Source: The Cagle Post
Today President Obama accurately called the endless Republican outrage over Benghazi “a sideshow.” Reuters reports:
The Benghazi matter flared up again last week after internal emails were made public showing that in the days after the attack, the administration tried to shape “talking points” to explain why four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, had been killed.
Obama rejected Republicans’ claims that the administration tried to cover up the role of Islamist militants in the attack to avoid looking weak on terrorism eight weeks before the presidential election.
Obama said Republicans have had political motives in criticizing him, his staff and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate.
“The whole issue of this – of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow,” he said. “The whole thing defies logic. And the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations.”
All true, but it will make no difference. Benghazi has joined the ranks of Whitewater, Travelgate, and Monicagate. It will go on forever. It will never die even if someone shoots it with a silver bullet or pounds a stake through its heart. It win continue on without pause until the House finally tries to impeach Obama or his second term mercifully ends.
This is how ridiculous it has gotten. Think Progress reports that convicted car thief and Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa believes Obama Covered Up Benghazi Terrorism By Calling It An ‘Act Of Terror’
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) responded to President Obama’s forceful condemnation of the GOP’s effort to portray his administration’s response to the attacks on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya as a cover-up on Monday, suggesting that the president sought to downplay the severity of the incident by describing the killings of four Americans as an “act of terror” rather than a “terrorist attack.”
In the day following the Benghazi attacks, Obama appeared at the White House Rose Garden alongside then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In his remarks, Obama referred to the incident as an “act of terror” and used the phrase again at a campaign rally the day after in Denver, CO. “I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished,” he said.
But Issa claimed that Obama relied on the “act of terror” formulation to dissuade Americans from thinking it was a terror attack, thus improving his chances of re-election.
Amazing. I have half a mind to repost the long piece I wrote on Issa’s criminal history back in January 2011: New Chairman of House Oversight Committee Lacks Moral Gravitas (To Put It Mildly)
At the Atlantic Elspeth Reeve explains that no matter how “boring” the Benghazi “scandal” is, the Republicans will keep right on pushing it (emphasis added).
As we have noted before, the Benghazi scandal is boring. What is potentially scandalous is not what happened during the attack — that was done by bad guys, not the U.S. government — but the talking points U.N. ambassador Susan Rice gave on five political talk shows five days later. Naturally, people who are extremely skeptical of President Obama’s intentions want to give the scandal a greater sense of urgency. Retired Admiral James Lyons, for example, explained to The Atlantic Wire last week the theory that Obama colluded with terrorists to have Ambassador Chris Stevens kidnapped in order to set up a prisoner exchange with the Blind Sheikh. On Monday, after Obama called the ongoing theories a “sideshow” and before White House Press Secretary Jay Carney did the same, Limbaugh floated a different theory that would make Obama’s actions much worse, if not quite so treasonous. Rush was not alone in his floating; so long as there is an attack’s aftermath with which to create more aftermath, he never will be.
In the CIA’s original talking points, the very first bullet point says, “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…” We now know that’s wrong. The video played no part; the attacks were pre-planned. Limbaugh explained on Monday that he thinks the CIA and the State Department knew even at the time of the attack that the video played no part. Limbaugh says American intel knew the attacks were coming in Benghazi and Cairo. When the Cairo embassy tweeted an apology for the anti-Islam video on September 11, 2012, it was because the tweeter “knew in advance it was going to happen.” Limbaugh said, “The stated purpose of the apology was to stop and prevent any protest because we knew some were coming.” Therefore, “I am convinced that the administration concocted this video excuse before anything happened.”
So many want more there to be there, no matter how much Obama says “there’s no there there” — or perhaps because of it. At World Net Daily last week, Erik Rush speculated that Obama might have “orchestrated the attack” himself, “given his connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and legendary understanding of all things Islamic.” On his radio show on Monday, Glenn Beck theorized that the Muslim Brotherhood was behind a whole bunch of things: “I want you to know, the IRS story, the Benghazi story, and the Boston bombings—and more importantly the Muslim cover up, the Muslim Brotherhood cover up— they’re all connected.”
Of course in addition to their dream of impeaching Obama, the Republicans are desperate to keep the Beghazi sideshow going in order to keep Hillary Clinton from running for president in 2016. And that, in a nutshell, is why Benghazi will keep right on ticking and ticking and ticking….
