Free Markets, Free People

National Security

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Open access will make it harder to control things….

Not narrowly restricting egress of people from West Africa will make Ebola harder to control and will limit unrest.

“Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday that a travel embargo on West African countries that are struggling with Ebola would make it much harder for them to control the virus.

“You isolate them, you can cause unrest in the country,” Fauci told “Fox News Sunday.” `’It’s conceivable that governments could fall if you just isolate them completely.”

Here’s the AP article.    Tony is probably a smart guy, probably lots of letters after his name on his stationary and business cards.  Probably from highly touted schools.    Would it be improper of me to ask about the unrest being caused HERE?  Or are we just supposed to suck it up and let ‘our government’ admit anyone they want to (that would be, yes).

Imagine a country where the leadership has let things get bad enough that people want to remove the current leaders and change the government.   Can’t have that.  The Obama administration understands that because they have a wealth of experience garnered through hard work and extremely careful planning in Libya.   Perhaps that’s why the new approach is to use us as the world’s unrest relief valve and let the unhappy people come here instead.

Dr Tom Frieden thinks banning civilian travel would make it harder to get relief to them.

“Frieden added that a travel ban could make it difficult to get medical supplies and aid workers to the affected regions in West Africa.”

“We really need to be clear that we don’t inadvertently increase the risk to people in this country by making it harder for us to respond to the needs in those countries,” he said, “by making it harder to get assistance in and therefore those outbreaks would become worse, go on longer, and paradoxically, something that we did to try and protect ourselves might actually increase our risk.”

Now, I know what he’s saying is those civilian flights can carry medically trained passengers and medical equipment, and medicines.  Yes they can.   And Domino’s or Asia Wok can deliver pizza or sushi directly to people in isolation here and the pharmacies that do prescription delivery can bring them their medications.   They can, but I don’t think they should and I bet the rank and file in the CDC doesn’t think they should either.   Let the government send aid, let WHO send aid.  Let them charter the planes from the airlines that won’t be flying civilian traffic into those locations.

Frieden also doesn’t want to make it harder for Americans or other people who are allowed to enter the US  to return home. You know what?  it SHOULD be harder, they’re coming from a biological HOT Zone.

It’s hard on those 4 people that are in quarantine here in Dallas.  It’s hard on the others that came in contact with Ebola Zero and are under observation to see if they’ve been infected, and it’s hard on the rest of us wondering if the vagrant that rode in the ambulance after Ebola Zero got transported,  might have caught it before the ambulance was taken out of service and isolated.. and before they lost track of the vagrant (they know where he is, now….only 6 days later of course).

Newsflash Mr. head of the CDC – you can test and quarantine them there, or you can test and quarantine them here.  One way, or another.   Personally I think quarantining them THERE, where the disease is already running around is a much better option than quarantining them HERE, where they can elect to go to school a couple days after you’ve told them they’re in quarantine and are not to leave the house.

Why should the rest of us risk potential exposure because someone traveled for business, pleasure or personal reasons to a West African country where Ebola is literally in the streets?

Why should it NOT be more difficult for them?  This epidemic isn’t new.  It started in December of 2013, so we’re just 2 months shy of a year.   Maybe people traveling to West Africa believe in the magic the DHS and CDC have used so far to stop disease from entering the US.  That would be the magic created by letting anyone, and I do mean anyone, into the country.  Oh, okay, I think we might have a special watch list for grannies from Idaho in wheelchairs, but so far I see we’re okay with Central American gang members, Central American kids with EV-D68 and people from Liberia with Ebola.

Clearly at this point anyone traveling to West Africa is kinda comfortable doing so because they do it.   There is a reason I don’t swim in alligator bayous, belly crawl into rattlesnake dens or run into houses on fire; because I’m not comfortable doing those things.   I don’t much care how they accomplish the restriction but from a government that has nearly banned your consumption of trans-fats, you’d think maybe a ban on travel to and from Ebolalaland would be a natural thing.

So, let them be tested there, and quarantined there in accordance with the choices they themselves made to travel there.

There’s a reason you channel access to contagious people and places.  You do it to CONTROL the access, and try and limit the danger.   Not that I have a tremendous amount of faith in government channeling and control right now and it could be because these bozos keep talking like this.

