American Elephants


A Note to the Media: by The Elephant's Child

This may surprise you, but I’m not interested in the salacious details of General David Petraeus’ affair, nor those of his biographer. No interest. Zero.

What I am interested in — is why our Ambassador to Libya was in Benghazi, unguarded,  at a facility with clearly inadequate protection, in a city so dangerous that other nations had long since pulled out? Who thought this was a good idea and why? If the facility in Benghazi was important, why wasn’t it better protected? If it wasn’t worth protecting, why was the Ambassador there?

Images and information started flowing to the American capitol almost immediately. There was apparently a drone overhead. A battle raged at the poorly protected consulate and at the “annex” for nine hours while people died, and while those in the administration watched and did nothing. Why?

The two brave SEALS who were apparently contract employees of the CIA who stepped forward to rescue other workers at the consulate or the annex called repeatedly for help, which was denied. Indecision? Attempt to avoid getting involved? We have had numerous excuses, lots of avoidance, no answers. Many of the answers should be provided by Secretary Clinton who was in charge of the Ambassador, the workers at the consulate, and the security provisions for them.

Whose decision was it that the Ambassador, the technology guy, and the two former SEALS should be there and for what reason? Why was there no extra security on 9/11, let alone just ordinary security? When they were attacked, why was there no instant response? Why was there no response for the nine hours of the battle? This says to all employees of the American government, including the military, that we don’t have their back, and they cannot count on the American government for help or rescue.

Both the State Department and the Obama Administration have a long record of refusing to accept the blame for anything. Whatever it is, it was Bush’s fault. And a convenient hurricane and storm surge presented the opportunity for the press to turn to the more comfortable territory of storm damage and the General and Sex. The storm damage is real, but the Petraeus scandal is a sideshow.

U.N.Secretary Rice’s orchestrated tour of the Sunday shows to spread lies about the catastrophe, far too late to be believable, destroyed any hope she might have held of being Secretary of State. Lying to the American people may be common at the State Department, but you can’t seek nomination with that record. The President, in turn,was indignant. Not about the four needlessly dead Americans, but that anyone would dare to criticize his ambassador to the U.N.  It’s clear that lying to the American people does not rank as particularly important in his book.

There’s an ongoing investigation, we are told. It will apparently ongo until we have forgotten entirely and can’t remember what the fuss was all about. I care far less about finding which terrorist from the al Qaeda associated group was responsible, than in finding which members of the administration were responsible for our lack of response.

The real scandal is the American media, who have forgotten what journalism is supposed to be about, if they ever knew.  Your job is to hold feet to the fire, ask difficult questions, search for truth; and attempt to keep the government honest. If you can’t do that, why are you there? How do you justify your existence?



Incompetence, Indifference, or Just Plain Cowardice? by The Elephant's Child

President Obama fired back today at critics who have accused his administration of orchestrating a cover-up over the September 11 attacks in Libya, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in an interview that aired Monday. The president said:

I do take offense with some suggestion that in any way, we haven’t tried to make sure that the American people knew as the information was coming in what we believed.

If we find out there was a big breakdown, and somebody didn’t do their job, they’ll be held accountable.

Ultimately, as commander-in-chief, I’m responsible, and I don’t shy away from that responsibility. My number one responsibility is to go after the folks who did this, and we’re going to make sure we get them.

Your responsibility, as commander-in-chief, Mr. President, was to protect sovereign American territory, our ambassador, and the other people in that consulate.

The correct response was to send in a rapid response team to rescue the inhabitants of the consulate and the annex, eliminate the attackers, and secure the premises and whatever materials are contained at the two locations that should not fall into other hands. No, you didn’t need the consent of the Libyan government, the U.N. or anybody else. As you keep reminding us, but do not demonstrate, you are responsible and you are the commander-in-chief.

The most notable thing so far in your four years, Mr. President, is that you do shy away from responsibility of any kind. Whatever it is, it’s always someone else’s fault. You’re very big on promising “investigations” which usually linger on until everyone gets bored and new events take over the front pages, and no one is responsible and no one gets fired. (See Fast and Furious)

You take responsibility when what you did is popular. You can’t stop taking responsibility for killing bin-Laden, though that “gutsy call” took nearly a year and constant assurances that it was Osama and he was there. If you take responsibility for that, you have to take responsibility for the doctor who helped to prove that it was indeed bin-Laden and is sentenced to years in prison for his help. And you have to take responsibility for endangering the lives of members of SEAL Team Six and their families— which is real.

As I understand the timeline of events, you watched, in the situation room, events in real time as they evolved for at least seven of the nine-hour battle. You didn’t just do nothing, you actively prevented anyone else from doing anything — purely for political purposes. Instead of following the story, you went off to Las Vegas to raise money.

You turned down constant calls for help, and you actively prevented those in the AC-130 gunships overhead from firing, even when Glen Doherty was painting the mortars that eventually killed both of these brave SEALS..

General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, got the same emails begging for help received by the White House, and put a rapid response team together and notified the Pentagon it was ready to go. He was ordered to stay put. “His response was to screw it, he was going to help anyhow,” writes Jim Robbins at the Washington Times. “Within 30 seconds to a minute after making the move to respond, his second in command apprehended General Ham and told him that he was now relieved of his command.” He was officially replaced by General Rodriguez.

