The whistle-blowing group Wikileaks is out with a new claim that a recently released Hillary Clinton email shows that her State Department worked with Google CEO Larry Page to block the infamous Benghazi video on YouTube.
If you remember, the video entitled “Innocence of Muslims” was long said to be the cause of the deadly 9/11/2012 attacks on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya which killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American personnel.
According to reports the search engine refused the administrations request to review the suitability of the video, instead said it would block it in certain states to comply with local laws.
According to the recent Clinton email revelations, her staff was in contact with Google regarding a blocked YouTube video. On September 27, 2012, then-Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough emailed several people the phone numbers of Page and then-CEO of YouTube Salar Kamangar.
The second email, sent to State Department officials by Nora Toiv, a special assistant to the counselor of the State Department, states that a Google employee “just called back” and reassured that the block “will stay through Monday.”
Here is what WikiLeaks’ tweet looked like:
However, there is growing scrutiny over WikiLeak’s claims, with some calling them exaggerated at best. Here is an overview by the blog TechDirt:
The emails…don’t seem to reveal nearly as much as Wikileaks would like them to say. First off, it’s important to understand the timeline. The attack in Benghazi, Libya, happened on Tuesday September 11, 2012. By Wednesday, September 12, people were already (probably inaccurately) blaming the YouTube video which purported to be a “trailer” for a movie called “The Innocence of Muslims,” which was a stupid and ridiculous video that mocked Islam.
By Friday September 14th, there was widespread discussion about what Google/YouTube should do about this video, when (1) the White House confirmed that it had asked Google to “review whether the clip violated its policies” and (2) Google had announced that it would not block the video in the US, but would restrict access in Libya, Egypt, India and Indonesia.
That brings us to the emails in question. The first is just an email from Denis McDonough, who was then the Deputy National Security Advisor (prior to becoming Obama’s Chief of Staff), emailing a few people the phone numbers of both Google CEO Larry Page and then YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar. That email is on September 27th — or basically two weeks after everything above had been confirmed.
The second email, sent an hour later, is from Nora Toiv, who worked for Clinton, responding and saying that “Sue just called back and the block will stay through Monday. They will not/not be unblocking it before then.” It’s not entirely clear who “Sue” is, but obviously someone who works at Google/YouTube. As a guess, it may have been Susan Wojcicki who is the current head of YouTube. She wasn’t back then, but she was still a high ranking Google exec who had been involved with Google Video and the purchase of YouTube at the beginning, so it’s possible she is the person in question.
Still, for all of the hubbub about this email, it doesn’t seem to come even remotely close to revealing anything along the lines of what Wikileaks is implying. Again, this email was two weeks after it had already been confirmed that the White House had asked Google to review the video and Google had already publicly discussed its decision.
What do you think? Was something strange going on or is this claim exaggerated? Sound off in the comments below!