Tags: State Department

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Culture of Complacency


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

Hillary Staffer Still Fears ‘Moving’ on Boko Haram Will ‘Give Them a Recruitment Boost’


The American public is largely isolationist and tunes out the rest of the world . . . until some Islamist nut-job kidnaps a couple hundred schoolgirls and promises to sell them as slaves.

Because the Boko Haram abduction story now tangentially involves president-in-waiting Hillary Clinton — in that Hillary Clinton and her staff at the State Department consistently resisted calls to declare Boko Haram a terrorist group — the story is going to take a dramatically different turn in some outlets.

Some outlets will take a sudden interest in the corruption, dysfunction, and allegations of human-rights abuses within the Nigerian government, suggesting that the State Department was wise to minimize its interaction with this country and its internal fighting.

Some will offer the State Department’s fear that declaring Boko Haram a terrorist group would make the situation worse. This is a baffling assertion, because if it were true, the United States should never label any organization anywhere a terrorist group. As Andy McCarthy notes elsewhere on NRO,

The main point of having the list, and the sanctions that accompany a terrorist designation, is to weaken the organization by depriving it of assets and material support. The logic of what Clinton supporters are claiming is that U.S. counter-terrorism law — much of which was put in place by the administration of President Bill Clinton — does more harm than good.

Some senior members of Hillary Clinton’s staff still contend that putting an organization on the terrorism list helps it with recruitment:

“At the time — and I still think it’s very true — we didn’t move on Boko Haram because we thought it would give them a recruitment boost,” former Obama administration Undersecretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson told ABC News on Thursday.

Perhaps it is true that any U.S. action will call more attention to the group, and the ruthless men of Boko Haram will take perverse pride in being called a terrorist by the United States. But so what? Are we trying to lower their self-esteem, or mitigate and impede their reign of terror? If we’re concerned about calling more attention to them, it’s a bit late for that, with the global coverage of their mass kidnapping.

As Jeryl Bier noticed, a staffer from the U.S. Consulate in Lagos asked Carson in September 2012, “Why is the government reluctant to designate the Boko Haram sect as a foreign terrorist organization?” Carson offered an answer that suggested doubt about whether they met the definition of terrorist:

We believe that the bulk of the Boko Haram movement is — they’re focused on trying to discredit the Nigerian Government, trying to do everything in its power to show that the government is ineffective in the defense of its people and in the protection of government institutions, so we have not designated the entire organization.

Finally, the State Department — under John Kerry — designated Boko Haram a terrorist group in November 2013, noting:

While the group’s principal focus is Nigeria, the United States cites links to the al Qaeda affiliate in West Africa, and extremist groups in Mali. Gen. Carter Ham, then the commander of U.S. Africa Command, has warned Congress that Boko Haram elements “aspire to a broader regional level of attacks,” including against United States and European interests.

So if designating a terrorist group a terrorist group empowers them, why was it such a good thing for the U.S. government to do it in 2013?

Some may try to argue Boko Haram wasn’t as ruthless, dangerous, or as serious a threat until recently. This is nonsense; the group was founded in 2002, had been referred to as Nigeria’s Taliban in 2004, announced its explicitly Islamist agenda in 2009. Their name literally means “Western education is a sin,” so it’s not like these guys are vague about their agenda or ideology.

And their methodology became increasingly dramatic during Hillary’s time at the State Department:

There is no doubt that the suppression operation of 2009, and the killing of Muhammad Yusuf by Nigerian security forces in July of that year, was a turning point for Boko Haram. The group was frequently said at this time to be defunct.[6] In September 2010 (coinciding with Ramadan), however, Boko Haram carried out a prison break (said to have released some 700 prisoners),[7] and the group began operations again. Its major operations since that time can be divided into the following attack categories: 1) military (three operations); 2) police (at least 16 operations); 3) teachers/university (five operations); 4) banks and markets (two operations); 5) carrying out al-amr bi-l-ma`ruf attacks on beer drinkers, card-players, etc. (at least five operations); 6) attacks on Christian preachers and churches (at least three operations); and 7) targeted assassinations (at least five major operations) . . . 

