More, “Anything But Islam!”
With minutes to go before the BBC News at Six I was told by a senior Whitehall source that the incident was being treated as a suspected terrorist incident and being taken very seriously indeed. This information changed the news from a crime story to something of more significance. The police had, I was told, described the attackers as being “of Muslim appearance” and shouting “Allahu Akbar”. On air I directly quoted a senior Whitehall source saying that the police had used that description.
That phrase “of Muslim appearance” clearly offended some who demanded to know what it could possibly mean. Others were concerned that it was a racist generalisation.
My report and the quotation were picked up by many other news organisations as evidence that this was a terror attack. The reports of eye witnesses and the video of the attacker demonstrated that the attack had been carried out by those claiming to be retaliating because “Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers”.
Despite this and the fact that I was directly quoting a source I’m sorry for using a phrase that, on reflection, was both liable to be misinterpreted and to cause offence. Many Muslims were quick to condemn the attack and to distance themselves and their religion from the brutal savagery seen on the streets of Woolwich.
This is another example of the rules of the game. Even when discussing the Muslim angle to terrorism, one must be apologetic about it.
I would love to see a quantification of “many Muslims” as it is difficult to remember any time when there was a vociferous condemnation by the supposedly overwhelming moderate Muslim population. I’m not suggesting they don’t exist, I’m stating that they don’t protest loudly enough.
Because they’re afraid they will get killed.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he won’t be apologizing to UN Ambassador Susan Rice as the White House has suggested he and other Republicans should do.
“Not only does she not deserve an apology from me or anybody else for the way she misled the American people, she deserves to be subpoenaed by the Congress and have to give answers to hard questions, something she’s never had to do before,” the senator said last night on Fox. “She should apologize to Greg Hicks, the number two in Tripoli, the number two guy, second behind Chris Stevens, who said, I quote, ‘When I heard her testimony my jaw dropped, my heart stopped, and I’ve never been more embarrassed.’”
Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to President Obama, said Sunday on ABC’s This Week that the Benghazi emails “absolutely do show, beyond a shadow of the doubt is that the Republican allegation that the White House, the State Department, someone else changed the CIA’s assessment for political reasons.”
“Frankly, I think that many of the Republicans who have been talking about this, now that they have seen the e-mails owe Ambassador Rice an apology for the things they said about her in the wake of the attack,” Pfeiffer added.
Graham said Pfeiffer “is just on a different planet.”
“I guess he thinks everybody in the country is stupid. Was she an empty vessel that they could pour misinformation through? She was chosen because she was the most politically compliant person. She just didn’t say this was caused by a video, a spontaneous event. She said, well, we obviously did have a strong security presence. She said there was a significant security presence defending our consulate and our facility in Benghazi, and that did not prove sufficient to the moment,” he said.
“Did anybody in any talking point suggest the embassy, consulate, was strongly, significantly, and substantially secured? She was blowing political smoke. She was selling for the president. She said, let me remind you, Al Qaeda is decimated, bin Laden is dead. She was trying to create a narrative seven weeks before the election that the consulate was strongly secured and the president was a strong leader on the war on terror.”
Graham said he was convinced in early briefings with Rice that she “was completely misrepresenting the facts.”
“If she looked at the classified information behind the talking points, she could have suggested to anyone on the planet this was caused by video and spontaneous in nature. All of the information coming from Libya. There’s 100 pounds of information suggesting a coordinated Al Qaeda-sponsored terrorist attack, and one ounce suggesting a protest, and they picked the ounce,” he said.
“Don’t lose sight of the fact that they story she told on behalf of President Obama and the administration was the best story they could tell seven weeks before election, totally disconnected from the facts. And she could be apologizing to Greg Hicks, to all the families involved, and she should be subpoenaed.”
Rice is still considered a top pick for Obama’s next national security adviser, which requires no Senate confirmation.
Al-Shabaab is taking issue with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that the horrific cleaver attack on a Brit by men wanting their actions to be filmed wasn’t a representation of Islam.
The Metropolitan Police and the Ministry of Defence confirmed today that the victim was a serving soldier. In line with the wishes of his family his identity will not be released at this stage, the UK government said.
Michael Adebolajo, 28, the man wielding a bloody knife and cleaver in the now infamous video of the attack, reportedly was raised Christian but became “obsessed” with Islam as a teenager, the Daily Mail reports.
“Britain works with our international partners to make the world safe from terrorism, terrorism that has taken more Muslim lives than any other religion,” Cameron said yesterday. It is an utter perversion of the truth to pretend anything different. That is why there is absolutely no justification for these acts and the fault for them lies solely and purely with the sickening individuals who carried out this appalling attack.”
Cameron called the “shocking” attack “not just an attack on Britain” but “also a betrayal of Islam – and of the Muslim communities who are give so much to our country.”
“There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act,” he said.
Al-Qaeada-linked Somali terror group Al-Shabaab disagreed with that in a series of tweets from its official media arm this morning.
What Cameron describes as a “sickening” attack is what innocent Muslim woman and children are subjected to every day by #British troops
— HSMPress (@HSMPRESS1) May 23, 2013
It is not a “betrayal” of Islam as he’d put it but rather a “portrayal” of Islam. Don’t expect Muslims to simply turn the other cheek! — HSMPress (@HSMPRESS1) May 23, 2013
It’s a timely reminder to the repugnant lot at No.10 that Muslims are fully conscious of their heinous atrocities against Islam and Muslims — HSMPress (@HSMPRESS1) May 23, 2013
The death of the wretched Kafir is insignificant compared to the deaths of hundreds of innocent Muslims at the hands of British soldiers
— HSMPress (@HSMPRESS1) May 23, 2013
Toulouse, Boston, Woolwich…Where next?You just have to grin and bear it, it’s inevitable. A case of the chickens coming home to roost!
— HSMPress (@HSMPRESS1) May 23, 2013
It’s the same pattern with the leftist apologists after every attack: talk about anything but the fact that yet another gruesome murder was committed in the name of Islam. Why be outraged that some terrorist psycho is beheading people when you can get your feelings hurt by Sean and Michelle?
The media and leaders who refuse to acknowledge and condemn radical Islam each time something like this happens become more and more complicit in these horrors as they occur. The danger isn’t just Islamic terrorism, it’s the political correctness that allows it to continue.
Hey, keep throwing stuff at the wall and something is bound to stick.
The Obama administration is set to restart transfers of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, U.S. officials said, kick-starting a long-stalled drive to close the prison.
In a speech Thursday, President Barack Obama will reassert his case that closing Guantanamo is crucial to U.S. counterterrorism goals. While he isn’t planning to detail how to speed up transfers from the prison, officials said the president in coming weeks plans to lift the administration’s prohibition on sending detainees to Yemen.
The president also is set to lay down the broader outlines of his administration’s approach to efforts to fight al Qaeda and its affiliates, including through the use of unmanned aircraft strikes.
Gone are the halcyon post-inauguration days when the breathless sycophants in the media were sure both comprehensive gun-grabbing and immigration would be done deals or well on their way to happening by now. The Court of the Idiot King is scandal plagued and in disarray so why not dig deep for an old favorite to throw at the faithful?
Maybe he can fire up the old “policies of the previous administration” line too, since that is always a hit at the Low Info dance.
A man thought to be a British soldier has been killed by Islamist terrorists in a horrific attack in broad daylight in a London street. Two men ran the victim over with a car before hacking him to death with knives and a machete, while shouting “Allahu Akbar.”
The attackers apparently filmed themselves carrying out the killing, and invited stunned bystanders to take photos and video of them posing beside their victim. Video has been aired on ITV news of one of the attackers brandishing a blood-stained machete and shouting at bystanders, as onlookers tried to help the slain man. He’s heard saying “I apologize that women had to witness this today, but in our lands women have to see the same.” Judging by the accent of the man speaking in the video, he’s either British born or has spent some years in the country, making it likely that the terrorists were “home-grown,” rather than from outside the country.
Other news outlets have reported that one of the men said, “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.”
When armed police arrived on the scene (British police officers are not routinely armed), the attackers confronted them with knives a handgun, and both were shot and wounded. They’re now under guard at London hospitals, and it’s not known at this stage whether they acted alone or are part of a larger plot; however, it’s clear that they had no fear of being killed or captured, and may well have intended to be “martyred.”