Hillary and Benghazi by Randall Enos
For Political Use Only by Mark Streeter
I got an e-mail this morning from Dakinikat saying that she arrived safely late last night and is completely exhausted. Hopefully, she’ll get to see her Dad today and give him a great big hug.
Now let’s see what’s going on in the world this morning.
I’ve got to be honest, I’m confused about the latest GOP Benghazi hearings. I have no idea what the fuss is all about, and I really don’t even want to try to figure it out. Apparently, car thief and arsonist Darrell Issa just can’t let go of Benghazi, and is going to keep right on harping on it until someone figures out a way to stop him. I’m going to highlight some articles on this “controversy,” but, as I said, I can’t really explain it.
First, the allegations of wrongdoing:
A veteran diplomat gave a riveting minute-by-minute account on Wednesday of the lethal terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, last Sept. 11 and described its contentious aftermath at a charged Congressional hearing that reflected the weighty political stakes perceived by both parties.
During a chaotic night at the American Embassy in Tripoli, hundreds of miles away, the diplomat, Gregory Hicks, got what he called “the saddest phone call I’ve ever had in my life” informing him that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was dead and that he was now the highest-ranking American in Libya. For his leadership that night when four Americans were killed, Mr. Hicks said in nearly six hours of testimony, he subsequently received calls from both Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Obama.
But within days, Mr. Hicks said, after raising questions about the account of what had happened in Benghazi offered in television interviews by Susan E. Rice, the United Nations ambassador, he felt a distinct chill from State Department superiors. “The sense I got was that I needed to stop the line of questioning,” said Mr. Hicks, who has been a Foreign Service officer for 22 years.
He was soon given a scathing review of his management style, he said, and was later “effectively demoted” to desk officer at headquarters, in what he believes was retaliation for speaking up.
After the disrupted phone call with Ambassador Stevens, Mr Hicks said he received calls from Libyans using the ambassador’s phone who said they had the envoy with them.
But Mr Hicks decided not to act on the calls, fearing an ambush.
So the “whistleblower” chose not to do anything? What is his complaint then?
UN Ambassador Susan Rice has been the focus of outrage from Republicans in Congress, for giving the news media what has been acknowledged as an incorrect explanation for the attack.
She said on a Sunday chat show on 16 September that the attack had grown out of an anti-US protest, while other officials have said they knew at the time it was an organised, armed assault, possibly by an Islamist militant group.
“My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed,” Mr Hicks said on his reaction to her interview.
I guess it’s still about Susan Rice. . . Or more likely, it’s about Hillary Clinton and attempts to hobble any plans she may have to run for president.
Three State Department officials on Wednesday provided a riveting, emotional account of last year’s fatal attack on U.S. installations in eastern Libya as they accused senior government officials of withholding embarrassing facts and failing to take enough responsibility for security lapses.
The testimony provided new details on the Sept. 11, 2012, assaults on U.S. installations in Benghazi and their aftermath. But the new information failed to break the political logjam the attacks spawned, with Republicans and Democrats offering starkly different interpretations of what happened and who within the U.S. government is to blame.
Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) opened the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing by saying that panel Democrats had “mostly sat silent” while Republicans tried to wrest the truth from an uncooperative Obama administration.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the senior Democrat on the committee, countered that Issa’s GOP majority had launched a “full-scale media campaign . . . of unfounded accusations to smear public officials.”
But in expanding the narrative of the intensely politicized episode, the witnesses raised fresh questions about whether then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her deputies were sufficiently engaged in assessing the security posture of diplomatic posts last year.
Time Magazine’s Michael Crowley: Terror, Security, and Hillary 2016: Making Sense of the Benghazi Hearings
The hearing by the Republican-led House Government Oversight & Reform Committee was not the first on the events surrounding the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans. Hillary Clinton, who was running the State Department at the time of the attack, testified for hours back in January. But the story was given fresh dramatic life and new narrative details through the testimony of two self-described whistle blowers who had not previously spoken in public: Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism; Gregory Hicks, the former deputy of mission in Libya. Joining them was Eric Nordstrom, a former regional security officer in Libya, who had previously testified on the issue.
But “[c]ould the U.S. military have done more to help?”