Most dramatic has been the transition of Boko Haram toward the use of suicide attacks, starting with the attack on the police General Headquarters in Abuja on June 16, 2011 and then culminating with the attack on the UN headquarters, also in Abuja, on August 26, 2011.

That suicide bombing attack on the UN headquarters killed 21 people.

Finally, we will undoubtedly see people accusing Republicans of “politicizing the girls” or “politicizing the issue.” This is the pundit equivalent of punting on fourth down; if the decision-making of our government is ruled out of bounds for discussion, we might as well shut down the news business entirely.

Of course, Hillary defenders have one last response in their arsenal:

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Boko Haram , State Department

State Department Spends $150,000 for Saudi Art Exhibition


There’s quite a bit of grumbling that the current budget deal does almost nothing to control federal spending.

But if you want to control spending, you need more than larger Republican majorities in Congress. You need cabinet secretaries who are thrifty, who are willing to go through their own budgets and conclude what’s really important and what isn’t.

Here’s how John Kerry’s State Department has been spending money lately:

I Could Have Built a ‘Black Arch’ out of Lego for $150, Tops

The U.S. State Department spent $150,000 to acquire the art exhibition “The Black Arch” by two Saudi sisters:

Raja Alem is a writer, Shadia Alem is a visual artist. For the exhibition, titled The Black Arch and curated by Mona Khazindar and Robin Start, the sisters worked closely together. The result is an installation that visually plays very much with darkness and light. It is about two visions of the world and about two cities, Mecca and Venice.

As the press release states: “The work is a stage, set to project the artists’ collective memory of Black — the monumental absence of colour — and physical representation of Black, referring to their past. The narrative is fueled by the inspirational tales told by their aunts and grandmothers, and are anchored in Mecca, where the sisters grew up in the 1970s. The experience with the physical presence of Black is striking for the artists as Raja explains, “I grew up aware of the physical presence of Black all around, the black silhouettes of Saudi women, the black cloth of the Al ka’ba and the black stone which supposedly is said to have enhanced our knowledge.” As a counter point, the second part of the installation is a mirror image, reflecting the present. These are the aesthetic parameters of the work.”

Your tax dollars at work!

UPDATE: I guess the Saudi work was a bargain, when you look at Jeryl Bier’s report that the State Department also spent,”$1,000,000 for a granite sculpture by Irish-born artist Sean Scully to be installed at the new U.S. Embassy in London.”

Tags: State Department , Spending

Why Rote Denials Won’t Cut It on the State Department Scandals


From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Why Generic Denials Just Won’t Cut It for the Latest State Department Scandals

Let’s take a close look at what we know about that State Department Inspector General memo, shall we?

An internal State Department Inspector General’s memo, several recent investigations were influenced, manipulated, or simply called off. The memo obtained by CBS News cited eight specific examples. Among them: allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut “engaged in sexual assaults” on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail “engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries” — a problem the report says was “endemic.”

After the Secret Service scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, government security officials’ having sex with prostitutes simply cannot be dismissed as unthinkable. And there are some who suspect, or fear, that this sort of thing is a lot more widespread and even quasi-accepted than we would ever believe. As a detailed Washingtonian article on the Secret Service scandal concluded, “To believe that the Cartagena affair was unique, you’d also have to believe that this group of 13 men — not all of whom knew one another — broke into separate groups and independently got the idea, for the first time ever, to go out looking for prostitutes.”

Now the really shocking scandal that IG memo referenced:

In one specific and striking cover-up, State Department agents told the Inspector General they were told to stop investigating the case of a U.S. Ambassador who held a sensitive diplomatic post and was suspected of patronizing prostitutes in a public park.

The State Department Inspector General’s memo refers to the 2011 investigation into an ambassador who “routinely ditched . . . his protective security detail” and inspectors suspect this was in order to “solicit sexual favors from prostitutes.”

Sources told CBS News that after the allegations surfaced, the ambassador was called to Washington, D.C. to meet with Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, but was permitted to return to his post.

Notice the plural, “agents.” So it’s not just one agent of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service suddenly going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and attempting to smear the name of an ambassador over a vendetta or something. While it’s possible you could get two agents to make up a bombshell allegation like this . . . it seems a little less likely, and they must have been plausible enough to get the IG’s office to take them seriously. Note that CBS News spoke to two diplomatic security agents who spoke, on camera, about higher-ups quashing their investigation: Aurelia Fedenisn and Mike Poehlitz.

