Archive for the ‘National Security’ Category
When Hugh Hewitt interviewed Max Boot about the Syrian affair, Boot said a no vote was “a vote for isolationism and retreat.” That’s questionable. In fact, I’m not buying it. Glenn Reynolds isn’t buying it either:
When I wrote last week on our bumbling Syria diplomacy, it seemed that things couldn’t possibly go further downhill. Boy, was I wrong.
Last week, it seemed our only ally was France. But now the French are having second thoughts. Obama’s efforts to get support at the G20 conference came to nothing. Even the pope is undercutting him.
A no vote in either the House or the Senate is a vote of no confidence in President Obama and President Obama’s national security team of incompetents. Secretary Kerry’s flippant remark yesterday gave Russian President Putin the opening he was waiting for. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Putin didn’t call Bashar al-Assad to share a hearty laugh after Kerry’s mistake. Thanks to Kerry’s mistake, Assad gets to stay in power, Syria’s chemical weapons get to stay in Assad’s hands and Putin gets to say checkmate to President Obama.
Anyone that’s thinking that Syria’s WMD stockpile will suddenly be in the hands of the “international community” is kidding themselves. That won’t happen. Ever.
Here’s something that Boot said that I’m questioning:
MB: I think they have to vote yes, because for all the qualms they might have about whatever course of action President Obama might embark on, and I have some qualms myself, the bottom line is at this point a no vote is a vote for American retreat and isolationism, and it will send a terrible, terrible signal to WMD proliferators in places like Iran and North Korea. We just cannot afford to shoot down the Syria resolution.
That’s wrongheaded thinking because it assumes North Korea and Iran will take President Obama seriously if the resolution passes. They don’t take him seriously now. They won’t take him seriously if Congress authorizes the use of force.
That’s because President Obama is a known quantity. Dr. Reynolds says he’s a laughingstock. I wholeheartedly agree. World leaders already know what he’ll do. He’s utterly predictable. His pattern is to ignore a problem until it’s about to explode in his face, then he dithers, votes present, then dithers a little bit more. Then he makes a decision that nobody likes.
Thanks to that pattern, allies can’t trust him and enemies won’t fear him. If there ever is a vote on the Syrian fiasco, the only right vote is a no vote. Voting yes will just give President Obama the belief that he isn’t in over his head. That’s sending the wrong message to this incompetent president.
Finally, I appreciate Dr. Reynolds’perspective:
As I said, if I were George W. Bush or Romney, I’d be sorely tempted to laugh, because Obama’s chickens are coming home to roost. Obama was elected after he and his party sowed distrust of U.S. military endeavors, mocked “intelligence estimates” about “weapons of mass destruction,” and suggested that anything the United States did in the region was probably somehow a scheme to benefit oil companies. Now Obama and his administration are shocked to find that when they go on about intelligence estimates and weapons of mass destruction, people don’t take them seriously.
But I’d bet that Bush and Romney aren’t actually laughing. That’s because they’re both serious men who understand international politics and who care for the future of the country. They no doubt understand that, as fun as it is to watch a political opponent twist in the wind due to his own ineptitude, the price will ultimately be paid not by Obama, but by the people of America.
I totally agree.
This article shows that congressional Democrats aren’t interested in getting to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi. They’re more interested in protecting their political flanks than finding out why this administration was caught flat-footed with Benghazi:
Retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering has agreed to be deposed by Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) Oversight panel on June 3 after being threatened with a subpoena. Democrats say they’re wary of a trap, and want to be able to counter what they say is Issa’s habit of leaking “cherry-picked” portions of witnesses’ testimonies to the press.
“If it’s true to form, if it’s a closed deposition, his staff [will] cherry pick content and leak it once again to the press that’s only too willing to print it,” panel member Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told The Hill. “It might be grossly inaccurate. In fact, it may be the opposite of what’s being asserted. But by the time somebody gets around to reporting that, if they ever do, the damage is done.”
That’s rich. The Democrats are complaining that the press isn’t giving them a fair shake. That isn’t the full extent of the Democrats’ PR tactics:
Democrats say Pickering and his co-author, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, should be able to defend their report in a public hearing. Pickering could not be reached for comment.