Not according to the Pentagon – and the hearing’s key witness. Aircraft that might have buzzed the compound where the second pair of Americans died – and scared the militants away — were 900 miles north in Italy. “Time and distance are a tyranny of their own,” Admiral James Stavridis, who responded to the attacks as the NATO commander, told Congress earlier this year. Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, estimated it would take as long as 20 hours to get the planes above Benghazi. Hicks testified that he asked the U.S. defense attaché in Tripoli if planes could be scrambled to help those under attack in the CIA annex in Benghazi, a battle that unfolded hours after the initial assault on the nearby U.S. consulate, which killed Stevens, and led to two more American deaths. “He said that it would take two to three hours for them to get on site, but that there also were no tankers available for them to refuel,” Hicks said Wednesday. “And I said, ‘Thank you very much,’ and we went on with our work.” Hicks also testified that a four man team of Green Berets in Tripoli were denied a request to deploy to Benghazi the morning after the attack began, though officials doubt they could have arrived early enough to save lives at the CIA annex.
Apparently the complaint is that the State Department didn’t order all military resources to get to Benghazi even though there was no way they could have gotten there in time to do anything to help?
So we’re back to preventing Hillary 2016?
Whether or not Republicans intended it, the shadow of national politics loomed over Wednesday’s hearing. Hillary Clinton completed a generally well-reviewed tenure of Secretary of State, as evidenced by her sky-high public approval ratings. But Benghazi is a clear black mark on her Foggy Bottom record, one that could haunt Clinton if she runs for president in 2016. Conservatives seized on Hicks’s testimony that, in a call with Clinton on the fateful night, he told her that a terrorist attack was underway–a fact that was slow to appear in the administration’s public rhetoric. Still, despite repeated discussion about what Clinton knew and when she knew it, no smoking gun emerged from Wednesday’s hearing, leading one Congressional Democrat to dismiss questions about her role as a “witch hunt.”
I guess that’s pretty much what it’s all about . . . A few more links:
“I think the notion of a quote, cover up, has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it,” former Ambassador Thomas Pickering said on MSNBC. He also rebutted claims that the review board tried to protect former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from scrutiny:
PICKERING: I saw no evidence of it. She did publicly take responsibility for what happened below her and indeed one of the things the Congress did in preparing the legislation that established the Accountability Review Board was to say we don’t want a situation where heads of agencies take responsibility and then nobody who made the decision in the chain has to suffer any consequences for failure for performance. I believe in fact the Accountability Review Board did it’s work well. I think the notion of a quote, cover up, has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it.
Pickering offered to testify at the latest hearing, but Chairman Issa wouldn’t let him.
The “whistleblowers” at today’s House Oversight Committee hearing on what really happened in Benghazi, Libya last September were supposed to break the dam that would lead to President Obama’s eventual downfall, in the eyes of conservatives. Instead, these witness actually served to debunk several theories that the right-wing has pushed on Benghazi, leaving the hearing a fizzle for the GOP.
Read the explanations at the link.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN) said Wednesday that he’s “fairly satisfied” with the Obama administration’s account of events that led to the deaths of American diplomats in Benghazi last year.
“We need to know were these people culpable or not. If they were, why are they still on the payroll? Other than that, I’ve been able to read all the cables. I’ve seen the films,” Corker told MSNBC. “I feel like I know what happened in Benghazi. I’m fairly satisfied.”
He cautioned House Republicans to be “respectful” if they probe the issue further.
“Look, if the House wants to have hearings,” he said, “I hope they’re done in a respectful way and hopefully it will shed some light on what happened.”
I guess that’s enough about Benghazi. I apologize for giving it so much space, but I thought if I were confused about this, some of you might be too.
A bit more news in the form of a link dump:
There has been another factory fire in Bangladesh! Reuters reports: Bangladesh factory fire kills eight; collapse toll tops 900
A DailyKos diary deals with a question that has been rattling around in my head: How did Jason Richwine Get a PhD from Harvard?
WBUR Boston University (NPR): Markey Edges Gomez In WBUR Senate Poll
The Hill on Suffolk University Poll: Markey builds strong lead over Gomez in Mass. Senate race
I realize the media is dying for another Scott Brown surprise, but it’s just not gonna happen.
Unfortunately, it looks like Huckleberry Closetcase will be back in 2014.
Chicago Tribune: Cleveland kidnapping: Bond for Ariel Castro set at $8 million
Why is he getting any chance of getting out on bail??
