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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Does the Bible support capital punishment?

Llet’s take a look at what the Bible says in general about capital punishment, using this lecture featuring eminent theologian Wayne Grudem.

About Wayne Grudem:

Grudem holds a BA from Harvard University, a Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. In 2001, Grudem became Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary. Prior to that, he had taught for 20 years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he was chairman of the department of Biblical and Systematic Theology.

Grudem served on the committee overseeing the English Standard Version translation of the Bible, and in 1999 he was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society. He is a co-founder and past president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He is the author of, among other books, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, which advocates a Calvinistic soteriology, the verbal plenary inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, the body-soul dichotomy in the nature of man, and the complementarian (rather than egalitarian) view of gender equality.

The MP3 file is here.

A PDF sermon outline is here.

Topics:

  • Genesis 9:5: to whom does this passage apply?
  • What makes murder such a serious offense?
  • Romans 13:3-4: what does this verse mean?
  • Capital punishment is a contrast to taking personal vengeance
  • Redistribution on behalf of the victim is the main reason for CP
  • Deterrence of future crimes to protect the public is another reason
  • The purpose of retribution assumes individual responsibility
  • Retribution is more acceptable if you believe in the concepts of good and evil
  • Retribution is less acceptable if you accept that “society is to blame”
  • Secular Europe and liberal US states do no have the death penalty
  • Conservative states that believe in good and evil and individual responsibility do have it
  • Moral relativists are unlikely to support the death penalty
  • Christians who oppose the death penalty say that it has a sinful motive (revenge)
  • Revelations 6:9 has Christian martyrs calling for God to punish their murderers
  • So this argues that the desire for justice is not motivated by sinful motives
  • Colossians 3:25 God provides justice for wrongs in this life
  • 1 Pet 2:23 The example of Jesus is to give up personal vengeance
  • Romans 12:17-21 Personal vengeance on people who wrong you is not acceptable

The second half of the lecture is Q&A, and the questions are good.

You can find more talks by Wayne Grudem here.

What about the woman caught in adultery?

Some people like to bring up the woman caught in adultery as proof that Jesus opposed capital punishment. But that passage of the Bible was added much later after the canon was decided.

Daniel B. Wallace is an eminent New Testament scholar who also teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary, an extremely conservative seminary.

About Dr. Wallace:

Dr. Daniel B. Wallace

  • Professor of New Testament Studies
  • B.A., Biola University, 1975; Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979; Ph.D., 1995.

Dr. Wallace influences students across the country through his textbook on intermediate Greek grammar. It is used in more than two-thirds of the nation’s schools that teach that subject. He is the senior New Testament editor of the NET Bible and coeditor of the NET-Nestle Greek-English diglot. Recently his scholarship has shifted from syntactical and text-critical issues to more specific work in John, Mark, and nascent Christology. However he still works extensively in textual criticism, and has founded The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, an institute with an initial purpose to preserve Scripture by taking digital photographs of all known Greek New Testament manuscripts. His postdoctoral work includes work on Greek grammar at Tyndale House in Cambridge and textual criticism studies at the Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster.

And Dr. Wallace writes about the passage in John on Bible.org.

Excerpt:

One hundred and forty years ago, conservative biblical scholar and Dean of Canterbury, Henry Alford, advocated a new translation to replace the King James Bible. One of his reasons was the inferior textual basis of the KJV. Alford argued that “a translator of Holy Scripture must be…ready to sacrifice the choicest text, and the plainest proof of doctrine, if the words are not those of what he is constrained in his conscience to receive as God’s testimony.” He was speaking about the Trinitarian formula found in the KJV rendering of 1 John 5:7–8. Twenty years later, two Cambridge scholars came to the firm conclusion that John 7:53–8:11 also was not part of the original text of scripture. But Westcott and Hort’s view has not had nearly the impact that Alford’s did.

For a long time, biblical scholars have recognized the poor textual credentials of the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53–8:11). The evidence against its authenticity is overwhelming: The earliest manuscripts with substantial portions of John’s Gospel (P66 and P75) lack these verses. They skip from John 7:52 to 8:12. The oldest large codices of the Bible also lack these verses: codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, both from the fourth century, are normally considered to be the most important biblical manuscripts of the NT extant today. Neither of them has these verses. Codex Alexandrinus, from the fifth century, lacks several leaves in the middle of John. But because of the consistency of the letter size, width of lines, and lines per page, the evidence is conclusive that this manuscript also lacked the pericope adulterae. Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, also from the fifth century, apparently lacked these verses as well (it is similar to Alexandrinus in that some leaves are missing).The earliest extant manuscript to have these verses is codex Bezae, an eccentric text once in the possession of Theodore Beza. He gave this manuscript to the University of Cambridge in 1581 as a gift, telling the school that he was confident that the scholars there would be able to figure out its significance. He washed his hands of the document. Bezae is indeed the most eccentric NT manuscript extant today, yet it is the chief representative of the Western text-type (the text-form that became dominant in Rome and the Latin West).

