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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Benghazi’

Another Dan Rather Moment For CBS News?

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Several weeks before the 2004 presidential election, CBS News anchor Dan Rather ran a story on the network’s “60 Minutes” program about President George W. Bush’s service in the National Guard, claiming he had gone AWOL, among other improprieties. Mr. Rather cited several records and documents said to have been maintained by Mr. Bush’s deceased commander and provided by another National Guard official. As it turned out, however, the documents were later found to have been inauthentic and Mr. Rather’s career as a mainstream newsman was effectively ended.

Now comes the shocking revelation that CBS News withheld, until this past Sunday – two days before the election – a key portion of its “60 Minutes” interview with President Obama conducted within hours after his Rose Garden press conference on September 12, the day after the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi.

The newly released excerpt plainly confirms that President Obama misrepresented the facts when he claimed during the second presidential debate to have referred in the Rose Garden to the Benghazi attack as a terrorist act rather than a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muhammad film.

It will be recalled that one of the electrifying moments in the second presidential debate was Governor Romney’s reaction to President Obama’s Rose Garden claim. Mr. Obama had been responding to a question about whether he and his administration refused to label the attack an act of terror (as opposed to a spontaneous reaction to an the anti-Muhammad film) because the administration had been boasting that terrorist groups were under control in that area.

Critics of Mr. Obama’s assertion pointed out that for weeks after Benghazi, administration officials uniformly maintained that the attack was a frenzied, popular response to the movie’s provocations. And a review of the Rose Garden transcript indicates it is quite a stretch to take Mr. Obama at his word. These are the relevant excerpts:

The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack…. Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts…. No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for….

So not only did the president frame the attack in terms of an “unjustified” reaction to the denigration of “the religious beliefs of others” – i.e., it was a riot by enraged Muslims – he also was plainly referring to “this type of senseless violence” when he used the phrase “acts of terror.”

Notwithstanding, the first clip of the interview put out by CBS on October 19, five weeks after the attack, appeared to support the president’s claim, carrying the following exchange between Mr. Obama and 60 Minutes correspondent Steven Kroft:

Kroft: But there are reports that they were heavily armed with grenades, that doesn’t sound like your normal demonstration.

Obama: As I said, we’re still investigating exactly what happened, I don’t want to jump the gun on this. But you’re right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt. And my suspicion is there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start. So we’re gonna make sure that our first priority is to get our folks out safe, make sure our embassies are secured around the world and then we are going to go after those folks who carried this out.

But here’s part of the newly released portion of that interview – and again, bear in mind that the interview was conducted the night after Mr. Obama’s Rose Garden press conference:

Kroft: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya attack. Do you believe this was a terrorism attack?

Obama: Well, it’s too early to tell exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other.

Ari Fleischer, Norm Coleman, Expose Obama’s Record on Israel, But Leave Too Much Hidden

Monday, November 5th, 2012

To paraphrase Shoeless Joe Jackson: If you hold it, they will come.  The Republican Jewish Coalition held a Town Hall-style meeting to promote a Romney candidacy in northern suburban Philadelphia last week, and boy did they ever come!  The event was held on Thursday, November 1, at Gratz College, in Melrose Park, PA.  There wasn’t a parking space left across the entire campus, and cars lined the street surrounding the entrance.

The event, “The Jewish & Pro-Israel Community at a Crossroads – Critical Issues & Choices Facing the U.S. & Israel,” featured Senator Norm Coleman (Republican former U.S. Senator from Minnesota), and former White House Press Secretary and political pundit Ari Fleischer, with RJC executive director Matt Brooks as the host. They pulled together three big, deep-red easy chairs and two small tables to hold their water bottles.  The three spoke for an hour and a half in what seemed like a relaxed, and not overly rehearsed (although, clearly, it was) conversation about why Governor Mitt Romney is the better choice for president of the United States for Israel-supporters, especially  – but far from exclusively – Republican Jews.

Former Senator Norm Coleman (R. Min.) at the event Thursday.

Former Senator Norm Coleman (R. Min.) at the event Thursday. Photo: Richard Chait.

The pro-Romney event was the belated second half of a series held by a local synagogue.  The first event was in July, hosted by American Jews for Obama.   Headlining the July event was Democratic National Committee Chair Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl) as well as several local Democratic party politicians.  Thursday night’s event was moved to Gratz College because power was not yet fully restored, following the brutal lashing by Hurricane Sandy earlier in the week.

Not surprisingly, much of the discussion focused on Israel, with additional attention paid to the tragedy of the murders in Benghazi, Libya, and, to a lesser extent, domestic issues.

The evening began with a “preview” of a new RJC ad featuring Bryna Franklin, an American who now lives in Israel and who was, until recently, chair of “Democrats Abroad, Israel,” and was a past Democrat National Convention delegate.   Franklin explained why she is voting for Romney, even though “she’s never voted for a Republican before in my life.” Franklin’s words seemed to resonate for many in the audience.

