Nel's New Day

October 12, 2012

Republicans Weaken Nation’s Security

During the past decade, the GOP has had serious problems with leaking national security. One was the Valerie Plame affair: the Bush administration exposed a CIA operative to punish her husband because he didn’t say what George W. Bush wanted. More than damaging one couple, this “leak” damaged past intelligence gathering and future intelligence assets.

During the Obama administration, the Republicans have falsely blamed the president and his staff for deliberately revealing classified information. The latest leak, however, can’t be blamed on the Democrats because it happened on C-SPAN. And it was done during an attempt to embarrass the president.

The confusion surrounding the death of four men, including the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, was whether the attack was because of an anti-Muslim film or because of terrorism. Disturbed by the current administration’s refusal to declare terrorism until an investigation could be carried out, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) set up hearings in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to show how weak President Obama is in foreign affairs and the country’s security. The plan backfired when it blew the cover of a Libyan CIA base.

After State Department officials showed a commercial satellite of the U.S. compound during a committee meeting, Rep. John Chaffetz (R-UT) called out, “Point of order! Point of order! We’re getting into classified issues that deal with sources and methods that would be totally inappropriate in an open forum such as this.” When a State Department official tried to shut him up by saying that the photo was from a commercial satellite, Chaffetz declaimed, “I totally object to the use of that photo. I was told specifically while I was in Libya I could not and should not ever talk about what you’re showing here today.”

If that wasn’t enough to alert everyone that the commercial satellite photo might reveal U.S. secret intelligence, Issa said, “I would direct that that chart be taken down. In this hearing room, we’re not going to point out details of what may still in fact be a facility of the United States government or more facilities.” Technology must not be Issa’s strong suit; it was already part of the record on C-SPAN.

Not content to stay quiet, Chaffetz added,  “I believe that the markings on that map were terribly inappropriate. The activities there could cost lives.” The public testimony that the Republicans insisted on eliciting was even more damning. Under questioning, State Department officials disclosed that there was a seven-member “rapid response force” in the compound the State Department was calling an annex and that it was under control of the “other government agency.” They were also forced to acknowledge that “not necessarily all of the security people” at the Benghazi compounds “fell under my direct operational control.” Still not satisfied with keeping any leftover intelligence under wraps, Issa said publicly that agency in control was not the FBI.

The end result was that the Republicans on the committee both scolded the State Department officials for not revealing information and not concealing intelligence. Republicans are determined to embarrass the administration, but they succeeded only in showing that the CIA may have let down the victims.

Issa finally suggested that “the entire committee have a classified briefing as to any and all other assets that were not drawn upon but could have been drawn upon” in Benghazi. It’s a bit late: the briefing is already on C-SPAN.

In trying to show that a similar disaster had not happened in the history of the county, the Republicans also show their ignorance. U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens is the eighth U.S. ambassador to die in the line of duty since 1950. Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and  Bush Jr. have all had attacks on embassies under their watch.  Seven different attacks in which people died happened under George W. Bush.

Republicans also tried to embarrass the administration by claiming that the State Department had turned down requests for funding at the Libyan Embassy. Regional Security officer of Libya, Eric Nordstrom, testified to that several times. He has also testified that he  that having more agents would not have prevented the assault. He also said he had sought mainly to prevent any reduction in staff, rather than have a big increase.  

The people who should be embarrassed about their position are the Republicans in Congress. They have spent the past two years slashing the budget for embassy security. Every House Republican voted for the Paul Ryan Budget that cut funding to the State Department by 20 percent, $400 million. This cut includes funding for embassy security.

When Chaffetz was asked if he voted to cut nearly $300 million from the U.S. embassy security budget, he said, “Absolutely. Look, we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have–think about this–15,000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, private army there for President Obama in Baghdad. And we’re talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces? When you’re in tough economic times, you have to make difficult choices how to prioritize this.”

Ryan, Issa, and other House Republicans voted for an amendment in 2009 to cut $1.2 billion from State operations, including funds for 300 more diplomatic security positions. For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program, well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration. House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security”–a charge Republicans rejected.

Instead of trying to create jobs, the Republicans will use any means at their disposal in their sole goal to tear down the Democrats—even the result is weakening the country.

Aside:  Last night  Paul Ryan managed to tell 24 myths during the 40 of the 90 minutes that he spoke.

September 12, 2012

Romney May Incite Terrorism

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:45 PM
Tags: , , , ,

A rocket attack reportedly carried out by Islamist extremists killed Christopher Stevens, the U.S.  ambassador to Libya yesterday as well as three other United States citizens also at the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. The attack followed angry protests in Cairo, Egypt, and Genghazi (Libya). At first some people assumed that the attack was a result of protests against an anti-Islam film produced in the U.S. by an Israeli real estate developer Sam Bacile. According to the Wall Street Journal, the film, mocking the Prophet Muhammad, was made in 2011 with $5 million from “100 Jewish donors.” There is now a question about whether this information is correct.

