Minor Thoughts from me to you

Archives for Mideast (page 1 / 2)

John Yoo on the Manning verdict

Last weekend, Bush torture lawyer John Yoo wrote about his disgust with the Manning verdict.

Bradley Manning caused one of the most harmful leaks in American history. He released into the public eye the identities of foreigners helping the U.S. in war zones, the means and methods of U.S. military operations, and our sensitive diplomatic communications with other nations. Lives — American and foreign — no doubt were lost because of the leaks. If anyone can think of a more harmful blow to U.S. intelligence in our history, let’s hear it. 

I've heard other people refer to the Manning leak as one of the most harmful in American history. But I don't think I've ever seen anyone offer any proof for that assertion. John Yoo needs to do something to prove that it was the most harmful leak in American history. Where's the evidence?

Manning published data that supposedly contained the names and identities of various American (and allied) agents who were working undercover. The data also allegedly contained the names of various Iraqis and Afghanis who were helping us, against the terrorists and the Taliban. I've seen people allege that our enemies would use that data to punish our friends.

It seems like it would be pretty easy to quantify how deadly this leak was, if it was deadly. Which agents and allies, named in the leaked documents, have since been killed, terrorized, or harmed by our enemies? Whose lives were lost because of Manning's leak? If this was a deadly leak, wouldn't that be dramatic proof? Wouldn't something have come out in a Congressional hearing, Department of Defense or Homeland Security press release, or presidential interview? Wouldn't the Administration and its allies constantly trumpet how harmful Manning's leak was?

Unless I've completely missed it, no one has done anything of the sort. I'm not convinced that Manning's leak was the most harmful in American history. And I'm not inclined to take the bald-faced word of a lawyer who thinks that the Constitution places no restraints on the President's powers to order people tortured.

Who Is Fethullah Gulen?

Who Is Fethullah Gulen? →

Claire Berlinski takes an in-depth look, in the City Journal at a man that I'd never heard of, but who appears to wield a tremendous amount of influence.

Controversial Muslim preacher, feared Turkish intriguer—and “inspirer” of the largest charter school network in America.

.. Yet there is a bit more to the story. Gülen is a powerful business figure in Turkey and—to put it mildly—a controversial one. He is also an increasingly influential businessman globally. There are somewhere between 3 million and 6 million Gülen followers—or, to use the term they prefer, people who are “inspired” by him. Sources vary widely in their estimates of the worth of the institutions “inspired” by Gülen, which exist in every populated continent, but those based on American court records have ranged from $20 billion to $50 billion. Most interesting, from the American point of view, is that Gülen lives in Pennsylvania, in the Poconos. He is, among other things, a major player in the world of American charter schools—though he claims to have no power over them; they’re just greatly inspired, he says.

Even if it were only for these reasons, you might want to know more about Gülen, especially because the few commentators who do write about him generally mischaracterize him, whether they call him a “radical Islamist” or a “liberal Muslim.” The truth is much more complicated—to the extent that anyone understands it.

This is long, but it's worth reading.

The Islamist Threat Isn't Going Away

The Islamist Threat Isn't Going Away →

Michael Totten, speaking from experience on the Middle East.

President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney wrapped up their trilogy of presidential debates on Monday this week and spent most of the evening arguing foreign policy. Each demonstrated a reasonable grasp of how the world works and only sharply disagreed with his opponent on the margins and in the details. But they both seem to think, 11 years after 9/11, that calibrating just the right policy recipe will reduce Islamist extremism and anti-Americanism in the Middle East. They're wrong.

The Middle East desperately needs economic development, better education, the rule of law and gender equality, as Mr. Romney says. And Mr. Obama was right to take the side of citizens against dictators—especially in Libya, where Moammar Gadhafi ran one of the most thoroughly repressive police states in the world, and in Syria, where Bashar Assad has turned the country he inherited into a prison spattered with blood. But both presidential candidates are kidding themselves if they think anti-Americanism and the appeal of radical Islam will vanish any time soon.

First, it's simply not true that attitudes toward Americans have changed in the region. I've spent a lot of time in Tunisia and Egypt, both before and after the revolutions, and have yet to meet or interview a single person whose opinion of Americans has changed an iota.