The attack took place in Woolwich in south-east London at 2.20 p.m. local time. The victim is believed to be a soldier based at the nearby Woolwich barracks, home to elements of the Royal Artillery; he was wearing a T-shirt from the charity Help for Heroes, which raises money for injured British soldiers.
One witness told a London radio station: “These two guys were crazed. They were just animals. They dragged him from the pavement and dumped his body in the middle of the road and left his body there.”
Benghazi Suspects ID’d, But Administration Won’t Nab Them Because It Doesn’t Want to Send Them to Gitmo
Despite the fact that the Obama administration regularly strike at terrorists with lethal drone hits in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the White House is reportedly not rounding up five suspects identified in the Benghazi attack because of a lack of evidence to try them in civilian court.
The Associated Press cites officials who said there is enough evidence to seize the men as enemy combatants and send them to Guantanamo Bay.
But apparently the Obama administration wants civilian trials for anyone involved in the Benghazi attack and has sent the FBI back to collect more evidence, which could be challenging in a more tumultuous Libya today.
From the AP:
The decision not to seize the men militarily underscores the White House aim to move away from hunting terrorists as enemy combatants and holding them at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The preference is toward a process in which most are apprehended and tried by the countries where they are living or arrested by the U.S. with the host country’s cooperation and tried in the U.S. criminal justice system. Using military force to detain the men might also harm fledgling relations with Libya and other post-Arab-Spring governments with whom the U.S. is trying to build partnerships to hunt al-Qaida as the organization expands throughout the region.
A senior administration official said the FBI has identified a number of individuals that it believes have information or may have been involved, and is considering options to bring those responsible to justice. But taking action in remote eastern Libya would be difficult. America’s relationship with Libya would be weighed as part of those options, the official said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the effort publicly.
…The FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies identified the men through contacts in Libya and by monitoring their communications. They are thought to be members of Ansar al-Shariah, the Libyan militia group whose fighters were seen near the U.S. diplomatic facility prior to the violence.
In March, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) estimated that drone strikes have killed about 4,700, including some senior members of al-Qaeda.
Two-and-a-half years after a shooting spree that left 13 dead at Fort Hood, it looks like Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan is finally going to go to trial.
Hasan’s pretrial hearings were held up when he grew a beard that he refused to shave. A military judge ordered that he be forcibly shaved to be in regulation, but an appeals court overturned the order and tossed the judge off the case.
In December, the new judge presiding over Hasan’s trial said he would be allowed to keep the beard.
The previous judge, Col. Gregory Gross, found Hasan in contempt of court half a dozen times over the beard.
The next pretrial hearing for Hasan is set for May 29 at the Lawrence J. Williams Judicial Center at Fort Hood, Texas.
Panel selection of the individuals who serve as a jury during military proceedings will begin May 30, and the trial is set for July 1.
Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are still trying to get the Defense Department to recognize the massacre as an act of terror instead of “workplace violence,” which would qualify the victims for Purple Hearts and enable survivors to be eligible for certain benefits and treatment.
Reps. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), Frank Wolf (R-Va.), and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) slammed the “political sensitivities” that have kept the attack from being recognized as an act of terror in a letter sent to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week.
Victims, the members said, have “revealed claims of mistreatment by the Army” in meeting with the lawmakers, including “repeated denials and delays of medical treatment for individuals with physical injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury; denials of retirement benefits; and overall negligence and disregard.”
“When members of our military and DoD civilians are brutally attacked – whether at home or abroad, by a ‘lone wolf’ or by a ‘card-carrying member’ of a designated terrorist organization – it is our responsibility to provide adequate oversight over DoD and the Army’s policies and decisions, both before and after such an attack,” Rooney, Fattah and Wolf wrote.
“The Army’s preferential treatment of Major Hasan – notwithstanding his open extremism and support for religious violence – and the FBI’s refusal to interview Hasan or notify his superiors of his multiple communications with the notorious terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki, apparently because of political sensitivities in the Washington Field Office, led to the Fort Hood attack. Frankly, we are deeply concerned that the same considerations of ‘political correctness’ that caused the horrible toll of deaths and injuries at Fort Hood have also informed the Army’s decision to deem his attack an act of ‘workplace violence.’”
On Monday May 6th the following question was posted on The Blaze, linked to Buzzfeed’s report from Reuters:
Did Obama Cry While Answering Benghazi Questions During Press Conference?
Buzzfeed reported Reuters’ description of the same photo taken by its photographer, Jim Bourg, referencing the moisture on the president’s cheek as a “tear” that came while he answered press questions about Benghazi.
“A tear runs down the face of President Barack Obama as he answers questions about the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington,” Reuters’ description read.
So now you know why the above photo is deemed “worthy” of a Tatler Caption Contest along with loyal contest participants specifically asking for this photo be a contest subject.
I am not going to fault President Obama for showing emotion about the Benghazi incident which resulted in the loss of four Americans. But I do have doubts that it was the real reason for the tear Obama shed eight months after the attack while hosting a joint White House press conference with the British Prime Minister.
Since Benghazi “happened a long time ago” (as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney recently stated) than what else could spark such emotion in our normally “kool” president?
The answer is simple, “It’s the legacy stupid!”
President Obama’s teardrop fell the moment he realized he had lost control over the shaping of his legacy. This explanation is possible because it is well known that Obama’s legacy is very important to him.
In fact, he planned on spending his entire second-term passing and implementing such legacy issues as health care, gun control, and immigration reform.
Then on Monday evening after the tearful press conference, Obama flew off to a star-studded New York City fundraiser hosted by Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein. There, Obama made a statement no president has ever felt the need to make. While reflecting on his second term, he said, “I sure want to do some governing.”
But when is there time for “governing” when his schedule is crowded with fundraising, campaigning, travel, parties, golf and vacations?
And with all the scandals currently engulfing him, even less time will be left for “governing.” (Many readers are cheering this.)
Even more damaging is Obama can not escape the dreaded “N” word he is being associated with on a daily basis, even from his former cheerleaders in the media!
Nixon’s legacy was certainly not the one Obama planned on emulating since his Messianic presidency began with all those lofty comparisons to Lincoln, FDR, and even the real Messiah.
But enough of my theories. Now it’s time for PJ Media readers to weigh in by either writing a caption or explaining the teardrop from the “kool guy.”
Please remember our rules, “be nice and stay classy because the media is watching.” (And obeying these rules might keep you from getting audited.)
Here again are the winners from our last contest (and only a few of them have been audited so far.)
Good luck and please note that using the “N” word (Nixon) in your caption means your entry will automatically be singled out for special attention by the IRS and yours truly!
Thanks to all who entered our latest and very successful, Photo Caption Contest.
It appears that most entries fell into three distinct categories.
1. Making fun of Hillary’s 2016 run for the White House.
2. Making fun of both Clinton’s past statements.
3. Comments on Hillary’s looks or age.
I fully expect this topic trifecta to be further exploited as 2016 approaches. (However, we must be sensitive writing about Hillary’s looks and age because I too am a middle-aged woman, as are your wives or mothers.)
Due to the fact that there were so many clever entries, choosing a winner(s) was exceptionally difficult. But here goes…..
The Grand Prize of priceless PR is awarded to one of our “Caption Kings,” Chris Henderson with this stinging Tazer-like entry:
“Islamists did not have terrorist relations with that Consulate!”
Note: Official Announcement Alert
Since Chris Henderson has won this Grand Prize, along with numerous recent contest wins, means that he has officially dethroned cfbleachers as the reining Caption King of Kings. (Oh no, did I just start a vicious Caption King war?) Please remember that cfbleachers is STILL a royal Caption King along with RockThisTown, but King Henderson’s throne is positioned just a tad higher at this moment.
Here are King Henderson’s Honorable Mention captions:
“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘difference’ is!”
“It’s not like it was sniper fire in Bosnia or anything!”
“How dare Ambassador Stevens die at the hands of peaceful Islamic non-terrorists and disrupt my megalomaniacal presidential plans!”
Hillary orders the media to Stand Down on their reporting of Benghazi.
Close on Henderson’s tail were these two entries from cfbleachers: (Who I sense is now planning a clever, but forceful verbal assault against me and King Henderson.)
What does Hillary wear to a Congressional tantrum? Depends.
A scene from Shaming of the True.
