Archive for the ‘President Bush’ Category

Last week, Sen. Kamala Harris pretended to be a legitimate presidential contender in 2020. Unfortunately for Sen. Harris, she looked more like a scold than a serious policymaker. While questioning Gina Haspel during Haspel’s confirmation to become the next CIA Director, Sen. Harris initially asked “One question I’ve not heard you answer is, do you believe the previous interrogation techniques were immoral?” When “Haspel began with a response about the tactics’ legality,” Sen. Harris interrupted, saying “I’m not asking do you believe they were legal, I’m asking do you believe they were immoral.”

Rather than backing down or throwing her fellow agents under the bus, Haspel stood her ground. Before she did that, unfortunately, Haspel had to endure an ill-informed lecture from Harris. Sen. Harris lectured Haspel about how the person they’ll vote for or against will inform our allies “about our values.” Sen. Harris also talked about “what we prioritize as our moral authority.”

Frankly, if that’s what’s important to Sen. Harris, then she’s disqualified to ever being commander-in-chief. Period. Long before Sen. Harris became California’s Attorney General, Gina Haspel was a successful CIA interrogator who prevented multiple terrorist attacks by gaining important information from terrorists. In the days following 9/11, when most Americans were certain that there’d be more terrorist attacks, President Bush made the right decision that preventing future attacks no matter what it took was his highest priority.

The vast majority of people agree with that decision. Moral preening doesn’t have a place in that conversation. Leadership mattered. Making the right decisions on the fly was required. President Bush provided both at a time of crisis. Sen. Harris hasn’t provided either quality:

The good news is that neither Sen. Harris or Sen. McCain will prevent Gina Haspel from becoming the first female DCI. She will be confirmed, though by a fairly tight margin.

That’s unfortunate because, in terms of qualifications, she’s the most qualified candidate in decades and it isn’t all that close. Gina Haspel will become one of the best DCIs. She won’t exceed Mike Pompeo but she’ll surpass John Brennan. Then again, a worn-out trench coat would be more qualified than John Brennan.

There’s something majestic about the way Americans transition from one administration to another. The routineness with which we celebrate the coming of a new administration with anticipation, hopefulness and, perhaps, a little antipathy isn’t replicated anywhere in western civilization. For instance, when the British, one of our closest allies in the world, elects a new prime minister, the outgoing prime minister is given little time to clear out of 10 Downing Street.

It’s definitely something done in a hurry.

This year as in all other years, the process has been drawn out, with people from the incoming administration’s transition team meeting with their counterparts from the outgoing administration since virtually the day after the election on Nov. 8, 2016. The point is that it’s literally been a months-long transition. Former presidents have been arriving all morning. George and former First Lady Laura Bush arrived. Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter are here, too. As I write this, the Clintons haven’t arrived yet. Of course, Bush the Elder and Barbara Bush won’t attend because of health issues, though Bush the Elder sent a touching letter to President-Elect Trump.

Nothing conveys the finality of this event like this picture, though:

Here’s wishing the Obamas a long and prosperous life.

Pat Buchanan’s hubris really shined through in this hit piece attacks the Speaker of the House as being a nobody. That’s rich considering the fact that Buchanan once was the Reform Party’s presidential nominee but only after he won a lawsuit to defeat a candidate whose platform was based on Transcendental meditation. Then, after winning the Reform Party’s nomination, Buchanan endorsed George W. Bush.

That’s why it’s rich that Buchanan said “Ryan is a congressman from Wisconsin. He has never won a statewide election. As number two on Mitt Romney’s ticket, he got waxed by Joe Biden. He was compromise choice as speaker, only after John Boehner went into in his Brer Rabbit “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” routine. Who made Ryan the conscience of conservatism? Who made Ryan keeper of the keys of true Republicanism?”

