Is Barack Obama the Weakest President in History?

It would appear, at this point, that Barack Obama will go down in history as a weak, ineffectual president.  As a leader of the free world, he is useless.  He does nothing, knows nothing, lies repeatedly and some people are still foolish enough to believe anything he says, promises to look into all the scandals, but doesn’t.  He cannot make a decision.  I don’t know who is running the country behind the scenes, but I don’t think it is Barack Obama.

Obama is not respected by other countries.  The words of Anna Pukas of the UK Express tell a story of how, in March of 2011, the world looked at the USA–our once proud country. I can just imagine what her words might be now.   Obama’s foreign policy, if he has one, is a sad mess.

Here is an excellent blog by Joe Newby of Examiner.com, dated March 18, 2011.  Sometimes it’s good to go back and read what the American people were not being told by our media, and see how it mirrors what is going on now.

 

 

An article in a British news outlet asks: “Is Obama the weakest President in History?”

Anna Pukas writes at the UK Express:

INEFFECTUAL, invisible, unable to honour pledges and now blamed for letting Gaddafi off the hook. Why Obama’s gone from ‘Yes we can’ to ‘Er, maybe we shouldn’t’…

Pukas reminds readers of the euphoria felt by many on the left when Obama, the “son of a Kenyan goatherd” was elected to be America’s first African-American President. Liberals across the country swooned as though it was the second coming of the Messiah. Giddy from the election, some thought their days of working were over and the new President would pay their mortgage and put gas in their car.

She also reminds us of his simple slogan, “Yes we can,” but immediately notes:

His presidency, however, is turning out to be more about “no we won’t.” Even more worryingly, it seems to be very much about: “Maybe we can… do what, exactly?“ The world feels like a dangerous place when leaders are seen to lack certitude but the only thing President Obama seems decisive about is his indecision. What should the US do about Libya? What should the US do about the Middle East in general? What about the country’s crippling debts? What is the US going to do about Afghanistan, about Iran?

Pukas’ questions are direct and to the point. They also happen to be the same questions asked by many here in the U.S.

She spends much of her article on the obvious indecision displayed by Obama on the issue of Libya, but his inability to lead has been apparent to many conservatives since the very beginning.

One thing Obama is good at, though, is campaigning – and going on vacation. He seems to spend a lot of time playing golf, and there’s always NCAA brackets to be chosen. Those are, after all, far more important issues than bloodshed in Libya.

She writes:

It is also true that the President is constantly stymied by a hostile, Republican-ruled Congress. But Obama’s apparent reluctance to engage with momentous events is starting to look like more than aloofness. Some tempering of America’s role as the world’s No1 busybody may be no bad thing but under Obama the US appears to be heading towards isolationism. He is hardly doing much better at home. Economically, the US is in big trouble but the national debt is not shrinking.

Perhaps Ms. Pukas doesn’t realize that for the first two years of Obama’s term, he had a solid majority in both the House and the Senate and the GOP has only been the majority in the House for 3 months. He still has a majority in the Senate, however, a number of Democrats are concerned about their re-election in 2012.

She also seems to forget that the “world’s No 1 busybody” is the same nation that led the fight against Nazism and Japanese imperialism and the same nation that stood firm against the expansion of Soviet Communism. Obama is not leading the nation to isolationism, as she puts it, but rather leading the nation to a status just slightly above a banana republic.

She continues:

Yes we can was a noble and powerful mantra which secured for Barack Obama the leadership of

the free world.

That, and hatred of George W. Bush along with a sympathetic – no, adoring – media complex that did everything it could to ensure his election, while trashing Republican VP Candidate Sarah Palin in the most despicable way imaginable.

Pukas concludes by writing:

Those than can, do. It is time he started doing.

This is a sentiment most of us can agree upon. The problem, however, is that Obama has never held any executive position in his life, nor has he ever served a day in uniform. His resume is that of a radical political agitator, and he is very good at that.

The sad reality is that Americans have elected the most inexperienced, radical, left wing ideologue as President.

On practically every issue, except health care, he has dithered, flipped, flopped, and fiddled. When the going get tough, he gets going – to Rio, Hawaii, the golf course, or wherever First Lady Michelle wants to go.

In short, the world is burning while President Obama fiddles.

 

 

 

Economic Warfare by Fire

If anyone doubts that the USA is under attack by terrorists, just listen to this video. William Scott details the causes of the recent spate of wildfires across our nation, and how some of them were started by terrorists. These fires offer terrorists a way to hurt the USA economically, with little danger or expense to themselves.

We are under attack, people. While many Americans sit complacently awaiting the government to tell them what to do next, terrorists are planning our downfall.

Hillary: A Generation Too Late

121020115217-37-hillary-clinton-1020-horizontal-galleryHillary Clinton–a familiar name, an ofttimes battered name.  The woman is to be respected for her climb through the maze of politics.  I think we can all agree that it is still not easy for a woman, but Hillary has gained strides for all of us of the “weaker” sex.  For that I give her a nod of approval.

