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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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 won’t prosecute government officials for unauthorized access of tax records

The Washington Times reports on a story of government tyranny.

Excerpt:

A government watchdog has found for the first time that confidential tax records of several political candidates and campaign donors were improperly scrutinized by government officials, but the Justice Department has declined to prosecute any of the cases.

Its investigators also are probing two allegations that the Internal Revenue Service “targeted for audit candidates for public office,” the Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, has privately told Sen. Chuck Grassley.

In a written response to a request by Mr. Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Mr. George said a review turned up four cases since 2006 in which unidentified government officials took part in “unauthorized access or disclosure of tax records of political donors or candidates,” including one case he described as “willful.” In four additional cases, Mr. George said, allegations of improper access ofIRS records were not substantiated by the evidence.

Mr. Grassley has asked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to explain why the Justice Department chose not to prosecute any of the cases. The Iowa Republican told The Washington Times that the IRS “is required to act with neutrality and professionalism, not political bias.”

[...]“The Justice Department should answer completely and not hide behind taxpayer confidentiality laws to avoid accountability for its decision not to prosecute a violation of taxpayer confidentiality laws,” Mr. Grassley told The Times. “With the IRS on the hot seat over targeting certain political groups, it’s particularly troubling to learn about ‘willful unauthorized access’ of tax records involving individuals who were candidates for office or political donors. The public needs to know whether the decision not to prosecute these violations was politically motivated and whether the individuals responsible were held accountable in any other way.”

But do you know who the Department of Justice will prosecute, after he’s been found innocent in a trial that should never even have occurred? George Zimmerman. It doesn’t matter if he’s innocent, he has to be persecuted to make a point. Meanwhile, the real criminals in the IRS get a pass from the real criminals in the Department of Justice.

The latest news from the leftist Washington Post on the IRS scandal is that it is now confirmed that the targeting of conservatives was not the work of a few low-level employees in Cincinnati.

Excerpt:

The chief counsel’s office for the Internal Revenue Service, headed by a political appointee of President Obama, helped develop the agency’s problematic guidelines for reviewing “tea party” cases, according to a top IRS attorney.

In interviews with congressional investigators, IRS lawyer Carter Hull said his superiors told him that the chief counsel’s office, led by William Wilkins, would need to review some of the first applications the agency screened for additional scrutiny because of potential political activity.

Previous accounts from IRS employees had shown that Washington IRS officials were involved in the controversy, but Hull’s comments represent the closest connection to the White House to date.

Oh, but I’m sure that the Obama administration is doing everything possible to bring the criminals (themselves) to justice. In between smuggling arms to Mexican drug cartels and covering up Benghazi, I mean.

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Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter met with IRS chief at the White House

Jake Tapper of the left-leaning CNN reports.

Excerpt: (links removed)

Comments made by former White House adviser and Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter on CNN’s “The Lead” last week about meetings at the White House attended by both her and the then-director of the Internal Revenue Service, Doug Shulman, have prompted some conservatives to question her role in those meetings.

The White House has acknowledged that IRS officials seem to have inappropriately focused on conservative groups when vetting whether the groups qualified for special tax exempt status. White House visitor logs suggest that Shulman was cleared to attend meetings in the White House or Eisenhower Executive Office Building 157 times, which has prompted questions from Republican officials as to whether the targeting of conservative groups was ever discussed. More than 50 of Douglas Shulman’s scheduled visits are described as “health care meetings” or “health care reform meetings,” according to the visitor logs.

On “The Lead’s” political roundtable discussion about Shulman’s visits on Friday, Cutter – now a CNN contributor – said that “many of those meetings were for health care implementation. I was in them with him. So there is nothing nefarious going on.”

[...]Many conservative outlets have seized upon Cutter’s presence in the meetings as reason for suspicion. “The president’s deputy campaign manager attended the ‘nonpolitical’ ObamaCare implementation meetings with the former IRS commissioner at the White House,” wrote an Investor’s Business Daily editorial. “She wasn’t there to discuss the Easter Egg Roll.”

