In a sane world, this sort of thing would spur serious impeachment talk:
President Barack Obama’s former top military intelligence official said Tuesday that the White House ignored reports prefacing the rise of ISIS in 2011 and 2012 because they did not fit their re-election “narrative.”
“I think that they did not meet a narrative the White House needed. And I’ll be very candid with you, they just didn’t,” retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.”
Flynn, who has been critical of both Obama and former President George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraq War and involvement in the Middle East, said that Obama was served poorly by a small circle of advisers who were worried about his re-election prospects at the time.
The story they needed to tell, he said, was that pulling troops from Iraq would not leave the region vulnerable to rise of a radical Islamic group like ISIS.
“I think the narrative was that al Qaeda was on the run, and (Osama) bin Laden was dead . . . they’re dead and these guys are, we’ve beaten them,” Flynn said, but the problem was that despite how many terrorist leaders they killed they “continue to just multiply.”
Marine general Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers at a House Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday that “we have not contained” ISIS and that “I don’t believe the campaign [against ISIS] was fully resourced since 2010.”
This is basic governing malpractice.
Beer summits, slowing the rise of the oceans, wacky videos to promote Obamacare, going on “The View” and “The Tonight Show” — all of that is window-dressing compared to the real job of the commander-in-chief, which is protecting Americans from those who threaten them. Our Declaration of Independence states we are “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are impossible when someone’s trying to kill you. Right there at the top of the Constitution, it says the whole point of the document is to “insure domestic Tranquility” and “provide for the common defence.”
Instead, we get willful blindness:
Two senior analysts at CENTCOM signed a written complaint sent to the Defense Department inspector general in July alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The reports were changed by CENTCOM higher-ups to adhere to the administration’s public line that the U.S. is winning the battle against ISIS and al Nusra, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the analysts claim.
That complaint was supported by 50 other analysts, some of whom have complained about politicizing of intelligence reports for months. That’s according to 11 individuals who are knowledgeable about the details of the report and who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.
And as Marc Theissen noted after the Chattanooga shooting, this is part of a pattern:
This is the same president who called the 2009 Christmas Day bomber an “isolated extremist”; whose administration insisted that the Fort Hood, Tex., shooter (who killed U.S. troops while shouting “Allahu Akbar!” and was in direct contact with al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki) had committed “workplace violence”; whose administration blamed the Benghazi, Libya, attacks on an “Internet video”; who dismissed the Islamic State as the “JV team“; and who declared that the attack by Islamic radicals on a kosher supermarket in Paris was a random shooting.
In August 2014, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken assured the public ISIS was not a threat to the U.S. homeland; it was “focused intently on trying to create a caliphate now in Iraq.” Fellow Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes concurred:
Al-Qaeda’s principal ambition is to launch attacks against the west and U.S. homeland. That’s the direct threat that we have taken direct action against for many years. Right now, ISIL’s primary focus is consolidating territory in the Middle East region to establish their own Islamic State. So they’re different organizations with different objectives.
In Iraq, almost 100,000 troops have come home and civilians are poised to keep the peace. In Afghanistan integrated military and civilian surges have helped set the stage for our diplomatic surge to support Afghan-led reconciliation that can end the conflict and put al Qaeda on the run.
A terror pipeline that facilitates the flow of fighters, financing, arms and propaganda around the world has allowed ISIS to strike at the heart of Paris last week and an Al Qaida affiliate to do the same at Charlie Hebdo earlier this year. ISIS is working hard to extend its reach, establish affiliates and cells far from its home base, and despite the significant setbacks it has encountered, not just with ISIS and its ambitious plans, but even Al Qaida, including the death of Osama bin Laden, they are still posing great threats to so many.
There’s been a lot of conversation about ISIS in the last week; let’s not forget al-Qaeda. They still have the most sophisticated bomb makers ambitious plotters and active affiliates in places like Yemen and North Africa.
Why would we trust her to solve the problem now, after she assured us the problem was so close to being solved in 2011?
The Rhetoric-Triggers-Violence Claims Reflect a Nurtured Disdain for Political Foes
One more key point to add to Monday’s column about why the Left believes conservative rhetoric spurs violence but their own never does, and why certain gunmen require national conversations about collective blame and responsibility but others are simply random nut-jobs with no greater lessons or cultural accomplices . . .
A lot of people, from low-information voters to activists eagerly sharing Facebook memes to the biggest columnists, think the opposing political side is generally full of bad people. Not mistaken or foolish people, but genuinely malevolent and dangerous people.
There is a sizable number of liberals who believe that most conservatives are hateful, rage-filled ticking time bombs. They think the average Romney voter is just one televised martial metaphor away from dropping the Bible they cling to, grabbing the gun they cling to with both hands, and lashing out at the nearest target of convenience.
Of course, their own side of progressives, liberals, or plain old Democratic party loyalists is full of good, rational, wise, right-thinking, emotionally-well-adjusted people. So they conclude that incendiary rhetoric is inherently more dangerous when used by the other side than by their side.
Do conservatives think that leftists are ticking time-bombs as well? Perhaps a few, such as the occasional college professor who encounters a student photographer and cries, “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.” (Yet another sad case of outsourcing; once again we see a job Americans aren’t willing to do themselves.) The not-so-distant past showed us the Left embracing the Black Panthers and Weathermen, and celebrating bloody revolutionaries like Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. It wasn’t California’s right-wing politicians who eagerly embraced Reverend Jim Jones; it was Jerry Brown. A little more recently, we saw the arson and bombings of the Earth Liberation Front and the vandalism and threats to contaminate food from the Animal Liberation Front.