Could there be a worse idea by the candy industry? Kids would be getting that gum!
Sooooo . . . what’s new with you? What are you reading and blogging about today? Please share your links on any subject in the comment thread!
Now that Congressional Republicans have successfully shot down President Obama’s rumored first choice for Secretary of State–Susan Rice–they are working on nixing the president’s possible pick for Secretary of Defense, Republican Chuck Hagel. Aaron Blake at The Fix:
Former senator Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) potential/likely nomination as Secretary of Defense looms this week amid a growing chorus of criticism over his past comments about Israel and his policy positions on issues including the defense budget.
It seems some are bent on defeating Hagel’s nomination before it can even become official — much as Republican senators did with potential Secretary of State pick Susan Rice just last week. In fact, the same GOP senators who scuttled the Rice pick are now expressing doubts about Hagel.
A battle over Hagel would be highly unusual — both because we just had one over Rice and because both senators nominated to Cabinet posts and Secretary of Defense nominees generally sail to confirmation.
Obama should have stuck with Rice and fought it out. Senate Republicans smell blood now. The only reason John Kerry may be approved for State is that Republicans fantasize that Massachusetts voters will repeat their past mistake of electing Scott Brown to fill an open Senate seat. This president is the worst negotiator ever. He really needs to get someone else to make deals for him. He just can’t accept the reality that Republicans hate his guts and will never give him a break, ever.
Meanwhile Rep. Darrell Issa must be drooling over the “scathing report” on the Benghazi attacks
Four State Department officials were removed from their posts on Wednesday after an independent panel criticized the “grossly inadequate” security at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi that was attacked on Sept. 11, leading to the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, resigned. Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, and another official in the diplomatic security office whom officials would not identify were relieved of their duties. So was Raymond Maxwell, a deputy assistant secretary who had responsibility for the North Africa region. The four officials, a State Department spokeswoman said, “have been placed on administrative leave pending further action.”
The report by the independent panel has criticized officials in State’s bureau for Diplomatic Security displaying a “lack of proactive leadership.” It also said that some in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs “showed a lack of ownership of Benghazi’s security issues.”
The report did not criticize more senior officials, including Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary for management, who has vigorously defended the State Department’s decision-making on Benghazi to the Congress and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
At a news conference at the State Department on Wednesday, Thomas R. Pickering, a former ambassador who led the independent review, said that most of the blame should fall on officials in the two bureaus.
But that isn’t going to stop Republicans from trying to hang the blame around Hillary Clinton’s neck.
Sen. Bob Corker, R- Tenn., slated to be the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee in 2013, told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell Wednesday that Clinton “has to come before us. I think it’s imperative.” ‘
Corker and other members of Congress were given a classified briefing on the report and afterwards he insisted that Clinton must testify before she leaves her post and the Senate votes on confirmation of her successor.
The secretary was slated to attend briefings on the Hill this week but has been recovering from the flu and a concussion she suffered in a recent fainting episode.
Of course the right wing conspiracy nuts are accusing Clinton of faking her illness. And in the House:
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the unclassified version of the report “omits important information the public has a right to know. This includes details about the perpetrators of the attack in Libya as well as the less-than-noble reasons contributing to State Department decisions to deny security resources.”
He also said, “In light of the report, I am concerned that the carefully vetted testimony of senior State Department officials at the October hearing was part of an intentional effort to mislead the American people.”
Hey Darrell, have you hot-wired any cars or burned down any businesses lately?
While Pentagon officials struggle to figure out how to protect foreign outposts without using Blackwater-type hired guns, they are dealing with a worldwide Military day care abuse scandal.
The Defense Department has launched a worldwide investigation into hiring practices at military child-care centers after a criminal probe of employees at an Army base near the Pentagon sparked a review that found more than 30 staffers who officials say should have been barred from contact with children.
Two civilian employees at the Child Development Center at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall appeared in federal court Wednesday in Alexandria to face charges of assaulting 2-year-olds in their care.
The president immediately urged a thorough investigation and a “zero tolerance policy when it comes to protecting the children of service members from abuse.”
Two workers at the day-care center at the base known as Fort Myer were recorded by surveillance cameras dragging, pinching, kneeing and taunting toddlers, according to federal court records. The center is the military’s largest day-care center, with more than 400 children ranging from 6 weeks to 12 years old. It is used by Pentagon employees and other service members in the Washington area.
