This is not Iraq, and this is not Afghanistan,” Obama said.

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This is not Pakistan. This is not Somalia. This is not Yemen. This is not Libya; he should have continued.

We are waging war all through Western Asia and Africa. mainly against terrorists but we also took on Muammar Ghadaffi and now Bashar al Assad; the legitimate leaders of their respective countries.

We are still waiting on the case against Ghadaffi and for honest answers on the impending anniversary of the Benghazi massacre.

For a president who pledged to push the “reset” button, Mr. Obama has become the most warlike leader our country has ever known. In May he declared the “War on Terror”, which he had renamed “contingency operations”, over. Now he wants to go once again to war.

He drew a red line in the sand and then redrew it again and yet we still do not have a compelling case nor a desired end state for an operation in Syria.

The Syrians, Iranians, and Russians have promised a wider war should we act. Russian destroyers have been located to the Mediterranean near Syria to back this threat up, and the Iranians have promised missile strikes on Israel. We are in a high stakes poker game and Mr. Obama is the mark.

In the background the Saudi Arabians and Gulf Arabs are supporting some form of moderate resistance in Syria to counter Iran, but are unable to rein in the Islamist extremists. There is a tri-polar political conflict between the Sunni moderates; the Islamists and the neo-Iranian Empire. And then comes the ROW (Rest of World).

In reading the political history of the Ottoman Empire in the late 1700’s and 1800’s one can begin to understand the complexities and importance of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Ottomans balanced constantly changing relationships very similar to today.

The dream of empire by Napoleon in Egypt and the changing alliances of the Ottomans with the British Empire, the Tsar, and Napoleon, especially with the fates of subject peoples such as the Greeks, Moldovans, Armenians, Bulgarians, Syrians, etc in constant play required that the Sultanate despite is decrepitude and corruption be upheld.

Now,  200 years later the chronological snobbery of the new great powers is leading to an even more volatile end state. Under the Sultan, Shia and Christian and Sunni were allowed to practice their faiths but now we have a state of religious civil war at hand. Egypt narrowly missed being drawn into the maelstrom. Libya is in constant tribal conflict.

But Syria represents a new Karbala, a call to the front lines for Sunni vs. Shia.

But this time the dark shadows of modern warfare overhang everything. Chemical warfare, air strikes, and heavy artillery generate massive casualties very rapidly. Syria is tearing itself apart with the help of a wide range of outside enablers. A dictator willing to use all means at his disposal is fighting to hang on.

And in Washington and Moscow and the West there is no clearly iterated reason for our involvement. We cannot abide the use of chemical weapons except when we can, as we did with Saddam Hussein’s use of poison gas versus the Iranians and his own people.

Mr. Obama means well, but the sad fact remains that the down side in getting involved in Syria is much greater than the up side.

 

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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.

Indicting Obama on Intelligence

Today’s London Dail Mail has an article written by Toby Harnden, their America watcher, in which he notes that former Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff and former CIA Director Michael Hayden have damned Vice President Joe Biden and his boss for blaming CIA employees for the confusion caused by the Administration’s insistence on blaming an obscure video for the terrible attack in Benghazi.

This is the second time in recent months that former intelligence officials have blasted the Administration for its cavalier way with the facts. The last time was a chortling insider account of a secret mission in Yemen where high level White House insiders described in detail the capture of another underwear bomber. But it was actually an allied secret agent.

The UK was forced to exfiltrate a deep cover agent within Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) because he was compromised. This was virtually the first human intelligence asset we had been able to place within this incredibly paranoid organization. The Administration came in for widespread criticism both here and abroad once more.

In June, Senator Feinstein called for an investigation to leaks from high places revealing details of the Stuxnet computer virus attack on Iran. These leaks were once again attributed to the White House.”In recent weeks, we have become increasingly concerned at the continued leaks regarding sensitive intelligence programs and activities, including specific details of sources and methods,” said Chambliss; Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-California; Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Michigan; and Ranking Member C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-Maryland, in the statement.

We were informed in incredible detail by the New York Times in June of a secret “kill list” as well. Senator John McCain called for an investigation.The FBI was ordered in June to investigate these leaks. Since then there has been a complete blackout. I might remind you, dear reader, who the FBI reports to.

Last year our government abandoned Dr. Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped locate Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. Dr Afridi is now serving a 33 year term for treason. In an interview with the UK Independent he said that Pakistan’s ISI considers the United States its prime enemy, even before India. Dr. Afridi was outed by news leaks made to American newspapers by Administration officials. The White House was the source of a number of leaks in the immediate aftermath of the Bin Laden raid and again there were calls for an investigation.

If you recall, early in the Administration seven former CIA Directors dating back to the Reagan Administration issued a joint condemnation of the Administrations reckless conduct in pursuing a politically motivated vendetta against CIA interrogators.

