Archive for the ‘Congressional Oversight’ Category
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.
True to their waste-aholic history, the DFL legislature voted against government accountability:
A commission designed to judge whether state agencies, councils or boards have outlived their usefulness may itself cease to exist.
The Democratic-controlled House and Senate have voted to abolish the Sunset Advisory Commission, a 12-member commission championed by Republicans as offering greater accountability and efficiency in state government.
“I think they’re (Democrats) scared,” Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, said of taking tough votes on the commission.
A product of 2011 legislation, the Sunset Advisory Commission is patterned after a 30-year-old commission in Texas, one billed as having saved the Lone Star State almost $1 billion at a cost of about $33 million.
Minnesota’s Sunset Commission reviews state agencies and recommends whether a given agency should continue to exist.
Rep. Peppin is right. DFL legislators don’t want to vote on wasteful spending. DFL legislators don’t want to admit that their pet agencies, councils and panels are actually patronage positions.
The DFL is spinning their vote:
The idea of duplication was voiced by another commission member, Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park. “One of the tasks of the sunset commission is to get rid of duplicative government functions,” he said. There’s already the Office of the Legislative Auditor.
Why have both? Nelson asks.
Rep. Nelson, we need both because it’s apparent that there’s a ton of bloat in state government, things that the OLA hasn’t discussed.
As for Rep. Nelson’s assertion of duplication, I’d love hearing his explanation on what it’s duplicating. I’d love hearing him cite the times when the OLA has recommended the sunsetting of a commission, panel or council.
Sen. Bonoff’s statement needs ridiculing:
Bonoff, like other Democrats, argues the commission is itself duplicative. “If committee chairs are doing their jobs, they should be doing this kind of detailed oversight,” she said.
There’s a simple explanation for Sen. Bonoff: the chairs have never gotten into this type of detailed oversight. The Sunset Advisory Commission would’ve been a great tool that forced the legislature to deal with commissions, councils and panels that outlived their usefulness.
Furthermore, does any thinking person think that the DFL would investigate the importance or relevance of these hideouts for their political cronies? Let’s get serious. When Keith Downey proposed reducing the state workforce by 15% by not replacing retiring workers, Eliot Seide accused him of waging war “against working families.” What DFL legislator will vote for sunsetting these commissions, councils or panels knowing that they’ll get primaried by an AFSCME-endorsed candidate?
That’s why the Commission is essential.
Finally, this DFL legislature has repeatedly proven that they oppose accountability. The GOP legislature passed a bill that required teachers to pass a basic skills test, which Gov. Dayton signed. The DFL wants to repeal that law. The GOP legislature passed the Sunset Advisory Commission, which Gov. Dayton signed. The DFL legislature just voted to repeal that essential accountability legislation. Will Gov. Dayton reverse himself & say no to government accountability? If he does, he should prepare for getting labeled as a) a hypocrite, b) a cheap politician who does what’s popular, not what’s right and c) the unions’ puppet, not the public’s servant leader.
This week, the DFL legislature voted for higher pay for themselves, higher taxes on the middle class and less accountability within government. I don’t think that’s the bumper sticker they’ll want to deal with in 2014.
Tags: Terry Bonoff, Mike Nelson, Tom Bakk, Paul Thissen, Mark Dayton, Eliot Seide, AFSCME Council 5, Public Employee Unions, Cronyism, DFL, Sunset Advisory Commission, Accountability, Government Oversight, Reforms, MNGOP
The most explosive, hotly-contested part of yesterday’s Benghazi cover-up hearing came when Hillary lost it. When Sen. Ron Johnson questioned her on why the State Department didn’t investigate what happened in Benghazi, Hillary asked why it mattered. Today, Sen. Johnson’s op-ed in USA Today explains why this collossal failure shouldn’t have happened. This part cuts to the heart of why it matters:
When I questioned her about the misinformation disseminated for days by the administration, most notably by Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice on Sunday news programs five days after the attack, she asked, “What difference does it make?”
If you don’t expeditiously debrief the people who witnessed the attack, how can you understand who initiated it, what weapons they used and who may have been involved? How do you initiate a proper response if you don’t know what transpired? How do you move properly to protect other American assets and people in the region? How do you know what failures occurred, so that you can immediately correct them, if you have not debriefed the very victims of those failures? And lastly, how do you tell the truth to the American people if you don’t know the facts?
Our diplomatic forces in Benghazi were denied the security they repeatedly requested for many months before Sept. 11, 2012. Secretary Clinton stated that she was not told of those desperate requests in the most dangerous region in the world. As a result, our people in Benghazi were ill-prepared to repel or avoid that attack, and four Americans were murdered. For many days after the event, the American people were also misinformed as to the nature and perpetrators of that attack.
Hillary’s faux outrage about being questioned about her failure wasn’t convincing. She helped cover up the murder of 4 American patriots who deserved better from the nation they loved.