A personnel review at Fort Myer began in the fall after a parent complained about an allegedly abusive caregiver.
The inquiry turned up evidence that at least 31 staffers had potentially disqualifying factors in their records, including history of drug use and past allegations of assault, a U.S. official familiar with the investigation said. The staffers have been suspended.
“This is not just one or two or three people,” the official said Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of an ongoing inquiry. “This is a severe lapse in the background checks system.”
In police state news, two women in Texas are suing the Texas State Police for subjecting them to an “illegal roadside cavity search.”
A federal lawsuit filed by two Irving women claims that Texas State Troopers humiliated them by performing illegal cavity searches on the side of the road after a cigarette butt was thrown out of their car window.
State Trooper David Farrell called in a female trooper to perform cavity searches of Angel Dobbs, 38, and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley Dobbs, because he said that he smelled marijuana and the women were “acting weird,” attorney Scott Palmer told KTVT on Tuesday.
Angel Dobbs recalled that the female trooper, Kelley Helleson, asked for her permission to perform the search and then told her to “shut up and just listen.”
Dashcam video shows Helleson searching the anuses and vaginas of both women with the same latex gloves in full view of other passing cars.
“At this point, I’m in clear shock. I can’t even believe this is happening,” Angel Dobbs explained. Turns me around goes down into the front of my pants into my inner thigh and at which point she goes up with two fingers. I just look at her and say ‘oh my God, I’ve just been violated.’”
And then the trooper performed the same procedure on Ashley Dobbs without changing her gloves.
“She went down, then turned me around, and went down my front and then she actually dug,” Ashley Dobbs said. “I didn’t know what I could say, what I could do. I felt hopeless.”
Is it time for Texas to secede from the union and become part of Mexico (except for Austin, Ralph)? Nah, Mexico probably wouldn’t want to get involved.
The TSA is “Finally Investigating Cancer Risk of X-Ray Body Scanners” now that millions of Americans have been used as guinea pigs in the nation’s airports.
Following months of congressional pressure, the Transportation Security Administration has agreed to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to study the health effects of the agency’s X-ray body scanners. But it is unclear if the academy will conduct its own tests of the scanners or merely review previous studies.
The machines, known as backscatters, were installed in airports nationwide after the failed underwear bombing on Christmas Day 2009 to screen passengers for explosives and other nonmetallic weapons. But they have been criticized by some prominent scientists because they expose the public to a small amount of ionizing radiation, a form of energy that can cause cancer.
The scanners were the subject of a 2011 ProPublica series, which found that the TSA had glossed over the small cancer risk posed by even low doses of radiation. The stories also showed that the United States was almost alone in the world in X-raying passengers and that the Food and Drug Administration had gone against its own advisory panel, which recommended the agency set a federal safety standard for security X-rays.
The TSA maintains that the backscatters are safe and that they emit a low dose of X-rays equivalent to the radiation a passenger would receive in two minutes of flying at typical cruising altitude.
Winter has arrived in the Midwest: Outages in Iowa as season’s first blizzard starts journey in the Plains.
(CNN) — Tens of thousands of people lost power in Iowa on Thursday as the first major storm of the season swept in, bringing blizzards, high winds and severe thunderstorms to the central United States.
The storm prompted the National Weather Service to issue a blizzard warning for a huge swath of the Midwest stretching from eastern Colorado to Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shoreline, including virtually all of Iowa.
The declaration warned of snow accumulations of up to 12 inches, complemented by 25- to 35-mph winds that will occasionally gust to 45 to 50 mph.
The storm will race into western Illinois, the weather service said. Rain will quickly change to snow as the storm advances northeast, with the heaviest snow occurring overnight.
“Snow drifts several feet deep will be possible given the strong winds,” the blizzard warning states.
Wrapping around the blizzard warning on the north, south and east is a winter storm warning, which will be no picnic either. The winds won’t be quite as strong, but residents should expect a strong dose of rain, sleet and snow, with a few hail-packing thunderstorms thrown in for good measure.
Hmmm…what about my neck of the woods?
The “intense cyclone” will crawl across the Great Lakes region Thursday and slog into northern New England by Friday evening, the National Weather Service predicted.
Ugh…just what I needed.
