Friday, May 31, 2013

Rx for Scandal

How does a liberal administration put out a scandal brush fire that hasn't really caught on with the low information set amidst a formerly doting, but lately irritated press corpse?

  • One, suddenly cut back significantly on showing any Presidential Daily Briefing videos on the White House website.  Go there now--the last one available is May 22;  the transcripts are available however.

  • Two, appoint a reliable bureaucrat as head of the IRS and immediately task him with a snappy "30 day top down review", which instantly becomes a buzz phrase for all subsequent talking points.  Never mind that the new guy will be investigating his new agency from within.  

  • Three, have the top guy pretend to be outraged, but when asked if he approves of his public servants saying "I don't know" or taking the 5th pretend like a squirrel just ran by, exclaiming "look over there!"

  • Four, have the Attorney General convene a special meeting to discuss how the Attorney General should handle the press when it comes to classified leaks--the same Attorney General who's convening the meeting because he lied about knowing of the Rosen event.  Then have the top guy say he has 'full confidence' in the AG even after he tried to keep the meetings about press freedoms off-the-record.

  • Five, focus on weather events and other things that are real no-brainers from an optical standpoint.  Holding babies, throwing footballs at an arcade, making speeches about bringing everyone together or pointing out that one bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch, wink, wink.

  • Six, keep replying to any question about Benghazi by mentioning something like, "250 million documents have already been given to the GOP Congress, so what more do they want about this side show?"

  • Seven, hint to the media on possible story ideas that will kill the scandals and return them to their former position at the right hand of the Father.  No proof of this, but perhaps it doesn't take a directive. 
There may be more. 

OUTRAGEOUS!   6/1/13

The president expressed outrage when the IRS scandal broke and vowed to clean things up.  He early-retired the old chief and appointed a new chief with instructions to do a top down review. 

Now that new chief has missed a deadline to respond to a Senate inquiry.  

Boy, this should really piss the POTUS off! 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Comey Strategy

This administration must really think they are crafty.  Mueller's term is up at FBI, so they float the name of James Comey as his successor.   Is there anything that isn't politics to these guys?    

Of course he's qualified, and he's a Republican.  So the mainstream media gets a two-fer:  they can pretend Obama is operating in a bi-partisan fashion in selecting someone across the aisle while every stinkin' one of them remind readers about how he was a hero of the left for standing up to Dubya back in the day.  Over secret stuff, of all things.  

Since there will be a lot of jibber-jabber about what Comey did back then here's a post from this blog back in 2007 pointing out some inconsistencies in the famous Ashcroft hospital drama.  Comey testified about this in 2007 when the Pelosi Congress came in, which this journalist called the most riveting testimony in the history of Congressional testimony.   Get the drift?  Get in trouble, need to change the subject?  Dredge up some Bushitler.  Even if it's about the same thing they are being accused of--keeping secrets, it's all they've got.  Problem is, it will probably work.    

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Freeze!

This is just absolutely getting hilarious..
Breaking: Eric Holder arrests self in DOJ sting; releases self after forgetting to read self Miranda rights — David Burge (@iowahawkblog) May 28, 2013
Check the comments for some funny add-ons as well.

OK, well the long Memorial Day weekend is over.  There wasn't a doc dump on Friday--far too obvious--but they did manage to give press secretary Jay Carney several days off last week, one more today (and of course the holiday), so the inevitable is being put off.  But eventually he's going to have to face the music and explain how the president could possibly expect the Attorney General to investigate himself.  He can start with explaining why that's not the funniest political thing ever.

Meanwhile, other things are causing havoc for the 1600 folks.  Obama had a nice diversionary photo-op trip to New Joisey to meet his BFF Chris Christie today, who promptly out-man-carded him at an arcade football toss, winning the president a stuffed Chicago bear--on the first toss, while POTUS was oh-for. 

Over at State, low key spokesman Patrick Ventrell tried to avoid explaining why two State employees were shot at a topless bar in Caracas (they were 'injured' somewhere outside the embassy).   And now NBC News is confirming that no, it wasn't just some low level employee in Cincinnati whom the IRS apologized for, things might go a little higher.  They've still got their friends so it's not over yet, but the kettle is slowly boiling.   

What next?  Or what diversion will happen next?  Maybe a certain politician coming out of the closet?  A big terror bust?  Maybe an announcement we're arming John McCain the Syrian rebels?   Proof of alien contact?   We await...

BRIEFING FOLLIES  5/29/13

Carney must have spent his time off coming up with talking points on Holder.  He would not be swayed today when asked by CNN, CBS, Fox and Mara Liason about the perjury issue.  Seems people are 'conflating' things or not understanding the legal nuances--see the Justice Dept for additional details.  Amazing hubris--telling people to see Eric Holder's office for more details about Eric Holder and Eric Holder's investigation of Eric Holder.  Here's the fireworks from today's Q&A..



Yes, they are going to seriously argue that no deception or misdirection took place when the AG told Congress he knew nothing about any event involving Rosen.  In the face of such utter nonsense the press room was far too quiet.  Guess they are starting to think--hey, this is just a Fox News reporter.  If things get to the point where only Ed Henry and Major Garrett are asking questions the administration will have won this issue.   Even Henry immediately flopped to a huge softball question on the improving economy, obviously to score some brownie points (which evoked laughter).  Intimidation works--just ask any Third World tinpot.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

This day is about remembering the fallen. May the sacrifices of the sheepdogs across the history of this country never be forgotten.  There's a fine line between freedom and oppression and their sacrifices have kept us on the good side of the line since the late 1700s.

As to appreciation, many of us want to show it in the form of a contribution, but Bob Dole wants to remind folks to "trust but verify" when it comes to veterans charities:
If you want to help servicemen and women in their transition to civilian life, exercise the same due diligence you’d apply to any significant purchase or investment. Don’t hesitate to kick the tires or demand the equivalent of a test drive. If you’re contacted by fundraisers, be prepared to ask some questions in return. Confirm the organization’s tax-exempt status. Find out how much of your gift will go to the intended recipient and how much to administration or fundraising.
Better yet, ask the group to put its appeal in writing and then review its financial stats and spending record on Web sites such as Charity Navigator. As Ronald Reagan said in a different context: Trust but verify. Check them out before you write a check. I can’t imagine a better way to observe Memorial Day than to support those who have worn their country’s uniform — while denying others who would enrich themselves in the service of greed.
Sage advice. It's hard to believe groups would form to rip off Americans giving their hard-earned money to help wounded veterans, but evil knows no bounds. All the more reason we need the sheepdogs.

Where's My Lawyer?

Two papers; two puff pieces; two pictures exactly the same.   It's time for us to meet the president's lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler.

Ironically both the Times and WaPo thought Sunday night was the right time.  Both have pieces on her (using the same file photo) in which they tell us how tough-minded and fair she is, oh, and did you know she helped take down Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay from Enron?  She wears stiletto heels as well.  Don't misunderestimate this woman, GOP!

According to both articles this woman was an outsider to the Obama inner circle but Barack wanted her for his counsel and nobody else--he wanted "Kathy".   Apparently she put in some time with Bill Clinton's White House counsel's office as a staffer in the late 90s, getting a taste of the big leagues.  So while she may not be an insider she certainly seems like a fellow traveler.



