Free Markets, Free People

Benghazi


Benghazi: McCain essentially says “what does it matter now?”

If it weren’t for the old ladies of the GOP, you might get some answers to some very compelling and yet unanswered questions as well as force this administration to be transparant.

But then there’s McCain and the continued capitulation of the GOP:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Thursday that the White House’s response to his and other Republican senators’ questions on the September attack in Benghazi, Libya was satisfactory. The senior Arizona senator said he is now ready to find a way to end the filibuster that is holding up the confirmation vote for defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, CNN reported.

“I think it was an adequate response, yes,” McCain said. “We are working on and having negotiations now trying to smooth this thing out and get it done.”

Yes, that’s right, nothing to see here, move along now, move along.

The Great and Powerful John McCain (I will celebrate when this yahoo shuffles off to retirement) has decided that Beghazi is over and we must, must have an incompetent buffoon for Sec. of Defense.

Must!

Parodies that write themselves come in the guise of our politicians.

~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


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 27 Jan 13

This week, Bruce Michael, and Dale discuss the events of the week.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Accountability? Not with this administration

After a scathing after action report we the public were told that four individuals at the State Department were being held responsible for security the debacle in Benghazi. Supposedly all four were being forced to resign.

However, it now appears, that is untrue.

The four officials supposedly out of jobs because of their blunders in the run-up to the deadly Benghazi terror attack remain on the State Department payroll — and will all be back to work soon, The Post has learned.

The highest-ranking official caught up in the scandal, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Boswell, has not “resigned” from government service, as officials said last week. He is just switching desks. And the other three are simply on administrative leave and are expected back.

The four were made out to be sacrificial lambs in the wake of a scathing report issued last week that found that the US compound in Benghazi, Libya, was left vulnerable to attack because of “grossly inadequate” security.

State Department leaders “didn’t come clean about Benghazi and now they’re not coming clean about these staff changes,” a source close to the situation told The Post., adding, the “public would be outraged over this.”

This is typical of our government today. Few if any top government officials are held accountable for their actions or the result of their actions. In this case we were simply lied to. Straight up, in-your-face lies. There apparently was never any intention of actually firing anyone. The deaths that resulted from these peoples gross incompetence are to be ignored.

Until we began to demand that heads roll when this sort of incompetence is encountered, there is no penalty for being incompetent. There is also no lesson learned, or applied. Consequently, you can expect pretty much the same result in other areas.

All of this is a result of the politics of today. The unwillingness to admit a mistake and take proper corrective action because such an admission would reflect poorly on the party in power. No thought or concern about the country. Those responsible for security lapses that led to the death four good men in Libya -men who were depending on their higher ups to do their job – deserve to at a minimum lose their jobs and be forced out of civil service. That’s obviously not going to happen.

If I were a member of the family of one of those men, I be considering a civil lawsuit against those responsible for the failed security that ultimately led to their deaths. It may be a poor alternative to these people being sacked (and likely an alternative that would be a long and expensive process), but I’d be damned if I’d let them get away scott free with being responsible for the murder of my loved one.

Back to the main point, however – this is an example of a government that is both imperious and out-of-touch – more concerned with the health of the bureaucracy than justice and certainly more concerned with party vs. country.

~McQ


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 18 Nov 12

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss Gen. Petraeus and Benghazi, Israel, and the Twinkie.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Obama’s “news conference”

Such that it was.  4 things.

One: There were no ‘hard questions’.  If you look at the transcript you’ll note that the President called on reporters by name.  You know why, don’t you?

Two: The Susan Rice thing.  Let’s do a Candy Crowley and go to the transcript:

But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.

What’s outrageous is he just admitted that he didn’t say that Benghazi was a terrorist act as he asserted in a debate, or, one assumes, Ms. Rice wouldn’t have been spouting the video line.  If Obama knew on day two in the Rose Garden that it was a terrorist attack (and the only way he’d know was through intel reports), why didn’t Rice?

Three:

What I’m concerned about is not finding ourselves in a situation where the wealthy aren’t paying more or aren’t paying as much they should; middle-class families, one way or another, are making up the difference. That’s the kind of status quo that has been going on here too long, and that’s exactly what I argued against during this campaign. And if there’s — one thing that I’m pretty confident about is the American people understood what they were getting when they gave me this incredible privilege of being in office for another four years. They want compromise. They wanted action. But they also want to make sure that middle-class folks aren’t bearing the entire burden and sacrifice when it comes to some of these big challenges. They expect that folks at the top are doing their fair share as well, and that’s going to be my guiding principle during these negotiations but, more importantly, during the next four years of my administration.