Wrote Carol Platt Liebau at Townhall.com, “as everyone knows, Stephanie Cutter’s expertise is not primarily in the policy area; it is in the realm of politics: Political strategy and communications.  She has been described by the Daily Beast as a partisan ‘pit bull.’  Her job isn’t the nuts and bolts of governing.  She is a political fixer.  That’s why she was a Deputy Campaign manager for the President’s re-election.”

Here’s what Carol Platt Liebau said in that Townhall article.

Excerpt: (links removed)

An interesting fact emerges from a look at a transcript of last Friday’s edition of “The Lead With Jake Tapper” – Stephanie Cutter was in on the White House meetings that IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman attended.

Cutter insists that Shulman was simply meeting about implementation of ObamaCare — and in fairness, one of her responsibilities was managing communications strategy for the unpopular law.  But as everyone knows, Stephanie Cutter’s expertise is not primarily in the policy area; it is in the realm of politics: Political strategy and communications.  She has been described by theDaily Beast as a partisan “pit bull.”  Her job isn’t the nuts and bolts of governing.  She is a political fixer.  That’s why she was a Deputy Campaign manager for the President’s re-election.

Given that’s the case, it’s far from clear why she would have been in meetings with Doug Shulman at all.  The whole point of the IRS’ supposed “independence” is to insulate the agency from the influence and machinations of people exactly like Stephanie Cutter.

So whether or not the stated purpose of the meetings was about ObamaCare — unless Shulman’s politics are very different from the lefty leanings of his wife – it isn’t hard to imagine Shulman and Cutter exchanging some congruent views.  That’s particularly true given that foremost in political discussion at the time was the Citizens United case (holding it unconstitutional for the government to restrict speech by corporations, associations and unions), which had recently been handed down by the Supreme Court — and which scared President Obama to death.  Is it really a stretch to think that Cutter and Shulman might have commiserated, bemoaned the supposed threat to democracy, and wished that something could be done, oh so subtly? . . . Consider the following timeline:

  • May 2009 - Cutter moves to White House from Treasury Department
  • January 2010 – Citizens United is handed down; Democrats are hysterical
  • March 2010 - IRS begins targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups
  • April 2010 - Cutter assigned to sell health care reform; if meetings with Shulman didn’t occur before, presumably they did so afterwards.

Indeed, this time line and Cutter’s presence in the IRS meetings makes it more likely than ever that subtle political influence was wielded.  Did anyone explicitly order Shulman to target conservatives?  Probably not . . . because given the extent and type of contact he had with White House politicos, no explicit directive was needed.

It seems likely that everyone understood each other just fine, and the IRS operated accordingly.

Do you think it’s possible that the Obama campaign worked with the IRS to delay and deny applications from conservative groups in order to influence the 2012 election? Why would the deputy campaign manager need to be in meetings with the head of the IRS at the White House?

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Benghazi liar Susan Rice to be appointed National Security Adviser by grateful Obama

Katie Pavlich of Townhall explains how Obama rewards those who lie to the American people on his behalf, just before an election.

Excerpt:

President Obama won’t condemn Attorney General Eric Holder for spying on reporters and now, he’s tapped Benghazi YouTube video liar Susan Rice to serve as a top security adviser.

President Barack Obama plans to appoint Susan Rice as his national security adviser, replacing Tom Donilon, who is resigning, in a major shift to the White House’s foreign policy team.

Obama plans to make the appointment, first reported by the New York Times, later on Wednesday. He will also fill Rice’s current position, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

It’s no surprise Rice is getting a promotion. After all, she served as a good foot soldier for the Obama administration when she went in five Sunday talk shows five days after the attack and lied about a YouTube video.

We know a YouTube video was never part of the equation the night of the attack. Acting Libyan Ambassador and whistleblower Greg Hicks called former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at 2 a.m. from Libya and said, “We were under attack.” Hicks told Congress under oath that a YouTube video was a “non-event” in Libya. A lack of security was one of the main reasons why the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked on 9/11. Many security requests were sent to the State Department and Clinton but were repeatedly denied.

I noticed that the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol did a podcast on the pick, and he was very concerned.

Description:

THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on Susan Rice’s promotion, the nomination of Samantha Power to be the next ambassador to the United Nations, and Congress’s investigation into the Internal Revenue Service scandal.

Here is the MP3 file of the podcast.

How serious could this administration be about national security when appointments like this are made?

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