August 30, 2014 4:00 AM By Andrew C. McCarthy
Is it better to have no strategy or a delusional strategy?
The question arises, of course, after President Obama’s startling confession on Thursday that he has not yet developed a strategy for confronting the Islamic State, the al-Qaeda-rooted terrorist organization still often called by its former name, ISIS – an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Al-Sham refers to Greater Syria.
You may have noticed that President Obama calls the group ISIL, preferring the acronym that refers to the Levant to the one referring to al-Sham. After all, anything that invokes Syria might remind you of red lines that turned out not to be red lines and the administration’s facilitation of the arming of “moderate rebels” who turned out to include, well, ISIS. The fact is that the president has never had a Syria strategy, either — careening from Assad the Reformer, to Assad the Iranian puppet who must be toppled, to Assad who maybe we should consider aligning with against ISIS — ISIS being the “rebels” we used to support in Syria . . . unless they crossed into Iraq, in which case they were no longer rebels but terrorists . . . to be “rebels” again, they’d have to cross back into Syria or cruise east to Libya, where they used to be enemy jihadists spied on by our ally Qaddafi until they became “McCain’s heroes” overthrowing our enemy Qaddafi.
No? Well, congratulations, you may have caught mental health, a condition to be envied even if it would disqualify you from serving as a foreign-policy and national-security expert in Washington. In either party.
The Islamic State’s recent beheading of American journalist James Foley is not the only thing that captured Washington’s attention of late. The Beltway was also left aghast at the jihadisst’ rounding up of over 150 Syrian soldiers, forcing them to strip down to their underpants for a march through the desert, and then mass-killing them execution style.
Shocking, sure, but isn’t that what the GOP’s foreign-policy gurus were telling us they wanted up until about five minutes ago? Not the cruel method but the mass killing of Assad’s forces. Nothing oh nothing, we were told, could possibly be worse than the barbaric Assad regime. As naysayers — like your faithful correspondent — urged the government to refrain from backing “rebels” who teem with rabidly anti-American Islamic-supremacist savages, top Republicans scoffed. It was paramount that we arm the rebels in order to oust Assad, even though “we understand [that means] some people are going to get arms that should not be getting arms,” insisted Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Turns out that quite a lot of people who shouldn’t have gotten arms have gotten quite a lot of arms. And that is because Syria is not the only place as to which Republicans urged Obama to ignore federal laws against arming and otherwise supporting terrorists. They did it in Libya, too.
We have several times documented here that influential Republicans led by Senator John McCain were champions of Moammar Qaddafi before they suddenly switched sides — along with President Obama — in campaigning to oust the Libyan regime they had only recently treated (and funded) as a key American counterterrorism ally. The resulting (and utterly foreseeable) empowerment of Islamic supremacists in eastern Libya directly contributed to the Benghazi Massacre of four Americans on September 11, 2012; to the rise of the Islamic State and the expansion of al-Qaeda franchises in Africa, all of which were substantially strengthened by the jihadist capture of much of Qaddafi’s arsenal; and to what has become the collapse of Libya into a virulently anti-American no-man’s land of competing militias in which jihadists now have the upper hand.
The disastrous flip-flop was no surprise. When Mubarak fell in Egypt, Senator McCain stressed that the Brotherhood must be kept out of any replacement government because the Brothers are anti-democratic supporters of repressive sharia and terrorism. He was right on both scores . . . but he soon reversed himself, deciding that the Brotherhood was an outfit Americans could work with after all — even support with sophisticated American weaponry and billions in taxpayer dollars. The Brothers were in power because, in the interim, McCain’s good friend Secretary Clinton pressured Egypt’s transitional military government to step down so the elected “Islamic democracy” could flourish. When the Brothers took the reins, they promptly installed a sharia constitution, demanded that the U.S. release the Blind Sheikh (convicted of running a New York–based terror cell in the 1990s), rolled out the red carpet for Hamas (the terror organization that is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch), and gave free reign to terrorist leaders — including the brother of al-Qaeda’s leader and members of the Blind Sheikh’s Egyptian jihadist organization — who proceeded to foment the violent rioting at the U.S. embassy in Cairo the same day as the Benghazi Massacre.