Second, pace Mr. Romney, promoting better education, the rule of law and gender equality won't reduce the appeal of radical Islam. Egyptians voted for Islamist parties by a two-to-one margin. Two-thirds of those votes went to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the other third went to the totalitarian Salafists, the ideological brethren of Osama bin Laden. These people are not even remotely interested in the rule of law, better education or gender equality. They want Islamic law, Islamic education and gender apartheid. They will resist Mr. Romney's pressure for a more liberal alternative and denounce him as a meddling imperialist just for bringing it up.

Anti-Americanism has been a default political position in the Arab world for decades. Radical Islam is the principal vehicle through which it's expressed at the moment, but anti-Americanism specifically, and anti-Western "imperialism" generally, likewise lie at the molten core of secular Arab nationalism of every variety. The Islamists hate the U.S. because it's liberal and decadent. (The riots in September over a ludicrous Internet video ought to make that abundantly clear.) And both Islamists and secularists hate the U.S. because it's a superpower.

Everything the United States does is viewed with suspicion across the political spectrum. Gamal Abdel Gawad Soltan, the director of Egypt's Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, admitted as much to me in Cairo last summer when I asked him about NATO's war against Gadhafi in Libya. "There is a general sympathy with the Libyan people," he said, "but also concern about the NATO intervention. The fact that the rebels in Libya are supported by NATO is why many people here are somewhat restrained from voicing support for the rebels." When I asked him what Egyptians would think if the U.S. sat the war out, he said, "They would criticize NATO for not helping. It's a lose-lose situation for you."

So we're damned if we do and we're damned if we don't. And not just on Libya. An enormous swath of the Arab world supported the Iraqi insurgency after an American-led coalition overthrew Saddam Hussein. Thousands of non-Iraqi Arabs even showed up to fight. Yet today the U.S. is roundly criticized all over the region for not taking Assad out in Syria.

Totten concludes with this.

It's not his fault that the Middle East is immature and unhinged politically. Nobody can change that right now. This should be equally obvious to Mr. Romney even though he isn't president. No American president since Eisenhower could change it, nor can Mr. Romney. We may be able to help out here and there, and I wholeheartedly agree with him that we should. But Arab countries will mostly have to work this out on their own.

It will take a long time.

The Three Benghazi Timelines We Need Answers About

The Three Benghazi Timelines We Need Answers About →

James Rosen, writing in the Wall Street Journal.

Any coverup is attended by competing timelines: the acts of transgression, and the subsequent efforts to conceal or mislead or delay knowledge regarding those events. A famous theme of the Watergate hearings was the quest of investigators into the coverup to find out, as the saying became, what did they know and when did they know it?

The Benghazi episode is best viewed as a series of three timelines. When fully exposed, the facts of the "pre" period before the attacks will tell us how high up the chain, and in which agencies, fateful decisions were made about security precautions for the consulate and annex in Benghazi. We also stand to learn how the planning for the attacks could have been put in motion without being detected until too late.

Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb, who oversees diplomatic security, testified before the House on Oct. 10 that she and her colleagues had placed "the correct number of assets in Benghazi at the time of 9/11 for what had been agreed upon." While not the stuff of a perjury charge, this testimony cannot be true, given the known outcome of the Sept. 11 attack on the consulate and the pleas for enhanced security measures that we now know Foggy Bottom to have rebuffed.

The second Benghazi timeline encompasses the five or six hours on the evening of Sept. 11 when the attacks transpired. A State Department briefing on Oct. 9 offered an account that was riveting but incomplete. When all of the facts of these hours are compiled, we will have a truer picture of the tactical capabilities of al Qaeda and its affiliates in North Africa. We will also learn what really happened to Amb. Stevens that night, and better appreciate the vulnerabilities with which our diplomatic corps, bravely serving at 275 installations across the globe, must still contend.

The third and final Benghazi timeline is the one that has fostered charges of a coverup. It stretches eight days—from 3:40 p.m. on Sept. 11, when the consulate was first rocked by gunfire and explosions, through the morning of Sept. 19, when Matthew G. Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, publicly testified before the Senate that Benghazi was a terrorist attack.

Mr. Olsen's testimony effectively ended all debate about whether the attacks had grown out of a protest over an anti-Islam video. Three days before Mr. Olsen put a stop to the blame-YouTube storyline, U.N. Amb. Susan Rice, echoing Mr. Carney, had gone on five Sunday TV chat shows and maintained that the YouTube video has spurred the violence.

If the Obama White House has engaged in a coverup in the Benghazi case, the ostensible motivation would bear some similarity to that of all the president's men in Watergate. Mr. Obama faces a rendezvous with the voters on Nov. 6, and in a race much tighter than the Nixon-McGovern contest of 1972. In such a circumstance, certain kinds of disclosure are always unwelcome.