RockThisTown deserves some kudos for these Honorable Mentions:
It Takes a Villain. (This was my husband’s favorite caption and now he repeats it every time he sees Hillary on TV.)
“I should be getting a facelift in preparation for 2016 instead of wasting my time here with you!”
“Can’t you see I’m having a bad hair day!”
Now for the rest of the Honorable Mentions.
DON’T YOU GET IT? MY FUTURE IS ON THE LINE HERE?
PRETEND IT DOESN’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE, DAMMIT!
This doesn’t matter, It’s my turn, I’m supposed to be President!
Two from CrankyYankee:
“I’ve baked this story for 7 months, and you will eat and like it!”
“I Can’t Handle The Truth!”
“This is about me and my career and I’m not letting four dead guys screw it up!”
It depends on what the meaning of “it” is!
Thanks again to all who entered and see you next time a photo is worthy of a Tatler Photo Caption Contest!
And remember, “Fighting is encouraged in the royal court of the Caption Kings.”
Former UN Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who led the State Department’s Accountability Review Board investigating the Benghazi attack, said his interest is piqued by new information in the case but in the same breath said he’s seen nothing to alter his conclusions.
When asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer yesterday what he might have done differently in the review, Pickering called it “a very interesting question.”
“I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective,” he added.
“What I have been hearing is the promises of new startling developments. What I have been seeing is some of the questions we have reviewed. I’m very open to the idea that nobody can do in two months the absolutely perfect job, that nothing new will arise,” Pickering said.
“So far, I have, with all honesty, not seen any development related to the report and the mandated scope, which is in the law of that report, essentially, the security focus of the report, that would cause me to change my view on the conclusions we reached or the recommendations we made.”
When asked why then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was never interviewed on the report, Pickering said “we felt we had fully developed the answer to the question of where the decisions were made, where the failures and performance had taken place, where those decisions were reviewed.”
“And they did not touch on her,” he added.
“Now, with hindsight, don’t you think it would have been important to ask her about that conversation and other decisions she made that night? Because she was intimately involved,” Blitzer asked.
“We did. We did. We interviewed the senior staff members…”
Another scandal dropped on the Obama administration today as the Associated Press revealed a “massive and unprecedented” grab of phone records from the news wire by the Justice Department.
The AP reported that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors dated April and May 2012, including incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery.
AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt fired off a letter of protest to Attorney General Eric Holder today demanding the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” Pruitt said.
The DoJ notified the AP on Friday but included no explanation for the seizure.
It included phone numbers for five reporters and an editor who were involved in this May 7, 2012, story on the thwarting of a new underwear bombing plot.
The plot was significant because the White House had told the public it had “no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, are plotting attacks in the U.S. to coincide with the (May 2) anniversary of bin Laden’s death,” the AP noted today.
UPDATE: White House press secretary Jay Carney, traveling on a fundraising swing through New York with President Obama, remarks to the White House press pool: “Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the AP. We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department. Any questions about an ongoing criminal investigation should be directed to the Department of Justice.”
UPDATE: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) weighs in: “This is obviously disturbing. Coming within a week of revelations that the White House lied to the American people about the Benghazi attacks and the IRS targeted conservative Americans for their political beliefs, Americans should take notice that top Obama Administration officials increasingly see themselves as above the law and emboldened by the belief that they don’t have to answer to anyone. I will work with my fellow House Chairmen on an appropriate response to Obama Administration officials.”
Last week my husband and I were back in our hometown of Washington D.C. where we both had business and events to attend. Normally I do not write about my personal travel adventures but this trip had a rather unique “historical time capsule” element that makes it worth recanting.
My husband, a retired State Department Foreign Service officer is now an executive with Cross International/Cross Catholic Alliance, both an international Christian and Catholic humanitarian organization that improves the lives of the poor in 40 countries around the world.
He also serves on the board of an advocacy group which is comprised of similar Christian faith-based organizations.
Mid-week while attending a conference of the advocacy group, my husband told me they spent an entire afternoon discussing how Christian groups are being increasingly squeezed/harassed by the Obama Administration in matters such as hiring policies, health insurance coverage and IRS audits. (Cue the foreboding music.)
Meanwhile, Thursday on Capitol Hill, I attended a luncheon held by the Republican Women’s Federal Forum, a group in which I am a long time member and where Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was the speaker.
We all know that Senator Paul is putting out feelers as to whether he should make a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, but first he must increase his name identification, make some headlines and develop his brand image.
On Wednesday, the day before the Rand Paul luncheon the Congressional Benghazi “whistleblower” hearings had occurred, showering the entire town with political fall-out. So naturally, Rand Paul saw fit to weigh in on this hot topic.
Senator Paul in his Thursday lunch speech said that Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the terrorist attack in Benghazi should “preclude her from holding higher office.” I immediately turned to a friend sitting next to me and said, “Now that was a headline.” It was obvious that Rand Paul had just fired his first warning shot of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Then later on, more 2016 Republican presidential campaign antics were yet to come.
In the early evening, I attended an event called POLITICO’s Playbook Cocktails with MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough.
The event was supposed to be about Mika’s new book called Obsessed, America’s Food Addiction – And My Own, but of course politics soon entered the discussion. Joe Scarborough said something like President Obama should have remained a U.S. Senator in order to have gained more experience, and Senator Marco Rubio was not yet ready to run for president in 2016 and should stay in the Senate. (I strongly agree with both assessments.)
As Joe was talking about the future of the Republican Party, Mika’s cell phone rang and she immediately says, “Hi Chris.” Big surprise! N.J. Governor Chris Christie called in to join the discussion and upstaged everyone on stage. Truly it was an entertaining moment and you can watch as it happened here.
During the call, Christie said his recent secret weight reducing LAP-BAND surgery was a difficult personal decision based on health and family issues, not future political considerations. He was referring to his assumed 2016 presidential run for the GOP nomination.
However, if this surgery is successful Christie will emerge physically smaller but politically larger with an image more suitable for a jog on the national campaign trail. Therefore, Christie feels the need to justify, re-justify and further defend his “tough personal” medical decision.
So my Thursday in DC could be summarized like this: Rand Paul vs. Chris Christie vs. Hillary in 2016.
Then it was Friday and ABC News revealed that there were 12 versions of the Benghazi talking points. I cheered this “breaking” news because finally the mainstream media (MSM) were on to Benghazi, after months of Fox News being ridiculed by the MSM for its non-stop pursuit of this unresolved story. (Kudos to PJM as well, along with Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard who was the first to report the Obama Administration’s multiple Benghazi talking-points. But as we Conservatives know, news is only real news when the MSM reports it.)
Then over the weekend the Benghazi story had fully evolved to where Republicans want the whole truth while Democrats accuse Republicans of using Benghazi to target Hillary for 2016. Here are two pieces I posted last week in Washington on this exact issue.
My big question is, “Why in Washington D.C. in May of 2013 does every lunch, event and hearing have to be about the 2016 presidential election?” Could it be that Washington is such a forward thinking city? (Try not to laugh.)
While my husband’s conference finished up I had a two free hours and decided to visit the American History Museum which I had not been to in years.
On my way there, news broke that the IRS had just admitted targeting Tea Party groups who were applying for perfectly legal tax-exempt status.
How timely that the group of Christian aid agencies my husband helps represent, just two days ago in their Washington meeting had discussed how their faith-based group members were being targeted for audits by the IRS. (My husband’s organization among them.)
As I entered the American History Museum my thoughts turned to Nixon and Watergate. Remember how Nixon used the IRS to harass his political enemies? In fact, that was one of Nixon’s 1974 impeachable offenses. There are, as of this writing, no direct ties to Obama, but after all, the IRS is part of his administration.
Now the American History Museum was swamped with school kids and at one point the crowd broke into a spontaneous singing of the Star Spangled Banner while unfurling a huge flag in the lobby. This outbreak of patriotism renewed my faith in the American people even as news about the IRS will undoubtedly contribute to the growing distrust Americans have towards their government.
With my museum time short, I wandered into the American war exhibits and was shocked to see that WWI and the Korean War were stuffed into very small corners. Certainly these wars deserve more space than currently allotted.
However, WWII was the exact opposite with endless rooms covering all aspects of the war. In the Home Front exhibit there were WWII posters hanging on the side of a battleship. As an owner of a small collection of WWI and WWII posters, I was delighted to see one of my own posters on display.
