New Benghazi Account Bolsters CIA
Intelligence officials have disclosed a new detailed timeline of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, acknowledging the CIA played a greater role in responding to the attack than has previously been disclosed. A senior U.S. intelligence official also insisted that the CIA security team that initially responded to the attack was not given orders “to stand down in providing support,” as had been suggested in media reports.
The timeline provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official gives the first precise account of how CIA security teams provided the first response to the Sept. 11 attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
The attack has become a political hot potato in the presidential campaign, with conservatives accusing the administration of not being transparent. The State Department has previously released a detailed account of the night’s events, but did not acknowledge a CIA role in the response. The timeline given by a senior Intelligence official confirms that the facility previously described by the State Department as an annex, was in fact, a facility housing CIA security officers. It does not provide any additional details on the current intelligence assessment that the attack was an opportunistic result of earlier protests that day outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo over an anti-Muslim movie.
The official says there was “no second guessing” of those on the ground in Libya by senior officials either in Libya or Washington.
“There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support,” said the official. The official’s comments appeared to be a direct rebuttal of a Fox News report that CIA teams on the ground had been told by superior officers to “stand down” from providing security support to the consulate.
“I will champion free trade and restore it as a critical element of our strategy, both in the Middle East and across the world. The President has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years. I will reverse that failure.”
In fact, Obama signed three: South Korea, Panama and Colombia.
In the newly released full Mojo/Romney tapes, about 4 minutes in on tape one, Romney starts to talk about what he refers to as “the Jimmy Carter election”, i.e., 1980. He then goes on to talk about how the hostage crisis and the failed rescue mission Desert One were pervasive issues through the 1980 election. Then at the end he says that “if something of that nature presents itself I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.”
He has a couple stopped and started sentences and at some points it’s not entirely clear to me what his meaning is. But on this last point he seems to be saying that if a major international crisis erupted he’d do what he could to turn it to political advantage.
How Americans felt about it.
In one of the most famous 1st Amendment cases in U.S. history, Schenck vs. United States, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. established that the right to free speech in the United States is not unlimited. “The most stringent protection,” he wrote on behalf of a unanimous court, “would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.” …
In Afghanistan, and in all of the Arab nations in transition, an extremist fringe is brawling for power with a more pluralistic majority. Radicals pounce on any pretext to play on religious feeling. I could pick out the signs of manipulation in Afghanistan — riots that started on university campuses where radicalized Pakistani students abound, simultaneous outbreaks in far-flung places, the sudden appearance of weapons. By providing extremists in Libya and elsewhere such an opportunity, the makers of “Innocence of Muslims” were playing into their hands.
As for imminence, the timeline of similar events after recent burnings of religious materials indicates that reactions typically come within two weeks. Nakoula’s video was deliberately publicized just before the sensitive date of Sept. 11, and could be expected to spark violence on that anniversary. …
Indeed, Justice Holmes’ original example, shouting “fire” in a theater, is not a call to arms. Steve Klein, an outspoken anti-Islamic activist who said he helped with the film, told Al Jazeera television that it was “supposed to be provocative.” The egregiousness of its smears, the apparent deception of cast and crew as to its contents and the deliberate effort to raise its profile in the Arab world a week before 9/11 all suggest intentionality.
The point here is not to excuse the terrible acts perpetrated by committed extremists and others around the world in reaction to the video, or to condone physical violence as a response to words — any kind of words. The point is to emphasize that U.S. law makes a distinction between speech that is simply offensive and speech that is deliberately tailored to put lives and property at immediate risk. Especially in the heightened volatility of today’s Middle East, such provocation is certainly irresponsible — and reveals an ironic alliance of convenience between Christian extremists and the Islamist extremists they claim to hate.
When You Learn They’re Not Ready
Some moments show you when a candidate is ready or not to become President of the United States. I suspect last night will become one of those moments for Mitt Romney. The verdict will not be positive. …
Romney’s attack was not only ill-judged and ill-timed, it was actually based on what appears to be a demonstrable falsehood. Romney, or folks writing in his name at his campaign, claimed that the administration’s first response to the attacks was to issue a press release condemning the anti-Islam film which had helped trigger the attack….In fact, according to all available press reports and the account of the State Department, the press release in question came from the US Embassy in Egypt and preceded the attacks. So to claim it was a response to the attacks was simply false. So while American diplomats were dying in the field, Romney pops up with an egregious attempt to politicize the deaths with a flat out lie.
Behind the curtains a more chaotic and rash picture emerges…The campaign also authorized Romney’s top foreign policy advisor to give a blistering interview attacking the president while the attacks were continuing.
Politics is hardball….But campaigns are also a prism into the judgment and steadiness under pressure of a person who would be president. This was amateur hour for the opposition campaign last night, reminiscent of John McCain’s rash call four years ago to cancel the presidential debates and the campaign itself to deal with the unfolding economic crisis. There was nothing ignoble or dishonorable about McCain’s suggestion…Romney’s moment was quite different — rash and shameful. Not worthy of a president. Crass, undignified and troubling on many levels.
Steve Clemons, quoted on BuzzFlash:
“Romney blew it and revealed how seriously maladroit he is when it comes to foreign affairs and national security,” said Steve Clemons, the founder of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation. “An attack on an Embassy, the murder of U.S. officials including an Ambassador, is an attack on all Americans and the idea of America — and Romney gave terrorists what they want — a divided country still torn emotionally and politically by the events of 9-11. Romney talks of leadership but with his reckless commentary when events were fragile and still unfolding, he belly-flopped.”
From Huffington Post:
NAIROBI, Kenya — American-born jihadi Omar Hammami says in a new video that he fears members of his own Somali militia group may kill him over differences of opinion.
Hammami, known as Abu Mansur al-Amriki, or “the American,” appears in a video saying he has disagreed with his comrades in the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militia on Islam’s Sharia law and strategy. The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified.
Hammami is the most visible of foreign fighters in the ranks of the al-Shabab, Somalia’s most dangerous militant group, that is trying to topple the country’s weak U.N.-backed government.
There was speculation last year the bastard was killed, but no such luck.