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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How the Obama administration made sure people would lose their health insurance plans

Patrick Brennan writes about the NBC News bombshell from yesterday in National Review.

Excerpt:

Much derision has been heaped on White House consigliere Valerie Jarrett’s tweet last night claiming that “nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans. No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans” (this is a “FACT,” she noted). There’s actually a little truth to this: Technically, individual-market plans that qualify as grandfathered under the ACA are exempt from some of the law’s mandates — but not all of them. As long as a grandfathered plan doesn’t undergo any “material changes” after 2010, it maintains its grandfathered status, so it doesn’t have to comply with all of the law’s strictures as other plans do on January 1. But those material changes are almost inevitable, in large part because of the ACA — meaning the plan will almost certainly be cancelled and replaced with a more expensive, more comprehensive plan, as millions of Americans have learned and continued to learn.

[...][I]nsurers lose their grandfathered status if the plan has a “material change,” defined as “(1) eliminating or significantly reducing benefits; (2) raising co-insurance or co-payments; (3) raising deductibles; (4) reducing employer contributions; or, (5) adding or increasing an annual limit”…

That sounds benign. It sounds as if the plans are only going to be changed if insurance companies change them voluntarily. But actually insurance companies must change the plans because Obamacare requires the plans to cover a whole bunch of new treatments, which will necessarily cause the plans to go up in price, as well.

Look:

[E]ven these grandfathered plans have to comply with a number of new Obamacare mandates — most important, they have to accept applicants regardless of preexisting conditions and charge them the same premiums, they have to eliminate lifetime-spending caps, and they have to cover dependents under 26 for free (there are other rules that also apply to grandfathered group plans). How, exactly, were health insurers supposed to comply with these new mandates (and other ways the ACA is raising costs) without raising customers’ contributions in the way the law says means losing grandfathered status? Obviously, they could have chosen to raise premiums alone — but then customers who don’t expect to use a lot of health care would switch to plans with higher cost-sharing, which ruins an insurance pool.

In other words, the ACA did make it incredibly hard for insurers to continue plans for the millions of Americans who don’t want comprehensive insurance — financially, insurers almost certainly had to adjust them in such a way that they would lose grandfathered status. This isn’t “normal turnover in the insurance market” (though there is plenty of that in the individual market); there’s a reason why an exceptionally large number of Americans are getting cancellation notices this fall.

The bottom line is that you can’t keep the vast majority of the plans that Obama said you could keep. He lied.

Newsbusters notes that the major news networks are not even talking about the NBC News revelation that the Obama administration knew that their law would cause people to lose their health care. I think the lesson here is that Democrats lie, and the media, being an extension of the Democrat Party, covers up for them. That’s why the Democrats win elections.

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NBC News: “Obama administration knew millions could not keep their health insurance”

That’s the headline from the actual NBC News article.

Here’s the thesis:

President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.

According to recent estimates, it’s 16 million. A previous estimate by CBO in 2012 said that up to 20 million could lose their employer-based coverage.

More:

Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”

None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered.

It’s the HHS regulations that make it so that “grandfathered” plans cannot be kept – and those are part of this Obamacare project, because the regulations deal with how it is implemented.

More:

Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”

That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.

Yet President Obama, who had promised in 2009, “if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan,” was still saying in 2012, “If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”

“This says that when they made the promise, they knew half the people in this market outright couldn’t keep what they had and then they wrote the rules so that others couldn’t make it either,” said  Robert Laszewski, of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a consultant who works for health industry firms. Laszewski estimates that 80 percent of those in the individual market will not be able to keep their current policies and will have to buy insurance that meets requirements of the new law, which generally requires a richer package of benefits than most policies today.

Obama knew, when he said those famous words, that they were not true. He’s a liar.

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Obama lied, health care died: 10 states where Obamacare killed existing health care plans

From the Daily Caller.

Excerpt:

President Barack Obama famously promised, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” He later got even more specific.

“If you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have,” Obama said.

But as Obamacare’s rollout approaches, we have learned this is not true. Here are the ten states where consumers may like their health care plans, but they won’t be able to keep them.

I’ll pick just three of the states:

1) California:58,000 will lose their plans under Obamacare. The first bomb dropped in California with a mass exodus from the most populated state’s Obamacare exchange. Aetna, the country’s third largest insurer, left first in July and was closely followed by UnitedHealth. Anthem Blue Cross pulled out of California’s Obamacare exchange for small businesses as well.

Fifty-four percent of Californians expect to lose their coverage, according to an August poll.

3) Connecticut: Aetna, the third largest insurer in the nation, won’t offer insurance on the Obamacare exchange in its own home state, where it was founded in 1850. The reason? “We believe the modification to the rates filed by Aetna will not allow us to collect enough premiums to cover the cost of the plans and meet the service expectations of our customers,” said Aetna spokesman Susan Millerick.

5) South Carolina:28,000 people were insured by Medical Mutual of Ohio, SC’s second-largest insurance company, until it decided to leave the state entirely in July due to Obamacare’s “vast and quite complex” new regulations. Company spokesman Ed Byers said Medical Mutual’s patients would be switched over to United Healthcare plans instead.

When Obama said that people could keep their health care plans if they liked them, what evidence did we have to believe him? What reason did we have to believe that he actually knew what he was talking about, instead of just reading a teleprompter-assisted speech that someone else wrote for him? Had he been governor of a state where he put in a similar program and people kept their health plans? Did he commission a study that showed that people would be able to keep their health plans? What evidence did we have to believe him?

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