• Seven Important, Non-Partisan Questions about Benghazi That Need Answers

    June 2, 2014 // 9 Comments »

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she won’t “be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans” over the 2012 Benghazi attacks,” though she devotes a full chapter to the incident in her forthcoming book Hard Choices. Politico was given a pre-release excerpt from the book, from which the quotes below are drawn.

    Clinton’s book raises some important points. Here are the questions some reporter should ask her if given the chance, along with a note about “why it matters” for each one to make clear these are things we need to know from the likely-next president of the United States, far apart from any political slugfest.

    The Questions

    1) Where was Clinton?

    The Benghazi attack unfolded from about 4pm in the afternoon until very late at night, Washington time. Clinton said she was first told of the incident as it began. She has refused to be specific about her whereabouts and actions that night. Where was Clinton between 4pm and say midnight? The State Department Operations Center was on the phone live with officials in Benghazi, Tripoli or both locations. Was Clinton in the State Department Operations Center? If not, why not? When did she leave the State Department? Why did she leave? Did she go to the White House Ops Center, who no doubt was monitoring the situation? If not, why not?

    Senator Charles Schumer was called to the White House, from 5:30 p.m. to midnight, as the Benghazi attack unfolded. Clinton would be an unlikely source to explain Schumer’s presence, but certainly should be asked to explain her own non-presence.

    For example, the CBS timeline for the attack states that 4 a.m. Washington time Obama was told of Ambassador Stevens’ death. Where was Clinton at that time? If she was asleep, at home or elsewhere, why did she chose that over staying at the State Department?

    Clinton has refused to explain where she was the night of the Benghazi attack. CNN asked her, and here is her response:

    QUESTION: … could you tell us a little bit about what you were doing when that attack actually happened? I know Charlene Lamb, who as the State Department official, was mentioning that she back here in Washington was monitoring electronically from that post what was happening in real time. Could you tell us what you were doing? Were you watching? Were you talking with the President? Any details about that, please.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: … I think that it is very important to recognize that we have an investigation going on… So that’s what an investigative process is designed to do: to try to sort through all of the information, some of it contradictory and conflicting… So I’m going to be, as I have been from the very beginning, cooperating fully with the investigations that are ongoing, because nobody wants to know more about what happened and why than I do. And I think I’ll leave it at that.

    Why It Matters: A Commander-in-Chief is responsible for lives and decisions. She has to be present and ready to make the “hard choices” in real time. If Clinton was elsewhere and not directly monitoring Benghazi in real-time (as opposed to getting periodic “briefings” aside some other event), how will she act as president in a similar crisis?

    2) About That Anti-Muslim Video

    In her book Hard Choices Clinton states about Benghazi:

    There were scores of attackers that night, almost certainly with differing motives. It is inaccurate to state that every single one of them was influenced by this hateful video. It is equally inaccurate to state that none of them were. Both assertions defy not only the evidence but logic as well.

    What evidence can Clinton present that any of the Benghazi attackers were motivated by the video so offensive to Muslims? The attacks appear to have been well-coordinated and goal-oriented, not the faceless mobs content to tear down the American flag as seen in Cairo.

    For example, at 6:07 p.m. Washington time an alert from the State Department Operations Center stated the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli reported the Islamic military group “Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack”… on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli. It did not appear that the offensive video was cited.

    The UK’s Independent noted the Consulate attackers made off with documents listing names of Libyans who are working with Americans, and documents related to oil contracts.

    Why It Matters: If you cite evidence, put up or shut up. The president must speak precisely, both to avoid misunderstandings and to preserve her credibility.

    3) What is Responsibility?

    Clinton writes:

    As Secretary I was the one ultimately responsible for my people’s safety, and I never felt that responsibility more deeply than I did that day.

    Define “responsibility.” Many definitions imply some sort of relationship between being responsible, making decisions and accepting consequences. What decisions did Clinton make as Secretary of State vis-vis security in Benghazi? If delegated, to whom? What controls, management tools or other means did she employ to assure those delegates acted out her intentions?

    Why It Matters: As president, Clinton will need to delegate almost everything. If she is unable to manage that, simply saying she takes “responsibility” while shucking off consequences will undermine her leadership.

    4) More About Responsibility

    In Hard Choices, Clinton writes about the messages from Benghazi before the attack requesting more security:

    The cables were addressed to her as a ‘procedural quirk’ given her position, but didn’t actually land on her desk. “That’s not how it works. It shouldn’t. And it didn’t.”

