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Why Benghazi Matters: National Review, May. 5, 2014— Watergate defines the vocabulary for American political scandals…
Hillary Clinton Should Be Worried as Benghazi Coverup Unravels: Kenneth R. Timmerman, New York Post, May 3, 2014— Make it go away! That was the message of the Obama administration and their friends in the media for the past two years, and now we know why: Benghazi is the scandal they always denied it was.
Obama’s Foreign Policy of Denial: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, May. 1, 2014— Barack Obama’s 949-word response Monday to a question about foreign policy weakness showed the president at his worst: defensive, irritable, contradictory and at times detached from reality.
A New Russian Riddle: Clifford D. May, Washington Times , Apr. 29, 2014 — “A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” is how Winston Churchill famously described Russia in 1939. Churchill less famously added: “But perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”
Obama’s ‘Blame the Video’ Fraud Started in Cairo, Not Benghazi: Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, May. 1, 2014
Benghazi, Lies and Videotape: Nonie Darwish, Frontpage, May 2, 2014
Benghazi Emails: Despite Spin, Not Just a Fox Story Any More: Howard Kurtz, Fox News, May 2, 2014
Former CIA Deputy Denies Politics in Benghazi: David Lerman, Bloomberg, Apr. 2, 2014
Libyan Oil at Heart of Conflict With Roots in Country’s East: Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, Apr. 13, 2014
National Review, May 5, 2014
Watergate defines the vocabulary for American political scandals, and so it was no surprise that former Obama-administration communications operative Anita Dunn took to the airwaves yesterday morning to pour derision upon the notion that a “smoking gun” has been uncovered in the form of recently released e-mails documenting the White House’s disinformation campaign following the Benghazi attack. A dozen Democrats have asked, “Where’s the scandal?” But the question here is not whether the administration’s misleading statements in the wake of the attacks on U.S. installations in Egypt and Libya are a political scandal in the style of President Nixon’s infamous burglary; they aren’t. But that the administration’s misdeeds here seem to fall short of felony burglary hardly makes the matter a less serious one: The White House misled the American public about a critical matter of national interest, and it continues to practice deceit as the facts of the case are sorted out. That, to answer Hillary Clinton’s callous question, is what difference it makes.
The Benghazi dishonesty did not end with Susan Rice’s now-infamous 2012 Sunday-show storytelling circuit, in which she blamed the attack on an Internet video that Muslims found insulting but that in fact had nothing to do with what was an organized jihadist attack. Last week, press secretary Jay Carney managed to annoy the usually pliant White House press corps with his embarrassing attempt to explain away the withholding of documents sought by Congress, saying that the e-mails in question were not about Benghazi, despite the fact that there is a section thereof titled “Benghazi.” He has labeled investigation into the matter evidence of a “conspiracy theory.” It is nothing of the sort, and getting a picture of the administration’s failures and dishonesty in the matter requires no leap of logic or supposition of unknown forces at work.
There were coordinated attacks against American diplomatic facilities abroad, carried out by terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda, scheduled for the anniversary of the September 11 hijackings and announced by a series of threats from Islamist organizations that were reported, among other places, in the Egyptian newspapers the day before the attack. The Obama administration took insufficient precautionary measures. In Cairo, the U.S. embassy was overrun and the American flag hauled down while the black banner of al-Qaeda was raised. In the Libyan city of Benghazi, there was disciplined and organized assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and another diplomat were murdered; a few hours later, a similar assault was carried out on a CIA installation about a mile away, in which two security personnel were killed.
