Archive for category Defense
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cloud Cuckooland) has appointed Andre Carson (D-IN) to serve on the Permanent House Select Committee on Intelligence.
Rep. Carson is a Muslim, which in and of itself would not be problematic. If, say, Dr. Zudhi Jasser or Dr. Qanta Ahmed were to be elected to Congress, I can’t think of a place where they should be more welcomed.
But Rep. Carson is no Dr. Ahmed or Dr. Jasser. Rep. Carson is both a fan of and beloved by the Muslim Brotherhood’s political operations here in the United States. Carson has a long history of associating with the Islamic Circle of North America and the Muslim American Society, both groups recognized by Egypt and the UAE as being part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s American political and influence operations.
The appointment comes a week after a set of bloody Islamist attacks in France, and less than a month after Egyptian President Sisi, whose country exists in a state of low-grade warfare against the Brotherhood, issued what amounted to a call for an Islamic reformation.
The appointment puts someone with close ties to America’s enemies on its most sensitive committee, and the one most directly involved with fighting that threat here and overseas. Why on earth would you give someone like that access to a routine diet of sensitive operational and finished intelligence?
Given the fact that the mainstream media has mostly reported on the novelty of having a Muslim on the Intelligence Committee, the question answers itself. Pelosi is looking to court a voting bloc, another of the Democrats’ increasingly incompatible identity interest groups in its increasingly unstable and incoherent coalition. That is also helps to prove that America is no place for the oft-heralded, never-materialized backlash against Muslims. Pelosi and most Democrats have long since acquiesced in CAIR’s and the MAS’s assertions that the worst thing about terrorist murders is that Muslims might be blamed for them. What better way to prove that’s not the case than to put an Islamist sympathizer on the committee most responsible for overseering America’s conduct of its war on That Which Has Nothing To Do With Islam?
This is deranged.
The media appear to have bought, without question, the White House line that the publication of the name of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan was accidental.
It might have been accidental; it’s certainly the simplest explanation. Someone puts together a list of military personnel meeting with the President during his
scandal-distraction photo-op visit. The station chief, being under cover, is on the list. The guy transcribing the list isn’t really paying attention, and he writes down the name, and sends it out to the press. He has an embarrassing “oops” moment, and then sends out another list without the name, which only succeeds in drawing more attention to him. You could completely see someone who’s been promoted beyond his level of functional literacy doing this.
If so, I can understand the reluctance to throw the poor schlub to the wolves, but a man’s life has been put in danger here. He can probably find employment elsewhere doing something. Too bad for his bureaucratic career, but I wouldn’t want to place anyone else’s life in his fat-fingered little hands.
And it might have been deliberate by whoever did it. I can think of a number motivations for an underling having done so. None of these is a good reason; people have been known to do all manner of damage while thinking that they were doing the right thing.
First, and basest, the leaker may have had a personal grudge of some sort against the station chief. It’s been known to happen. It’s also pretty much the single most unprofessional thing someone could do, and deserves swift and unmerciful punishment.
It’s also possible that the leaker had a professional complaint. Perhaps the station chief was obstructing some administration policy, or proving to be an effective voice in opposition to some policy change. Perhaps the CIA operation in Afghanistan as a whole was proving to be difficult to dislodge, or to move on some question. This is localized – and dirty – bureaucratic warfare.
It’s also possible that this is bureaucratic warfare of a more generalized kind. This administration has managed to centralize control of foreign policy to a degree unusual for any administration. One organization that steadfastly and successfully resists that kind of political centralization is the CIA, largely because of its finely-tuned skeleton sensors, and talent for exhuming bodies. By exposing the name of the station chief, not only would it throw the Agency off-balance at a key time, it would also send a message to other field officers that they aren’t safe, either.
Up until, oh, January of 2009, this sort of behavior would have been unthinkable. But then, up until January of 2009, having the FEC and the Attorney General coordinate with the IRS on the auditing and prosecution of political opponents would have been unthinkable, too.
When we had a real WH press corps, they would have considered those alternatives and asked questions about who did it. They certainly wouldn’t have meekly accepted an innocent explanation – especially from an administration with a track record like this one when it comes to explanations.