    Fair enough. Obviously the Secretary cannot read even a fraction of what pours into the State Department. So, who were the highest level people to see those cables? What were their instructions on which issues to elevate to the Secretary and which to deal with themselves? Clearly the need for more security at Benghazi was not addressed. Following Benghazi, did Clinton initiate any internal review, leading to changes? Details are important here.

    Following Benghazi, no one in the State Department lost his/her job. No one was fired. Several people were placed on administrative leave, a kind of purgatory, until media attention focused elsewhere. All were eventually reinstated. The one person who claimed to have resigned actually just changed job titles, “resigning” from one to take on another.

    At the time, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said “the discipline is a lie and all that has happened is the shuffling of the deck chairs. That will in no way change [the] systemic failures of management and leadership in the State Department.”

    Why It Matters: God alone knows how much paper, how many memos and reports, arrive at the White House daily. The president must have staff and a system that filter the right things up and down. The country needs to have confidence that President Clinton will be able to handle that to prevent bad decisions that may lead to more tragedy. And when things go wrong, the president must be willing to shed ineffectual people and replace them with better ones.

    5) Leading

    Clinton writes of her non-appearance on television, with Susan Rice taking the lead:

    [People] fixate on the question of why I didn’t go on TV that morning, as if appearing on a talk show is the equivalent of jury duty, where one has to have a compelling reason to get out of it. I don’t see appearing on Sunday-morning television as any more of a responsibility than appearing on late-night TV. Only in Washington is the definition of talking to Americans confined to 9 A.M. on Sunday mornings.

    At the time, Susan Rice was America’s ambassador to the UN, what many saw as an unusual choice for a spokesperson for such a State Department-specific tragedy with little UN touchpoint.

    Clinton was Secretary of State, the leader of the State Department, which had just had one of its consulates overrun, and two of its employees killed, one an ambassador. Clinton admits she held “responsibility” for this. Why wouldn’t she be the person to speak of this to the American people? Indeed, it was Clinton, not Susan Rice, in the foreground of the serious, patriotic photos taken later at the Dover Air Force base when the remains of the dead were returned to the U.S. in their flag-draped coffins.

    Clinton went on to miss numerous opportunities to speak of her role regarding Benghazi.

    Why It Matters: The buck stops here, said president Harry Truman. The president needs to be the one who speaks to America, explains things that happened to Americans, the one who shows by example her role, her compassion, for those whom she sent into harm’s way. The president, to lead, can’t duck that.

    6) Information and Disinformation

    Clinton writes in her book:

    [There is a] regrettable amount of misinformation, speculation, and flat-out deceit by some in politics and the media, but new information from a number of reputable sources continues to expand our understanding of these events.

    Can Clinton be specific about what new information she is referring to, and from what sources? Can she explain how she determined these sources are reputable as opposed to those she characterizes as “flat-out deceit”?

    One Democratic talking point opposing additional investigation into Benghazi is that the event has been dissected fully and we know all there is to know, that a new hearing in Congress is simply partisan politics. But if there is new information, as Clinton says, it seems more investigation would be helpful.

    Why It Matters: A president’s word choice is very important. Precision is important and establishes credibility.

    7) Accountability

    Clinton writes that the Accountability Review Board (ARB), State’s after-action process following any tragedy abroad as significant as two employees being killed by terrorists, did not interview her for their report, by their own choice. She does not know why they did not call on her. The report was bland and singled out no one for discipline or sanction despite the deaths and the decisions (by someone) not to increase security as personnel on the ground demanded.

    Given the central role the Secretary of State and her office, delegates and staffers played in Benghazi before, during and after the crisis, how could this possibly be true? Assuming that the ARB truly found no reason whatsoever to speak to the head of an organization about arguably the most significant event of her term as head of that organization, why didn’t Clinton seek them out? Why didn’t she prepare a written statement, ask to add in her recollections? Get her role on record? Make sure history was recorded.

    The Accountability Review Board personnel were hand-selected by Clinton.

    And as John Kerry said (about Edward Snowden) “patriots don’t run away.”

    Why It Matters: Not participating in such a review process, and then dismissing such non-participation simply as “they didn’t ask,” even if true, raises significant credibility questions about the validity of the ARB and the leader who did not participate. Credibility to her own staff, as well as to the American people, is a critical thing for a president.

    If either lose faith in her, she cannot be effective. Leaders lead without excuses.

    Something Important

    OK, let’s get this out of the way. It is impossible to divorce an attempt at serious, dispassionate discourse about Benghazi from the political side promoted by Republicans and Democrats. And yes, of course, it is aimed at Hillary 2016.