So now my new definition of growing old (semi-gracefully) is seeing stuff you own hanging in the Smithsonian. And to further add friends to this definition, I spotted the name of a close friend on a movie exhibit. Instantly I sent him an image of the display, exclaiming that he was “Smithsonian” famous, as opposed to just Hollywood famous. He immediately thanked me because he had not known this and was thrilled.
Finally, on Saturday we are at Reagan National heading home and in the terminal we stumble upon a group of WWII veterans arriving as part of an Honor Flight. If you are not familiar with Honor Flights they are an organization that brings WWII veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the WWII memorial.
Greeting them at the gate was a full band and much flag waving. Random passengers like us instantly formed lines in the terminal clapping and cheering as these heroes of the “Greatest Generation” got the welcome they richly deserved.
This spontaneous demonstration of patriotism and respect was a remarkable sight, especially after I had just visited all those Smithsonian exhibits dedicated to their struggles.
After arriving home, I had a good laugh on Sunday as Meet the Press moderator David Gregory, quoted Rand Paul’s controversial remark about Hillary that he repeated again in Iowa over the weekend. It seems 2016 is looming very large.
Then I walked into our guest room and looked lovingly at my Smithsonian WWII poster hanging on the wall. After what I consider a “time capsule” trip to Washington with so much breaking news, the poster’s slogan took on new meaning. Its stirring message is just as applicable today, whether Americans are fighting a foreign enemy or raging against their own government.
My WWII Government Printing Office poster dated 1942 says: Strong in the strength of the Lord we who fight in the people’s cause will never stop until that cause is won.
Perhaps I should send the IRS and the Obama Administration a photo of this poster? But I am sure that the poster would be outlawed today as a violation of church and state and I would be audited for even sending it.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that he would call Benghazi a cover-up “in the extent that there was willful removal of information, which was obvious.”
“They’re in the midst of a presidential campaign. The narrative by the Obama campaign is that Bin Laden is dead, the — al-Qaeda is on the run, not to worry about anything. And here comes this attack on Benghazi. And there are so many questions that are unanswered. We need a select committee. But for the president’s spokesman to say, well there was only words, or technical changes made in those emails, is a flat out untruth,” McCain said on ABC’s This Week.
The call for a special committee isn’t new, but the idea has been gaining traction since last week’s Benghazi hearing.
“I like Mr. Carney, but that — that’s just not acceptable for the president’s spokesman to say that to the American people when we now know any reference to active terror, any reference to al-Qaeda were removed from those talking points, and it was done at a deputy’s meeting just before Susan Rice went on television,” the senator continued.
“I’d call it a cover-up. I — I would call it a cover-up in the extent that there was willful removal of information, which was obvious. It was obvious. Mr. Hicks said in his testimony, his jaw dropped when he saw Susan Rice do that — I was on — I was on another Sunday morning show after Susan Rice, my jaw dropped. I said, look people don’t bring rocket-propelled grenades and mortars to spontaneous demonstrations.”
McCain said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “has played a role in this.”
“She had to have been in the loop some way. But, we don’t know for sure. But I do know that her response before the Foreign Relations Committee, who cares? Remember when she said, well who cares how this happened, in a rather emotional way? A lot of people care, I say with respect to the secretary of State,” he said.
Still, he added, he doesn’t yet know “what level of scandal, quote, unquote, this rises to.”
“I find it impossible to comprehend why on September 11, the day we all know is so important, when there have been numerous warnings about the security at that consulate, that we didn’t have forces that were capable of doing so. And over a seven and a half our period with all the assets we have in the region, we couldn’t have an F-16 at low altitude, fly over those people who were attacking our consulate? Another question is, why weren’t there forces capable of going to defend that consulate?” McCain said.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) countered that it’s “absolutely not” a cover-up.
“I think what I would suggest in looking at the play- by-play, is what was going on was not so much the politics of electioneering, but the institutional sort of positioning. Victoria Nuland, who was representing the State Department, had a long career in public service. She’s not a partisan. In fact, she worked for Dick Cheney,” Reed said.
“I think this is the classic issue of interagency battle about who will say what. And at the end I think what you had was a very sort of consensus document that avoided all of the difficult issues.”
Reed said any talking points that have to be approved by every agency are “almost by definition in Washington something that is not as specific or as conclusive.”
“What they did, I think, was try in a very chaotic situation, to come up with points that they felt confident of. They didn’t want to go too far in two concepts. One, our intelligence resources or assets that you might not want to disclose. Second, there’s an ongoing investigation was just beginning. Those two factors also framed the response,” Reed said.
“But I think again, when you talk about this sort of political dynamic, when the president comes out and says quite quickly, with the authority of his office, this was an act of terror, the notion that we’re somehow trying to disguise this and make it something else, I think falls away very quickly.”
Several U.S. military teams designed to deliver a quick response to crises in the wake of the Benghazi attack were on alert tonight as political unrest grew in Libya.
Reports said the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) teams based in Stuttgart, Germany, were put on notice to be prepared to fly into the restive North African nation quickly if needed.
Militias demanding that all those who served in Moammar Gadhafi’s regime be banned from working in the new government laid siege to the Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry starting April 28. After they got their wish with a law passed last Sunday, the gunmen refused to give up their siege.
Libyan Defense Minister Mohammed al-Barghathi, who served in Gadhafi’s Air Force yet like some military commanders also worked to oust the dictator, resigned before being talked into staying by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.
“I will never be able to accept that politics be practiced by the power of weapons,” Barghathi told a news conference. “This is an assault against the democracy I have sworn to protect.”
Today the militias scattered as pro-government protesters overran them at the Foreign Ministry. Bombs went off outside two police stations in Benghazi.
The State Department updated its travel warning on Thursday after withdrawing some personnel on Wednesday.
“In the light of the current unsettled conditions around major anti-government demonstrations in Tripoli, the under secretary for management has approved the order of deparchement — departure of non-emergency personnel from Libya. As you know, the department’s paramount concern is the safety and the personal safety of all of our employees,” spokesman Patrick Ventrell said at the State Department briefing today.
“And so, at this time, we can confirm that a handful of our staff members have, indeed, departed Libya. Our embassy in Tripoli is still open and still functioning, OK?”
The travel warning advises U.S. citizens to “make their own contingency emergency plans, and maintain security awareness at all times.” The consular information for Libya seems to need some updating, though, as it mentions “in June 2012, an unknown group of attackers detonated an improvised explosive device outside the compound of the U.S. embassy’s office in Benghazi,” but not the Sept. 11 attack that left four Americans dead.
Britain announced that it is scaling back its diplomatic presence in Tripoli as well. “Given the security implications of the ongoing political uncertainty, the British Embassy is temporarily withdrawing a small number of staff, mainly those who work in support of Government Ministries which have been affected by recent developments,” the UK government said today. “The Embassy is open as usual, including for consular and visa services.” British presence in Benghazi is still “temporarily suspended.”
The day before this week’s Benghazi hearing, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard from Deborah K. Jones, former ambassador to Kuwait and President Obama’s pick to replace the late ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya. Only three senators showed up to the hearing.
Jones talked about her eagerness to get on the ground and pick up where Stevens left off.
Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) asked if she was underestimating the challenges there, especially in light of the fresh unrest. “It’s really not a government,” he said. “It’s almost remarkable that the country’s functioning.”
“I don’t know that we’ve underestimated,” said Jones. “I know we’ve had a setback these last 8-9 months without an ambassador on the ground… we’ve never won a battle we haven’t shown up for.”
On March 7, Gen. Carter Ham, commander of AFRICOM, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in his annual strategic report that “the September 2012 attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound and Annex in Benghazi and the January 2013 attack on the British Petroleum oil facility in Algeria illustrate the growing threat posed by violent extremist organizations in Africa to U.S. citizens and interests.”
Ham stepped down from his command less than a month later.
“This network of al-Qa’ida affiliates has already developed into a threat to U.S. regional interests and if left unchecked, could pose a threat to Europe and the U.S. Homeland,” continued Ham’s 2013 AFRICOM Posture Statement.
Ham said the growing relationship with the Libyan Armed Forces “focuses on education and also emphasizes the strengthening of Libyan counter-terrorism capabilities.”