I’m not sure how many times we have to publish the percentage of taxes the top 5%, 2% or 1% pay in comparison with the rest of the population, but in reality, they pay much more than their “fair share”.  This isn’t about “fair share’s”.  It’s about perpetuating a myth that taxing them more will ease the debt/deficit problem (as Dale has pointed out, it will yield about $42 billion) and give Obama someone to blame if “negotiations” fail.  This tax the rich scheme is the reddest of red herrings.

Four:  Perputuating the “Big Lie”:

You know, as you know, Mark, we can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change. What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago. We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know that there have been extraordinarily — there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.

There has been no warming for the past 10 years, Arctic ice is fine, thank you very much, and there have not been an “extraordinarily large number of severe weather events” here.   In fact, we’re in a “hurricane drought” per the experts.

The good news, if you believe him, is that climate change will take a back seat to jobs and the economy.  How do we measure whether this is more Obama hot air (i.e. saying one thing, doing another) or he means it?

Watch the EPA.

~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


Benghazi bottom line

Two things we now know the President didn’t do.  First from CBS:

CBS News has learned that during the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Obama Administration did not convene its top interagency counterterrorism resource: the Counterterrorism Security Group, (CSG).

“The CSG is the one group that’s supposed to know what resources every agency has. They know of multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies,” a high-ranking government official told CBS News. “They were not allowed to do their job. They were not called upon.”

The second from a former SEAL officer who knows the protocol necessary to launch a rescue from outside Libya:

No administration wants to stumble into a war because a jet jockey in hot pursuit (or a mixed-up SEAL squad in a rubber boat) strays into hostile territory. Because of this, only the president can give the order for our military to cross a nation’s border without that nation’s permission. For the Osama bin Laden mission, President Obama granted CBA for our forces to enter Pakistani airspace.

On the other side of the CBA coin: in order to prevent a military rescue in Benghazi, all the POTUS has to do is not grant cross-border authority. If he does not, the entire rescue mission (already in progress) must stop in its tracks.

So, bottom line – He didn’t convene the CSG which would have been the lead agency to coordinate an attempted rescue from outside the country and he apparently never gave the CBA (which only he can issue) necessary to do so.

Or, in other words, he lied about doing everything necessary to save and protect the lives of those in combat in Libya.

Finally, the cover-up and attempting to deflect the blame:

Leon Panetta is falling on his sword for President Obama with his absurd-on-its-face, “the U.S. military doesn’t do risky things”-defense of his shameful no-rescue policy. Panetta is utterly destroying his reputation. General Dempsey joins Panetta on the same sword with his tacit agreement by silence. But why? How far does loyalty extend when it comes to covering up gross dereliction of duty by the president?

Great question.  Don’t expect an answer anytime soon.

~McQ


Excuses for not covering Benghazi–a helpful list for members of the Jurassic Media

There are rising calls for more reporting on the consular attack in Benghazi. Our poor press is beleaguered, and certainly too busy covering Sandy and the election to respond.

In fact, they’re so busy they apparently can’t think up good excuses for not covering Benghazi. At least, I haven’t seen any reasons disclosed publicly. They just don’t seem to see, hear, or say anything about it.

To help them out, I thought I would come up with a nice, prefab list of excuses. If any members of the media are reading, please feel free to use these. I’m sure QandO readers will add even more in the comments:

  • There’s really no need to go on site, because there’s video of the whole thing, shot from a drone. I’m sure we’ll see it very soon, probably about November 8. No, I’m not the least bit curious about why the Obama administration hasn’t released it yet. Why do you ask?
  • I just can’t see publicizing the whole seven hour standoff thing. We have enough superhero movies already.
  • Can’t get over there. SwissAir has no business class seats left.
  • Can’t face increasing my carbon footprint with a trip that long.
  • No Starbucks in Benghazi, and I hear the one in Tripoli is always out of pumpkin spice for lattes.
  • All these ghost-shaped Halloween cookies I baked would go to waste if I couldn’t give them to trick-or-treaters.
  • Sorry, I missed your question because I just came from a meeting with Obama. Let me wipe my mouth and then hear it again.
  • Putting something that violent in front of the public is not to be done lightly. Hey, we’re consistent about that. We didn’t show the pictures of George Zimmerman’s beating either.
  • Dead ambassador? Oh, yeah, I heard something about that. Something about a video that caused a riot. What a shame. But gosh, that was six weeks ago. Old news.
  • I’m afraid of politicizing that story this close to an election. Yeah, I did report Romney’s premature comments on it, and asked him a dozen times if he regrets his remarks. So?
  • Too busy writing my story about how Hurricane Sandy depressed Democratic voting in Philadelphia, so Obama losing Pennsylvania was an act of God. Certainly not a repudiation of Obama. Nope. No way.

Seriously, I thought the media could not be any more disgraceful in their slavish covering for Obama. More fool I.

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