For a group that derides extended quotes as “transcription,” they’ve looked a lot like a White House transcription service for about 5 1/2 years now.
Alan Grayson (D-Cloud Cuckooland), has long been given to weird and outrageous comments. A cursory search reveals many of them, including his speech in favor of Obamacare, claiming that Republicans “want you to die quickly.” Presumably this is to differentiate them from the Democrats who want to place in charge of your health care, a bureaucracy utterly indifferent to your fate.
Yesterday, he delivered one of the more stunning apologias for tyranny that I’ve been privileged to witness since the end of the Cold War, in his defense of Putin’s wrenching of the Crimea, and most of Ukraine’s Navy, away from Ukraine.
Now, you may say that he (Yanukovich) was thrown out of office for good reason. There are allegations against him that he was corrupt. There are allegations against him that he used the military against his own people to stay in power. But the fact is that from the perspective of the Crimeans, their leader, the one that they placed in charge of their country, was thrown out of power.
So it should come as no surprise, as Secretary Kerry recognized, that the Crimeans had had enough, and they wanted to leave this artificial entity called “The Ukraine.” Now, in fact, the Russians did assist. They assisted by disarming the local Ukrainian Army and Navy, that’s what they did, and they did it virtually bloodlessly. They did it so the Ukrainian Army and Navy could not interfere in the referendum that was held.
That’s the fact of the matter. Why are we pretending otherwise? Why are we speaking about “naked aggression?” Why are we speaking about “stealing Crimea?” Why are we speaking about bullying, or the new Soviet Union, or thuggery, or audacious power-grabbing, or “Bully-Bear Putin,” or Cold War II? I’m surprised that Judge Poe didn’t tell us that he was saddened that the Iron Curtain had descended over Sevastopol.
This fact is, as the Chairman has recognized, this is not some new Cold War that is occurring. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. We should be pleased to see – pleased to see – when a virtually bloodless transfer of power establishes self-determination for two million people somewhere in the world, anywhere in the world.
And in fact, what we’re seeing here, instead, is the vilification of Putin, the vilification of Yanukovich, the vilification of anybody who we try to identify as our enemy. Before that it was Saddam Hussein. Before, and since then, it’s been Assad. This does not help. The basic principle here is self-determination, that’s what’s happened in the Crimea, and it’s not for us to determine otherwise.s
These comments are best described by Mary McCarthy’s critique of Lillian Hellman’s writing. Others, such as California’s Dana Rohrabacher, opposed sanctions on the grounds that they wouldn’t serve US interests. That’s a debatable proposition, but at least it’s debatable, and the people putting it forward appear to live in the same universe as the rest of us. Grayson appears to have been starring in a trailer for an upcoming science fiction movie involving travel between worlds.
As noted before, Grayson has a history of this sort of nonsense, usually directed at Republicans, so it barely causes a ripple. If we had an actual media, they’d ask every Democratic member of Congress about Grayson’s absurdities, but there’s little hope of that.
There is, however, some hope that the voters of Florida will rid us of this turbulent representative. He was first elected, somewhat narrowly, Florida’s 8th District, in 2008, and then crushed by Republican Daniel Webster in 2010 in the same district. Redistricting seems to have given him a new lease on political life, as it put Webster in the 10th, and Grayson in the 9th, where once again, he was returned to office. Perhaps, after November 2014, with Obama having turned from aid to anchor, Grayson will once again have to find gainful employment outside of the public payroll.
Not everyone has forgotten about Benghazi. Among those who’ve been pursuing the story, none has been more dogged than CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson. A few days ago, she tweeted out the current state of affairs. Here are the collected tweets:
As promised, I will give an update on the Benghazi info CBS asked the Admin. to provide last Oct. I tweeted out the outstanding questions a month ago. Since then, while the Admin. hasn’t provided CBS additional info some of the questions were asked by Congress, and some of them were answered. So let’s go through the answered and as-yet-unanswered. This is to the best of my knowledge. Since answers weren’t provided to me, I’ve tried to find them in hearings, etc.
UNANSWERED: What time was Ambassador’s Stevens’ body recovered, what are the known details surrounding his disappearance and death, including where he/his body was taken/found/transported and by whom?