Hard to say why WaPo and the Times both went to press on the same story on the same night other than the usual--Plouffe or others in the White House called and asked them to, maybe in an effort to improve her image before another grueling week of IRS revelations and perhaps new shifts and twists in the rubbery and unbelievable narrative.   Maybe they are focusing on her gender, after all Obama has been criticized for not having enough women in roles of importance.  Others may have better ideas.

A quick search of Ruemmler provides something that neither the Times nor the Post went into much detail about, her involvement in the non-recess recess appointments:
Over what would have traditionally been the 2011-2012 winter recess of the 112th Congress, the House of Representatives did not assent to recess, specifically to block Richard Cordray's appointment as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.[5] As a result, both the House and Senate held pro forma sessions.[6] On January 4th, 2012, President Obama claimed authority to appoint Richard Cordray and others under the Recess Appointments Clause.
Counsel Ruemmler asserted that the appointments were valid, because the pro forma sessions were designed to, "through form, render a constitutional power of the executive obsolete," and that the Senate was for all intents and purposes recessed.[7] Republicans in the Senate disputed the appointments, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stating that Obama had "arrogantly circumvented the American people" with the appointments. It was expected that there would be a legal challenge to the appointments.[8]
Two circuit court of appeals rulings have now stated the appointments were invalid. For some reason that hasn't been noticed amongst the main three blockbusters, or as Rand Paul says, so many scandals it's sort of like an "old MacDonald's farm" kind of thing (here a scandal, there a scandal, everywhere a scandal) where some things are just going to slip by unnoticed.

MORE  5/27/13

The Times is trying to help out in other ways today (they are apparently using Memorial Day weekend to reload).  This article blames the victims and justifies the extra scrutiny because, gasp, Tea Party groups applying for 501c4 actually had a political preference that wasn't named Obama.

Let's see, how long did it take the IRS to approve "Organizing for Action", a group run by ex White House officials with a nudge from the president himself, for their c4 status?  Not that long.   Hint to the Times--it's not the scrutiny, it's the disparity, especially in an election season.  But they know that.

CIRCLING MORE WAGONS  5/27/13

They shouldn't be amazing, but the stories coming out of the mainstream and Washington press are indeed amazing.  Here's NBC News making the GOP the focus of the scandals:
And as recently as Thursday, as top Republicans continued to voice their conspiracy theories about the IRS, Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam, Republicans’ chief deputy whip, conceded again there’s no evidence that Obama had been involved in the IRS abuses. “There’s no evidence that leads it to the Oval Office,” he said on “Daily Rundown” on Thursday. “And I think this is a situation where we need to be very careful and get the facts out and not come to conclusions and speculations before the facts speak for themselves.”
Just 'mad lib' conspiracy theories. That meme is illustrated here, along with the notion that all these pesky scandals may stop the administration from doing the important work of changing America into a Euro-socialist paradise:
McDonough, as has been widely reported, wants to cap at 10 percent the amount of White House time that gets spent responding to the furors of the moment rather than advancing the president’s broader agenda. Among other White House staff, solace is taken from a number of factors. First, they believe that there is no direct link between the president and any of the misbehavior that is being probed. Second, they contend that the only thing that could truly jeopardize him, or his top aides, is inappropriate meddling in future investigations or those currently underway. Third, they say that maintaining a steady focus on the large issues of national importance will pay off in the long run.
And Nixon went to China. All of this via leaks and whispers from the White House to reporters, of course. CBS News approaches from a different angle--how the scandals are bringing the GOP together and 'empowering' them to team up against the good guys:
Long-peddled questions about how the administration handled an attack last Sept. 11 in Benghazi, Libya, were recently joined by news that the Justice Department secretly subpoenaed reporters' phone records. And then there was the conservatives' crown jewel: An inspector general's report that showed members of the Internal Revenue Service targeted tea party groups for excessive review of their tax-exempt status.
Wonder if CBS ever used 'long-peddled' or 'crown jewels' to describe the Democrats notion that Bush lied about Iraqi WMDs?  To their credit, ABC News seems to be taking the holiday off from telling us what's not important.   But that won't last.  Again, if anyone thinks this press corpse is going to easily switch sides they should be checked by a doctor.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Investigation Update

The NY Times on Saturday reminded everyone that hey, "we're part of this, too!"
In a separate case last year, F.B.I. agents asked the White House, the Defense Department and intelligence agencies for phone and e-mail logs showing exchanges with a New York Times reporter writing about computer attacks on Iran. Agents grilled officials about their contacts with him, two people familiar with the investigation said.
This particular investigation was being run by a Republican-appointed US Attorney, Rod J. Rosenstein, the US Attorney from Maryland. He, along with Ronald Machen, USA of Washington, DC, was appointed to investigate two national security leaks regarding Yemen and Iran in June 2012 by Eric Holder.

Hmm, though.  Notice how the Times describes the email dragnet enacted by Rosenstein..
In a separate case last year, F.B.I. agents asked the White House, the Defense Department and intelligence agencies for phone and e-mail logs showing exchanges with a New York Times reporter writing about computer attacks on Iran. Agents grilled officials about their contacts with him, two people familiar with the investigation said.
In other words, he went after the leakers.  What the Times does not say is that the FBI subpoenaed personal emails and other sensitive information from their reporter David Sanger as Machen did with Rosen in the 2010 incident.  While Machen didn't go after personal emails of AP reporters in the Yemen investigation in 2012-13 he did request their personal phone logs of the five AP writers involved.  So we have a contrast in the manner in which the Democrat and Republican USAs have approached their charge. 

All in all, the Rosen incident remains the most serious due to the reach involved--especially since the Justice Department tried to keep it sealed, and it wasn't even part of the 2010 investigation.

It's important to keep in mind a few things--1) the Justice Department already knew who leaked to James Rosen once they grabbed his emails but they kept up the surveillance thereafter then tried to keep it quiet. Recall in late 2009 that the White House, via media flak Anita Dunn, was basically at war with the network.  When Helen Thomas retired from the press pool in 2010 they threatened not give Fox a front row seat in the Press Room despite their ratings status until the rest of the press raised a complaint.   2) the AP and Times both know who leaked to them in 2012, which gives them tremendous leverage in the way these stories play out.

For instance, if say a disgruntled career bureaucrat, perhaps a Republican, was their source they can play the game a bit different than if the leaker was say David Axelrod or Tom Donillon, etc.   As to Iran, both Sanger and Obama said in 2012 when this was announced that the leak didn't come from the White House, despite what John McCain and other Republicans were saying (the leaks were designed to burnish Obama's terror warrior resume ahead of the election).  Maybe they didn't.

Or in other words, maybe this is a trap.

If it turns out that the leaker(s) were conservatives that would leave only the James Rosen story as the conservative outrage.  Already CNN is reporting that News Corp knew Rosen was under investigation back in 2010, which is to say the Fox News outrage is misplaced--which also might explain why Bill O'Reilly's head hasn't exploded on air yet.  Fox claims they were not told by New Corp--which beggars belief--and they were also not told about the personal email subpoena, which doesn't, since Judge Lamberth just unsealed those documents on May 21 and apologized.  But if one is true that takes away from the other.

Bottom line--if at the end of the day Fox is the only network twisting in the wind nobody will care and the story will drop, despite the egregious conduct of the administration. 

The other wild card is whether this is the end of the media dragnet announcements. Even the boss says he doesn't know (an all-too-common refrain these days), but in reality everyone knows they have shown the ability to game things out to their favor in the past, so long as the media plays along. Why would anyone think things will change?  That is, unless something else bubbles up to the surface.   