When P66, P75, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus agree, their combined testimony is overwhelmingly strong that a particular reading is not authentic. But it is not only the early Greek manuscripts that lack this text. The great majority of Greek manuscripts through the first eight centuries lack this pericope. And except for Bezae (or codex D), virtually all of the most important Greek witnesses through the first eight centuries do not have the verses. Of the three most important early versions of the New Testament (Coptic, Latin, Syriac), two of them lack the story in their earliest and best witnesses. The Latin alone has the story in its best early witnesses.

[...]It is an important point to note that although the story of the woman caught in adultery is found in most of our printed Bibles today, the evidence suggests that the majority of Bibles during the first eight centuries of the Christian faith did not contain the story. Externally, most scholars would say that the evidence for it not being an authentic part of John’s Gospel is rock solid.But textual criticism is not based on external evidence alone; there is also the internal evidence to consider. This is comprised of two parts: intrinsic evidence has to do with what an author is likely to have written; transcriptional evidence has to do with how and why a scribe would have changed the text.

Intrinsically, the vocabulary, syntax, and style look far more like Luke than they do John. There is almost nothing in these twelve verses that has a Johannine flavor. And transcriptionally, scribes were almost always prone to add material rather than omit it—especially a big block of text such as this, rich in its description of Jesus’ mercy. One of the remarkable things about this passage, in fact, is that it is found in multiple locations. Most manuscripts that have it place it in its now traditional location: between John 7:52 and 8:12. But an entire family of manuscripts has the passage at the end of Luke 21, while another family places it at the end of John’s Gospel. Other manuscripts place it at the end of Luke or in various places in John 7.

The pericope adulterae has all the earmarks of a pericope that was looking for a home. It took up permanent residence, in the ninth century, in the middle of the fourth gospel.

So when you take a closer look at the issue, the Bible is very solid on being in favor of capital punishment for serious crimes. I think people who take the Bible seriously should take this view as well. If you go outside the Bible, well, then you might come up with a different view.

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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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UK business owner on trial for tackling burglars on his own property

From the UK Daily Mail. (H/T Dina)

Excerpt:

A businessman who confronted a burglar raiding his premises appeared in court yesterday accused of attacking him.

Andrew Woodhouse, 43, was chasing thieves off his property when he claims one of them ‘came at’ him with a wooden stick.

Father-of-five Woodhouse allegedly used the stick to injure the man’s legs before holding him down while his wife called the police.

But when officers arrived they arrested Woodhouse and held him in a cell for 18 hours.

He appeared at Newport Crown Court yesterday charged with grievous bodily harm with intent which has a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Andrew Taylor, defending, said: ‘Mr Woodhouse apprehended two of the burglars at his tyre depot.

‘It happened after two or three men decided they were going to remove a large quantity of diesel from his premises.

‘Mr Woodhouse has been interviewed by police and has provided a full explanation about what happened.

‘There is a CCTV recording of the incident and we are waiting to see the footage.’

[...]Woodhouse was in bed with his wife Lisa at their detached home in the village of Govilon, near Abergavenny, when his burglar alarm went off at about 12.30am.

[...]Woodhouse drove to his business premises where the alleged assault happened.

[...]His wife Lisa said her husband was prepared to go through the legal process to clear his name.

She said: ‘But I fail to see where there was any intent on Andrew’s part.

‘He didn’t intend to get up in the middle of the night to assault anyone. All he did was protect his property.

‘People may think he took the law into his own hands but what was he supposed to do, stand by and watch?’

Woodhouse employs six staff including two of his sons at the family business, which was set up 20 years ago.

The firm has lost £15,000 in recent years to thefts of diesel and tools.

Two fuel thieves who stole £50 worth of diesel from Woodhouse’s premises on the night of the alleged assault have been dealt with in court.

Timothy Cross, 31, and Kevin Green, 52, took two jerry cans of diesel from Woodhouse’s tyre depot in Abergavenny.

