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Tags: Benghazi

Hillary Serves Up Implausible, Illogical Benghazi Defenses



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Politico obtains the Benghazi-related chapter of Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming memoir, and describes it here.

You are unlikely to be surprised to learn that she attacks the motives of her critics, contends the intelligence community believed the attack started as a protest — even though she was the one who first issued a statement declaring the attack video-related, while it was still going on — and contends the government did everything it could to rescue those under attack.

She also “points out that she ordered an investigation into what happened nine days after the attacks” — it’s unclear why this is considered exculpatory or laudatory, instead of a strangely delayed absolutely necessary duty – and that she “agreed with and implemented all 29 of the recommendations made by a review board” — a review board that so thoroughly preemptively rejected the notion of her responsibility that they never bothered to interview her.

The point of this…

… is to remind people that Hillary Clinton is willing to lie, quite dramatically, boldly, and shamelessly, even in ways that can be easily checked and refuted, when her political aspirations are at stake. 

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Benghazi

Clinton Allies Send Davis to Set Up Spin Operation Outside Gowdy’s Committee



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Guess Who’s Setting Up a Spin Operation Right Outside Gowdy’s Committee?

Let’s start the Friday off right by exposing something that a bunch of Progressives don’t want you to know. At dinner last night, Larry O’Connor of WMAL mentioned his latest interview with the affable but indisputably ruthless Lanny Davis:

Davis will be heading up something he calls “The Truth Squad,” and will position himself right outside the committee room where Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) will be conducting his investigations into the events of the Sept 11th Benghazi attacks.

Davis joined me and my co-host, Brian Wilson on our morning radio show in Washington DC on WMAL Thursday morning.

Okay, that’s not surprising, a Democratic spin doctor sets up shop to “fact check” the findings and questioning of Gowdy’s special committee. But a guy like Davis — who’s represented the Clinton White House, some unsavory foreign clients and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder — doesn’t come cheap. So who’s putting all this together?

Davis said his partner in the effort is an advocacy group called “Correct The Record”, which is funded by the American Bridge 21st Century PAC.

Davis claimed, “They are funded by thousands of grassroots people all over the country,” said Davis. “It’s a great organization, because all they do is put facts out, and that’s really all I do.”

Who is American Bridge 21st Century PAC? Not quite the common definition of “a great organization” of “grassroots people” that only “puts facts out.” Here’s FactCheck.org’s summary of the organization:

American Bridge 21st Century is a liberal super PAC that conducts opposition research to aid Democratic candidates and organizations.

The group was founded in November 2010 by David Brock, a conservative-turned-liberal activist. After making a name for himself as a self-described “right-wing hit man,” Brock reinvented himself as a liberal crusader. In 2004, Brock founded Media Matters, a liberal website that monitors the media for “conservative misinformation.”

Rodell Mollineau, a former staffer of Sen. Harry Reid, is the group’s president. Its chairwoman is Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland and the eldest child of Robert F. Kennedy.

As a super PAC, American Bridge can accept unlimited donations and is largely funded by major Democratic donors and labor unions. Billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, a well-known supporter of liberal causes, was the group’s largest donor for the 2012 cycle, contributing $1 million.

So . . . David Brock, a Harry Reid staffer, and a big pile of money from George Soros are getting together to make sure Lanny Davis is standing outside Trey Gowdy’s panel. This is the same David Brock who spoke at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock in March.

This is, in short, a branch of the Clinton Empire:

The “super PAC” Mr. Brock founded, American Bridge, has tapped into a rich network of Clinton supporters. Among them, according to federal disclosures, are George Soros; Steve Bing; Stephen M. Silberstein, a Bay Area entrepreneur; and Susie Tompkins Buell, a friend of Mrs. Clinton’s based in San Francisco.

Last year, Mr. Clinton delivered the keynote address at a fund-raiser in New York for Mr. Brock’s biggest donors. Mr. Brock thanked the former president and Mrs. Clinton for “giving me the gift of forgiveness,” said one person who attended the fund-raiser, which was closed to the news media, but could not discuss the event for attribution.

Two lessons from this. First, never believe Lanny Davis when he tells you he’s working for “a great organization” “funded by thousands of grassroots people all over the country” “because all they do is put facts out.”

Second, the Clinton team must be worried about Gowdy’s special committee, because if they were certain that the panel wasn’t going to find anything, or that it was inevitably going to be seen as a silly, time-wasting partisan circus, they wouldn’t be putting resources into this spin operation right outside Gowdy’s committee room.

Tags: Trey Gowdy , Hillary Clinton , David Brock , Benghazi , Lanny Davis

Congressional Democrats Agonize Over Which Course Will Best Prove They Matter



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Congressional Democrats Agonize Over Which Course Will Best Prove They Matter

There’s a certain sweetness in watching a cynical, ruthless political opposition frozen in indecision because they can’t decide which option is more politically advantageous:

House Democrats on Sunday made it clear that they do not expect fair proceedings from the Republican-led panel newly tasked with investigating the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, but offered no definitive answer on whether they would appoint any of their own members to participate.

It doesn’t really matter. The Democrats seem to think that their participation comes with some sort of nebulous sense of “validity” stapled to it, and that their participation is a bargaining chip that the Republicans greatly desire. They also seem convinced that they can somehow strong-arm special committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. into giving them the power to veto subpoenas in exchange for this nebulous sense of “validity.”

Congressional Democrats greatly overestimate the value of their presence, both in this particular example and as a general rule.