Anyway, the ambassador named came out and denied the charges:

In a fast-developing story, U.S. ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman has been named as the diplomat accused of soliciting “sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children,” according to State Department documents obtained by NBC News. Gutman denied the allegations, in a statement to The Cable and other outlets.

“I am angered and saddened by the baseless allegations that have appeared in the press and to watch the four years I have proudly served in Belgium smeared is devastating,” he said. “At no point have I ever engaged in any improper activity.”

For someone accused of a horrific crime, it’s a Catch-22. Past experience makes us skeptical of weaselly, carefully worded, over specific denials; but blanket denials and an effort to dismiss the whole thing, without answering questions from a skeptics on the record, don’t provide much reassurance, either.

The score so far: two detailed accounts from two professional diplomatic security personnel, found credible by the Department’s Inspector General, against two generic sweeping denials.

If the allegation is true, there will be a lot of witnesses — particularly the ambassador’s security detail. Beyond that, we can verify or refute other parts of the story. Was Gutman called to Washington to meet with Kennedy? If so, what did they discuss?

Oh, and here’s the note you’ve been waiting for:

On Tuesday, Nicholas Merrill, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton, said Clinton was completely unaware of any of the investigations mentioned in the Office of the Inspector General’s reports and memos, including the case involving her personal security detail allegedly soliciting prostitutes.

“We learned of it from the media and don’t know anything beyond what’s been reported,” Merrill told CNN in a written statement.

Of course. Of course! Why would she know about investigations of crimes by State Department employees, right?

Here’s Hillary, unveiling a new report on human trafficking and sex trafficking, back in June 2012:

“This report gives a clear and honest assessment of where all of us stand,” Clinton said Tuesday. “It takes a hard look at every government in our world including our own . . . It is important that we hold ourselves to the same standard as everyone else.”

Thank goodness there’s a new sheriff in town at Foggy Bottom, running a much tighter ship.

Above: The new sheriff.

Tags: Hillary Clinton , State Department , Scandals

U.S. Ambassador Allegedly Used Underage Prostitutes


Do you have room for another scandal? Because this looks like a really big one:

The State Department responded to claims that internal investigators dropped a probe into alleged misconduct by department personnel, including an ambassador, who were accused of inappropriate activities including prostitution and pedophilia in a government memo.

The ambassador who came under investigation “routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children,” according to documents obtained by NBC News.

The alleged misconduct took place during former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure, according to the documents, which also say those activities may not have been properly looked into.

Top state department officials directed investigators to “cease the investigation” into the ambassador’s conduct, according to the memo.

NBC reports, “A state department spokesperson would not confirm the specific investigations, but told NBC News ‘the notion that we would not vigorously pursue criminal misconduct in a case, in any case, is preposterous.’”

Keep in mind that an ambassador would have diplomatic immunity from prosecution in the host country.

The ambassador that this government memo refers to is named by the New York Post in this article; as detailed here, the ambassador named in the article is an extremely generous donor to the Democratic party, President Obama, and Hillary Clinton.

Tags: Hillary Clinton , State Department , Scandal

Digging Deep into the Reports of Stingers and Benghazi


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

    State Department: Someone Failed on Benghazi, But We Won’t Say Who


    The concluding paragraph of the unclassified version of the State Department’s internal review of what happened in Benghazi:

    5. The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus in critical positions of authority and responsibility in Washington demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability appropriate for the State Department’s senior ranks in their responses to  security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection.  However, the Board did not find that any individual U.S. Government employee engaged in misconduct or willfully ignored his or her responsibilities, and, therefore did not find reasonable cause to believe that an individual breached his or her duty so as to be the subject of a recommendation for disciplinary action.

    So the review found “certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus” who dropped the ball on the security risks… but it won’t name them.

    And no one has been recommended for disciplinary action.

    The beauty of blaming “broad, systemic failures” the way this report does is that no individual must be held accountable.

    UPDATE: I wrote a column for the New York Post in mid-October, discussing the Obama administration’s tradition of having top lawmakers loudly declare, “I take responsibility”… and then seeing no significant changes or actions follow from that declaration.  It’s the appearance of accountability, without all the complications and headaches of actual responsibility.

