Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Benghazi Drip-Drip-Drip

The Benghazi Drip-Drip-Drip

As he left his Marine One helicopter Wednesday evening and walked to the residence of the White House, President Obama did not respond to a question shouted out by ABC News’s Mary Bruce about when he would begin to provide answers to the numerous questions building up about what exactly what went wrong in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.
The president smiled and continued walking.
Perhaps he couldn’t hear the question over the din of the chopper’s blades, but either way the smile and wave – almost Reagan-esque in style – underline the apparent strategy the president specifically and his administration in general have seemed to adopt when it comes to the myriad inquiries about the decisions that led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens: they are deferring detailed answers to the investigation and – critics say –running out the clock until Election Day.
As of now, the White House has disclosed that President Obama was informed about the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi at roughly 5pm by his National Security Adviser Tom Donilon as he was in a pre-scheduled meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. At that meeting, senior administration officials say, the President ordered that the U.S. begin moving military assets into the region to prepare for a range of contingencies.
But beyond that, the White House has punted, saying the Accountability Review Board established by the State Department is investigating the matter and what went wrong. No detailed tick-tock, no information about the president’s involvement in decision-making. In addition, they’re preparing for a closed-door hearing of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence on November 15.
Without question in this hyper-partisan environment, Republicans operatives are fanning flames and creating suspicions where there’s no evidence of wrongdoing, trafficking in false rumors and idle speculation. The White House has felt the necessity to pop its head up to shoot down stories it says are false.
For instance, Tommy Vietor, the spokesman for the National Security Council, has said that despite some claims, there was no real-time video of the attack being watched in the Situation Room.
As for recent stories suggesting otherwise, Vietor says, “the White House didn’t deny any requests for assistance. Period. Moreover, what the entire government did – the White House, State Department, Intelligence Community, Department of Defense included – was to work to mobilize all available assets and move them into the region as quickly as possible. That’s what the President ordered the Secretary of Defense and Chairman to do the first time he was briefed about these issues. Many of those assets were later used to reinforce embassies in places like Yemen, Libya and Egypt.”
But that doesn’t mean the myriad questions stacking up are all political in nature, nor that those interested in answers about the Benghazi tragedy are motivated by partisan and nefarious aims.
The Washington Post’s respected foreign policy columnist David Ignatius just yesterday posed “Lingering Questions about Benghazi.” One of them, pointedly, was “At a time when al-Qaeda was strengthening its presence in Libya and across North Africa, why didn’t the United States have more military hardware nearby?”
In the place of a detailed description from the Obama administration about what happened more than six weeks ago comes the drip-drip-drip of stories about the failures of the Obama administration to provide those Americans on the ground in Libya with all the security assets they needed.
ABC News broke some stories on this, ranging from a security team being denied continued use of an airplane its commander wanted to keep in country to better do his job;  to the security team leaving Libya before Ambassador Stevens wanted it to.
Fox News Channel’s Catherine Herridge last night reported on a newly discovered cable indicating that in August, less than a month before the attack, the diplomatic post in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” concerned about local Al Qaeda training camps. Said the cable: “RSO (Regional Security Officer) expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound.”
The cable stated that “In light of the uncertain security environment, US Mission Benghazi will submit specific requests to US Embassy Tripoli for additional physical security upgrades and staffing needs by separate cover.”
The State Department’s comment to Fox: “An independent board is conducting a thorough review of the assault on our post in Benghazi. Once we have the board’s comprehensive account of what happened, findings and recommendations, we can fully address these matters.”
It was the exact same statement given to ABC News earlier in the month about a different revelation.