I could go on, but you get the point. While ripping Obama for having no Islamic State strategy, Republicans are now reviving the inane strategy of supporting the illusory “moderate Syrian opposition.” Those would be the same forces they wanted to support against Assad. The only problem was that there aren’t enough real moderates in Syria to mount a meaningful challenge to the regime. The backbone of the opposition to Assad has always been the Muslim Brotherhood, and the most effective fighters against the regime have always been the jihadists. So we’re back to where we started from: Let’s pretend that there is a viable, moderate, democratic Syrian opposition and that we have sufficient intelligence — in a place where we have sparse intelligence — to vet them so we arm only the good guys; and then let’s arm them, knowing that they have seamlessly allied for years with the anti-American terrorists we are delegating them to fight on our behalf. Perfect.
There is no excuse for a president of the United States to have no strategy against an obvious threat to the United States. But at least with Obama, it is understandable. He is hemmed in by his own ideology and demagoguery. The main challenge in the Middle East is not the Islamic State; it is the fact that the Islamic State and its al-Qaeda forebears have been fueled by Iran, which supports both Sunni and Shiite terrorism as long as it is directed at the United States. There cannot be a coherent strategy against Islamic supremacism unless the state sponsors of terrorism are accounted for, but Obama insists on seeing Iran as a potential ally rather than an incorrigible enemy.
Moreover, the combined jihadist threat is not a regional one merely seeking to capture territory in the Middle East; it is a global one that regards the United States as its primary enemy and that can be defeated only by America and its real allies. This is not a problem we can delegate to the basket-case governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, or to the “moderate” Syrian “rebels.” Yet the Obama Left’s relentless indictment of American self-defensive action in the Middle East has sapped the domestic political support necessary for vigorous military action against our enemies — action that will eventually have to include aggressive American combat operations on the ground.
But the GOP should take note: The jihad is not a problem we can delegate to the Muslim Brotherhood, either. We will not defeat our enemies until we finally recognize who they are — all of them.
CIA Operation “Zero Footprint”, Qatar, Benghazi and The Connection To Ahmed Abu Khattala – The Real Motive For The Obama Administration’s Recent Arrest…June 18, 2014 by sundance
Yesterday, it was announced the Obama administration had moved on Sunday to arrest a Benghazi al-Qaeda leader Ahmed Abu Khattala. Many people, including Fox’s James Rosen pointed particular questions to the State Dept. about “why now”?
As unbelievable as this might sound, the most likely answer has little to do with what’s currently being pondered as a motive for this administration, “squirrel”. The reality is within the Bergdahl deal, and the GITMO-5 to Qatar, there is a far more likely reason.
Ahmed Abu Khattala is directly connected to the covert transfer of U.S. arms from Qatar to Libya in the initial 2011 decision to arm the Benghazi “rebels”.
Against the backdrop of recent discoveries about Qatar giving some of the aforementioned arms, specifically stinger missiles, to the Taliban in Afghanistan – Khattala became a risk of exposure to the White House.
They needed to throw a bag over him.
Bear with me through the complexity and I’ll outline the events with all citations included for reference.
On March 30th 2011 Reuters News Agency reported that President Obama had already signed a secret order authorizing the CIA to provide covert support to the Libyan opposition, an operation that would become known as “Zero Footprint”.
2011- U.S. officials also have said that Saudi Arabia and Qatar, whose leaders despise Gaddafi, have indicated a willingness to supply Libyan rebels with weapons. (link)
Ultimately a joint decision between the State Department (Hillary Clinton) and CIA (General David Petraeus) was reached to use friendly nations as cover for direct shipment of U.S. arms into Libya as part of Operation Zero Footprint.
According to federal law, in the event a covert operation is deemed necessary, it is the president’s responsibility to alert the leadership in the House and Senate, as well as the chairman and ranking members of the Intelligence Committees in both chambers.
In the intelligence community, this group is referred to as “the Gang of 8″ [ John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Mike Rogers, Ruppersberger, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, Diane Feinstein, Saxby Chambliss].
The Gang of 8, which included leaders from both parties should have known about Operation Zero Footprint. Now think about all the political people who have either thrown roadblocks up, or dragged their heels, in the two years since the Benghazi attack…. now go back and look at that list again. Got it? OK, good… read on.
