By Joseph Curl
Call it “Oval Office Couch Syndrome.”
By their second term “inside the bubble,” presidents have completely lost touch with reality: Aides and confidants conspire to keep the chief executive insulated from the real world — the bad news, the worse press coverage. They think it’s their job, and lounging on the Oval Office couches, they nod along with the president’s every musing.
But this presidency has taken OOCS to new heights. Mr. Obama has only a few trusted aides, and occasional leaks from the West Wing show a paranoid president suspicious of nearly everyone around him. Supremely confident, convinced by the fawning minions at his feet that he is untouchable, the president dismisses all controversy as partisan attacks by an overzealous opposition. A pliant press corps of stenographers follows in lockstep.
Not surprisingly, every president in the past 60 years has had a major scandal in Term 2: Dwight Eisenhower had the U-2 “incident”; Richard Nixon had Watergate; Ronald Reagan had Iran-Contra; Bill Clinton had Monica (literally); George W. Bush had Katrina (and let’s not forget those WMDs that never turned up); and now, this president has Benghazi.
For months before, there were warnings about weak security at the U.S. Consulate in Libya; no one paid attention. During the attack, when Americans were begging for help, the White House ignored their pleas, sent no help.
And after? That’s when the Obama scandal falls into the predictable second-term pattern his predecessors all learned the very hard way. Faced with a crisis, the Obama White House panicked. “We can’t have a terrorist strike two months before Election Day, so … let’s not have a terrorist strike two months before Election Day.” Cue the Cover-Up.
So little is known about what happened in Benghazi: Where was the commander in chief that night? No pictures from the Situation Room this time. Why didn’t the Pentagon authorize a quick-response team to swoop in? Members of the military say they were ready — burning — to go. The call came in: Stand down. Let them die. There were dozens of witnesses to the attack that night: Where are they? What do they know? What really happened that night?
And who forced the heavy-handed redactions of those infamous “talking points,” the ones that sent Mr. Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations onto the Sunday talk shows to declare that the attack was just the culmination of a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video posted on YouTube?
Carnival barker Jay Carney looked almost ashen Friday as he took the podium to face a suddenly invigorated press corps. Of course, the public briefing came after a private session with “reporters who matter,” a sure sign the White House is in full hunker-down mode — and, more precisely, terrified.
“Again,” one newly curious reporter asked, “what role did the White House play, not just in making but in directing changes that took place to these?”
“Well,” the carney said, “thank you for that question. The way to look at this, I think, is to start from that week and understand that in the wake of the attacks in Benghazi, an effort was underway to find out what happened, who was responsible. In response to a request from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to the CIA, the CIA began a process of developing points that could be used in public by members of Congress, by members of that committee. And that process, as is always the case — again, led by the CIA — involved input from a variety of …”
Enough. You get the point: Full Spin Cycle.
For the record, this is what the CIA “generated”:
“Since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants.” That line was stricken: Everything was fine there — fine fine fine.
And: “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to Al Qaeda participated in the attack.” That line, too, was deleted by … someone. Instead, this was inserted: “There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”
Despite protestations by the White House, this scandal is just beginning. And the White House has picked a very bad scapegoat: the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA follows RFK’s edict: “Don’t get mad, get even.” And when the CIA gets even, it isn’t pretty.
With the White House putting all blame on the agency, expect push back this week — nuclear push back. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former director forced to resign after a sex scandal, is a dangerous man to the Obama administration. Mad and intent on getting even, he’s already talking, telling one reporter the talking points were “useless” and that he preferred not to use them at all. The floodgates will open this week, and by the end of business Friday, the scandal will be full blown.
A warning to those West Wing sycophants suffering from acute OOCS: Don’t walk down any dark alleys.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times and is now editor of the Drudge Report. He can be reached at email@example.com and @josephcurl.
House Armed Services chairman blocked from getting answers from senior military about threat warnings prior to Benghazi consulate attack
BY: Bill Gertz
October 19, 2012 7:15 pm
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is demanding answers from four senior United States military officers about whether there was advance warning of terrorist threats and the need for greater security prior to last month’s terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
However, an aide to the chairman, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, (R., Calif.), said the office of secretary of defense Leon Panetta blocked the senior officers from providing the answers last night.
“The chairman is disappointed that the administration won’t respond to this basic request for information,” the aide said.
“It is nearly unprecedented that the office of the secretary of defense would prohibit a member of the uniformed military from answering direct questions posed by the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.”
Pentagon spokesman George Little told the Free Beacon: “We received the letters last night and are working expeditiously to provide a response.”
The chairman’s letters are dated Thursday. They were sent to Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of the U.S. Africa Command, which is responsible for military activities in Africa; Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command; Vice Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, director for operations at the Pentagon’s Joint Staff; and Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
McKeon asked the officers to provide answers to questions about security threats by the close of business Friday.
The questions reveal that there may be information within the military revealing warnings about terrorist threats and the need to increase security that were ignored by the State Department or other civilians within the Obama administration.
McKeon asked each of the four officers in separate letters whether prior to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi anyone under their command had notified the State Department or other agencies about growing dangers in Libya.
“Given the steadily deteriorating threat environment in Libya prior to Sept. 11, 2012, did you or anyone in your command advise, formally or informally, that the Department of State or any other agency take action to increase security for U.S. personnel in Libya?” McKeon asked.
He also wants to know if there were any requests to increase security in Libya for U.S. personnel.
Also, the letters to the four officers asked whether any military officers under their command had recommended “deployment of additional U.S. military forces to Libya due to the threat environment.”
Other questions focused on determining if the officers were aware that officers under their command recommended increasing security in Libya prior to the deadly attack on the consulate that killed Amb. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
“To your knowledge, has the Department of State or any other federal agency requested additional U.S. military forces to augment security for U.S. personnel in Libya?” McKeon asked.
Since the attack took place five weeks ago, McKeon said he wanted answers by the close of business Friday.
The committee aide said the chairman also had asked for a briefing on events leading up to the attack, and so far the Pentagon has failed to provide the briefing.
McKeon, according to the aide, does not believe any failures related to the deadly terrorist attack can be traced to the U.S. military, which has a limited presence in the region, including special operations engaged in counterterrorism operations.
“He believes it is important whether or not the State Department and the administration were using all the information available at the time” on the terrorist threat and the dangers to U.S. diplomats and intelligence personnel.
McKeon sent the letter as a supplement to an earlier letter to President Obama sent by McKeon and seven other House Committee chairmen, which sought details on the intelligence leading up the attack, security for personnel, and the role played by former Guantanamo detainees in the attack.
The House leaders said in that Sept. 25 letter that administration statements attributing the attack to protests spawned by an anti-Muslim film disturbed them. They emphasized that the consulate murders were “a terrorist attack.”
“Decades after al Qaeda attacked our embassies in East Africa, which catalyzed a series of events that led to the attacks of 9/11, it appears they executed a highly coordinated and well-planned attack against us again,” the Sept. 25 letter states.
“Clearly the threat from al Qaeda and affiliated groups has metastasized; yet we do not appear to be learning from the past.”
The House leaders said it appears the administration has reverted to a past policy of treating terrorism as a criminal matter “rather than also prioritizing the gathering of intelligence to prevent future attacks.”