With all due respect to Buchanan, who is he to question Ryan’s credentials? Buchanan is a natural Trump supporter because, like Trump, he’s a international trade defeatist. Unlike economic giants like Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell and Ronald Reagan, who were enthusiastic free trade advocates, Trump and Buchanan think that American workers can’t compete with workers in China, India and South Korea on a level playing field.

Then there’s this:

He is pandering to the Trump-hating Beltway media and claiming the leadership of a Republican establishment routed and repudiated in the primaries, not only by that half of the party that voted for Trump, but also by that huge slice of the party that voted for Ted Cruz.

It’s kinda embarrassing to watch a former presidential candidate resort to name-calling in his attempt to win an argument. What’s worse is that Buchanan actually thinks that Paul Ryan panders to the “Beltway media” on anything.

It’s one thing to disagree with Speaker Ryan’s policies. It’s another to think he’s a natural-born panderer.

Finally, there’s this:

The hubris here astonishes. A Republican establishment that has been beaten as badly as Carthage in the Third Punic War is now making demands on Scipio Africanus and the victorious Romans.

The hubris that’s most on display is Buchanan’s. It’s especially on display when he said that “Paul Ryan is the Nelson Rockefeller of his generation.” Buchanan’s always been a bit off but he’s really gone round the bend this time.

The Rockefellers are bigtime environmentalists. Ryan isn’t. The Rockefellers lived in ivory towers far removed from the hoi polloi. Ryan’s lived his entire life in middle class neighborhoods. The Rockefellers got rich by violating this nation’s anti-trust laws.

While it’s true that Trump isn’t an environmentalist, it’s definitely true that he’s lived separated from blue collar people. There’s little question whether Trump would exploit this nation’s anti-trust laws if given the opportunity.

In short, Buchanan’s statements are severely lacking in accuracy.

According to multiple reports, including this article, this weekend is probably Jeb’s last political fight. His wealthy fundraisers have stopped raising money for him. His crowds are shrinking. Marco Rubio is winning the key endorsement fights. Morale is low at Jeb! campaign HQ. Other than that, things couldn’t be better.

Things are getting bleak when the article includes a sentence that said “3,000 people showed up to the North Charleston Convention Center, filling just half of the cavernous exhibition hall (by comparison, the day before in a rural town of just 20,000 people, Marco Rubio had drawn more than 2,000 on a Sunday afternoon).” The half-empty convention center was for a Jeb! event. The fact that Sen. Rubio’s crowds in small towns are filled to overflowing has led some on Twitter to joke that Sen. Rubio’s big crowds are turning fire chiefs who have to deal with overflow seating against Sen. Rubio.

Jeb! only wishes he had that problem. Seriously, Jeb! isn’t the campaigner that George W. was. Jeb never was in step during this campaign. He didn’t read his audience. Couple that with the pathetic ads his Right to Rise PAC put on the air and you’ve got a campaign going nowhere fast.

Haley’s endorsement Wednesday stung even more because of an interview Bush had done on his campaign bus just a day earlier, when he told NBC’s Peter Alexander that the Haley endorsement, “if she is to give an endorsement, it would be the most powerful, meaningful one in the state.”

“When they rolled out that clip right after Haley endorsed [Rubio], it was just devastating,” another Florida-based Bush supporter said. “You just shake your head watching that. He should have known better than to say that, unless somehow he had a sense she was going to endorse him. It just shows that he doesn’t get the messaging piece of this, or that he’s insulated from what’s actually happening out there.”

Jeb’s ship is sinking. It isn’t that I love seeing it happen. It’s that that’s just reality.

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James Taranto eviscerated Thomas Friedman’s article in this column. Still, this part of Friedman’s column needs more evisceration:

These days there is a lot of “if-only-Obama-could-lead-like-Reagan” talk by conservatives. I’ll leave it to historians to figure out years from now who was the better president. But what I’d argue is this: In several critical areas, Reagan had a much easier world to lead in than Obama does now.

