Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Boehner announces select committee to investigate the Benghazi cover-up

From the Daily Caller.

Excerpt:

South Carolina Republican congressman Trey Gowdy claimed he has evidence of “a systematic, intentional decision to withhold certain documents from Congress” about the Benghazi attacks and alleged White House cover-up.

Gowdy spoke with Fox News’ Greta van Susteren about Speaker of the House John Boehner’s Friday decision to form a select committee on Benghazi. The congressman explained that the committee will allow a more complete investigation into the issue, unburdened by the jurisdictional restraints that often plague other committees.

“If you want to have Greg Hicks and the station chief from Tripoli and Hillary Clinton all sitting at the same table, you need to have a committee that has the power to do that,” Gowdy said. “And a select committee would have that power.”

Gowdy — widely viewed as a frontrunner to chair the new committee — later told Susteren he supports Congress’ subpoena of Secretary of State John Kerry in order to get documents they have long awaited from the State Department.

He then added he has proof that documents relating to Benghazi and the alleged Obama administration cover-up have been deliberately withheld from Congress.

“Well, I have evidence that not only are they hiding it, there is an intent to hide it,” he claimed. “I can’t disclose that evidence yet, but I have evidence that there was a systematic, intentional decision to withhold certain documents from Congress.”

And guess what? Boehner has now announced the formation of a special committee. And Gowdy is one of the candidates to lead it.

Excerpt:

House Republicans moved on two fronts Friday to dig for answers on Benghazi, with Speaker John Boehner announcing a special committee to investigate and a key panel subpoenaing Secretary of State John Kerry to testify.

In a significant shift, Boehner announced that the House will vote on establishing a select committee to investigate, on the heels of newly released emails that raised additional questions about the White House’s response.

[…]The committee is expected to be bipartisan, and Fox News is told Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., is among those being considered to lead it. 

Gowdy should be picked to lead it. It is a former prosecutor and he knows how to cut through the baloney.

In addition, Darrell Issa has sub-poena’d John Kerry to explain why documents the GOP has requested have not been received:

On the heels of those documents, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee also announced Friday that it has issued the subpoena for Kerry to testify at a May 21 hearing. The chairman of that committee has accused the administration of hiding records following an earlier subpoena.

“The State Department’s response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack has shown a disturbing disregard for the Department’s legal obligations to Congress,” Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wrote in a letter to Kerry.

He added: “Compliance with a subpoena for documents is not a game. Because your Department is failing to meet its legal obligations, I am issuing a new subpoena to compel you to appear before the Committee to answer questions about your agency’s response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack.”

So we are going to finally get some answers. This recent shift from Boehner comes as a result of the e-mails that surfaced last week, implicating the White House in the Benghazi cover-up. I would like to know exactly who was responsible for inventing the YouTube video story.

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E-mails: Susan Rice prepped to lie about Benghazi by White House

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

Newly obtained emails on Benghazi show then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was coached by a key White House aide to lie and ignore the facts known and reported on the ground to make the administration look good.

The fish rots from the head, as the saying goes, and no further proof is needed than a Sept. 14, 2012, email from Ben Rhodes, an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, contained in more than 100 pages of documents released by Judicial Watch and obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request.

That email, with the subject line: “RE: PREP Call with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET,” was sent to other key White House staffers such as then-Communications Director David Plouffe and Press Secretary Jay Carney the day before now-National Security Adviser Susan Rice made her whirlwind tour on five Sunday news show appearances to specifically and emphatically blame an Internet video for the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other nationals were killed.

One of the goals listed in the emails was the need for Rice “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.” She was also to “reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.” Her job was not to tell the truth, but to put lipstick on the Obama administration’s Benghazi pig.

The documents include a Sept. 12, 2012, email from Payton Knopf, a former deputy spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, in which Knopf informs Rice that senior officials had already dubbed the Benghazi attack “complex” and planned in advance. Yet Rice would still insist on her TV tour that the Benghazi terrorist attacks were “spontaneous.”

