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Benghazi explained

Kevin Drum from Mother Jones does a wonderful job laying out exactly what happened.

benghazi

The reporting on what we know about the Benghazi attacks on September 11 just gets more and more interesting. Let’s do a quick Q&A:
Why was President Obama initially unwilling to call it an act of terror?

He wasn’t. The day after the attack, on September 12, he gave a Rose Garden speechin which he said, in reference to the assault, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation.” At campaign stops that day and the next, he again referred to the Benghazi assault as “an act of terror.” A McClatchy report sums up the evidence: “In the first 48 hours after the deadly Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Libya, senior Obama administration officials strongly alluded to a terrorist assault and repeatedly declined to link it to an anti-Muslim video that drew protests elsewhere in the region, transcripts of briefings show.”

A day after the attacks, the CIA station chief in Libya reported to Washington that there were eyewitness reports that the attack was carried out by militants. Why didn’t Obama administration officials say so?

They did. Hillary Clinton, for one, referred to it as an attack “by a small and savage group.”

OK, but that McClatchy report quoted above also says that a few days after the attacks administration officials started putting more emphasis on the “Innocence of Muslims” video. Why? It had nothing to do with the Benghazi attacks.

That’s not what locals said. As David Kirkpatrick reports: “To Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers, there is little doubt what occurred: a well-known group of local Islamist militants struck the United States Mission without any warning or protest, and they did it in retaliation for the video….The fighters said at the time that they were moved to act because of the video, which had first gained attention across the region after a protest in Egypt that day.”

So the video might have played a role. But why did UN ambassador Susan Rice put the video front and center in her Sunday morning appearances a week after the attacks?

She didn’t, really. On Face the Nation, she said the “best information” at that moment suggested that Benghazi began “as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where […] there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful video.” She then immediately added: “But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.” (more…)

By |2013-11-10T18:05:36-04:00October 23rd, 2012|Foreign Affairs|1 Comment

9/11 – The Sweet Deception

When the twin towers fell, the Pentagon was on fire as the fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania and the Bush administration had a huge problem on their hands. On one hand, they had to convince the American public that they weren’t asleep at the wheel. On the other hand, they had to convince America that they were on the job in keeping us safe. It is somewhat like that old Richard Pryor routine where he asks, “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?” America could clearly see that the Bush administration failed to keep us safe. We could see the smoldering Pentagon and the 24/7 news coverage of the fallen twin towers. Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Advisor, famously stated, “I don’t think that anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile.” Although these words are strong, seeing Condi Rice deliver these words are even more powerful.

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On the surface, this seems reasonable. If you’re a guy who works on the assembly line and doesn’t follow the news extremely closely, this makes perfect sense. You can’t recall any time that someone was trying to use a passenger jet as a missile. This was a deliberate attempt to throw you and the American people off the trail. The goal is not for you and me to imagine this or that, the goal is for the Bush administration to use all the information at their disposal to try to prevent something catastrophic like 9/11.

In 1994, Algerian terrorists tried to fly a plane into the Eiffel Tower. The plot was foiled by a French SWAT team while the plane was being refueled in Marseille. The plane was getting three times as much fuel as it needed, which tipped authorities off to their real intent. The Bojinka Plot, which I mentioned yesterday, also included one of the 12 planes to fly into the Pentagon and another of the planes to fly into CIA headquarters in Langley. Abdul Hakim Murad trained at a flight school in Norman, Oklahoma. He became an informant when he was captured in Manila. He told police that the plan was to board an American aircraft as a passenger, hijack it and then fly the plane into CIA headquarters. He specifically said that it was a suicidal mission. Remember that this plot was foiled in 1995. In August 2001, US officials intercepted intelligence suggesting that terrorists wanted to bomb the US Embassy in Nairobi. They were either going to bomb the embassy using a plane or using the plane as a missile.

In light of this information, Condoleezza Rice’s statement seems less genuine. It seems more crafted to throw the American people off the scent of incompetence. Now, to be fair, the FBI and the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community together form a huge and unwieldy beast. The one thing that 9/11 has taught me is how difficult it is to get information to those who can really use it. Still, the Bush administration could’ve admitted to us that they were truly focused on Al Qaeda, bin Laden and terrorism. That kind of honesty, I would’ve respected.

9/11 has taught me that our government can be extremely deceptive. Before 9/11, I thought that our government basically gave us the straight scoop. Maybe I was naïve. Now, everything that comes out of our government I question. Basically I say, prove to me that you’re telling the truth. What are the lessons that you learned from 9/11?

A lot of the information from this post comes from the fabulous book, Intelligence Matters, written by Senator Bob Graham.

By |2011-09-05T13:51:12-04:00September 5th, 2011|9-11, National Intelligence|Comments Off on 9/11 – The Sweet Deception

Never ending war

I’m tired of war. I’m tired of secret prisons. I’m tired of renditions. I’m tired of my government acting like the bad guys and not the good guys.

From the Nation:

The CIA presence in Mogadishu is part of Washington’s intensifying counterterrorism focus on Somalia, which includes targeted strikes by US Special Operations forces, drone attacks and expanded surveillance operations. The US agents “are here full time,” a senior Somali intelligence official told me. At times, he said, there are as many as thirty of them in Mogadishu, but he stressed that those working with the Somali NSA do not conduct operations; rather, they advise and train Somali agents. “In this environment, it’s very tricky. They want to help us, but the situation is not allowing them to do [it] however they want. They are not in control of the politics, they are not in control of the security,” he adds. “They are not controlling the environment like Afghanistan and Iraq. In Somalia, the situation is fluid, the situation is changing, personalities changing.”

By |2011-07-22T23:01:26-04:00July 22nd, 2011|Security, Terrorism|Comments Off on Never ending war
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