Hillary dances around Benghazi

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Hillary dancing - BenghaziToday we have the spectacle of the Secretary of State emoting on cue while saying nothing of substance regarding the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 of last by Islamic terrorists. She is waltzing effortlessly around the greatest deliberative body in the world and making them look like fools.

In addition to the usual fawning by Democrats, she has largely been tossed softballs by the Republicans. Consider these potential questions:

1 – Where was Ms. Clinton during the attack? Was she a part of the decision making team? Who participated in the decision making team during and after the attack?

2 – Why was this declared as a mob attack when State and the government knew in  real-time that it was a terrorist attack? Why did the government continue to propagate this trope for months afterwards?

3 – Why was no effort made to intervene during the 5 hours the attack took place?

4 – Why was every warning regarding the dangers waiting in Benghazi, including pleas by Ambassador Stevens on the very day of the attack, ignored?

5 – Who was responsible for the White House and Department of State descriptions of the attack, and for coordinating the misleading response of the UN Ambassador, the Secretary of State, and the President?

6 – Who was responsible for the decision to tape an apology for the video that purportedly caused the attack that was recorded by Ms. Clinton and broadcast on Pakistani television? who participated in this process? Was this discussed with the President? What was the thought process behind this?  Why was the decision made? Why was the decision made when the facts were known to be otherwise?

7 – Why was the Department of State caught completely off guard not only in Benghazi, but in Cairo as well?

8 – Why did the Secretary of State continue to insist weeks and even months later that the attack was caused by a protest when she had the facts at hand that stated otherwise?

9 – Why have senior officials of the State Department repeatedly contradicted each other regarding the responsibilities and cost of improving security at State Department run facilities around the world?

After four months, there are no answers. The White House, the Intelligence establishment, and the State Department have been playing a game of keepaway with witnesses; have stalled and prevaricated, and danced with their enablers in the media to quash the investigation and its mention in the news.

I am sure Ms. Clinton will have thought this is the last chapter, but it is incumbent upon those responsible to provide a full accounting. Ms. Clinton is far too well known for dancing instead of doing the hard work of representing the American people’s interests.hillary - dancing - south africaHillary in South Africa

Hillary Dancing ColombiaHillary in Cartagena

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The Problem with Mali isn’t just Mali

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The papers and the Internet and the foreign policy magazines are all now talking about Mali. Once again, there is a war in a country most people couldn’t find on a map.regional-map-north-west-central-africa

 

Islamist insurgents, primarily from the Tuareg, a nomadic people, have been declaring jihad against what government exists in one of the harshest terrains in the world. The Sahara and Sahel make Afghanistan look like a summer camp. This is the land of 1,000′ sand dunes and tiny oases, and dusty, remote towns like Timbuktu, the legendary end of the line in 19th Century literature. Beyond Timbuktu there was nothing but endless desert for thousands of miles.

The Land of the Tuareg is called Tinariwen and extends from the inner deserts of Libya to those of Niger, Mali, Chad, Algeria, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria.Other tribes are allied with or subject to the Tuareg in these regions. The Tuareg have been in an almost constant state of war and rebellion against first the Western colonial powers, and the national governments in each of the aforementioned countries.

Starting in 2006/2008 radical Islamists, including some influenced by Al Qaeda, began to proselytize in Tinariwen. The Tuareg have always been extremely conservative. They are sometimes still involved in the slave trade even now. This is a  pre-colonial African society, with some parallels to Afghanistan, I might add.

Tinariwen’s is among the driest climates in the world. The oases are life, and control of the oases is political power. While Saudi Arabia has its oil wealth and modern cities Tinariwen has no riches and is largely barren. It is even more tribal and more remote. A united Tinariwen would be larger than any country in Africa, including the formerly united Sudan.

The distances are vast and the ability to govern such a large area almost impossible. However, the attack on the gas processing plant in Algeria and rapid collapse of resistance in Mali point to a much larger problem. It isn’t a failed state. It’s a never had a state state.

In most countries the effort to relocate and anchor nomadic peoples has been a primary objective. Smuggling, banditry and rebellion are much more prevalent where there are no police or state controls. Virtually every one of the states where the Tuareg live have waged harsh wars of suppression with only limited success ever since their Independence in the 1960’s.

Now, with failed and dysfunctional states all around and the power of the word of the Prophet as interpreted by Al Qaeda, along with an infusion of modern weapons from Libya the Tuareg in the West see the opportunity to break away from governments to revert to purely tribal governance.