This afternoon, journalists Harald Doornbos and Jenan Moussa in Foreign Policy Magazine reported that when they arrived at the compound in Benghazi on October 26 they found “several ash-strewn documents beneath rubble in the looted Tactical Operations Center, one of the four main buildings of the partially destroyed compound. Some of the documents — such as an email from Stevens to his political officer in Benghazi and a flight itinerary sent to Sean Smith, a U.S. diplomat slain in the attack — are clearly marked as State Department correspondence. Others are unsigned printouts of messages to local and national Libyan authorities. The two unsigned draft letters are both dated Sept. 11 and express strong fears about the security situation at the compound on what would turn out to be a tragic day. They also indicate that Stevens and his team had officially requested additional security at the Benghazi compound for his visit — and that they apparently did not feel it was being provided.”
A Sept. 11 missive to the head of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes that on that morning, “one of our diligent guards made a troubling report. Near our main gate, a member of the police force was seen in the upper level of a building across from our compound. It is reported that this person was photographing the inside of the U.S. special mission and furthermore that this person was part of the police unit sent to protect the mission. The police car stationed where this event occurred was number 322.”
On Air Force One today, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked by ABC News how closely the President is reading and following the media reports about what went wrong in Benghazi.
“Is he engaged in the investigation and receiving updates on the investigation, or is he waiting until it’s complete?” ABC News’ Devin Dwyer asked.
Carney noted that since the “investigations are being conducted by both the FBI and the Accountability Review Board” the president himself “is not participating in the investigation. He is anticipating results that show us exactly what happened, who was responsible and what lessons we can learn from it in terms of how we ensure that it never happens again.”
The White House press secretary – who has not held a full-fledged briefing with the White House press corps since October 12 – said that the president “expects the investigations to be rigorous. He is extremely focused on making sure that we find exactly what happened and who was responsible, and tracking down those who were responsible and bringing them to justice.”
-Jake Tapper, Mary Bruce, Devin Dwyer and Dana Hughes


Many people, including this writer, have been fol­lowing the after­math of the ter­rorist attack on the U.S. Con­sulate in Beng­hazi, Libya. The White House is tight-lipped and the major media refuses to inves­ti­gate or report new find­ings. Con­gress is demanding emails, doc­u­ments and videos.
There is little doubt that the 7-hour attack was care­fully mon­i­tored by State Depart­ment per­sonnel, the Pres­i­dent and his National Secu­rity Advisers in the Sit­u­a­tion Room, and that someone issued an order to nearby mil­i­tary com­mands to “stand down” during the heat of the attack. The rest of the story is a miss-mash of con­flicting accounts.
One promi­nent ques­tion in my mind is whether or not Beng­hazi was an orches­trated effort to throw Obama under the bus and thereby kill his chances at reelec­tion. A second pos­si­bility is that the Beng­hazi oper­a­tion could not come to the light of day because it was a black-ops arms-running center between Libyan and Syrian rebels. A third pos­si­bility is that National Secu­rity per­sonnel were so incred­ibly inept that they froze under crisis cir­cum­stances and were somehow unable to act. And of course, there could be a mix­ture of motives and means.
According to ABC News,
“the White House has dis­closed that Pres­i­dent Obama was informed about the attack on the diplo­matic out­post in Beng­hazi at roughly 5pm by his National Secu­rity Adviser Tom Donilon as he was in a pre-scheduled meeting with Defense Sec­re­tary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen­eral Martin Dempsey.”
My par­tic­ular interest here is Tom Donilon, member of the Tri­lat­eral Com­mis­sion and Obama’s point man for all national secu­rity issues.
Option 1: Tri­lat­eral Com­mis­sion Influence
When Obama first took office, the three people who con­ducted daily intel­li­gence and secu­rity brief­ings with the Pres­i­dent were all mem­bers of the Tri­lat­eral Com­mis­sion. In par­tic­ular, the National Secu­rity Adviser (NSA) was Gen. James L. Jones, who later resigned in 2010. The orig­inal Deputy National Secu­rity Adviser was Tri­lat­eral member Thomas Donilon, who Obama sub­se­quently appointed to replace Jones.