“House Republicans have politicized this investigation from the beginning, and they have recklessly accused Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen of being complicit in a cover-up,” said the panel’s ranking member, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). “It is time for the Chairman to honor his commitment to hold a hearing to allow these officials to respond to these reckless accusations, instead of imposing new conditions to keep them from testifying. Members of Congress and the American people should hear directly from these officials, in public, and the Chairman’s efforts to keep them behind closed doors undermines the Committee’s credibility and does a disservice to the truth.”
Trey Gowdy explains why the committee is deposing witnesses:
The goal of a deposition, oversight panel member Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) told The Hill, is to get “the full facts.”
“It’s hard to unlock the mysteries in five-minute increments in a committee hearing,” Gowdy said. “So if you want to find out what happened and who he interviewed, what questions he asked, why he didn’t interview certain people, you need to do it in a deposition.”
These investigations aren’t a witch hunt. They’re part of a real investigation, complete with initial questions that establish a base of facts, followed by the rarest of things in Washington, DC: thoughtful followup questions. That’s what happened during a bygone era when investigations went where the facts took them. That’s what happened when investigations found the truth and let the political chips fall where they may.
Speaking of political chips falling where they may, this speaks directly to that:
Democrats say Issa’s real target is Clinton, the presumptive Democratic front-runner for the 2016 presidential election.
It’s possible Hillary will suffer political consequences as a result of her mismanagement. Had she made the right decisions, she wouldn’t be getting criticized for making a string of stunningly foolish decisions about the security forces in Benghazi.
It’s time to detonate the ‘Republicans are politicizing Benghazi’ storyline. Foolish decisions were made. American patriots died as a direct result of Hillary Clinton’s shoddy decisionmaking. Hillary lied when she told the diplomats’ families that a video caused the terrorist attack was done to protect a president during a political campaign.
If Hillary gets tarnished because Republicans ask intelligent questions about what happened in Benghazi, then it’ll be because Hillary made foolish decisions. It isn’t because Republicans politicized the Benghazi terrorist attack.
Finally, there’s this:
Democrats say they should have been given a chance to interview Mark Thompson, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism, ahead of the May 8 hearing. They say his Republican attorney, Joseph diGenova, shielded him from Democrats.
Issa strongly denied interfering during the hearing.
“Mr. Thompson, is it your decision who you talk to?” he asked. “And did any of my people ever tell you not to talk to the Democratic minority?”
“No,” Thompson answered.
The Democrats’ accusations are essentially empty. They’ve had the right to access witnesses and ask questions. It isn’t Chairman Issa’s fault that these whistleblowers’ testimony is making the administration look bad.
Randy Krebs, the Editorial Page editor at the St. Cloud Times, has repeatedly shown a willingness to apply a double standard to the LTEs he approves. It’s appalling that he’d approve this LTE. Look at this assertion of fact:
Because Bachmann is a tax attorney and once worked for the IRS, I find it ironic that she wants a deeper probe toward the actions that the IRS took. Nobody raised this kind of fuss when the IRS took similar action toward Democratic groups when Republicans were in the White House.
Claudette Moran is the idiot that wrote this LTE. Her accusations should be highlighted because they’re baseless. What proof does Claudette Moran have that the Bush administration used the IRS as a weapon against its political opponents? What proof does Krebs have of the Bush administration using the IRS as a weapon against their political opponents?
It’s guaranteed that the NY Times would’ve written a series of articles criticizing the Bush administration had the IRS been used as a weapon against their political opponents.
Krebs’ penchant for approving LTEs that make baseless accusations against Republicans is well-documented. This isn’t the first time he’s let a Republican hater make wild accusations. He’s especially notorious for approving this viled crap if Michele Bachmann is the person being accused.
It’s time for Mr. Krebs to show us proof that the Bush administration used the IRS as a political weapon. If he doesn’t produce that proof in a timely fashion, then people should think of him as being an unprofessional editor who’s willing to use a lenient standard for LTEs criticizing Republicans but who uses a tight standard for LTEs written by conservatives.
When Michele Bachmann joined with 4 other conservatives in calling for an IG investigation into whether the Muslim Brotherhood, I wrote an LTE that cited Andrew McCarthy, the man that prosecuted, then convicted, the Blind Sheikh and Walid Phares, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood. These terrorism experts said that the “National Security Five” were justified in asking for this investigation.
