deepening democracy in Africa's most populous nation that few had expected. "President Jonathan was a worthy opponent and I extend the hand of fellowship to him," Buhari, told reporters and supporters to loud applause. The 72-year-old general, who first came to power three decades ago via a military coup, campaigned as a born-again democrat intent on cleaning up Nigeria's corrupt politics. He is shown in a file photo.

Washington Post, Access denied: Reporters say federal officials, data increasingly off limits, Paul Farhi, March 30, 2015. Obama promised an era of openness, but journalists say it’s the opposite. Journalists often encounter closed doors when seeking interviews and data from the Obama administration.

CNBC, Soros says ready to invest $1 billion in Ukraine if West helps, Staff report, March 30, 2015. Billionaire financier George Soros is ready to invest $1 billion in Ukraine, if Western countries help private investment there. He also put the odds of Greece leaving the euro at a third, in an interview with Austrian newspaper Der Standard. Soros has previously urged the West to step up aid to Ukraine, outlining steps towards a $50 billion financing package that he said should be viewed as a bulwark against an increasingly aggressive Russia.

Washington Post, Former intelligence official: Obama’s Middle East policy is ‘willful ignorance,' Josh Hicks, March 29, 2015. The former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency on Sunday described President Obama's Middle East policy as one of "willful ignorance," saying the administration needs a clearer strategy for dealing with conflicts emerging across the region. Lt. Gen. Michael FlynnMichael Flynn Defense Intelligence Agency, shown in an official photo before his retirement last year, said during an interview on "Fox News Sunday" that recent developments in the Middle East are moving in a bad direction for the United States, with Iran "clearly on the march" to influence events in a "regional sectarian war." Critics of the administration have pointed out that the United States appears to be siding with Iranian-backed rebels against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria but opposing such fighters in Yemen.