This was the RJC traveling trio’s ninth stop in 5 days.  They had already appeared in Denver, Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio, Reno, Las Vegas, Detroit, Boca Raton and Miami, Florida, with Philly as the caboose.

President George W. Bush’s press secretary Ari Fleischer re-introduced the theme of an earlier RJC ad campaign, the one called “Buyer’s Remorse,” which featured voters who had voted for Obama in 2008, but who were voting against him in 2012.  Fleischer obviously was already a Republican, but he talked about why “Buyer’s Remorse” was such an apt meme for this campaign.

Why?  “Because,” Fleischer said, “Obama earned it, he earned it by his actions, he had the Jewish community,” but he lost it.  He ticked off a litany of missteps, including the President’s reversal of the commitment he made to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2008, when he called Jerusalem, “Israel’s undivided capital,” but on which he reversed himself.  Fleischer said, “he caved, within 24 hours, he caved because of the pressure of ‘Palestinians.’”

Fleischer pointed out something that had been lost on most listeners.  As someone whose job it was to manage the message coming out of the W. Bush White House, Fleischer realized what it meant when Vice President Joe Biden in March, 2010, used the word “condemned” when he criticized Israel for building in Jerusalem. “That word is the most severe word in the political lexicon,” Fleischer said.  To put as fine a point as possible on it, he said, “during the Bush administration, we used the word ‘condemned’ to criticize terrorist attacks,” not the building of homes in Jerusalem.

Senator Norm Coleman is a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney.  With his pompadoured hair and rail-thin physique, Coleman looks like a Saturday Night Live caricature of a politician, but somehow when he speaks from the stage, his personality fills out the hollows.  Like Fleischer, Coleman is also a former Democrat.  In fact, Coleman grew up in Brooklyn and said he “never met a Republican or a Lutheran until he went to college.”

Coleman got off one of the best lines of the evening when he told the standing-room crowd, that the “Buyer’s Remorse” theme goes beyond the Jewish community.  He said that after two wars and an economic downturn, “Americans wanted to change Washington . . . but they didn’t want to change America.”

Brooks asked Coleman, what about the phrase we keep hearing, that “Obama is the best friend for Israel’s security?”  “We’ve heard it from [Israeli President] Shimon Peres, [Israeli Defense Minister Ehud] Barak?”

Coleman disposed of the softball question with the obvious answer, “every Israeli leader is going to say every current American leader is ‘the best,’ because to do otherwise is not only unprofessional, it’s political suicide.”  In other words, anyone who quotes a sitting Israeli politician saying anything flattering about a sitting American politician has nothing of substance to offer.

The evening hit the high notes of the Romney campaign, bemoaning President Obama’s “leading from behind” lack of leadership which has led to a “less safe, less secure America, which, in turn, will only increase the need for boots on the ground” at more advanced, less opportune moments of international engagement, such as in various parts of the Middle East and elsewhere.

A recurring note was the dangers inherent in the ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the resurrection of Al Qaeda, including in Syria, Lebanon and Mali.

Fleischer took the oar on the domestic front.  He reminded the audience that America was already on its way out of the recession by the spring of 2009.  “But,” he said, “the actions of the anti-growth, anti-capitalism administration, through its ill-advised stimulus, the cash for clunkers program, the home-buying credits and the auto bailouts have actually steered us deeper into debt, and more firmly into the red.” He said we are “now in the slowest recovery since the Great Depression,” while pointing out that the President had “two full years with a veto-proof House of Representatives and a filibuster-proof Senate.”

ON IRAN SANCTIONS

Coleman said that this Administration originally opposed sanctions against Iran, it later opposed increasing the sanctions, and it opposed placing sanctions on the Bank of Iran, all of which the Obama campaign now claims are accomplishments of his administration.  Coleman also pointed out that even with the current level of sanctions – which is having an impact on Iranians, even if not on the Iranian regime’s efforts to acquire nuclear weaponization – there are too many exemptions.  But Sen. Coleman suggested there are additional measures that could be taken, and should already have been taken, to actually achieve a biting impact on the Iranian regime. He suggested treating a pariah-like nation like a pariah. “For example,” he said, “Iranian diplomats should not be able to travel freely.”

ON BENGHAZI

In what some see as akin to a Watergate-level presidential failure, Ari Fleischer said of the Benghazi tragedy, “as someone who was behind the podium on September 11, 2001, I initially refused to criticize the president or his administration for their performance, and instead insisted on ‘waiting for the factual information to come in.’”

Fleischer reminded the audience that Cong. Peter King (R-NY) immediately called for US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice to be fired, after she appeared on five different talk shows blaming the violence on a cheap video, when it turned out there was evidence long before that the violence was a planned terrorist attack and had nothing to do with the movie.  Fleischer had publicly disagreed with King.

But, Fleischer said, what changed his mind was learning that the CounterTerrorism Security Group was never even convened while the attack was on-going. (According to CBS News, “The CSG is the one group that’s supposed to know what resources every agency has. They know of multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies.”  A high-ranking government official told CBS News, “they were not allowed to do their job. They were not called upon.”)