Pretending to be a terrorism expert, Krebs said that these men’s information and opinions were tenuous. That’s the explanation he gave for why he wouldn’t approve my LTE. Krebs couldn’t permit an LTE that supported Michele Bachmann even though national experts verified the accuracy of her statements. Meanwhile, Krebs didn’t hesitate in publishing an LTE that made wild, baseless accusations that can’t be verified.
That certainly isn’t the picture of professionalism. Unfortunately, that isn’t surprising.
When Sen. Boxer talks, I start looking for my waders because the BS is about to fly. This op-ed is proof that the BS flies when Sen. Boxer speaks:
The facts are clear: The day after the attack, President Obama appeared in the White House Rose Garden and called the events in Benghazi an “act of terror.” And within eight days of the attack, Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee and said that the “attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi” is “proof” that “acts of terror and violence continue to threaten our citizens and our interests around the world.”
It’s true that Matthew Olsen said that during the hearing. It’s equally true that he said it in response to a question. It’s equally true that Olsen got chewed out for admitting that in committee. Most importantly, President Obama repeatedly talked about an offensive video being the thing that triggered the terrorists’ attack. President Obama either referred to the offensive video or said it was too early to say anything, that his administration was still investigating.
The administration sought to relay the best information it had at the time. When Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on Face the Nation, sharing information that was prepared and signed off on by multiple government agencies, she made clear that the information was preliminary and warned that “we’ll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions.”
That’s a bald-faced lie. This administration, specifically Victoria Nuland, insisted that most of the CIA’s initial intelligence report be deleted because she worried that “members of Congress would use the talking points to criticize the State Department for ‘not paying attention to Agency warnings.’”
Furthermore, Gregory Hicks testified that there was never a mention of a protest by Christopher Stevens or any other diplomats in Benghazi. Finally, the CIA, the US diplomats and the Libyan president all knew within hours that this was a terrorist attack. The intelligence didn’t “evolve.” The only thing that evolved is the Obama administration’s story.
As a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I well remember Secretary Clinton’s testimony following the Benghazi attack. She took responsibility and pledged to do everything in her power to put corrective measures in place. And she didn’t gloss over the profound pain and suffering this tragedy caused for the families of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
Pat Smith, the mother of slain diplomat Sean Smith, said Sec. Clinton talked to her and promised to stay in touch. Last week, Pat Smith said that Hillary never called her after the ceremony on Sept. 14. Hillary’s faux empathy apparently only lasted a couple hours.
Finally, Sen. Boxer glosses over the fact that Hillary’s State Department turned down Ambassador Stevens’ request for more security. In fact, the State Department cut the security team instead.
President Obama and his apologists have insisted that the changes in the CIA’s intelligence community’s report on the Benghazi terrorist attack were the result of bureaucratic infighting. We’ve been told that that’s typical. This morning, Jim Geraghty wrote this in his morning e-letter:
If there was evidence that everyone within the State Department, military, and White House were doing everything they could to rescue our guys on that awful night, we would have heard about it long ago. If there was a good reason for the “talking points” to get edited down from a false premise (a demonstration) but at least serious information (previous CIA warnings about terrorist activity) to false pabulum, we would have heard it by now; the latest lame excuse is that the 14 edits merely reflect “bureaucratic infighting between the CIA and State.”
It’s time to return to Realityville, people. Bureaucratic infighting is typical when people are putting a plan together or figuring out a long-term strategy. Bureaucratic infighting isn’t supposed to happen when people are trying to determine the truth about events.
Bureaucratic infighting might happen when deciding whether to beef us security for diplomats. Bureaucratic infighting might happen when deciding whether to attempt a rescue of diplomats during a terrorist attack. Bureaucratic infighting might happen when people try to determine the proper response to repeated terrorist attacks on foreign missions.
Once the attacks have happened, however, the infighting stops. To determine the truth, the experts on the ground must be talked to. At that point, the only exercise left is determining whether the CIA’s report was accurate. If it was, then their report should be given to the proper people.
The BS that this administration has been spreading since the caskets returned to the United States has been insulting. It’s time this administration puts to rest their ‘the video made them do it’ storyline.
Finally, it’s time to utterly discredit James Clapper’s statement that he felt sorry for Susan Rice for telling the truth. Nothing she said on those Sunday morning talk shows was the truth. Clapper’s insistence that the talking points are accurate indicates that he’s a political appointee, not an intelligence officer.