Is a man like the Unabomber a common-variety nut-job, or a man driven to kill three people and injure 23 others because he actually believed apocalyptic environmental warnings? Black-clad, rock-throwing, store-window-smashing anti-globalization protesters cause as many headaches for Democratic big-city mayors as any Republicans, but they’re undoubtedly an offspring of the Left.
More recently, the modern Left — usually arguing for bigger government — revealed a flirtatious interest with anarchy. Occupy Wall Street featured a protester gleefully defecating on a police car; more seriously, there was an attempt to prevent a series of sexual assaults from continuing with special tents instead of actual police investigations. Then there were the Occupy protesters who tried to blow up a bridge in Cleveland, the homemade “incendiary devices” of Occupy protesters in Seattle, Occupy Oakland riots, Occupy D.C. pushing little old ladies down stairs, the $10 million arson committed by an Occupy Fort Collins protester, and the Occupy Portland protesters with mortars . . .
Does the urban unrest following recent prosecutorial or court decisions regarding police brutality count as political violence, or is it just blind rage in the face of perceived injustice? Or is it mostly opportunistic violence, i.e., done by aspiring arsonists and the like? Most recently we’ve seen the violence after the enraged “burn this bitch down” cry at the Ferguson rallies, and the riots in Baltimore:
The rioters in Baltimore didn’t direct their actions exclusively at agents of the state. In addition to targeting at least one widely televised police car, they also vandalized property, some of which is surely owned by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, and assaulted fellow citizens, including journalists. These crimes aren’t comparable to unjustified police killings, but they are crimes—not uncontrollable, natural phenomena.
“Jim, it’s unfair to judge entire political movements by the violent, irrational actions of a few extremists within their ranks!” Yes, precisely, which is why groups like the Tea Party, gun owners, and pro-lifers deserve the same courtesy from their opponents.
The idea that good people reside on one side of the political divide and bad people on another is a naïve and foolish way to look at the world. But it’s also self-congratulatory and cultivates a sense of entitlement. The study of the concept of “compensatory ethics” suggests that people who engage in certain types of self-defined moral behavior, such as buying “green” products, are more likely to make moral shortcuts in other ways, such as cheating or stealing, according to one study by Canadian psychologists. In other words, a lot of people seem to believe that if you vote the right way and support the right causes, you’re entitled to behave badly in other aspects of your life.
Explains a lot, doesn’t it?
Trump-rages, Passing as Loudly and Quickly as Summer Thunderstorms
During his latest campaign rally in Macon, Ga., the GOP front-runner told supporters he could pull out of the upcoming debate on Dec. 15 if CNN, who’s hosting the primetime event, fails to meet certain conditions and continues to treat Trump in a manner he deems unfair.
“How about I tell CNN, who doesn’t treat me properly I’m not gonna do the next debate, okay,” Trump said Monday evening. “How about we do this for CNN: I won’t do the debate unless they pay me $5 million, all of which money goes to the Wounded Warriors or goes to vets?”
The odds are good that within a day, everyone will have forgotten this threat, which is brilliant brinksmanship in the eyes of his fans and ludicrous whining in the eyes of his critics.
It is fun to be here. Even the reporters, to whose perfidy Trump devotes a substantial chunk of his speech, are having fun — you never know what Trump is going to say, and you get a lot of airtime. “Sometimes it’s ‘bomb the hell out of ISIS,’ sometimes it’s ‘bomb the crap out of them,’ sometimes it’s ‘bomb the s*** out of them,’” one network correspondent tells me. “Last night was the first time he said ‘ass,’” in reference to waterboarding, which Trump says—“you bet your ass”—he would resume.
Despite all the negativity and fear, the energy in this room does not feel dark and aggressive and threatening. It doesn’t feel like a powder keg about to blow, a lynch mob about to rampage. It feels joyous.
Is this fun? Trump says things, people react with outrage and horror, his supporters insist he didn’t really say what they think he said, and even if he did, his critics are just politically correct whiners who can’t handle the truth. Trump complains that the media isn’t being fair to him, and the traveling circus moves on to the next topic.
A lot of folks have already forgotten last week’s brouhaha about whether Trump mocked a disabled reporter. Watch the video yourself. If Trump did not intend to mock Serge Kovaleski’s disability, then the billionaire’s hand gestures and expression — moments after saying, “you gotta see this guy” — are a remarkable coincidence. Trump later claimed he had never met the man, even though the reporter claimed he spoke to Trump repeatedly while covering him in the 1980s. (If as he claims, Trump had no idea what the man looked like, why would he say, “You gotta see this guy”?)
Trump fans can always find elaborate explanations of how their guy didn’t really say what his critics think he said. Some of us will subscribe to Occam’s razor and conclude that Trump is a jerk and that he’s a shameless liar when he gets called out on it. It’s another round of national gaslighting; you didn’t really see what you think you just saw.
But the alleged disabled-mockery passed without significant impact on Trump’s poll numbers, and the debate threat probably will as well, and the next Trump-rage probably will as well.
Statement, outrage, dismissal of the outrage, lather, rinse, repeat. We continue to discuss what Trump said, or insisted he remembered, or what he insists he didn’t say . . .
ADDENDA: Nag, nag nag . . .