As with the Watergate conspirators, who were eager to conceal earlier actions that related to the Vietnam War, the Obama team is determined to portray its pre-9/11 conduct, and particularly its dovish Mideast policies, in the most favorable light. After all, no one wants to have on his hands—even if resulting from sins of omission and not commission—the deaths of four American patriots.

Who knew the truth about the attack? When? And who decided to try to obfuscate the fact that it was a terrorist attack?

What's the big deal about Benghazi, anyway?

What's the big deal about Benghazi, anyway? →

Come on, you guys. It’s only an American ambassador and three other Americans who served their country, murdered by Islamic terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11. In a country our president invaded unilaterally and, arguably, illegally.

And our government only ignored the copious warnings of an impending terrorist attack on the consulate in Benghazi, and actually reduced security there, despite the since-murdered ambassador’s entreaties.

And our president has only been lying about it for over a month because it reflects very badly on his self-evidently disastrous foreign policy.

It’s not like it was a hotel break-in.

Ouch.

Who's Responsible for Benghazi?

Three weeks ago, I was predicting that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton would fight to the death, trying to pin Benghazi on each other. For instance, What Happened In Benghazi

The State Department has released a transcript of a briefing that two high-ranking department officials gave to a number of reporters via conference call on October 9 (Tuesday). I am not certain about this, but I believe the transcript was only made public today. You should read it in its entirety; it is the most detailed description I have seen of the events in Benghazi on September 11.

While this is by no means clear, it appears that the State Department may have released the transcript as part of the escalating conflict between Barack Obama and Joe Biden and the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. In their desperation to avoid responsibility for the Benghazi debacle, Obama and Biden have pointed fingers in two directions: at the intelligence community for reporting incorrectly that the incident was a protest over a YouTube video clip, and at the State Department for not providing adequate security for the Ambassador.

But then, Mrs. Clinton took responsibility for the event.

Clinton: I’m responsible for diplomats’ security – CNN Security Clearance - CNN.com Blogs

"I take responsibility" for the protection of U.S. diplomats, Clinton said during a visit to Peru. But she said an investigation now under way will ultimately determine what happened in the attack that left four Americans dead.

Clinton said President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are not involved in security decisions.

"I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha," she added, noting that it is close to the election.

After thinking about it for a few hours, I saw one possible motivation for this: make the the President look bad by showing up his attempts to duck responsibility. It's possible that the President agreed.

Obama Camp: On Libya, President ‘Takes Absolute Responsibility’

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton said, “I take responsibility” in reference to the Benghazi attacks. But in an interview today, Obama campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki stressed President Obama accepted responsibility.

“President Obama takes responsibility for the safety and security of all diplomats serving overseas,” Psaki told Fox News Channel’s Studio B with Shepard Smith. “Secretary Clinton, of course, has a great amount of responsibility as Secretary of State and she was doing interviews yesterday as she often does on the first day of a foreign trip and said look we do own, the State Department does own decisions around funding for diplomats.”

But there's something else to notice: Mrs. Clinton took responsibility for the safety of the diplomats. She didn't say anything at all about the ensuing "it was the video!" cover-up attempt. She's more than happy to let the President explain that one himself. What's more damaging, when it comes to politics: the lapse or the cover-up? Mrs. Clinton may be betting that it's the cover-up.

U.S. description of Benghazi attacks, at first cautious, changed after 3 days

U.S. description of Benghazi attacks, at first cautious, changed after 3 days →

McClatchy analyzed all of the government's statements following the Libya attack. They have some interesting findings. It looks like someone realized that an attack in Libya might cast doubt on President Obama's foreign policy and decided to try to deflect attention from that policy.

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.

The administration’s initial accounts, however, changed dramatically in the following days, according to a review of briefing transcripts and administration statements, with a new narrative emerging Sept. 16 when U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice asserted in a series of TV appearances that the best information available indicated that the attack had spun off from a protest over the video.

... The story, however, began to change the next day, Sept. 14.

With images of besieged U.S. missions in the Middle East still leading the evening news, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney became the first official to back away from the earlier declaration that the Benghazi assault was a “complex attack” by extremists. Instead, Carney told reporters, authorities “have no information to suggest that it was a preplanned attack.” He added that there was no reason to think that the Benghazi attack wasn’t related to the video, given that the clip had sparked protests in many Muslim cities.