Does my approval extend to a Hillary Clinton presidency?  A resounding NO!  She is a lifetime politician, who will continue the progressive agenda of Barack Obama.  In my opinion she did not make a name for herself as Secretary of State.  Look at the condition of our foreign affairs.  Could it be any worse?  Look at Benghazi.  That event alone should keep her out of the White House.  The terrible events of that day in Benghazi rests heavily on Hillary’s shoulders, and no one should ever forget it.

As a Conservative/Republican, I have many reasons for not wanting Hillary Clinton to be elected to the office of the president in 2016.  Although I do not agree with all of the sentiments in the article I’m posting below, it adds a new dimension to the argument.

Hillary, don’t run for president

By James Moore, Special to CNN
updated 9:59 AM EDT, Wed September 25, 2013
James C. MooreEditor’s note:  James C. Moore, a Texan, is a business consultant and partner at Big Bend Strategies. He is co-author of “Bush’s Brain:  How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential” and a TV political analyst.
Nobody is saying the former secretary of state, New York senator, U.S. and Arkansas first lady, and Yale-trained attorney is not qualified for the White House.  In fact, she may have one of the most impressive resumes to ever be submitted for the job.  Clinton has a breadth of experience that indicates she has every capability needed to be president of the United States.
But it is time for America to move on.
The first argument against another Clinton candidacy is generational.  Baby boomers need to release their arthritic fingers from the torch of leadership and pass it off to another generation.  Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama will have accounted for 24 years of the presidency by 2016, which seems more than sufficient.  Clinton’s election potentially extends boomer influence in a manner that risks creating a generation gap that further increases political disaffection among young voters.
Age is another important consideration, regardless of howls of outrage on this question by her supporters.  Clinton would be 69 when she raised her right hand for the oath of office.  She would be the second-oldest person to become president — younger than Ronald Reagan by several months. 
The pressures of the White House amplify the afflictions of time.  Arguably, an optimal president combines an earned wisdom and natural intellect with the residual energy of youth.  No one does this by turning 70 during their first year as president, which would by Clinton’s status.
How long can Hillary Clinton wait?
Although doctors pronounced her perfectly healthy after a recent scare with a blood clot on the brain, the probabilities of geriatric disease in office are very real for someone who might be 77 at the end of a second term.
Reagan’s comportment during his last years suggests that he had already begun moving behind the veil of Alzheimer’s.  This is not ageism.  An accumulation of years defines our range of capabilities, physically and intellectually, and the Clintons as well as the nation need to confront the question of whether a person in their mid-70’s is the best to serve as president.  The obvious answer is no.
There is, nonetheless, no underestimating the cultural importance of the first female president and the glory it will bestow upon history’s grandest democracy.  The Democratic Party, too, will have an interest in being the political organization that gave the country its first female as well as African=American presidents.
Clinton, who is properly positioned with experience, has other challenges that impede her getting a chapter in future textbooks as the first woman in the Oval Office.
America is weary of limited political choices and dynasties.  A second Clinton presidency might culminate in 28 years of Clinton-Bush control.  We are, more than even, a nation that desperately needs to renew itself with what is different and hopeful and visionary.  Unfortunately, there is too much that is predictable with a second Clinton candidacy.
No one needs a time machine to look into the future and see the grainy video in TV attack ads with a baritone voice rattling on about Benghazi or mumblings about how her husband enriched himself by accumulating a net worth of $55 million since leaving office.
Hillary on possible presidency:  “I’m realistic.’
“Don’t the Clintons have enough?” the voice would ask.  “And hasn’t America had enough of the Clintons?”
In spite of the fact that Clinton’s accomplishments as secretary of state are significant, including diplomatic efforts that averted a war between Israel and Hamas, she is likely to be forced to endure campaign onslaughts accusing her of character flaws for forgiving her husband’s indiscretions, which means the electorate probably has to endure at least some painful flashbacks.
This is not, however, a recommendation to back away from a fight.  Clinton has proved that her political knuckles are toughened with gristle, and she can skillfully marginalize absurd allegations from her opponents.  Instead of running and winning a fierce campaign, there might be a more honorable endeavor for the former secretary of state.
There is always a right moment to leave the stage, and failing to recognize that timing can lead to a lingering image that, in the longer term, overwhelms the accomplishments of a person in the prime of their powers.
Hillary Clinton can make a gracious exit.  Yes, she has every right to run for president and is brilliantly qualified for the job.  That does not mean, however, she is the best person at this time in American’s narrative.
There is also nothing inexorable about anyone’s presidential candidacy, regardless of how vehemently it is argued by Clinton’s backers.  Presumptive candidacies, which appear initially like logical choices that are the consequence of devotion and hard politics, often tend toward failure.  The Dole, McCain and Romney nominations, presumed candidates with generationally disconnected politics, have sundered the GOP’s power for possibly decades.
Running for president because it is expected and seems like an obvious decision are clearly not the right motivations.
Clinton’s service to her country has already transcended even the starry-eyed youthful dreams she shared with her husband.  Beyond her time in office as U.S. senator, and as secretary of state, and as counsel to Bill during his presidency, the namesake foundation she leads with her husband and daughter is having a profound impact in this country and internationally, facilitating education, health care and nutritional programs.  That nonprofit needs her guidance and initiative.  America, though, is ready for different choices representing a new generation for president.
Don’t run, Hillary.