I don’t need years to decide who the better president was. President Obama is the worst modern president, worse than even Jimmy Carter. Friedman’s argument that “Reagan had a much easier world to lead in than Obama does now” isn’t serious stuff. Obama’s world isn’t tougher to lead. It’s that President Obama won’t lead.

It’s shameful, too, that Friedman has forgotten the catastrophe that President Reagan stepped into. During the last half of Carter’s administration, it was fashionable for pundits to talk about how the world had grown too demanding for a president to handle it himself. The fashionable talk then was the need for a co-presidency. Friedman’s column didn’t dismiss this information. Friedman ignored it entirely.

When Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire”, doves like Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Joe Biden criticized Reagan as being utterly naïve. Their opinion was that détente was the only way to manage the Soviet Union.

President Reagan emphatically disagreed. President Reagan was right.

The chief reason why Friedman can look back and say that President Reagan had it easy is tied directly to the quality of President Reagan’s decisions. In hindsight, it’s easy to see the wisdom of President Reagan’s strategy. President Reagan’s strategy was revolutionary and contrarian to everything that the establishment thought. The Soviet empire couldn’t be defeated, the realists told us. President Reagan will get us into WWIII with that Neanderthal thinking, they told us.

President Obama’s world is complicated, too, partially because his attachment to a failed ideology has informed him that being liked is more important than being feared. President Obama said that his administration’s first responsibility was to end wars, which sounds great until you think things through.

George Will recently said that the fastest way to end a war is to lose it. President Obama unilaterally repeatedly declared that war will be part of the past during his 2012 campaign. ISIL didn’t get the notice.

Shortly after 9/11, a reporter told Mayor Giuliani that, on 9/11, terrorists declared war on the United States. Giuliani’s response was that that isn’t true, that terrorists had been at war with the US for years, if not decades. It took 9/11 for us to finally confront the terrorists.

This paragraph needs dismantling:

Obama’s world is different. It is increasingly divided by regions of order and regions of disorder, where there is no one to answer the phone, and the main competition is not between two organized superpowers but between a superpower and many superempowered angry men. On 9/11, we were attacked, and badly hurt, by a person: Osama bin Laden, and his superempowered gang. When superempowered angry men have more open space within which to operate, and more powerful weapons and communication tools, just one needle in a haystack can hurt us.

That’s why President Obama’s strategy to pull our troops out of the world’s biggest hotspot was instantly viewed as foolish. That’s why President Bush’s strategy of taking the fight to the terrorists where they live was instantly seen by serious people as the right option. The Commander-in-Chief can’t afford to let “superempowered angry men” have “open space within which to operate.”

President Reagan understood the importance of confrontationalism in fighting the Soviet empire just like President Bush understood the importance of confronting terrorists in their sanctuaries.

It isn’t that Reagan had it easy. It’s that he knew what he was doing. President Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. That’s the chief difference between presidents.

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Most recent college grads are too young to remember the last time government ran efficiently. Bill Clinton was president and John Kasich was chairman of the House Budget Committee. The reason I mention that is because Byron York’s column about the Obama administration got me thinking.

In 2016, we will have suffered through 8 years of utter incompetence. The Obama administration, apart from their misguided priorities, has repeatedly shown that they’re utterly incompetent of running government. First, I’ll start by saying that things weren’t all rosy during the Bush administration. President Bush’s mishandling of Katrina was embarassing.

That being said, President Bush’s handling of the war on terror, back when government admitted that terrorists were dangerous people, was pretty good. During Bush’s administration, the intel agencies actually talked with each other. Fast forward to the Obama administration, when the Secretary of State didn’t even talk with her ambassadors serving in dangerous parts of the world.

But I digress.

Prior to the Republican landslide of 1994, Bill Clinton was mostly unfocused, adrift on policies. Enter Chairman Kasich. Shortly after Kasich got the Budget Committee’s gavel, he floated a radical idea, namely balancing the federal budget. Suddenly, President Clinton got engaged.