I have three longer reads for you on the possible motivations behind mass shootings. I haven’t read any of these carefully yet, so I’m not sure if I’ll agree with the conclusions.
Scientific American is highlighting an article from 2007: Deadly Dreams: What Motivates School Shootings? The article focuses on the revenge fantasies of young shooters.
A Time article from July (written after the Aurora theater shootings) asks about “The Overwhelming Maleness of Mass Homicide.”
I’ll be reading these articles after I publish this post. Let me know what you think.
Finally, Senators Diane Feinstein and John McCain are “condemning” the new movie about the killing of Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty for falsely suggesting that torture led investigators to bin Laden’s hideout.
Now what are you reading and blogging about today?
The Romney campaign and the GOP appear to be rolling out an “October Surprise” in the leadup to to tomorrow night’s presidential debate.
On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Mitt Romney in which he supposedly proposed “A new course for the Middle East. Here’s the opening:
Disturbing developments are sweeping across the greater Middle East. In Syria, tens of thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has come to power, and the country’s peace treaty with Israel hangs in the balance. In Libya, our ambassador was murdered in a terrorist attack. U.S. embassies throughout the region have been stormed in violent protests. And in Iran, the ayatollahs continue to move full tilt toward nuclear-weapons capability, all the while promising to annihilate Israel….
Yet amid this upheaval, our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them. We’re not moving them in a direction that protects our people or our allies.
What follows is several paragraphs of criticism of President Obama’s policies as Romney interprets them. For example, Romney accuses the President of “allow[ing] or leadership to atrophy,” “misunderstanding our values,” and “thinks that weakness will win favor with our adversaries,” but provides no evidence for these claims.
The only “solutions” Romney puts forward are also vague. He argues that we must develop a “coherent strategy” of supporting our Middle Eastern allies and also “restore our credibility with Iran.” Based on Romney’s previous statements, he seems to be suggesting that somehow if he is President, the Iranians will be more terrified of him than weak, Carter-like Barack Obama.
It means placing no daylight between the United States and Israel. And it means using the full spectrum of our soft power to encourage liberty and opportunity for those who have for too long known only corruption and oppression. The dignity of work and the ability to steer the course of their lives are the best alternatives to extremism.
But this Middle East policy will be undermined unless we restore the three sinews of our influence: our economic strength, our military strength and the strength of our values. That will require a very different set of policies from those President Obama is pursuing.
Yesterday Craig Unger wrote that he had learned from an anonymous source that GOP operatives will
unleash a new two-pronged offensive that will attack Obama as weak on national security, and will be based, in part, on new intelligence information regarding the attacks in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens on Sept. 11.
The source, who has firsthand knowledge of private, high-level conversations in the Romney camp that took place in Washington, D.C., last week, said that at various times the GOP strategists referred to their new operation as the Jimmy Carter Strategy or the October Surprise.
He added that they planned to release what they hoped would be “a bombshell” that would make Libya and Obama’s foreign policy a major issue in the campaign. “My understanding is that they have come up with evidence that the Obama administration had positive intelligence that there was going to be a terrorist attack on the intelligence.”
The source described the Republicans as chortling with glee that the Obama administration “definitely had intel” about the attack before it happened. “Intelligence can be graded in different ways,” he added, “and sometimes A and B don’t get connected. But [the Romney campaign] will try to paint it to look like Obama had advance knowledge of the attack and is weak on terrorism.”
“Chortling with glee?” The apparent goal of all this GOP strategizing is to make Barack Obama look like Jimmy Carter circa 1980. Romney and Ryan have both been trying to do this for months, with little effect.
To be honest, I’m having a hard time taking all this too seriously, but today Reps. Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz of the House Committee on Oversight and Government claimed to have information to prove that:
Despite two explosions and dozens of other security threats, U.S. officials in Washington turned down repeated pleas from American diplomats in Libya to increase security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi where the U.S. ambassador was killed…
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton [read the full letter here (pdf), Chairman Darrell Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said their information came from “individuals with direct knowledge of events in Libya.”
Issa, R-Calif. and Chaffetz, R-Utah said the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months before Sept. 11.
The letter listed 13 incidents, but Chaffetz said in an interview there were more than 50. Two of them involved explosive devices: a June 6 blast that blew a hole in the security perimeter. The explosion was described to the committee as “big enough for forty men to go through”; and an April 6 incident where two Libyans who were fired by a security contactor threw a small explosive device over the consulate fence.