Still, with or without Democrats, the House panel faces the steepest of uphill climbs because it’s trying to reintroduce a concept that this administration rejects on a cellular level: accountability. This is the administration where Kathleen Sebelius stays on the job after she blind-sides the president on the condition of Healthcare.gov, IRS employees retire early and go on paid administrative leave, and the four State Department officials most directly responsible for not acting on Ambassador Chris Stevens’ warnings were put on paid administrative leave. For a while. Then they were reinstated. This is an administration where it is commonplace for Cabinet secretaries and other high-profile officials to conduct official business on “alternative” e-mail accounts that somehow never get included in responses to Freedom of Information Act requests. This administration collectively shrugs when they learn that the president spent enormous political capital – and $10.5 billion in taxpayer money – to save a car company that made cars that killed people if their key chains were too heavy.

If there were any pulse left in the idealistic guy who ran for president in 2008, who promised a vastly improved federal government to the American people, the president would be saying something like this:

When the uprising against Qaddafi began in Libya, it was clear to me that it was in our national interest to stand with the people against an autocratic ruler who had sponsored terrorism against Americans in the past and whose long history of irrational and brutal rule meant he could never be a reliable U.S. ally. Our effort to help the Libyans build a decent and just form of government was spearheaded by one of the very best of our diplomatic corps, Chris Stevens. Chris and his team, along with our intelligence community, had a separate, difficult and dangerous mission: securing the now-loose weapons of Qaddafi’s arsenal, rapidly flowing to the wrong hands in and out of Libya. We knew that during Libya’s civil war, our Qatari allies had sent anti-aircraft weapons to help the rebels – and those weapons could lead to a massacre if they ended up in the hands of a terrorist. I know many Americans feel like we’ve already spent too much blood and treasure trying to help these far-off corners of the world turn the corner from bloody chaos to order and peace. But this was a danger we felt we needed to address, because someday it might threaten the lives of Americans  – and that meant we had to have Americans on the ground in dangerous places like Benghazi.

We now know our State Department underestimated the threat, and did not take the warnings from the staff on the ground seriously enough. Our military took the first steps to mobilizing forces for a rescue that night, but our efforts didn’t move nearly quickly enough as our brave men and women in harm’s way have a right to expect. And our explanation to the American people in the days afterwards blurred the lines between a protest in Egypt and what clearly was an opportunistic, barbaric attack by terrorists, hell-bent on killing Americans.  The suddenness of the attack, and the challenges of geography and the murky, shifting alliances in far-off lands with little functioning government are factors, but not an excuse. The American people deserve better, and we must perform better in the future.

We’ll never get anything resembling that speech from President Obama. He’s just not capable of it. 

Tags: Benghazi , Congressional Democrats , Barack Obama

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Culture of Complacency



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Signs of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Culture of Complacency

Of course:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has not yet said whether Democrats will boycott or participate in the [House Special Committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks]. An initial request for an even-partisan split on the committee was rebuffed. Many leading Democrats have advocated for a boycott, but that would create a vacuum of Democratic response to the GOP-led investigation that is likely to call for testimony from Obama administration officials.

“We’re so sure there’s not a cover-up, and so committed to getting the truth, that we’re not going to participate!”

In Benghazi, we have the spectacle of Democrats insisting that by forming a special investigative committee, the Republicans are making a huge, self-destructive mistake that will end in their own embarrassment and humiliation . . . 

. . . and then doing everything possible to prevent the Republicans from doing that. They must be doing it out of brotherly love!

Gee, fellas, if there’s nothing more to learn about why Ambassador Stevens’ warnings were ignored, if there’s nothing more to learn about our response that night and whether more could have or should have been done, and if there’s nothing more to learn about why the administration spent the first days after the attack telling the public a false explanation . . . then there’s nothing for Democrats or the Obama administration to worry about right? They wouldn’t have any reason to withhold anything. In a year or so, when the special committee offers their final report, everyone will see it’s just the same old stuff, yawn, and scoff that this was a giant waste of time.

But Democrats seem to be doing everything possible to prevent that from happening. Almost as if they think a full investigation wouldn’t lead to that humiliation for the special committee.

Notice this from Jeryl Bier:

In 2012, even U.S. State Department diplomats in Nigeria seemed mystified about why the government was “reluctant” to issue the designation.

On September 20, 2012, then Bureau of African Affairs Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson appeared on a State Department “Live at State” webchat regarding “U.S. Policy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa.” Questions from journalists and other individuals via webchat were posed to Carson by the host, Holly Jensen. At one point, a question was asked by the “U.S. Consulate in Lagos [Nigeria]“:

MS. JENSEN: The U.S. Consulate in Lagos wants to know: Why is the government reluctant to designate the Boko Haram sect as a foreign terrorist organization?

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Thank you very much. We look at the issue of Boko Haram as a major concern not only to Nigeria but also to Nigeria’s neighbors and Niger and Cameroon and Benin as well. Boko Haram, we believe, is not a homogenous, monolithic organization, but it is comprised of several different kinds of groups.

. . . In the September 2012 webchat, Carson seemed to suggest that the State Department did not even consider the “Boko Haram movement,” as he called it, to necessarily be a terror organization, but rather several groups simply “focused on trying to discredit the Nigerian Government”:

As I laid out on Campaign Spot yesterday, Boko Haram’s terror tactics were crystal clear by 2009; by 2012, it was ludicrously inaccurate to characterize them as “focused on trying to discredit the Nigerian government.”

With Benghazi and now in Nigeria, we have two examples of State Department people on the ground sending back warnings of gathering terrorist threats . . . and in both cases, the warnings were ignored.

Remember all the talk about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s alleged culture of bullying within his administration? How about the signs of a culture of complacency in Hillary Clinton’s State Department?

