The Politics of Grave Dancing: Issa and Romney

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.


We’ve heard many times over now that  CIA information was the basis of Susan Rice’s discussions with the press.  CIA documents back this up.

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.

64 Comments on “The Politics of Grave Dancing: Issa and Romney”

  1. roofingbird says:

    29 people who may be spies hanging out at the Consulate? What’s that about? Why aren’t they out spying?

    • dakinikat says:

      I dunno the entire thing appears weird. I was listening to NPR yesterday and the guy that supposedly did a lot of this is wandering around Benghazi freely and the FBI are hiding out in Cairo too. It’s weird. But from what I hear, Libya is basic anarchy and without the militias, there would be chaos. It’s basically neighborhood governments and that’s it at the moment. There’s a total vacuum there.

    • RalphB says:

      Most of those 29 people were at the Annex (CIA base) and not at the consulate. Most of them also never took part in the fighting, if the tick tock given by State is correct and I believe it. Only a few came from the annex to the consulate to help get people out.

  2. RalphB says:

    The useless puppet media is going to publish and push every dumb ass question asked by right wing congressmen. This is getting really stupid now.

    CBS: Could U.S. military have helped during Libya attack?

    (CBS News) The closer we get to the election, the harder Republicans in Congress are pushing for answers to a big question: What really happened in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya last month that killed the U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans?

    Some lawmakers are asking why U.S. military help from outside Libya didn’t arrive as terrorists battered more than 30 Americans over the course of more than seven hours. The assault was launched by an armed mob of dozens that torched buildings and used rocket propelled grenades, mortars and AK-47 rifles.

    CBS News has been told that, hours after the attack began, an unmanned Predator drone was sent over the U.S. mission in Benghazi, and that the drone and other reconnaissance aircraft apparently observed the final hours of the protracted battle.

    The State Department, White House and Pentagon declined to say what military options were available. A White House official told CBS News that, at the start of the attack, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “looked at available options, and the ones we exercised had our military forces arrive in less than 24 hours, well ahead of timelines laid out in established policies.”

    But it was too late to help the Americans in Benghazi. The ambassador and three others were dead.

    A White House official told CBS News that a “small group of reinforcements” was sent from Tripoli to Benghazi, but declined to say how many or what time they arrived.

    By the way, questions about that “small group of reinforcements” are answered in the tick tock given to the House committee already, Fucking dumb asses don’t even read published reports.

    • dakinikat says:

      I thought the right wing didn’t want the US military there or was that so last year?

      • RalphB says:

        Can’t expect consistency. It’s all about muddying the waters enough that some charge can sound plausible. Doesn’t matter what charge, any will do so long as Romney benefits.

      • RalphB says:

        The ideal would be to put the administration into the position of not being able to answer questions without giving up classified information. Then they’re trapped looking like they are trying to cover up something, anything and the republicans can hammer away.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Some of the commenters at the Foreign Policy link say that the documents were labeled “sensitive but not classified.” That apparently means they still aren’t supposed to be transmitted over the internet.

      • bostonboomer says:

        McCain and Graham wanted troops on the ground.

      • Fannie says:

        Has Libya asked for troops on the ground? Didn’t think so.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m really getting sick of the corporate media just regurgitating the Republican narrative and not doing any actual reporting.

      • RalphB says:

        That’s my problem. The assholes are publishing right wing questions and the answers are already largely available but they’re too damn lazy to check on their own.

      • Fannie says:

        That’s it, they have been sleeping on the freaking job for I don’t know how long.

    • RalphB says:

      Kevin Drum does a little Q&A on Benghazi, not that it will matter at all.

      MoJo: Cutting Through the Fog on Benghazi: A Brief Q&A

      • Fannie says:

        Jasus, it is looking like there is NOTHING There………………………nothing like the republicans using strobe lights and fog machines all over the globe.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I just read that. Not good for Romney, not good at all. LOL

    • Fannie says:

      Don’t tell the fucking republicans or the fucking media, they don’t/won’t pay attention to the fact that this has been in works for some time, and that the sanctions are having an effect. You gotta get that red marker out.