“A number of people felt helpless in pushing back” against the decision not to increase security and “were pleading with them to reconsider,” Chaffetz said. He added that frustrated whistleblowers were so upset with the decision that they were anxious to speak with the committee.
Issa and Chaffetz will hold a hearing on the issue next Wednesday, October 10.
Just a side note: Jason Chaffetz is a convert to Mormonism who attend BYU and is a Romney surrogate. He also spoke at the Republican Convention.
The Wall Street Journal fired another salvo today with another op-ed by Bret Stephens: Benghazi Was Obama’s 3 a.m. Call Here’s the concluding paragraph, which sums up the entire argument pretty well:
The U.S. ignores warnings of a parlous security situation in Benghazi. Nothing happens because nobody is really paying attention, especially in an election year, and because Libya is supposed to be a foreign-policy success. When something does happen, the administration’s concerns for the safety of Americans are subordinated to considerations of Libyan “sovereignty” and the need for “permission.” After the attack the administration blames a video, perhaps because it would be politically inconvenient to note that al Qaeda is far from defeated, and that we are no more popular under Mr. Obama than we were under George W. Bush. Denouncing the video also appeals to the administration’s reflexive habits of blaming America first. Once that story falls apart, it’s time to blame the intel munchkins and move on.
Jake Tapper also helped out by trying to get White House spokesman Jay Carney to comment on the charges from Issa and Chaffetz. Here’s the response:
Carney said that “embassy security is a matter that is in the purview of the State Department,” and noted that “Secretary Clinton instituted an accountability review that is underway as we speak” while the investigation of the attack itself is being conducted by the FBI.
The press secretary said that “from the moment our facility was attacked” the president has been focused on providing security to all diplomatic posts “and bringing the killers to justice.”
About the list of security issues, Carney said it was a “known fact that Libya is in transition” and that in the eastern part of Libya in particular there are militant groups and “a great number of armed individuals and militias.”
So I guess we can expect Romney to attack President Obama on the Libya issue during tomorrow night’s debate, no doubt accompanied by the famous Romney smirk. Obama should be prepared though, since the “October Surprise” has been so clearly spelled out by multiple media sources.
Is there more to it? Will it work? I kind of doubt it, because it’s clear from the polls that Romney has already destroyed his credibility with voters. But I could be wrong.
What do you think?
The last few days have been emotionally exhausting. I feel the need to avoid any links to the killings in Aurora today. In fact, I have just a few serious links for you this morning, the rest is just fluff.
Can you believe it has been a year: Norway remembers Utoeya and Oslo victims, one year on
I can’t link to any other articles about the Norway massacre…it is just too upsetting right now.
The fighting in Syria has moved on to Aleppo: Syrian Troops, Rebels Clash in Aleppo
Syrian government troops clashed with rebels for a second straight day in the northern city of Aleppo, as the intensifying conflict sent thousands of civilians from across the war-torn nation pouring into neighboring Lebanon and Iraq.
Activists described the fighting in Aleppo as some of the fiercest to date in Syria’s commercial hub and largest population center. The city has remained largely loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and had been spared the daily bloodshed that has plagued other areas.
And one more serious link before we get to the “humorous” stuff. Did you all hear about this one? Murdoch Quits News Corp Subsidiary Boards
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has stepped down as director of several subsidiary boards within his troubled News Corporation conglomerate, ahead of a planned company split.
A corporate statement said Murdoch stepped down as director of NI Group (formerly News International), Times Newspaper Holdings and News Corporation Investments. It linked the move to a recent announcement that the $53 billion media empire would separate its publishing and its media and entertainment businesses into two publicly traded companies.
Speculation has intensified in the last year that News Corporation could seek to sell its embattled British newspapers, in response to a phone hacking operation allegedly approved by senior editors at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid.
I wonder if the Koch Brothers would be interested?
Now, this first link is a serious story, and is not from The Onion. ‘Goat Man’ Spotted In Mountains Of Northern Utah (VIDEO)
Sorry, but I have to do this…Bwaaaahhhhh.
Douglass said a man hiking Sunday along Ben Lomond peak in the mountains above Ogden, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, spotted the person dressed like a goat among a herd of real goats. The person provided some blurry photographs to Douglass, who said they did not appear to have been altered.
