Wintery Knight

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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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Democrat “Champion for Change” indicted for immigration fraud

Bonnie M. Youn

Bonnie M. Youn

Story from Breitbart News. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

An amnesty advocate that President Barack Obama’s White House publicly promoted as part of its “Champion of Change” series has been indicted in federal court on charges of fraud.

Bonnie M. Youn, who Obama’s White House touts on its website as “a recognized Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community leader in Georgia,” was indicted on three criminal charge counts in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division on April 1, according to publicly filed court documents.

The first indictment count alleges Youn committed perjury with regard to an alien illegally in the United States. The second indictment count alleges that Youn violated a federal immigration law that prohibits bringing illegal aliens into the United States and harboring them, alleging she did so “for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain.” The third indictment count alleges Youn illegally tampered with witness testimony, specifically alleging she influenced the illegal alien—whose identity is kept anonymous in the indictment—to provide false information about employment in the United States to federal agents.

The indictment, signed by U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates and two Assistant U.S. Attorneys, indicates that Youn’s alleged illegal activity began “on or about February 9, 2009,” just as President Obama took office at the beginning of his first term and before she was honored by the White House. The third indictment count says that the alleged witness tampering began on or about August 15, 2011.

An arrest warrant was filed for Youn Tuesday.

[...]According to a press release from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), Youn received the White House honor from President Obama in late March 2013. “Today, the White House honored 10 individuals with the Cesar Chavez Champions of Change Award,” the press release, dated March 26, 2013, reads. “Among the 10 honorees is Bonnie M. Youn, who is a member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).”

One of the things that really bothers me about the Obama administration’s fascination with amnesty is that people think that they are for immigrants. As far as I can tell, the Obama administration has done nothing to streamline the legal immigration process for immigrants who pay taxes and stay out of trouble with the law. Concern for skilled immigrants is typically something that Republicans champion. Skilled immigrants are not a concern for Democrats, because they pay taxes, and are therefore more likely to favor lower taxes and limited and government than illegal immigrants.

 

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Obama to Ukraine: if you like your Crimea, you can keep your Crimea

Stephen F. Hayes explains (in the Weekly Standard) how screwed we really are with the Democrats running our foreign policy.

Excerpt:

On February 23, five days before Russia invaded Ukraine, National Security Adviser Susan Rice appeared on Meet the Press and shrugged off suggestions that Russia was preparing any kind of military intervention: “It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence returned and the situation escalate.” A return to a “Cold War construct” isn’t necessary, Rice insisted, because such thinking “is long out of date” and “doesn’t reflect the realities of the 21st century.” Even if Vladimir Putin sees the world this way, Rice argued, it is “not in the United States’ interests” to do so.

Wow, I’m shocked that the Youtube video caused Benghazi liar didn’t see the invasion of Ukraine coming.

But it’s not just her:

On February 28, Russian troops poured into Ukraine. As they did, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, his Russian counterpart. Kerry briefed reporters after their talk, plainly unaware of the developments on the ground. Kerry said that Russia wants to help Ukraine with its economic problems. Lavrov had told him “that they are prepared to be engaged and be involved in helping to deal with the economic transition that needs to take place at this point.”

Hours later, television screens across the world displayed images of Russian soldiers infiltrating Crimea and Russian artillery rolling through Sevastopol. Obama administration officials told CNN’s Barbara Starr that the incursion was not “an invasion” but an “uncontested arrival” and that this distinction was “key” to understanding the new developments.

Oh yes! Just like Hitler was helping out Poland with their economic problems.

Why is this happening? Well, a better question would be, why didn’t it happen sooner:

For five years, the Obama administration has chosen to see the world as they wish it to be, not as it is. In this fantasy world, the attack in Fort Hood is “workplace violence.” The Christmas Day bomber is an “isolated extremist.” The attempted bombing in Times Square is a “one-off” attack. The attacks in Benghazi are a “spontaneous” reaction to a YouTube video. Al Qaeda is on the run. Bashar al-Assad is a “reformer.” The Iranian regime can be sweet-talked out of its nuclear weapons program. And Vladimir Putin is a new, post-Cold War Russian leader.

This foreign policy failure didn’t come from nowhere. There’s a whole list of failures that made Putin believe that the Democrats are weak on foreign policy.

Look:

Let me be clear. When Obama halted the scheduled missile defense shield in Europe, that was the end of Ukrainian sovereignty. We have to understand that Democrats are not just totally inept at fiscal policy and on social issues. They are also horrible at foreign policy. How many screw-ups must we witness before we understand that these people are not serious, and we shouldn’t be electing them?

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What should the United States do now to punish Russia for invading Ukraine?

 

FairTaxNancy tweeted this list of seven responses for Obama to choose from Fox News columnist K. T. McFarland.

Here are some:

First: I will reverse my decision to halt the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.  America will go ahead as originally planned and build the missile shield, but an accelerated basis.  That means U.S. military personal will be working alongside Polish and Czech military to construct and operate the systems. The missile shield is designed to protect Europe from Iranian missiles, but you get the point. Uniformed U.S. military will soon be stationed near the Russian border.