UNANSWERED: Who made the decision not to convene the Counterterrorism Security Group (CSG) the night of the Benghazi attacks?
UNANSWERED: We understand that convening the CSG a protocol under Presidential directive (“NSPD-46”). Is that true? If not, please explain..
UNANSWERED: …. if so, why was the protocol not followed?
UNANSWERED: Is the Administration revising the applicable Presidential directive? If so, please explain.
ANSWERED AT CONG. HEARINGS: Who is the highest-ranking official who was aware of pre-911 security requests from US personnel in Libya? Secy Clinton said she was unaware of Stevens’ security concerns/requests & that Undersecy Kennedy was highest official below her who knew. However, Chmn of Jnt Chiefs Dempsey & Def Secy Panetta testified they knew of the security requests, but State didn’t ask for their aid.
UNANSWERED: Who is/are the official(s) responsible for removing reference to al-Qaeda from the original CIA notes?
UNANSWERED: Was the President aware of Gen. Petraeus’ potential problems prior to Thurs., Nov. 8, 2012?
UNANSWERED: And What was the earliest that any White House official was aware? Please provide details
UNANSWERED: What is your response to the President stating that on Sept. 12, he called 911 a terrorist attack, in light of his CBS interview on that date in which he answered that it was too early to know whether it was a terrorist attack?
UNANSWERED: Is anyone being held accountable for having no resources close enough to reach this high-threat area within 8+ hours on Sept. 11
ANSWERED: and has the Administration taken steps to have resources available sooner in case of emergency in the future? Chmn of Jt Chiefs Dempsey testified that troops in the region were put on higher alert status after the 9/11/12 attacks he said he wasn’t sure how long the higher alert status could be maintained. He didn’t address the alleged lack of certain aircraft at major US naval base very close to libya
UNANSWERED: A Benghazi victim’s family member stated that Mrs. Clinton told him she would find and arrest whoever made the anti-Islam video. Is this accurate? If so, what was Mrs. Clinton’s understanding at the time of what would be the grounds for arrest? If true, what is the Administration’s view regarding other videos or future material that it may wish were not published, but are legal?
PARTIAL ANSWER: We requested timeline of Pres. Obama’s actions and decision making on Benghazi night. Secy Clinton testified Pres. Obama didn’t speak to her that night or throughout the attacks. After the initial briefing on LIbya and other matters at the very outset, Chmn of Jt Chiefs said Pres. Obama didn’t communicate with him and Def Secy Panetta testified Pres. Obama didn’t speak with him either throughout the attacks. Officials have said Pres. Obama was very much kept informed of what was happening.
UNANSWERED: White House still will not respond to our request for any White House photos taken Benghazi nite.
UNANSWERED: Admin. still hasn’t provided Benghazi surveillance video originally promised for public release around last Thanksgiving
UNANSWERED: Admin. hasn’t provided accounting of Benghazi survivors or the transcripts of their interviews done shortly after the attacks.
At a press conference 11/14/12, President Obama stated that his Admin. has provided all info regarding “what happened in Benghazi.” No agency has provided documents responsive to our Freedom of Info (FOI) requests on Benghazi. We’ve asked the NSA, State Dept, Defense Intelligence Agency, CIA. So far, not one piece of paper generated by these public agencies on Benghazi nite is deemed a document the public is entitled to see.
Let’s be real: if enough people in the public, media and Congress don’t ask, then any Administration has the option to not answer. I’m a big fan of FOI (Freedom of Info) but the Administrations I’ve covered (both Dem & Repub) seem to have made an art form out of ignoring
One more thing. The White House reportedly has turned over a stack of Benghazi-related documents to the Senate Intel Committee and there are reportedly a lot of blacked out pages.
Some of these questions, and the lack of White House response, and quite damning in and of themselves. We are evidently supposed to believe that the President was kept fully informed of events on the ground, even as he didn’t communicate with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, or the Secretary of State as they unfolded.
It also seems that the Pentagon’s highest levels were aware of requests for more security by a State Department embassy, but the Secretary of State was not.