“The unrest that we’ve seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that Muslims, many Muslims, find offensive,” Carney said.

When pressed by reporters who pointed out evidence that the violence in Benghazi was preplanned, Carney said that “news reports” had speculated about the motive. He noted again that “the unrest around the region has been in response to this video.”

Carney then launched into remarks that read like talking points in defense of the U.S. decision to intervene in last year’s uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi: that post-Gadhafi Libya, he said, is “one of the more pro-American countries in the region,” that it’s led by a new government “that has just come out of a revolution,” and that the lack of security capabilities there “is not necessarily reflective of anything except for the remarkable transformation that’s been going on in the region.”

Are We Arming Syrian Jihadists?

Two recent articles illustrate the dangers in getting involved in the Middle East—especially the dangers of using intermediaries to do the dirty work.

Jihadists Receiving Most Arms Sent to Syrian Rebels - NYTimes.com

Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.

That conclusion, of which President Obama and other senior officials are aware from classified assessments of the Syrian conflict that has now claimed more than 25,000 lives, casts into doubt whether the White House’s strategy of minimal and indirect intervention in the Syrian conflict is accomplishing its intended purpose of helping a democratic-minded opposition topple an oppressive government, or is instead sowing the seeds of future insurgencies hostile to the United States.

“The opposition groups that are receiving the most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don’t want to have it,” said one American official familiar with the outlines of those findings, commenting on an operation that in American eyes has increasingly gone awry.

The United States is not sending arms directly to the Syrian opposition. Instead, it is providing intelligence and other support for shipments of secondhand light weapons like rifles and grenades into Syria, mainly orchestrated from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The reports indicate that the shipments organized from Qatar, in particular, are largely going to hard-line Islamists.

Syrian Rebels Get Missiles - WSJ.com

Some Syrian rebel factions have obtained advanced portable antiaircraft weapons, according to rebels and regional officials, a development that could alter the Syrian war's trajectory and fan U.S. concerns that such weapons could end up in the hands of anti-Western Islamist militias.

Video footage uploaded to the Internet earlier this week appears to show rebels in Aleppo using weapons that military experts and rebels say are heat-seeking, shoulder-fired missiles, the first documented instance in the conflict. Versions of the weapons—also known as man-portable air defense systems, or Manpads—have been smuggled into the country over the past two months through Turkey and to a lesser extent Lebanon, according to Syrian rebels and those who supply them arms through an "operations room" coordinated by regional governments.

"Northern Syria is awash with advanced antitank and antiaircraft weapons. The situation has changed very quickly," a Syrian involved in coordinating weapons procurement with regional states said. The Manpad transfers weren't sanctioned by the regional states that have armed and financed Syria's rebels since early this year, he added.

The rebels in Aleppo who are depicted in the footage uploaded to the Internet this week are identified as members of the al-Salam and Hamza battalions, two of the relatively unknown divisions in a mushrooming insurgency. Rebels with the two largest fighting factions in Aleppo couldn't identify the battalions in the videos, though they confirmed that Manpads acquired over the past two weeks had made their way into the city.

I hope that the “unknown battalions” with the ManPADS aren’t jihadists. Because that would really, really stink. It would also call into question this entire foreign policy strategy of “leading from the rear” and being the arsenal of democracy to the people that we hope are actually democratic.

America’s Drone Terrorism

America’s Drone Terrorism →

A look into President Obama's war strategy in Pakistan.

In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the U.S. safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.

This narrative is false.

Those are the understated opening words of a disturbing, though unsurprising, nine-month study of the Obama administration’s official, yet unacknowledged, remote-controlled bombing campaign in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, near Afghanistan. The report, “Living Under Drones,” is a joint effort by the New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic and Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic.

The NYU/Stanford report goes beyond reporting estimates of the civilian casualties inflicted by the deadly and illegal U.S. campaign. It also documents the hell the Pakistanis endure under President Barack Obama’s policy, which includes a “kill list” from which he personally selects targets. That hell shouldn’t be hard to imagine. Picture yourself living in an area routinely visited from the air by pilotless aircraft carrying Hellfire missiles. This policy is hardly calculated to win friends for the United States.

I can't imagine how horrible it must be to not that drone fighters are constantly flying over your village and that you risk being killed anytime a far off leader thinks you represent a threat. For innocent Pakistani citizens, this is the definition of unprovoked war and aggression. And they're going to hate us, a lot, for it. We're creating enemies, not friends.