Second: I will reverse course on the defense budget.  Your defense minister just announced Russia is negotiating basing rights in seven nations around the world. He also said you were rebuilding old Soviet era military bases in central Asia.  Your parliament has just voted unanimously to invade Ukraine.  In light of that, this is no time for my Secretary of Defense to announce we’re gutting our military.

Fifth: I will send a trade delegation to Poland and other countries in Central Europe to explore ways of helping them use fracking technologies to develop their own gas reserves.  Chevron and Shell have already signed a $13 billion deal with Ukraine.  I expect others to follow.

At the same time I will throw roadblocks in front of any American energy company that seeks to develop your eastern Siberian fields.  Your existing oil fields in western Siberia have, maybe, a decade left.  You need our technology to develop new ones.  You’re not getting it.

Investors Business Daily had another list of seven energy policies that would deter Russia from aggression.

Here are some:

2. America should expand fracking. The U.S. is enjoying an energy renaissance, thanks to fracking, horizontal drilling and other technological advances.

But almost all of the gains in oil and natural gas production have been on private lands. Obama should move to open up public lands to energy exploration.

3. Promote LNG [Liquid Natural Gas] exports. LNG facilities are expensive to build. But the biggest obstacle is regulatory. The U.S. requires approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as an export license from the Energy Department. DOE licenses can take months, with the last four permits taking more than two years. It can take five years before an Energy Department OK turns into real exports. The Obama administration should work to streamline the regulatory process.

More LNG exports will bring down the price of natural gas worldwide. Many European LNG import facilities have been idle or running at low capacity. Exporters are sending shipments to Asia, where prices are even higher than Europe.

LNG exports will further reduce America’s trade deficit. Some argue that the U.S. should keep natural gas at home to give America an energy advantage. Chemical firms in particular want cheap natgas for fuel and as a raw material. But if domestic natgas prices rise, it should encourage more production. Shale output can be ramped up or down relatively quickly.

4. Allow U.S. petroleum exports. America has banned petroleum exports since the Arab oil boycotts of the 1970s. But with the U.S. poised to be the world’s No. 1 producer, whatever logic the prohibition once had is long gone.

The ban helps keep a wide gap between U.S. light sweet crude vs. London-based Brent — $6.28 a barrel as of Monday.

An export ban hurts U.S. producers and discourages output. It mostly benefits refineries, which are ramping up exports of refined fuels — at the global price.

Lifting the export ban in particular would have speedy impact on global crude prices, dealing a quick hit to Putin’s pocketbook.

5. OK Keystone XL pipeline. There are many reasons to back the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. It would create thousands of jobs, lower oil prices and reduce the risk of crude-by-rail accidents. The oil is going to be produced anyway, which even the Obama administration admits.

That would hit Putin in his pocketbook, and show him that we are serious about deterring future aggression.

And finally, in yesterday’s post on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, I linked to an article with 8 responses, written by moderate Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

He had eight recommendations, and here are three of them:

Second, President Obama should dispatch Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Kiev to show U.S. support for Ukraine’s transitional government, and urge our allies in the European Union and NATO to send representatives there as well. The United States should convene an emergency meeting of NATO to develop a strong united response from the trans-Atlantic alliance. And we should send high-level delegations to our allies in Central and Eastern Europe to reinforce the fact that we are standing by them. As part of this work with our allies, we should develop a series of economic and security assurance measures to help the transitional government in Kiev remain stable and carry out a democratic transition.

[...]Seventh, the Obama administration should immediately add more Russian officials to the Magnitsky list, which places travel bans and other sanctions on them – something President Obama failed to do in December. Living in Miami, I have seen in recent years the wave of Russian tourists coming to our city and state to spend money and buy property. Many are government officials or allies whose wealth stems from allegiance to Putin, and we should limit their ability to travel here.

Finally, in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid should immediately halt his effort to force a Senate vote on Rose Gottemoeller next week to be under secretary of state for arms control and international security. As I, Sens. John Cornyn and Jim Risch said yesterday, we shouldn’t even be thinking about arms-control negotiations with Russia anytime soon. And especially not negotiations led by a State Department official, such as Ms. Gottemoeller, who has tried to play down and potentially kept information from Congress and our allies about Russian violations of arms-control agreements.

So there are three lists of things that we could do, if we as a nation were serious about protecting democracies from tyrants. In the 1991 Gulf War, America landed an entire army to kick Saddam Hussein out of peaceful Kuwait. But does Obama have the balls for that? I don’t even think he’ll do one thing from the three lists I presented above. He is not that kind of man. He just doesn’t care.

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In 2008, Sarah Palin predicted that if Barack Obama were elected, Russia would invade Ukraine

Radically leftist CNN reports. (H/T Letitia)

Excerpt:

In 2008, when she was the GOP vice presidential nominee, Palin questioned in a speech whether then-Sen. Barack Obama would have the foreign policy credentials to handle a scenario in which Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

“After the Russian army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence – the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next,” she said in Reno, Nevada on October 21, 2008.