“The recent volatility in North and West Africa demonstrates the importance of sufficient Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) assets to cover multiple crises simultaneously. ISR capabilities are required to protect American interests and to assist our close allies and partners.”
The Benghazi investigation steered toward the Pentagon this week as it was revealed the Defense Department claims a classified timeline for the night of the attack doesn’t exist.
“The Department did not produce a formal classified timeline, but rather only draft working products to assist witnesses and briefers in preparation for numerous Congressional engagements,” Elizabeth King, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, told House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.). “By practice, such draft working products are not distributed beyond DoD.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said in a Google+ hangout today that he didn’t follow this week’s Benghazi hearing but doesn’t think there was anything new to learn from it.
But he has formed the opinion that Benghazi is inextricably linked with diplomatic efforts to develop the global marketplace.
“I obviously was on the road all of last week. And so I didn’t see the hearings. But I followed them, and I’m getting a summary report of everything that’s taken place,” Kerry said in the online event called “The U.S. and the World: What’s In It for Us?” hosted by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
“What I’ve seen thus far, I have to tell you, after all of the hearings that I took part in as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, all of the briefings that I took part in, many of which were classified, I really haven’t learned anything new,” he said.
Kerry called Benghazi a “terrible event” and a “terrorist attack.”
“We all understand that,” he said.
“And obviously, it’s emotional, but so is losing, you know, our ambassador, so is losing two members of our former armed forces who were providing security, and so is losing our employee who was there doing an extraordinary job on communications,” saying he had “respect” for the whistleblowers who testified.
“…There’s so many values that we are struggling to try to carry out to the world in many different ways. And to bring it to a more prosaic place, we are living in a very new global marketplace, where relationships with countries also mean jobs; jobs for our people, jobs for other people in the world. And it means building strength through economic growth and development, which brings with it a lot of the values that Americans stand up and promote and fight for,” the secretary continued.
“So that’s really what Benghazi was about. It’s a tragedy. But I hate to see it turn into a pure, prolonged, political process that really doesn’t tell us anything new about the facts.”
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee wants President Obama to appoint a Gitmo czar to get the detainees who have been cleared for transfer out of the prison.
Forty-six dangerous detainees have been flagged for indefinite detention. Eighty-six of the current detainees at Guantanamo have been approved for transfer to their home countries or another nation willing to take them under strict security conditions.
That counts out the country where the majority of those 86 are from — Yemen — because of the administration’s freeze on transfers there imposed after underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s botched 2009 attempt to blow up an airliner.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) pointed out to Obama’s counsel Kathryn Ruemmler that the president vowed at his press conference to recommit to closing Gitmo “because, as he pointed out, it is expensive, inefficient, damaging to the United States’ international standing, reduces the cooperation of our allies in countering terrorism, and serves as a recruiting tool for extremists.”
“I recognize that Congress has made the process of relocating GITMO detainees to third countries more difficult by imposing certification requirements on such transfers,” Levin wrote Ruemmler this week. “However, more than a year ago, I successfully fought for a national security waiver that provides a clear route for the transfer of detainees to third countries in appropriate cases, i.e., to make sure the certification requirements do not constitute an effective prohibition.”
“I urge the President to appoint an official inside the White House to spearhead an interagency effort to determine which of the more than eighty detainees who have already been cleared for transfer by the Guantanamo Detainee Review Task Force meet the certification (and waiver) requirements, and to actively work for their transfer,” he added. “High level leadership on detainee transfers is critical to advancing the goal of closing GITMO.”
A day after the Oversight Committee’s whistleblower hearings on Benghazi raised new disturbing questions about the State Department’s review of the terror attack, the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman is trying to rally colleagues’ support to reform the Accountability Review Board process.
Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton convened the ARB to delve into the Sept. 11 attack, appointing four of the panel’s five members while the director of national intelligence named the final member from the intelligence community.
The ARB “examined the terrorist attacks in Benghazi with an eye towards how we can better advance American interests and protect our personnel in an increasingly complex and dangerous world,” according to the final report of the board led by former UN Ambassador Thomas Pickering. That report found there were no protests the night of the attack, that intelligence services had no warning of the attack, and that “communication, cooperation, and coordination among Washington, Tripoli, and Benghazi functioned collegially at the working – level but were constrained by a lack of transparency, responsiveness, and leadership at the senior levels.”
“The Board determined that U.S. personnel on the ground in Benghazi performed with courage and readiness to risk their lives to protect their colleagues, in a near impossible situation,” states the report. “The Board members believe every possible effort was made to rescue and recover Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith. The interagency response was timely and appropriate, but there simply was not enough time for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) today introduced the Accountability Review Board Reform Act of 2013 to increase the independence and transparency of future ARBs. Under the bill, the secretary of State would appoint only two members of the board with the chair of the Council of Inspectors General of Integrity and Efficiency appointing two members, and the director of national intelligence appointing the fifth member.
Currently, an ARB uses State Department staff to assist with the investigation of other State Department employees. Under this bill, ARB staff would come from the Office of Inspector General.
Only the names of those five board members are currently required to be disclosed, but the bill would require that all senior State Department officials taking part in compiling the review would also be named. And whereas the report now goes directly to the secretary of State, Royce’s legislation would also require delivery to Congress.
Royce today circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter to rally for co-sponsors, citing the testimony of Eric Nordstrom, former lead security officer in Libya.
“[I]t is not what is contained within the [ARB’s] report that I take exception to but what is left unexamined. Specifically, I’m concerned with the ARB’s decision to focus its attention at the Assistant Secretary level and below,” Nordstrom said before the Oversight Committee.
“Yesterday, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing that reaffirmed the flaws in the Benghazi ARB’s review,” Royce wrote in the letter. “Specifically, the ARB found that the responsibility for the ‘systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies’ within the State Department stopped at the Assistant Secretary level. As we heard throughout the hearing, this was simply not the case.”
“…These improvements seek to strengthen future ARB investigations to help avoid disasters like Benghazi. Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.”
The Senate swiftly passed a bill today posthumously awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to four young victims of violence in the Civil Rights Era.
Addie Mae Collins, 14, Denise McNair, 11, Carole Robertson, 14, and Cynthia Wesley, 14, were killed on Sept. 15, 1963, during the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the nation’s highest civilian honor. Alabama Republican Richard Shelby introduced the measure in the Senate.
“As the 50th anniversary of this tragedy approaches, I believe that awarding the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award bestowed upon civilians by the United States Congress, is an appropriate way to honor the memories of the victims,” Shelby said. “Their deaths continue to serve as a reminder of the struggle for freedom and equality for which many sacrificed their lives.”
The House approved the bill, introduced by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), on April 25.
“The 50th anniversary of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing marks one of the most tragic events in our state’s history and the impetus for immense social and cultural change. We will never forget those young innocent lives, murdered because of the color of their skin,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
“Birmingham is to be commended for the way it has fully acknowledged the enormity of this wrong in its past and has been a leader worldwide in the promotion of racial reconciliation. An excellent example of that, among others, is the ‘Birmingham Pledge’ which calls on all people to treat everyone with dignity and respect and to end social prejudice,” Sessions continued. “This Congressional Gold Medal is a lasting tribute to their precious memory.”
When future historians write about the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, my bet is the most memorable statement will be the one spoken by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was back in January of 2013 when Clinton finally testified before a Senate committee and famously yelled, “What difference –at this point, what difference does it make?”
Her statement was referring to a top diplomat who said, “from the beginning” everyone at the consulate thought the attack was an act of terror — as opposed to a spontaneous demonstration stemming from an anti-Islamic You Tube video — the explanation put forth by the Obama Administration.
So today, as the Benghazi hearings took place on Capitol Hill, Drudge Report, at one point, had our contest photo featured front and center with the caption, “What Difference Does It Make?”
Now I am quite sure that PJM readers can write captions much more colorful, so prove me right! However, your only restraint is the rule, “be nice and stay classy because the media is watching.” (Here again are the winners from our last contest who followed that rule and still managed to flourish.)
Perhaps decades from now, Hillary’s statement will rank as high on the “scandal statement scale” as Howard Baker’s, “What did the President know and when did he know it,” from Senate Watergate hearing fame in 1973.
That of course depends on whether voters ask the same question, “What Difference Does It Make” and apply it to Hillary’s 2016 White House plans.
And the answer to that question is still, “to be determined.”