    The tradition continues.

    UPDATE: The AP reports, “Official: State Dept security chief, 2 others resign after report on Benghazi attack.”

    Tags: Benghazi , Libya , State Department

    New South Carolina Senator Announced Today


    The AP reports that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will announcing a replacement for U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint at noon Monday at the Statehouse.

    For what it is worth, the Post and Courier of Charleston urged Haley to pick Rep. Tim Scott this weekend:

    S.C. voters re-elected Mr. DeMint by a large margin in 2010. Thus, his replacement should be a good match for the outgoing senator’s conservative philosophy. Rep. Scott fits the bill — and is in especially close agreement with Sen. DeMint on the long-overdue necessities of restraining runaway federal spending and reforming entitlement programs.

    » Whoever replaces Mr. DeMint must operate in the political realm. But the governor’s finalists include two people who have never even run for office. South Carolina doesn’t need a senator who’s learning politics on that high-stakes job — or one who has never earned the voters’ approval.

    Rep. Scott has ample experience in elective offices — and in winning them. He served 13 years on Charleston County Council and two in the S.C. House before being elected to the U.S. House in 2010. Last month, he won a second congressional term by a large margin.

    And other lawmakers in the area are already considering their options if Scott is named, and a House seat opens up:

    State Rep. Chip Limehouse smiled broadly. The Republican was in what he called home territory and said he’s often at Summerville events. But he’s also eyeing Congressman Tim Scott’s seat that could become vacant if the tea party congressional star is nabbed for Gov. Nikki Haley’s appointment to U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint’s seat. And while Summerville isn’t in Limehouse’s state house district, it is in Scott’s Congressional District 1.

    “There’s speculation that Gov. Haley may pick Tim Scott to fill the vacancy,” Limehouse said. ”It’s not premature. It’s just a good thing regardless of whether the race occurs or not … If that occurs I will definitely be strongly considering entering the race. At this point, all I can say is that I hope Tim Scott gets picked by the governor.”

    A special election would be required to fill the Congressional seat. But Limehouse isn’t the only politician waiting to see who the governor appoints. S.C. Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Goose Creek, has also expressed interest in seeking Scott’s seat.

    “I definitely would give it a hard look,” Grooms said. “It’s just premature talk right now.”

    UPDATE: CNN is reporting Haley called former state attorney general Henry McMaster and told him he is not her selection.

    ANOTHER UPDATE: Kurt Pickhardt, Haley’s political director, just Tweeted, “Today is going to be historic.” While you can interpret that remark many ways, it certainly seems to hint to Tim Scott, who would become the first black Senator from a Southern state since Blanche Bruce in 1881; only the second from the South in U.S. history and only the seventh black Senator in U.S. history.

    Alternatively, either former first lady Jenny Sanford or Catherine Templeton, director of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, would be the first woman senator from South Carolina if named by Haley.

    Tags: Elizabeth Emken , State Department , Nikki Haley , Tim Scott

    Why Was the Libya Explanation So Wrong for So Long?


    The Heritage Foundation has put together a video of the Obama administration’s statements about the Benghazi attack being driven by the Islam-mocking YouTube video . . . It’s all useful; I just wish they listed the date of each statement, to show how long the administration insisted that this was driven by the video, instead of a terror attack by al-Qaeda affiliates upon a strikingly under-protected facility.


    Thankfully, Heritage’s Helle Dale put together a timeline in print form:

    April 6: IED thrown over the fence of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

    April 11: Gun battle erupts between armed groups two-and-a-half miles from the U.S. Consulate, including rocket-propelled grenades.

    April 27: Two South African contractors are kidnapped by armed men, released unharmed.

    May 1: Deputy Commander of U.S. Embassy Tripoli’s Local Guard Force is carjacked, beaten, and detained by armed youth.

    May 1: British Embassy in Tripoli is attacked by a violent mob and set on fire. Other NATO embassies attacked as well.

    May 3: The State Department declines a request from personnel concerned about security at the U.S. Embassy in Libya for a DC-3 plane to take them around the country.

    May 22: Two rocket-propelled grenades are fired at the Benghazi office of the International Committee of the Red Cross, less than 1 mile from the U.S. Consulate.