Friday, May 24, 2013

Media/Politicians Already Politicizing Bridge Collapse

The dust has just barely settled on the ramming and resultant collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington State and the media and some politicians are already trying not to let the crisis go to waste.  Here's CBS News:
"Since 1989," LePatner said, "we've had nearly 600 bridge failures in this country and, while they're not widely publicized ... a large number of bridges in every state are really a danger to the traveling public."
Which is an interesting statistic that has nothing to do with what happened, according to the eyewitnesses on the scene who said a truck carrying an oversize load hit the bridge.  But here's CBS quoting a transportation official:
The bridge was inspected twice last year and repairs were made, Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson said. "It's an older bridge that needs a lot of work just like a good number of bridges around the state," she said.
Yet it was not deemed 'unsafe' or else the state would be liable.  Here's NBC News quoting a transportation report:
The bridge was of a "fracture critical" design, as are 18,000 bridges nationwide, meaning it could collapse if even one part failed.
Which also means it has been 'fracture critical' ever since it was built in 1955. It simply took this long for an oversize load to smack it.

Here's some ideas for our hapless media to pursue when they're not trying to surreptitiously blame this on the Tea Party: 1) oversize loads are required to have pilot cars with measurement antennae to determine whether bridges or overpasses are too narrow or low for safe passage. Where is the driver of the pilot car? Who does he work for? Who owns the truck? What was the name of the driver? Why wasn't he held longer, at least until the FBI determined there was no 'foul play'?  Or will they interview him later?  Why did the witness driver of the pickup who ended up in the river with his wife say the following, if indeed the load was too high:
"I was commenting to my wife that it seemed that the load he was carrying was about 4 feet wider than the actual bridge," he said.
Was it too high or too wide?  Did they misquote him or was he confused?  He said the truck hit the side of the bridge, not the top.  The state says it was too high.    How fast was the truck going that it managed to destroy the bridge but safely make it across the damaged span? How far behind the truck was the witness pickup driver?

No matter.  Clearly, if Obama's infrastructure bill had not been blocked by the GOP this tragedy wouldn't have happened

MORE  5/25/13

Could these morons be any clearer in trying to help Obama blame this on the GOP?  Right now, on CNN's website, a screaming headline exists in large font type: "Is Your Bridge Safe?".   It goes on to say that 600 bridges have failed since 1989 and that nobody in Congress, or even the taxpayers, want to pay more in taxes to address this crisis.

But at the bottom of their article they include the following (my emphasis):
"We want these bridges to be safe," said Herrmann. "But we need to provide the funding, the investment to make them safe."

The number of America's deficient bridges has actually decreased "ever so slightly over the last couple of years," Herrmann said. That's mostly because of increased funding from state and local governments, he said.
Is that a good sign? Herrmann said yes, but he added, "If we don't start accelerating we could start losing ground."
Unbelievable.  CNN is whining about lack of money to fix bridges then report that bridges are being fixed because there has been more money spent.  With no trace of irony.   Wait, no, it's quite believable. If you were expecting the mainstream media to turn on the Obama folks after these recent scandals, keep dreaming.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Is this the End...

..of Eric Holder's career at the DoJ??



After all, how could the president speak out so strongly against his own Attorney General and not have it result in some consequences? 

MORE  5/23/13

Hopefully folks caught the tongue in cheek above.   If you watch the Obama speech (and please do so if you want some vintage Bush-bashing coupled with an explanation of drone strikes juxtaposed with a proposal to close GITMO and end the GWoT because we've basically defeated AQ Core©, complete with disruptions from Code Pink, whom Obama eventually applauds), the president has tasked Holder to chair a working group with media about press freedoms and report back to him by July.

Got that? The same guy who targeted Rosen and Fox and let his deputy target AP is being told to go have a group hug with the press and report back to Obama. Welcome to Bizarroworld. What next, asking Lois Lerner to chair a task force with the Tea Party?

As to the speech itself, many will applaud because he basically is proposing to end the GWoT and replace it with the 90s. London proves we cannot simply pretend the threat is over and go back to our routines. These people are not swayed by our freedom and secular societies, they are swayed by their ideology, which they believe is holy and compels them to destroy infidels. The guy in the street in London with bloody hands is a perfect example of the coolness these people possess. If they get their hands on WMDs they will use them without hesitation. The president well knows it, but he's still angling for his great social justice experiment that requires a domestic focus of resources, so he needs the GWoT to end soon, regardless of whether it's over or not.

CT Train Accident

The crash of two Metro-North commuter trains last week in Fairfield, CT is still a news story here and there, so let's take a look.  It happened on a Friday evening--the FBI showed up that night to investigate and by Saturday morning had turned things over to the NTSB. This report covers it (my bold):
Investigators said Saturday that the crash was not the result of foul play, but a fractured section of rail is being studied to determine if it is connected to the accident. National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener said the broken rail is of substantial interest to investigators and a portion of the track will be sent to a lab for analysis.
Weener said it's not clear if the accident caused the fracture or if the rail was broken before the crash. He said he won't speculate on the cause of the derailment and emphasized the investigation was in its early stages. Officials earlier described devastating damage and said it was fortunate no one was killed.
No foul play determined by the FBI before the crash investigation begins, of which the chief NTSB investigator says he won't speculate on a cause.  Except foul play, which has already been ruled out.  OK.

They are focusing on a broken rail (which couldn't have become broken due to foul play, which is great news).  Railroads are constantly sending maintenance supervisors out of the road to visually check track conditions to prevent broken rails, which do occur and cause derailments.  They also use sophisticated detection vehicles to inspect the rails at broader intervals.  According to reports the Sperry Rail inspection machine passed over that section only two days before the accident.   The Sperry machine checks for fractures in the steel, but does it check for loose bolts or failures of the steel "joint bars" used to hold the rails together end to end?  No doubt the NTSB knows and has been closely studying that data.  Other causes are certainly possible--except for foul play, which has been ruled out.

Meanwhile some perspective always helps.  Here is the location of the crash....



Notice that the train had just passed under the Interstate 95 bridge heading eastbound (left to right in the image).  Based on its reported speed of 70 mph the broken rail section would likely have been near or under the bridge.  Try to imagine a horrible train crash on the main Boston-New York rail line happening right under the main interstate between Boston and New York--a terrorist's dream.   Not that terrorists would want to derail a passenger train.

But that's idle speculation.  Going forward, with foul play ruled out, the parties are lining up for blame and payouts. The trainmen's union wants to sue their employer for damages, saying the cars and rails are to blame despite Metro-North not having a major accident in decades and the passenger cars being new.  The politicians are inferring that our transportation infrastructure is falling apart (despite Metro-North's safety record), which is code for blaming the Republicans.  And of course the state will hold hearings to discuss all of this, wherein they will probably find a way to blame the Republicans.

But the NTSB is still in charge. Their report will eventually come out but right now it's an ongoing investigation so they can't comment.  Which seems to be going around.   But it's good at least one cause has already been ruled out.