How carefully did Hillary Clinton’s State Department
monitor terror groups overseas?

Tags: Hillary Clinton , State Department , Boko Haram , Benghazi

A Lying Administration’s Endless Benefit of the Doubt on Benghazi



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From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

A Lying Administration’s Endless Benefit of the Doubt on Benghazi

Those who deny the existence of a widespread, deep-rooted liberal bias in most “mainstream” media institutions can and will point to periodic tough coverage of the Obama administration’s explanation on Benghazi.

We get lots of individual cases of this. CNN’s Jake Tapper will accuse Jay Carney of being “dissembling, obfuscating, and often, you know, insulting.” Ron Fournier of National Journal will declare that Carney reminds him of “Baghdad Bob.” ABC News’s Jonathan Karl will rip into him for giving false information during the briefing. CNN’s Dana Bash will point out that the administration is withholding documents from congressional subpoenas. Slate’s John Dickerson will state, matter-of-factly:

The Obama administration’s story has never been straight on the Benghazi attack. Press Secretary Jay Carney once said the White House and State Department had only been involved in changing one word in crafting the first public response about the attack — the infamous Susan Rice talking points. Emails released in May showed that wasn’t the case. This new batch underscores the White House’s involvement in shaping the story. The Obama administration left the impression that everything related to the Benghazi attack had been released to the investigating committees months ago. That is also clearly false.

White House defenses earned scores of Pinocchios, and fact-checkers have corrected the president repeatedly, again and again.

You would think this repeated mendacity, on topics ranging from keeping doctors to red lines, would add up; that the media would greet White House statements with increasing skepticism. You might think the coverage would characterize White House statements as assertions, not proven facts. The White House shifts to “trust us” quite a bit. Trust us, we’ve held everyone in our government responsible for security in Benghazi accountable. Trust us, we’ve determined why no rescue effort was launched. Trust us, we’ve turned over all relevant documents to congressional investigators. Trust us, all of the false information we told the public after the attack stemmed from a series of innocent mistakes and miscommunications.

Instead, we live in a world that feels as if someone has picked up our national Etch-a-Sketch and shaken it on a regular basis. After getting caught in a lie, the administration goes to work the next day and deals with a press corps as credulous as the day before. We’re living in a world where the villagers never wise up about the boy who cried “wolf!”

The current administration line is that they may simply refuse to cooperate with the House’s special committee investigating the Benghazi attacks, concluding it doesn’t meet the Obama administration’s standard as “legitimate.”

Obama’s top spokesman on Monday gave no indication that the White House would participate in the latest investigation — but the implicit answer seemed to be that it would not.

“We have always cooperated with legitimate oversight,” Carney said, adding that the GOP committee didn’t meet that test.

When you’ve been caught lying to the American public about life-and-death matters so often, you don’t get to decide which congressional investigations are legitimate and which ones aren’t. You have forfeited the benefit of the doubt. If it’s really that illegitimate, or a fishing expedition, the American people will let Congress know in November.

The notion of checks and balances in the Constitution is not dependent upon each branch’s opinion of the legitimacy of the questions of the other. Nixon didn’t think highly of Congress, either. You don’t get to ignore the Supreme Court if you don’t think their decision was “legitimate.”

What are the consequences of losing all credibility? It turns out, not much.

Tags: Benghazi , Barack Obama , Jay Carney

Drawing a Blank on the Obama Administration’s Benghazi Disclosure



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White House press secretary Jay Carney is bragging that the administration has released 25,000 pages of documents related to Benghazi.

That number sounds like a lot, but Carney didn’t mention how many of those documents actually have text on them.

For example, the documents recently obtained by Judicial Watch were scrubbed of information the executive branch decreed secret, making some of them . . . less than edifying. Out of 110 pages of documents released because of Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuit, 36 are partially or entirely redacted because of classified information.

Redaction turns this page into a blank slate, for example:

And then there are the pages offering only a smidgen of text from the preceding page, such as this separate page with just the word “Erin.”

Some documents detail an e-mail exchange where the entire text is redacted:

Out of those 110 pages released to Judicial Watch, 30 pages are transcripts of news reports about Benghazi and Rice’s interviews with the media, 14 pages collect official statements from administration officials and lawmakers on Capitol Hill in response to the Benghazi attack, five pages collect reactions to the attack from Libyans on Twitter, and two pages are an e-mail of a press release of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In short, Carney wants the administration to get credit for disclosure — which they complied with only after a lawsuit — even though they’re releasing a lot of documents that only repeat public news reports, don’t say much the public didn’t already know, and in some cases, literally don’t say anything.

Tags: Jay Carney , Benghazi

Benghazi E-Mail Writer in 2010: ‘I Always Wanted to Be a Fiction Writer.’



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From the Wednesday Morning Jolt:

White House E-Mail: ‘Underscore that These Protests Are Rooted in an Internet Video’

KABOOM. In short, the Obama administration’s lies about Benghazi came about exactly as we expected: one of the political guys telling the national-security appointees what to say.

Republicans say e-mails released Tuesday on the attack in Benghazi, Libya, include “the smoking gun” that shows a White House official urged that the assault on the U.S. consulate be blamed on a protest that never happened.

The e-mails, obtained by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request, include one in which White House official Ben Rhodes lists “goals” for then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice to meet in explaining the attack and protests occurring across the Middle East that week to the American public.

Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in the assault, which the White House subsequently acknowledged was an al-Qaeda-linked terror attack.

The e-mail, sent to various officials including White House spokesman Jay Carney, said one goal was “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

Another goal was “to reinforce the president and administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”

Rhodes is assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communication and speechwriting.