    But Hillary 2016 is a big deal. If the election were held today, she’d be the next president. So maybe, albeit with some of the inevitable political mud slung alongside, we should pay attention to how she acted, if she failed to act, and whether she enjoyed some sort of cover-up/soft-sell over what really happened in Benghazi.

    To paraphrase Mrs. Clinton’s own political rhetoric as directed at then-candidate Obama, we need to know how she’ll act when that tragic 3 a.m. phone call comes through. While past performance is no guarantee of future success or failure, it is how the smart money should bet.

    What kind of president would Hillary Clinton be? Let’s ask some real questions, and hold out for real answers.



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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Iraq War Anniversary: Me and Colin Powell in the NYC

    March 24, 2014 // 15 Comments »




    I love New York. What other city in the United States has public art openly mocking former Secretary of State and Bush Lickspittle Toady Colin Powell?


    In the High Line Park, in the Meatpacking District, stands a bust of Colin Powell, his mighty frame bursting out of well-sculpted living rock. Held in his hand (see arrow) is a vial of fake Iraqi anthrax. The statue mimics Powell’s actual performance at the UN.

    Powell Sells Out America

    Last week marked the 11th anniversary of the Iraq War, so Powell’s self-debasement took place some 11 years ago. A little recap is due.

    Colin Powell, as Secretary of State, lent his considerable credibility and gravitas to the case for war with Iraq. Powell spoke publicly before the UN General Assembly, and privately in depth with America’s allies, about mobile biowar labs, weapons of mass destruction and the imminent danger Saddam Hussein posed. While many people knew Bush was an idiot puppet, and Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld psychopathic fibbers, Powell convincingly represented the United States’ case for war.

    Of course, everything Powell said was a lie. If Powell somehow did not know what he was saying was a lie even as the words oozed out of his mouth that day, he soon came to know, as did the rest of the world, that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, and that the whole 2003 invasion of Iraq was a thin sham. In his autobiography, Powell had this to say:

    A blot, a failure will always be attached to me and my UN presentation. I am mad mostly at myself for not having smelled the problem. My instincts failed me. There is nothing worse than a leader believing he has accurate information when folks who know he doesn’t don’t tell him that he doesn’t.


    Doing the Right Thing

    And of course as soon as Powell found out the intel was not just flawed, but completely made up, he resigned in a dramatic protest and attempt to restore America’s credibility, right? Powell went to the media and told everyone that the Iraq War was started on false pretenses? Nope. He served out his four years as Secretary of State.

    Powell-erful stuff. One hopes that the over 4,400 Americans who died in Iraq, the over 100,000 Iraqis who died and the taxpayers who watched a trillion dollars poured into the sand there are equally moved to know that it was all a “blot.” The direct relation between the chaos unleashed by the upsetting of the balance of power in the Mideast through that invasion, and the engorging mess in Syria, Libya and everywhere else, is just a sideshow one guesses to that “blot.”

    Another Blot?

    Colin does love his blots. He said this about Hillary Clinton and the deaths of four Americans at Benghazi:

    I think she’s had a distinguished record. And I don’t think that this one incident– which is one of these things that those of us in government have been through many, many times where suddenly an action happens late at night– I don’t think it’s a blot on her record.


    Enjoy

    It is almost comical to remind that Powell served out his full term as Secretary of State, and was never prosecuted, punished or sanctioned for his lies. He now reportedly earns $40,000 a speech, and is in demand for fundraisers and motivational sales events.

    We’ll enjoy your statue in New York City Colin. You eventually will enjoy your time in Hell, cellmates with Robert McNamara, and please spend every day you have left on this planet meditating on the souls of the people who died in Iraq because of your lie, and your utter lack of responsibility in not speaking up. Only cowards remain silent, and that is your legacy. But do enjoy the money. That is your penance.



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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Today’s Benghazi Hearing: Quick Recap

    May 8, 2013 // 14 Comments »



    The State Department was beaten up pretty bad in today’s Benghazi hearing, with both Deputy Chief of Mission Greg Hicks (second in charge after the ambassador) and RSO (security guy) Ed Nordstrom from Libya contradicting earlier State Department remarks.

    Hicks in particular made it clear that there was absolutely nothing to justify Susan Rice’s September 2012 assertions that the attack had anything to do with an anti-Muslim video demonstration, and that all reporting from Libya, from the first phone call, claimed a terror attack was underway.

    Nordstrom was equally blunt that the State Department willfully understaffed security in Benghazi, and ignored evidence that the Consulate was vulnerable.

    Hicks, Nordstrom and the third witness, Mark Thompson, came off as credible, dispassionate and very serious. Meanwhile, while Republicans were accused going in of playing politics, it was the Democratic members of the committee who were shrill, crude and desperate in trying to degrade (as opposed to rebut) the witnesses.