    June 6: A large IED destroys part of the security perimeter of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Creates hole “big enough for 40 men to go through.”

    June 10: A car carrying the British ambassador is attacked in Tripoli. Two bodyguards injured.

    Late June: The building of the International Red Cross attacked again and closed down, leaving the U.S. flag as the only international one still flying in Benghazi, an obvious target.

    August 6: Armed assailants carjack a vehicle with diplomatic plates operated by U.S. personnel.

    September 8: A local security officer in Benghazi warns American officials about deteriorating security.

    September 11: Protesters attack the U.S. Cairo embassy. U.S. Embassy releases statement and tweets sympathizing with Muslim protesters/attackers.

    September 11: U.S. Consulate in BenghaziLibya is attacked, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans are killed.

    September 12: Secretary Clinton and President Obama issue statements condemning both the video and the attacks.

    September 12: U.S. intelligence agencies have enough evidence to conclude a terrorist attack was involved.

    September 13: Press Secretary Jay Carney condemns video and violence at a news conference.

    September 14: Carney denies Administration had “actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.”

    September 14: The bodies of slain Americans return to Andrews Air Force Base. President Obama again blames the YouTube video.

    September 16: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appears on Sunday talk shows and says the attacks were provoked by the video, exclusively.

    September 16: Libyan President Mohamed Magarief says, “no doubt that this [attack] was preplanned, predetermined.”

    September 17: State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland refuses to call attacks an act of terror.

    September 19: CNN reports having found Ambassador Stevens’s diary, which indicates concern about security threats in Benghazi.

    September 19: Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen tells Congress the attack in Libya was “terrorism.”

    September 20: Carney tries to back up Olsen, says it was “self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.”

    September 20: Obama refuses to call attack terrorism, citing insufficient information.

    September 21: Secretary of State Clinton, at meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister, says, “What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.”

    September 25: On ABC’s “The View,” Obama says, “we don’t have all of the information yet so we are still gathering.”

    September 25: To the U.N. assembly, Obama blames “A crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world.”

    September 26: Libya’s Magarief on the “Today” show says, “It was a preplanned act of terrorism directed against American citizens.”

    September 26: Published reports show U.S. Intel agencies and the Obama Administration knew within 24 hours that al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist were involved.

    September 27: Innocence of Muslims filmmaker Mark Basseley Youseff (aka Nakoula Basseley Nakoula) is arrested and denied bail on the charges of “probation violation.”

    September 28: Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, Jr., issues a statement backing the Obama Administration’s changing story about the Libyan attack. Says facts are evolving.

    October 2: Carney declines to comment on reported requests from diplomats in Libya for additional security, citing the State Department’s internal investigation. 

    Tags: Barack Obama , Libya , State Department

    The Next Big Campaign Issue: Benghazi Diplomatic Security


    From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

    State Department Professionals: Hey, We Never Said the Benghazi Attack Was About a Video!

    Here’s a twist: the professional government employees are throwing their appointed and elected bosses under the bus for a change.

    Say, professional U.S. State Department employees who have seen four of your coworkers slain, and many more endangered by violent, enraged mobs surrounding our embassies and consulates around the world, how do you feel about your role as the administration’s scapegoat for the September 11 attacks?

    Hmm. It appears they don’t like it.

    The State Department said Tuesday it never concluded that the consulate attack in Libya stemmed from protests over an American-made video ridiculing Islam, raising further questions about why the Obama administration used that explanation for more than a week after assailants killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

    asked about the administration’s initial – and since retracted – explanation linking the violence to protests over an anti-Muslim video circulating on the Internet, one official said, “That was not our conclusion.” He called it a question for “others” to answer, without specifying. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter, and provided no evidence that might suggest a case of spontaneous violence or angry protests that went too far.

    So one big question is where the “it was because of the tape” conclusions were coming from, since the intelligence community said they saw strong indications it was al-Qaeda within 24 hours, and now State is saying they weren’t giving that report up the chain.

    That’s one big question. Another one is who turned down those requests for additional security in the weeks and months before the attack in Benghazi.

    You’re going to hear a lot about this today:

    A U.S. security officer twice asked his State Department superiors for more security agents for the American mission in Benghazi months before an attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, but he got no response.