During appearances on five Sunday news programs, Rice did blame the attack on Sept. 11, 2012, on a protest against an anti-Islam video produced by an American. So did Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and President Obama would not say whether it was a terrorist attack until several days later.

The CIA station chief in Libya reported from the beginning that the attack was an al-Qaeda-linked operation and that there was no protest. Though there was some dispute over the manner of the attack, former CIA deputy director Mike Morell testified earlier this month that he had no idea where the story about a video protest came from when he saw Rice make the claim on television.

Well, now we know.

Yes, Rhodes’s speechwriting always focused in the foreign-policy realm. He was a longtime assistant to Lee Hamilton, then joined Obama as a speechwriter in 2007. But this guy’s not an expert on Libya. There’s no way he was in any position, from Washington, to overrule the assessment of the folks on the ground. He’s a message guy. And he quickly concluded – accurately – that the administration’s obvious ill-prepared presence in Libya, and failure to organize timely rescue efforts, on the 9/11 anniversary represented a serious threat to the president’s reelection. They needed a scapegoat; the video was the best option at hand.

A perfectly ironic quote from a 2010 profile: “I very much wanted to be a fiction writer.” Guess he finally got that chance.

Tags: Benghazi , Ben Rhodes , Barack Obama

Senate Report: CIA Reported Benghazi ‘Terror Attack’ Within 24 Hours



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Big, busy Morning Jolt to close out the week. First, the depressing news that one of the Senate’s best, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, is retiring; then another roundup of news that fans of Obamacare would prefer to ignore, and Michelle Obama’s desire to “travel more” in post–White House life. But here’s the big splash . . . 

Senate Offers Bipartisan Report That’s Damning to Obama, Hillary, and the New York Times

This morning in the category of, ‘News That Is Surprising Only to Readers of the New York Times’:

A Senate report on the Benghazi attack that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans bolsters Obama administration critics who suspected from the start that al-Qaeda was involved and that it was not a spontaneous protest that went out of control.

The report, released Wednesday by the committee’s Democratic majority, said individuals affiliated with groups such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were in on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. compound.

Whether the attack was ordered by a high-level al-Qaeda chief or planned on short notice by people on the ground remains unclear, the report said. But the report left no doubt that it was an organized terror attack — a fact denied for days after the deaths by President Obama and former secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Here’s that blockbuster report from the self-proclaimed Paper of Record back on December 28:

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

It gets worse for the Obama administration:

The White House and Clinton have said that no one was sure it was a terror attack or that al-Qaeda was involved until well after the incident. But within 24 hours the CIA station chief in Libya reported that it was a terror attack, and the CIA advised the White House that it appeared likely that al-Qaeda-linked terrorists were involved.

The report alluded to “contradictory” intelligence accounts it said came out in the immediate aftermath of the attack that may have confused the picture of how the attack happened.

But Gen. Carter Ham, head of AFRICOM at the time of attack, said Defense officials did not believe the attack was from an out-of-control demonstration and had no evidence of it, according to declassified testimony released this week by House investigators.

Ham said a U.S. military surveillance drone was sending back to Washington real-time video of the attack within minutes of its start.

“When we saw a rocket-propelled grenade attack, what appeared to be pretty well-aimed small-arms fire — again, this is all coming second- and third-hand through unclassified, you know, commercial, cellphones for the most part, initially,” he told House Armed Services.

“To me, it started to become clear pretty quickly that this was certainly a terrorist attack and not just not something sporadic.”

The administration keeps coming back to the “it was unclear, the evidence was contradictory, the information was confusing” excuses. Except they never seem to be able to point to much evidence that led them to believe it was a protest. It’s not like there were people marching in the streets with banners and posters beforehand.

There were two explanations, one accurate, one inaccurate. The accurate explanation had all kinds of bad repercussions for the White House and State Department — a wild overestimation of the stability of post-Qaddafi Libya, a blind dismissal of security concerns on the ground, an embarrassing inability to mount a rescue in a region adjacent to a host of NATO bases, and a humiliating refutation of Obama’s reelection-year boast that “al-Qaeda is on the run.”

The inaccurate one put the blame on some YouTube filmmaker.

I guess it wasn’t much of a contest.

Tags: Benghazi , Barack Obama , Hillary Clinton , The New York Times

A Damnable Lie, One Year Later



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From today’s Morning Jolt:

A Damnable Lie, One Year Later

One year ago today:

President Obama, at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, September 12, 2012:

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. . . . It is so good to see all of you. I love you back. I do. I want to begin tonight — (chant of ‘Four more years!’) Thank you. So . . . I — I wanted to begin tonight by saying a few words about the tough day we’ve had today.” (cheers) “Don’t be, uh . . . We lost four Americans last night who were killed when they were attacked in a diplomatic post in Libya.”

Earlier in the day, at the White House, Obama said, “We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.”

One year later, we’re still waiting for justice.

In the United States, the families of those killed a year ago at the consulate says the Obama administration has yet to tell them what really happened, and why it is that none of the killers have been captured or killed.

“It’s hard, I never expected this from my government,” Patricia Smith, mother of Sean Smith, told Fox News. “All they have to do is tell me the truth.”

Sean Smith was an information officer at the consulate who was among four people killed in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists.

President Obama and then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton initially blamed the attacks on a spontaneous protest against a U.S.-made anti-Islam video despite a CIA report saying otherwise. Smith and other family members say the State Department and the White House have rebuffed their attempts to find out why security was so lax under Clinton, and why Obama did not order military assistance to the embattled officials that night.

Benghazi is one of those issues where we on the Right look at Americans on the other side of the partisan divide and wonder whether we’re from the same planet.