In a stunning statement this morning, President Obama insisted that the Benghazi investigation is much ado about nothing:
“And suddenly three days ago this gets spun up as if there’s something new to the story,” Obama said in response to a question about Benghazi. “There’s no there there.”
The president continued, “Keep in mind, by the way, these so-called talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice, five, six days after the event occurred, pretty much matched the assessments that I was receiving at that time in my presidential daily briefing.”
There’s plenty that’s new here. Prior to Wednesday, I didn’t know that Hillary Clinton talked with Gregory Hicks while the Benghazi attacks were happening. Prior to Hicks’ testimony, I didn’t know that Hicks told Hillary that there was an attack going on.
In addition to new information from the testimony, there’s also tons of new questions to get answers to. First, who eliminated the FEST option? Next, why was the FEST option eliminated? Third, who gave the orders to Lt. Col. Gibson to not rescue Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods? Fourth, why was this order given? Fifth, why did the State Department’s objections to the CIA’s report take precedence over the truth? After all, the CIA got it right the first time. Sixth, why did Beth Jones send out an email calling the Benghazi attack a terrorist attack? Seventh, why was the truth the final casualty of the terrorists’ attack?
As for President Obama saying that the “talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice” “pretty much the assessments” he was receiving during his PDBs, that’s BS. It’s insulting. The CIA’s initial report talked about a terrorist attack, with members of Ansar al-Shariah participating in the attack. The CIA’s initial report also talked multiple warnings from the CIA of mounting terrorist threats to foreign interests in Benghazi. That was deleted from the State Department’s talking points. Make no mistake, either, about the talking points. What started as a CIA intelligence report was eventually turned into a State Department CYA talking points memo.
This is my third post on Benghazi in the past 24 hours. My first post on the subject highlighted the whistleblowers coming forward. The second post highlights how the whistleblowers are destroying the administration’s credibility. This post deals with the fact that the media wall is crumbling. Here’s what CNN is reporting:
In an interview with congressional investigators, the former top diplomat in Libya expressed concern that more could have been done by the military on the night of September 11, 2012 and morning of September 12, 2012, to protect those being attacked at the U.S. compound and annex in Benghazi, Libya. Specifically, he wondered why the military did not send a plane as a show of force into Libyan airspace, and why four U.S. Special Operations soldiers were not permitted to travel to Benghazi on a Libyan plane the morning of September 12.
“The Libyans that I talked to and the Libyans and other Americans who were involved in the war have told me also that Libyan revolutionaries were very cognizant of the impact that American and NATO airpower had with respect to their victory,” Greg Hicks, then the US deputy chief of mission in Libya, told investigators on April 11 of this year. “They are under no illusions that American and NATO airpower won that war for them. And so, in my personal opinion, a fast mover flying over Benghazi at some point, you know, as soon as possible might very well have prevented some of the bad things that happened that night.”
Hicks went on to say he believes “if we had been able to scramble a fighter or aircraft or two over Benghazi as quickly as possible after the attack commenced”, around 9:30 p.m. that night, “I believe there would not have been a mortar attack on the annex in the morning because I believe the Libyans would have split. They would have been scared to death that we would have gotten a laser on them and killed them.”
Prior to this article, most of the reporting on Benghazi had been done by Sharyl Attkisson and Lara Logan from CBS and Catherine Herridge and Jennifer Griffin of Fox News. With this article, CNN is now jumping into the issue. With that, the media freeze-out is almost over.
Brit Hume has as good of instincts on the DC media as anyone. Here’s his observations on the Benghazi coverage:
The media didn’t cover this properly for the longest time, mostly because they wanted President Obama to win re-election. Had the DC media investigated the Obama administration’s decision to leave Christopher Stevens and his diplomatic team to die going into the debates, it isn’t a stretch to think it might’ve changed the election landscape.
This morning, I wrote that Wednesday’s hearing on Benghazi will be explosive. This article assures us that President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice will be feeling the heat. Here’s some information that’s certain to increase the heat on the administration:
The account from Gregory Hicks is in stark contrast to assertions from the Obama administration, which insisted that nobody was ever told to stand down and that all available resources were utilized. Hicks gave private testimony to congressional investigators last month in advance of his upcoming appearance at a congressional hearing Wednesday.