    The officer, Eric Nordstrom, who was based in Tripoli until about two months before the September attack, said a State Department official, Charlene Lamb, wanted to keep the number of U.S. security personnel in Benghazi “artificially low,” according to a memo summarizing his comments to a congressional committee that was obtained by Reuters.

    Nordstrom also argued for more U.S. security in Libya by citing a chronology of over 200 security incidents there from militia gunfights to bomb attacks between June 2011 and July 2012. Forty-eight of the incidents were in Benghazi.

    A brief summary of Nordstrom’s October 1 interview with the Republican-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was contained in a memo prepared by the committee’s minority Democratic staff.

    Nordstrom’s actions and those of his superiors are likely to figure prominently in a House committee hearing on Wednesday that will be Congress’ first public examination of what went wrong at the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi.

    David Freddoso: “Wow, so there was a real story in Libya that ISN’T about Romney gaffes? Nuh-uh, they didn’t say so on TV.”

    And in a sign of what a small world we live in:

    But Romney waited a day to share his ties to the events in Libya, telling his story at a rally in Iowa, one of a handful of battleground states where he has been getting personal to help persuade undecided voters to support him.

    The story begins with a chance encounter at a Christmas party in southern California in 2009 or 2010. He couldn’t be sure which.

    On a blustery day on an Iowa cornfield, Romney explained that he had gotten a flier at his home in southern California for a neighborhood Christmas party. He hadn’t planned on going but, after noticing a party getting started at a house almost across the street, he and his wife, Ann, changed their minds and decided to pop over.

    It wasn’t until after dinner that they realized they were at the wrong house.

    “Turns out, this wasn’t the neighborhood party. This was a family having a party with their friends,” Romney said as his audience laughed. “We were a little embarrassed but they treated us well nonetheless and I got to meet some really interesting people.”

    Then the story turns serious, as has become the custom in Romney’s campaign speeches in recent days.

    At rallies in Florida, Virginia and now Iowa, he has swapped the tales of hard-working entrepreneurs that had filled his speeches for months in favor of anecdotes about people in his life who have died. He talks about a 14-year-old leukemia patient, a quadriplegic classmate and an American soldier killed last year in Afghanistan.

    Then there is Doherty, the former Navy SEAL Romney met at a party he wasn’t supposed to attend.

    Both were from Massachusetts. Both enjoyed skiing. And Doherty, who was 42 at the time of his death, talked about his work in the Middle East for a private security company after he finished his tour of duty as a Navy SEAL.

    “You can imagine how I felt when I found out that he was one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in Benghazi on Sept. 11,” Romney said in Iowa, pausing to stay composed. “It touched me obviously as I recognized this young man that I thought was so impressive had lost his life in his service of his fellow men and women.”

    Romney said he learned that Doherty was in another building across town when he and his colleagues found out the consulate was under attack.

    “They went there. They didn’t hunker down where they were in safety. They rushed there to go help,” Romney said. “This is the American way. We go where there’s trouble. We go where we’re needed. And right now we are needed. Right now the American people need us.”

    ADDENDA: The Rick Wilson: “The beautiful thing about the liberal meltdown is that Obama is being flooded with earnest, utterly wrong advice.”

    Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , State Department

    Urgh. State Department on 9/6: ‘No Credible’ Sign of 9/11 Terror Attack


    Jeryl Bier sends along this item, pointing out that the U.S. State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council issued a memo five days before the attacks in Libya and Egypt, declaring that there was no indication of any attacks on the 9/11 anniversary.

    Terrorism and Important Dates



    OSAC currently has no credible information to suggest that al-Qa’ida or any other terrorist group is plotting any kind of attack overseas to coincide with the upcoming anniversary of September 11. However, constituents often have concerns around important dates, holidays, and major events, Often times, these concerns are the result of increased media attention to the issue, rather than credible evidence of a terrorist plot.

    Assessing, predicting, and preventing the actions of terror groups is undoubtedly difficult, perhaps one of the hardest tasks our government faces. But every erroneous assessment, like this one, ties our stomachs into knots, seeing that a long-established, well-funded, global-scale system can still make the wrong call, with deadly consequences.

    Tags: State Department , Terrorism

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