Economic growth and national security? Or taxes?

The Financial Times [subscription] is reporting that the US is poised to become the world’s largest producer of liquid petroleum (oil and natural gas liquids):

US production of oil and related liquids such as ethane and propane was neck-and-neck with Saudi Arabia in June and again in August at about 11.5m barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency, the watchdog backed by rich countries.

With US production continuing to boom, its output is set to exceed Saudi Arabia’s this month or next for the first time since 1991. […]

Rising oil and gas production has caused the US trade deficit in energy to shrink, and prompted a wave of investment in petrochemicals and other related industries. […] It is also having an impact on global security. Imports are expected to provide just 21 per cent of US liquid fuel consumption next year, down from 60 per cent in 2005.

The reason?  Fracking.  As Walter Russell Mead points out:

With productivity continuing to rise, the United States has a chance to become the single biggest producer of crude oil sometime in the near future. If you had said that a decade ago, you would’ve been laughed at and called a fool. What a difference fracking makes.

Indeed.  The “peak oil” pundits were sure we were on the precipice of running out of oil.  Now, it seems, the sky is indeed the limit.  Which is why it makes little sense, given the state of climate science, that our President is busily engaged via the UN and other domestic agencies, in throttling back one of the most economically viable growth engines the American economy has at the moment (and for the foreseeable future).

Instead of working on a policy to limit future use of hydrocarbons, this White House should be pushing a policy that helps us safely and sustainably exploit these assets for all.  Additionally, while petroleum is indeed a global commodity, this level of production would go a long way toward the promise of energy independence in time of crisis.  It helps remove oil as a weapon of choice by various less than friendly states and allies of convenience.

Two winners for the US: economic growth and national security.

Instead we get an attempt to establish an new tax based on specious science.

Sort of par for the course, no pun intended.

~McQ

The government’s right to paw through your stuff

Let me start out with the conclusion – the government does not have a right to have easy access to your possessions on the premise that at some point in the future you might turn out to be a criminal.

There’s a lot of hoopla going on about child molesting pedophiliac serial murdering terorists(non islamic of course) who are just waiting for the release of the newer Apple IPhones so they can encrypt and hide the evidence of their crimes. This reckless disregard for government’s need to easily poke through your posessions, i.e. read the stuff on your IPhone,  will allow these yet to be criminals to get off scott free because the government will be unable to easily decrypt the data.

Well, that at least seems to be the argument I keep hearing.   I probably could have thrown in some other things these criminals are going to encrypt, but pedophiles and terrorists seem to be the hot button crimes  the government thinks are the be all end all arguments for why they should be able to get at the data without a great deal of hassel on their part.

As a counter weight to that set of players, let’s imagine a journalist, with secret “Deep-Throat” level informers inside government who has data encrypted on his phone that pertains to government malfeasence with names, and dates, including the name or names of the informers (and copies of 8×10 color glossy photos with circles and arrows and a parapgraph on the back explaining what each one is to be used as evidence against them).  And for crazy but obvious reasons the reporter really doesn’t want to share that with the government and he encrypts it on his IPhone.

Let’s presume for a moment a corrupt Department of Justice or other government agency.  Crazy talk, right?  Gee, that could never happen  (cough cough…. DOJ FIFA foot dragging, contempt of Congress Fast and Furious, IRS investigations, lost emails, crashing hard drives, NSA reading everything written by everybody that traverses the internet)   Let’s presume that the encrypted data that would bring down the government perps in these corrupt agencies is on the reporter’s IPhone, and the corrupt agency creates reason to confiscate said phone, and would like to know what’s on it, again, for crazy but obvious reasons.  Suppose the criminals ARE the government.  Nah, that could never happen.

So, do you believe you’re obligated to make your possessions easy for the government to search?   Do you believe your house should be an open book to government warrant, because, hey, you might be a criminal in the future.  People don’t think of their data as a posession, but just because the old way of storing data was ‘papers’ doesn’t mean that ‘bits’ aren’t really the same thing.   All we did was change how it’s stored.   Should you be obligated to tell the government about any and every secret hiding place you have on your property when they show up looking for those Cuban cigars you knew were illegal to bring back from your Carribean cruise?   Should you be obligated to make it EASY for them?