Don’t they care that our ambassador and his team were sent to a facility with ludicrously insufficient security?

Don’t they care to know whether something could have been done that night to save those men, and if so, why a rescue mission wasn’t launched? Look at a map. This is a Libyan city on a coast, facing the Mediterranean, south of Europe and all of our NATO allies. Less than a year earlier, we had been running a major multinational combat operation right there:

Don’t they care that the explanation offered by our government was false? These folks who screamed “Bush Lied, People Died” from 2003 to 2008 now shrug about lies about how and why Americans were killed.

Don’t they care that despite Obama’s pledge that “justice will be done,” no one has been caught, jailed, or executed for their role in the attack?

The Washington Post:

U.S. counterterrorism officials have determined that several extremist groups, including Ansar al-Sharia, took part in last year’s attack. . . . But on the first anniversary of the attack, there is not “anyone in custody who can tell us” specifics, including when, where and by whom the plot was hatched, and whether the Sept. 11 date was selected in advance or was a last-minute choice of opportunity, a counterterrorism official said. “That is a huge gap,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation. “What we lack is a source of information that puts us where we need to be.”

The New York Times:

The Justice Department has indicted suspects. Intelligence officials have a general idea of where they are hiding. And the military has a contingency plan to snatch them if that becomes necessary. But the fledgling Libyan government, which has little to no control over significant parts of the country, like Benghazi and eastern Libya, has rebuffed the Obama administration’s efforts to arrest the suspects.

One year later, we have our answer. They don’t care.

Tags: Barack Obama , Benghazi

Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya: America’s Out of the Deposing-Rulers Business



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Today’s Morning Jolt features a surprising vote for Ken Cuccinelli in the governor’s race, analysis of Putin’s maneuvering in the Syria crisis, and then a look at an element that’s been missing from the discussion of war in Syria:

Why Americans Aren’t that Angry at Bashir Assad

Real American anger at Assad is missing from the current debate about Syria; by and large, we don’t really feel enormous animosity or fury or rage towards the Syrian dictator. Ironically, there isn’t much dispute about his worst crime; the polling is pretty clear: “While eight in 10 Americans believe that Bashar al-Assad’s regime gassed its own people, a strong majority doesn’t want Congress to pass a resolution authorizing a military strike against it.”

But Assad doesn’t set Americans’ blood to a boil. Perhaps a decade of war, and runaway anti-Americanism, have left us shrugging when we see an evil man who has, at least so far, avoided direct confrontation with the United States.

America has a lot of enemies in that region who are directly confronting the United States: Just under one year ago today:

  

Cairo, above; Benghazi, below.

The pictures above are from Egypt — where we thought we stood with the Egyptian people, in their decision to depose Mubarak — and Libya, where we and NATO took military action to help the Libyan people against the dictator Qaddafi. And then the locals turned on us and attacked our diplomatic facilities and personnel. Then you throw in the response of the Iraqi people and the Afghans, last seen inflicting “green on blue” attacks by infiltrating the Afghan security forces and killing coalition personnel.

Right now, Americans aren’t that convinced that anybody over there is really deserving of our help. We’re not convinced that we would do much good, we’re nearly certain no one would be thankful, and we’re suspicious that the folks we help will just turn around and attack us again later. It’s painting with a broad brush, but one shaped by hard experience.

Tags: Obama , Syria , Benghazi , Egypt , Afghanistan

Jeb Bush to Honor Hillary Clinton with ‘Liberty Medal’ Sept. 10?



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This pretty much destroys the “Jeb Bush 2016″ talk, doesn’t it?

The local tea-party group, the Independence Hall Tea Party Association, is understandably furious. (Hat tip, Ken Vogel.)

Notice that this ceremony will occur almost one year after the Benghazi terrorist attack.

If Jeb Bush didn’t want to run for the Republican nomination, he could have just said so.

Tags: Jeb Bush , Hillary Clinton , Benghazi

Did Hillary ‘Scream’ at a Congressman During a Benghazi Briefing?



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Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) is getting attention on conservative blogs for his recent comment discussing the Benghazi attack and investigation before an audience, asking, “Why, two days after this attack, were we in a briefing with Hillary Clinton, and she’s screaming at a member of Congress for daring to suggest this was a terrorist attack?”

Kinzinger’s office confirmed that Kinzinger is describing a classified briefing for all members of Congress held two days after the attacks.

Kinzinger actually addressed this point with Secretary Clinton when she testified about Benghazi before the House, back on January 23:

KINZINGER: When you briefed us, you said unequivocally this was a result of a video. I remember in fact, you got pretty upset when somebody suggested this was a terror attack. This was our briefing that we had. But we find out now it wasn’t a video, it was this terrorist attack.

Unfortunately, Clinton addressed that point very briefly in her response; Kinzinger asked about several matters, and she ran through several issues in her response:

CLINTON: With respect to the, um, the video, I– I did not say that it was video, that it was about the video for Libya. It certainly was for many of the other places where we were watching these disturbances. With respect to the Predator feed or video of the attack . . . 

Perhaps other members of Congress in attendance of that briefing will attest that the secretary indeed provided false information about the attacks, and reacted strongly and negatively when someone offered an assessment that turned out to be accurate.

Tags: Adam Kinzinger , Benghazi , Hillary Clinton

Benghazi Whistleblower’s Lawyer Warns of Stolen Missiles



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Over at CNS News:

Former U.S. Attorney Joe DiGenova, who now represents one of the Benghazi whistleblowers, told a Washington radio station Monday that the real scandal in Benghazi is the theft of 400 surface-to-air missiles by some “very ugly people.”