Faced with this dramatic evidence of its incompetence six weeks before an election, the Obama administration distorted a kernel of truth — Cairo’s grand mufti had in fact denounced the video — and told the public a story in which the attacks were not acts of jihadist terrorism organized with malice aforethought by al-Qaeda partisans but rather were riots resulting from spontaneous protests by Muslims angered by an obscure YouTube video that was disrespectful of their faith and their prophet. The video was at most a minor factor in the Cairo riots, which were orchestrated by Mohammed al-Zawahiri, brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The video was not a significant factor in any way in Benghazi, but the administration insisted on its own version of events, downplaying the role of Islamic extremism and removing references to specific jihadist organizations from CIA-provided materials. The deputy director of the CIA, Michael Morell, told Congress that the video was “not something the analysts have attributed this attack to,” but the Obama administration was less interested in intelligence than in politics: Victoria Nuland of the State Department warned that acknowledging the role of organized terrorist groups might encourage members of Congress to “beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings.” The purpose of the video-protest narrative was to convince the American public that the bloodshed in the Middle East was the result of protests sparked by boobish Christians, and not a broader failure of policy. We know that because President Obama’s deputy national-security adviser, Ben Rhodes, helpfully put those precise words into an e-mail, describing U.N. ambassador Susan Rice’s storytelling session on the Sunday talk shows as intended “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
President Obama’s failures of policy here are considerable, and they run from the specific to the general. U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Middle East should enjoy extraordinary security measures at all times, but they should be fortresses when September 11 comes around on the calendar. And the usual high level of security that should mark that day should have been intensified by the presence of specific threats against our embassies. The events of September 11, 2012, are ipso facto evidence of a catastrophic failure to protect American facilities abroad, and that this happened despite the warnings of our intelligence agencies compounds the failure. That is one part of the “broader failure of policy” that the video narrative was intended to obscure. Another part is the administration’s lack of coherent policy in Egypt, Libya, and the greater Middle East, which has left our allies wary and our enemies encouraged…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Kenneth R. Timmerman
New York Post, May 3, 2014
Make it go away! That was the message of the Obama administration and their friends in the media for the past two years, and now we know why: Benghazi is the scandal they always denied it was. Thanks to a lawsuit by watchdog group Judicial Watch, the administration last week released correspondence about the terrorist attack in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012 that left US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others dead.
One memo, from Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security director for strategic communications, shows how the administration was trying to spin the attack as something other than their own strategic failures.
“Reinforce the president and administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges,” he wrote to UN Ambassador Susan Rice. He instructed her to “underscore” that the events in Benghazi were “protests . . . rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
Beyond the callousness of this message, and the fact that officials already knew this was the work of terrorists, that this document is just coming out now shows the depth of the administration’s cover-up.
Despite numerous subpoenas from Congress, Obama’s people never handed over the e-mail. Make it go away means hiding evidence from the American people. “Why aren’t we talking about something else?” whined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Because the Obama administration ignored legal requirements and a pursued a possibly criminal cover-up, they’ve just ensured Congress is going to talk about nothing but. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Friday he’ll be forming a select committee to investigate Benghazi. He’ll find plenty.
The Rhodes memo is just the beginning. It and other e-mails were obviously selected from a much larger set of internal administration communications on the Benghazi cover-up that remains hidden from the public and from Congress. The person who should worry most is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. For example, until now we have seen zero documentation to explain how Clinton out of the blue concocted the statement she issued on the evening of the attacks, which first raised the notion that the attacks came “as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” In all the material released by the administration to date, there are no notes, e-mails or drafts of Clinton’s Sept. 11, 2012 statement similar to the back-and forth e-mail chain released last year showing how the CIA talking points evolved during three days of inter-agency discussion. And yet surely such documents exist. We know from the public record that Clinton was getting real-time information on the attacks. She understood — because her own officials were telling her — that there were no protests in Benghazi and that the attacks on the Special Mission Compound and on the Annex were a well-planned terrorist assault.
And yet, after consulting by phone with President Obama at 10 that night, Hillary decided to blame it all on an Internet video. Similarly, the administration has released no notes, e-mails or other communications that describe the substance of that phone call, so we still don’t know who first floated the idea of blaming it all on a non-existent video. Nor has the White House revealed, despite repeated requests, what the president was doing that night as he prepared for his fund-raiser the next day in Las Vegas. Dialing for dollars, perhaps?
In testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee on Thursday, Brig. Gen. Robert Lovell, the chief of intelligence (J-2) for US Africa Command at the time of the attacks, revealed that his “analysts worked through chat” all night long. None of those documents have been turned over to congressional committees. Top military officials at Africom headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, told me they watched live video feed from a Predator drone over the Special Mission Compound and later, over the Benghazi airport and the Annex, which clearly showed there were no protests. So far, that footage has not been released. We know that orders were issued, then recalled, to deploy a 50-man Special Forces unit from Croatia that could have reached Benghazi within hours. But no documents on who ordered that unit to stand down have yet been released.
The American people deserve the truth. With four Americans returning home in body bags, this scandal is no garden-variety cover-up. And despite Hillary Clinton’s fervent hope, no, it’s not going to go away.
Washington Post, May 1, 2014
Barack Obama’s 949-word response Monday to a question about foreign policy weakness showed the president at his worst: defensive, irritable, contradictory and at times detached from reality. It began with a complaint about negative coverage on Fox News, when, in fact, it was the New York Times’ front page that featured Obama’s foreign policy failures, most recently the inability to conclude a trade agreement with Japan and the collapse of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Middle East negotiations.