MORE  5/25/13

The contents of an email from the NTSB has been released stating that the 'joint bat' connecting two quarter-mile sections of continuously welded rail (ribbon rail used on most US mainline railroads) near the crash site had been repaired in April after it was found cracked.  Additionally:
The engineer of the train that derailed, which was traveling eastbound, told investigators he saw “what he described as an unusual condition on the track” just before the accident, the investigative agency said. The NTSB didn’t describe what the engineer had spotted.
This is significant, because it suggests the derailment didn't cause the rail fracture mentioned by NTSB initially on May 16. That supposition could support a couple of possibilities: 1) a sudden failure causing the 'unusual condition' sometime after the last train had passed over it, but before the accident train arrived, or foul play by someone trying to derail a train.  Wait, foul play has already been ruled out--my apologies.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Willing Suspension of Disbelief

...to quote someone famous.  That's what Americans need right now (at least those with half-functioning brains who are paying attention) to navigate through these scandals. 

Let's see, we are being told..

  • The emails released on the Benghazi "side show" prove that the Republicans are partisan carnival barkers, despite the emails showing exactly what they had said-- the State Dept wanted facts removed from the talking points and the White House facilitated it
  • Kathleen Sebelius is acting "on precedent" in soliciting donations from the health care companies she regulates.  And any criticism of her actions is the same as being a Birther
  • The president believes strongly in the freedom of the press to do their jobs despite his Justice Dept classifying a high-profile Fox reporter as an un-indicted co-conspirator to espionage for doing his job
  • Ditto for the AP, and maybe a CBS reporter
  • The president, Jay Carney and a White House janitor were the only ones who didn't know an IG was auditing the IRS for violating the rights of conservative groups during an election season
  • The president can never be given a heads-up on an ongoing issue of great import if an IG is studying it--he must either find out through press reports based on planted questions on a Friday evening or wait until the IG audit is done..no matter what, and everyone agrees this is proper
Meanwhile, as folks try to make sense of everything the Senate is busy passing a bi-partisan bill to make millions of illegal aliens legal, perhaps the largest amnesty not called amnesty in US history.

Sheer madness.  Squirrels are darting in every direction but it's hard to figure out which where to look right now.   And maybe that's as intended.   

Monday, May 20, 2013

Investigation Update

Another week, another Obama bombshell.  Today we learned that the Obama Justice Dept has been privately considering Fox News' James Rosen a "co-conspirator" for pursuing a leak regarding North Korea with a State Department staffer in 2009.   The case could go to court in 2014.  

So suddenly here's another story for everyone to chew on.  Reporters at the White House press briefing spent half their time trying to get something out of Jay Carney about it, but of course it's 'an ongoing criminal investigation' so he can't comment about what everyone's commenting about.

But wait, where did this story come from?  Yeah, it was first printed in the Washington Post, who has a link to the criminal complaint, but how did they get it?  Was it simply announced by the Justice Department or did someone in that department leak the story to the WaPo?   Or from some other agency?   How ironic, if so.  And just when Fox was enjoying some vindication for their years of dogged determination in doing their jobs.

There's another question pertaining to the Rosen case, the AP leak as well as the James Risen leak story that hasn't made as much news--is the Justice Department using Patriot Act "National Security Letters" in obtaining this dragnet of info?  If so, would they even be required to notify the journalist or his company within 90 days as many large news outlets reported last week?  If not, then was the Friday release about AP random or perhaps timed to coincide with the huge increase of reporter curiosity about Benghazi?   

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Irrelevant!

It was Hillary's defense during her January testimony and it appears to be the new defense of the day.



Listen to this clip closely.  Notice not what Pfeiffer says, but what he doesn't:

Wallace--  "Was he in the Situation Room"?

Pfeiffer-- "He was kept up to date throughout the day". 

Since the event occurred partially at night that's either a verbal faux pas or a deliberate dodge.  Pfeiffer tries every trick in his bag, stock talking points about the 'independent ARB', 'looking forward to how we better protect diplomats', ie, Congress's fault, and even tries to turn around the discussion by attacking anyone who would dare question Commander-in-Chief Gutsy's whereabouts (ie, Wallace). 

Wallace is having none of it and simply reminds him that Obama claims he told his subordinates to do everything possible to help when last seen around 5 pm, yet help was not sent.  It's an excellent line of questioning because a truthful answer means either 1) the CinC was disobeyed, or 2) the CinC was not around to give specific orders to either deploy forces or not.  That's why his whereabouts are seminal.      

And by the way, twice Pfeiffer calls Benghazi a 'tragedy'.  Dammit, it was an attack, just like 9/11.  If our own political leaders can't even acknowledge simple facts there's little hope of ever effectively dealing with the threat.  Killing UBL didn't win the war.  They know it, but continue to think a drift backward to the 90s approach will allow them to get back to their grandiose domestic agenda, despite history's judgment.

MORE  5/19/13

While some of the media are busy circling their wagons so they can soon head back to the reservation, Bob Schieffer is old enough and has seen enough to say "not so fast".   His question as to why Pfeiffer was sent out was couched around the fact that Rice--another lower level person who didn't possess all the facts--was also sent out to shape the narrative about Benghazi five days after the fact but was low level enough not to know anything that might cause trouble.   This is actually brilliant journalism, the kind of stuff usually reserved for Republican guests.

Another old Bob-- Woodward-- also sees a little resemblance to the Watergate shuffle put on by Nixon. 

It will take old heads like these to keep the stories alive amidst the rabid 24/7 cycle.   Maybe that's why Obama went out today and tried to gin up the race and class divide again.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Side Tracks




Heading Back to the Reservation

The strategy is obvious.  The White House battled back on the tri-headed scandal monster early in the week with two contentious press briefings Tuesday and Wednesday followed by a give-in on the Benghazi emails (with no chance to pepper anyone with questions about them Thursday or Friday) and a mild mea culpa on Benghazi Friday to the one mainstream journalist who has been doing her job. 

Meanwhile they've continued their shocked face over the IRS Tea Bag Targeting Program, insisting that they didn't know anything until we did, followed by a dramatic mock firing of two people who simply took retirement.  The AP phone dragnet story has gone relatively silent now.

So here we are on Saturday morning and the love is returning...
The tensions continued with Mr. Carney’s defense of the White House in the investigation over whether the I.R.S. inappropriately targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny and his push back on questions relating to the the seizure of telephone records of Associated Press journalists, over which the press relentlessly grilled him. “I don’t take it personally,” he said of the tough questions lobbed by his former peers.
..from the New York Times;
As the Obama administration grapples with a series of recent controversies within its ranks, political observers in Washington have begun to calculate their potential political impacts. But while many Republicans believe the scandals could prove a boon to the party's prospects in the 2014 midterm elections, they it's equally important not to "overreach" on the issue -- and risk having their efforts blow up in their face.
..from CBS; and
Despite Democratic fears, predictions of the demise of President Barack Obama's agenda appear exaggerated after a week of cascading controversies, political triage by the administration and party leaders in Congress and lack of evidence to date of wrongdoing close to the Oval Office.
..from none other than an AP reporter.  Yes, the same AP targeted by the Justice Department.  And wait, lest anyone be left to think CBS is the network of Sharyl Attkisson, here's another for good measure..
I was told there was going to be a cover-up. After reading the 100 pages of emails related to the Benghazi media talking points, I'm hard-pressed to find evidence for the most damning accusations against the president and his staff. If they were involved, they were once again leading from behind.
And don't forget CBS' Mark Knoller, who on Wednesday actually asked his former colleague Carney how he was faring under the controversy.

Anyone on the right who thought the press had finally seen some kind of a light and turned the corner should understand that these guys like Jay Carney. A lot. That's why they don't go very hard on him and now feel bad for putting him through a mild ringer.