The Obama administration fears those missiles will be used to shoot down an airplane or blow up one of our embassies, he said.

DiGenova said he learned about this from his client Mark Thompson, who served as deputy coordinator for operations in the Bureau of Counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State; he was among those testifying on the Hill about the events in Benghazi:

The description DiGenova attributes to his client largely aligns with what is known about the U.S. mission in Benghazi, detailed at great length and with public sources, here:

During the Libyan civil war, the United States government at least tacitly supported the Qatari effort to arm the rebels, in violation of a U.N. arms embargo. The Obama administration later learned that the weapons were going to Islamists, and acknowledged that the postwar situation of unguarded stockpiles presented an enormous security threat to the region. The CIA was the centerpiece of an effort to recover these weapons, and that was indeed a major component of what the agency was doing in Benghazi in September 2012, in part using the State Department’s facilities. During this time, a large number of weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, were leaving Libya and arriving in Turkey en route to Syrian rebels — and the CIA had personnel in both countries assigned to monitor and assist the arms shipments.

On October 23, 2011, Con Coughlin of the Daily Telegraph reported that the Central Intelligence Agency was on the ground in Libya in the effort to recover the missiles:

Since [Qaddafi]’s regime fell in late August teams of CIA officers, supported by other intelligence services such as Britain’s MI6, have been scouring Libya in search of the missing missiles. Their main target is the thousands of shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles [Qaddafi] bought from Moscow during the past decade which, were they to fall into the wrong hands, would pose a massive security risk.

We now know that a significant portion of the U.S. presence in Benghazi was CIA employees. Reuters quoted unidentified government officials who said the annex’s mission was “collecting information on the proliferation of weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, including surface-to-air missiles.”

Tags: Benghazi

Arms Continue to Flow From Benghazi to Syria



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Today’s Morning Jolt features the Pentagon smacking down Secretary of State John Kerry, some politicians going on a showy diet, and then this easily overlooked development . . . 

Meanwhile, Back in Benghazi . . . 

Remember my story about the smuggling of shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft missiles in and out of Libya during that country’s civil war? Public reports indicate U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was working on tracking those missiles when he was attacked and murdered in Benghazi. While the most lurid allegations of U.S. arms smuggling to Libya are not yet proven, the Obama administration did give its blessing to Qatar’s smuggling of arms to the Libyan rebels in 2011 — and later realized that the weapons were ending up in the hands of Islamist militants. The quiet approval of the arms smuggling violated a United Nations arms embargo — and probably ended up exacerbating a problem that would eventually require Stevens to be in that city at that time — when the danger was so considerable.

There is a new Reuters report from Benghazi that further corroborates the account of Libyans smuggling their leftover weapons, including missiles, through Benghazi to Syria and adds additional details:

Abdul Basit Haroun says he is behind some of the biggest shipments of weapons from Libya to Syria, which he delivers on chartered flights to neighbouring countries and then smuggles over the border.

 . . . The first consignment of weapons was smuggled into Syria aboard a Libyan ship delivering aid last year, Haroun says, but now containers of arms are flown “above board” into neighbouring countries on chartered flights.

That Libyan ship departed shortly before the attack against Americans in Benghazi:

On September 14, 2012, three days after Stevens was killed, Sheera Frenkel, a correspondent for the Times of London, reported from Antakya, Turkey:

“A Libyan ship carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria since the uprising began has docked in Turkey and most of its cargo is making its way to rebels on the front lines, The Times has learnt.

“Among more than 400 tonnes of cargo the vessel was carrying were SAM-7 surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), which Syrian sources said could be a game-changer for the rebels.

“Frenkel’s report identified the ship’s captain as ‘Omar Mousaeeb, a Libyan from Benghazi and the head of an organisation called the Libyan National Council for Relief and Support, which is supporting the Syrian uprising.’”

The Reuters report continues:

A Reuters reporter was taken to an undisclosed location in Benghazi to see a container of weapons being prepared for delivery to Syria. It was stacked with boxes of ammunition, rocket launchers and various types of light and medium weapons.,,

The UN report appears to confirm at least some of Haroun’s account, in its investigation in the case of a second vessel, the Al Entisar.

The [UN] Panel investigated a news report that a Libyan ship with around 400 tonnes of aid had supplied Syrian rebels with “the largest consignment of weapons . . . since the uprising”.

The Panel found that the loading port was Benghazi, that the exporter was “a relief organization based in Benghazi” and the consignee was the same Islamic foundation based in Turkey that Haroun said had helped with documentation.

Great omen for our efforts to arm the Syrians, huh?

Tags: Benghazi , Libya , Syria

Libyan Anti-Aircraft Missiles, Now Apparently in al-Qaeda Hands



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An update to my article a few weeks ago on arms-smuggling in Libya, before, during, and after the civil war there: The AP found documents from an al-Qaeda-affiliated group showing that they indeed have shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft missiles:

The 26-page document in Arabic, recovered by The Associated Press in a building that had been occupied by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu, strongly suggests the group now possesses the SA-7 surface-to-air missile, known to the Pentagon as the Grail, according to terrorism specialists. And it confirms that the al-Qaida cell is actively training its fighters to use these weapons, also called man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS, which likely came from the arms depots of ex-Libyan strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

Note that while the Libyan rebels took these sorts of missiles from Qaddafi’s stockpiles during the war, the Qatari government was also smuggling in this type of weapon across Libya’s southern border, with secret approval of the U.S government.