Wildlife officials now just want to talk to the man so that he is aware of the dangers. There’s no telling what his intentions are, Douglass said, but it is believed he could just be an extreme wildlife enthusiast.
“People do some pretty out there things in the name of enjoying wildlife. But I’ve never had a report like this,” Douglass said. “There’s a saying we have among biologists – You don’t go far enough, you don’t get the data. You go too far, you don’t go home. The same is true with some wildlife enthusiasts.”
Douglass said 60 permits will be issued for goat hunting season in that area, which begins in September. He worries the goat man might be accidentally shot or could be attacked by a real goat.
And what about the guy who took the pictures?
Coty Creighton, 33, spotted the goat man Sunday during his hike. He said he came across the herd, but noticed something odd about one goat that was trailing behind the rest.
The man appeared to be acting like a goat while wearing the crudely made costume, which had fake horns and a cloth mask with cut-out eye holes, Creighton said.
“I thought, `What is this guy doing?’ ” Creighton said. “He was actually on his hands and knees. He was climbing over rocks and bushes and pretty rough terrain on a steep hillside.”
Creighton said the man occasionally pulled up his mask, apparently trying to navigate the rocky terrain. The man then appeared to spot Creighton.
“He just stopped in his tracks and froze,” he said.
Creighton moved down the mountain and hid behind a tree, then began snapping photographs.
The goat man then put his mask back on, Creighton said, got back down on his hands and knees and scurried to catch up with the herd.
“We were the only ones around for miles,” Creighton said. “It was real creepy.”
Okay, why do I get that scene from Woody Allen’s Everything you wanted to know about sex, but where afraid to ask? You know the one, with the sheep named Daisy?
Now that you have that image in your minds, lets move on to other things.
Take a look at this quick post: Darrell Issa Wants to Name Part of the Ocean After Ronald Reagan | Angry Black Lady Chronicles
This is downright asinine:
Issa reintroduced his bill Wednesday to rename the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which generally extends from three miles to 200 miles offshore, as the Ronald Wilson Reagan Exclusive Economic Zone.
Under the proposal, references to the EEZ in U.S. laws, regulations, maps and other documents would carry Reagan’s name.
The key word here is “reintroduced.” This is not the first time that Issa has tried to name the ocean after Reagan. Apparently, Issa has introduced similar bills in the past. I’d congratulate him on his persistence if he weren’t such a douchebag.
I swear, you would think this Reagan Zone news sounds like it should also be an Onion piece, but it isn’t. Why not name that big floating plastic trash island in the Pacific the Issa Zone, because Issa is just about as full of crap as that pile of garbage, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Okay, before I get to the cartoons, just a reminder. A couple of day’s after we lost Andy Griffith, we lost another fantastic actor. Ernest Borgnine, 1917-2012
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will remember the life and career of actor Ernest Borgnine on Thursday, July 26. Borgnine passed away Sunday, July 8th at the age of 95. TCM’s 24-hour memorial tribute is set to begin at 6 a.m. (ET) with Borgnine’s performance in The Catered Affair (1956). The tribute will include such essential Ernest Borgnine films as The Dirty Dozen (1967), From Here to Eternity (1953), and Bad Day at Black Rock (1955). Borgnine’s Academy Award-winning role as Marty (1955) will air at 9 p.m. (ET) and there will be two showings of Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine (2009) as the actor sits down for a lively one-on-one talk with TCM host Robert Osborne. The following is a complete schedule (all times Eastern):
6:00 a.m. – The Catered Affair
8:00 a.m. – The Legend of Lylah Clare
10:30 a.m. – Pay or Die
12:30 p.m. – Torpedo Run
2:30 p.m. – Ice Station Zebra
5:15 p.m. – The Dirty Dozen
8:00 p.m. – Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine
9:00 p.m. – Marty
10:45 p.m. – From Here to Eternity
1:00 a.m. – The Wild Bunch
3:30 a.m. – Bad Day at Black Rock
5:00 a.m. – Private Screenings: Ernest Borgnine
There is a very good article about Borgnine at that link, please give it read.
I will end today’s reads with a few cartoons:
I don’t know about you all, but I feel like I could hide in my room all day long… Enjoy your Sunday, hopefully everyone can relax and take it easy today.