The end result was that Clinton didn’t expand the federal government’s regulatory reach like the Obama administration did. They didn’t have any moments when people wondered if Clinton had the basic skillset to run the federal government.

Fast forward to 2014. John Kasich is now Ohio’s governor. He’s turned the state around. First, he defeated the incumbent governor, Ted Strickland, campaigning on a reform agenda. Once he was sworn in, he started implementing that reform agenda.

Not surprisingly, Ohio’s economic health has returned. At least, it’s returned as much as possible while President Obama’s policies are still in effect. Gov. Kasich’s ideas, unlike President Obama’s, actually make sense. Gov. Kasich’s ideas have actually been used before and worked.

Gov. Kasich’s Office of Workforce Training, aka OWT, is brilliant on multiple levels. Check it out here. Here are the key takeaways:

Marketing Ohio’s In-Demand Jobs
Update in-demand jobs data regularly
Market in-demand jobs to students, job seekers, business and local workforce

Align Training Programs to Ohio’s Workforce Needs (Implementation)
Increase career pathway opportunities in our education system, from K-J (Kindergarten to Job)
Increase experiential learning opportunities
Expand and enhance career tech opportunities

Unify and Align State’s Workforce Programs
Improve support of businesses struggling to find workers
Prioritize veterans as a ready workforce by providing support to transitioning veterans and marketing opportunities to veterans and businesses

In other words, the system is integrated. That eliminates the possibility of duplicative programs and excessive overhead, aka an overglut of bureaucrats. Best of all, it fits training with verified needs.

That’s the approach we need to make government work again. Please understand this. I don’t want government reaching into places that it doesn’t belong. Higher education is something that state governments are involved with. Here’s part of Gov. Kasich’s plan for implementing his OWT initiative:

Create a dashboard to highlight aligned workforce success measures:

  1. Expand business resources center currently housed at Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
  2. Create virtual online access and single point of entry for business and job seeker
  3. Enhance online tools and access to the tools for career pathway exploration for Ohio students

In other words, it’s an integrated system that’s user friendly and focused on Ohio’s workforce needs. That’s what government looks like when it works.

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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.

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If this article is right, President Obama is staring at an historic defeat in the House of Representatives:

If the House voted today on a resolution to attack Syria, President Barack Obama would lose — and lose big.

That’s the private assessment of House Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides who are closely involved in the process.

If the Senate passes a use-of-force resolution next week, which is no sure thing, the current dynamics suggest that the House would defeat it. That would represent a dramatic failure for Obama, and once again prove that his sway over Congress is extraordinarily limited. The loss would have serious reverberations throughout the next three months, when Obama faces off against Congress in a series of high-stakes fiscal battles.

That’s the least terrible information in the article. This is a political nightmare for President Obama:

But Democrats privately say that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) can only round up between 115 and 130 “yes” votes.

That comes out to President Obama getting 150-175 votes for a limited missile strike on Syria. What’s more is that it would fail because a solid bipartisan group of congressmen and women voted against the resolution.

That’s a political nightmare for this administration.

First, it would virtually confer lame duck status on President Obama before the 2014 midterm elections. Second, it would deny President Obama the credibility he’d need to blame the defeat on recalcitrant Republicans. He’ll still accuse Republicans of obstructionism but it won’t convince anyone who isn’t already in the tank for President Obama.

One person who’s apparently still suffering from Kissing Obama’s Ass-itis is a NYTimes blogger named Timothy Egan. This post is a portrait in either Mr. Egan’s gullibility or his dishonesty. Here’s how he’s attempting to shift blame away from President Obama:

Blame Bush? Of course, President Obama has to lead; it’s his superpower now, his armies to move, his stage. But the prior president gave every world leader, every member of Congress a reason to keep the dogs of war on a leash. The isolationists in the Republican Party are a direct result of the Bush foreign policy. A war-weary public that can turn an eye from children being gassed or express doubt that it happened is another poisoned fruit of the Bush years. And for the nearly 200 members of both houses of Congress who voted on the Iraq war in 2002 and are still in office and facing a vote this month, Bush shadows them like Scrooge’s ghost.