In early April, former deputy CIA director Michael Morell, who was heavily involved in editing the now infamous talking points, told lawmakers it was Rice, on the Sunday shows, who linked the video to the Benghazi attack and that the video was not part of the CIA analysis.

The Rhodes email was not part of the 100 pages of emails released by the administration last May, and we can see why. As we noted at the time, that email package showed a successive pattern of edits with White House involvement designed to remove any hint of terrorist involvement to fit the administration’s campaign narrative that the war on terror was over and won.

Those emails show that Rhodes and National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor were alerted that the intelligence community was drafting talking points that as late as 3:04 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, still included references to extremists tied to al-Qaida and an “attack.”

The terms “al-Qaida” and “attack” were stripped out by 4:42 p.m., and shortly afterward Vietor thanked colleagues for revisions and said they would be vetted “here,” as in the White House. He then forwarded “edits” from John Brennan, the current CIA chief who then was a White House counterterrorism adviser.

In a White House meeting on Saturday morning, Sept. 15, the CIA, at the direction of the State Department and White House, drafted the final version of the talking points from which all references to al-Qaida and security warnings in Benghazi before the attack were deleted.

The question of how the video story was concocted out of whole cloth, by whom and why, and why it was trumpeted by Rice, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama himself with such fervor at the United Nations has remained unanswered until now.

I was talking to my Dad on Skype when this came out, and I told him about it. He said “that’s it for Hillary Clinton”. But I really wonder about that. After all, we knew a lot of things about Obama’s past before he was elected – like his votes against a born alive infant protection bill. But that didn’t stop people from voting for him.  I am not sure if truth still matters to the American people. In a different time, this cover-up by the White House would be an impeachable offense. But all of his scandals – IRS targeting Tea Party groups, Fast & Furious gunrunning to drug cartels, NSA wire-tapping, Benghazi cover-up, etc. – seem to have just rolled off him.

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Can a person be a committed Christian while ignoring apologetics?

I would like to describe a situation that arises frequently that concerns me. The situation I describe below brings out a flaw I see in the way that rank-and-file Christians respond to criticisms of Christianity in the public square.

Here is the situation

Eve is busy programming away at her desk, rushing to check in her unit tests so she can spend her lunch hour reading the latest Stephenie Meyer novel, or check on the schedule for her local sports team, “the Vicariouses” (she has tickets for Thursday). Suddenly Eve hears Alice talking to Bob on the other side of her cubicle. She stops typing to listen to the following unencrypted conversation.

Alice: I was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel last night that said that the universe has always existed, so there is no God!

Bob: I was watching a documentary on PBS last night showing simulations of how the first life started on Earth! God didn’t do it!

Alice: I saw “Inherit the Spin” on the weekend! The only reason people oppose evolution is because of the Bible! Not because of science!

Bob: I’m going to see “The Va Dinci Code” this weekend! It says that the Gospels are unreliable and that Jesus didn’t even die on the cross!

Alice: I just bought the latest Dichard Rawkins book “Christians Should Be Fed to Lions and the Bible Should Be Burned”!

Bob: I will read that as soon as I finish Histopher Chritchens’ book “Why God is the Evilest, Stupidest Person in the World”!

Eve double-majored in business and computer science at the Indian Institute of Technology, and has an MBA from the London School of Economics. She has spent a ton of time, effort and money studying very difficult subjects for her job, and she even publishes research papers. She works full-time and runs her own business part-time, and teaches night classes for a well-known university. She earns about 200K per year. She lives in a huge house, drives an expensive car, and goes on vacation abroad to all the best vacation spots.

Eve thinks she is a Christian. She has attended church since childhood, her husband is a church elder and she sings in the church choir. She reads the Bible and prays every night, because it helps her to get sleepy before bed. She gives lots of money to the poor. She teaches Sunday school to very small children.  She has even read all of the Narnia novels five times! She even has a calendar filled with nature scenes and itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny Bible verses posted on her office wall at work! Judging from all of these facts, you might expect Eve to get in on that conversation with Alice and Bob, and set them straight.