Ironically – who probably didn’t know about Zero Footprint? John McCain – Seen here, in Benghazi, with Chris Stevens around the time it was all being executed.
It is important to remember this covert operation was after General Carter Ham (Africom) was removed in his authority over the Libyan conflict and NATO took over.
Nothing moved in and out of Libya but for the approval of NATO; so Admiral Stavridis, NATO command, had to authorize any of the armed shipments that came in there.
By the time of this White House/NATO decision Chris Stevens was embedded in Benghazi, helping to coordinate those arms shipments.
In the process constructed NATO (via Stavridis), following the instructions of the U.S. State department and CIA, used the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the financier of the weapons.
Qatar was used as the front or go-between to handle the logistics and shipping of the weapons in and out of Libya.
Ahmed Abu Khattala in his position as the insurgent commander within the Libyan Islamic Fighting group, and as leader of Ansar al-Sharia (which is the Muslim Brotherhood link in Libya), was the recipient of all those arms flowing into Libya.
Khattala was the commander within the actual fighting force on the ground. Khattala was the leader of what Hillary called “the rebels”.
It was only a year after the attacks on the State Dept./CIA compound – on December 31, 2013- when the State Department designated Ahmed Abu Khattalah as a global terrorist.
Khattalah was the senior leader of the group Ansar al-Sharia, known for its extreme hostility toward the West. Khattalah had spent most of his adult life imprisoned by the Qaddafi regime for his Islamist views, fueling his hatred for the dictator.
Because of the unique construction of the entire Libyan operation the Department of Defense and the FBI had virtually no knowledge of Operation Zero Footprint, which is completely consistent with the US Senate Select Committee’s finding after the Benghazi attack.
In addition -as has previously been reported- AFRICOM Commander General Carter Ham was not aware a CIA Annex even existed in Benghazi, at the time of the attacks.
As the Senate Select Committee pointed out:
We are puzzled as to how the military leadership [vis-a-vi Ham] expected to effectively respond and rescue Americans in the event of an emergency when it did not even know of the existence of one of the U.S. facilities.
Details of the covert weapons operation Zero Footprint were tightly guarded among select members of Congress (the Gang of Eight), the CIA (Petraeus), the State Department (Clinton) and the White House (Donilon), who were all trying to manage a covert operation that would expose a U.S. policy decision to arm al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist militias. A decision that would ultimately lead to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
A few weeks ago, when the political team of McDonough, Blinkin, Rhodes et al, made the political decision to use Bowe Bergdahl as an example of President Obama’s military bona-fides, and try to cover the growing VA scandal, they didn’t think through the possibility of a linkage with Qatar so heavily referenced in the media again as part of the deal to release the GITMO-5.
Indeed, Qatar might have slipped by unnoticed were it not for the backlash against the release of the terrorists and the political hot-potato the entire decision became.
The White House team could never have anticipated the re-surfacing of Qatar and the connections that came up to Qatar’s previous less-than-honorable follow-through with the Libyan missiles; some of which ended up in the hands of the Taliban and were used against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
However, once folks –including media– began sniffing around the Qatar connections, the problem of Ahmed Khattala re-surfaced as a risk that needed to be under control. The risk compounded with the reality that ISIS, the Syrian al-Qaeda insurgency, was in the news all over Northern Iraq holding the same -albeit a different batch- stinger missiles previously id’d to the Taliban.
So last Sunday they threw a bag over him.
Now, with all of that absorbed, take a break – grab a beverage – and sit down to watch this video you’ll see how it all comes together: Here
Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of GaddafiTuesday 03 September 2013 by Patrick Cockburn
A little under two years ago, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, urged British businessmen to begin “packing their suitcases” and to fly to Libya to share in the reconstruction of the country and exploit an anticipated boom in natural resources.
Yet now Libya has almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government loses control of much of the country to militia fighters.
Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, has threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.
As world attention focused on the coup in Egypt and the poison gas attack in Syria over the past two months, Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Gaddafi two years ago. Government authority is disintegrating in all parts of the country putting in doubt claims by American, British and French politicians that Nato’s military action in Libya in 2011 was an outstanding example of a successful foreign military intervention which should be repeated in Syria.