When Fleischer continued, “and yet the president blamed it on a video,” he was interrupted by the first and only major heckling incident of the evening.  A man stood up, shouting, “on the first day he said ‘terrorist!’” and walked out of the event.

After the outburst, Sen. Coleman tried to call the protester back into the auditorium, but the man had left, apparently uninterested in dialogue.  Coleman went on to calmly explain that while President Obama said the words “terrorist attacks,” during his talk in the Rose Garden on September 12, he was not referring specifically to the attack on the Benghazi diplomatic outpost, and that the administration continued for weeks to blame what was believed to be an American-made video for the violence that claimed the lives of the four Americans in Benghazi.

Both Coleman and Fleischer repeatedly said that “unfortunately,” the full truth about who knew what, when, and who made which decisions, is not going to come out before the election.  One audience member shouted out, “Fire him!” to which Sen. Coleman retorted, “you can do that on Nov. 6.”

DOMESTIC ISSUES

One woman asked the panelists to comment on whether Mitt Romney wanted to get rid of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Fleischer explained that he had also heard that rumor, and went to the source to see where it came from.  “Actually,” he explained, “while the question Romney was responding to was about FEMA, his answer was a more general response to government agencies which would be handled more efficiently and more expediently at the municipal and state levels, or even by private industry.”

Although Romney was being cast as shortsighted for calling for a change to be made to FEMA shortly before Hurricane Sandy hit, as Fleischer pointed out, it was the mayors and governors who were continually interviewed for information and updates, which was exactly Romney’s point.

On issues that present the ultimate barrier for so many Jews who might otherwise vote for a Republican, the two Republican politicians seemed to reflect the very nub of the issue.  Neither Coleman or Fleischer took a hard line on the issue of reproductive rights.  Fleischer was quick to make the point that on this issue, it is the Republican party that has the “big tent” approach.  He said that other than Pennsylvania’s own Sen. Bob Casey, it is hard to find any Democratic politicians who are pro-life, while there are many Republican pols who are pro-choice.

On the issue of health care, Coleman said that there are sections of Obamacare that are “pretty good,” and specifically mentioned the very real need to take care of those with a pre-existing condition.  The problem, he said, is that the way Obamacare is packaged, you can’t adopt the sensible provisions without being saddled with the ones that make no sense.

ONE BIG PROBLEM – LEADERS OVERESTIMATE THE PUBLIC’S KNOWLEDGE

FUNDING COMES FROM CONGRESS

One reason why so many Jewish supporters of President Obama have stuck with their 2008 choice is that the Democrats’ talking points are so reassuring, and because the Republican officials are so out of touch with what lay people know about how our government works.

Top talking points from the Jews for Obama playbook are that under Obama, Israel has received more financial and military assistance from the U.S. than under any other U.S. president, ever.

Of course that is nonsense, first, because Congress is primarily in charge of passing the budget.  It is in Congressional committees that the numbers get crunched – the President gets to submit a proposed budget, but Congress decides on the final budget, subject only to a presidential veto.

ISRAEL’S MISSILE DEFENSE

But at least as importantly, in this year, when President Obama and the Democrats have crowed so loudly about the enormous funding for Israel’s Arrow systems — two medium- and long-range anti-ballistic missile systems — and David’s Sling, a short-range anti-missile system, President Obama’s proposed budget actually decreased funding for that line item.  Congress ignored the President’s effort to reduce funding for Israel’s defense and instead practically doubled the amount requested by the Administration.  It was because of Congress that Israel received more “financial and military assistance” during this time period – although it was, indeed, technically, a time period during which Barrack Obama was the president – than ever before.

ISRAEL’S IRON DOME SYSTEM – AID AGREEMENT BEGAN IN 2007

At least one other point that bears discussion is the funding for Israel’s Iron Dome mobile defense system.  This system, which uses an interceptor to detonate incoming rockets and artillery shells, is largely credited with protecting much of southern Israel from its’ neighbors’ escalating aggression.   It is a project developed in and produced in Israel, but financed, in large part, by the U.S.  The financial agreement was part of a $30 billion 10-year military-aid agreement signed by the Bush administration back in 2007.

President Obama has not attempted to derail the Iron Dome aid project, but as a binding 10-year agreement, it is not clear that he even has the power to do so. But the project was neither developed during the Obama administration, nor did financial support for it originate with President Obama.

Unfortunately, the RJC trio gave short shrift to those major Democratic talking points that serve to allay the concerns of so many Jewish Americans who might otherwise be apprehensive about voting again for President Obama. Apparently they think “everyone knows” that it is Congress, the stalwart friend of Israel, that is the holder of the purse, and is the source for all U.S. aid, and they likewise think that “everyone knows” the Iron Dome defense system was a project agreed to during President Bush’s tenure in the White House, one which, as with virtually all military spending projects, is shepherded by hawks in Congress, in concert with the U.S. military – almost always a reliable friend to Israel.

But this is where the RJC and so many other political surrogates have lost touch with their audience, and it is a critical gap in comprehension which gives the edge to the Democratic party, when it comes to messaging to Jews and other pro-Israel supporters.