Immigration: Attitude Counts

Immigrants built this great country.  Immigrants who sacrificed everything to come to a new land; to have the opportunity to build a new life for their families.  These families assimilated into their new country, and made it their own.  Were there problems among the different groups of people?  History tells us “yes.”  Did early immigrants settle into enclaves of “like” people?  Many of  them did.  Think of Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Germany, etc.  People of different cultures and backgrounds are always going to have problems co-existing.  But, history, also, shows us that they worked through their difficulties and came together as one proud nation that fought together in WWII to overcome Hitler, Mussolini, and the Emperor of Japan.

To those of us who are citizens, and love our country, today’s immigrant is a different breed.  Many of them, and I’m not implying all immigrants, don’t respect our laws or our people.  This is where the problems arise.  It’s not racism.  It’s not isolationism.  Plain and simple, in my opinion, it’s weariness.  We are tired of the demands of people who come here from other countries.  We are tired of these immigrants, who come here for an opportunity, but then want to turn our country into one just like the one they left.

And, we are so very tired of immigration activists not being able to separate legal immigration from illegal immigration.  That is insulting!  I listen to them on TV, and just shake my head.  Statistics show that the US allows 1,000,000 legal immigrants into our country each year.  To any reasonable person, that seems like a lot of people.  But to immigration activists, that number is not to be appreciated.  No, we are vilified for our stand against illegal immigrants–now undocumented immigrants.  I think if we were respected for our feelings and opinions, the discussion on immigration reform could progress more effectively.

Below is a “letter to the editor,” never published, of course, from a private citizen in reply to a man who suggested that the Statue of Liberty be torn down.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/immigration/newimmigrants.asp

From:
“David LaBonte”

My wife, Rosemary, wrote a wonderful letter to the editor of the OC Register which, of course, was not printed. So, I decided to “print” it myself by sending it out on the Internet. Pass it along if you feel so inclined. Written in response to a series of letters to the editor in the Orange County Register:

Dear Editor:

So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujan for one, suggests we should tear down the Statue of Liberty because the people now in question aren’t being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry. 

Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today’s American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer. Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home. 

They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture. Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity.

Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. My father fought alongside men whose parents had come straight over from Germany, Italy, France and Japan. None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan. They were defending the United States of America as one people.

When we liberated France, no one in those villages “was” looking for the French-American or the German American or the Irish American. The people of France saw only Americans. And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country’s flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl.

And here we are with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I’m sorry, that’s not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900’s deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life. I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags.

And for that suggestion about taking down the Statue of Liberty, it happens to mean a lot to the citizens who are voting on the immigration bill. I wouldn’t start talking about dismantling the United States just yet.

Rosemary LaBonte

Witnesses Timeline of Benghazi Attack

Chris Stephen of The Guardian, one of the first Western reporters on the ground after the Benghazi attack on the US Compound, pieces together a timeline of events from witness accounts, official reports, and the ruins of the compound.  Most striking in this report are the inconsistencies in the American version of events and those of witnesses on the ground.

A year has passed, and many questions remain about what took place in Benghazi on 9/11/2012.  Think about the fact that a British journalist was on the ground immediately, while the FBI waited three weeks to reach the compound.  That, in itself, is unbelievable.  Also, which of our news sources have worked as hard as this to point out the differences in accounts?  Also, why have we not heard from any witnesses?

I’m posting the article from The Guardian.  It’s rather long, but well worth reading.  Don’t be mislead by the similarity of the reporter’s name, Chris Stephen, and that of Ambassador Chris Stevens.

6:43am

Event Staff at the US special mission in Benghazi woke on 11 September to the sight of a Libyan policeman, deployed to guard them, filming the compound from a neighbouring rooftop. When challenged, he vanished. Later, an unmarked car made lazy circles around the compound, a walled redoubt rented in the southern suburbs of the Libyan city.

US version The state department says there were no warning of impending attack, a spokesman insisting there was “nothing unusual during the day at all”.

Conflicting evidence Two days earlier, the ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, had received a veiled warning. According to one of his cables, one of his diplomats had a meeting with two Islamist militia leaders in which they complained that the US was supporting a secular leader, Mahmoud Jibril, in a vote for prime minister due on 12 September. If Jibril won, they warned, they would “no longer guarantee security”. The consulate was already relying on one of the militias, the February 17th Martyrs Brigade, for armed protection.

In the words of a subsequent report by the US Senate’s homeland security committee, warning lights were “flashing red”. As the day went on, news came in of attacks by radicals on the US embassy in Cairo, a response to a film, the Innocence of Muslims, released in America which mocked Muhammad. The CIA sent a cable to its foreign stations warning of possible copycat incidents.