Hidden Causes of the Muslim Protests

Hidden Causes of the Muslim Protests →

Drone strikes. Obviously, President Obama doesn't want to say anything bad about the gobs of strikes he's authorized. Neither does Mitt Romney; if you're going to spend your whole campaign calling Obama a hyper-apologetic girly boy, you can't turn around and complain that he kills too many people! But American drone strikes--which seem to always target Muslim countries, and sometimes kill civilians--are famously unpopular in the Muslim world.

On this issue, Muslims have a very good reason to be angry. I'm not looking forward to the "foreign policy" debate next week. I think the candidates are very similar (and fairly dreadful) on foreign policy.

The horizon collapses in the Middle East

The horizon collapses in the Middle East →

The Asia Times, on the coming disintegration of the Middle East. Should we engage? Or should we withdraw and hope that it melts down in a way that doesn't affect us?

And Iran cannot abandon or even postpone its nuclear ambitions, because the collapse of its currency on the black market during the past two weeks reminds its leaders that a rapidly-aging population and fast-depleting oil reserves will lead to an economic breakdown of a scale that no major country has suffered in the modern era.

When the future irrupts into the present, nations take existential risks. Iran will pursue nuclear ambitions that almost beg for military pre-emption; Egypt will pursue a provocative course of Islamist expansion that cuts off its sources of financial support at a moment of economic desperation; Syria's Alawites, Sunnis, Kurds and Druze will fight to bloody exhaustion; Iraq will veer towards a civil war exacerbated by outside actors; and Turkey will lash out in all directions. And in the West, idealists will be demoralized and realists will be confused, the former by the collapse of interest in deals, the latter by the refusal of all players in those countries to accept reality.

Iran's population is aging faster than any population in the history of the world, its economy is a hydrocarbon monoculture, and its oil is running out.

Will Jordan Be the Next To Fall? The Possibility Is Bad News for Israel and the U.S.

Will Jordan Be the Next To Fall? The Possibility Is Bad News for Israel and the U.S. →

More bad news out of the Middle East.

Over the last two years, the Arab uprisings have posed a number of vital questions for Washington and its allies. Where should the United States step in to intervene, and on whose side? What governments and movements should we engage, and which should we isolate or punish? The reality is that there’s little the United States can do at this point to protect one of its most steadfast allies in the region. Perhaps Abdullah will prove creative enough to exploit the weaknesses of the growing protest movement, or broker a new national identity that finally binds the East Bankers and Palestinians together and leaves him on the throne. If not, American policymakers will again be scrambling for answers—and Israeli leaders may find yet another border in trouble.

I'm afraid we're on the verge of a more united, more hostile Middle East.

FSA threatens to take fight to Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut

FSA threatens to take fight to Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut →

For years, Bashar Assad, and Syria, has supported Hezbollah, in Lebanon. Now that Assad is facing serious opposition in Syria, Hezbollah is apparently supporting Assad. And, surprisingly, the Free Syrian Army, is now threatening Hezbollah.

Syrian rebels said they have detained 13 Hezbollah members and threatened to take the fight to Hezbollah’s stronghold in Beirut’s southern suburbs unless the party ends its support for President Bashar Assad’s regime.

“We [vow] to take the battle in Syria to the heart of the [Beirut] southern suburbs if [Hezbollah] does not stop supporting the killer-Syrian regime,” Free Syrian Army spokesman Fahd al-Masri told media outlets Tuesday.

The Obama-Clinton “Prisoner’s Dilemma”

The Obama-Clinton “Prisoner’s Dilemma” →

Smitty analyzes the State Department-White House blame game, in terms of the prisoner's dilemma.

Here, we have two public figures who both look negligent over a tragedy. And they hold grudges against each other going back. They can both get hammered together, or can try to minimize their damage by pinning blame on the other.

The most likely scenario, I think, is that Secretary Clinton and President Obama drag each other down, in a downward spiral of escalating recriminations.

Blowback

Blowback →

Writing on Wednesday, Michael Walsh foresaw problems for the Obama administration.

I’ll likely have more to say on this down the road, but it seems to me that the Obama administration has made a huge unforced error in trying to lay off blame for the Benghazi fiasco on the intelligence community. Because, wherever the buck stops when we get to end of this debacle, it’s not going to be in Langley, Va. (the CIA), Fort Meade, Md, (the National Security Agency), or any of the other centers of the American IC. It’s not even going to be shouldered by the State Department’s intel service, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, known as the INR.

