Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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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Congressman Trey Gowdy holds Obama accountable for lawlessness and abuse of power

Rep. Trey Gowdy took Obama to task for his lawless behavior in a speech that drew a standing ovation. The Blaze reported on the speech, and I’ll quote some it here for those who cannot watch the 5-minute video above.

Excerpt:

Ignoring President Barack Obama’s veto threat, the House voted on Wednesday for a bill that would expedite congressional lawsuits against the chief executive for failure to enforce federal laws.

The vote was 233-181 in the Republican-led House as GOP lawmakers excoriated Obama for multiple changes to his 4-year-old health care law, steps he’s taken to allow young immigrants to remain in the United States and the administration’s resistance to defend the federal law banning gay marriage.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., sponsor of the ENFORCE the Law Act, delivered a fiery speech and read a series of statements by Obama when he was an Illinois senator in which he warned of the encroachment of the executive on the powers of the other branches of government.

“How does going from being a senator to a president rewrite the Constitution?” Gowdy asked. “What’s different from when he was a senator? Mr. Speaker, I don’t think there’s an amendment to the Constitution that I’ve missed. I try to keep up with those with regularity.”

Gowdy went on to argue that “process matters” in law enforcement, noting that evidence gathered with a legitimate search warrant is thrown out if an officer so much as accidentally checks the wrong box on the application.

“Even though he was well-intended, even though he had good motivations, even though he got the evidence — because process matters,” he added.

“We all swore an allegiance to the same document that the president swears allegiance to, to faithfully execute the law,” Gowdy continued. “If a president does not faithfully execute the law… what are our remedies?”

He then argued that Congress should do exactly what then-Sen. Obama suggested before he was president of the United States: “To go to the Supreme Court and have the Supreme Court say once and for all: ‘We don’t pass suggestions in this body. … We don’t pass ideas — we pass laws. And we expect them to be faithfully executed.”

I understand that in a lot of banana republics, the Supreme Ruler does whatever he pleases. But this is America. We have Constitution and separation of powers. Changing laws after they are passed for political reasons (mid-term elections) is not legal. Candidate Obama would never have done this, but President Obama does it all the time.

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Marco Rubio’s speech exposing the horrors of socialism in Cuba and Venezuela

Here’s an article from the Miami Herald about a recent 15-minute speech by Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

Excerpt:

The U.S. senator from Florida had listened patiently to Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa speak favorably about his recent trip to Cuba, all the while omitting any real references to the oppression of the totalitarian government there.

To Rubio, like many Cuban exiles and their descendants, it was too much to bear.

“Let me tell you what the Cubans are really good at,” Rubio said Monday when he took to the Senate floor. “What they are really good at is repression … They have exported repression in real time, in our hemisphere, right now.”

[...]For 14 minutes and 16 seconds, Rubio gave the best oration of his political career, speaking largely off the top of his head and with only the barest of notes. Rubio sometimes dripped with sarcasm or simmered with indignation as he made the case to Congress that the United States needs to continue Cuba sanctions and punish Venezuela.

That’s what the speech was about.

Here are some of the details from the speech:

As an aide flipped through over-sized photos of Venezuelan protests, Rubio ticked off the struggles of living in the country, the horrors of its citizens dying and being jailed at the hands of its government.

“This gentleman here is the former mayor of a municipality in Caracas. His name is Leopoldo Lopez,” Rubio said. “And this is the National Guard of Venezuela pulling him into an armored truck last week. You know why? Because he’s protesting against the government.”

Then came the next photograph, a picture of a young woman being driven off on a motorcycle.

“This is Genesis Carmona,” Rubio said. “They shot her in the head. She died last week.”

Rubio continued: “Let me show you the next slide. Here’s a demonstrator detained by police. Look how they drag him through the streets. This is in Caracas, Venezuela.”

Rubio also took issue with a recent survey, cited by Harkin, that indicated a thaw in American and Floridian perceptions of relations with Cuba.

“He cited a poll, ‘More Americans want normal relations with Cuba.’ So do I — a democratic and free Cuba,” Rubio said.

“But you want us to reach out and develop friendly relationships with a serial violator of human rights, who supports what’s going on in Venezuela and every other atrocity on the planet? On issue after issue, they are always on the side of the tyrants. Look it up,” Rubio said. “And this is who we should be opening up to? Why don’t they change? Why doesn’t the Cuban government change? Why doesn’t the Venezuelan government change?”

Rubio said that, just as the United States has sanctions against North Korea and Syria — allies of Cuba — it should keep pressuring the governments in Havana and Caracas.

And he disagreed with the notion that the embargo hurts the Cuban people. Instead, he said, it’s the totalitarian-socialist government that’s to blame for problems in Cuba — As well as in “oil-rich” Venezuela.

“We don’t have an embargo against Venezuela,” he said. “They have a shortage of toilet paper and tooth paste. Why? Because they are incompetent. Because communism doesn’t work. They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day.”

Rubio repeated that last line elsewhere in his speech:

“They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day. What’s the first thing the Venezuelan government did when these broke out? They shut off access to Twitter and Facebook and the Internet. They ran CNN out of there. They closed down the only Colombian station. Years before, they had closed down all the independent media outlets that criticized the government.

“Where did they learn that from? From Cuba. And yet we have to listen to what a paradise Cuba is.”

I am not a fan of Marco Rubio anymore as a candidate for VP or President, nor am I a fan of Paul Ryan. Both have made mistakes that rule them out as conservatives. However, this speech should be seen by all, especially by Americans who do not appreciate how different like is in countries that are further along the socialist road to serfdom. But we’re getting there.

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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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DOJ selects Democrat donor to head investigation of IRS corruption

From the Washington Times.

Excerpt:

The Justice Department selected an avowed political supporter of President Obama to lead the criminal probe into the IRS targeting of tea party groups, according to top Republicans who said Wednesday that the move has ruined the entire investigation.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, and regulatory affairs subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, said they have discovered that the head of the investigation is Barbara Kay Bosserman, a trial lawyer in the Justice Department who donated more than $6,000 to Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, as well as several hundred dollars to the national Democratic Party.

“The department has created a startling conflict of interest,” Mr. Issa andMr. Jordan said in a letter sent Wednesday and reviewed by The Washington Times. “It is unbelievable that the department would choose such an individual to examine the federal government’s systematic targeting and harassment of organizations opposed to the president’s policies.”

The Internal Revenue Service’s internal auditor revealed in May that the agency had been inappropriately targeting and blocking applications for tax-exempt status from tea party and conservative-leaning groups. In the immediate aftermath, Mr. Obama promised that the FBI and the Justice Department would investigate whether the IRS broke any laws.

Eight months later, the investigation has not produced any public findings, and Mr. Issa says the FBI and Justice Department have stonewalled his efforts to find out what’s going on.

Ms. Bosserman didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Don’t worry, everything will be fine. We can trust big government to investigate itself properly.

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