The Pentagon has responded to the House Armed Services Committee’s request for the classified timeline of the night of the Benghazi attack by claiming it doesn’t exist.
Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) requested the document in an April 17 letter. Elizabeth King, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, responded on May 1 with the unclassified timeline — which Congress saw in November — attached.
“The Department did not produce a formal classified timeline, but rather only draft working products to assist witnesses and briefers in preparation for numerous Congressional engagements,” King wrote. “By practice, such draft working products are not distributed beyond DoD.”
She said the Pentagon “contributed” to the classified National Counterterrorism Center timeline provided to certain members of Congress on Nov. 14.
“The Department has participated in numerous staff and Member engagements including classified briefings to Committees of jurisdiction,” King continues. “The Department has also responded to dozens of written requests for information in an effort to provide Congress a detailed chronology of the Department’s actions surrounding the attack.”
“I am well aware of the unclassified interagency timeline Ms. King refers to in her letter. I find it insufficient, which is why I requested additional information from the Department of Defense. DoD’s explanation that no further information is available is equally insufficient and unacceptable,” McKeon said today.
“The department has been generally cooperative with this committee in getting to the bottom of what went wrong in Benghazi. They have supported a number of classified and unclassified exchanges with members and staff,” he added. “That does not mean that the process now comes to an end, or that the wealth of potential information has been exhausted. I am deeply disappointed in the department’s response and am committed to continuing the Armed Services Committee’s oversight into the tragedy at Benghazi.”
A Democrat has added his name to the list of lawmakers frustrated with the Pentagon’s insistence on calling the Fort Hood shooting “workplace violence.”
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) joined with Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), a longtime critic of the administration’s treating of Fort Hood, in slamming the “political sensitivities” that have kept the attack from being recognized as an act of terror. Wolf and Fattah serve together as chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.
Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), also a member of the Appropriations Committee, is the third congressman on the letter sent to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel yesterday.
“We write today on behalf of the 14 murdered, the 32 wounded by gunfire and the many other soldiers, civilians and family members injured in the November 5, 2009, Fort Hood terror attack,” the trio said in the letter.
“The Department of Defense and the Army have designated the attack by Major Nidal Hasan as ‘workplace violence.’ This designation has since resulted in an embarrassing lack of care and treatment by our military for the victims and their families. We understand this decision was not made under your leadership. Therefore, we ask that you swiftly reclassify the victims’ deaths and injuries as ‘combat-related’ so that they and their families may qualify for the full scope of benefits provided to service members and DoD civilian employees who are killed or injured in combat, and to ensure that they are treated with appropriate decency and respect from this point forward,” it continues.
Victims, the members said, have “revealed claims of mistreatment by the Army” in meeting with the lawmakers, including “repeated denials and delays of medical treatment for individuals with physical injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury; denials of retirement benefits; and overall negligence and disregard.”
“When members of our military and DoD civilians are brutally attacked – whether at home or abroad, by a ‘lone wolf’ or by a ‘card-carrying member’ of a designated terrorist organization – it is our responsibility to provide adequate oversight over DoD and the Army’s policies and decisions, both before and after such an attack,” Rooney, Fattah and Wolf wrote.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) predicted last night “the dam’s about to break on Benghazi.”
The State Department finally responded to Graham’s request to interview five survivors of the attack, saying they have concerns about the welfare of the diplomatic security agents and “want to be careful not to interfere with the FBI’s investigation of the attack.”
“Should their identities become public, they may become targets, putting their lives, as well as those of their families and the people they protect, at increased risk,” the State Department response continued.
Graham called it “completely unacceptable.”
“The five people who were diplomatic security have never been talked to by the Congress. It’s our job to oversee and provide oversight to the executive branch,” he said on Fox News.
The senator doesn’t even know if the survivors were interviewed for the Accountability Review Board report on Benghazi. “All I know is that what we’re knowing — what we’re finding out is that the story told by the State Department, Susan Rice, the president himself was so completely wrong and false,” he said. “There’s a reason. Why did Susan Rice and the president push this narrative that it was a spontaneous event caused by a hateful video? Because if the truth had come out seven weeks before an election this was an al Qaeda-inspired pre-planned attack, it would undercut the narrative politically that bin Laden’s dead, we’re all safer.”
Graham said Gregory Hicks, the No. 2 diplomat in Libya at the time of the Sept. 11 attack, is “a professional diplomat, doesn’t want to get involved in politics, but he’s a man of conscience.” Hicks testifies tomorrow before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
“He knows what happened that night. He’s the last guy to talk to Chris Stevens. He knows it was a terrorist attack from day one,” the senator continued.
“Everybody feels chilled. I’ve been asking for survivors to come forward, people who were involved, not just survivors, and every agency in the government is stonewalling. These guys are whistleblowers. They came forward out of conscience. Greg Hicks knew that Chris Stevens was being thrown under the bus. ‘Chris should have never been there.’ That’s the new narrative. Well, they knew he was in Benghazi. So the people who knew Chris Stevens, who lived through this attack, believe that what they went through has been misrepresented.”
Graham confirmed that he’s heard people in the CIA who want to come forward and testify have been told by director John Brennan that they’d be subject to polygraph if they get involved.
“I know there are some CIA agents reaching out. They feel frustrated. The CIA generally got this right, and they feel frustrated about what happened that night before and after. So we’ll see where this goes,” he said.
On Wednesday, at least three State Department employees will testify before the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee on Benghazi. They are expected to say that yes, there was a stand-down order during the battle. They may also testify that the State Department itself has tried to bully them into silence. What else they may say is not yet known.
As the Benghazi story has unfolded, many mysteries have persisted. Why wasn’t the Benghazi mission’s security enhanced? Where was President Obama? What role, if any, did Obama campaign officials play in crafting the government’s communications after the attack? Perhaps Wednesday’s witnesses can help shed some light on them.
1. Who gave the stand-down order, and why? Fox and CBS have both reported that there was a stand-down order issued during the battle in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Four Americans died, while as many as 30 survived. Assistance could have come in from U.S. bases in Italy or possibly from bases in the Middle East. There was a drone, unarmed, overhead, and there have been reports that an AC-130 gunship was also overhead at some point during the prolonged battle. The question is not, now, whether there was a stand-down order issued. Fox and CBS have independently reported that there was. The question is, how far up in the U.S. chain of command was that decision made, and why was it made? Additionally, how did U.S. forces react to that order? Was anyone relieved of command for considering or attempting to disobey that order, as has been rumored for months?
2. Where was President Obama and what was he doing? As commander-in-chief, the president is ultimately responsible for any U.S. response to attacks on our missions and personnel overseas. According to official schedules and White House answers after the fact, President Obama held a regularly scheduled meeting at 5 pm Washington time with his then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, around the time that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi began. No photos from that meeting have been released. The American people have been told very little about the president’s activities that night. He held the meeting, the attack began and would unfold for several hours, and the president reportedly went to bed that night in the White House. By the time he went to bed, news had already broken that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was missing. Obama went to bed not knowing his ambassador’s fate, and reportedly learned the next morning that Stevens had been killed. No photos of the president being present or in command during the attack have ever been released by the White House. This in itself is strange behavior from a White House that even released a photo of the president, by himself, holding a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston bombing. In February, Panetta testified that he had no communication with Obama after their September 11 meeting, and in fact had no communication with anyone at the White House at all during the attack, raising the question of whether anyone was in the White House Situation Room monitoring the attack. It’s implausible that the secretary of Defense and president of the United States would not communicate at all during an attack on a U.S. facility overseas, but that is Panetta’s testimony. That mystery deepens when we consider then Secretary of State Clinton’s actions during the attack.