In an escalating crisis little regarded hitherto outside the oil markets, output of Libya’s prized high-quality crude oil has plunged from 1.4 million barrels a day earlier this year to just 160,000 barrels a day now. Despite threats to use military force to retake the oil ports, the government in Tripoli has been unable to move effectively against striking guards and mutinous military units that are linked to secessionist forces in the east of the country.
Libyans are increasingly at the mercy of militias which act outside the law. Popular protests against militiamen have been met with gunfire; 31 demonstrators were shot dead and many others wounded as they protested outside the barracks of “the Libyan Shield Brigade” in the eastern capital Benghazi in June.
Though the Nato intervention against Gaddafi was justified as a humanitarian response to the threat that Gaddafi’s tanks would slaughter dissidents in Benghazi, the international community has ignored the escalating violence. The foreign media, which once filled the hotels of Benghazi and Tripoli, have likewise paid little attention to the near collapse of the central government.
The strikers in the eastern region Cyrenaica, which contains most of Libya’s oil, are part of a broader movement seeking more autonomy and blaming the government for spending oil revenues in the west of the country. Foreigners have mostly fled Benghazi since the American ambassador, Chris Stevens, was murdered in the US consulate by jihadi militiamen last September. Violence has worsened since then with Libya’s military prosecutor Colonel Yussef Ali al-Asseifar, in charge of investigating assassinations of politicians, soldiers and journalists, himself assassinated by a bomb in his car on 29 August.
Rule by local militias is also spreading anarchy around the capital. Ethnic Berbers, whose militia led the assault on Tripoli in 2011, temporarily took over the parliament building in Tripoli. The New York-based Human Rights Watch has called for an independent investigation into the violent crushing of a prison mutiny in Tripoli on 26 August in which 500 prisoners had been on hunger strike. The hunger strikers were demanding that they be taken before a prosecutor or formally charged since many had been held without charge for two years.
The government called on the Supreme Security Committee, made up of former anti-Gaddafi militiamen nominally under the control of the interior ministry, to restore order. At least 19 prisoners received gunshot shrapnel wounds, with one inmate saying “they were shooting directly at us through the metal bars”. There have been several mass prison escapes this year in Libya including 1,200 escaping from a prison after a riot in Benghazi in July.
The Interior Minister, Mohammed al-Sheikh, resigned last month in frustration at being unable to do his job, saying in a memo sent to Mr Zeidan that he blamed him for failing to build up the army and the police. He accused the government, which is largely dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, of being weak and dependent on tribal support. Other critics point out that a war between two Libyan tribes, the Zawiya and the Wirrshifana, is going on just 15 miles from the Prime Minister’s office.
Diplomats have come under attack in Tripoli with the EU ambassador’s convoy ambushed outside the Corinthia hotel on the waterfront. A bomb also wrecked the French embassy.
One of the many failings of the post-Gaddafi government is its inability to revive the moribund economy. Libya is wholly dependent on its oil and gas revenues and without these may not be able to pay its civil servants. Sliman Qajam, a member of the parliamentary energy committee, told Bloomberg that “the government is running on its reserves. If the situation doesn’t improve, it won’t be able to pay salaries by the end of the year”.
Ansar al-Sharia running training camps in Benghazi and DarnahAugust 28, 2013 BY: Bill Gertz
U.S. intelligence agencies earlier this month uncovered new evidence that al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Benghazi are training foreign jihadists to fight with Syria’s Islamist rebels, according to U.S. officials.
Ansar al-Sharia, the al Qaeda-affiliated militia that U.S. officials say orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound and a CIA facility in Benghazi, is running several training camps for jihadists in Benghazi and nearby Darnah, another port city further east, said officials who discussed some details of the camps on condition of anonymity.
The officials said the terror training camps have been in operation since at least May and are part of a network that funnels foreign fighters to Syrian rebel groups, including the Al-Nusra Front, the most organized of the Islamist rebel groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus.
The officials said the jihadist training is a clear indication that Ansar al-Sharia continues to conduct terrorist activities and is linked to jihadists in both Syria and North Africa.