They like Obama--they all voted for him because they agree with his worldview. They don't like controversy about him. They are journalists yes, but only on stories that run outside their true beliefs. Most didn't get into journalism to report facts accurately, they got into it to save the planet and expose evil, which is of course on the right. 

So it appears that last week was a little lovers' spat.  The White House recognized it and took the rest of the week off so their old friends could cool down hoping all will be well come Monday.  It's not over yet, we will see if some of them can put their personal feelings aside and fairly report on what might be the most egregious misuse of power in the history of the nation, but barring more revelations it's clear the press is ready to dismiss the side shows, forgive their leader, and crown him the comeback kid.  Perhaps the only question is whether this administration can put aside their arrogance long enough to let it happen.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Side Show Mea Culpa

Sharyl Attkisson's CBS report on the administration's new line on Benghazi, "we were idiots but not on purpose" is not making the headlines it should, considering the administration tactics to date.  Maybe they figure a semi-apology coupled with canceling the Jay Carney show two days in a row will finally cure the disease (so they can concentrate on blaming the IRS scandal on the GOP). Who knows, it might. Fox News has been very quiet of late.

Attkisson's report is very interesting and worthy of an examination.  Here's a comment regarding Hillary and her non-appearance on the Sunday shows on September 16th:
The day before, on Sept. 13, the White House had asked the office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton if she would appear on the upcoming Sunday morning political talk shows. "She'd rather chew tin foil," said someone who's close to Mrs. Clinton. Instead, it was decided U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice would make the appearances. Ultimately, the talking points would serve two purposes: provide guidance as to what Congress could tell the public, and guide Rice for the talk shows.
That's real 3 am leadership!  Hey, sometimes the leader has to chew the tin foil. If she wants to be president she better get used to the taste. But there may be no better quip to illustrate what the cover-up was really all about--the State Department didn't want Hillary damaged and she didn't want to expose herself directly on the record.  So Rice took the bullet (her payoff is coming).  Attkisson later mentions a possible rift between Langley and the White House:
On Sept. 14, the CIA's early version of the talking points credited the CIA with providing warnings on Sept. 10, 2012, that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, could come under attack and that Benghazi was in a precarious state. Others in the Obama administration saw this talking point comment as an instinctive, "knee-jerk cover your ass moment" on the CIA's part and some officials remain bitter today.
One of them said, "We thought, 'why are you guys throwing us under the bus?' ...They [CIA] made it seem like the State Department was given a warning they ignored. No specific warning was given." Petraeus, who resigned amid a sex scandal days after Mr. Obama's re-election, declined comment.
Amazing hubris.  Sure, it's likely the CIA inserted the prior warnings as a gentle reminder that hey--do not throw us under the bus on this. But State and the White House then proceeded to strip everything out of the talking points to render them, as Petraeus would allude, useless.

Attkisson should be up for a Pulitzer for her work on this story.  Here she mentions the survivors:
The FBI had interviewed the survivors previously in Germany, but a source says the FBI agents didn't type up or share their notes at the time because there was no "imminent danger" raised in the interviews. The Obama administration has resisted Congress' demands to turn over FBI transcripts of the survivor interviews.
Why would Congress or anyone else, like those crafting the talking points, need the survivors' interviews anyway?  One has to wonder if their interviews were known to the unknown people present that Saturday morning who whittled down the talking points.  More:
On Sept. 20, a team of Obama administration officials with fresh information agreed to brief the House and Senate in closed sessions. There, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper revealed that Benghazi "had all the earmarks of a premeditated attack." "It was a turning point," said the Obama administration official. "It was just a stark shift from Sunday with no groundwork laid. [Senators] just snapped... Susan was done."
Regards Clapper's revelation in closed session on September 20th keep in mind this was Thursday, a day after Matthew Olsen from the National Counterterrorism Center said it was a "terrorist attack" and the very same day that Anderson Cooper came out and announced that CNN had found Ambassador Stevens' diary talking about "AQ hit lists" and such, something Hillary had just dissembled on the day before in an interview.

It appears Clapper's mea culpa wasn't publicly announced until September 28th, eight days after his closed session revelation and three days after Obama's UN presentation where he once again blamed the video and urged everyone not to slander the Prophet.  One thing from that announcement is worth remembering:
“In the immediate aftermath (of the assault), there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo,” spokesman Shawn Turner said in the statement. “We provided that initial assessment to executive branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly.”
That certainly sounds like they are saying that Clapper's personnel were in attendance at the Saturday meeting and actually had the final word over the CIA.  Where did that information came from?  Did the victims/witnesses in Germany tell them that?  We already know Hicks and Thompson testified they never saw it that way.  It might be helpful to allow Congress to see the transcripts of the FBI interviews with the witnesses. 

As to the recent talking point email release:
An Obama administration source familiar with the process now says the talking points should have been handed over much sooner. "We should have released them six months ago,"
Six months ago? That would be November 17 or so. Did he really mean a few weeks after the election? Finally:
Several Obama administration officials said not using the word "terrorism" early on was not part of a conspiracy, but an "abundance of caution." They reiterate that any misjudgments or mistakes in the Benghazi response and aftermath would not have changed the outcome.
The outcome of what, the terrorist attack or the election? And by the way, where is this abundance of caution when a lone nut killer shoots people in a mall or school? They seem to have no problem blaming guns or hateful political rhetoric.

Back to the Leak

The revelation that Eric Holder's deputy Quick Draw McGraw subpoenaed dozens of phone records from AP journalists over a leak investigation has caused outrage on top of the current outrage.

But is this another Obama outrage?   Maybe, maybe not.   One must go back to the original story and employ some critical thinking before determining whether the former is a reasonable line of speculation. 

It was May 2012 and America had just passed the first anniversary of the UBL killing with vague assurances from the administration that no terror plots were in the works. On the political side the GOP primaries were in full stride.  Meanwhile UK's MI6, in coordination with the Saudi Arabian spy agency, had successfully inserted a spy (whom the media called a 'double agent') into AQAP's inner core and he had managed to break up another package bomb plot with the help of CIA and US authorities.  The Obama folks were filled with glee at the coming announcement of a major bust and how it would act to mute GOP criticism that Democrats are soft on terror.

Then suddenly they learned that someone had leaked the news of the bust to the AP, five days ahead of the planned announcement.   When the AP contacted the White House they were asked to stand down--at first due to national security loose ends then finally due to not undercutting them on the announcement, ie, politics. When the two friends couldn't decide how to handle it the AP backed out and went with their scoop on the Monday ahead of the planned announcement.  The White House broke their story the next day complete with pictures of the device. 

As the story broke other reporters went to the terrorism experts in the administration and outside for comment.  Questions began to be asked about why the administration had just said there were no active terror threats when the AP had just published a story about one.  John Brennan, then an advisor to the president, convened a conference call to provide talking points to the various experts who would be appearing on TV, supposedly to inform them we had 'inside coutrol' over the plot, so chill.  In other words, we were running a spy. 

Except we weren't running him, the Saudis and Brits were, who were now royally pissed as the agent evidently ran for cover since his own was now blown.

Nevertheless it's hard to understand how that leak was the worst Eric Holder had seen in 30 years since the White House forced the AP to wait until they had security concerns alleviated before they went to press.  Where was the harm?  Surely he doesn't mean Brennan's revelation about the spy not being a suicide bomber, otherwise he would have been gone long ago.