It has been correctly pointed out that this action by Apple is in direct response to the NSA snooping, and we joke about it, but be honest, we all pretty much think they’re looking at EVERYTHING, don’t we?   And despite their protestations of innocence, we think they’re doing it here, and abroad, for practically everyone, on any electronic transmission they can get access to.    It all has to go through routers somewhere, sometime, it’s all being recorded and relayed at some point.   All of it.   This ain’t magic ya know.  And now they’re outraged!  outraged!  that people might be trying to make it hard on them to peek and poke and prod.

And I’m supposed to believe being able to crack the data on an IPhone is going to stop, oh, another Boston Marathon bombing?  When they lost track of a guy because they didn’t spell his name right?   How are they going to get his phone to decrypt his data?

Nah, sorry, there’s a whole lot of government house cleaning that needs to go on at the IRS, the DOJ,  and the many flavors of DHS before I get excercised about them not being able to easily decrypt data on an IPhone.    I’m more afraid of the listed agencies than I am of Achmed and Mohammed or the guy who dresses up as Barney and keeps encrypted pictures of nude kids on his phone.  I’m against all of those things okay?  And my way of dealing with such people would probably be much more at home on the frontier west of the 1800’s than 21st century America.

But we have people flowing across our southern border from who knows where, thinking who knows what, carrying who knows what diseases or posessions and agencies getting bent out of shape over not being able to decrypt future criminal eveidence are doing exactly jack-all to stop THAT even though they know it’s occurring RIGHT NOW.   Keep Achmed and Mohammed out of the country, and we won’t have to worry what they’ve encrypted on their IPhones.  And we caught pedo’s before they had IPhones to encrypt data on.

Federal law enforcment can spare me their attempts at  moral outrage because from what I see they’re not outraged much by the abuses they can do something about directly right now that have nothing to do with easily decrypting future data on a future criminal’s phone.   And I am flat not convinced that the 4th Amendment was written to make it easier for the government to poke through my stuff.

Obama speech? The usual. “A performative act”

Found on Facebook (Clare Spark), I think this nicely describes Obama’s speech last night:

I am not the first to point out that Obama is a postmodern president. Tonight he proved that label by his “not-so-fast” speech on foreign policy vis a vis ISIS. It was what the pomos call ” a performative act”–the last word in magical thinking.

Indeed.  Platitudes, chest thumping, equivocation – and absolutely nothing new. He’s given a speech … the act is complete. The “ususal”.  Talk equals action.

As we’ve become familiar with the “non-apology apology” in today’s life, we have now been introduced to the “non-strategy strategy”.  What he talked about wasn’t a strategy, it was pure justification for doing … not much (even though he made it clear he doesn’t need Congress’s approval to do … not much).  Apparently he thinks that a few airstrikes and few advisors will stimulate “allies” to do much more than that and take the bit and run with it.  Yeah, that’s always worked so well in the past.  Leading from behind again.

Also unknown is how one is going to take an obviously dispirited and seemingly unwilling (incompetent) Iraqi army and turn it around any time soon, but if there is a plan in there, that seems to be it, sort of.  Oh, that and a “National Guard” (new name for the “awakening’s” militias)?  Say what? But what I mostly got from it was he, like many other mistaken arm-chair generals, believes that he can accomplish “degrading” ISIS by air.  First, any significant degradation would require a sustained air campaign on the level of our Gulf War “shock and awe” campaign.  Not going to happen.  Secondly, finding and killing ISIS C4 nodes, like we did with Saddam, is an extraordinarily difficult task in comparison.  While we may randomly accomplish knocking out some of those nodes, it will be mostly luck without good hard timely intelligence (and acted upon immediately) about an enemy which remains mostly mobile.

And how about him deciding ISIS isn’t “Islam” or “Islamic”?  Since when does he get to decide?  Certainly some parts of greater Islam are against ISIS, but then Sunnis have no use for Shiites either do they?  Does that make one or the other not “Islam”.  Who gets to decide? Such declarations do Obama’s poor credibility even more damage and feeds the conspiracy theorists.  But, that said, one has to wonder why it was so important for him to include that in a national policy speech.   It is a total non-sequitur in my opinion.  But for whatever reason, he chose to include it.