The history of the politicization of intelligence matters in the Administration dates to its opening months.

The problem is that everyone knows where these leaks and distortions have come from. The information released is of such a highly secret nature that there can only be a few people on the list, and believe me, there is a list and those who knew had the highest of security clearances with corresponding penalties up to and including life imprisonment without parole.

The black farce that the Benghazi blame game has become; the leaks; the vendettas all point to the very top. The buck clearly stops on the President’s desk on this  3 1/2 year fiasco.

Anyone else would have had their security clearance revoked and be facing criminal charges. That’s the way the system works.

It is time to take away the President’s secret decoder ring. It is time to change the codes. To change the locks. To change the policy. It is time to do a kiss ass tour of every major intel agency we have pissed off around the world with our cavalier and smirking conduct.

He is the president, but he is also a danger to himself and the country.

 

 

Following the breadcrumbs on the Libyan cover up

Last night, Vice President Joe Biden was adamant that the responsibility for the Libyan fiasco and subsequent deception lays everywhere but the White House.

First the Director of National Intelligence’s office misinformed them, and then the State Department didn’t have the answers and then the FBI was sent in 2 weeks after the incident to try to apply some sort of Jedi forensics on a “crime scene” that had been completely compromised.

Let’s look at the facts:

On late Tuesday night, September 11 (mid afternoon Washington time) the Ambassador was kidnapped and found dead at a Benghazi hospital early Wednesday morning, September 12.

The New York Times in their article on the event on September 12, a few hours after the attack raised the specter of Islamic militants armed with RPG’s and anti-aircraft missiles. According to the article:

“American and European officials said that while many details about the attack remained unclear, the assailants seemed organized, well-trained and heavily armed, and they appeared to have at least some level of advance planning.”

On  September 12 our president and Secretary of State stated unequivocally that it was a spontaneous riot triggered by an obscure film no one had heard of until September 11. Our UN Ambassador Susan Rice, not the Secretary of State, went on a number of talk shows that weekend and was quoted in all of the mainstream media delivering the Administrations version of events.

On September 14, the Libyan government had 4 men in custody. On September 19, the president of Libya in an interview with Al Jazeera, Libyan president President Mohamed al-Magarief stated that the attacked was planned well in advance and that Al Qaeda was responsible.

On September 24, the President appeared on “The View” instead of attending the U.N. General Assembly or perhaps even working to find the facts of the case, and once again stated that our government was still investigating the case.

The Daily Beast released the story which truly upset the apple cart first on September 26, which was when the coverup started morphing.

On October 3, Reuters reported that the Administration knew within hours that the attack was tied to militants, and that the CIA had this information.

“Officials familiar with them said they contained evidence that members of a militant faction, Ansar al-Sharia, as well as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, were involved in the assaults.

So our president expects us to believe that 2 days before the facts went public and a week after the president of Libya identified the attackers he still knew nothing about the true nature of the assassination. There is such a thing as plausible deniability. This is implausibly deniable.

U.N. Ambassador Rice has an interesting position. She is a direct report to both the Secretary of State and the President. This month’s Foreign Policy Magazine has a fascinating article on Ms. Rice and informs us that she has placed her relationship with the president well ahead of that with Secretary Clinton. So whose version was she reporting? Has anyone asked her? Who wrote the version reported? Who was the author of the deception?

The House Committee investigating the attack established yesterday that the Department of State failed to protect Ambassador Stevens adequately. So what next?

As they said back in 1973; “What did the President know and when did he know it?” I would add to that, “why did he lie to us, and what did he hope to gain?”

 

 

 

A Disengaged President

There has been a strange turn in the last few weeks as we have learned more about what gos on in the White House and the political and personal isolation the President has created. In Bob Woodward’s latest book, “The Price of Politics”, the Woodward describes a president antagonistic to his opponents to a toxic degree and who has distanced himself even from his own party leadership. Woodwards describes a “monumental communications gap” between the President and House Majority Leader John Boehner at the critical moment in the 2010 budget negotiations.

Then, the New York Times ran an article regarding the President’s response to the Arab Spring in which he is described as having distanced himself from Arab and Middle eastern rulers and leaders, engaging them through intermediaries and minimal direct contact. This is especially strange in view of his attempt to engage the Islamic world when he spoke at Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2009.

That he did not consult with any of those leaders prior to pulling the rug out from under Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011 sent our relations in the Gulf into the freezer.

We were told early on in the Obama Administration that the President had surrounded himself with a highly loyal cadre, and at the same time we have seen an unprecedented number of czars reporting directly to the President and subverting the normal communications channels.

