Foreign Policy Archives

Benghazi: Smoking Gun, or All Smoke

When the latest memo to come out of the Benghazi investigation came out…

OK, let me back up. Actually, the memo was never given to the Congressional investigation. It took a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Judicial Watch for this memo to come out. So for starters, it really looks like the administration did not want this out in public.

The thrust of the message was clear: Protect Obama’s image (and re-election efforts) at all costs; American interests and the American public’s right to know be damned. It contained four bullet points:

–”To convey that the United States is doing everything that we can to protect our people and facilities abroad;

–”To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy;

–”To show that we will be resolute in bringing people who harm Americans to justice, and standing steadfast through these protests;

–”To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”

Remember, this all happened in the heat of the President’s re-election campaign. As to the bullet points, we now know that the US was not doing everything it could to protect the consulate, the protest were not rotted in an Internet video (and the administration knew that almost immediately after the incident), we did not bring anyone to justice (not even now, 20 months after the incident), which goes to show that the President and the Administration do not have strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.

But the kiester-covering was in full swing and scapegoats were worth their weight in gold.

In his congressional testimony, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said that then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is the one who linked the video to the Benghazi attacks but that the video was not part of the CIA analysis. In other words, the administration made it up out of whole cloth to deflect blame for its policy failures in relaxing the war on terror…

Indeed, the day after the event:

An email on Sept. 12, 2012, to Rice from Payton Knopf, deputy spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, confirmed the attacks were “planned in advance” and “complex,” not spontaneous in reaction to a video.

Poor Jay Carney had the unenviable job of trying to deny that these memos had anything to do with Benghazi, even though they were provided due to a FOIA request about…Benghazi.

The fact that they, indeed, speak to the Benghazi issues specifically, but the administration hung on to these memos and did not give them to Darrell Issa and the committee, shows just how revealing they are.

But only now are the mainstream media noticing this story. The Benghazi hearings have been pitifully covered. The idea that this has been a “Fox News story” (as though they made it up) only came because they gave it the coverage it deserved, while the rest of the media sat on its collective hands. Now, even ABC news reporters found themselves amazed at the stonewalling and dissembling.

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But even with that, ABC has been very reluctant to report on it. Even the President has called out Fox on this — no other network — so you know it’s been getting short shrift elsewhere. And at other networks, without coming out directly and saying it, the news executives suddenly wouldn’t find time to report on it.

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Yes, the daily interviews from the committee can be yawners, and it’s not always breaking news. That much is true. But it’s also true that the latest revelations are news, and even that is getting reported primarily by Fox.

Oh, and MSNBC? Yeah, never mind about them. If it doesn’t have a link to Chris Christie and “Bridgegate” (where nobody died), they don’t care much about it.

This is important. If you news outlet isn’t covering it, you may need to switch sources.

    From Russia, With Love

    • Russia taking over Crimea.
    • Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia worried about the same thing happening to them.
    • Russian forces massing on the border of Ukraine.

    No, this is not the opening scene of some pre-World-War-2 movie; it’s history from the past couple of weeks. But during the Cold War, Russia had control of all of these under the umbrella of the Soviet Union.

    In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan set out to defeat – not just contain, as his predecessors has done, but defeat – the Soviet Union. He succeeded. His detractors said, and continue to say, that he got lucky; that the Soviet Union was going to collapse under its own weight anyway, and it just coincidentally happened on his watch. But Reagan was the first President to actively try to bring it down. That it happened right after this attempt is a cause & effect that is extremely rare in geopolitical affairs. And those he liberated – from places already mentioned as well as Poland and other former eastern Bloc nations – certainly give him that credit. And he did it without causing a nuclear World War 3, which those detractors predicted.

    A huge foreign policy success in the 1980s liberated millions and kept them free. Understanding the world as it was – not being afraid of the Soviets, but projecting strength to keep them at bay – set the stage for their downfall. And understanding today’s world as it is, is absolutely required in order to deal with the foreign policy challenges of today. But our current President doesn’t recognize what’s going on right in front of him. Here’s an excerpt from one of the debates he had with challenger Mitt Romney

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1409sXBleg

    Read the rest of this entry

      NY Times Wakes Up

      It’s one thing to criticize decisions. It’s another to realize you have to make the same ones you criticized. But Barack Obama has been continuing the same war policies from the Bush administration that he ran against. It’s amazing what getting the job has on your view of the job

      If President Obama tuned in to the past week’s bracing debate on Capitol Hill about terrorism, executive power, secrecy and due process, he might have recognized the arguments his critics were making: He once made some of them himself.

      Four years into his tenure, the onetime critic of President George W. Bush finds himself cast as a present-day Mr. Bush, justifying the muscular application of force in the defense of the nation while detractors complain that he has sacrificed the country’s core values in the name of security.

      (Oh, and the NY Times is just now realizing this?)