Disclosure of the terror training camps also bolsters earlier intelligence assessments that Libya, following the death of Muammar Qaddafi, is now a focal point for al Qaeda terrorist activity in North Africa.
Information about the terrorist training camps in northeastern Libya was uncovered after the arrest of several jihadists near the port city of Darnah in early August.
Other information about the camps appeared online at jihadist social media outlets around the same time.
Two men identified as Tunisians disclosed the existence of the training camps in Benghazi after they were interrogated by a local militia group in northern Libya.
At the time of their arrest, the Tunisians stated that they were trained in small arms use and were on their way to join Syria rebels by traveling first to Benghazi, then Istanbul, and over land across Turkey and into northern Syria.
According to the officials, the Tunisians were arrested Aug. 3. Inside their car, the militia found six passports, an AK-47 assault rifle, and foreign currency. A total of four people traveling in the car, including two Libyans, clashed with guards at a security checkpoint at the time of the arrest.
One of the men said he was an associate of Ansar al-Sharia’s leader Sufian Ben Qumu, an al Qaeda terrorist released from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007.
Details of the number of jihadist training camps and jihadists was not disclosed, but the officials said there are several training camps.
The Ansar al-Sharia Brigade in Benghazi was formed in early 2012 from several Islamist militias that fought during the 2011 revolution that ousted Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. The group was forced to relocate its operating bases based on local opposition to the group’s role in attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound.
Ansar al-Sharia is engaged in overt charitable activities and armed patrols in Benghazi, in addition to the covert terrorist training. The group has sought to play down its role in jihadist activities to avoid both the Libyan government and international scrutiny.
Ansar al-Sharia in Darnah was founded by former members of the terrorist Salim Martyrs Brigade and operates a base west of Darnah.
Libyan officials told Britain’s Arabic language newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat earlier this month that some type of covert U.S. military action was taken against al Qaeda bases in Darnah. However, Pentagon spokesmen said they had no information about such attack that reportedly took place Aug. 11.
U.S. intelligence agencies believe Libya has produced more jihadist rebels for the Syrian conflict than any other outside nation. Some 20 percent of foreign jihadists in Syria came from Libya and that several hundred are currently in the country.
Over 100 Libyans were reported killed in Syrian fighting for such rebel groups as Al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Umma Brigade, Muhajirin Brigade, and Ahrar al-Sham, an Al-Nusra offshoot.
The jihadist training highlights the danger that Libya is becoming a breeding ground for al Qaeda terrorists. Officials said the weak central government in Tripoli has allowed Islamist militias to flourish, including in Benghazi and Darnah where the two factions Ansar al-Sharia groups operate.
The Ansar al-Sharia Brigade was blamed by U.S. officials for carrying out the deadly Benghazi terrorist attack Sept. 11.
The Obama administration sought to cover up the terrorist attack in the weeks before the presidential election by initially claiming the action was the result of a spontaneous demonstration triggered by an anti-Islamic Internet video.
Four Americans were killed in the attack, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
A Pentagon report from August 2012 published by the Library of Congress stated that al Qaeda senior leaders and the group al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) “have sought to take advantage of the Libyan Revolution to recruit militants and to reinforce their operational capabilities in an attempt to create a safe haven and possibly to extend their area of operations to Libya.”
The report said al Qaeda is developing a “clandestine network” in Libya that could be used in the future to destabilize the government and offer logistical support for al Qaeda activities in the region.
The report said that AQIM has formed sleeper cells that “are probably connected to an al Qaeda underground network in Libya, likely as a way, primarily, to secure the supply of arms for its ongoing jihadist operations in Algeria and the Sahel.”
“The al Qaeda clandestine network is currently in an expansion phase, running training camps and media campaigns on social-media platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube,” the report said. “However it will likely continue to mask its presence under the umbrella of the Libyan Salafist movement, with which it shares a radical ideology and a general intent to implement sharia in Libya and elsewhere.”
To avoid attacks, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya “could be the new face of al Qaeda in Libya despite its leader’s denial.”
August 22, 2013 by Kris Zane
It has been widely reported in Egyptian media that one of the leaders in the attack against the Benghazi consulate on September 11, 2012 was Mohsen Al-Azazi.