The anniversary of the 9/11 attacks also preyed on the minds of compound staff in Benghazi. In a letter found in the ruins by the Guardian, Stevens wrote: “For security reasons, we’ll need to be careful about limiting moves off compound and scheduling as many meetings as possible in the villa.”

At least one man inside the compound was anxious. Sean Smith, a 34-year-old information management officer accompanying the ambassador on the visit, emailed a friend: “Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.” Hours later, he was dead.

9:30pm

Events Diners at the Venezia, an upmarket restaurant across the street from the mission, watch as a dozen armed militiamen gathered in the dusk by the compound’s rear gate. The compound comprises four buildings spaced among gardens and surrounded by a breezeblock wall.

One of the militia jeeps bore the black banner of a local Islamist militia, Ansar al-Sharia. The militiamen made no attempt to hide. Men sipping coffee on the pavement outside a nearby cafe saw two pickup trucks packed with militiamen bearing the same banner heading for the mission. Neighbours saw militia 4X4s blocking streets leading to the compound. All were surprised there was no reaction from the compound.

“There were eight to twelve guys, just hanging around, by the gate,” one diner said. “They had guns, they were just waiting. There was one Ansar Al Sharia flag. About ten minutes later there were these booms from over the other side (of the compound). The gate came open and this guy put his head out and they shouted at him, get back inside.”

US version The state department insists the compound had been well fortified in the spring. The walls had been raised to 3.6 metres (12ft) and topped with barbed wire and concertina barbed wire. The villa had been prepared as a redoubt in the event the walls were breached. It was surrounded by sandbagged emplacements and fitted with grilles on the windows and bulletproof steel doors. Security cameras covered the site.

Conflicting evidence Most of the wall running around the compound had not been heightened beyond around 8ft. The rear wall also had no wire. Two days after the attack the landlord showed the Guardian where attackers had scrambled over. “It was easy for them,” he said. Whether cameras were mounted outside the compound is unclear. But failure to see what diners at the Venezia could see in the 10 minutes before the attack would have catastrophic consequences.

9.42pm

Events The diners heard muffled explosions from the far side of the compound. The militiamen outside readied their weapons. Then the metal gate swung open and an unarmed Libyan guard put his head out. One of the militiamen ordered him back inside. The guard pulled the door closed. After a few moments, the militiamen opened fire. “At that moment everyone ran to the back of the restaurant,” said one diner.

The first thing occupants of the compound knew about the forces massing against them was the sound of shouting and detonations at the front entrance. Gunmen got in by walking up to a small cabin by the front gate, jamming a gun in the face of an unarmed Libyan guard and demanding he open up.

On the monitor at the communications hub known as the tactical operations centre (TOC), an agent from diplomatic security service (DSS), the state department’s security force, saw the front gate open, armed men streaming through, and Libyan guards running for their lives. He activated the alarm.

US version The state department insists security was more than adequate that night, because five DSS agents were in place, more than the recommended three, supported by five unarmed Libyan guards and three armed militiamen from the February 17 brigade.

Conflicting evidence In the preceding months Stevens had cabled three times (7 June, 9 July, and 15 August) asking for more protection or that plans to draw down security be halted, according to the House oversight report. Those months had seen escalating attacks against foreign targets in the city. Commonwealth war graves had been smashed, the Tunisian consulate stormed, a Sudanese diplomat attacked, a UN convoy bombed and the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross rocketed. After two bodyguards of British ambassador Dominic Asquith were wounded in a rocket attack on the UK consulate, London closed its mission down. The US mission had been struck twice by home made bombs thrown at the outside wall.

But even as attacks in Benghazi escalated, Washington decreased security, in line with its official position that Libya, post revolution, was normalising. Three quick-reaction DSS units, named situation security teams, deployed in Tripoli, were withdrawn in the summer, despite objections from their chief, Colonel Andrew Wood. He later told CBS that losing those units was like “being asked to play the piano with two fingers”.

On 15 August, the day after Wood was withdrawn, Stevens cabled Washington to say that security in Benghazi was left dangerously exposed. He worried that February 17 was becoming unreliable: a dispute over payment by the embassy meant the brigade’s militiamen no longer guarded convoys outside the compound. In addition, the police officers supposed to guard the mission were often late. “Many hours pass when we have no police support at all”, he wrote.

The Pentagon’s regional headquarters, Africa Command, based in Stuttgart, Germany, offered to send soldiers to fill the gap, but Stevens declined, according to an official review of the incident (pdf). The result was that on the night of 11 September dozens of attackers were surging through the main gates, ranged against a force of five DSS agents.

There are questions over the readiness of this small security detail. Four of the agents were with Stevens as the attack happened, while the fifth was in the TOC. In the event the outside wall was breached, the procedure was to take position at the sandbagged emplacements. But three of the four agents with Stevens had left their rifles, helmets and body armour in the accommodation block, according to the official review by the accountability review board, ordered by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Standard procedure for the US army in hostile deployment is for weapons to be carried at all times, even on trips to the bathroom. Why the DSS agents did not have a similar rule is unclear.