When the event concluded, two teenage boys stood out amidst a sea of late-middle age to decidedly-older audience members. Zach Lipstein and Noam Glanzberg-Krainin, both 13 year old students at a local Conservative Jewish day school, shyly agreed to answer a few questions from a reporter. Both quickly asserted that the panelists made “really good points.” Noam said he had not previously realized “that Iran is such a big threat.” Still, he was undecided about which candidate he favored, as “health care and the environment,” are two of his main concerns. Zach included Israel as amongst his top three priorities. He seemed confident, at least so long as his parents were watching, that he favors Romney.

Bob and Francine Lipstein, both Baby Boomers, thought the event was well worth their half hour ride from Lower Merion township, in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Francine Lipstein was not surprised by the huge turnout, and said she was particularly “impressed by the panelists’ clarity on the issues.”

In particular, she was grateful for the event, as “the American people have not all heard the information, because the mainstream media is so ‘in the tank’ for Obama.” Lipstein didn’t have to be convinced as she already planned to vote for Romney because of his “business acumen, his love for Israel and his passion for helping others.” While she was not a “Buyer’s Remorse” voter, until 2001, Francine Lipstein was a Democrat.

Bob Lipstein was more succinct. He said the event “validated the passion I felt throughout this campaign.”

When was the last time you heard about Republican Jewish passion? Maybe it’s a new trend.

 

The Blood of an American Hero

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

I keep hearing the words of Charles Woods as he speaks of his son Tyrone. Tyrone was a Navy SEAL – who did what Navy SEALS have been doing for as long as they have existed – he went to the aid of his fellow Americans. For 7 hours, he fought terrorists at the American consulate in Benghazi. He and Glen Doherty managed to hold them off, managed to kill 60 of them, according to some reports. And in all that time, no Americans arrived to help them, to save them. No one came to their aid despite repeated requests, despite available assets.

During a recent interview, Charles Woods said:

They watched my son die. As far as I’m concerned, there are people, in the White House, whoever it was that was in that room, watching that video of my son dying, their cries for help, their order ‘don’t help them at all, let them die,’ whoever that might be, it might be numerous people, you have the blood of my son, you have the blood of an American hero on your hands. I don’t know who you are, but one of these days the truth will come out. I still forgive you, but you need to stand up.

I don’t want to point any fingers, but obviously, people in the White House were watching this happen. Real time. They – someone in the White House, or many people in the White House, watched the events unfolding, and knew that if they gave the order to stand down, that my son would die. They watched my son die.

“They watched my son die.” Those words haunt me. I cannot imagine the pain this father feels – not only having lost his son, but having been betrayed by his government. President Barack Hussein Obama is the Commander-in-Chief – even if he did not give the order to leave these heroes behind…and I believe he did give that order – but even if he did not, the one thing we agree on is that this was his responsibility. It is his hands that carry the blood of these men.

Elie told me the story of one of his commanding officers. While the officer was off-base, at meetings or whatever, there was a training exercise and a nagmash (an APC) turned over and a commander was killed. There was another officer, of lower rank in charge of the exercise but Elie’s commanding officer was the commander above that officer and so he took responsibility; he took the demotion; he took the punishment.

His advancement in the army was delayed for several years because ultimately, he felt that what happened under his command, was his to answer for. There was never a question that it was a tragic accident; there was no order that could have been given to save the soldier who died and certainly there was nothing anyone nearby could have done to prevent it from happening. You train and you train hard because in war, you’ll have to scale those hills and drive over rough terrain. That time, it went wrong.

What happened in Libya was not a training exercise and according to several reports, there was aid that could have been sent in – drones filming it, ships within range. It was not an accident but an attack. And unlike Elie’s commanding officer, the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces did leave a man behind, two good men, in fact…and even four if you count the diplomats.

They watched his son die – and for the rest of his life, that image, that reality, that horrible truth will forever be his reality. The blood of American heroes cries out to all who will listen. Responsibility must be taken – and it starts at the very highest address in Washington down to the sewers and  streets of Benghazi because no parent should ever have to say those horrible words ever again.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

There’s More To The
Benghazi Story Than Meets The Eye

The U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, actually served as a meeting place to coordinate aid for the rebel-led insurgencies in the Middle East, according to Middle Eastern security officials. Among the tasks performed inside the building was collaborating with Arab countries on the recruitment of fighters – including jihadists – to target Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.

This information may help explain why there was no major public security presence at what has been described as a “consulate.” Such a presence would have drawn attention to the shabby, nondescript building that was allegedly used for such sensitive purposes.

Since the mission was attacked, countless news media reports around the world have referred to the obscure post as a U.S. consulate. That theme continues to permeate the media, with articles daily referencing a “consulate” in Benghazi.

A consulate typically refers to the building that officially houses a consul, who is the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another. The U.S. consul in Libya, Jenny Cordell, works out of the embassy in Tripoli.