        Friday Link Wrap-up

        A federal government out of control. Without any evidence, Attorney General Eric Holder took a woman to court for obstructing the entrance to an abortion clinic. The judge threw out the case and ordered the government to pay $120,000 to the woman. Yes, it’s good that the woman was compensated, but this case should have never gone to court.

        I think Julian Assange has been irresponsible for dumping secret data that, in many cases, has put lives at risk or tipped our hand to enemies. Still, it’s nice to know that, in all that, George W. Bush has been vindicated in his handling of the Iraq/WMD situation.

        I agree with the sentiment that the teen’s shirt said, "Jesus Is Not A Homophobe". However, I also think that the folks he thinks need that message aren’t, for the most part, homophobes either, if, by "homophobe" you mean "someone who agrees with 2000 years of Christian teaching".

        Global Warming Update: "The number of [polar] bears along the western shore of Hudson Bay, believed to be among the most threatened bear subpopulations, stands at 1,013 and could be even higher, according to the results of an aerial survey released Wednesday by the Government of Nunavut. That’s 66 per cent higher than estimates by other researchers who forecasted the numbers would fall to as low as 610 because of warming temperatures that melt ice faster and ruin bears’ ability to hunt."

        James O’Keefe is at it again. He, a white guy, to prove that voter fraud really is simple, something that Attorney General Eric Holder denies, was able to (almost) vote in the primary as Eric Holder himself, a black guy. Extremely easy.

        An atheist who threatened to sue over a Nativity scene, was helped in his time of need by the very Christians he had threatened. Result: He’s now a Christian preparing to enter the  ministry.

        John Stossel, libertarian and (when he was at ABC News) a contrarian in the media, describes the liberal bias at his old network.

        Ever since Jimmy Carter got snookered by giving food to North Korea in exchange for an empty promise not to pursue nukes, we keep hoping that they’ll change their mind about belligerence if we bribe them well enough. It hasn’t worked, and it won’t work. A dictator that will spend who knows how many millions on a missile program while his country starves is patently not concerned about his people. Period. No amount of appealing to his better nature will change that. Now that N. Korea has test launched (what Rick Moore calls) a "three-stage artificial reef", now we’re serious. Now we mean business. Well, I’ll believe it when I see it.

        Civility Watch: "Moderate Caucus" chairman, a Democrat, tweets, "Cheney deserves same final end he gave Saddam. Hope there are cell cams."

          Wikipedia Is Back

          After protesting the SOPA/PIPA bills going through Congress (rightly, in my estimation) by going "dark" for 24 hours, Wikipedia is back, to the relief of students everywhere who may have never opened a real, physical encyclopedia in this post-book world. The protest brought the issue of anti-piracy vs. anti-freedom to the attention of many people.

          Now, I’d like those folks who were very concerned over those bills to look up a couple of things on Wikipedia that should also have garnered their attention recently, if they’re really concerned about what government is doing without their knowledge.

          Operation Fast and Furious

          Solyndra

          If you’ve not heard about this in the news, that’s perfectly understandable. They’ve been nearly blacked-out themselves regarding these issues. Which is odd considering F&F is responsible for the deaths of Americans.

          Are you really concerned about what your government is doing, and you’re not just jumping on the SOPA bandwagon? Read up.

            So Much For the "Reset Button"

            The problem with pretending everything is OK with Russian relations is that Russian politicians just don’t like to be criticized, especially by their own people. And they’ll find anyone to blame it on.

            Prime Minister Vladimir Putin strongly criticized U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday, accusing her of encouraging and funding Russians protesting election fraud, and warned of a wider Russian crackdown on dissent.

            By describing Russia’s parliamentary election as rigged, Putin said Clinton "gave a signal" to his opponents.

            "They heard this signal and with the support of the U.S. State Department began their active work," Putin said in televised remarks. He said the United States is spending "hundreds of millions" of dollars to influence Russian politics with the aim of weakening a rival nuclear power.

            Putin’s tough words show the deep cracks in U.S.-Russian ties despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to "reset" relations with the Kremlin. Ahead of the election, President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to deploy missiles to target the U.S. missile shield in Europe if Washington failed to assuage Moscow’s concerns about its plans.

            Clinton has repeatedly criticized Sunday’s parliamentary vote in Russia, saying "Russian voters deserve a full investigation of electoral fraud and manipulation."

            Tell the truth to the Russians, get blamed for everything. Obama naïvely blamed Bush for…well, just about everything. But the fact is, Russian relations have very little to do with being nice to them or presenting toy reset buttons.

              Credit Where Credit is Due

              Whenever I try to give credit to Ronald Reagan for participating in the fall of the Soviet Union, I often hear that its fall was an inevitability, and it just so happened to occur on Reagan’s watch. I have to point out to them that Reagan was the first President to come along with an intent to defeat communism, not just contain it. And then to have the Soviet Union defeated "on his watch", with nary a nuke dropped, is one of those "coincidences" you don’t often see in politics; where the effect so closely mirrors the cause.

              Interestingly, some of those who say the fall of communism was inevitable weren’t around when it happened. I was. And so was Lech Walesa.