Yesterday’s hearings weren’t about learning lessons so we don’t repeat them. It should’ve been about exposing this administration’s lies about what happened in Benghazi. It should’ve been about highlighting for the American people the fact that this administration was more worried about maintaining their political viability than about doing the right thing.
Sen. Johnson’s crossexamination of Hillary went a long ways towards that goal. Sen. Johnson’s op-ed takes it a few steps further.
Thank God for patriots like Sen. Johnson.
In a shocking statement after the House hearing, Rep. Peter King confirmed that Gen. Petraeus testified that the CIA’s original talk points were edited:
Here’s a partial transcript of Rep. King’s statement:
REP. KING: How did the final talking points emerge? He said it went through a long process involving many agencies, including the Department of Justice and the State Department. No one knows yet who came up with the final version of talking points other than to say that the talking points that the CIA had put together were different than the talking points that finally emerged.
Later, Rep. King said “The original talking points were much more specific about al-Qa’ida involvement.”
That’s explosive testimony. Gen. Petraeus essentially said that the CIA, the people that gather the intelligence, originally identified al-Qa’ida as being involved in the attack. Equally explosive is the fact that the original CIA talking points were changed by people outside the intelligence community.
That means what’s been known up till now as “the CIA’s talking points” weren’t put together by the CIA. It includes the possibility that the talking points that Susan Rice referenced were political in nature.
The minute Rice’s talking points don’t have the heft and credibility of being from the CIA is the minute these talking points lose their credibility. It’s also the minute Ambassador Rice’s story loses credibility.
It’s time for President Obama, Secretary Clinton, CIA Director Petraeus and Defense Secretary Panetta to be grilled extensively on their decisions, or lack thereof, during the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2012. I don’t want this hearing to be about a ton of peripheral topics. Citizen journalists will sort through Susan Rice’s and Jay Carney’s spin.
This shouldn’t even be about President Obama attending a Vegas fundraiser the day after the terrorist attacks. Again, that’s something citizen journalists can sort through. Here are the things this hearing must be about:
- Who was the first senior administration official to get real time reports from the consulate the day of the terrorist attack? Did this senior administration official report this immediately to President Obama? If not, why not?
- When did President Obama’s national security team first tell him about the terrorist attack? Was this during his afternoon meeting with Defense Secretary Panetta the day of the terrorist attack?
- During his meeting with Secretary Panetta, did President Obama order Panetta to send troops to protect the diplomatic staff in Benghazi? If he didn’t order protection for these American patriots during his meeting with Secretary Panetta, did President Obama order military support later in the day? If not, why not?
- Secretary Panetta said that he didn’t send troops in because they didn’t know what they’d be jumping into. Mike Baker dispelled that myth by saying the CIA and military are receiving a “glut of information” in real time from the CIA, specifically the Global Response Staff. Did Secretary Panetta recommend to President Obama that the military jump into the firefight/terrorist attack? If he did, what was President Obama’s response? If he didn’t, why didn’t he make that recommendation?
- When did Charlene Lamb first tell Hillary Clinton about the terrorist attack? When she was told about the terrorist attack, did Ms. Clinton immediately contact President Obama? If not, why not? If she did, what time was it that she contacted him?
- President Obama was the only person with the constitutional authority to order troop deployments during an act of war. Terrorist attacks on American consulates are without question acts of war. Did he order spec-ops troops to be deployed to Benghazi to protect the diplomats from the terrorist attack? If he didn’t, why didn’t he?
These hearings need to start with focusing in on a single subject so the American people get a detailed understanding of President Obama’s national security team operations and his decisions to protect or not protect Christopher Stevens and his diplomatic staff.
Once that base of information is established and the American people understand President Obama’s failings, then the hearings can expand into other areas. Until then, they must stay focused.
Tags: Benghazi Terrorist Attacks, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, Democrat Politicians, David Petraeus, Delta Force, CIA, Charlene Lamb, State Department, Christopher Stevens, Ty Woods, Sean Smith, Glenn Doherty, Patriots, Jay Carney, Susan Rice, Spinmeisters
This afternoon’s hearing on the terrorist attacks to the Benghazi Consulate have been explosive. One such exchange happened between Rep. Raul Labrador, (R-ID), and Patrick Kennedy, the Undersecretary of State for Administration. Here’s the transcript of that exchange:
REP. LABRADOR: Ambassador Kennedy, you said that, if any administration official, including any career official, had been on television on Sunday, Sept. 16, they would have said what Ambassador Rice said. The information she had from the intelligence community — I see how specific you’re being — from the intelligence community — is the same information that I had at that point. Can you explain to me how it was that, on Sept. 12, you told congressional aides that you thought it was a terrorist attack?