They sprinted across the compound to the accommodation block to get their weapons while the remaining agent, who had his rifle, hustled Stevens and Smith inside. By the time the other three had their weapons, attackers were around the villa blocking their path. They retreated, locking themselves into safe rooms in the barracks and TOC, along with the agent already there. With only one DSS agent at the villa, the plan for all-round defence was no longer possible.

9.50pm

Events Inside the villa, Stevens sent a frantic message to Gregory Hicks, America’s deputy ambassador in Tripoli, telling him: “We’re under attack,” according to Hicks’s testimony to a House of Representatives committee. The chief of Benghazi’s supreme security committee, Libya’s gendarmerie, Fawzi Yunis Gaddafi, no relation to the former dictator, was phoned by frantic diplomats. “I spoke to the Americans, they were saying ‘please help us’,” he told the Guardian.

Inside the compound, the attackers set fire to the guard house near the gate and others rushed to the villa. A rocket-propelled grenade slammed into the lintel above the front doors, jarring them open, and gunmen rushed inside. The lone DSS agent led Stevens and Smith into a final place of refuge, the “safe haven”, and locked the gate. Gunmen, unable to penetrate the refuge, dragged furniture outside and threw it into the pool. Others wrecked the villa interior, poured fuel on the floor and set it alight.

US version The safe haven was a walled-off section of the villa constructed with sturdy doors to provide a final refuge in the event the villa was stormed.

Conflicting evidence The safe haven, constructed in the spring, had a serious flaw. The door to the haven was not solid metal, but a gate of thick steel bars, secured by two locks. Its obvious disadvantage was that it offered no protection against smoke should the villa be set on fire.

10:15pm

Events In minutes the villa was blazing fiercely, filling the safe haven with smoke. The DSS agent led Stevens and Smith to an escape hatch in the wall. He tumbled out to the patio outside, only to find the diplomats had not followed. He returned to hunt for them, but was forced back by the smoke. Finally, gasping for breath, he clambered up a ladder to the roof where he phoned his DSS comrades.

The other DSS agents, meanwhile, were locked in the two safe rooms built in the TOC and barracks. The attackers entered the buildings, ransacked each and set them on fire, but did not penetrate the safe rooms.

On the roof of the villa, the agent, his voice hoarse from smoke inhalation, phoned his comrades and told them the situation. The four agents broke out of their safe rooms and met him. Nearby was a white armoured 4X4 which the attackers had not wrecked. The location of the attackers was not clear. The agents were able to get into the vehicle, start the engine and drive the short distance across the compound to the blazing villa. Here, they too went into the safe haven to look for the diplomats, but were driven back by the smoke.

US version State department accounts say the agents were under prolonged fire throughout their ordeal, with battle raging in the compound grounds. “There is considerable firing going on outside,” one spokesman briefed journalists. “There are tracer bullets. There is smoke … there are explosions. I can’t tell you that they were RPGs, but I think they were RPGs. So there’s a lot of action going on.”

Conflicting evidence The testimony of heavy fighting is hard to reconcile with the lack of bullet holes in the buildings. The villa’s sandy walls are still blackened by the smoke from the fire, but there are few bullet marks here or on the other buildings, nor are there spent casings visible, at least on the paths and asphalt. The front gate has no sign of damage except two bullet holes. The only sign of heavy firing is at the rear gate, with holes from 23 rounds fired into the compound and six fired out. This gunfight is not mentioned in accounts made public. From the time of the attack to the time they were summoned, four of the five DSS agents were in hiding.

10.25pm

Events A six-strong force of Americans with 40 friendly militiamen fought their way through to the compound from a second US base a mile away. At 10.50pm the message “firing has stopped” was sent to Washington.

At the villa, they met the five DSS agents, suffering from smoke inhalation, and got into the safe haven through the escape hatch. They found the body of Smith and dragged it out. Stevens was still missing. The compound was now clear of attackers and the reinforcements took charge, ordering the five DSS agents to leave. Outside the compound their 4X4 was ambushed, bullets slamming into the bodywork and shredding two tyres, but they made it to the second compound. The new force spent 15 minutes hunting for Stevens before deciding they were too few of them in the event of a new attack. At 11pm they abandoned the site with Stevens still inside the villa.

US version The most authoritative of half a dozen investigations initiated in Washington is the accountability review board report, mandated by law. According to the report, compiled by senior intelligence and state department officials, the relief force are “US personnel” and their base an “annexe” to the mission. Charlene Lamb, the state department official responsible for embassy security, testified that the reinforcements were a “quick-reaction team stationed nearby”. The Senate’s homeland security report described the second base as a place “used by another agency of the United States government”. America’s UN ambassador, Susan Rice, said the second base was “its annexe”.