The Quilliam Foundation, a British think tank, describes this as an orchestrated event by a small group of terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11/01. Designed as revenge for the death of Abu Yaya al-Libi, Al Qaeda’s second in command who was killed in a U.S. airstrike earlier in June, the “well-planned terrorist attack” was scheduled to take place even without the protest against the film.

“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said. “America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear. There is no justification for this. None.” She also stressed that the U.S. efforts in Libya will continue, blaming the violence on a “small and savage” group.

“Everywhere Chris and his team went in Libya, in a country scarred by war and tyranny, they were hailed as friends and partners,” Clinton said of Stevens. “And when the attack came yesterday, Libyans stood and fought to defend our post. Some were wounded. Libyans carried Chris’s body to the hospital and they helped rescue and lead other Americans to safety.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), not exactly an ally of the administration, praised Clinton’s remarks as “excellent and moving,” adding that she struck “just the right message and tone.”

Just hours after Romney said that he would not smear the president on the anniversary of 9/11, he held a press conference and denounced President Obama’s administration. “This attack on American individuals and embassies is outrageous, it’s disgusting. I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt, instead of condemning their actions. It’s never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values.”

His reference was to the statement made by the U.S. embassy in Libya before the deaths about the Islamophobic film. These statements were made before the killings and had nothing to do with the embassy’s statements.

During his campaign, Romney has tried to cause a rift with China, declare Russia an enemy, and start a war with Iran. He has constantly accused the president of apologizing for U.S. values and disavowing “American exceptionalism.” Now he has declared a war on Muslims in the Middle East. He reflects his neoconservative foreign policy advisors, many of whom helped cause the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the past, I have feared that Romney was ignorant, unaware of foreign policy. After hearing his latest statements, I have concluded that he is so desperate to be elected that he will do anything for a vote including selling out his country and causing a third world war.

Romney has displayed no regret for his stupidity. In fact, in this photo he looks quite self-satisfied for having made these inflammatory statements.

Journalists on both the left and right have spoken against Romney’s statements. Mark Halperin called this the “most craven” and “ill-advised move” of the 2012 campaign.  Both NBC and ABC condemned Romney for his words. NBC News’ First Read described his statement as “one of the most over-the-top and (it turns out) incorrect attacks of the general-election campaign,” which looks “worse and worse” as more information comes to light. NBC’s Chuck Todd called the statement “irresponsible” and a “bad mistake.” ABC’s Jake Tapper said that Romney’s attack “does not stand up to simple chronology.” National Journal‘s Ron Fournier called Romney’s actions “ham-handed” and “inaccurate.”

Speaking on Fox News, conservative columnist Peggy Noonan was also blunt. “I don’t feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors in the past few hours,” she said. “Sometimes when really bad things happen, when hot things happen, cool words or no words is the way to go.” Later, the editorial board of the Washington Post weighed in, with a piece headlined, “Mr. Romney’s rhetoric on embassy attacks discredits his campaign.” Romney’s approach, the board said, was “stunning.” Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s campaign manager in 2008, described Romney’s words as “a big mistake.”

Republicans indicated a high level of frustration with Romney’s words. “[Romney was] just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit based on the embassy statement and now it’s just completely blown up,” said a very senior Republican foreign policy hand, who called the statement an “utter disaster.”

“It’s bad,” said a former aide to Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “Just on a factual level that the statement was not a response but preceding, or one could make the case precipitating. And just calling it a ‘disgrace’ doesn’t really cut it. Not ready for prime time.”

A third Republican, a former Bush State Department official, said, “It wasn’t presidential of Romney to go political immediately–a tragedy of this magnitude should be something the nation collectively grieves before politics enters the conversation.”

The Republicans declined to speak for attribution, for fear of being publicly disloyal to their party’s nominee.

President Obama strongly condemned “in the strongest terms” an “outrageous and shocking” attack in Libya that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other staffers. He vowed to work with the Libyan government to “bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.” The president said, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today, we mourn for more Americans that represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. Make no mistake. Justice will be done.”

Is it possible that Romney is trying to incite terrorists so that they will attack someplace in the United States before the November election in an attempt to win the election? If there is an attack within the U.S. in the next two months, we should blame Mitt Romney’s irresponsible response.

Asides: Moody’s Investor Service warned yesterday it would likely downgrade the U.S. government’s debt unless policymakers in Washington reached an agreement on debt reduction.

Thanks to Romney’s statement during the GOP convention that Russia is “without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe” and promised, with regard to Obama’s Russian policies, “less flexibility and more backbone,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is “grateful” to Romney, because his statements ”once again confirmed our approach to the issue of missile defense is the right one.” That means that Romney has guaranteed Russian opposition to the missile shield that makes the United States less safe.

Bob Marshall, a Republican delegate from Virginia, said that children with disabilities are a punishment for past abortions.

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