... Alienating spookdom, however, is a new order of magnitude stupid. Because spooks fight back — hard and dirty. Bob Woodward and Jake Tapper are only phone calls away. And CIA Director David Petraeus is just one press conference shy of bringing down the whole house of cards.

The Benghazi Scandal

The Benghazi Scandal →

Stephen Hayes explains exactly why the Benghazi scandal is a scandal.

There are two possibilities. Either the intelligence community had a detailed picture of what happened in Benghazi that night and failed to share it with other administration officials and the White House. Or the intelligence community provided that detailed intelligence picture to others in the administration, and Obama, Biden, Clinton, Susan Rice, and others ignored and manipulated the intelligence to tell a politically convenient—but highly inaccurate—story.

If it’s the former, DNI James Clapper should be fired. If it’s the latter, what happened in Benghazi—and what happened afterwards—will go down as one of the worst scandals in recent memory.

It seems far more likely that it’s the latter. After all, is it conceivable that White House officials at the highest levels were not actively engaged in interagency meetings to determine what happened in Benghazi? Is it conceivable that intelligence officials, knowing there was no evidence at all of a link between the film and Benghazi, would fail to tell the president and his colleagues that their claims were unfounded? Is it conceivable that somehow the latest intelligence on the 9/11 attacks was left out of Obama’s intelligence briefings in the days after 9/11? It would have been a priority for every professional at the CIA, the State Department, and the National Security Council to discover exactly what happened in Benghazi as soon as possible. Is it conceivable that the information wasn’t passed to the most senior figures in the administration?

No, it’s really not. And therefore, the fact that these senior figures misled us—and still mislead us—is a scandal of the first order.

Sen. Corker: Obama must have known what happened in Libya

Sen. Corker: Obama must have known what happened in Libya →

From Corker’s standpoint, the explanation for the administration’s public dissembling is plain. He told me, “It is strictly my opinion but the president has gone around the country spiking the football on Osama bin Laden.” Once it became clear that his boast of “vanquishing” al-Qaeda was proven false, the president, according to Corker, “panicked.” He continued, “The president worried it was going to affect the election.”

Corker is known as a workhorse in the Senate and as meticulous on the facts. In this case, he was both irate and insistent: “When four Americans are killed, it’s just not possible that the president didn’t know [it was a terrorist assault].. . . There is not a cell in my body that doesn’t earnestly believe that the administration didn’t know within 24 or 48 hours.”

Libya guards speak out on attack that killed U.S. ambassador

Libya guards speak out on attack that killed U.S. ambassador →

The L.A. Times reports from Tripoli.

Face down on a roof inside the besieged American diplomatic compound, gunfire and flames crackling around them, the two young Libyan guards watched as several bearded men crept toward the ambassador's residence with semiautomatic weapons and grenades strapped to their chests.

... They were the "quick reaction force" for a compound that was also protected by about five armed Americans and five Libyan civilians hired through a British firm and equipped only with electric batons and handcuffs.

As if that security wasn't light enough, the Americans didn't take the security concerns seriously.

Bright lights positioned on top of the walls shone into the compound, which the guards say made it difficult to see outside. The lights sometimes left footage from night security cameras either obscured by glare or pitch black, the Libyans say. "It did not seem like a good location for a sensitive building," says Abdelaziz Majbiri, a 29-year-old civilian guard for Blue Mountain, who was shot in the leg in the attack.

The Feb. 17 guards say that when they discussed their concerns with U.S. security officers, they were sometimes told that this was a political mission, not a full-fledged embassy, implying that security requirements were less stringent.

Rand Paul launches ads against Dem. senators on foreign aid

Rand Paul launches ads against Dem. senators on foreign aid →

It appears as though Senator Paul is attempting to flex some political muscle.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul is running ads against Democratic senators who voted to continue foreign aid to Egypt, Pakistan and Libya.

The first two targets are Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida. Ads in other battleground states may be forthcoming.

After a September wave of anti-American violence in the region, including the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Paul forced a vote on a measure that would have suspended foreign aid to the three countries mentioned in the ads.

The bill was defeated 81 to 10, with no Democrats voting in favor.

Senator Paul may not need to defeat either Senator Manchin or Senator Nelson in order to succeed in gaining political power. If he can dent their poll numbers enough, it may gain him some extra cooperation in the next Congress.

This entry was tagged. Mideast Spending