AMBASSADOR KENNEDY: Congressman, I told them that because that was my personal opinion and that I also believed that, because of the nature of it and the lethality of it, that it was a complex attack.
REP. LABRADOR: So how can you sit here today and say that the following day, you had an idea that it was a terrorist attack, and you have said that you aren’t a security expert, how can you claim today that you would have said the same thing as Ambassador Rice said?
This is explosive because it’s telling us this administration used Clintonesque wording to spin the terrorist attack into a simple impromptu uprising, something it clearly wasn’t.
Lt. Col. Andy Wood and Eric Nordstrom, both security experts, said security experts knew almost instantly that this was a terrorist attack. The question then turns from why Ambassador Rice relied on the narrowest, Clintonian spin rather than telling the nation that this was a terrorist attack.
The most obvious reason Ambassador Rice didn’t say that was because that didn’t the storyline Democrats spent a week in Charlotte creating. At their convention, speaker after speaker said that we couldn’t trust Gov. Romney on national security, that President Obama had lots of national security experience and a lengthy list of national security accomplishments.
This terrorist attack happened just days after the Democratic National Convention. It would’ve demolished Vice President Biden’s line that “bin Laden is dead and GM is alive.”
The truth is that bin Laden is dead but al-Qa’ida and other terrorist organizations are regrouping. The Benghazi attack is proof of that. Another truth is that President Bush’s strategy of taking the fight to the terrorists is the only strategy that’s capable of stopping terrorist attacks long before they’re set into operation.
President Obama won’t admit it but that’s the truth.
What’s apparent from the hearing is that security experts like Mr. Nordstrom and Lt. Col. Wood painted a dramatically different picture of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Benghazi Consulate than did the political appointees in the State Department.
Tags: Congressional Oversight, Eric Nordstrom, Andy Wood, Security Experts, Patrick Kennedy, State Department, Diplomat, Terrorist Attack, Benghazi, bin Laden, al-Qa’ida, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Coverup, Joe Biden, Democrats, Election 2012
The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and others in the administration didn’t hesitate in using fiction to mislead the press. Their stories are changing now that they’re about to testify under oath:
Senior State Department officials, meanwhile, now say the Sept. 11 evening was a quiet one in Benghazi that became very suddenly violent about 9:40 p.m. when officials at the compound heard “gunfire and explosions.”
Within seconds, a camera monitoring the main gate of the compound revealed “a large number of men, armed men flowing” through the gates, one of the senior State Department official said on a Tuesday night conference call on the condition of anonymity.
The officials described an intense series of events in which the compound’s main building was set ablaze while a firefight ensued outside. Four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, were killed.
People immediately knew the administration was lying or spinning about the terrorist attacks on 9/11. People understood that an anti-Muslim video that nobody had heard of wasn’t the reason for a terrorist attack, espcially on 9/11. People didn’t buy the thought that it was purely coincidental that an anti-Muslim video triggered violence throughout north Africa on the anniversary of 9/11.
The Obama administration had said the attack was a spontaneous response to the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims”; it later claimed there was a protest against the film that terrorists suspected of al Qaeda links took advantage of to launch their attack. When asked about those varying explanations, the State Department official said “that was not our conclusion” and that unspecified “others” could answer for their words.
Bit by bit, the Obama administration’s story is crumbling in public. Their fictional accounts are getting exposed as this administration’s attempt to do anything to not call terrorists terrorists. This administration’s unease with fighting to defeat the terrorists is famous.
Yes, they’ve killed bin Laden and other HVTs. Kudos to the military for their operational expertise.
The Benghazi terrorist attack proves that al-Qa’ida is adjusting and prospering. The figurehead is dead. The enterprise continues pushing their hateful ideology despite President Obama’s overtures to non-existent ‘moderates’ in the Taliban.
Apparently, this administration won’t admit al-Qa’ida didn’t get the memo that they were essentially shut down. While killing terrorists one at a time with drone strikes is great PR, it isn’t effective in diminishing the terrorist networks’ capacity.
Benghazi is another national security disaster for an administration that’s known as a foreign policy/national security lightweight. They can point to splashy headlines. They just can’t point to things that made the U.S. secure.
To steal a phrase from Joe Biden, “Bin Laden is dead and al-Qa’ida is alive and well.”
The longer President Obama and Mr. Holder refuse to comply with a federal subpoena, the longer the American people will see their behavior as disgusting.
Yesterday, following the House’s vote to hold him in criminal contempt of a congressional subpoena, Holder made this self-serving statement:
Holder was defiant in the face of the contempt votes Thursday, one criminal and one civil. He described it as “the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided and politically motivated investigation during an election year.”
That spin is bullshit. The only reason this has become an issue during a presidential campaign is because Mr. Holder hasn’t complied with this congressional subpoena since Oct. 12, 2011:
Congressional investigators issued a subpoena Wednesday for communications from several top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, relating to the discredited “Fast and Furious” federal gunrunning operation.
