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September 26, 2012

3:00 A.M. Call -- Must Have Rolled To Voice Mail

Remember when candidate Hillary Clinton raised the frightening prospect of the 3:00 A.M. phone call to rookie President Barack Obama in the White House? 

3amObamaHillary

Well, it was 3:00 A.M. with both Hillary and Barack on the job, and somehow or other they missed the call.  And now the administration is in full damage control mode. 

This morming Betsy Newmark has a post explaining why the State Department is attacking CNN for reporting what was in Ambassador Christopher Stevens's journal.  CNN found it in the ruins of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya nearly a week after the terror attack that took the ambassador's life.  State refuses to answer any questions. 

So put this together. We had intelligence officers in the area because we knew it was such a dangerous area, but we allowed our diplomats to be in the region with below-standard security protections.

No wonder the State Department is trying to shut down questions on the attack.

...

This isn't a crime investigation. It's a major security failure that goes right back to the State Department. No wonder CNN has become the enemy for daring to publish information they got from the ambassador's diary. No wonder they tried to blame the video for a week. Anything to distract from the failures of Hillary Clinton's State Department.

Ideologues at State and in the mainstream media are now working overtime to shield not only Barack Obama, but now Hillary Clinton as well.  Her tenure at State was supposed to give her the impeccable foreign policy credentials that would make her the prohibitive presidential favorite in 2016.  She won't be the favorite if Mitt Romney wins, which I believe he will.

But the press apparently does not, so we have a cover up going on.  It would be one thing if we were looking at the type of scandal that the press of another day would have swept under the rug.  In the old days the press would ignore a scandal if it was unrelated to the functioning of government.  FDR and JFK both carried on affairs that the press chose to disregard because they judged them to be nothing about policy. 

The murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his staff is a scandal of a different nature.  This was a failure of individuals in their execution of policy and, arguably, a failure of the policy itself.  It was a catastrophic security failure and a catastrophic intelligenct loss

Among the more than two dozen American personnel evacuated from the city after the assault on the American mission and a nearby annex were about a dozen C.I.A. operatives and contractors, who played a crucial role in conducting surveillance and collecting information on an array of armed militant groups in and around the city.

“It’s a catastrophic intelligence loss,” said one American official who has served in Libya and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the F.B.I. is still investigating the attack. “We got our eyes poked out.”

If there were all these intelligence gathering assets on the ground before the terrorists attacked, why didn't the administration know that it needed to provide security for the ambassador?  Were the White House and State caught by surprise?  Were they not paying attention?  Ambassador Stevens knew he was in danger.  He even wrote in his journal that he was in danger.  Is there any reason to suspect that he didn't communicate his fears up the chain of command?  It's hard to imagine. 

Maybe the White House and State simply ignored warnings.  I can certainly imagine Obama in denial over the prospect of anti-american rioting.  That sort of thing wasn't supposed to happen after the inauguration of Barack Obama.  Muslims were going to see America in a new light. 

This is a monumental scandal.  One that other administations might not survive.  What happened to the ambassador's 3:00 A.M. phone call for help?  Will our watch dog media bother trying to find out?  They should.  This is a huge failure.

Update:  "Sources say intelligence agencies knew within a day that al Qaeda affiliates were behind the attacks in Benghazi, Libya—they even knew where one of the attackers lived. Eli Lake reports."

Another U.S. intelligence official said, “There was very good information on this in the first 24 hours. These guys have a return address. There are camps of people and a wide variety of things we could do.” 

A spokesman for the National Security Council declined to comment for the story. But another U.S. intelligence official said, “I can’t get into specific numbers but soon after the attack we had a pretty good bead on some individuals involved in the attack.” 

It’s unclear whether any of these suspected attackers have been targeted or arrested, and intelligence experts caution that these are still early days in a complex investigation.

The question of what the White House knew, and when they knew it, will be of keen interest to members of Congress in the election year. Last Thursday, the Obama administration formally briefed House and Senate members on the attack. Those briefings however failed to satisfy many members, particularly Republicans. “That is the most useless, worthless briefing I have attended in a long time,” Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, was quoted as saying.  

Isn't it funny (odd, not hilarious) that the New York Times celebrated the anniversary of 9/11 this year with an article by Kurt Eichenwald that accused George W. Bush of ignoring warnings before the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed.

So George Bush, who attended every one of his daily intelligence briefings by the way, should have prevented the attacks when nobody knew where and when al Qaeda would strike.  Can we expect Mr Eichenwald to put his investigative skills to good use and find out why Barack Obama, who attended maybe half of his daily intelligence briefings by the way, didn't prevent the attack in Benghazi when his ambassador there knew he was in danger?  Let's just say I won't hold my breath.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 12:27 PM | Permalink

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Comments

"...and intelligence "experts" caution that these are still early days in a "complex" investigation.

I don't get it. Sand,(SiO2) with impurities in it, melts into glass as low as about 1500 F.
How complex is THAT?

Posted by: CaptDMO | Sep 27, 2012 12:07:51 PM