The West sees Al Qaeda training camps in the deep desert but at the same time the desert is the greatest enemy. Water is survival. Control of the oases is power. This is real live French Foreign Legion 1,000′ sand dune desert and hard Sahel scrubland where the nearest water could be 100 miles. the caravans have been plying the same routes for 1,000 years because of the same need for water.

While the first reaction of the military may be to bomb and strafe the jihadis it might be better to negotiate with the leaders. The Tuareg councils of elders are ancient and formalized to a far greater degree than in Afghanistan or Iraq with much less corruption. When you have nothing, there is nothing to steal.

This is not Lawrence of Arabia or one of Delacroix’s paintings or Afghanistan or any other desert war. It is probably a uniquely unnecessary war if properly handled. Much of the problem is in the actions of corrupt central governments. Even the crisis with Boko Haram in Nigeria is different. The Tuareg are in Nigeria, but they are not of Nigeria.

One of the critical mistakes make in Iraq and Afghanistan was simple hubris. We did not and do not have the T.E. Lawrences and Richard Warburtons who know the inhabitants intimately and are accepted by both sides. We seek to impose top down solutions and spend billions of dollars on a constantly revolving and changing set of priorities because it is our way.

The conflict in Mali is in its early stages. Let us hope after 11 years of constant warfare that somehow, someone comes to their senses. Expansion of this war will spread from country to country if we do not.

 

 

Government – The Firearm’s Industry’s Best Friend

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There is a perverse truth that has been overlooked in the latest effort by liberal activists and politicians to enact more gun control legislation. Gun sales are through the roof. Dealers are jacking up prices and shelves are emptying. Back orders at gun manufacturers are at all time highs. The threat to ban “assault weapons” has backfired. Instead of finding real solutions, the politicians are the single largest driver of gun and ammunition sales.

nics checks

In the 1980’s when the Brady Bill was passed, millions of firearms were sold in the panic that ensued prior to the ban taking effect.The assault weapons ban in 1994 triggered another round of panic buying.

This ban, which was the downfall of the Clinton presidency, lasted 10 years and was largely ineffectual, as the manufacturers simply redesigned their product and continued doing business.

The FBI only began releasing the data on background checks in 1998 , but in that time has not explained how the database is managed in order to ensure that unauthorized purchasers are kept from obtaining firearms. When Fast & Furious is considered there is reason to doubt the system works very well. Over 2,700 firearms were allowed to fall into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels, presumably having undergone FBI background checks. One of the official reports on Fast & Furious stated that  the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, who were running the operation, weren’t even keeping track of the firearms purchases. There are some very strong reasons to believe the FBI system doesn’t work well.

In California in 2008, the Leftist state legislature, which has its own long-term romantic involvement with gun control, was at it again.  The state enacted a ban on .50 cal rifles, ensuring that any inventory remaining would sell out immediately. Again manufacturers adapted and the same firearms became available in other calibers, getting around the law.

In the aftermath of the Tucson shooting in 2011 the state enacted AB 962 to end mail orders of ammunition; require fingerprinting of ammunition purchases; and restrict purchases significantly. None of these measures addressed the issue of keeping guns from the mentally ill, but the shooting was an excellent excuse for more gun control.

Before the law was overturned by a state judge, there was a massive increase in sales of ammunition in the state, and with it of firearms.  Once again demand was driven by fear of the government’s actions.

The statistics are there for all to see. It is clear that the it is gun control legislation and government that has been the greatest single driver of gun sales since the 1980’s. Perhaps one day the Left will be willing to discuss the real issues, but it is doubtful.

 

Walk on By

 A meditation on narcotics in Orange County

There is world here in Southern California that exists under the radar of most people. In a land of wealth and privilege and hope there is a dark underside that we choose to ignore.

It starts in grade schools that fail to meet the needs of their students. Sometimes it is the school’s failing, or the student’s or their families. It can be the latch-key kid or the rich kid with too much time on their hands or the one with troubles fitting in or even some darker, more evil demons. For these demons are very real.

A weak moment. A desire to make the hurt go away. A desire to just get high and not deal with it.

Back when I was running the streets of New York, it was, as Grandmaster Flash said, “fun, baby”. But we learned damned fast that that wasn’t true. If you climb onto the dragon’s back, the dragon always wins. That was thirty years ago and kids are still making the same mistakes and nothing has changed.