I think James Joyner has a good take on the speech.  His first reaction:

The first thing I’d note is how much it sounded like any number of foreign policy speeches given by his predecessor.  He declared again and again that, “As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people” and proudly enumerated all the ways that “we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country.”

Our Peace Prize president sounding like Bush … got to love the irony.  Of course what Obama didn’t expound upon is how his withdrawal of troops from Iraq helped enable the ISIS expansion.  Reality (i.e. an objective military assessment of the status of the Iraqi army and its actual abilities) rarely, if every, conforms to an arbitrary political deadlines.  I think it is clear to everyone the pullout at that time was a very bad idea.  It takes time to build an effective fighting force.  What is now left in Iraq is a shattered and dispirited force.  Because of that, we’re put in the position to again try to salvage a situation there.  With greater forethought and less ideology, we would have kept US forces still there to ensure the Iraqi military was actually ready to confront a threat like ISIS instead of pretending it was so to keep a political promise.

Joyner’s second thought:

The second observation is that it’s still not clear exactly what Obama’s strategy is. His stated political objective is to  “degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy” but he offered no plan that could plausibly do more than the former.

Well, except for, you know, “air strikes”.  Hand wave, promise, done.  Polls suck?  Hitting ISIS popular?  Wag the dog.  It’s all about politics and elections, folks.  Not the security of the United States.  If someone had told him that his poll numbers would rise by not playing golf … well, there are limits you know.  If it was truly about the security of the United States, this administration would be working to secure our borders, not ignoring the immigration laws.

Joyner concludes:

Frankly, this is simply the logical continuation of Obama’s existing ISIL non-strategy and, indeed, his general counter-terrorism strategy of blowing up the bad guys and hoping they get tired of it eventually.  We could call it the Global War on Terror but, alas, that name’s been taken. That’s rather unsatisfying but it’s not at all obvious what more the United States can or should do to degrade ISIL. The threat to the homeland is too tangential at present to warrant the proverbial boots on the ground.  So, it’s Whack-a-Mole with no end in sight.

And the moles will continue to be whacked as we hear glowing progress reports from the Eastasian front.

Because? Well, that’s how we roll now.  Back to the future.

~McQ

FYI: Reality may be about to slap the Democrats and Obama in the face

The problem, of course, is because of their refusal to secure the southern border and enforce immigration law, it will be innocent Americans who will pay the price if such an attack unfolds.   From Judicial Watch via NRO’s “The Corner”:

Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued.  Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.

Specifically, Judicial Watch sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas. Violent crimes are so rampant in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The last one was issued just a few days ago.

Intelligence officials have picked up radio talk and chatter indicating that the terrorist groups are going to “carry out an attack on the border,” according to one JW source.  “It’s coming very soon,” according to this high-level source, who clearly identified the groups planning the plots as “ISIS and Al Qaeda.” An attack is so imminent that the commanding general at Ft. Bliss, the U.S. Army post in El Paso, is being briefed, another source confirms. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not respond to multiple inquiries from Judicial Watch, both telephonic and in writing, about this information.

The disturbing inside intelligence comes on the heels of news reports revealing that U.S. intelligence has picked up increased chatter among Islamist terror networks approaching the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. While these terrorists reportedly plan their attack just outside the U.S., President Obama admits that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to combat ISIS. “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” the commander-in-chief said this week during a White House press briefing. “I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggest that folks are getting a little further ahead of what we’re at than what we currently are.”

Mr. Obama, you can’t put the cart before the horse, because you have neither.  Neither.  You’ve completely failed to secure our borders and you’ve invited this sort of thing to happen for years.  You have no strategy for national security, one of your primary jobs.

Any blood from an attack now is completely on your hands.  And should an attack come, given all the warnings about the consequences of not securing that border, I think the term “high crimes and misdemeanors” would certainly apply.

~McQ

Apparently we do negotiate with terrorists

I know Americans are torn by the Bergdahl story.  Face it, given how poorly things are going, they desperately want a “feel good” story.  The Bergdahl repatriation is one where you want to celebrate it, but as the facts come out, you can’t find it in yourself to do so.  The guy wasn’t a POW, he deserted and sought out the enemy with the apparent desire to join them.