According to excerpts released Monday, Hicks told investigators that SOCAFRICA commander Lt. Col. Gibson and his team were on their way to board a C-130 from Tripoli for Benghazi prior to an attack on a second U.S. compound “when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, ‘you can’t go now, you don’t have the authority to go now.’ And so they missed the flight … They were told not to board the flight, so they missed it.”
The Obama administration has insisted that there weren’t military assets that could’ve reached Benghazi. Gregory Hicks’ testimony contradicts the administration’s spin. Hicks’ testimony also demolishes the credibility of the ARB’s report on Benghazi. That report didn’t point the finger at anyone. Instead, it spoke of the systemic failures that happened that day.
If Hicks’ testimony is that Lt. Col. Gibson was prevented from putting together a rescue operation, then someone had to have given that order. We know that because a special operator told Fox News’ Adam Housley that special operators were prepared to respond quickly.
It’s impossible to predict with any certainty whether other networks will start covering this scandal. What’s totally predictable, though, is that Hicks’ testimony will put a big hit on the Obama administration’s credibility on Benghazi. It will also hurt the ARB’s report, which cited “systemic failures” for the poor response for Benghazi.
This wasn’t a systemic failure. This was about Hillary Clinton failing to do her job. It’s about Leon Panetta failing in his responsibility to have troops prepared for the anniversary of 9/11. It’s about President Obama ignoring the needs of the diplomats in Benghazi.
In short, it was a human failure.
This video of Bob Schieffer’s interview of Chairman Darrell Issa, (R-Calif.) is explosive. What makes it explosive is that it includes quotes from people on the ground in Benghazi.
This article contains some of the explosive quotes. Here’s the first shocking quote:
“I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning,” Greg Hicks, a 22-year foreign service diplomat who was the highest-ranking U.S. official in Libya after the strike, told investigators under authority of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Hicks, the former U.S. Embassy Tripoli deputy chief of mission, was not in Benghazi at the time of the attack, which killed Chris Stevens, then the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans.
That quote didn’t come from a political appointee. It came from a career diplomat. This verifies Stephen Hayes’ article:
Later, Hicks said this:
“…I’ve never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career, as on that day,” Hicks continued in his interview with investigators. “The net impact of what has transpired is, [Rice,] the spokesperson of the most powerful country in the world, has basically said that the president of Libya is either a liar of doesn’t know what he’s talking about. My jaw hit the floor as I watched this.”
These quotes guarantee that Wednesday’s hearing will be the most explosive hearings on Benghazi yet. The administration is walking a tightrope on this. If they label Hicks and other whistleblowers as disgruntled employees, they risk having more whistleblowers step forward. If they portray Hicks as being misinformed, the administration should expect a backlash. People tend to believe the career diplomat, not the political appointee with an administration to protect.
Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison haven’t been accused recently of being national security hawks. After reading this statement, I’m pretty certain they’ll never be considered serious about national security:
Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the “Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act,” which would create a high level Special Envoy to Iran. The act pushes diplomacy as a vital route to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and directs the President to appoint a Special Envoy to pursue direct, sustained, bilateral and multilateral negotiations with the Government of Iran in order to prevent war, and support human rights.
“The darkening clouds surrounding Iran’s nuclear program are troubling. We must use all diplomatic tools available, including engaging in direct bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. To do that, we must lift the ‘no contact policy and begin negotiations,” Congresswoman Lee said.
The bill calls for eliminating the State Department’s ‘no contact’ policy that prevents State Department officers and employees from making any direct contact with Iranian counterparts. The bill outlines measures to pursue opportunities to build mutual trust and to foster sustained negotiations in good faith with Iran.
Original cosponsors include Representatives Earl Blumenauer, John Conyers, John Dingell, Keith Ellison, Rush Holt, Hank Johnson, James McGovern, Jim Moran, Betty McCollum, and Bobby Rush.
That’s quite a list of doves. Barbara Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against going to war with Afghanistan after 9/11. (It takes divine intervention to get to the left of Dennis Kucinich on national security.)
Hank Johnson is famous for saying that he thought Guam would capsize if troops then stationed in Iraq were redeployed to Guam:
Rather than focus on the goofy people that signed onto this legislation as co-sponsors, though, it’s important to notice that the policy that’s being espoused sends a terrible signal of weakness to the terrorists. What’s more is this policy is most likely to embolden terrorists. If the terrorists think that they can threaten the West, why wouldn’t they think that they can get away with much more than threats?
Follow this link for more on this topic.