The former Alaska governor was happy to highlight her prediction on Friday and scold those who criticized her 2008 comments.

[...]On Facebook, Palin continued to explain how she anticipated a growing crisis between Russia and Ukraine, where there has now been an uncontested arrival of Russian military forces by air at a Russian base in Ukraine’s Crimea region. They are believed to be Russian land forces, according to a U.S. assessment.

Now let’s review the events that caused Putin to believe that Obama would do nothing to stop his aggression.

Why is Russia so aggressive?

Russia learned from repeated failures by Obama that there would be no price to pay for aggression.

Neville Chamberlain Obama: peace in our time

Neville Chamberlain Obama: peace in our time

Let’s make a list of failures, just off the top of my head.

Investors Business Daily documents more of Obama’s 5 years of foreign policy weakness.

Even the leftist Washington Post agrees

That’s not just me saying that, it’s the radically leftist Washington Post!

Excerpt: (links removed)

For five years, President Obama has led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality. It was a world in which “the tide of war is receding” and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances — these were things of the past. Secretary of State John F. Kerry displayed this mindset on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday when he said, of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, “It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century.”

That’s a nice thought, and we all know what he means. A country’s standing is no longer measured in throw-weight or battalions. The world is too interconnected to break into blocs. A small country that plugs into cyberspace can deliver more prosperity to its people (think Singapore or Estonia) than a giant with natural resources and standing armies.

Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior. Neither has China’s president, Xi Jinping, who is engaging in gunboat diplomacy against Japan and the weaker nations of Southeast Asia. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people, sending helicopters to drop exploding barrels full of screws, nails and other shrapnel onto apartment buildings where families cower in basements. These men will not be deterred by the disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion or even disinvestment by Silicon Valley companies. They are concerned primarily with maintaining their holds on power.

[...]The urge to pull back — to concentrate on what Mr. Obama calls “nation-building at home” — is nothing new, as former ambassador Stephen Sestanovich recounts in his illuminating history of U.S. foreign policy, “Maximalist.” There were similar retrenchments after the Korea and Vietnam wars and when the Soviet Union crumbled. But the United States discovered each time that the world became a more dangerous place without its leadership and that disorder in the world could threaten U.S. prosperity.

[...]Military strength, trustworthiness as an ally, staying power in difficult corners of the world such as Afghanistan — these still matter, much as we might wish they did not. While the United States has been retrenching, the tide of democracy in the world, which once seemed inexorable, has been receding. In the long run, that’s harmful to U.S. national security, too.

As Mr. Putin ponders whether to advance further — into eastern Ukraine, say — he will measure the seriousness of U.S. and allied actions, not their statements. China, pondering its next steps in the East China Sea, will do the same. Sadly, that’s the nature of the century we’re living in.

Everyone admits that Obama’s weakness has caused these foreign policy problems. We elected someone who wants our influence abroad to decline. The people who elected him just did not understand foreign policy and national security concerns, and now Ukrainians are going to pay with their freedom, and possibly with their lives, because of our inability to project power abroad. This is the high cost of isolationism for our peace-loving, pro-democracy, pro-capitalism allies.

What should we do now?

Speaking of Politico, they published an 8-point plan for responding to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, authored by moderate Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

Here are numbers two, seven and eight:

Second, President Obama should dispatch Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Kiev to show U.S. support for Ukraine’s transitional government, and urge our allies in the European Union and NATO to send representatives there as well. The United States should convene an emergency meeting of NATO to develop a strong united response from the trans-Atlantic alliance. And we should send high-level delegations to our allies in Central and Eastern Europe to reinforce the fact that we are standing by them. As part of this work with our allies, we should develop a series of economic and security assurance measures to help the transitional government in Kiev remain stable and carry out a democratic transition.

[...]Seventh, the Obama administration should immediately add more Russian officials to the Magnitsky list, which places travel bans and other sanctions on them – something President Obama failed to do in December. Living in Miami, I have seen in recent years the wave of Russian tourists coming to our city and state to spend money and buy property. Many are government officials or allies whose wealth stems from allegiance to Putin, and we should limit their ability to travel here.

Finally, in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid should immediately halt his effort to force a Senate vote on Rose Gottemoeller next week to be under secretary of state for arms control and international security. As I, Sens. John Cornyn and Jim Risch said yesterday, we shouldn’t even be thinking about arms-control negotiations with Russia anytime soon. And especially not negotiations led by a State Department official, such as Ms. Gottemoeller, who has tried to play down and potentially kept information from Congress and our allies about Russian violations of arms-control agreements.

But we have no reason to expect that Obama will do any of these things. Why? Because the real enemy we face is global warming.

John Kerry: global warming is “a weapon of mass destruction”

Meanwhile, John Kerry gave a speech in which he asserted that among the biggest threats to national security was global warming – “the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction”.

I fully expect Kerry to blame global warming for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Obama administration has already blamed our record cold temperatures on global warming. 17 years without significant warming, according to the UN IPCC, and yet that’s what our government is focused on. Behold, the superstition and credulity of the secular left.

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