The administration just as desperately wanted a distraction from all it’s ongoing failures and scandals.  But this story and its ending are anything but that.  In fact, it stinks to high heaven.

First there’s the way it was done by the administration, which strongly supports the hypothesis that this was done in haste to change the subject and redirect the focus of the news cycle.  The subject they were trying to change was their abject failure with the VA.  How better to distract from that than repatriating an American soldier and rescuing him from the clutches of the Taliban?  Paint him as a hero and take a bow.  Let a sympathetic media take it from there.

Except this guy isn’t a hero.  He wasn’t “captured”, he deliberately set out to find those who eventually grabbed him and kept him.  Since 2010 the Army has determined that this guy deserted his post in time of war.  But of course that didn’t stop the Baghdad Bob of this administration, Susan Rice, from heading out to the talk shows soon after the deal was made, and telling us how this deserter had served with “honor and distinction”.

What the administration hadn’t counted on was former soldiers from his unit coming forward and telling the real story. They apparently didn’t know about the 6 soldiers killed in attempts to find and rescue him.  The backlash from their attempt to whitewash who this guy was has been overwhelming. And, as usual, points to a clueless administration again bungling it’s attempt at distraction.

But that’s only one part of the story.  How about the trade itself?  What did it accomplish?

Well for the US, another in a long line of stupid failures.  Why “stupid”. Because, as usual, it was ill-conceived plan and a self-inflicted wound.  We got back a PFC that deserted (yeah, I know he was promoted while in captivity, but in reality he’s a PFC) and they got this:

  • A senior Taliban military commander
  • Their deputy minister of intelligence
  • Their army chief of staff
  • Their governor of the Herat province and former interior minister
  • and a senior Taliban figure and security official.

Not only that, the Taliban (aka “the enemy”) got a propaganda coup of unrivaled proportion as “NightWatch” lays it out for us:

The mainstream media have covered the increased risk of hostage-taking as the direct and foreseeable result of the hostage exchange. This was not a prisoner of war exchange.

Two points not mentioned in most mainstream commentary are noteworthy. This exchange invests Omar and his Islamic Emirate with stature that neither had when the Taliban ruled in Afghanistan. It negotiated as an equal with the US and got the better deal. That sets a precedent for potential deals with other NATO members. It is a powerful disincentive for Pakistan to rein in Omar and his cohorts.

The second point is the release of the five Taliban leaders will boost Taliban morale; help improve their organizational and fighting skills and enhance their operations. It might have a ripple effect on the now divided Pakistani Taliban.

The timing could hardly be worse for Allied forces. As NATO draws down its forces, the Taliban get an influx of experienced leaders, undermining years of effort to degrade the leadership. These were men Mullah Omar trusted in the early days of Taliban rule. He now has a seasoned core around which to build a reinvigorated administration and movement.

We, as a nation, have constantly stressed the Taliban is a terror organization.  Both Democrats and Republicans. And we’ve also made it a firm rule that we don’t negotiate with them because it does exactly what NightWatch notes this has done.  If the Taliban want to empty Guantanamo, they now know how to do it – capture American soldiers. The price and precedent have been set.  One can imagine all sorts of scenarios where enterprising Afghans will try to kidnap American soldiers for money from the Taliban. And the Taliban will then expect to trade them for more terrorists.  5 for 1 seems to be the going rate.  But with this crew, they’re likely to be able to get an even better deal.

Yes, Afghanistan, which is a deeply hostile place to our soldiers now, just got more dangerous for them.  Meanwhile, troop levels will be drawn down to all time lows.  Yup, nothing could go wrong with that.  Thanks Mr. “Commander-in-Chief”.

I’d like to say the American people are terribly ill served by this abomination of an administration, but that’s just not the case.  The majority of them have elected this boob twice.  What you see is what you get.  You wanted it, you got it – how do you like what you elected?

For the adults in the room who saw through this empty suit and the propaganda machine behind him from the beginning, you will also recognize the terrible damage this man and his administration have done to our national security and foreign relations.  It will take decades to recover from this debacle of a White House.