  3. Fannie says:

    This is really long but a must read – it tightens the tourniquet so to speak news/2012/10/18/145164969-US-nonprofit-names-and-shames-business-to-put-bite-into-iran-sanctions

  4. bostonboomer says:

    According to the post by Emptywheel, not only were the security requests for the Tripoli Embassy only, most of the incidents flagged by Issa took place in Tripoli. They don’t even have a leg to stand on! Yet the media keeps harping on when and where Obama used the word “terror.”

    PDF 47: One of the reasons Tripoli (not Benghazi) needed more security is because there were so many VIP visits. Of course, as part of this witch hunt, Jason Chaffetz did a short-notice trip to Tripoli (he did not travel to Benghazi, which raises questions about the value of his trip). So this witch hunt, in addition to being led by people who cut Diplomatic Security, creating the budgetary stresses underlying this, also added to the stresses of VIP visits.


    PDF 102: Issa presumably counted each of these security incidents when giving the big numbers showing poor security in Libya. As was noted in the hearing, the majority of these incidents actually happened in Tripoli, not in Benghazi. But there’s another problem: they were also counting things like strikes by workers or clashes with drug gangs. Using Issa’s standards, then, we need military security in the US.

    • RalphB says:

      That’s what I noticed as well. It’s a complete witch hunt and they got nothing! All they have is lazy, stupid, compliant media which will publish any crap someone gives them from the right wing.

  5. janicen says:

    At the very least, Issa should be charged with releasing classified information but I’d rather see him tried for treason.

  6. If you get a chance to read the book 500 days, it is an eye opener…I have to read it bits at a time because it gets me so mad.

    • janicen says:

      Thank you for reminding me. I’m going to download it now so I don’t forget.

      • It is amazing when you see just how manipulative Cheney and his crew were…as well as the rest of the assholes in that administration. I’m in no way giving Bush a pass here, but damn…some of the way things got manhandled and mishandled is very disturbing.

  7. pdgrey says:

    What great links, I missed two, had to catch up, thanksfor the hard work. Might have to work tonight, not sure so let me just jump in. I think the important thing to know going into the debate is Romney is going to double down on Benghazi, the reporter that covered President Filmore is the moderator best friend of the Bushies. If Obama could turn the charge against him, to the harm Romney and Issa has caused will be the only escape, as i see it. The investigation is not over, trying to run a time line about what happened is impossible in the amount of time he will be given. It is my view, that he wasted an opportunity on Jon Stewart. Maybe it was a strategy not to “show your hand” before the debate, giving him the benefit of doubt. But I think it was a mistake.
    I am also upset the left leaning sights today ( salon one of the worst), very bad, not investigated columns. I still say the Ingatius column it closer to the truth and the most important. (I keep clicking to it to give it more hits). It up to # 2 on the Washington Post, I’m sure i did that, 🙂

    As a special request, people who can link to the new York Times articles, i can read it when someone here links to it. So would someone link Nate every day? 🙂

  8. bostonboomer says:

    John Kerry responds to Issa’s info dump:

    Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) criticized House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R- Calif.) for releasing 166 pages of “sensitive but unclassified” State Department cables that contained the names of Libyans working within the United States.

    “This is irresponsible and inexcusable, and perhaps worst of all it was entirely avoidable,” Kerry said. “It is profoundly against America’s interests in a difficult region.”

    Full statement at the link.

    • HT says:

      Is Issa for real? People actually vote for this person? This is not his first major train wreck.

    • HT says:

      I can believe it, after all that has happened in the past few years, the richest people are the sleeziest.

    • Fannie says:

      Issa and the entire committee knows exactly what happens to women who are exposed, for starters they become rape victims, and they are killed.

  9. pdgrey says:

    Here is another pet peeve of mine Mormons.
    Don’t get me wrong I could care less about Romney’s personal religious beliefs.

  10. pdgrey says:

    I had a few minutes left before I leave and checked TPM, Romnesia. See ya later!