Conflicting evidence The second base was not an annexe, but a CIA facility, according to Frank Wolf, a US congressman who represents the district that contains CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.. It operated independently from the consulate, and its staff of between 22 and 26 agents dwarfed that of the consulate, and its normal complement of two diplomats.

It was these agents who formed the force that battled into the compound and took charge. Yet the term “CIA” did not appear once in the otherwise minutely detailed unclassified version of the accountability review board report.

The apparent desire to shield the CIA from scrutiny in Washington reached farcical proportions last November when Lamb testified to the House of Representatives’ oversight committee.

She produced a blow-up photograph of the CIA facility, but before she could explain what it was, panel member Jason Chaffetz, a Republican congressman from Utah, called for it to be removed. The committee chair, Darrell Issa, another Republican, was at first incredulous: “These are people from the state department … I assume they wouldn’t come here unless it’s cleared.”

Chaffetz stuck to his guns: “Mr Chairman, I was told specifically while I was in Libya I could not and should not talk ever about what you are showing here today.”

Lamb’s team confirmed the photograph was not classified and was available on Google Earth. After a short discussion, Issa ordered it removed: “We’re not going to point out details of what may still in fact be a facility of the United States government.”

In fact, by the time Issa spoke, the compound in Benghazi was no longer a US facility. The two landlords who owned it showed the site to the Guardian two days after the attack, pointing to the Libyan families they were already moving into the accommodation vacated by the Americans. Signs of the US tenants were still visible: blood covered one wall, a whiteboard by the gate bore the instruction “Take out your trash” and the American’s equipment in black packs was stacked on a wall awaiting collection. And the place had never been secret, at least not from Benghazi residents. The landlords insisted neighbours in the tree-lined residential street knew Americans lived there and that their vehicles were a familiar sight.

The bigger question, so far unanswered, is what the CIA was doing in Benghazi. Neither the accountancy review board, the state department nor half a dozen congressional committees investigating the death of Stevens have made any public comment on the role of the CIA; nor have congressional committees tasked with performing the role of scrutinising the government on behalf of the electorate.

00.00 12 September

Events Shortly after the CIA and DSS units arrived at the CIA base, it came under rocket attack. The occupants braced themselves for an assault. Meanwhile, seven embassy and CIA staff in Tripoli chartered a plane and flew to Benghazi, to be met by February 17 militia who escorted them across town to the CIA base. They arrived at 5am. Minutes later, it came under mortar attack. The first bomb fell beyond the walls, but the attackers then “walked” the shells into the compound. Two shells exploded on the roof, killing two CIA security contractors, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. A third man was wounded.

At dawn, reinforcements from February 17 and the Libyan police arrived at the base. They escorted the Americans to the airport for evacuation to Tripoli.

US version Evidence given to the accountability review board described an assault against the base with heavy small arms fire.

Conflicting evidence The lack of bullet marks on the walls of the facility does not square with reports that it was assaulted. Rockets were fired at one wall, and mortar bombs struck the roof, suggesting the firing was opportunistic and from a distance, rather than an attempt to overrun the CIA compound.

00.15

Events When the CIA team abandoned the consulate, crowds of local men and boys gathered at the edge of the fighting moved inside. The fires had died down and they gingerly explored, finding the unsecured window into the safe room. Inside they found Stevens, lying in shirtsleeves on the floor. A video, timed at quarter-past midnight, shows them carrying the ambassador outside on to the patio. When he shows signs of life there are cries of Allahu Akbar – God is Great – and bystanders discuss getting him to hospital.

US version Washington maintains that every possible effort was made to locate Stevens in the hours after the attack.

Conflicting evidence Bystanders put Stevens into a private car. A wounded Libyan guard who left his bloody handprint by the front gate was located and put into a second car. The two cars raced to the city’s main casualty hospital, Benghazi Medical Centre. Its director, Dr Fathi al-Jerami, said staff were astonished when the two casualties arrived at the emergency ramp, with the Libyan guard insisting his companion was the ambassador. Medics could not imagine the ambassador would be left unguarded, nor that, if he was missing, no official would try to contact the hospital. He was rushed inside and doctors fought for 90 minutes to revive him before declaring him dead.

Still with no communication from US officials, a hospital official found a mobile phone in Stevens pocket and began punching out dialled numbers. One of these was the phone of an agent now in the CIA base, but the official’s English was too rudimentary.

Only in the morning, with US officials being evacuated to the airport, did Americans go to the hospital, to be given Stevens’ body. Pictures of the dead ambassador uploaded by Libyans spread across the internet.

16 September

Events On the Sunday following the attack, Susan Rice, America’s ambassador to the UN, gave interviews to TV networks ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News to offer an explanation for the attacks on Benghazi.

US version Rice said she believed the attack was the result of a protest against the Innocence of Muslims film which had escalated: “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annexe,” she said. “There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”

Conflicting evidence Within hours, her claim was being disputed in Libya. Mohammed Magaraif, Speaker of the Libyan Congress, was visiting Benghazi to meet survivors and blamed elements of Ansar al-Sharia’s militia for the attack. His comments matched those of witnesses.