              Lech Walesa said that there would not be a free Poland without Ronald Reagan, during the unveiling of a statue in Warsaw of the late American president on Monday.

              The former Solidarity leader said that “as a participant in these events,” it was “inconceivable” that such changes would have come about without the last American president during the post-1945 cold-war era.

              Walesa added that thirty years ago, it seemed that the fall of the communist system would not be possible without a nuclear war.

              Reagan stood strongly, and very publicly, with Poland against the Soviets. This was not an appeasing President. The Soviet Union was wrong and evil, and Reagan was not afraid to call it that, to the consternation of so many American liberals. (Just ask if, after Reagan walked out of the Reykjavik summit, if they thought nuclear war was a distinct possibility.) Lech Walesa agreed, and understood that history could just as easily played out very differently, if Reagan had not believed that victory was possible.

              Let’s give credit where credit is due. Poland certainly is.

                Must Be All That Smart Diplomacy

                After supposedly "resetting" relations between the US and Russia, the Russians seem to not have gotten the message.

                In the past four years, Russia’s intelligence services have stepped up a campaign of intimidation and dirty tricks against U.S. officials and diplomats in Russia and the countries that used to form the Soviet Union.

                U.S. diplomats and officials have found their homes broken into and vandalized, or altered in ways as trivial as bathroom use; faced anonymous or veiled threats; and in some cases found themselves set up in compromising photos or videos that are later leaked to the local press and presented as a sex scandal.

                “The point was to show that ‘we can get to you where you sleep,’ ” one U.S. intelligence officer told The Washington Times. “It’s a psychological kind of attack.”

                Despite a stated policy from President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev of warm U.S.-Russian ties, the campaign of intelligence intimidation – or what the CIA calls “direct action” – has persisted throughout what both sides have called a “reset” in the relations.

                They have become worse in just the past year, some U.S. officials said. Also, their targets are broadening to include human rights workers and nongovernmental organizations as well as embassy staff.

                Presenting a toy "reset button" is no diplomacy. Understanding who America’s enemies are, is. Indeed, we must try to get them to understand a mutual benefit, but the promise of the Obama administration has fallen flat.

                  "Smart" Diplomacy

                  All that goodwill that George W. Bush squandered, especially in the Muslim world, was going to be returned under Obama. Yeah, right.

                  Today’s eye-opening IBOPE Zogby International poll for the Arab American Institute Foundation should be a wake-up call to the White House on its failing foreign policy. After two and a half years of bashing Israel, appeasing rogue regimes such as Iran and Syria, and promising a new era of relations with the Muslim world, Washington is now less popular in major Arab countries than it was when George W. Bush was in the White House.

                  The poll surveys Arab opinion in six countries: Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, and reveals that “Arabs see the Obama Administration’s handling of most Middle East policy issues as having made no contribution to improving US-Arab relations. Only on the issue of the “no-fly zone over Libya” do a majority of Saudis and plurality of Lebanese see a positive contribution.”

                  I don’t think Obama ever said how it was going to be different; he merely declared it would be so. Well, it’s different, just not in the way those who voted for him expected.

                  Change!

                    Friday Link Wrap-up

                    Relative bias in the media vs actual bias. A new book from a UCLA political science professor demonstrate how, because the media is so generally slanted to the left, outlets like Fox appear more right-slanted, when in reality they’re far more centrist.

                    Rosalina Gonzales had pleaded guilty to a felony charge of injury to a child for what prosecutors had described as a "pretty simple, straightforward spanking case."

                    Trevor Phillips, chairman of Obama’s Equality and Human Rights Commission accused Christians, particularly evangelicals, of being more militant than Muslims in complaining about discrimination, arguing that many of the claims are motivated by a desire for greater political influence. Hmm, define "militant".

                    What if Charles Schultz had done cartoons of Doctor Who characters? The result would probably have looked like this.

                    "Smart" diplomacy; cozy up to dictators, snub our friends.

                    Democrats pilloried George W. Bush for "not listening to his generals" when he made decisions counter to the Pentagon. When Obama does it, not so much.

                    Would ID requirements for voting amount to a Jim-Crow-style poll tax on blacks? E. J. Dionne thinks so. James Taranto wonders if ID requirements for Amtrak, hotels, air travel and employment are equally as "racist"?

                    Nancy Pelosi said that they had to pass the bill before we could find out what’s in it. Apparently, some surprises are buried in there.

                    President Barack Obama’s health care law would let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed.

                    The change would affect early retirees: A married couple could have an annual income of about $64,000 and still get Medicaid, said officials who make long-range cost estimates for the Health and Human Services department.

                    Whenever there is a budget shortfall, taxes are always on the table. How about we take them off just this once?

                    Medicare spending is unsustainable, and the CBO itself admits that its tools for determine any consequences from Obamacare are flawed. Yeah, that should "fix" health care.

                    And finally, define "emergency" (click for a larger version):

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