The subpoena, issued by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also covers communications from Holder’s chief of staff, Gary Grindler, and from Lanny Breuer, head of the department’s criminal division.
Had Mr. Holder complied with the congressional subpoena a month after it was issued, which was certainly possible, this wouldn’t have become an election year issue.
Fast and Furious would’ve still been an issue this campaign. When an administration’s policies lead to the cold-blooded murder of a law enforcement officer, it will be an election issue.
Thanks to Holder’s reprehensible behavior, the gunrunning operation and the DOJ’s behavior in hiding behind executive privilege, this will now be used as a billyclub against this corrupt, inept administration.
Fast & Furious is going away. Unfortunately, we won’t put it behind us until after Romney defeats Obama this November.
Despite Chip Cravaack’s fight to keep airplanes safe, President Obama intends to cut funding for the Federal Flight Deck Operations, aka the FFDO:
The Obama administration’s hatred for the Second Amendment has reached new heights. After nearly a decade of safe operation, the White House is looking to reduce the number of pilots who provide an extra layer of security against airborne terror by packing a pistol in the cockpit. This plan shouldn’t fly.
The federal flight-deck officer program was put in place as a direct response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists barged into the cockpits and seized control of airliners. The initiative provides $25.5 million for weapons training for pilots, including for cargo carriers and private charters. President Obama’s budget would slash the amount in half.
Uncle Sam spends about $4,800 per pilot for the training administered by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), but aside from that, it doesn’t suffer from the usual bureaucratic bloat. Participants must pay their own travel, lodging and meal expenses. About 10,000 pilots have been certified, but the Obama administration’s goal is to see the number of armed aviators dwindle.
God forbid that President Obama let a successful, well-run program continue. Chip Cravaack has the facts on his side. He used those facts to grill DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano:
Chip Cravaack took the training. He flew these flights. He’s an expert on this issue. Instead of listening to an experienced expert, President Obama and the most incompetent DHS secretary in US history essentially said “we know better.”
With all due respect, they don’t know better. If this decision is a matter of who’s best equipped to make this decision, then it should be Chip Cravaack, not a pair of ideologues who don’t have the first clue about this program.
This fits the pattern. President Obama’s ego won’t let him admit that he should listen to the experts. Secretary Napolitano’s incompetence won’t let her admit that she should let experts make the important decisions.
The reality is that this administration, especially Secretary Napolitano’s part of it, is exceptionally incompetent. When this administration’s epitaph is written, the word incompetent will have a prominent place in that epitaph.
Based on congressional testimony, Gen. Holder might have some difficult explaining to do:
A single internal Department of Justice email could be the smoking-gun document in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal, if it turns out to contain what congressional investigators have said it does.
The document would establish that wiretap application documents show senior DOJ officials knew about and approved the gunwalking tactic in Fast and Furious. This is the opposite of what Attorney General Eric Holder and House oversight committee ranking Democratic member Rep. Elijah Cummings have claimed.
If Chairman Issa can get his hands on these documents and if these documents contain what they purportedly contain, this would be a major problem for Mr. Holder. Here’s why I think that’s precisely what they contain:
“The ATF director, Kenneth Melson, sent an e-mail. And he had said to us in sworn testimony that, in fact, he had concerns,” Issa said. “And we want to see that e-mail because that’s an example where he was saying, if we believe his sworn testimony, that guns walked. And he said it shortly after February 4, and [on] July 4. When he told us that, we began asking for that document.”
That certainly isn’t helpful for this administration. If it’s verified, that’s proof this administration lied to Chairman Issa’s committee. Unfortunately for this administration, that isn’t all:
Grassley pressed Holder on the question of how DOJ had the authority to withhold Melson’s email from Congress, a full week before President Obama indicated that he would invoke executive privilege to shield requested documents. At that time, Holder claimed the Melson email would not be protected by executive privilege.
“On what legal ground are you withholding that email?” He asked. “The president can’t claim executive privilege to withhold that email, is that correct?”
“Well, let me just say this: We have reached out to Chairman Issa to work our way through these issues,” Holder filibustered. “We have had sporadic contacts and we are prepared to make; I am prepared to make; compromises with regard to the documents that can be made available. There is a basis for withholding these documents if they deal with the deliberative …”
“But not on executive privilege?” Grassley interrupted.
“No,” Holder responded.
The fact that Mr. Holder isn’t giving Chairman Issa’s committee a document that Mr. Holder says isn’t justifiably protected by executive privilege means that there’s information that the committee doesn’t have that might hurt this administration both politically and legally. That’s the only explanation that makes sense.
Regardless, Republicans need to intensify their pressure on Mr. Holder and this administration. They’ve got to speak out about this information with every press outlet that makes time available. This is a potentially game-changing piece of information.