Attkisson is right about the FOI problem. Many Republicans had hoped that Benghazi would prove to be Obama’s Watergate, or at least his Tet Offensive. But even in the case of Watergate, Woodward and Bernstein could only go so far. The fact is that the case only really got moving once Congressional investigators, with their subpoena power, got involved. And even then, it took the intervention of a federal judge to get the most damaging information released. With Congressional Republicans proving to be inept investigators, and the press having lost interest in the story since, oh, September 12, it’s hard to see where additional pressure will come from.
If you’re on Twitter, though, and not following @SharylAttkisson, you should be.
When sequestration was designed by the Obama administration, the idea was that the required spending cuts would be unpalatable to both sides – cuts to Democrat-favored patronage programs would be balanced by cuts to Republican-favored defense spending. Few of us who supported the debt ceiling deal realized how seriously the deck was stacked against Republicans, with tax increases scheduled to take effect, at the same time that entitlement spending remains untouched.
The game is to box the Republicans into permitting tax increases now, in return for promises of spending cuts, and promises to examine entitlements. I’m sure Obama will give entitlements all the attention he can, in-between the front and back nines.
The game is aided and abetted by a number of institutional and political factors. They have a President who seemingly believes that whatever the consequences of raising taxes on a fragile economy, and defense cuts in a world whose stability largely rests on US power, the political blame will largely fall on Republicans. Republicans have allowed themselves to be trapped by the
Democrat publicity arm media into negotiating with themselves on national television. The President hints darkly about “not playing that game” of using the debt ceiling for leverage, but in the absence of a proper budget process, Congress institutionally has no other leverage to control executive spending.
While Harry Reid has steadfastly refused – in blatant violation of the law – to pass a budget, Speaker Boehner has abandoned that process in favor of closed-door negotiations. The Speakership simply is simply not a position that generally produces men suited to that role. Boehner is acting like most Speakers – a legislator who sees it as his job to legislate. It is the relentless logic of the situation that led Boehner to punish fiscal hawks by removing them from key committee positions; he’s assumed a role that he really shouldn’t be in at all, and it’s led him to take some rash and unwise personnel decisions in order to try to preserve caucus unity. He would be better served by trusting his committee chairmen in a complex process such as this.
But as long as the Republicans are committed to this process, the defense angle may not be as one-sided as we’ve been thinking. Walter Russell Mead provides the clue:
The rising regional tensions, if anything, underline the need for a continuing U.S. presence. The Philippine foreign minister, like Japan, has welcomed that presence and agreed to “more U.S. ship visits and more joint training exercises.” This is a good sign. America is a stabilizing force in the region; we don’t want war, and we don’t want boundaries changed by force.
Reassuring our allies while reaching out to China and trying to keep the temperature cool is going to be a tough assignment, and there is no way to do this on the cheap. The President and his new Secretary of State have their work cut out for them. Pivoting is hard work.
Indeed it is. The US has already been initially shut out of a new multi-lateral trade pact in Asia, and much of the Chinese aggressiveness can be traced to administration weakness around the world. We can survive a couple of months of sequestration, if it leads the administration to recognize that its plans for its pivot to Asia depend on having a naval presence to back it up, assuming they really care.
In fact, the House Republicans could always simply walk away and let the cliff happen. They could also do as Rand Paul suggests, pass the President’s plan, an immanentize the financial eschaton. But they have a number of better options: they could pass Bowles-Simpson and dare the President and Harry Reid to ignore it; they could pass a bill retaining all of the Bush tax rates, and then pass an additional package that would target tax benefits largely enjoyed by blue-state limousine liberals. They could pass actual budget and tax bills, and inform Sen. Reid that until he returns to lawful and orderly governance, there will be no debt ceiling increase. The knowledge that the President’s high-profile foreign policy initiatives depend on getting a deal done should strengthen their hand considerably.
Beginning at 16:19:
WALLACE: Senator Udall, you are on the Senate Armed Services Committee, also on the Senate Intelligence Committee. How do you answer critics who say that the Obama administration has bungled this, before, during and after the attack?
UDALL: Chris, we share the grief that Mr. Woods exhibited in that segment.