And then there’s the economy, and VA, and Benghazi, and the IRS scandal and the NSA, Fast and Furious, executive orders, EPA …

~McQ

Prepare for more foreign policy disasters

One of the foreign policy promises Barack Obama made was that during his presidency, America would have a “light footprint” on world affairs. Our first indicator of what that meant was the action in Libya when the US “led from behind”. The Obama administration belived that pulling back from our strong presence and position in the world would help mollify other powers and usher in a new era of peaceful cooperation with America as a partner and not necessarily the leader.

How has that worked out?

Ask Russia, China and a few others:

The White House was taken by surprise by Vladimir V. Putin’s decisions to invade Crimea, but also by China’s increasingly assertive declaration of exclusive rights to airspace and barren islands.

Neither the economic pressure nor the cyberattacks that forced Iran to reconsider its approach have prevented North Korea’s stealthy revitalization of its nuclear and missile programs. In short, America’s adversaries are testing the limits of America’s post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan moment.

“We’re seeing the ‘light footprint’ run out of gas,” said one of Mr. Obama’s former senior national security aides, who would not speak on the record about his ex-boss.

What we’re actually seeing is naivete in foreign policy head toward a predictable conclusion. Foreign policy isn’t bean bag and it has been established many times in history that the retreat of a great power from the world’s stage will see other seemingly lesser powers attempt to fill or take advantage of that power vacuum.

The “light footprint” didn’t “run out of gas”, the light footprint was foreign policy destined for failure from its inception. Mr. Obama and his foreign policy team were warned about that constantly and preferred to ignore both the warnings and history.

Mr. Obama acknowledges, at least in private, that he is managing an era of American retrenchment. History suggests that such eras — akin to what the United States went through after the two world wars and Vietnam — often look like weakness to the rest of the world. His former national security adviser Thomas Donilon seemed to acknowledge the critical nature of the moment on Sunday when he said on “Face the Nation” that what Mr. Obama was facing was “a challenge to the post-Cold War order in Europe, an order that we have a lot to do with.”

But while Mr. Donilon expressed confidence that over time the United States holds powerful tools against Russia and other nations, in the short term challengers like Mr. Putin have the advantage on the ground.

Mr. Obama is managing “an era of American retrenchment” he initiated.

It doesn’t look like a period of weakness to the rest of the world, it is a period of weakness that is compounded by our weak leadership. We’re engaged in bringing our military down to pre-WWII levels and we’ve made it clear that we’re not interested in fulfilling treaty obligations with the likes of the Ukraine. How else would one interpret our actions?

And, of course, one of the best ways we could address this particular crisis is to up our shipments of natural gas to Europe so they weren’t dependent of Russian pipeline supplies that flow through the Ukraine. That would give Europe some leverage because they wouldn’t be held hostage by their need for Russian petro supplies. But on the domestic front, the Obama administration has made building the necessary infrastructure to cash in on our growing natural gas boom almost impossible.

Are Russia and others testing the limits? You bet they are and all of those interested in those limits are watching this drama unfold. To this point, it appears Russia sees no downside to its action. Should that continue to be the case, you can be assured other nations will also “test the limits.”

This is Mr. Obama’s 3am phone call. And it appears he has let it go to the answering machine.

~McQ

I thought our President told us al Qaeda was all but defeated?!

Well this has to be embarrassing:

A State Department travel alert Friday said al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond, as the United States is closing 21 embassies and consulates Sunday as a precaution.

“Current information suggests that al Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August,” said the alert, which covers the entire month.

It warned that “terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests.”

A separate State Department list showed the 21 embassies and consulates that will close on Sunday, normally the start of the work week in the countries affected.

Recall, in 2012, our fearless “leader” told us this, numerous times (in fact, about 32 times):

On Sept. 13 in Golden, Colo., Obama said, “Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq — and we did. I said we’d wind down the war in Afghanistan — and we are. And while a new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.” He repeated that line again on Sept. 17 in Cincinnati and again that day in Columbus, Ohio.

It is one of the reasons Benghazi is so “inconvenient” and they chose to invest in a lie.  Now this.

Party on.