His complete disengagement with the loyal opposition in Congress is also an established fact. But when you are not talking to your own people, that becomes a real problem. This includes his various and sundry Cabinet members and advisers as well. His truancy at national security meetings is legendary.

Last night in the first debate we once again saw a disengaged president. He was ill prepared, disjointed, and quite obviously off of his game. Prior to the debate, the party spinners were out in force reducing expectations, but it is generally agreed that the first debate was a disaster for the President.

The President is more comfortable, it seems, campaigning and schmoozing. Neither requires real engagement and speaking to worshipful audiences roaring their approval is a great salve to the ego.

The country has at different times had a number of presidents who have for reasons of health been unable to completely fulfill their obligations. Wilson after his stroke and Ronald Reagan in the latter half of his second term come to mind. At a critical time in his administration, Wilson was unable to campaign for his greatest program, the League of Nations and for a less onerous treaty with Germany after World War I.

But President Obama is a man in the full flower of life at an age when his achievements could have been herculean. Instead as Mr. Romney pointed out last night he instead placed all of his prestige and wasted his political capital on a highly unpopular health care bill that was one of the most imperfect pieces of legislation in our history.

The one thing a president has is access to the most remarkable set of advisers and data in the history of our planet. And yet with all of these tools at his disposal, he has made a conscious decision to be remote and to go it alone.

Mr. Obama himself argued for the Lincolnian “team of rivals” when he formed his own cabinet and yet has done more end runs around his Cabinet than any of his predecessors.

The Presidency is the loneliest job in the world. It all comes down to one man’s decision. But to isolate oneself as the President has done is to create an echo chamber where decisions are made in a vacuum. As this is a very dangerous thing. Consensus and consent are critical to any major decision, and while the President’s party has marched in lockstep, very little has been accomplished because of the polarization that originates at the top.

It’s not just about policy. It is also about the ability to do the job effectively, and in this, the president has failed.

Obama’s Imperial Presidency

Much was made back in the days of Richard Nixon of his aggregation of power to the White House. His was the first “Imperial Presidency” according to the intelligentsia at the time and Arthur Schlesinger made it official.Nixon was said to be assuming the powers of a dictator or king: the power to declare war; the power of the purse; and the power of immunity from legislative oversight.

Much has been made of the assumption of power by the executive branch since. Most recently George Bush was accused of this after 9/11 when the Patriot Act was passed by Congress. Opponents of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq used the term repeatedly despite Congressional approval and U.N. Resolutions. Helen Thomas was relentless in her criticism equating the imprisonment of Jose Padilla, a Taliwannaban, to the gulags of Soviet Russia and the internment camps of World War II. Ms. Thomas implicated the Supreme Court as well, who approved Bush’s measures when challenged by an activist Leftist bar.

And today, we have a president who has arrogated more power to his agencies and the White House than any in history, and the media and the Leftist bar are utterly silent.

Consider the use of Executive Orders:

Theodore Roosevelt      3

Others to FDR              None

FDR                              11 through the Great Depression & World War II

Truman                          5

Eisenhower                   2

Kennedy                        4

Johnson                        4

Nixon                             1

Ford                              3

Carter                           3

Reagan                        5

G.H.W. Bush               3

Clinton                        15

G.W. Bush                 62

Obama                     135

Consider that Obama created an unprecedented separate bureaucracy from his Cabinet level agencies and departments run by “czars” for banking, the auto crisis, Afghanistan, AIDS, the Border, Climate, Domestic Violence, Drugs, Green Jobs, Guantanamo and on and on. These czars are nominally accountable to the various departments but decision-making power rests with them and in the White House. Obama has emasculated the  structure of our government, and yet no one has said a word.

A number of the agencies and departments, including and especially the EPA, the FDA, The Department of Agriculture, and the department of Homeland Security have arrogated powers never legislated to themselves such as climate change, industry regulation, and even transportation safety.

When the White House began to use the National Endowment for the Arts as a propaganda tool for his health care bill, enough scorn and criticism was rained down to quickly snuff what was an almost Orwellian use of governmental power.

Much more serious was the president’s decision to go to war in Libya. Executive Order 13566 declared Libya an extraordinary threat to the United States despite no act of war and in coordination with the United Nations Resolution 1973 which called for the protection of the Libyan people. Congress was informed, not consulted.

The law is, ever more, what the President says it is. As as expressed by Lewis Carroll so well,  “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

And this is the root of the issue. At a time when there are bitter divides and when the policy battles are fought in the courts there has been no middle path. The aggregation of power in the Presidency has become fundamentally un-Constitutional no matter which party is in power.

The aftermath of 9/11 saw an accelerated use of executive power during an asymmetrical war with no rules. To institutionalize those powers permanently will be a final blow to the division of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.