According to Ahmed Moussa, a former high ranking intelligence official with the Egyptian government and several other sources, Al-Azazi’s passport was found in the house of Khairat Al-Shater, the Number Two man in the Muslim Brotherhood hierarchy, now under house arrest in Egypt by the Egyptian military. Al-Azazi has been implicated as the actual assassin of Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
But this is only the beginning of a blockbuster story.
According to Khairat Al-Shater’s son, Saad Al-Shater, his father is in possession of information linking Obama with criminal activities tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.
As reported by at least six Arabic news sources:
In an interview with the Anatolia News Agency, Saad Al-Shater, the son of a Muslim Brotherhood leader, the detained Khairat Al-Shater said that his father had in his hand evidence that will land the head of United States of America, President Obama, in prison.
Further, as reported by several Arabic news sources, citing a Libyan Intelligence document dated September 15, 2012, six Egyptians from the terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia based in Egypt were arrested for the Benghazi attacks and confessed that then-Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi was behind the attack. Additionally, Muslim Brotherhood researcher Walid Shoebat has obtained a copy of the Libyan Intelligence document and confirms Mohammed Morsi is named in the confession.
Per Shoebat’s translation of the document:
The most distinguished names that were obtained from the confessions by members of the cell, is the person, the President of Egypt, Mohammad Morsi…
The Libyan Intelligence document goes on to name five other co-conspirators, all members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
This is the same Mohammed Morsi who Barack Hussein Obama was fawning over and sent hundreds of millions of dollars to in foreign aid. The same Mohammed Morsi that Obama is still supporting, sending his minions to lobby for his release by the Egyptian military. This despite the fact that the Egyptian military has evidence that Morsi conspired with the terrorist group Hamas to murder thousands of Egyptian citizens.
There is even a video of Ansar al-Sharia, the group that attacked the Benghazi consulate, admitting that it was Morsi who was behind the attack. This was broadcast on Libyan TV!
But there’s more.
According to Arabic News Channel TV14 and reported on by Egypt Daily News, Obama sent an eight billion dollar secret bribe to the Muslim Brotherhood to guarantee that the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula be turned over to the terrorist group Hamas. Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood sister group, works directly with Ansar al-Sharia in the Sinai Peninsula. Channel TV14 goes on to say that the agreement was signed by Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood’s second in command, Khairat Al-Shater, now under house arrest in Egypt, who says he has documents that will put Obama in prison!
But it gets worse: the eight billion dollars that Obama sent to the Muslim Brotherhood was shared with Ansar al-Sharia, the group that attacked our consulate and CIA Annex in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
If all of this proves to be true, Barack Hussein Obama funded the attack on the Benghazi consulate and CIA Annex. Barack Hussein Obama funded the assassination of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Barack Hussein Obama is therefore an accessory to murder, not to mention a traitor!
As new information surfaces about last year’s attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and as the National Security Agency scandal continues to swirl throughout the media, the Obama administration has come out with a worldwide warning about the possibility of serious terrorist attacks.
Please forgive my skepticism. The news media need to dig into the timing and motivation of these warnings, coming as they do against the backdrop of scandals, particularly when the administration has created what it thinks is a win-win situation. Simply put, if the attacks fail to occur, President Obama’s team can claim that they thwarted them. If the attacks do occur, the administration can say it provided fair warning. But that’s a fool’s bargain when dealing with terrorists who can simply strike another day.
In an hour-long broadcast Tuesday, “The Truth About Benghazi,” CNN reported that dozens of CIA operatives were on the ground in Benghazi on Sept. 11 — something the agency has apparently tried to cover up. That’s the night Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
Such information brings the Benghazi issue — one the administration thought had lost significant traction — back into public view. If the CIA had people on the ground, why were Stevens and the three others essentially left to die?
The Department of Justice filed a sealed indictment against a Libyan militia leader on the same day CNN broadcast its report on the Benghazi attack. Amazing coincidence? Please forgive my skepticism again.
By promoting its efficiency in picking up the chatter about possible terrorist attacks, the intelligence community may believe it can quiet critics outraged by the revelations of the NSA’s widespread domestic surveillance programs — information leaked by onetime NSA contractor Edward Snowden to Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian.