According to Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND, the so-called consulate was more of a diplomatic meeting place for U.S. officials, including Stevens. The security officials divulged that the building was routinely used by Stevens and others to coordinate with the Turkish, Saudi, and Qatari governments on supporting the insurgencies in the Middle East, most prominently the rebels opposing Assad’s regime in Syria.

Last week, the State Department gave a vivid account of Stevens’s final day during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. It was disclosed that about an hour before the attack began, Stevens concluded his final meeting of the day with a Turkish diplomat. Turkey has been leading the insurgency against Assad’s regime.

Last month, this reporter broke the story that Stevens played a central role in recruiting jihadists to fight Assad’s regime in Syria, according to Egyptian security officials. Stevens served as a key contact with the Saudis to coordinate the recruitment by Saudi Arabia of Islamic fighters from North Africa and Libya. The jihadists were sent to Syria via Turkey to attack Assad’s forces, said the security officials.

The officials said Stevens also worked with the Saudis to send names of potential jihadi recruits to U.S. security organizations for review. Names found to be directly involved in previous attacks against the U.S., including in Iraq and Afghanistan, were ultimately not recruited by the Saudis to fight in Syria, said the officials.

AP Story Contradicts Reuters Account

A just-released Associated Press account of the Benghazi attack contradicts a Reuters article claiming to quote a protester who described a supposedly popular demonstration against an anti-Muhammad film outside the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

The Reuters article claiming a popular protest against a Muhammad film is also contradicted by vivid accounts provided by the State Department and intelligence officials that no such popular demonstration took place. Video footage from Benghazi reportedly shows an organized group of armed men attacking the compound, the officials said.

The AP has now assembled an account of the Benghazi attack based on first-person witnesses. According to the AP, “It began around nightfall on Sept. 11 with around 150 bearded gunmen, some wearing the Afghan-style tunics favored by Islamic militants, sealing off the streets leading to the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. They set up roadblocks with pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns, according to witnesses.

“There was no sign of a spontaneous protest against an American-made movie denigrating Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.”

This account contrasts sharply with a Reuters report from Sept. 13 – two days after the attack – describing a supposedly popular protest outside the U.S. mission and even claiming to quote a protester.

Reads the Sept. 13 Reuters report: “Accounts from Libyan and U.S. officials, and from locals who watched what began as a protest on Tuesday against a crudely made American film that insults the Prophet Mohammad spiral into violence and a military-style assault on U.S. troops, point to a series of unfortunate choices amid the confusion and fear.”

The article quotes one protester, by his first name only, described as “a 17-year-old student named Hamam, who spoke to Reuters at the devastated compound on Wednesday.”

A Short Guide to the Benghazi Issue: What is it Really All About?

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Visit Rubin Reports.

“Where do They come from, those whom we so much dread, As on our dearest location falls the chill Of their crooked wing….” –W.H. Auden, “Crisis,” (1940)

The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the murder of four Americans there has become a huge issue. There are many stories and rumors that are still being debated and more information is coming out. What I’m going to try to do here is to analyze the enduring themes raised by these tragic events.

Why Do They Hate Us? There is a debate over the causes of terrorism and anti-Americanism in the world. One possible view is that the principal problem is that of genuine conflict. The adversaries hold certain ideological ideas—say, revolutionary Islamism—to which American society and policies are antithetical. The collision (as with Communism, Nazism, and aggressive Japanese militarism in earlier decades) is inevitable. The United States is inconveniencing the totalitarians both because of what it does (policies) and because of what it represents (freedom, democracy, capitalism).

The other view currently dominates many Western academic “experts,” politicians, mass media, and even governments. That concept is that the hatred is our own fault. We have done things in the past—which require apologies—and are doing things in the present that makes people angry at America who otherwise would be friendly.

An exception is made for a “tiny minority of extremists,” mainly a code word for al-Qaida, but the more sophisticated argument is that such people would have no following if America handled things properly.

Thus, in this case, if American facilities are attacked in Cairo and Benghazi it must have been something America did wrong, to wit, an insulting video made by an immigrant from the Middle East about Islam.

Diagnosing the problem tells one what the cure is: sensitivity; respect; tightening rules against such insults; bowing and scraping; refusing to identify radicals and terrorists with Islam in any way; giving large amounts of money; helping the Muslim Brotherhood so it will be grateful later; telling the NASA director to make up stuff about Muslim contributions to space travel, etc.

That is the path the Obama Administration, with major support from the intellectual-cultural establishment, has followed.

Why Do Some of Us Hate Ourselves?

The answer to this question follows from the first answer. If “we” are responsible for the hatred and conflict, then we have done evil and must repent. We are the problem or, as one much-feted American intellectual put it, the United States is the cancer of the world.

In the Benghazi case, however, it is hard to come up with more than a video, according to the dominant view. After all, didn’t the United States “liberate” Libya from a terrible dictator? Of course, the problem is that from the standpoint of the radicals, the United States merely became Libya’s new master, blocking the revolutionary Islamist, Sharia state they wanted, producing a “puppet” (who cares if it was elected?) government.