In April 2011, Reuters quoted an Algerian security official who claimed that al-Qaeda was smuggling missiles out of Libya:

The official said a convoy of eight Toyota pick-up trucks left eastern Libya, crossed into Chad and then Niger, and from there into northern Mali where in the past few days it delivered a cargo of weapons . . . al Qaeda’s north African wing, known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), had acquired from Libya Russian-made shoulder-fired Strela surface-to-air missiles known by the NATO designation SAM-7.

The dateline of today’s AP story is . . . Timbuktu, Mali.

There is significant evidence that both U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and the CIA personnel in Benghazi were focused on recovering these type of missiles in the days leading up to his death on September 11.

 

Tags: Libya , Benghazi

Three Lies to the Public That Must Have Consequences



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week . . . A National Security Agency leak tells me many of you are already subscribers, but some of you aren’t. If you’re not already a subscriber, click on the link or look for the box in the upper right hand of your screen.

Three Administration Lies to the Public That Must Have a Consequence

President Obama, speaking to the American public, Friday afternoon:

If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges, to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.

In the specific issue that Obama is discussing, i.e., oversight of the National Security Agency’s vast data collection on American citizens, there is the problem in that no one within that system of oversight has the role or duty to speak on behalf of those being monitored, or about to be monitored. The executive branch knows what it wants — it wants to monitor people. The Congress may or may not want to advocate the argument, “Hey, that person hasn’t done anything wrong, you have no good reason to collect that information on them” — judging from what we now know, no one argued that perspective very strongly. And the oversight of the judicial branch is pretty weak when we know the Department of Justice goes “judge shopping” when their initial requests are rejected. If the executive branch can keep going to new judges until they get the decision they want, there isn’t really much of a check on their power, now is there?

Regarding that alleged congressional oversight, Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, is coming awfully close to accusing the president of lying:

“Since government officials have repeatedly told the public and Congress that Patriot Act authorities are simply analogous to a grand jury subpoena, and that intelligence agencies do not collect information or dossiers on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans, I think the executive branch has an obligation to explain whether or not these statements are actually true,” Wyden said.

Wyden’s suspicion is driven by a lie he appears to have been told under oath, one we’ll look at in a moment. But more generally, we have seen quite a few folks in the executive branch abuse the public’s trust and then see no real consequences for it.

LIE ONE: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s November 28 explanation about changes made to talking points about the Benghazi attack:

The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two — of these two institutions were changing the word “consulate” to “diplomatic facility,” because “consulate” was inaccurate. Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened.

You can see the twelve rounds of revisions here, well more than a single adjustment, and mostly in response to State Department objections.

After it became clear that Carney had put forth false information, he dug in deeper, insisting that the twelve rounds of revisions were merely “stylistic changes.” Carney paid for his lie with two days of hostile questions from the White House Press Corps . . . and then the storm seemed to have blown over.

LIE TWO: Attorney General Eric Holder, testifying under oath before the House Judiciary Committee, May 15:

Well, I would say this. With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material, that is not something that I’ve ever been involved in, heard of or would think would be a wise policy.

Michael Isikoff later reported the precise opposite: The Justice Department pledged Friday to to review its policies relating to the seizure of information from journalists after acknowledging that a controversial search warrant for a Fox News reporter’s private emails was approved “at the highest levels” of the Justice Department, including “discussions” with Attorney General Eric Holder.

There is a claim from the usual suspects — Media Matters — that Holder is in the clear because he was asked about prosecutions for publishing classified information, not solicitation for classified information; they assert that the two actions are totally different. A pretty thin reed for a perjury defense, and one that utterly fails the standard of the chief law-enforcement officer of the United States informing the public of his department’s operations.

For us to believe that, it would mean that during the entire Justice Department discussion of prosecuting Fox News’s James Rosen for soliciting the information, no one suggested or mentioned prosecuting Rosen for publishing it. Remember, Holder didn’t just say he didn’t agree with that idea; he said he never heard of the idea.

LIE THREE: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, testifying under oath before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on March 12, responding to questions from Wyden, Democrat of Oregon:

Wyden: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Clapper: “No, sir.”

Wyden: “It does not?”

Clapper: “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect—but not wittingly.”

The subsequent explanation from Clapper: “What I said was, the NSA does not voyeuristically pore through U.S. citizens’ e-mails. I stand by that,” Clapper told National Journal in a telephone interview.

But that’s not what he was asked, nor was it even close to what he was asked. In fact, the light from what he was asked takes several years to reach a question about voyeurism.

If your excuse is that you are incapable of discerning what “any type of data at all” means, you are no longer allowed to have a job title that has the word “intelligence” in it.

This weekend, the Guardian reported, “During a 30-day period in March 2013, the documents indicate, the NSA collected nearly 3 billion pieces of intelligence from within the United States.”

Two of these three were under oath before Congress; the other was to the press, with the cameras rolling, on a topic of high public interest and great controversy.

If Obama were to ask for the resignations of Carney, Holder, and Clapper tomorrow, all of us who don’t trust him would have to at least acknowledge that he’s trying to set a better standard for consequences of lying to the public. But all of us know that he will do nothing of the sort.

Instead, he will continue to give speeches where he expresses incredulity that the public wouldn’t trust him and his administration.

“Trust us. We say this because our review of your personal e-mail indicates that you don’t.”

 

Tags: Barack Obama , NSA , Benghazi , Eric Holder , James Clapper

The New Spin: ‘We’re Idiots! We’re Stupid! Trust Us!’



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Remember the “we’re idiots” excuse from the administration on Benghazi?

“We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots,” said one Obama administration official who was part of the Benghazi response. “It’s actually closer to us being idiots.”