Once again, pardon my skepticism. The NSA scandal is unlikely to die down anytime soon, despite the terrorist threat taking over the news for this week. And think about it for a moment. Do you honestly believe that the leader of al Qaeda communicates with his right-hand man in Yemen without considering how many other sets of ears may be listening? I strongly doubt it.
Now is the time for reporters to look to their confidential sources about the nature of the terrorist threats. One problem exists — one you might have missed last week. The Justice Department won a key victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals to force a reporter for The New York Times to reveal his confidential sources about information he published in a book on the Iranian nuclear program. That decision creates a significant chill among sources who might want to talk about severity of the current threat.
I spent a decade reporting about Middle East terrorism for Newsweek and ABC News. Terrorists typically have several objectives. One is to inflict death and destruction. Another is to create fear among the civilian population of a stronger adversary, such as the United States, and its allies.
By closing 22 embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East and North Africa and keeping 19 of them shut for the rest of the week, the Obama administration has already given the terrorists a major public relations victory.
Remember during the campaign when Mr. Obama constantly said al Qaeda was on the run? Maybe he wanted to use intelligence information back then to get re-elected. Now maybe he and his administration want intelligence information to provide cover for a variety of scandals. The dots really don’t need to be connected; the connections are all too obvious.
• Christopher Harper is a professor at Temple University. He worked for more than 20 years at the Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and “20/20.” He can be contacted at email@example.com. Twitter: @charper51.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and @josephcurl.
Nothing. That is what President Barack Obama did on the night of September 11, 2012, as terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and killed four Americans, among them Ambassador Christopher Stevens. President Obama’s inaction was revealed in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday by outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey.
Under direct questioning by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Panetta admitted that he had no communication with President Obama after their “pre-scheduled” meeting at 5:00 p.m. EDT. The attack on the consulate had already been under way for 90 minutes at that time. Neither the president nor anyone else from the White House called afterwards to check what was happening; the Commander-in-Chief had left it “up to us,” said Panetta.
Panetta’s testimony directly contradicts President Obama’s own claim to have issued “three directives” as soon as he learned “what was going on” in Benghazi. As he told a Denver reporter in October:
I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure we are securing our personnel and that we are doing whatever we need to. Number two, we are going to investigate exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice.
That same claim was subsequently repeated by other Democrats, including Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who came to the president’s defense. But if those directives were indeed given–and proof has never been produced–they were given long after the attack, not while the attack was going on, during which time the president did nothing.
Panetta and Dempsey also admitted, under questioning by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), that they were not in touch with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the attacks, and did not receive a request for help from the State Department. Dempsey also testified that he had been “surprised” at Clinton’s testimony last month that she did not know of an urgent cable from Ambassador Stevens last August about the dire security situation.
To borrow a metaphor from the 2008 Democratic primary campaign: when the 3 a.m. call came (at 5 p.m. in the afternoon), neither Clinton nor Obama were there to respond.
Panetta was also forced to admit, in the face of vigorous questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), that no military action at all had been taken to intervene in Benghazi after the attack had begun, promising only that a similar lapse would not happen again.
Later, on Thursday afternoon, during Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan’s confirmation hearing to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) demanded to know why the administration failed to interview a suspect in the attack.
Brennan’s response was merely that the Tunisian authorities who had arrested him “did not have a basis in their law” for allowing the U.S. to question him about the attack.
In sum: President Obama did nothing to save Americans under attack from terrorists. His Secretary of Defense did nothing. His Secretary of State did nothing. The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did nothing. His Deputy National Security Adviser defended doing “nothing” to help bring the perpetrators to justice. And the entire administration participated in an effort to cover up the truth. Because there was an election to be won.
- Panetta: Obama Absent Night of Benghazi, Clinton AWOL (treeofmamre.wordpress.com)
- “Icewater in His Veins”: While Doherty and Woods Were Fighting For Their Lives, Obama Was Sleeping Soundly (nicedeb.wordpress.com)
- Panetta: Obama & Hillary Absent Night of Benghazi (calvinistview.com)
- Panetta: Obama AWOL on Night of Benghazi Attack (breitbart.com)
- Panetta Can’t Explain Why Obama Never Called Back During Benghazi Attack (visiontoamerica.com)