Let me say this: we’re going to get to the bottom of this. The Intelligence Committee is going to hold hearings when we return right after the election and the State Department has its own investigation underway. But I have to say this: any impartial observer who looks at what happened in Benghazi, would have to say this situation has been politicized. Governor Romney himself realizes that his actions and his reaction was unbecoming for a potential commander-in-chief. He’s backed off those comments in that point of view. In the debate this last week, Benghazi and Libya wasn’t even raised when the governor had a chance to discuss it.
We ought to be acting in the spirit of Ambassador Stevens. We ought to be pulling together. After 9/11 —
WALLACE: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Senator… Certainly, it is a legitimate issue to discuss before an election, when four Americans were killed, and there are questions of intelligence failures before and during the attack, is it not?
UDALL: It is a legitimate issue, but, every story leads to political commentary, and trying to point fingers. After 9/11, we came together, there were a lot of questions that had to be answered, let’s operate in that same spirit. And let’s remember what Ambassador Stevens was riding to do and let’s stand together, because the Middle East is crucial. We need to be tough there, but we need to be smart. We need to be engaged.
This discussion has been politicized. It hasn’t been helpful. It hasn’t helped us get to the bottom of what happened.
WALLACE: Let me ask you one direct question. There were drones that were flying over Benghazi at the time of the attacks, during the hours, when first the consulate and then the annex. And it was about six or eight hours were under attacks.
Were those drones armed?
UDALL: We’re going to find that out. As you have mentioned, I sit on the Intelligence Committee and so does Senator Warner. We’re going to get to the bottom of this. We’ll find out what happened. And that information, if appropriate, will be revealed —
WALLACE: Do you know whether they were armed, sir?
UDALL: I can’t comment on that at this point in time, Chris.
WALLACE: But you certainly agree that if they were armed they could have, without as Leon Panetta said, sending more troops into harm’s way could have been used to break up the attack?
UDALL: The drone assets that we have are remarkable and they save the lives of many, many Americans, while we have been getting the bad guys. I look forward to discussing it with you further when I have the information and am able to share it with you.
Right. We wouldn’t want a little thing like Benghazi or the situation in the Islamic world to become politicized or anything. Especially after all the restraint that President Obama and the Democrats have shown in not spiking the football over bin Laden.
Never mind the hypocrisy in a Democrat – the party of “the personal is political” – asking for something, anything, not to be politicized. He claims that what hasn’t helped us get to the bottom of what happened is that the Republicans have been asking the questions. If the Democrats on the Intel Committee like himself had been asking these questions, instead of playing the political equivalent of Dean Smith’s Four Corners offense on the thing, then they could have made it bipartisan. They chose not to.
What’s kept us from getting to the bottom of this is that the administration has been lying about what happened since Day 0, September 11, 2012, and the only way they can stop themselves from lying is to stop talking.
Udall asking us to wait until after the election is the worst sort of politicization of the issue, the defense equivalent of Nancy Pelosi telling us that we have to pass Obamacare so we can find out what’s in it.
Udall is a disgrace to Colorado, and a disgrace to the office he holds.
Most people know Cardinal Richelieu as the architect of France’s foreign policy during the reign of Louis XIII and the Thirty Years’ War. Less well-known is his right-hand man, Father Joseph du Tremblay, the subject of Aldous Huxley’s biography Grey Eminence, which has been called the “best book on the intelligence operations of the French state” of that period.
Father Joseph was a Capuchin monk, and even before entering politics, a serious mystic, whose successful evangelism seemed merely to take time from his efforts to achieve union with the Godhead. His piety was not a pose; he would continue to honor his vow of poverty to the point of rigorous self-denial, right to the end of his life. In their personal lives, Richelieu lived in luxury, while Joseph lived the Church teachings.
The question that fascinates Huxley is how a fellow mystic, so loyal to the Church and its divine mission, could devote his public life to the perpetuation of what amounted to a war of extermination in Germany. It was a question that Fr. Joseph’s contemporaries asked, and one that marred his reputation almost from the time he took office. It would follow him even to his funeral.
To fully understand what’s at stake, one needs to understand the position that the Thirty Years’ War holds in German history. The war’s destructiveness was unmatched for its time, killing about half the German population, reducing the rest to utter poverty and starvation. Armies, foreign and domestic, pillaged what food their was, and destroyed urban production.