One of Donilon’s key staff is Michael Froman, Deputy National Secu­rity Adviser for Inter­na­tional Eco­nomic Affairs. Froman is also a member of the Tri­lat­eral Com­mis­sion. Essen­tially, nothing gets to the President’s ears or eyes except through the fin­gers of the NSA or his imme­diate Deputies.
Thus, it was Donilon who was sit­ting at Obama’s side, offering his real-time assess­ment and advice, during the Beng­hazi attack. In fact, it was Donilon who first informed the Pres­i­dent of the attack.
Donilon’s roots into Obama’s polit­ical career can be traced back to Har­vard, where the two were class­mates in law school. They also worked on the Har­vard Law Review and had what others have called a “strong friendship.”
During Obama’s sen­a­to­rial cam­paign, it was Donilon who orig­i­nally intro­duced him to Tri­lat­eral Robert Rubin, who soon became a cen­tral adviser to Obama during all of his sub­se­quent cam­paigns. Donilon’s rela­tion­ship with Rubin date back to when Rubin was Sec­re­tary of the Trea­sury – Donilon was his Chief of Staff!
When Obama was elected in 2008, Donilon served on his tran­si­tion advi­sory board, and was first in posi­tion to sug­gest other mem­bers of the Tri­lat­eral Com­mis­sion for promi­nent posi­tions. Other Tri­lat­erals who were brought on board in 2009 included,
  • Sec­re­tary of Trea­sury, Tim Gei­thner
  • Ambas­sador to the United Nations, Susan Rice
  • National Secu­rity Adviser, Gen. James L. Jones
  • Chairman, Eco­nomic Recovery Com­mittee, Paul Volker
  • Director of National Intel­li­gence, Admiral Dennis C. Blair
  • Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of State, Asia & Pacific, Kurt M. Campbell
  • Deputy Sec­re­tary of State, James Stein­berg
  • State Depart­ment, Spe­cial Envoy, Richard Haass
  • State Depart­ment, Spe­cial Envoy, Dennis Ross
  • State Depart­ment, Spe­cial Envoy, Richard Hol­brooke
How­ever, Donilon’s cozy rela­tion­ship with Obama goes even deeper… his brother, Mike Donilon, is Joe Biden’s lawyer! According to the Prov­i­dence Journal’s 11/26/2008 story, Obama, Biden relying on the Donilons of Prov­i­dence,
The Donilons of Prov­i­dence are shaping up as a well-placed broth­er­hood in the Obama-Biden White House.
Prov­i­dence native Mike Donilon — a lawyer and polit­ical con­sul­tant whose clients have included Jack Reed and Sen. John F. Kerry, the 2004 Demo­c­ratic pres­i­den­tial nom­inee — has been named coun­selor to President-elect Joe Biden.
“Mike Donilon has been one of my closest advisers for more than 25 years, and is one of the most astute coun­selors in national affairs I have ever met,” Biden, the former sen­ator from Delaware, said in a press release. Donilon was a key member of the team that pre­pared Biden for his debate with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP vice-presidential nominee.
Another long­time Biden asso­ciate, Donilon’s older brother Tom, is leading Obama’s State Depart­ment tran­si­tion team and may be headed for the National Secu­rity Council. The Wash­ington Post has reported that Donilon, once chief of staff to Sec­re­tary of State Warren Christo­pher [also a Tri­lat­eral Com­mis­sion member], is a top can­di­date to be deputy national secu­rity adviser.
That’s not the end of the Biden-Donilon family net­work. The newly named chief of staff to Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, is Cathy Rus­sell, who is mar­ried to Tom Donilon.
So, let’s unravel this web of rela­tion­ships: Tom is mar­ried to Cathy who is chief of staff to Biden’s wife Jill. Cathy’s brother-in-law Mike is Jill’s husband’s lawyer and a close adviser for over 25 years. Mean­while, Tom is prin­cipal adviser to the Pres­i­dent on every­thing related to national secu­rity. Got that?