3. Where was Secretary of State Clinton and what was she doing? How much did Clinton know about the security situation in Benghazi before the attack? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s whereabouts and activities during the attack in Benghazi are similarly mysterious. Clinton’s State Department repeatedly rejected requests for enhancing security at Benghazi, even as Ansar al-Sharia’s power in the area grew over the summer of 2012. Why did State not beef up the Benghazi mission’s security? The Benghazi attack was focused on the U.S. consulate, which belongs to the U.S. State Department. Why Stevens was in Benghazi that night, and what the consulate may have been used for, remains unknown. One of the Wednesday whistleblowers, veteran counterterrorism officer Mark I. Thompson, is expected to testify that Secretary of State Clinton sought to cut the State Department’s counterterrorism bureau out of the chain of reporting and decision-making during the attack. Thompson also claims that the State Department suppressed his account after the attack. Another unnamed State official corroborates Thompson’s account. But Daniel Benjamin, head of the counterterrorism unit at the time, says Clinton never tried to cut his group out during the attack. All of this brings to mind the question, exactly what was Clinton’s role on the night of the attack? Secretary of Defense Panetta testified that he and Clinton never communicated during the attack. All three of the nation’s top national security and diplomatic officials — President Obama, Defense Secretary Panetta and Secretary of State Clinton — were in Washington that night. Panetta and Clinton were evidently engaged in responding to the attack, independently. Yet according to Panetta, they never talked to each other during the attack. Why would they not communicate during an ongoing attack on a U.S. facility overseas, if indeed they did not? Both Defense and State would surely be involved in any effective response to an attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission overseas.
A Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee charged that the Republicans have been “disgraceful” on the Benghazi investigation.
“We don’t have the ability to hold a hearing. The Democrats have been completely kept out of this whole process. This has been a one- sided investigation, if you want to call it that. There’s been no sharing of information in a significant way with the Democrats staff members who usually conduct this type of investigation,” Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) complained on Fox News Sunday.
Lynch added that reports of whistleblower intimidation are “completely false.”
“The only retaliation I’ve heard of here is that one of these witnesses wants a reassignment and promotion. He hasn’t gotten the promotion that he wanted, and he’s saying that that’s somehow retaliation. So, you know, hasn’t got it yet. It’s actually in the process,” the congressman continued. “That’s the — that’s the level of threats of intimidation? He hasn’t got the promotion he wants yet?”
This morning on Fox, Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) slammed Lynch for covering for the Obama administration.
“If Congressman Lynch wants to be an apologist for the administration — I expect that on Wednesday — but his information is simply wrong,” Issa said. “This is a career professional — they’re all career professionals — who asked for a help in representing his whistleblower views, and he’s been denied an attorney.”
“…Finally, he has an attorney who has a long history of representing people with top clearances. And as of today, she still has not been allowed to have a full clearance, or to read the information,” he continued. “So, Lynch is either just wrong, covering for the administration, or simply behind the times on the facts as they are.”
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said upcoming testimony this week charging that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to cut the State Department’s antiterrorism unit out of the Benghazi response the night of the attack will speak to the administration’s insistence on making it about a YouTube video.
That assertion will be made by Mark Thompson, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism, at Wednesday’s Oversight hearing on Benghazi whistleblowers.
Other testimony will come from Foreign Service Officer and former Deputy Chief of Mission/Chargé d’Affairs in Libya Gregory Hicks, who received the call from Ambassador Chris Stevens that night saying “we’re under attack,” and Diplomatic Security Officer and former Regional Security Officer in Libya Eric Nordstrom, who previously testified before the committee in October.
“This idea that it wasn’t terrorism, which has been said — both said and not said — plays right into this,” Issa said this morning on Fox.
“If, as the president said in the Rose Garden, it was an act of terror, then of course, the counterterrorism unit that exists for just that reason in State Department should have been there at every moment. But if you wanted it to seem like it wasn’t terrorism, keeping them out of the room allows you to play with this false truth that somehow, it was a video, and the same as the protests in Egypt. Which, of course, from the get-go, everyone knew just wasn’t true.”
Issa said the scandal is “damaging” to Clinton, who may take a run at the White House in 2016. “It happened on her watch. I think the important thing is that it’s — Hillary Clinton is no longer secretary of state, but there are many people still at State Department who were involved in this at the highest levels who continue to keep their jobs and keep this — this symbol of ‘the war is over, terror is behind us,’” he said.
“I think there’s no other real, plausible question but that politics played a part in falsifying these — these statements before, or during and after the attack in Benghazi. And that’s — the real question is, can we get the politics out? Can we make the men and women of the State Department safer? And can we be honest about the real threat of extremism around the world, and even in our own back yard?” the chairman added.
Issa gave the first hints about what will be heard at the hearing Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation.
“We know one thing, the talking points were right, and then the talking points were wrong. The CIA knew it was a terrorist attack, the deputy chief of mission, Gregory Hicks, knew it was a terrorist attack, the ambassador before he died, one of the last words he ever said is, ‘we`re under attack,’” he said.
Tough love. But without the love.
There was one moment in President Obama’s world-weary press conference last Tuesday when he seemed genuinely interested and engaged. At the very end, when Obama had already begun to depart the podium, a reporter shouted a question about the previously obscure but now famously gay NBA center, Jason Collins. Obama returned to the podium and was animated as he expressed his pride in Collins: “I told him I couldn’t be prouder of him. . . . And I think America should be proud. . . . So I’m very proud of him.”
In the meantime, between his hoop-shooting and golf-playing expeditions and his expositions on the social significance of sports, the president does have a day job. At the press conference he implicitly acknowledged that his job performance on Syria hasn’t been all that great. “What’s happening in Syria,” he said, “is a blemish on the international community generally.” But Barack Obama claims to be nothing if not a leader of “the international community.” So a blemish on the international community is a blemish on the presidency of Barack Obama.
Indeed, when it comes to Syria, even Barack Obama couldn’t claim that there’s much to be proud of: After two years of posturing and vacillating, of big talk and no action, of portentous but unenforced warnings, 75,000 people have died, Bashar al-Assad has remained in power and used chemical weapons, turmoil has spread to neighboring countries and the region has become increasingly unstable and dangerous, and America’s credibility lies in tatters.
Kristol gets in a couple more sharp digs about Collins and basketball which serve to highlight that the president is good at looking cool and concerned to his mindless cult of personality but, over four years into this, remains hopelessly out of his league when it comes to foreign policy.
But Obama may still act. Despite the wavering red line he seems to have laid down, Obama still maintains his earlier position that the (appropriately verified and confirmed, chain-of-custody and all) use of chemical weapons “would be a game-changer,” a phrase he repeated three times at his press conference, and elaborated on once: “That is a game-changer because what that portends is potentially even more devastating attacks on civilians, and it raises the strong possibility that those chemical weapons can fall into the wrong hands and get disseminated in ways that would threaten U.S. security or the security of our allies.”
So what is to be done? The options are far worse than they were two years ago. But Barack Obama must know that in the rough world of Middle East politics, as in the rough world of NBA basketball with which he seems more familiar, a game-changer unresponded-to results in a changed game. It results in defeat.
President Obama’s “Just elect me and the world will love us” foreign policy pitch in 2008 (which got a generous assist from his press monkeys) has been the nightmare any sane person knew it would be. Don’t mention that to an attendee to the court of The Idiot King, however. He or she will begin screaming “He came down from Heaven and slew the wicked bin Laden with a lightning bolt!” over and over, conflating one coordinated military and intelligence operation that began under the Bush administration with foreign policy.
But, hey, empathy or something.
Upon hearing this news I thought it was a good time to check out the list. (You never know what you will find because these days you might even spot that “quiet” neighbor or pot-smoking classmate.)
After reading the list I strongly encourage President Obama to do the same. Perhaps then he might not be so hesitant to utter the phrase, “Islamist Terrorist” when discussing the Boston bombings or the numerous other recent domestic Islamic extremist/terror attacks that were either successful or foiled.
Please feel free to forward this list to the media or elected officials who are resisting the truth about a very small number of people from a certain group who want to do our nation great harm.
From reading this list one would think that political correctness and ethnic sensitivity would take a back seat to the reality of the serious threats we face. But remember, this is 2013 and we are super-respectful of everyone’s feelings, both group and individual.
So now, be sure to keep your feelings in check as you scroll down the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List.
Most Wanted Terrorists
At the bottom of the list are several FBI legal paragraphs and now I would like to add my own:
This list has been posted as a public service by an American who loves and fears for this nation.
A day after the FBI released photos of individuals it says it’s seeking in connection with the Benghazi terrorist attack, I’m still scratching my head. Eight months after an attack that left four Americans dead, this is all the FBI has?
These grainy photos are obviously from security cameras posted at or near the scene of the attack. The images are sufficiently grainy that it’s difficult to discern any close details of the individuals in them. The men have all had eight months to cut or grow their hair, cut or grow their beards, dispose of the clothing they’re wearing, and alter their appearance in other ways. They could have traveled to any place on the globe by now.