It was the conscious policy of France – both Richelieu and Joseph – to extend it as long as possible, precisely to inflict this damage on France’s most dangerous continental rival.
For Richelieu, the motivation is easy to see. But when Father Joseph took a position as Richelieu’s right-hand diplomat, the motivations were a little more subtle. Joseph identified France’s interests with God’s. He seems to have truly believed that a strong France would advance the Church’s interests in the world. More than anything, he wanted another Crusade against the Turks, to recover Constantinople and the Holy Land. (Constantinople had only been Ottoman for about 150 years; Christian rule there wasn’t a living memory, but it also wasn’t terribly distant, and much if not most of the city’s population remained Orthodox.)
Spain had actually expressed interest in the enterprise, but wanted overall leadership. To Joseph, anything other than French leadership was unimaginable. In order to accomplish a French-led Crusade, France would not only have to turn Germany into a highway for Catholic troops, it would also have to break the power of the encircling Hapsburgs, who sat on the thrones of both Spain and Austria. Thus France’s support for the Dutch resistance to Spanish rule, and the strategic support of the Lutheran Swedes against the Austrians, using Germany as their battlefield. Catholic France’s support for Protestant armies against other Catholic powers only fed the cynicism about its motives.
That such cynicism existed at all was a result of the mixture of religious and political roles, and of religious and nationalistic motives. The Peace of Westphalia has been seen as establishing a secular international order. But such an order was only possible because governments – even diplomats who had Church titles – had been pursuing a nationalistic foreign policy for decades beforehand. Only such a worldview can explain France’s actively promoting German bloodshed almost as an end unto itself, and delaying a crusade until France could lead it.
David Goldman, a.k.a. Spengler, flatly states that our position with respect to the Muslim world is roughly that of France of the early 1600s to the rest of Europe. Still the main power to be reckoned with, we should pattern our Middle East policy on France’s: divide and weaken, intervening only directly when absolutely necessary. And just as France became the dominant European land power for over 200 years after the War, so we can manipulate the Sunni-Shia divide to our advantage.
And yet, Huxley, in a somewhat mystical moment, notes simply that violent actions rarely if ever have salutary results. Germany remembered. Germany rose to challenge France, and Germany never really forgot the horrors that French diplomacy had visited upon it. It was a vengeance that was fueled by a moral indignation, as well, that France had posed as a religiously-motivated power, even as it reduced Germany to cannibalism.
Huxley answers his central question by concluding that Father Joseph simply bargained away, piece by piece, the practical tenets of his mystical faith in pursuit of his more concrete policy goals. At a personal level, his extreme piety convinced him that God would forgive whatever compromises he had to make to ensure France’s success.
We too have our ideals, that such a purely realpolitik foreign policy would betray. And years down the line, some future Huxley might also find that, in pursuit of national interests, we had, little by little, allowed ourselves to completely bargain them away.
My first reaction is that this is good for Obama, politically, bad for Afghanistan, as good for defense as can be expected, and bad for Petraeus. (The CIA being impervious to reform, hardly rates a good-bad mention.)
Bad for Petraeus: He probably was exhausted after close to 10 years in the field, but he should have been JCS Chief. True, working in counter-insurgency requires a lot of facility with operational intelligence, so it’s not completely a fish out of water. But the CIA does much more well-hedged intelligence “analysis,” most of it bad, than it does actual intelligence-gathering and use. Petraeus has directed the war in two theaters, and deserves a chance to apply what he’s learned to the military as a whole. It’s hard to escape the thought that Obama is sidelining someone he’s afraid of politically, even though Petraeus has repeatedly disavowed political ambition. That’s why it’s
Good for Obama Politically: He can put a purported rival in a position to fail (who was the last actually successful DCI?), keep him from speaking with authority as he spends energy navigating a bureaucratic and political jungle. Panetta will probably be at home (enough) in Defense, and will be on the President’s side there.
Good for Defense: At least in terms of not having an empty suit or someone likely to wreck the place or take on unnecessary fights. Panetta’s not a fool, but he was in over his head at CIA. His job will be to manage the Carter-like hollowing-out of DoD, which Obama’s successor will have to fix. But he’s unlikely to roll over completely, and will at least bring an outsider’s eye to the job.