Back to Beng­hazi. There have been signs over the past few months that the global elite were done with Obama and were pulling their sup­port in favor of Romney.
A sim­ilar sce­nario was seen with one-term Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter. Carter exe­cuted many “shock-and-awe” poli­cies that accom­plished cer­tain Tri­lat­eral goals, but the right was too fired up against Carter to permit a second term like the first. Thus, after dumping Tri­lat­eral Carter for Reagan and Tri­lat­eral George H.W. Bush, they con­tinued on with their glob­alist plans with little scrutiny or resistance.
Is Obama being expelled like Jimmy Carter? If so, could Donilon be playing the part of Shakespeare’s Brutus in the assas­si­na­tion of Julius Caesar? Well, Donilon was largely respon­sible for pro­moting Obama to the Tri­lat­erals in the first place, so who better to remove him when he has out­lived his usefulness?
The Senate com­mittee that will ulti­mately inves­ti­gate the Administration’s role in the Beng­hazi attacks would be well advised to care­fully scru­ti­nize Donilon and his inces­tuous rela­tion­ship with his Tri­lat­eral cronies.
Option 2: Cov­ering up a poten­tially scan­dalous gun-running operation
The fol­lowing news inter­view is plau­sible enough that nothing more needs to be said.
Option 3: Gross incompetence
When Gen. Jones stepped down as National Secu­rity Adviser in 2010, arti­cles appeared that panned Tom Donilon as his replace­ment. The Huff­in­gton Post wrote,
Out­going National Secu­rity Adviser Jim Jones once dis­par­aged his replace­ment and cur­rent deputy, Thomas Donilon, for his lack of over­seas expe­ri­ence, telling him that as a result: “You have no cred­i­bility with the mil­i­tary,” according to Bob Woodward’s “Obama’s Wars.”
In addi­tion, Donilon, who pre­vi­ously worked as a vice pres­i­dent for floun­dering mort­gage giant Fannie Mae and was known for his strong views and opin­ions, once offending Defense Sec­re­tary Robert Gates so much during a meeting that the Pen­tagon chief almost walked out, according to Woodward.
Gates asserted that Donilon would be a “dis­aster” as National Secu­rity Adviser, the book alleges.
Jones called Donilon into his office late last year to dis­cuss Jones’s plans to step down from the post, writes Wood­ward. After praising his deputy for his “sub­stan­tive and orga­ni­za­tional skills” which made him indis­pens­able to the pres­i­dent, he also rep­ri­manded Donilon for three major mistakes:
  • First, he had never gone to Afghanistan or Iraq, or really left the office for a serious field trip. As a result, he said, you have no direct under­standing of these places. “You have no cred­i­bility with the mil­i­tary.” You should go over­seas. The White House, Sit­u­a­tion Room, inter­a­gency byplay, as impor­tant as they are, are not everything.
  • Second, Jones con­tinued, you fre­quently pop off with absolute dec­la­ra­tions about places you’ve never been, leaders you’ve never met, or col­leagues you work with. Gates had men­tioned this to Jones, saying that Donilon’s sound-offs and strong spur-of-the-moment opin­ions, espe­cially about one gen­eral, had offended him so much at an Oval Office meeting that he nearly walked out.
  • Third, Jones said that Donilon was not good in his deal­ings with his staff at the National Secu­rity Council, dis­playing “too little feel for the people who work day and night….”
Thus, one could easily argue that gross incom­pe­tence spoiled the party, and that fact in itself is worth cov­ering up.
One factor remaining in Obama’s favor for reelec­tion is that the Con­sumer Con­fi­dence Index has just hit a five-year high rising to 72.2 in October from 68.4 in Sep­tember. By con­trast, Busi­ness Sen­ti­ment has been falling. It is people who cast votes how­ever, not busi­nesses. There are no fun­da­mental rea­sons why con­sumer sen­ti­ment should be rising at this point, but people vote (and spend) on feel­ings, not facts.

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