America is thus the prime enemy not because it did something evil but because it did something which the U.S. government regarded as good. If they hate us in Libya for sinful policies, then President Barack Obama, not the Egyptian-born video producer, is the chief sinner.

Is America a Bully or a Leader? As noted above, the establishment view today is that America has been a bully in the past, acting unilaterally and not respecting the views of others. Obama has said this directly when speaking to foreign—including Middle Eastern—audiences.

But how does one stop being a bully? By showing that one isn’t tough, doesn’t protect one’s interests fiercely. Thus, in the Benghazi case, the U.S. government didn’t send the ambassador to Benghazi with Americans to guard him, nor did the consulate have Americans to provide security. To do so would be to show disrespect for the Libyans, to act in a way that might be perceived of as imperialistic.

Similarly, the president would not call in an airstrike against the attackers or send an armed rescue team to the consulate because to do so would have signaled an arrogance and aggressiveness, putting Americans first and not acting as a citizen of the world.

Benghazi’s Tough Questions

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

The story of how the Obama Administration failed to secure a U.S. consulate and then failed to send in support while it was under attack may turn out to be the biggest scandal of this administration. But that will only happen if Benghazigate is the subject of a thorough and rigorous investigation. And that means basing stories on facts or on reliable reports, rather than on speculation and internet rumors that no one would take seriously in any other context.

I have received dozens of emails in the last few days claiming that General Ham was fired for trying to go ahead with a rescue operation. The story appeared in the Washington Times. The source for the Times’ story was an anonymous comment on Tiger Droppings, a forum for LSU football fans, from someone in Louisiana working in “Self Employed/Restaurants/Catering” who claimed that the story came “from someone inside the military”.

Now for all I know this story is true, but an anonymous comment on a football fan forum is not enough to run with a major story. It’s certainly not enough to start treating it as an established fact.

That comment has gone beyond the Washington Times and is being sourced in various outlets all of whom are reporting a story based on an anonymous comment on an internet forum.

On October 20th, Clare Lopez wrote a column raising various questions about Benghazi and suggesting that Ambassador Stevens may have been involved in a weapons smuggling operation moving Libyan weapons into Syria. Lopez’s column raised some questions, a lot of them, but provided no proof and no truly credible connection between Stevens and the transfer of Libyan weapons to Syrian Jihadists. Nor did that theory come with a motive for why the consulate was attacked.

Nevertheless large numbers of people have now taken it as a fact that Stevens was involved in running Libyan guns to Syria without any actual evidence to verify that as a fact. Many repeat Lopez’s suggestion that the warehouses behind the consulate stored guns meant for Syria as a statement of fact. To many people, it seems “right” and it may be true, it may not be true. The difference between the two is actual evidence.

I am not attacking Lopez, she was doing what many of us were doing in the days and weeks after the attack. I have run plenty of speculative pieces, some that were right, some that were wrong, it’s in the nature of the business to do that. The problem only begins when a speculative piece is treated as fact and when speculations begin to be used as evidence when they are only questions, not answers.

Was Stevens being set up to be used in a prisoner exchange for the Blind Sheik? It’s an interesting theory, but if Obama had really wanted to release the Blind Sheik, he would extradited him to Egypt and after waiting two months, the Egyptian government would have released him. Furthermore if the goal was to take an American hostage, then there were easier and safer ways to take Stevens than an armed attack on a consulate.

Obama might have personally benefited from a hostage crisis involving a U.S. ambassador, but it’s more likely that he would taken a hit and his entire policy on Libya would have become subject to the same scrutiny that the entire Benghazi cover-up has sought to avoid. It would have been a desperate move at a time when he didn’t see any reason for desperation and believed that he would easily win the election.

That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for all this to have taken place. Logic only takes you so far and often events are the result of bad and stupid decisions. So nothing can really be ruled out, but its plausibility can be challenged. And should be challenged because through those questions and counter-questions we can come closer to the truth.

Was Stevens involved in running guns to Libya? It’s possible, but almost somewhat unnecessary. The Saudis, Turks and Qataris had taken the lead in running guns to the groups of Jihadists that they were linked to. They really didn’t Stevens to “help” them out in their own backyard. A similar story that claims Stevens was acting as a representative for the Saudis does not make a great deal of sense. The Saudis really didn’t need an American ambassador to act as their agent in the Arab world.

The American role in the weapons pipeline was a wink and a nod to the shipments. The diplomats would pretend to see to it that the weapons were going to “moderate” rebels and that nothing too heavy was being shipped to them. Then when it turned out that the Jihadists were getting heavy weapons, there would be some plausible deniability on the table.

To what extent was Stevens playing a role in this remains an open question. But it is unlikely that even the Obama Administration would have approved of weapons transfers to groups that had not, at least formally, repudiated Al Qaeda, the way that the LIFG had. Giving weapons to Al Qaeda would contradict the entire purpose of the Arab Spring which was to weaken Al Qaeda by empowering political Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Such weapons transfers would lead to terrorist attacks and suggesting that such attacks were calculated takes us into a whole other territory.