Cross and Green both admitted theft and were fined £75 by Cwmbran magistrates.

People sometimes wonder why I think that the UK is the most wussified country in the world. This is not an arbitrary opinion that I hold. The UK is a nanny state, where the people in charge treat men as if they are toddlers in day care. This country has the least respect for men and male nature of any country that I am aware of at this time. I don’t see how you could be a man and be comfortable living in a society that basically criminalizes the righteous use of force against evil. It’s so strange to me when I hear complaints from UK women about how men are not taking responsibility any more, or making commitments, or being ambitious. Well, here’s a little newsflash for you. If you treat men like children and resent them using force to defend their homes and businesses, then you are discouraging manliness. The kinds of men you will get then are wussified, feminized men who attempt nothing and defend nothing.

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who lives in the UK recently. She was explaining to me how women who are under a certain age are given government housing if they have babies out-wedlock. What kind of message is that sending? It is telling young women that men are optional, and that they don’t have to choose men wisely in order to get one who can do the provider role. So on the one hand, men are punished by the state for protecting, and on the other, they are punished by the state for providing. The state taxes men with jobs to subsidize the losers who get sex without having to commit first. And I know that young women often prefer these men because they don’t want a man who has authority from having a job to tell them what to do. (See here for some examples)

The UK has been trying to undermine and replace men who perform the traditional male roles for decades. The role of protecting has been demonized by punishing men who protect their families and businesses. The role of providing has been marginalized through higher taxes, socialized medicine and welfare benefits. And moral and spiritual leadership have been dismantled with pervasive moral relativism, multicultaralism and secularism. Everything that a strong, virtuous man could do to be recognized has been marginalized and discredited by the socialist, feminist government of the UK. UK women have no right to complain now when men act like children – they caused it by punishing men who were only doing what good men are supposed to do in any good society.

Just 70 years ago we lived in the time of British heroes like Eric “Digger” Dowling, Guy Gibson, Douglas Bader, Patrick Reid and Tommy McPherson. I learned from watching World War 2 movies as a child that British men were courageous and fierce, and able to defend Western civilization from tyranny with force, if necessary. Now all that is going, going, gone thanks to the British socialist welfare state. Men do understand what messages the feminist welfare state is sending by subsidizing single motherhood, taxing men more when their wives stay home, criminalizing self-defense and capitalism, arresting military heroes for owning handguns, discriminating against boys in schools that are dominated by women, and so on. Men understand the message that’s being sent there, and they do adjust.

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Former soldiers arrested by UK police for defending their business from burglar

So this news story from the UK Daily Mail should come as no surprise to anyone who reads British writers like Theodore Dalrymple or James Hannan or Peter Hitchens.

Excerpt:

Two men were dragged to court for apprehending a Romanian they caught burgling their business.

A nine-month ordeal ended for Steven Iliffe, 54, and son Daniel, 26, yesterday when a judge threw out the case against them.

They had begged police to go on a roof to arrest career criminal Petre Ilie.

But officers were barred by their superiors, via their radio, due to health and safety rules.

Eventually, the father and son, both former soldiers, went on the roof themselves to tackle the armed man.

They were stunned when the police later arrested them on suspicion of attempted murder – and later charged them with the lesser offence of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Yesterday, the pair said they were considering legal action against Leicestershire Police.

Mr Iliffe senior said he had suffered a heart attack in a cell triggered by the stress of his arrest at their scrap metal business in Hinckley, Leicestershire, last December.

He added: ‘We had suffered a string of burglaries and went up onto that roof only because the police had refused to do so.’

The criminal is in the country illegally, too:

Leicester Crown Court was told yesterday that Ilie, 39, already had ‘a number of convictions for burglary, failing to surrender and breaching court orders’ in the UK under the name Christopher Tudor.

In 2010 he was deported but sneaked back into the UK.

He was then arrested again alongside the Iliffes.

I hope that the United States doesn’t ever get to the point where the government prevents law-abiding citizens from defending themselves from criminals. The UK is a very liberal country, so they are very much into the idea that evil is good, and good is evil, so that everyone is “equal” and liberals can feel compassionate.

I know that formerly liberal countries like Canada have been pushing back hard against crime, with measures like abolishing the long gun registry, a tough “omnibus” crime bill, and renewed protections for self-defense. I guess that’s why their crime rates are at a 40-year low. Canada is serious about stopping crime. They do what works, and then they get the results that they expect to get.

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