The State Department’s Victoria Nuland’s briefing with reporters shows how careful she must be. Those who want to watch the video of her briefing can view it here. Take the killling of a Yemeni security agent employed by the Embassy. Even though the New York Times reports that “a senior Yemeni officer working in the United States Embassy in Sana was killed here in the capital on Thursday in an attack that security sources said bore the hallmarks of the regional franchise of al-Qaeda” Nuland had to make the following statement.
QUESTION: Does that mean that you don’t know if he was targeted because he was an employee? This could have been – as far as you know, this could have been just a random act of crime – criminality?
MS. NULAND: It could – he could have been killed for reasons that had something to do with his job or reasons that had nothing to do with his job.
The carefulness was evident elsewhere. In an extraordinary exchange Ms. Nuland was asked by reporters why even though the State Department knew or strongly suspected that the attack on the Benghazi consulate was planned from the first they deferred to higher authorities who insisted a video might have something to do with it.
QUESTION: And yet Under Secretary Kennedy and other people in this building knew, or felt in their opinion, that that was not correct, and that this was –
MS. NULAND: I’m not going to get into the personal feelings of anybody. I’m simply going to say that in making public statements, one depends on the totality of what the Administration knows.
QUESTION: But you didn’t. You never said that.
MS. NULAND: Look, I’m generally dumber than most of the rest of the government. I mean, that’s what I’m paid to be. (Laughter.)
She is paid to take the heat. Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post goes into detail about who else is taking the bullet so that the rest can skate.
The Romney campaign put out a statement by former CIA director Michael Hayden and former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff that read: “During the Vice Presidential debate, we were disappointed to see Vice President Biden blame the intelligence community for the inconsistent and shifting response of the Obama Administration to the terrorist attacks in Benghazi. Given what has emerged publicly about the intelligence available before, during, and after the September 11 attack, it is clear that any failure was not on the part of the intelligence community, but on the part of White House decision-makers who should have listened to, and acted on, available intelligence. Blaming those who put their lives on the line is not the kind of leadership this country needs.”
In fact, Corker explained that the U.S. government had information for some time about the internal security breakdown in Libya. He noted that Foreign Relations Committee had hearings in which the Libyan security situation was referenced. But the administration, Corker believes, still clung to the story that Libya was doing just fine. He said, “That narrative is the reason you are seeing the administration acting the way it is.”
They may have known the truth for some time, but all the same the administration itself is still examining the evidence before jumping to any conclusions, including video from an overhead drone.
The Obama administration has been studying the videos, taken from closed-circuit cameras throughout the Benghazi consulate’s four-building compound, for clues about who was responsible for the attack and how it played out. The two officials tell The Daily Beast that analysts are hoping to decipher the faces of the attackers and match them up with known jihadists …
In addition to the footage from the consulate cameras, the U.S. government is also poring over video taken from an overhead U.S. surveillance drone that arrived for the final hour of the night battle at the consulate compound and nearby annex.
Meanwhile Lee Smith writing in Tablet innocuously asks: “Will Jordan Be Next to Fall?” If it does we will no doubt hear about it eventually after the administration has finished examining drone footage of the event. Smith writes:
Should King Abdullah II become the next Arab ruler to fall as part of the upheavals that have swept through the region now for almost two years, it will mark another major setback for the United States in the region. For Israel it’s significantly worse news. Jerusalem would lose its remaining strategic partner in the region—having already lost Turkey and Egypt—and face a possible nightmare on its longest border, exposing the country’s center to attacks from the east that might include Sunni Jihadists or Iranian-trained Iraqi agents …
Over the last two years, the Arab uprisings have posed a number of vital questions for Washington and its allies. Where should the United States step in to intervene, and on whose side? What governments and movements should we engage, and which should we isolate or punish? The reality is that there’s little the United States can do at this point to protect one of its most steadfast allies in the region. Perhaps Abdullah will prove creative enough to exploit the weaknesses of the growing protest movement, or broker a new national identity that finally binds the East Bankers and Palestinians together and leaves him on the throne. If not, American policymakers will again be scrambling for answers—and Israeli leaders may find yet another border in trouble.
The fall of Egypt, the loss of Jordan, the give-away of Iraq, Hezbollah flying in drones from Lebanon, chaos in Syria — why Israel is pretty much surrounded — what could go wrong? For sure some people think the effects will never be felt in Ohio. And even if oil becomes scarce — so what? Buy a Nissan Leaf. Buy a Chevy Volt. They run on electricity.
Don’t worry we’re in the best of hands. What it really comes down to is the need to maintain the narrative that “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive”. At least until election day
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