Meanwhile, this guy has been clearly celebrating the Benghazi attack on the Internet for months. This photo was taken during the attack, obviously on the scene.
Here he is in another photo of him, attributed to Getty Images. He has been all over the net and cable TV — well, Fox anyway — for months now.
He was obviously involved in the attack. Who is he? What’s happened to him in the eight months since the attack? Beats me. Beats the FBI too. They’re apparently not looking for this clearly seen guy, and are focused on the individuals in the grainy surveillance cams. Maybe they were leaders and this guy was not. But he may know who the leaders were. His clear image started appearing online with a day or two of the attacks. As far as its public communications go, the FBI never sought him. The Bureau didn’t even investigate the attack scene itself until a month after it happened. By then, the media and anyone else who wanted to had had the opportunity to traipse all over the unsecured crime scene and contaminate evidence to their heart’s content.
What else is on those surveillance cameras the FBI pulled its useless stills from? Beats me. The FBI isn’t saying. But surely there’s more evidence on the recordings than nearly useless still frames of three fairly nondescript men who could be anywhere in the world, or dead one way or another, by now. The FBI appears to be sitting on that evidence.
The government of Kazakhstan, which has been making big strides as the most westernized of the former Soviet ‘Stans, stressed today that two of its citizens weren’t charged with committing terrorism but just helping one.
The country is about half Muslim, but is officially secular and most of its Muslims practice mystic Sufi Islam that tolerates other religious beliefs.
Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, friends of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, appeared in court yesterday. Both were in the U.S. on student visas and are accused of obstructing the investigation by destroying evidence.
“We would like to emphasize that our citizens did not receive charges of involvement in the organization of Boston marathon bombings. They were charged with destroying evidence,” Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry said today.
“At present, our citizens receive the necessary consular assistance. Their guilt has not been proven and the investigation is ongoing. Both Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov cooperate with the investigative bodies and provide them assistance,” the ministry continued.
“As we have repeatedly stressed, Kazakhstan strongly condemns any form of terrorism. The Kazakhstan side is cooperating with the U.S. law enforcement bodies in their investigation.”
Kazakhstan used the less-than-flattering publicity from Borat to boost its tourism industry and is still reaping the benefits. Draws include the mountain resort of Burabai, the Grand Canyon rival Charyn Canyon, and the Soviet-era Baikonur Cosmodrome where the country plans on selling rides into space.
Quite simply, this is a problem that was identified long ago and still remains a problem. Adequate tracking of those here on visas is something that needs to be addressed now all on its own and doesn’t need to be part of a larger comprehensive immigration law. The Department of Homeland Security was created for just such a thing and has proven only that adding a massive layer of bureaucracy rarely solves the problem.
The fact that one provision of a bill might be functional isn’t a case for passing the entire thing. There’s also a presumption by those advocating for new laws and regulations that everything will be properly implemented and functional. When it comes to immigration, there’s a long history of the government not availing itself of existing laws that could address the problem.
Just after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced a highly anticipated Benghazi hearing a week from today featuring testimony from State Department whistleblowers, and just a day after President Obama said he was “not familiar” with any retaliation against the whistleblowers, the FBI released pictures of three people who were at the U.S. consulate when it was attacked.
“The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation appreciates that the Libyan people and the government of Libya have condemned the September 11, 2012 attacks on U.S. Special Mission personnel and facilities in Benghazi, Libya,” the FBI said in an Arabic release featuring the images.
“The FBI is now asking Libyans and people around the world for additional information related to the attacks, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya,” it continues.
The “seeking information” links are at the bottom of a long list of unsolved cases.
“We are seeking information about three individuals who were on the grounds of the U.S. Special Mission when it was attacked. These individuals may be able to provide information to help in the investigation,” the FBI says about the Benghazi trio.
The FBI also released several images of the terror attack scene.
A trio of GOP senators today called on President Obama to release the names of the Benghazi survivors.
Congressional sources told PJM weeks ago that some of the survivors of the Sept. 11 are believed to still be recovering at Walter Reed, including a potential amputee. But the Hill has remained largely in the dark about the tales the survivors have to tell.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) told Obama in a letter that they need to talk to those survivors now.
“In light of your comments yesterday about the Benghazi attacks, we again request your Administration immediately provide the names of the Benghazi survivors to Congress so we can conduct interviews to gain a clearer understanding of what happened before, during, and after the attack,” they wrote.
“This information will allow Congress to meet its oversight obligations and will help ensure our government is taking the proper steps to protect American lives abroad and prevent future terrorist attacks.”
“Please ensure these names are provided to the appropriate committee(s) for possible interviews and correspondence,” the senators concluded. “While we respect that the names of certain survivors may need to be kept confidential, we’re confident any privacy or national security concerns will be addressed by the appropriate committee(s).”
Breaking: Boston PD Arrests Three Suspects in Connection with Marathon Bombing (Update: Harboring?) Update: ‘Terrorista #1′? (Third Suspect Identified)
Very few details are available yet. The Boston Police Department tweeted about the arrests, then confirmed them to CNN.
Three additional suspects taken into custody in Marathon bombing case. Details to follow.
— Boston Police Dept. (@Boston_Police) May 1, 2013
No details yet on who has been picked up or what their connection to the bombing may be but the use of the word “suspects” is surely critical.
On Tuesday, news broke that female DNA had been discovered on remnants of at least one of the two pressure cookers used in the April 15 bombing.
Update: Boston.com reports that the three have been picked up for harboring the Tsarnaevs after the bombing.
The three people were connected to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, the surviving bomb suspect, at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Tsarnaev was a student. They allegedly helped him after the bombing, a different source told the Globe.
“Additional details will be provided when they become available,” police said in a statement. No news conference was scheduled. Neither the FBI nor the US attorney’s office in Boston immediately had a comment.
They may have helped the bombers dispose of evidence.
Two federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing inquiry, said the three disposed of material at a Boston area landfill at the request of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev following the bombings.
The Boston Police said Wednesday that they had arrested three suspects in connection with the bombing but did not identify them or provide further details.
Last week, federal investigators searched a landfill at New Bedford, Mass., after a tip that evidence had been left there.
Update: A nice follow-up to the COEXIST bumper sticker that turned up when the bombers were on the run.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev were reportedly arrested Wednesday, along with one other person, for allegedly making false statements and obstructing justice during the federal investigation into Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Tazhayakov and Kadrbayev, who are reportedly in FBI custody, drove around in a black BMW with “Terrorista #1″ license plates and were also photographed with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Times Square.
Update: The third suspect has been identified as Robel Phillipos, an American citizen. The affadavit alleges that the three may not have had prior knowledge of the bombing, but they helped the bombers dispose of evidence afterward — without being asked to do so. They threw away the younger bomber’s backpack after learning that he was a suspect.
The Saudi government says that it warned the US Department of Homeland Security about Tamerlan Tsarnaev and three Pakistani radicals by letter in 2012, according to the Daily Mail. The Saudi warning was specific and warned that “something is going to happen in a major US city.” The Saudis also say that they denied Tsarnaev entry to Mecca in 2011. The three Pakistanis were reportedly of interest to the British government, which was also warned by the Saudis.
The Saudi government is now the second foreign government that evidently knew more about Tamarlan Tsarnaev than the US government. The Russians had also warned the Obama government about Tsarnaev.
Officially, Homeland Security denies ever hearing from the Saudis about the Boston bomber.
A DHS official denied, however, that the agency received any such warning from Saudi intelligence about Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
‘DHS has no knowledge of any communication from the Saudi government regarding information on the suspects in the Boston Marathon Bombing prior to the attack,’ MailOnline learned from one Homeland Security official who declined to be named in this report.
The White House took a similar view. ‘We and other relevant U.S. government agencies have no record of such a letter being received,’ said Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the president’s National Security Council.
But unofficially…it happened.
A Homeland Security official confirmed Tuesday evening on the condition of anonymity that the 2012 letter exists, saying he had heard of the Saudi communication before MailOnline inquired about it.
So the government that classifies the terrorist attack at Ft. Hood as “workplace violence” and which blamed the terrorist attack at Benghazi on a YouTube movie and has been accused of threatening whistleblowers ever since, is now lying about receiving warning ahead of another terrorist attack. There appears to be a pattern here.