There were also leaks shortly thereafter about the Iran computer worm to the NY Times.  Holder's investigation was announced shortly thereafter using two US Attorneys (one for Stuxnet, one for Yemen) and the story disappeared off the radar until this past Friday--the same Friday the Benghazi story finally blew up in the White House press room.  


The questions are many but let's start with who leaked, why, and why it took so long--past the election--to track anything down.  Who had the motive to leak?   Well, since the official story says the administration was ticked at the leak because it spoiled their announcement that seems to take them off the hook.  Why would an admin official pee in their own Cheerios?    If that actually occurred one would think the administration would have given up such an individual to the FBI posse long ago.

What about somebody in the military-intelligence apparatus?   Well, we don't know the location of all the call traces but reports do not show them focused on Langley or the Pentagon.

Politicians?   Seems to be the most likely bet seeing as how most of the traces have involved the Congress.   So if it was a politician, which side?   Would a GOP congressman/woman want to leak a big terror bust to the AP?   Wouldn't that just help Obama?   Unless such a person, in the know about the plot, was reacting to the administration's public comments about no plots being in the works on the anniversary of 9/11 and wanted to speak truth to power.  So it's entirely possible.  But how many GOP congresspeople would trust the AP?  Seems they would leak to Fox but maybe they felt it would be more believable coming from AP.  Certainly the AP knows.    


But if not a GOP person trying to undermine Obama that leaves a Democrat source.  One might imagine an overzealous loyalist thrilled up their legs with the accomplishment but not on the official email list as to how the festivities would be going.

But there are problems with that theory.  One, not just anyone has the high level clearance required to know about the plot, which narrows down the field considerably unless a person who had a need to know spilled the story to someone who didn't, who couldn't wait and ran to AP with it.

Initial stories reported the following:
The CIA mission was such a secret, even top lawmakers were not told about it as the operation unfolded, one U.S. official said Monday.
That seems to eliminate most congresspeople but at the same time it doesn't specify at what point they were finally notified.  The AP leak was fairly late in the game.  It does however suggest only a handful would have known and one would think they've already been investigated by now.

No doubt the FBI has already traveled down these roads a few times but whatever happened left them so empty they took the draconian step of going outside the guidelines and throwing out a massive press phone dragnet, knowing they would have to tell the AP--and America--in 90 days.  Did they think the dragnet would produce a quick suspect so no problema on the notification?

One alternate theory is it was a high level Obama official all along, the Justice Dept knows this, and they are stringing people along to justify the huge media dragnet as a way to threaten and scare journalists to remain on the reservation for the benefit of future scandals. Of course there's no evidence so that's a WAG, but judging by the IRS and Benghazi stories these folks aren't averse to using cover stories.

So we await the next shoe drop.   As this is being typed the AP knows who leaked to them; the NY Times knows who leaked to them; and the leaker(s) knows.   We have to presume the FBI and administration still doesn't know but maybe they do and are waiting for the right time to spring it.  It's going to be a bombshell whoever it is, but on the record here for a moment--if it was a GOP partisan who leaked to push back against what he/she thought was an Obama lie about the terror threat on the anniversary of UBL's takedown then they deserve everything they get.  


MORE  5/18/13

Right Truth has a link to Mark Levin's reaction to a Washington Post story regards the DOJ's dragnet of AP.  Levin connects the dots that WaPo won't and concludes this recent announcement about trolling the AP's phone records is just simple revenge over their scooping the administration on the big Yemen terror bust announcement during the campaign season.  

If so then the recent announcement could serve as a de facto calling in of a chit, ie, if they don't want more then start going easy on us with these recent scandals.   Wow, that would be just as bad as using the IRS to intimidate and derail the Tea Party, but it would be the Chicago Way.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Email Dumpty Dump

Tuesday CNN"s Jake Tapper received one email in a leak that seemed to undermine ABC's and the Weekly Standard's description of the talking points strategy session held on September 14 and 15, 2012;  later that day Jay Carney was grilled by a reputable White House reporter about the situation and she asked why they don't just release the emails so everyone can see them.  In telling her no, they would not release them, he used the ole ruse of the White House needing privacy for their internal deliberations, something last used by the hated Bushitler.   But the cacophony grew louder today.   So they threw deliberations to the wind and released them anyway.   Surely Obama will now take credit for all the sunshine.

Others will go over the trove with a fine toothed comb--on quick glance they seem to be in the same spirit of the earlier leaked reports, contrary to Carney and Democratic blogs/shills saying the GOP misrepresented them for politics.   Clearly Veitor and Rhodes are White House guys and they had a lot of input along with Nuland at State (speaking on behalf of 'building leadership').  Clearly DCIA Petraeus was not happy with the final product.  Clearly the only mention of 'movie protest/violence' in an email header was in the chain referencing the United States UN Ambassador.   Carney saying the WH only had a minor stylistic change is true, but only if one removes the input of Veitor and Rhodes. 

But one thing should not be lost in the process--the reason for the talking points in the first place--to allow Congressmen to go on TV and talk about the event.   Weirdly, Carney always says they can't discuss any damn thing because there's an ongoing investigation.  So why discuss Benghazi at all?
   

Probably the four deaths.  They couldn't not discuss it.  But they didn't have to be brutally honest! 

So they scrubbed the talking points down to almost nothing and sent them to the Hill.  Here's one of Congressman Rogers' appearances that Sunday:



As can be seen, he was rather circumspect of the notion of a violent protest spinning out of control.  Was that suspicion--and the expressed concerns about 'messaging and policy' from the White House regards the talking points--why Hillary somebody sent Ambassador Rice out on all five Sunday shows, perhaps in an effort to counter Rogers and suck all the oxygen out of any GOP counter analysis?  Seems possible.  

Perhaps they also knew that the president of Libya, Mr. Margariaf, was going to appear on Sunday TV shows as well.  Perhaps they knew he was unambiguous about who he thought pulled off the attack--the same people our own CIA said were involved in their early talking points drafts. For context here's an interview of Margariaf by NBC News on that same Saturday the talking points were being finalized:



Meanwhile the president of the United States and the Secretary of State were talking about extremists and protesters and a hateful video. It's hard to believe these efforts were not simply a political pushback on the idea that we were attacked by AQ on 9/11 and the government wasn't ready for it, and the effect this might have on a presidential election.   Sounds similar to the IRS efforts regarding the Tea Party.  

Also, don't forget that 60 Minutes recorded an interview with Obama on September 12th, which was shown on the 16th.  They clipped his comments referencing possible foreign intervention from the final broadcast.  Did the White House ask for that edit?   CBS finally released the unedited transcript two days before the election to almost zero fanfare.

It will be interesting to see if the non-Fox press, especially AP, keeps on this story or forgives their heroes and moves on.  It will also be interesting to see whether Jay Carney is around much longer.  After all, he's been dissembling a heckuva lot more than the interim IRS Director.  

MORE  5/16/13 

There's some verbiage in the emails about not going off the previous or current line of public discussion about the "incident", ie, they had ALREADY been talking about the video and protest mob because that same day--the 14th--Hillary and Obama mentioned the protest at the Dover AFB event and allegedly told the survivors of the fallen that they were going to find the filmmaker and put him in jail.   So it seems obvious that White House and administration flaks would react negatively to a set of talking points mentioning AQ, past attacks, and no mention of any video.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Investigation Update

Well, finally an actual real update on this story, which has gone from nothing to part of the legendary Friday bombshell barrage that came down on Jay Carney at the White House. 