~McQ

Benghazi – the most “transparent” administration ever

No attempt to actually be transparent and, apparently, feeling no need to pretend otherwise:

Sen. Richard Burr, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said that the CIA has “flatly refused” to give some Benghazi-related documents to the committee, which is conducting an investigation of the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks on the State Department and CIA personnel and facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

Sen. Burr made the assertion last week at the confirmation hearing for John Brennan, whom President Barack Obama has nominated to be director of the CIA. Brennan currently serves as the president’s counterterrorism adviser.

“Mr. Brennan, as you know, the committee’s conducting a thorough inquiry into the attacks in Benghazi, Libya,” Sen. Burr said. “In the course of this investigation, the CIA has repeatedly delayed and in some cases flatly refused to provide documents to this committee.”

None of the other members of the committee contradicted Burr’s assertion.

Of course not.  That’s because it is a fact.

Not that the administration much cares.  It has found that “flatly refusing” works.  “What does it matter now?” is the new attitude.

And that’s despite the usual promises:

At the time of the Benghazi terrorist attacks, Gen. David Petraeus was director of the CIA. When Petraeus appeared at his confirmation hearing in the Senate intelligence committee on June 23, 2011, Chairman Dianne Feinstein asked him a set of questions that the committee routinely asks those nominated to run the CIA. At John Brennan’s confirmation hearing on Feb. 7, Feinstein asked Brennan exactly the same questions.

Feinstein asked Petreaus, “Do you agree to provide documents or any other materials requested by the committee in order for it to carry out its oversight and legislative responsibilities?”

“Yes, I do,” said Petreaus.

“Will you ensure that the CIA and its officials provide such materials to the committee when requested?” asked Feinstein.

“I will,” said Petreaus.

“Do you agree to inform and fully brief to the fullest extent possible all members of this committee of intelligence activities and covert actions rather than only the chairman and vice chairman?” asked Feinstein.

“Yes, I do,” said Petraeus.

And later:

Last week, John Brennan was equally direct in answering these questions.

Feinstein asked Brennan, “Do you agree to provide documents or any other materials requested by the committee in order for it to carry out its oversight and legislative responsibilities?”

“Yes, all documents that come under my authority as director of CIA, I absolutely will,” said Brennan.

“Will you ensure that the CIA and its officials provide such materials to the committee when requested?” asked Feinstein.

“Yes,” said Brennan.

“Do you agree to inform and fully brief to the fullest extent possible all members of this committee of intelligence activities and covert actions rather than only the chairman and vice chairman?” asked Feinstein.

“Yes, I will endeavor to do that,” said Brennan.

Later in the same hearing, however, when Burr asked Brennan about the documents Burr said the CIA was refusing to give to the committee, Brennan qualified his answer—leaving open the possibility that as CIA director there may be occasions when he would decline to provide documents to the committee.

And the circus continues.  Love the line, he ‘qualified his answer’.  He shored up his lie is more like it.

Given the last election, though, we’ve got the very government we deserve.  Inept, unqualified, mordant, bickering party members whose first allegiance isn’t to their country, but instead to their party.  Why anyone would trust them with running a dog kennel much less a national government is beyond me.  But we have.

Behold the result.

~McQ

“Leading from behind” is not a doctrine that serves the best interests of the US

Jackson Diehl takes an interesting look at the Obama doctrine for foreign policy or, as some have called it, “leading from behind”.  Diehl prefers to call it the “light footprint” doctrine:

Contrary to the usual Republican narrative, Obama did not lead a U.S. retreat from the world. Instead he sought to pursue the same interests without the same means. He has tried to preserve America’s place as the “indispensable nation” while withdrawing ground troops from war zones, cutting the defense budget, scaling back “nation-building” projects and forswearing U.S.-led interventions.

[…]

It’s a strategy that supposes that patient multilateral diplomacy can solve problems like Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability; that drone strikes can do as well at preventing another terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland as do ground forces in Afghanistan; that crises like that of Syria can be left to the U.N. Security Council.

Okay.  I really dont’ buy into the claim that Obama hasn’t led a “U.S. retreat from the world”, but I’m willing to stipulate that to get to the rest.

The rest, of course, has to do with the ineffectiveness and potential problems this doctrine presents.  And they’re not small problems either.  One thing that observers of world affairs seem to pick up on fairly quickly is that someone or something will fill a power vacuum.  Say what you want about “light footprints” or “leading from behind”, it has indeed created that sort of vacuum.  And other countries, notably Russia and China globally and Iran regionally, are busily trying to figure out how to fill that vacuum.