In America many were surprised Rice was chosen to make a statement about the death of the first US ambassador to be killed since 1979. More properly, the announcement belonged to Hillary Clinton, or possibly the president himself. There was speculation that Rice, the president’s foreign policy adviser during his 2008 election campaign, was being given a high profile in readiness for her to step into Clinton’s shoes if Obama won a second term in the November election.

Evidence from the US survivors, debriefed on American soil, confirmed the Libyan version of events. There was no protest. Unlike much of the Muslim world, Libya saw no protests against the release of Innocence of Muslims. Ten days after the consulate was stormed, thousands of Benghazi residents, some carrying American flags and placards mourning Stevens, stormed the base of Sharia, setting it ablaze.

Arguments broke out over who gave Rice the information leading her to declare the attack the result of a protest. It morphed into fierce arguments over Obama’s competence in the runup to the election. After his re-election, Obama named Rice as secretary of state. Republicans in Congress blocked the nomination, saying they no longer trusted Rice as a result of her Benghazi remarks.

2012-present

Events The FBI opened an inquiry into the Benghazi killings in September. In August 2013 the justice department announced an undisclosed number of indictments against unnamed suspects. Leaks from the Obama administration named Sharia’s commander, Ahmed Abu Khattala, as among the suspects. Khattala gave media interviews in Benghazi saying he was at the scene of the attack, but insisting he had come to offer help.

Two Tunisian suspects were arrested in Turkey, and an Egyptian was shot dead in an arrest operation by Cairo police. Libya announced it had made several arrests, but no one was brought to trial. The father of one of those arrested told the Guardian those held were charged, like his son, with looting.

US version On 9 August 2013, Obama said the investigation into the attacks remained “top priority”. He added: “We’re going to stay on it until we get them.” Issa promised that he and his House committee would continue its scrutiny until it got to the truth: “It is our job to work tirelessly in partnership with citizens watchdogs to deliver the facts to the American people.”

Conflicting evidence It took four weeks for the FBI to travel to the Benghazi consulate site. By that time the area had been combed over by journalists and the curious, contaminating the evidence. Even after the FBI visit, it was possible for the Guardian to recover classified documents scattered there. In Tripoli, diplomats contrasted the slowness of the FBI with French forensic specialists who were on the ground the day after France’s embassy in Tripoli was bombed in April.

Congressional committees continue to grind through the evidence and excise all mention of the CIA.

One year after the killings, no suspects have appeared in court, either in Libya or in the US. Until that happens, and until the gap between claims made in the US and reality on the ground is explained, the American public will remain in the dark about the events of 11 September 2012 in Benghazi.

For more articles by Chris Stephen, visit http://www.theguardian.com/profile/chris-stephen

Obama’s Waterloo?

I just read the best comments on the reality of Obama’s presidency, and his complete lack of leadership dealing with the Syrian civil war.  I have to share them.  Full credit for these astute remarks goes to one of my FaceBook friends, Jack Watts.

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COMMON SENSE: The Syrian crisis isn’t going well for President Obama, nor will it. Unfortunately, because he is our leader, it isn’t going to go well for our nation either. It isn’t just that he has made a foolish challenge about Syria stepping over a red line—a misstatement he cannot correct without loosing face. It goes much deeper than that.

We are in perilous waters. America has not been in this difficult a situation since the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought us to the brink of thermonuclear war with the Soviet Union in 1962. We are facing a crisis that requires strong, principled leadership. We need a dependable man—a man whose wisdom we can trust. Barack Obama isn’t that person; he’s incapable of being that person. There are two reasons why.

First, he has a narcissistic personality disorder that prevents him from taking responsibility for failure. In his eyes, he is always right. He has to be right. If you disagree with him or with the way he is handling a situation, you become his enemy. It’s always that way for a narcissist. It’s why he has sycophantic people advising him like his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, instead of seasoned veterans of foreign policy who are willing to tell him when he is wrong. Rice isn’t strong enough to do that. She may be a good basketball player and a trusted accomplice in deceiving the American people about Benghazi, but she cannot help Obama stand up to Putin.

Obama is the one who said the use of chemical weapons would precipitate the United States to intervene in the Syrian Civil War. Now, he is saying that it’s Congress’ red line or the world’s red line. To admit he was the instigator would put “responsibility and blame” on him, and that’s something a narcissist like Obama can never do. It’s not in his nature to do so. President Truman said, “The buck stops here.” For President Obama, it is, “The buck never stops here.”

For better or worse, the problem is ours. We are responsible because we elected him. We married him without knowing him. Now, we have come to discover he does not have the character necessary to face a tough international crisis. He’s incapable of guiding us through unscathed. Syria is his Waterloo, which means it may be ours as well.