What this idiot is arguing, feebly arguing I would add, is that Congress would vote overwhelmingly to authorize an unserious missile strike in Syria if President Bush hadn’t soured us on war by invading Iraq. That’s BS.

If the Syria authorization vote were held today, it would lose badly because President Obama isn’t proposing doing anything serious about Syria’s dictator. Had President Obama acted 2 years ago, there would’ve been support in Congress. Thanks to President Obama’s dithering and his pacifistic nature, al-Qa’ida gained a foothold in Syria. Because of that X-factor, there aren’t any good options in Syria.

This difficult decision is brought on by President Obama’s unwillingness to lead, not President Bush’s wars.

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Ralph Benko’s op-ed is the perfect counterargument to Michael Tomasky’s silly column, which I wrote about here. Benko didn’t waste time in highlighting the flaw in Tomasky’s logic:

Liberals do not grasp the distinction between Ronald Reagan and (either) George Bush. This blind spot creates a massive confusion and hazard to their ambitions. Obama defeated neither the Reagan Narrative nor Team Reagan. Team Bush appropriated, and then marginalized, both. Obama beat Team Bush, not Team Reagan. The implications are huge.

This post isn’t about trashing Karl Rove or the Bush family. Frankly, that’s a waste of time when there’s important things to be done. Instead, it’s about identifying underlying principles undergirded President Reagan’s policies. Mr. Benko is spot on with this analysis:

Real conservatives saw Reaganomics as a way of creating broad-based opportunity, not as catering to the rich. It worked out exactly that way in America and throughout the world. The blossoming of free market principles, especially low tax rates and good money, brought billions of souls out of poverty, from subsistence to affluence.

Several things worked together to make America infinitely more prosperous during Reagan’s time than during President Obama’s time in office. First, the dollar was much stronger than during President Obama’s time in office. That’s partially because President Reagan’s domestic energy policy was infinitely more robust than President Obama’s. The less money we needlessly ship money overseas for oil, the stronger the dollar is. Our trade deficit shrunk, too.

The new conservative Republican leaders are strikingly formidable. The leaders of the new generation, like Reagan, and Kemp, before them (and Kennedy still earlier), all recognize the power of the “rising tide lifts all boats”.

It isn’t a stretch to think that conservatives like John Kasich, Paul Ryan, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio will re-ignite the Reagan Revolution. Each of these men have spotless conservative credentials, which is why they fire up the base in ways Mitt Romney and John McCain couldn’t.

When President Bush won in 2004, he got 62,000,000 votes. McCain got fewer votes than President Bush. Mitt got fewer votes than Sen. McCain. Had Paul Ryan been at the top of the ticket, however, it isn’t a stretch to think he would’ve topped President Bush’s vote total.

That’s because he’s the spitting image of Reagan. The Reagan Revolution was fueled by a glut of great ideas. A Ryan Revolution would be powered by the same thing. Most importantly, he’d talk conservatism like his native language. This isn’t an attempt to trash Mitt. It’s simply stating the obvious. He just didn’t prosecute the case against President Obama the way Ryan would have.

President Bush’s spending turned conservatives off because he had a Republican House and Senate much of the time. President Reagan’s spending was done, in part, because he had to rebuild the military after President Carter gutted it, partly because Tip O’Neill controlled the House.

Everything President Reagan fought for was targeted towards creating prosperity. He didn’t back away from a fight, either. When PATCO went on strike, he fired them because they broke federal law. When Tip O’Neill accused him of not caring about the average working Joe, Reagan responded mightily. His temper flaring, he marched back to the podium, then said, essentially, that he’d made his money because he’d worked hard, then adding that it wasn’t given to him.

It’s a fight Mitt Romney backed away from too often in his attempt to win over women voters or independents. It’s a fight the next generation of conservatives will fight with vigor.

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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.

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