If weapons smuggling were taking place, then Al Qaeda linked militias were not likely in the same weapons pipeline as Islamist militias linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Or weren’t supposed to be. Which is to say that there might have been two weapons smuggling pipelines, one that was supposed to go to the Brotherhood’s militias and another going to Al Qaeda linked militias and that the mission was supposed to keep an eye on both pipelines only to discover that they were one and the same.

Then I could further speculate that reports from the Benghazi mission about the transfer of weapons to Al Qaeda linked militias were intercepted and passed along by a State Department Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer back to the militias which led to a coordinated attack on the mission to blind the American eye in Benghazi.

But all this is still speculation. It’s questions piled on questions, rather than answers. It’s a series of assumptions linked to other assumptions with too much distance between known facts and the final narrative. It might be true and it might not be.

The various Benghazi conspiracy theories may be true, in part or in whole, but we have to first look at the fact that the attack was not an isolated event, but part of a series of Islamist attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities coinciding with September 11. The only reason that Benghazi is unique is because it was in a city run by Islamist militias with little police or military support available making it a soft target.

Claiming that the Benghazi attack was timed to go specifically after Stevens ignores the fact that there was a series of international attacks linked to a defining date. Stevens may have been a target, or he may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Again, we don’t really know and we can’t know until more actual facts come out.

There might have been both a local and a global motive, but for the moment the global motive is fact, the local motive is speculation.

Al Qaeda views American embassies as a natural target. It has been carrying out such attacks since 1998 without the need for extraordinary motives to justify them. That doesn’t mean that such motives can’t exist, but it means they aren’t strictly necessary to explain what happened.

Nor is a coverup of specific wrongdoing involving the Benghazi consulate required to explain the Obama Administration’s refusal to intervene in the attack. This is not an administration that is willing to offend Muslims to save American lives. For it to have taken action in Benghazi would have been more extraordinary than not taking action.

Let’s go back to the Battle of Ganjgal in 2009.where 5 Americans were killed because they were denied artillery support under the Rules of Engagement. That battle led to Dakota Meyer, a United States Marine, receiving a Medal of Honor. The Battle of Ganjgal in multiple reprimands for the officers who denied support, but it led to no changes in the way that things were done.

Here is a statement from the father of Lance Corporal Hunter Hogan, “The policies of this current administration and the rules of engagement are a huge factor with these casualty reports. The limited air and artillery support our men receive. The limited company level support such as motors, as well as the approval to return fire are hampering and adding to the danger they are in daily.”

Here is yet a third letter from a soldier serving in Afghanistan. “The soldiers of the U.S. never engage the enemy unless we know that we have will always have the tactical advantage in defending ourselves, that advantage is the use of close air support and air weapons team. To take those weapons away from us is to level the playing field for the enemy and thus exposing our soldiers to more danger… The very presence of aircraft over our foot patrols has also saved lives and now our chain of command is being told by our political leadership that this is now not allowed.”

If this is how our soldiers in a legitimate war zone have been treated, then what reason was there to expect any other outcome in Benghazi?

When all is said and done, we will likely find that the Battle of Benghazi had more in common with the Battle of Ganjgal than it did with any of the conspiracies. And that is one of the most important points that can be made.

The four Americans killed in Benghazi were not the first Americans to die because of a policy of appeasing Muslims. They will not be the last until the entire worldview of the decision makers is forced to change. It is important not to lose sight of that in debating just what happened in Benghazi, because this is much bigger than Benghazi.

Benghazi is one spot of blood in a stain that marks the map of the globe. Countless American soldiers and civilians have died because diplomacy was thought to be a surer way of avoiding war than an aggressive posture. And if we don’t learn the lessons of Benghazi, then we will be forced to repeat them.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Islamists Target US Embassy in Indonesia

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

The U.S. Embassy and other sites connected with the U.S. were allegedly the target of terrorist attacks that were thwarted by the arrest of 11 suspected terrorists in Indonesia over the weekend.

The U.S. Embassy in the capital city of Jakarta, the U.S. Consulate in Surabaya, the local office of a U.S. mining company, as well as a plaza near the Australian Embassy and the headquarters of a special police force in Central Java were apparently the targets.

Indonesian national police spokesman Maj. Gen. Suhardi Alius told the Associated Press that the suspected terrorists were arrested in raids in four provinces.

“From evidence found at the scene, we believe that this group was well prepared for serious terror attacks,” Alius told the AP.

Bombs, explosive materials, a manual for making bombs, ammunition and a gas cylinder filled with highly explosive material was discovered in the raids.  Also seized were videos and images of attacks on Muslims in different parts of the world.

The suspects belonged to a new group called the Harakah Sunni for Indonesian Society, or HASMI.

According to the group’s website, HASMI was created in 2005, and seeks a strict interpretation of Islam, “since all innovation is misguidance.”

It is unclear whether the targeting of U.S. diplomatic posts is a new trend in Islamic terrorist activity, following the murderous assault by what U.S. officials now admit was a well-planned terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.