It’s getting another rollout this weekend, this time being used to explain the IRS scandal:

“If there was somebody political involved in this, it never would have happened,” Axelrod said, “because it was the stupidest thing you could have imagined.” (An almost identical point was made by fellow Obama spokesman David Plouffe on This Week, “This was not an effort driven by the White House. It would be the dumbest political effort of all time.”)

Gentlemen . . . the “we’re stupid” excuse really isn’t as exculpatory as you think it is.

Tags: IRS Scandal , Benghazi

Digging Deep into the Reports of Stingers and Benghazi



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Earlier this week I read a stunning article from Roger Simon of PJ Media contending that slain U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi on September 11 to buy back Stinger missiles from al-Qaeda groups that had originally been provided to them by the U.S. State Department. Simon quoted two unidentified former diplomats who asserted that Hillary Clinton and the State Department, not the CIA, were the driving forces behind the effort to arm the Libyan rebels.

Earlier this week I completed an exhaustive review of open-source U.S. and foreign media reports going back to 2011, and was able to corroborate some elements of the diplomats’ version of events, and contradict others.

Some Libyan rebel leaders, including at least one who had spent time in a training camp in Afghanistan and who was in that country in September 2001, specifically asked Western countries to send Stinger missiles.

Qaddafi’s intelligence services believed that the rebels were having the missiles smuggled in over the country’s southern border — but they believed the French were supplying the missiles.

There is no evidence that the U.S. supplied the weapons, but it appears they gave their blessing to a secret Qatari effort to ship arms across Libya’s southern border in violation of a United Nations arms embargo.

Anti-Qaddafi forces also obtained a significant number of anti-aircraft missiles from the regime’s bunkers early in the conflict.

Enough Stinger missiles disappeared from regime stockpiles during the civil war to become a high priority and serious worry for the administration.

    The U.S. is now covertly monitoring, and perhaps assisting, the transfer of arms from Libyans to rebel forces in Syria through Turkey.

    Before its civil war, Libya had an estimated 20,000 “man-portable air-defense systems” or MANPADS, like these held by insurgents in Iraq.

    Tags: Benghazi , State Department , Weapons

    Original CIA Talking Points Never Explicitly Referred to Benghazi Demonstration



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    The Washington Post has a front-page story on the formulation of the Benghazi talking points, concluding that:

    a close reading of recently released government e-mails that were sent during the editing process, and interviews with senior officials from several government agencies, reveal [then–CIA Director David] Petraeus’ early role and ambitions in going well beyond the [House Intelligence] Committee’s request, apparently to produce a set of talking points favorable to his image and agency.

    The story certainly reads like a hit on Petraeus — who, of course, did not respond to the Post’s requests for comment.

    A funny, widely overlooked point, though: If you look at the first version of the talking points offered by the CIA Office of Public Affairs, you will see that the summary never actually refers to a protest or demonstration outside the annex or diplomatic facility in Benghazi:

    We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex.

    The “attacks” were inspired by the Cairo protests, and “evolved” into a direct assault. But what did the attacks “evolve” from? The noun “protest” is never used in reference to Benghazi, nor “demonstration.” There is a reference to a “crowd.”

    By the time U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation, she’s declaring that a “spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi.”

    Tags: Benghazi

    Benghazi’s Perpetrators, Still Running Free



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    Today’s Morning Jolt features a look at Lois Lerner pleading the Fifth, Anthony Bourdain’s recent trip to Libya, some transactional journalism at the White House, and then this development . . . 

    Benghazi: The Story the Obama Administration Would Prefer We Forgot About

    Sorry, families of Benghazi victims. We know who killed your loved ones, but we just don’t have enough to prosecute yet:

    The U.S. has identified five men who might be responsible for the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year, and has enough evidence to justify seizing them by military force as suspected terrorists, officials say. But there isn’t enough proof to try them in a U.S. civilian court as the Obama administration prefers.

    The men remain at large while the FBI gathers evidence. But the investigation has been slowed by the reduced U.S. intelligence presence in the region since the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks, and by the limited ability to assist by Libya’s post-revolutionary law enforcement and intelligence agencies, which are still in their infancy since the overthrow of dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

    The decision not to seize the men militarily underscores the White House aim to move away from hunting terrorists as enemy combatants and holding them at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The preference is toward a process in which most are apprehended and tried by the countries where they are living or arrested by the U.S. with the host country’s cooperation and tried in the U.S. criminal justice system. Using military force to detain the men might also harm fledgling relations with Libya and other post-Arab-Spring governments with whom the U.S. is trying to build partnerships to hunt al-Qaida as the organization expands throughout the region.

    Hey, you know what else harmed fledgling relations with Libya? Susan Rice going on the Sunday shows and contradicting the other big guest on the shows that week, Libyan president Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf, who was telling anyone who would listen that weekend he had “no doubt” the attack was pre-planned by individuals from outside Libya. You’ll recall Gregory Hicks’s testimony that Rice’s contradiction of their president infuriated the Libyan government and impeded further cooperation on the investigation for more than two weeks.

    Hey, President El-Magariaf, sorry about that.

    Anyway . . . now Obama gets gun-shy on droning bad guys who kill Americans? Now?

    The Heritage Foundation has a good Ben Howe-produced video that points out how Obama’s claim that “we have been very clear about, throughout, that immediately after this event happened, we were not clear who exactly had it carried out, how had been, how it had occurred, and what the motivations were” just doesn’t match the facts at all.

    For perspective, in Pakistan and Yemen alone, experts estimate that the U.S. launched about 450 drone strikes, killing 2,300 to 3,700 militants and hundreds of others, some determined to be civilians, others whose combatant status is unclear.

    Tags: Benghazi , Barack Obama

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