Add to this the collapse of not one but two Geneva conferences on Syria, American helplessness in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine and the Saudi king’s humiliating dismissal of Obama within two hours of talks — no dinner — after Obama made a special 2,300-mile diversion from Europe to see him, and you have an impressive litany of serial embarrassments.
Obama’s first rhetorical defense, as usual, was to attack a straw man: “Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force?” Everybody? Wasn’t it you, Mr. President, who decided to attack Libya under the grand Obama doctrine of “responsibility to protect” helpless civilians — every syllable of which you totally contradicted as 150,000 were being slaughtered in Syria? And wasn’t attacking Syria for having crossed your own chemical-weapons “red line” also your idea? Before, of course, you retreated abjectly, thereby marginalizing yourself and exposing the United States to general ridicule. Everybody eager to use military force? Name a single Republican (or Democratic) leader who has called for sending troops into Ukraine.
The critique by John McCain and others is that when the Ukrainians last month came asking for weapons to defend themselves, Obama turned them down. The Pentagon offered instead MREs, ready-to-eat burgers to defend against 40,000 well-armed Russians. Obama even denied Ukraine such defensive gear as night-vision goggles and body armor. Obama retorted testily: Does anyone think Ukrainian weaponry would deter Russia, as opposed to Obama’s diplomatic and economic pressure? Why, averred Obama, “in Ukraine, what we’ve done is mobilize the international community. . . . Russia is having to engage in activities that have been rejected uniformly around the world.” That’s a deterrent? Fear of criticism? Empty words? To think this will stop Putin, liberator of Crimea, champion of “New Russia,” is delusional. In fact, Putin’s popularity at home has spiked 10 points since the start of his war on Ukraine. It’s now double Obama’s. As for the allegedly mobilized international community, it has done nothing. Demonstrably nothing to deter Putin from swallowing Crimea. Demonstrably nothing to deter his systematic campaign of destabilization, anonymous seizures and selective violence in the proxy-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk, where Putin’s “maskirovka” (disguised warfare) has turned Eastern Ukraine into a no-man’s land where Kiev hardly dares tread. As for Obama’s vaunted economic sanctions, when he finally got around to applying Round 2 on Monday, the markets were so impressed by their weakness that the ruble rose 1 percent and the Moscow stock exchange 2 percent.
Behind all this U.S. action, explained the New York Times in a recent leak calculated to counteract the impression of a foreign policy of clueless ad hocism, is a major strategic idea: containment. A rather odd claim when a brazenly uncontained Russia swallows a major neighbor one piece at a time — as America stands by. After all, how did real containment begin? In March 1947, with Greece in danger of collapse from a Soviet-backed insurgency and Turkey under direct Russian pressure, President Truman went to Congress for major and immediate economic and military aid to both countries.
That means weaponry, Mr. President. It was the beginning of the Truman Doctrine. No one is claiming that arming Ukraine would have definitively deterred Putin’s current actions. But the possibility of a bloody and prolonged Ukrainian resistance to infiltration or invasion would surely alter Putin’s calculus more than Obama’s toothless sanctions or empty diplomatic gestures, like the preposterous Geneva agreement that wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Or does Obama really believe that Putin’s thinking would be altered less by antitank and antiaircraft weapons in Ukrainian hands than by the State Department’s comical #UnitedforUkraine Twitter campaign? Obama appears to think so. Which is the source of so much allied anxiety: Obama really seems to believe that his foreign policy is succeeding. Ukraine has already been written off. But Eastern Europe need not worry. Obama understands containment. He recently dispatched 150 American ground troops to Poland and each of the Baltic states. You read correctly: 150. Each.
Clifford D. May
Washington Times, Apr. 29, 2014
“A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” is how Winston Churchill famously described Russia in 1939. Churchill less famously added: “But perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” Determinedly modernist Western leaders have tried hard to convince Vladimir Putin that Russia’s national interest — and his personal interest, as well — is to be a member in good standing with the so-called “international community,” someone praised by President Obama and not admonished by John F. Kerry who, following Russia’s seizure of Crimea, exclaimed: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext.”
Being regarded as unfashionable by the American secretary of state is a punishment the Russian president is apparently willing to endure in order to redraw the borders of Eurasia. Under both czars and commissars, the occupant of the Kremlin commanded an empire. I’d wager that Mr. Putin sees it as his mission — perhaps his destiny — to re-establish the status quo ante. If the polls are to be believed, most Russians are solidly behind him. How far will Mr. Putin go? He’s no communist, but I do think he learned from Lenin, who famously said that when you probe with your bayonet and hit steel, you back off, but when you hit mush, you continue moving forward. Raise your hand if you think Mr. Putin has so far hit anything other than mush from the United States, the European Union and NATO (and the United Nations, but that goes without saying).