On Foreign Policy, Zionist Students Fear Romney Less

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

After the tension witnessed during the second presidential debate, viewers were left wondering if the third and final presidential debate would end with one, or both of the candidates throwing punches. That didn’t happen.  And not much new information came out, either.

On university campuses, students have for the most part remained stalwart supporters of their original candidate, and the debates have merely informed and educated student voters. Still, it appears that many Zionist students are unforgiving of President Obama’s foreign policies, and demand that immediate action be taken in attending to Iran’s nuclear program.

Neena Klein of San Antonio is a junior at Texas State University, and is particularly disconcerted by the President’s foreign policies, especially after the Benghazi cover up.

“The cover up demonstrates President Obama’s lack of concern for our embassies as well as our allies,” Klein said. “He is simply not pushing hard enough for sanctions on Iranian nuclear weaponry.”

For Ian A. Cummings, a junior at Franklin & Marshall College and a resident of Linwood, New Jersey, the choice is clear that come Nov. 6, he will be voting for Mitt Romney.

“As an American Jew, I’ve witnessed the continual ‘throwing-under-the-bus’ of Israel by Obama the last four years,” said Cummings. “Obama has left Israel out to dry, whether it was snubbing Prime Minister Netanyahu, conducting secret negotiations with Iran to undercut U.S. support for an Israeli airstrike on Iran’s nuclear facilities or publicly criticizing Israel settlement policy. The Obama administration is the most anti-Israel of any in my lifetime—it makes me concerned for Israel’s future.”

The debates and election campaigning as a whole have been filled with fact checking, inconsistent positions on various policies, and many angry accusations.

One student, junior Tal Ben-Maimon of Vanderbilt University, is frustrated and discouraged by this year’s election campaigning, and has little faith in either candidate to restore the economy.

Ben-Maimon has grown impatient, and strongly believes that the United States’ economic and unemployment problems must be the foremost concern of both candidates.

“This election is plagued with pointless areas of debate,” Ben-Maimon said. “There is a lot of fuss around social and foreign policy, and a vast spectrum of opinions as to how these policies should be interpreted or changed, but now is not the time. The issue this election needs to centralize around is economics, so that we can pull this country out of its state of perpetual stagnant growth. If we deal with our economic situation now, we can deal with everything else in the future.”

Jacob Couzens, a Yeshiva University sophomore and native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, has also been frustrated by the superfluity and unnecessary arguing during the debates, but believes Romney has shown far greater support of Israel than has President Obama. Couzens was disappointed in the second debates’ absence of matters and policies pertaining directly to Israel, which he considers one of, if not the most important issue, in determining his vote.

“While there are a number of issues I hold in high regard, (economy, government spending, social security) one of the issues held dearest to my heart is the U.S.A’s foreign policy towards Israel and the Middle East in general,” Couzens said. “In the past few years, President Obama has time and again lacked the stalwart support for what is one of the only established free democracies in the vast Middle Eastern region. He has called for Israel’s pre-1967 borders, and also conveniently left Jerusalem being the capital of Israel out of his political platform. His relationship (or lack thereof) with Prime Minister Netanyahu is disappointing.”

President Obama appears to many to be increasingly less supportive of Israel and the decisions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In addition to refusing to state he would provide support for Israel in the event of military action against Iran, Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu last month, claiming that his schedule was simply too busy. While Governor Romney has already made the trip to Israel, some believe that this was done solely for the purpose of gaining Jewish and Israeli support.

Many students are strong and unwavering in their beliefs, yet others are more confident in both the candidates to support and value Israel as an ally and friend of the U.S.

University of Texas junior Caroline Mendelsohn hails from Washington D.C., but will be voting in Texas this November. She trusts that either candidate will do what is in America’s best interest, and continue to keep ties strong with Israel, though Romney would do so in a more traditional sense.

“Both Obama and Romney support Israel,” said Mendelsohn. “Perhaps they do so, or plan to do so in different ways, but when it comes down to it, the President and Governor Romney understand that support for Israel is in America’s best interest. I agree with many that Obama’s positions on Jerusalem and certain border questions are not as clear or defined as they should be, and therefore not seen as pro-Israel, but during Obama’s term as President, Israel has benefitted from consistent support from the U.S. House and Senate, passing information legislation regarding the Iron Dome Missile Defense System, tough sanctions against a nuclear Iran, and the continuation of foreign aid and joint military cooperation.”

One thing that seems to be universally agreed upon is that Iran’s nuclear program must be taken care of. The support for Israel will likely be present regardless of who is in office, yet it is quite clear that for President Obama, costly mistakes were made in his foreign policy with the Benghazi cover up, his dismissal of Netanyahu during the Prime Minister’s recent visit to the U.S., and his call for Israel’s reversion to the pre-1967 lines.

Though Romney’s foreign policy is far from perfect, it seems to students that he is making fewer mistakes, and that if elected, he and the U.S. will act as the bulwark that Israel needs and deserves.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/politics/on-foreign-policy-zionist-students-fear-romney-less/2012/10/24/

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