But she won’t. Why not?

Why won’t Eve stand?

I am wondering if anyone can explain to me why it is that most church Christians are not able or not willing to make a public defense when God’s reputation is called into question. It seems to me that there are two bad effects that follow from Eve’s unwillingness to stand up and invite Alice and Bob to lunch so that she can address their questions and concerns.

  1. God’s reputation is being trashed by Alice and Bob on the basis of lies they’ve swallowed from pop culture. These lies about God’s existence and character could be easily corrected with a minimal amount of study, which Eve is capable of – she is a genius and has amazing entrepreneurial skills.  If someone said similar lies about her husband or children, she would speak up, but she won’t speak up for God.
  2. Alice and Bob are bound for Hell unless someone cares enough to correct their mistaken beliefs, which, along with their sinfulness, is what is keeping them from a relationship with God that would go on in Heaven. If Eve’s husband or children were mistakenly about to drink poison thinking it was Aspirin, then Eve would speak up. But to save her co-workers from Hell, she won’t speak up.

Eve is capable of studying to defend the faith, because of her great success in other areas where so much time and effort were required to master difficult material. So why has she not applied herself to answering public challenges to her Christian faith from her professors, teachers, actors, the media, politicians, scientists, historians, etc.? She’s heard these questions about God’s existence and character all through high school and into university and then now in her career. Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says to prepare a defense? Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says to acknowledge God before men? Doesn’t she believe the Bible when it says that all authentic believers in Jesus will suffer a little for their faith?

It seems to me that if she did spend some time studying, and then made her defense to her co-workers, then two good things would follow:

  1. Eve would be demonstrating her love for God and her friendship with God by protecting his reputation when it is called into question by unbelievers in public settings. That’s what friends do – if Eve wanted to be God’s friend, she would care that no one believed lies about him and told lies about him in public settings.
  2. Eve would be demonstrating her love for her neighbor if she was able to correct some of these false beliefs, such as that the universe is eternal, or that a historical case cannot be made for the resurrection, or that evil is not compatible with theism. It’s important for Alice and Bob to know that Christianity is not stupid.

So why is it that Eve is able to go to church for 20 years, sing in the choir, read the Bible, read the Narnia stories, pray on her knees, and yet still be unwilling to do the best thing for God and the best thing for her neighbor?

Questions for my readers

Can anyone help me to understand why Christians are willing to accept this? Why is this not being addressed by churches?

Do you have an experience where a Christian group stifled apologetics? Tell me about that, and why do you think they would do that, in view of the situation I outlined above? My experience is that atheists (as much as I tease them) are FAR more interested in apologetics than church Christians – they are the ones who borrow books and debates, and try to get their atheist wives to go to church after they becomes interested in going to church. Why is that?

I’m not saying we all have to be geniuses. I am just saying that we should put as much effort into learning apologetics as we put into learning school stuff and work stuff.

Note: I picked these names because there is a running gag in computer network security where these names are used to describe the actors. Eve is the eavesdropping hacker, get it?

I’m not the only one who is concerned

Christopher Copan Scott commiserates on Facebook:

On several occasions while bringing up the importance of apologetics for not only the individual believer, but the church as a whole, I am instantly responded with an improper definition of faith that somehow excludes reason, and thus apologetics should not be used.

Or, some may respond that the use of apologetics shows that we (those who advocate for the use of apologetics) value man’s word over God’s (that’s probably the funniest claim out of the bunch).

Few do express a spark of interest, yet seldom act upon it. These people respond enthusiastically initially, but never attempt to involve themselves in reading, listening to debates, or actually downloading the podcasts I recommend, etc.

Lastly, I do find myself enjoying dialogue, at times, with atheists more than Christians. This is especially true when it comes to philosophical matters, since most Christians I converse with simply don’t care for philosophy.

