The Politics of Grave Dancing: Issa and RomneyPosted: October 20, 2012
The more the Republicans push for some kind of October Surprise on the Benghazi attacks, the more mortified we should all be about the politics of grave dancing. More information is coming out on the damage to US intelligence in Benghazi and the Middle East by Issa’s public hearings. Issa’s document dump has exposed safe houses and Libyans working for the US. He’s actually exposed US intelligence assets and put their lives in danger. This is yet another –ala Cheney–of the ways Republicans will actually kill US interests and people in an effort to put their political power and aims above everything else.
“The American people deserve nothing less than a full explanation from this administration about these events, including why the repeated warnings about a worsening security situation appear to have been ignored by this administration. Americans also deserve a complete explanation about your administration’s decision to accelerate a normalized presence in Libya at what now appears to be at the cost of endangering American lives,” Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) wrote today in a letter to President Barack Obama.
But Issa didn’t bother to redact the names of Libyan civilians and local leaders mentioned in the cables, and just as with the WikiLeaks dump of State Department cables last year, the administration says that Issa has done damage to U.S. efforts to work with those Libyans and exposed them to physical danger from the very groups that had an interest in attacking the U.S. consulate.
“Much like WikiLeaks, when you dump a bunch of documents into the ether, there are a lot of unintended consequences,” an administration official told The Cable Friday afternoon. “This does damage to the individuals because they are named, danger to security cooperation because these are militias and groups that we work with and that is now well known, and danger to the investigation, because these people could help us down the road.”
One of the cables released by Issa names a woman human rights activist who was leading a campaign against violence and was detained in Benghazi. She expressed fear for her safety to U.S. officials and criticized the Libyan government.
“This woman is trying to raise an anti-violence campaign on her own and came to the United States for help. She isn’t publicly associated with the U.S. in any other way but she’s now named in this cable. It’s a danger to her life,” the administration official said.
Another cable names a Benghazi port manager who is working with the United States on an infrastructure project.
“When you’re in a situation where Ansar al-Sharia is a risk to Americans, an individual like this guy, who is an innocent civilian who’s trying to reopen the port and is doing so in conjunction with Americans, could be at risk now because he’s publicly affiliated with America,” the official said, referring to the group thought to have led the Benghazi attack.
Emptywheel lays it out even more clearly: ‘Darrell Issa Exposes the CIA as a Foreign Policy Debate Stunt”. Here’s a sample. (H/T to RalphB).
Darrell Issa just released a bunch of documents so as to seed the Sunday shows in time for Monday’s foreign policy debate. [Update: See Josh Rogin's reported description of some of the sensitivities Issa exposed.]
Here’s a running explication of what he released, all in the name of “national security.”
PDF 1: In December, Jeffrey Feltman asked Patrick Kennedy to approve “a combined footprint of 35 U.S. government personnel in Benghazi.” That would include 10 people identified as State: 8 State Department and USAID, and 2 temporary duty personnel.
Which leaves 25 people unaccounted for.
As it happens, the Libyans say there were 29 people they hadn’t expected when they came to evacuate the Americans. They complained afterwards that the Americans hadn’t told them about all the spooks they’d have onsite.
Well, now, Issa just confirmed they were not State or even USAID personnel. He has confirmed the Libyans’ claims–that they were spooks.
And then there’s this:
Because of budget considerations and the reduced footprint, Diplomatic Security’s current presence consists of two Special Agents…
As far back as December 2011, budget considerations were driving the small security footprint in Benghazi.
The budget considerations put into place by the GOP cuts to State’s budget.
The Romney campaign may have misfired with its suggestion that statements by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Benghazi attack last month weren’t supported by intelligence, according to documents provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official.
“Talking points” prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, the same day that Rice taped three television appearances, support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States. According to the CIA account, “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations 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. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”
The CIA document went on: “This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as currently available information continues to be evaluated.” This may sound like self-protective boilerplate, but it reflects the analysts’ genuine problem interpreting fragments of intercepted conversation, video surveillance and source reports.
The senior intelligence official said the analysts’ judgment was based in part on monitoring of some of the Benghazi attackers, which showed they had been watching the Cairo protests live on television and talking about them before they assaulted the consulate.
“We believe the timing of the attack was influenced by events in Cairo,” the senior official said, reaffirming the Cairo-Benghazi link. He said that judgment is repeated in a new report prepared this week for the House intelligence committee.
The latest information is that there is now no evidence of an Al Qaeda role in the attack on the Benghazi consulate. This is also something falsely bandied around by Republicans like Sununu who insists the Libyan attack showed the President is lying about the strength of Al-Qaeda in the region. Another shameless attempt to portray on foreign policy in the area as misguided and most likely another attempt to justify more military intervention and the Romney platform of $2 trillion increases in military spending. It should also be emphasized that the attack did not occur on the US embassy in Libya because there’s also been this Republican inference that embassy security was weak and so allowed the attack. Consulates are not embassies.
The assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi last month appears to have been an opportunistic attack rather than a long-planned operation, and intelligence agencies have found no evidence that it was ordered by Al Qaeda, according to U.S. officials and witnesses interviewed in Libya.
The circumstances of the Sept. 11 attack have become a matter of heated political debate, with President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney clashing in their debate Tuesday about when Obama termed the assault an act of terrorism. But the emerging picture painted by intelligence officials and witnesses differs from the assertions of both sides.
Republicans have zeroed in on possible Al Qaeda ties to the Sept. 11 attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, and have criticized the Obama administration for not saying early on that it was an act of terrorism. But after five weeks of investigation, U.S. intelligence agencies say they have found no evidence of Al Qaeda participation.
The attack was “carried out following a minimum amount of planning,” said a U.S. intelligence official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a matter still under investigation. “The attackers exhibited a high degree of disorganization. Some joined the attack in progress, some did not have weapons and others just seemed interested in looting.”
A second U.S. official added, “There isn’t any intelligence that the attackers pre-planned their assault days or weeks in advance.” Most of the evidence so far suggests that “the attackers launched their assault opportunistically after they learned about the violence at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” earlier that day, the official said.
The lack of a firm Al Qaeda link could constrain U.S. military options. The administration believes it has the right under international law to use lethal force against Al Qaeda operatives who kill Americans, but that case would be harder to make against members of a Libyan militia.
You may recall the Sununu meltdown on Soledad O’Brien’s CNN interview the other day. He should really look stupid and hyperpolitical now.
Republicans are continuing the Cheney-Bush policy of misleading people to further their own political and NeoCon agendas. It is more important than ever that the press continue to ignore their grave dancing and follow the actual process of getting to the facts. We’re basically seeing the same sort of crap that lead us into Iraq repeating. It’s nothing but basic Republican propaganda in support of NeoCon Lies. Let’s hope that more of this comes to the surface during the Monday night presidential debates on foreign policy. We don’t need any more unnecessary wars.