Some questions to which I don’t think we yet have answers: Does Mr. Putin want all of Ukraine or just the most productive slices, leaving the remainder an impoverished ward of the West? Will he settle for an expanded sphere of influence, with the countries on Russia’s borders, the “near abroad,” retaining de jure independence — as long as they don’t forget to whom they must kowtow? Or does he, perhaps, harbor grander ambitions? It is not inconceivable that Mr. Putin thinks he can — and therefore should — precipitate NATO’s collapse. He could accomplish this by following his invasion, on a trumped-up pretext, of Ukraine with an invasion on a trumped-up pretext of one or more of NATO’s smaller members — nations that once were Soviet republics and still have sizable Russian populations. If NATO should prove unwilling or unable to defend Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, that would be the death of the venerable but increasingly feeble alliance. Even if Mr. Putin goes no further — and few bookmakers would give odds on that — he has demonstrated that Russia in the Age of Putin is a power that must again be reckoned with. He also has cast further doubt on America’s determination and reliability, thereby making a mockery of what was supposed to be the Age of Obama.
A yawning gap separates Mr. Obama’s worldview from reality. That was vividly illustrated last month when he addressed “European Youth” at the ornate Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels. He had crossed the Atlantic, he told the young men and women of the Continent, “to insist that we must never take for granted the progress that has been won here in Europe and advanced around the world, because the contest of ideas continues for your generation.” He immediately added: “And that’s what’s at stake in Ukraine today. Russia’s leadership is challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident — that in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future.” You see the contradiction? Taking progress for granted is exactly what Mr. Obama did when he assumed that the advent of a new century brought with it new and improved rules — that with the flip of a calendar page, borders somehow became inviolable, international law suddenly “mattered” (whatever that means), and tyrants could no longer determine the fate of nations. The president went on to reassure his audience that “this is not another Cold War that we’re entering into. After all, unlike the Soviet Union, Russia leads no bloc of nations, no global ideology. The United States and NATO do not seek any conflict with Russia.”
All three of those assertions strike me as dubious. First, we may indeed be entering into something akin to the Cold War — if the definition of that term is a period of prolonged tension, low-intensity and proxy conflicts, and the possibility of a spark setting off a larger conflagration. Second, though Mr. Putin may not be leading a bloc of nations, he is aligning with regimes based on anti-Western and anti-democratic ideologies, such as Iran, Syria and North Korea. Islamism — which, in its Iranian expression, Mr. Putin is enabling — is as much a global ideology as was communism. Third, if the president is implying that the Cold War came about because the United States and NATO sought conflict with the Soviet Union, he’s dead wrong: The root cause was Soviet empire-building and the dropping of an Iron Curtain over Eastern Europe. Finally, Mr. Putin does not need to be reminded that America and NATO are not seeking conflict with him. He is confident that both fear conflict much more than he does, more than Iran’s rulers do, more even than the young dynastic dictator of North Korea. That’s a good reason for all of them to drive hard bargains, demand significant concessions and impose serious humiliations on America. Does Mr. Obama grasp any of this, and is he even attempting to develop a strategy to deal with it? That’s the real puzzle, isn’t it?
Obama’s ‘Blame the Video’ Fraud Started in Cairo, Not Benghazi: Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, May. 1, 2014—Here is the main point: The rioting at the American embassy in Cairo was not about the anti-Muslim video.
Benghazi, Lies and Videotape: Nonie Darwish, Frontpage, May 2, 2014 —Shocking White House emails released to the public Tuesday by government watchdog group Judicial Watch shed new light on the Obama administration’s brazen dishonesty with the public about the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Benghazi Emails: Despite Spin, Not Just a Fox Story Any More:Howard Kurtz, Fox News, May 2, 2014—The story on Page 8 of yesterday’s New York Times amounts to an admission of journalistic error.
Former CIA Deputy Denies Politics in Benghazi: David Lerman, Bloomberg, Apr. 2, 2014—A former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency said politics played no role in the flawed initial account of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Libyan Oil at Heart of Conflict With Roots in Country’s East: Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, Apr. 13, 2014 —For nine months, a Libyan militia has occupied massive oil compounds in the desert and along the eastern Mediterranean coast, obstructing this nation’s lifeblood.
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