When you talk to some of these kids, the story slowly comes out. The reasons for using come out. And what they are using today is far more dangerous than even a generation ago. The drugs are purer and more addictive and more damaging than ever. It seems that every week a kid in Orange County ends up in the morgue from an overdose.

In a time when alcohol is readily available and pot is virtually legal and incredibly powerful, the slide down into madness and death is easy with just a little bit of grease. This is not figurative. It is real as a heart attack.

The price of heroin is at an all-time low and it is easy to find. Just ask any of these kids if you need a hookup. Afghanistan, which supplies 95%+ of the world’s heroin, sees production grow every year. The poppy fields stop at the edges of our firebases. There are rumors that some of the heroin arrives at Camp Pendleton or transits Pendleton because there is less scrutiny. Sort of like the bad old days of the Vietnam War. 100 miles south of here the cartels are bringing it over in truck and boatloads. A Coast Guardsman died last week in a drug bust off of Santa Cruz Island, 100 miles north of here. The War on Drugs has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and is an utter failure.

The shrapnel from the drug trade is all over Orange County and no one pays attention. From the grave of the millionaire kid who “had a car accident” and whose family could have the records altered to a family at Holy Sepulcher grieving a 20 year old kid who OD’d “popping” something way too powerful for them to the kid with the melted synapses at the sheriff’s Theo Lacey facility, it pervades our culture.

Orange County has the highest density of sober living homes in the country. These are the ones who are trying to kick it. With AA meetings and NA meetings and help from their friends they’re doing the best they can. But the temptation can be right there sometimes. A quick hit that no one may notice that may or may not be the hot shot that kills them.

And they fall down and try to get back up again.

And most of us walk on by.

Enabling does no one any favors. Legalizing pot simply indulges stoners for the most part. One of the few growth industries in California in the past several years has been pot clinics. The drug companies legally produce enough oxycontin pills annually to overdose every man, woman, and child in China or more. “Pill Mills” and doctors writing sometimes hundreds of prescriptions for drug dealers and abusers are page 3 or page 4 news.

The fact is that our leaders don’t care or are profiting from our collective addiction. The entire trend of our society has been away from “right conduct”. And yet the people who are trying the hardest to help these souls are faced with indifferent families and indifferent leaders and a moral compass that has been purposely ripped from its moorings.

Funding is nonexistent and rehabilitation has at times been a for-profit industry.

Evil exists, and nowhere more so than in the world of narcotics. In our nonjudgmental world today some might say it is a matter of personal choices. But once that monkey is on their backs, it is no longer a choice. It is a cold hand slowly strangling the life out of them.

And most of us will walk on by.

On Benghazi – Of Course Obama Knew

This morning, former CIA Director David Petraeus testified to something that has been an open secret for months. The CIA knew within minutes that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was a terrorist act planned in advance. Mr. Petraeus also stated that the CIA report was later altered by another Federal agency.

The Democratic Party’s left-wing held a photo-op yesterday decrying the attacks on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for her espousal of the Administration line that the Benghazi attacks were the result of an obscure video on YouTube in the immediate aftermath of the event.

There is just a small problem with this line of defense. It is completely false. The Administration has been doing its best to obfuscate and obscure a truthful response on the Benghazi attack. For two weeks afterwards the Secretary of State, the President, and Ms. Rice knowingly lied to the American people. After these lies were exposed, the White House has been playing keepaway with the facts and the witnesses.

How do we know this? First, the New York Times offered a remarkably accurate report of the attack on September 12. A report that surely came from inside sources.

In addition, we have the President and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton implying on September 12 that it was the video and not a terrorist attack. The State Department could not move fast enough to produce and air advertisements on Pakistani Television apologizing for the video.

On September 14, the Libyan government had four men in custody according to Al Jazeera. On the 19th, the president of Libya laid out the details to that same network.

On September 24, the President appeared on “The View” and said the investigation was continuing, and did the same on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. The commemorative photo, run by the Washington Post, is especially offensive in light of the lies.

In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on the 25th, the President stated “If we are serious about these ideals, we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of the crisis” while ignoring the crisis of trust at home as he ignored the real cause for the violence.

The Daily Beast had the administration dead to rights on September 26.