Now, why is this so?

The reasons are manifold.

For one, (as Moreland talks about) the church is filled with empty selves. Christians desire that which entertains them, and have difficulty being able to reflect deeply on abstract ideas. So they would readily delve into sensational books, then read something that challenges them and takes careful thought.

Also, I think Christians often equate disagreement with hostility. It’s almost as if once one disagrees about a certain proposition, then you are therefore cantankerous and want to break the unity. Thus, in order to preserve this (facade of) unity, Christians wont allow rational disagreement.

For these reasons and many more, I’m genuinely anxious about how the different bible studies at my future college will be. In spite of my attempts to kindly and respectfully disagree on certain points during dialogue with Christians, my motives are often misinterpreted and Im labeled as the argumentative kid who thinks too much.

Okay, Im done.

I’m not the only one who is suffering with these experience, it seems.

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Benghazi hearings: CIA director altered talking points from “attack” to “demonstration”

From the Wall Street Journal, a summary on the Benghazi congressional hearings.

Excerpt:

Last week’s encounter between former acting CIA Director Michael Morell and the House Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence may have brought us a bit closer to the truth of how four Americans came to be killed at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, and how their countrymen came to be lied to about it. But the progress toward truth was probably not made in a way that Mr. Morell intended. The encounter on Capitol Hill also made clear that the forum that will take us all the way to the truth must be something other than a congressional hearing.

[…]Critics of the government’s performance on Benghazi have charged that Mr. Morell’s revisions principally although not exclusively involved changing the description of the violence and its perpetrators, and removing the suggestion that they might have had ties to a terrorist organization. These changes, it is argued, enabled Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the time, to promote the discredited and since abandoned narrative that the violence was a reaction to an anti-Muslim YouTube video produced by a probationer in Los Angeles.

The acting CIA director’s changes to the talking points did indeed enable the blame-it-on-the-video fiction, which served the interest of a president seeking re-election based in part on having put al Qaeda on the run, although in fairness it is not clear that was Mr. Morell’s motive. Thus he edited out a description of the warnings that the CIA had provided to the State Department of earlier terrorist attacks on the British embassy and on the Red Cross that caused them to withdraw their personnel, and a description of an attack that blew a hole in the U.S.’s own installation—events that might have suggested that Sept. 11, 2012, was not an isolated event.

Morell believed “analysts” who are desk employees, and disregarded statements of the station chief, who was on the scene, and in contact with the eyewitnesses:

He substituted “demonstration” for “attack” despite the direct statement by the CIA’s Libya station chief in Tripoli that there was no demonstration; Mr. Morell changed “terrorist” to “extremist.” His explanation is that he relied on the CIA’s analysts, who he said had comprehensive information available to them, rather than on the CIA’s station chief, who relied on the testimony of eyewitnesses who arrived soon after the attack started. 

The directorate of intelligence functions according to a protocol whose rigidity we more often associate with the military. So analysts whose deductions put them at odds with those on the scene wouldn’t have considered, and apparently didn’t consider, simply ringing up those on the scene and getting their input. To the contrary, analysts deal only with information that comes in the prescribed way. The CIA station chief’s communication to headquarters came in an email and did not get circulated within the intelligence community as it would have if it had been contained in a cable.

There was plenty of information disconfirming his “demonstration” lie:

There was, as it happens, other information available. A private company, Agincourt Solutions, had followed the Twitter, Facebook and other social media in the vicinity of the U.S. installation attacked in Benghazi. The company found no evidence of a “demonstration.” There were video cameras trained on the front gate of the consulate that showed no demonstration. Days before the attack, al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri had been calling for an attack to avenge the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi, a senior al Qaeda member who was, as his name suggests, a Libyan. And Sept. 11 is a date of highly symbolic value to people who set great store by symbols.

The last two data points were certainly available to the CIA analysts, and the camera feed should have been. But all this was discounted, apparently in favor of their consensus view that the attack at Benghazi had started with a demonstration that drew inspiration from violence inflicted on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo—allegedly as part of a protest against the video.