Perhaps, in the long run, it is best we do withdraw somewhat.  Fiscal reality demands at least some reductions and foreign policy is not exempt.  But it should be done shrewdly and according to some overall plan that carefully considers the ramifications of such a withdrawal.

Secondly, it likely makes sense not to involve ourselves too deeply in situations that don’t really concern us or threaten our security.  Like Libya.  It is interesting that Libya was a “go”, but Syria was a “no-go”, considering the stated reasoning (or propaganda if you prefer) for intervention in Libya.

So how has it worked?  Well, for a while it seemed to be working well enough – and then:

For the last couple of years, the light footprint worked well enough to allow Obama to turn foreign policy into a talking point for his reelection. But the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 should have been a red flag to all who believe this president has invented a successful new model for U.S. leadership. Far from being an aberration, Benghazi was a toxic byproduct of the light footprint approach — and very likely the first in a series of boomerangs.

Why were Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans murdered by Libyan jihadists? The preliminary round of official investigations may focus on decisions by mid-level officials at the State Department that deprived the Benghazi mission of adequate security, and a failure by the large CIA team in the city to detect the imminent threat from extremist groups.

But ultimately the disaster in Libya derived from Obama’s doctrine. Having been reluctantly dragged by France and Britain into intervening in Libya’s revolution, Obama withdrew U.S. planes from the fight as quickly as possible; when the war ended, the White House insisted that no U.S. forces stay behind. Requests by Libya’s fragile transition government for NATO’s security assistance were answered with an ill-conceived and ultimately failed program to train a few people in Jordan.

Where does that leave us?

A new report by the Rand Corporation concludes that “this lighter-footprint approach has made Libya a test case for a new post-Iraq and Afghanistan model of nation-building.” But the result is that, a year after the death of dictator Moammar Gaddafi, Libya is policed by what amounts to a mess of militias. Its newly elected government has little authority over most of the country’s armed men — much less the capacity to take on the jidhadist forces gathering in and around Benghazi.

The Rand study concludes that stabilizing Libya will require disarming and demobilizing the militias and rebuilding the security forces “from the bottom up.” This, it says, probably can’t happen without help from “those countries that participated in the military intervention” — i.e. the United States, Britain and France. Can the Obama administration duplicate the security-force-building done in Iraq and Afghanistan in Libya while sticking to the light footprint? It’s hard to see how.

It certainly is.  In fact, Libya is a disaster.  If the purpose of US foreign policy is to enhance the interests of the US I defy anyone to tell me how that has been done in Libya.  And now there are rumors we’re going to do the same thing in Mali (mainly because much of the weaponry that the Gaddafi government had has spread across the Middle East after their fall, to include terrorist groups which are now basing out of Mali).

How will the Obama administration answer these challenges?  Diehl thinks he’ll rely even more heavily on drone strikes.  But again, one has to ask how that furthers and serves the best interests of the United States:

A paper by Robert Chesney of the University of Texas points out that if strikes begin to target countries in North Africa and groups not directly connected to the original al-Qaeda leadership, problems with their legal justification under U.S. and international law “will become increasingly apparent and problematic.” And that doesn’t account for the political fallout: Libyan leaders say U.S. drone strikes would destroy the goodwill America earned by helping the revolution.

Anyone who still believes the myth that we’re better loved in the Middle East right now, needs to give up smoking whatever it is they’re smoking.  Adding increased drone strikes in more countries certainly won’t promote “goodwill” toward America.  It will, instead, provide jihadists with all the ammunition they need to demonize the country further – which, of course, helps recruiting.

I’m not contending this is easy stuff or there’s a slam-dunk alternate solution.  But I am saying that doing what was done in Libya for whatever high sounding reason has been a disaster, has not served the best interests of the United States and, in fact, will most likely be detrimental to its interests.

It is, as Deihl points out, a huge red flag.  The doctrine of choice right now is not the doctrine we should be pursuing if the results are like those we’ve gotten in Libya.  If ever there was a time for a ‘reset’ in our foreign policy approach, this is it.

~McQ

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