The election came and went and the Administration has continued to do its best to cover up the cover up. But on October 26th, Director Petraeus dropped a curiously worded statement saying that  “No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. ”  This called into question whether a rescue force was prevented from rushing to Benghazi and absolved the CIA of decision-making authority. This after the Administration did its best to pin blame on the CIA and intelligence community.

Director Petraeus statement this morning is at complete odds with the Administration’s narrative. The CIA did its job on September 11 and reported the facts as they saw them.

Someone else was responsible for editing the report. But Ambassador Rice has a very difficult position. When she was trooped out to mouth the party line to the talk shows a few days after the assault, there was only one person who was authorized to approve her talking points; the President himself.

State reports to the President. The U.N. Ambassador reports to the President. The Director of National Intelligence reports to the President. The Director of the CIA reports to the President. The buck stops there.

The President has been caught in a web of his own lies. It is now up to us to hold him accountable.

The Cabinet Merry Go Round begins

The headline on Drudge is that Attorney General Eric Holder will be stepping down. The odds on favorite according to the Washington Post is Janet Napolitano, the former Governor and Attorney General of Arizona, who would be leaving a tainted Department of Homeland Security.

At State, it seems Hillary Clinton will be leaving post-haste, with either John Kerry (D-MA) or U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice as the favorites. One way or the other, we’re screwed. Kerry has been central to the mess in Afghanistan, which we can expect to blow up in our faces next year while Rice was the President’s prime interlocutor in the Benghazi fiasco.

The rumor is that Timothy Geithner will be replaced by Goldman Sachs (there’s that name again) Suzanne Nora Johnson or Erskine Bowles. Either way, once again we’re in trouble.

Leon Panetta is out of Defense as soon as possible, with juniors Ashton Carter or Michelle Flournoy named as the possible replacements. The knife is out, so the President seems to want a henchman (or woman) more than anything else as he winds up Afghanistan. Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel is also in the mix. This would signal an even stronger shift against Israel as Hagel has repeatedly shown his antipathy. Unfortunately the world has become a much more dangerous place, and we will, I think, be sorely tested.

Steven Chu and Lisa Jackson at Energy and the EPA respectively are looking to leave as well. I must assume that their commitment to Green Energy, carbon taxes and the important work of saving the planet has waned mightily.

The stable door is open and the horses are bolting. The names of the replacements do little to assuage the concerns of a very concerned electorate.

One of the problems one has as a poor leader is in attracting the top talent. The Woodward book is damning. Being an outsider in the Obama administration is a form of gelding, and unfortunately the country is the loser. It is going to be a very long four years.

The elephant in the living room in Benghazi

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton fell on her sword according to the national media, but without actually taking responsibility for the lies regarding who and why and how the Benghazi assassinations occurred. She took blame for the security failure, but not for the mischaracterization of the attack as from a spontaneous reaction to an obscure movie rather than its true source, Al Qaeda.

From the outset, Ms. Clinton, the President, and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice hewed to the party line that it was the rioters and not the radicals; at the U.N.; on “The View”, and on the talk shows a lie was propagated.

In the meantime, after the president spiking the ball on Osama Bin Laden and after hundreds of Hellfire strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, Al Qaeda was supposed to have rolled over and died. Instead, not only were Ambassador Stevens and his team killed, but also a senior security officer at our embassy in Yemen a few days later. They know who we are and where we live. Al Qaeda is alive and well.

And this is the President’s problem.  The facts don’t fit the narrative.

The Administration has a problem with the truth. But they have an even bigger problem.

11 years after 9/11, Al Qaeda and our enemies still have the ability to penetrate our intelligence and security and carry out complex attacks based upon that information.

Just like they did on December 30, 2009 when a Jordanian double agent went through 5 layers of security and penetrated a top security CIA facility at Camp Chapman in Afghanistan and detonated himself, killing 7 top analysts trailing Al Qaeda.

Just as the Taliban did in penetrating Camp Bastion in a complex attack on September 14.

There is a message being sent with these attacks that the Administration is desperate to cover up. The enemy have penetrated our security and can strike when they feel the time is right.

Our government and those of our allies have erected an Orwellian security apparatus costing hundreds of billions of dollars. This apparatus violates our civil liberties as it taps pretty much anything it pleases; traces financial transactions all over the globe, and stares at us through the cameras on the street or drones 60,000′ in the air.

And now we find that there are basic security leaks. The watchers have been penetrated. The all-powerful Oz, in this case our President, is a man behind a curtain peddling lies. And we are less safe than we were 11 years ago.