Both Obama and Clinton blamed the Youtube video for a “demonstration”, and denied that there was a terrorist attack:

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton told the grieving families that the producer of the video would feel the weight of the law. It was one promise they kept: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was arrested in the middle of the night in the glare of TV lights for a probation violation—the only arrest thus far growing out of the Benghazi attack, even though the identity and whereabouts of the principal suspects, one of whom is an alumnus of Guantanamo Bay, have long been known.

The Obama administration blamed the Youtube video in order to win the 2012 election. They were afraid if the real story came out, people would know that they had screwed by underestimating the threat and ignoring the warning signs and the requests for additional security. Democrats can’t do national security – they just give speeches about spending taxpayer money.

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Transcripts show that top U.S. military officials briefed Obama on Benghazi terrorist attack

Investors Business Daily reports.

Excerpt:

Newly declassified transcripts show top defense officials who briefed Obama on the day of the Benghazi attack described it as a terrorist attack and told the president so, yet he pushed a false narrative about a video.

Just as the new book by former Defense Secretary Bob Gates confirmed what many believed, that President Obama was a politically motivated commander-in-chief who had no faith in an Afghan surge he put 30,000 Americans in harm’s way to execute, transcripts of congressional testimony by military leaders confirm that President Obama knew Benghazi was a terrorist attack before he went to bed to rest for a Las Vegas fundraising trip.

Fox News reporter James Rosen examined 450 pages of declassified testimony given by senior Pentagon officials in closed-door hearings held last year by Congress. In those hearings, Gen. Carter Ham, who at the time headed Africom, the Defense Department combat command with jurisdiction over Libya, testified that he learned about the assault on the consulate compound within 15 minutes of its start, at 9:42 p.m. Libya time, from the Africom Command Center.

Ham said he immediately contacted Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey to say he was coming down the hall at the Pentagon to meet with him.

“I told him what I knew. We immediately walked upstairs to meet with Secretary Panetta,” Ham testified, adding “they had the basic information as they headed across for the meeting at the White House.”

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, an Iraq war veteran and Army reserve officer, asked 29-year Army veteran Ham what he told Panetta and Dempsey. “As a military person, I am concerned that someone in the military would be advising that this was a demonstration. I would hope that our military leadership would be advising that this was a terrorist attack,” Wenstrup said.

Ham responded that “there was some preliminary discussion about, you know, maybe there was a demonstration. But I think at the command, I personally and I think the command very quickly got to the point that this was not a demonstration, this was a terrorist attack” and that was the “nature of the conversation” Ham had with Panetta and Dempsey moments before their 30-minute meeting with President Obama.

This confirms Panetta’s testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in February of last year that it was he who told the president “there was an apparent attack going on in Benghazi.”

“Secretary Panetta, do you believe that unequivocally at that time we knew that this was a terrorist attack?” asked Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.

“There was no question in my mind that this was a terrorist attack,” Panetta replied.

Despite a briefing by Dempsey and Panetta that it was a terrorist attack, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would trumpet the false narrative that four Americans were murdered due to an inflammatory video — something Obama would repeat six times before the U.N. General Assembly and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice would say on five Sunday talk shows five days after the terrorist attack.

It is a disgrace that the only person ever jailed for the Benghazi attack was the maker of that irrelevant video. The terrorists got away with it.

The terrorists got away with it, because the Obama administration didn’t bother to conduct an investigation, or hold anyone accountable. And now we know why – because the person who should have been fired was Barack Obama. He should have been fired in the 2012 election. This whole Benghazi cover-up was just another case of “if you like your doctor, you can keep him” and “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it”. The wonder was that the American people were stupid enough to believe that someone with no experience of any kind at running anything could do a good job as President.

And don’t count on the mainstream media to investigate these stories. They are Democrats. This was their Watergate, and they covered it up.

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