Second, by consistently giving Obama a pass on his performance for five years, essentially covering up his mistakes, our press has made it impossible for him to face a tough challenge. Refusing to publish, “The Emperor is wearing no clothes,” the press has either skewed stories or buried them completely in their relentless quest to ensure that the first black, Progressive President is successful. Having done this has infuriated Obama’s critics, but the person hurt the most by not having to face reality has been Obama himself.

By having his weaknesses covered up, He has come to count on having an easy road to success. Now, the road is suddenly anything but easy. It has become treacherous and difficult, and Obama isn’t seasoned enough to navigate the terrain, which he should be after five years in office. It’s like he has been training for a heavyweight title bout by reading his own press clippings about how tough he is, instead of actually being toughened up, by having been forced to face the consequences of his mismanagement in smaller situations. To be the person he needs to be now, Obama should have been sparring, running, and weightlifting for the past five years instead of leading the soft life made possible for him by his fawning media.

Now, it is too late. Our feckless leader is clueless about what to do. Congress, especially the house of Representative, will not sustain his folly. If he acts without Congressional approval—after asking for it—his effectiveness as President will be over. It may even be worse than that. He may initiate Armageddon. If he does, it will not be his fault. You can count on that.

—Jack Watts
www.jackwatts.me

My Thoughts on the Syria Debacle

First, some qualifiers.  I don’t have a poly/sci degree.  I’m not an expert on the Middle East.  I’m not a politician.

I am an American citizen with extreme concerns about our country.  We are in dire need of a strong leader–we don’t have one.  We are in dire need of representatives willing to work together toward the common good of the country–we don’t have them.  We are in dire need of a strong sense of patriotism in the country, and by our leaders–we don’t have that.

My sense is that we, as a country, are floundering.  A large percentage of us do not trust our president or our elected representatives.  Lies have become the norm, and hidden agendas are suspect.  This may sound like doom and gloom to some, but in my opinion we have a sneaky, shadowy, back-room type of government.  Never, in all the years I have been following politics, have I seen the like of what is going on in Washington these days.

Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the NSA spying on American citizens, and the IRS targeting opposition groups.  All we get from Obama and Holder are meaningless speeches.  No action is taken, evidence is hidden, nothing is done to correct the wrongs.  Nothing is done to garner the trust of the American people.  My personal opinion is that Obama doesn’t care about any of us, including his followers.  He is a narcissist, who only cares about his image and getting his way.

Now Syria.  How can we trust our government to do the right thing?  And, what is the right thing?  Does anyone know?  Assad is a bad guy, I think we can all agree on that.  But, the rebels?  Who are they?  What truth do we know about them?  My understanding is that Al Quaeda has infiltrated the resistance.

Four months ago, Alex Bennet wrote in World:

Numbering 50,000 men, the Free Syrian Army, a self-declared non-sectarian group of early army defectors, remains the largest opposition group in the country. But during the past year other factions have entered the fray. If their numbers, as well as their political views are anything to go by, the possibility of a united front seems remote. 

The Syrian Liberation Front, numbering 37,000 fighters, and the Syrian Islamic Front, numbering 13,000 fighters, operate in Syria’s southeast and northeast respectively. Both of these groups espouse an Islamist ideology, in contrast to the self-declared non-sectarianism of the Free Syrian Army.

However the real challenge to the unity of the Syrian opposition lies in Jabhat al-Nusra, to whom thousands of Free Syrian army fighters have apparently defected. Numbering only 5,000 fighters as of January, but now perhaps many more, al-Nusra’s core fighters come from Iraq’s post-war insurgency and have recently pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

To read more of his opinion:  http://www.policymic.com/articles/42317/who-are-the-syrian-rebels-a-basic-intelligence-briefing-on-the-assad-resistance

With Obama’s waffling, the USA’s image is weak in the Middle East, as evidenced by this joke in a Saudi newspaper.

“We will strike with all our might,” says U.S. President Barack Obama, depicted in a cartoon in Saudi newspaper Alsharq.

But when?

Wearing a dreamy smile, Obama replies: “In a day, a week, a month, a year, 10 years – or however many years you can count.”

So, what are we getting ourselves involved in?  We have moved warships into the gulf, including the USS Nimitz.  Russia has sent in a spy ship.  We have no allies with the exception of France, and they might just give lip service to the cause.  Even our closest ally, the UK, has voted against joining Obama in this attack on Syria.  Should the US go it alone?  Do we need to get involved in another war in the Middle East?  Is there any end to the wars, tribal infighting, civil unrest, bombings, etc in the Middle East?

It seems to me that both sides in the civil war in Syria are enemies of the US.  So, who do we assist, and why?  Believe me, I feel very badly for the innocent Syrian people caught between Assad’s army and the rebels.  It’s criminal that chemical warfare was used against the people.  Assad is guilty of war crimes, if it is proven that he is the one who dispensed the Sarin gas.  The rebels have committed their own atrocities, including cutting open a corpse and eating the heart and liver.

I’m just not sure we can afford–monetarily or morally–to get involved in another war.  It seems to me the world needs to condemn Assad, and demand his surrender.

The US can no longer be the world police without help from the world.

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