For someone who has been repeatedly droning on about this forgotten story for nearly a year you might be surprised to see that I'm going to link people over to Maguire's blog because he has a very nice summary of what's what. 

But I do have a few questions--

Eric Holder seemed to justify the broad, sweeping phone records data grab by saying the Yemen leak was really, really bad:
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the attorney general said: "I have been a prosecutor since 1976 and I have to say that this is among, if not the most serious, it is within the top two or three most serious leaks that I have ever seen. "It put the American people at risk, and that is not hyperbole. It put the American people at risk. And trying to determine who was responsible for that I think required very aggressive action."
He said 'at risk' twice in the same paragraph.   Sounds pretty bad.  So is it kosher to ask for an elaboration on this explanation?  What about this leak in particular--compared to say the Valerie Plame leak during Bush years--made it so critical that they needed to violate privacy to that extent?  Does it have something to do with aviation?  Or did he mean it would harm to active agents in the field?  If the latter we presume the eventual leaker be treated like Scooter Libby and Rove (and he/she most certainly will if they are not Democrats).   

Or does he mean retribution here in the States, like say an "act of terror" by "extremists", possibly reacting to a hateful anti-Mohammed film clip based solely on CIA talking points?  

And by the way, does Bush secretly work for the Obama government somewhere?  Most people are under the impression W is now retired in Texas and he's the one who is forever connected with illegal wiretaps done to stop devastating acts of terror plotted by extremists.  Or is this entire thing actually Bush's fault?   

Of course none of these questions will be answered because the Attorney General has now become Sargent Schultz and his Deputy AG cannot comment on ongoing investigations, nor can the FBI.  Oh well, maybe we can't handle the truth.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Saturation Bombshelling

In answering questions from a total of two reporters during a press conference with David Cameron today the Commander-in-Chief managed to toss a few more people under his bus in responding to two different scandal questions.    

Yes, apparently it's OK to question what happened leading up to the attacks, wherein the White House admits they dropped the ball (resulting in a shed tear on stage) but it's totally off-base to question anything else.   Like for instance WHY they dropped the ball.  Was it a policy issue?  A money issue?   A sensitivity issue?  Why was Ambassador Stevens really in that dangerous location on that day with such flimsy protection? 

No, see, our president sends these brave State Department folks into the field and they work for him.  But let any of them dare question what happened during the attack or thereafter ( as in 'my jaw dropped') and they become nothing but political hacks.   That would be you, Mr. Nordstrom.  And you, Mr. Thompson.  And you, Mr. Hicks.  Just hacks.  Because there is now officially no "there there". 

Besides, it's so silly because Decider Guy called it an 'act of terrorism' the next day (apparently after he woke up and was briefed--the 3 am phone being off the hook or something).  Well wait, he actually talked about the filmmaker's hateful remarks first then said something about 9/11/01, then talked about Benghazi, then said 'no acts of terror' without precisely linking the phrase to Benghazi, then eulogized the lost as slain by 'attackers', then jetted off to Vegas for a fundraiser.  Days later his administration winnowed down a fairly accurate CIA first draft assessment of events into a made-for-TV blitz blaming an American filmmaker and a protest mob.  Do not question this!   

But he shed a tear today--you made him cry, yes you, Julie Pace of the AP, for asking such a horrible and insulting question.   And by the way, it's not acceptable for the IRS to be targeting the Tea Party--only he can do that. 

But if two stories are not enough there's even more.  In the very same news cycle the Justice Department decided it was time to drop an update about the Yemen/Iran leak investigation that has been sitting dormant since last summer.  Yes Ms. Pace, they've been watching your news organization very closely, tapping your phones to see who leaked to whom.   At what point do they cue Scottie begging the Captain for mercy from the engine room?  

For those who believe there are no coincidences it seems plausible to believe they are trying to saturate the news cycle with all three bad stories at the same time, figuring the press and the public will be overwhelmed and maybe they can skate by all three.   Obama will shed tears when needed like Bill and Hillary until some other news story boils up--like the Kardashian baby or maybe some new rap song by JayZ idolizing Bill Ayers or Pol Pot.  Something, anything.    

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wondering Aloud

So the IRS was throwing a paperwork blizzard in front of groups applying for tax-exempt status who had "Tea Party" or "Liberty" in their submitted names, something they apologized for as a local error made at a local office by low level employees.

At least that's what Baghdad Bob Carney, White House spokesman extraordinaire, told us Friday.  He also said the IRS is an independent agency run by a Bush political appointee and some other unknown political appointee.  And by the way, they are independent.

But the mainstream press was too busy actually asking some Benghazi questions to question Carney's replies.  Like, how would low level employees be allowed to ask the kind of expanded questions these groups faced?   Delegation is one thing, but good grief, doesn't the IRS have a legal department?

Of course they do, as Professor Jacobson answers:
Got that? The Chief Counsel knew, and in an election year the targeting expanded to groups educating people on the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Democrats and media demonized the Tea Party and Homeland Security painted smaller government groups as potential threats, and guess who gets targeted by the IRS.
Since this was being investigated by the IRS Inspector General but leaked by the IRS itself it seems worthwhile to ask whether the Decider Guy or one of his minions asked them to release the story on the same Friday the Benghazi dam was bursting so it would get swallowed up in the resulting flood. But wait, they are independent.  Forgot.  Never mind.

MORE  5/12/13

A real LOL moment if there ever was one. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't actually coming to get you!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Revisting the Diary

One of the biggest stories to do with Benghazi is something CNN and Anderson Cooper know intimately but haven't followed up on--the diary:
Three days after he was killed, CNN found a journal belonging to late U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. The journal was found on the floor of the largely unsecured consulate compound where he was fatally wounded.   CNN notified Stevens' family about the journal within hours after it was discovered and at the family's request provided it to them via a third party.  The journal consists of just seven pages of handwriting in a hard-bound book.
So, three days after the event on Friday September 14--the same day the CIA talking points were allegedly massaged by someone (according to Jay Carney, by the CIA itself without any WH input)--CNN found a diary from Stevens that relayed his concerns about rising extremism in eastern Libya and being on an "AQ hit list".  This was of course two days before the Rice Sunday show blitz.

Did the government know CNN had the diary on the 14th? It appears the answer is yes:
The family was informed within hours about the discovery of the journal, a hard-bound book that included seven handwritten pages. CNN gave the document to an Italian official at the State Department's request, and it is now being returned to the ambassador's relative.
Digging deeper into when this diary was given to the Italian official, this link suggests it was the day the diary was found:
CNN said on its website that it notified the Stevens family "within hours" that it had the journal. The Stevens family then reached out to the State Department, which arranged a telephone conference call between members of the family and CNN. In that call, the family asked the news organization to return the journal and to not publish or broadcast any of its contents, according to a Stevens family member and State Department officials. Family members and State Department officials said CNN agreed during the Sept. 14 conference call to hold off on using the diary until the family had a chance to review its contents.
The added bold makes it look pretty solid that the State Dept knew about Stevens' thoughts and feelings on local extremism two days before the administration (or someone) sent Ambassador Rice out on the Sunday shows to fog the issue and mention the video.  The very same day--Friday the 14th, was the day the bodies were brought back to Andrews:
Clinton said the rage and violence aimed at American missions was prompted by "an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with." Amid the somber ceremony, anti-American protests raged across the Middle East and North Africa over the video. U.S. officials are investigating whether the assault in Benghazi was a coordinated terrorist attack that took advantage of just such a protest.
According to U.S. officials, the assault is looking less like a premeditated or pre-planned attack and more like one which took advantage of the demonstration outside the consulate, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports. It is still described as well-executed and well-armed. A radical Islamic group called Ansar al Sharia is still the leading suspect.
This was the same ceremony where top government officials allegedly told Smith's mother and Woods' father that they were going to find the filmmaker and put him in jail.   To be fair, it was true the video seemed to be sparking further violence all over the Muslim world with security breaches happening at various embassies as they were speaking.  But the ceremony was for the fallen.  If Gregory Hicks' testimony is to be believed they would have known there was no protest in Benghazi when they spoke.  So it looks like an effort to smear the events together.