According to various reports, one of Ambassador Stevens main missions in Libya was to facilitate the transfer of much of Gadaffi’s military equipment, including the deadly SA-7 —portable SAMs—to Islamists and other al-Qaeda-affiliated groups fighting the Assad Regime in Syria. Stevens routinely used our Benghazi mission to coordinate the Turkish, Saudi Arabian and Qatari governments’ support for insurgencies throughout the Middle East. Stevens, according to Egyptian security sources played a central role in recruiting Islamic jihadists to fight the Assad regime in Syria. There were two warehouses in the compound.

Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty fought for something like seven hours to rescue the consulate staff, and killed 60 of the attackers before they were killed themselves by mortar fire.

This whole incident has me sick with shame, anger and disgust.  This is the worst thing ever done by any president of the United States. Lots of presidents have had to order men into battle, order them on missions from which they might not return, commit them to battle in a war that seemed never to end. But they did it for necessary reasons for the security of the whole nation.

This president kept honorable Americans from going to the aid of other honorable American in dire need — because he was afraid it might make him look bad right before the election. That is craven, cowardly and sick-making.

The president may have initiated one of the biggest cover-ups in history, or demonstrated enormous incompetence, but with a hurricane hitting the East Coast, he wants you to know that he’s right there on top of everything. He’s been to the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA headquarters in Washington DC, he’s been to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be briefed and talked seriously on his telephone, and urged people to get some extra cash from the ATM, and pick up a solar or hand-crank charger for your cell phone. And get some emergency supplies like water, nonperishable food, batteries.



Bill Kristol Has a Few Questions for the President. by The Elephant's Child

In response to questions regarding the events of September 11, in Benghazi,  the president said this:

“Nobody wants to find out more what happened than I do. But we want to make sure we get it right, particularly because I have made a commitment to the families impacted as well as to the American people, we’re going to bring those folks to justice. So, we’re going to gather all the facts, find out exactly what happened, and make sure that it doesn’t happen again but we’re also going to make sure that we bring to justice those who carried out these attacks.”

The interviewer followed up: “Were they denied requests for help during the attack?”

“Well, we are finding out exactly what happened. I can tell you, as I’ve said over the last couple of months since this happened, the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we’re going to investigate exactly what happened so that it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice. And I guarantee you that everyone in the state department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that people were safe. These were our folks and we’re going to find out exactly what happened, but what we’re also going to do it make sure that we are identifying those who carried out these terrible attacks.”

Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard mentioned that since the president was in the White House from the time the attack began at around 2:40 pm ET until the end of combat at the annex, sometime after 9 pm ET.  So Mr. Kristol had a few simple questions about what he did that afternoon and evening, which should be easy by just consulting meeting and phone records.

1.) To whom did the president give the first of his “three very clear directives”—that is, “make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to?”

2.) How did he transmit this directive to the military and other agencies?

3.) During the time when Americans were under attack, did the president convene a formal or informal meeting of his national security council? Did the president go to the situation room?

4.) During this time, with which members of the national security team did the president speak directly?

5.) Did Obama speak by phone or teleconference with the combatant commanders who would have sent assistance to the men under attack?

6.) Did he speak with CIA director David Petraeus?

7.) Was the president made aware of the repeated requests for assistance from the men under attack? When and by whom?

8.) Did he issue any directives in response to these requests?

9.) Did the president refuse to authorize an armed drone strike on the attackers?

10.) Did the president refuse to authorize a AC-130 or MC-130 to enter Libyan airspace during the attack?

The Weekly Standard awaits the response from the White House. The rest of us do too.



A Notable First! Hillary Takes Responsibility for Benghazi by The Elephant's Child

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “I take responsibility” for the protection of U.S. diplomats., today in Lima, Peru. 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.

This is what you might call “symbolic responsibility” as head of the Department that is at fault. The public usually respects showy professions of “the buck stops here” statements, something the president has never mastered. “This lets the president accept symbolic responsibility, while continuing to shunt actual responsibility onto State,” said Allahpundit.

In anticipation of unpleasant questions in tomorrow’s debate about foreign policy in general and Libya in particular, Obama wants you to know that he is prepared, if necessary, to make another “gutsy call.”

 The White House has put special operations strike forces on standby and moved drones into the skies above Africa, ready to strike militant targets from Libya to Mali — if investigators can find the Al Qaeda-linked group responsible for the death of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya.

But officials say the administration, with weeks until the presidential election, is weighing whether the short-term payoff of exacting retribution on Al Qaeda is worth the risk that such strikes could elevate the group’s profile in the region, alienate governments the U.S. needs to fight it in the future and do little to slow the growing terror threat in North Africa.

All these details were made by officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, and were not authorized to discuss the high-level debates publicly. Uh huh. I can recognize a planned leak, and I imagine you can too. The White House declined to comment.

I wish some of the concern was for ambassador Chris Stevens, and Sean Smith, and the two former SEALS, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, and their families. But this is an administration that sends form letters to the families of fallen heroes.



What Did Obama Know and When Did He Know It? by The Elephant's Child


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