Backtracking a moment, the video outrage really got its start from the Tweets sent by Embassy Cairo as the Sheikh Rahman protesters were outside the gates.  The Tweets, themselves politicizing the event, were apologies issued over the movie clip nobody had ever heard of, which prompted Mitt Romney to jump in with a statement after the gates were stormed and the black flag was raised.  He was then immediately accused of politicizing a national security event despite the administration's condemnation of the same Tweets later that evening.   We still don't know who promoted the video or why the video was even used, or whether the filmmaker had any connections to the plots (as opposed to being a Coptic Christian trying to blaspheme Islam, etc).   Maybe someone in the media can get an interview of him in jail.     

Anyway, the whole diary thing then set up a bizarre altercation between Cooper and the State Department, whose spokesman Phillipe Reines lambasted CNN for dishonest journalism over not keeping the diary finding silent. That begs the question--why did CNN piss off State and go back on their word? What forced that?

The most obvious answer is because they, unlike other media outlets, knew of Stevens' personal security concerns on Friday before the Rice appearances and after Sunday they knew the administration was trying to mute direct links to AQ participation.   So CNN was sitting on a rather large scoop.  But they had promised not to reveal the diary findings.  What to do? 

They decided to find corroborating witnesses who could confirm the diary writings without revealing it, which Cooper did on Wednesday the 19th.  This was essentially refuting the Rice narrative from days earlier, blaming the mob.  A few days later Hillary was asked by another news outlet (Thursday the 20th) about the Stevens 'hit list', to which she feigned ignorance.   This ticked off Anderson Cooper, who was trying to break the story without revealing the diary, as State was basically calling him a liar and he knew they knew.

So Cooper and CNN took the unusual step of speaking truth to power by reporting on the diary itself the next day, eventually initiating a public rebuke of CNN and later an F-bomb tirade by Reines during an email exchange with another journalist.  It's clear the feigned outrage was an effort to change the narrative away from the diary contents and towards a sleazy media for reporting on it.  All of which supports the idea of a cover-up.  The diary story, and Hillary's misdirection on it, has never become a huge story but it's a question the congressmen should be asking her if she ever returns to testify.  

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

House on Benghazi



This to me seems like the crux of the matter regarding Benghazi, when the event transferred from a terrorist attack (as known and relayed by Mr. Hicks) to a protest mob over a video.  It's the reason Mr. Hicks is now testifying--and likely the reason they didn't talk to him initially or within the ARB investigation.[correction, the ARB spoke to Mr Hicks but his version of not protest was not given initial consideration].
So why did they change the reason for the attack?  We can make some good guesses, but we did not learn exactly why today.  So with this Cleveland rape story and the Jodi Arias verdict taking the stage Hillary will survive this easily, merrily cackling her 'what difference' refrain, unless something further emerges that actually places a memo in her hand commanding people to cover up the attack.

But the REAL crux of the matter is probably something nobody has talked about until today.  Forward to about the 4:15 mark if you don't want to hear Chaffetz bloviate where Mr. Thompson comments on the importance of not leaving our people behind and the effects such a thing may have on the future.



MORE 5/8/13

The White House press corpse actually did their jobs today and asked Jay Carney some questions about the hearing, which he deflected as usual with filibustering spin pablum.  Nobody cracked through, although at the end there was one reporter who made headway regarding the altered talking points (as revealed in the Weekly Standard story, bold added for my own amusement):
Q And the second question I had was on the stylistic, not substantive, edits to the talking points. And from testimony today we are seeing that those edits struck any and all suggestions that the State Department had been previously warned of threats in the region; that there had been previous attacks in Benghazi by al Qaeda-linked groups in Benghazi and eastern Libya; and that extremists linked to al Qaeda may have participated in the attack on the Benghazi mission. Is that substance or stylistic?
MR. CARNEY: Well, first of all, again, I would point you to the intelligence community and the fact that they made the drafts and they issued the points. Secondly, I would say when it comes to stylistic edits we’ve been very clear about the specific edits that were made at the suggestion of the White House. And, again, when it comes to -- one of the edits you just mentioned, the talking points as delivered referred to extremists and we’re not talking about -- when we talk about extremists in the region that Libya is in, it’s clear what we’re talking about. But assertions that people knew --
Q Can you tell me why --
MR. CARNEY: I would refer you to the intelligence community.
Q It was made by a CIA official. I want to make that clear. But I do --
MR. CARNEY: So I would refer you to the CIA. George.
When a spokesman gets short like that and cuts a reporter off they have hit paydirt.  Carney amusingly suggests that they never lied when saying earlier that only one 'stylistic' change was recommended by the White House, but the emails suggest the State Department was integral in getting those changed.  The CIA doesn't control the talking points for an administration anyway, it's absurd to suggest they had the final say.
Yet there he is referring someone to the CIA to explain why they changed the talking points (when told to by higher-ups).  Wow.  That's an exercise in obfuscation that knows few bounds.

Here's a refresher about DNI James Clapper and his initial admission last year about not knowing who changed the talking points, only to emerge a few days later and admit that yeah, it was us:



So this is transparency alright--transparent BS.  No Republican politician, even a dog catcher, could get away with this kind of flim-flam.  Why, one needs a willing suspension of disbelief before proceeding any further on this story.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Local Terror?

It's sure comforting to know that the FBI has shock troops and an MRAP to apprehend guys like Buford from his double-wide in West Fiddlefart, MN on suspicion of "localized" terror plotting...


Let's hope there's a lot more to this raid than just grabbing Buford out of his lawn chair, like say, oh, a connection to a well-armed militia on the verge of taking down the government of Minnesota or something.  Because otherwise, wow.  
    

Monday, May 06, 2013

Time to Testify

Flashback to September 10th and 11th, 2012, before the Benghazi attack occurred....



Thomas Joscelyn had an in-depth piece on this at Weekly Standard reprising his work at Longwarjournal, basically pointing out the mindset leading up to September 11th--and why it wasn't about some dopey film clip.   It was about getting certain terrorists out of jail through an equally dopey peace treaty offered up by Zawahiri through his bro wherein the west surrenders and retreats and the Islamists stop killing everyone.

All of this precursor material, including the Stevens diary found after the event, was glossed over in the months after the attack, taken care of by some awesomely ethical Accountability Review Board picked by Hillary, despite the fact the Secretary of State wasn't even interviewed for it.  The ARB report placed all the emphasis on bureaucratic actions or failures leading up to the event, conveniently taking the spotlight off the political 'calculus', which was essentially that bin Laden was dead and GM was alive.   

The next question is on Wednesday--what is going to happen to overshadow this testimony?