    Most fingers pointed toward Under Secretary of Management Pat Kennedy and Hillary aid Cheryl Mills as acting as Hillary’s proxies to make the bad, tragic, decisions. Long-term fallout unclear, but a lot of angry people in Foggy Bottom right now. The State Department was portrayed as disorganized, and often far more concerned about political impressions than the safety of its people and informing the American public.

    A decent summary of what was said, from CNN.

    I live-Tweeted most of the hearing. Search Twitter for @wemeantwell or #Benghazi to review.



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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    More Benghazi: A Preview of Wednesday’s Hearing

    May 7, 2013 // 18 Comments »

    See the Hearing live at 11:30 EST online

    House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa announced three witnesses will appear at a full committee hearing, “Benghazi: Exposing Failure and Recognizing Courage,” on Wednesday, May 8, 2013.

    The witnesses are Mark Thompson, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Counterterrorism, Gregory Hicks, former Deputy Chief of Mission/Chargé d’Affairs in Libya and Eric Nordstrom, Diplomatic Security Officer and former Regional Security Officer in Libya. Only Nordstrom has testified publically before, basically pointing out tactical security failures.

    “I applaud these individuals for answering our call to testify in front of the Committee. They have critical information about what occurred before, during, and after the Benghazi terrorist attacks that differs on key points from what Administration officials – including those on the Accountability Review Board – have portrayed,” said Issa.

    Gotta Be Said

    OK, let’s get this initial stuff out of the way. Yes, yes, there are lots of important things about America Congress should address, but yes, this hearing is happening, And yes, of course it is aimed at Hillary 2016.

    But to play fair, Hillary 2016 is a big deal. If the election were held today, she’d be the next president. So maybe, albeit with some political mud slung alongside, we should pay attention to how she acted, how she failed to act, and whether she enjoyed some sort of coverup/soft-sell over what really happened in Benghazi. To paraphrase Mrs. Clinton’s own political rhetoric, we need to know how she’ll act when that tragic 3am phone call comes through. While past performance is no guarantee of future success or failure, it is how the smart money should bet.

    A Preview

    So let’s preview what might happen in the upcoming hearing.

    1) Easy Stuff: Lots of shout-outs to fallen colleagues, grieving relatives, brave troops, yeah, yeah.

    2) The Basics: Lots of in-the-weeds failures to be detailed. Interesting to see if much of this will be blamed on the Libyans, who should have intervened, or soft-pedaled along the lines of “mistakes were made.” Also, budgets cut, requests ignored. At great cost. To fallen colleagues.

    Someone else has already neatly discredited the story that some sort of special ops mission could have saved lives in Benghazi, including the possible use of Avis rental cars from their Benghazi outlet. Expect a fair amount of inconclusive, uninformed speculation about what the military should or could have done, but it is likely to hover above disagreement over tactics and below some sort of conspiracy-level move.

    Not to be discussed: How Obama’s intervention created a power vacuum in eastern Libya, which eventually led not just to this attack but the sacking of Mali, which was prevented only by the French military with U.S. help, essentially a new war to fix the mistakes of the previous war.

    3) The Coverup: Expect Susan Rice to be re-thrown under the bus, then thrown again one more time for good measure. Rice, you’ll recall, pretty much got on national tee vee the Sunday after the Consulate attacks and told fibs, blaming it all on some dumb anti-Muslim movie and trying to avoid any mention of terrorism. She is widely held to have tried to soft-pedal the attack in the run-up to Obama’s re-election in November 2012. Obama was bleating about defeating al Qaeda and crushing bin Laden with his bare hands at the time, so no one wanted a “successful” terror attack on the news. Rice was the designated messenger, with Hillary’s excellent sense of avoiding trouble guiding her into not making substantive statements about her own Consulate and her own Ambassador being murdered.

    There will also be a string of sleazy emails, featuring then-State Spokesdrone Victoria Nuland trying to rewrite the talking points to protect Hillary and, if possible, Obama. Absent some real surprise, these are unfortunately business as usual in Washington now. Don’t expect any discussion on how every administration seeks to buffalo the public and the media to its own advantage. Also, drones like Nuland are trained to never mention their boss’ name– Hillary Clinton– per se in any communication. They just say things like “our leadership” or “higher authorities.” This is a clever trick to ensure no name-retrievable documents are ever created, and allows deniability over to whom she was actually referring. It’s inside Washington stuff they don’t teach you at Georgetown kids!

    After weeks of delays in late 2012, to include a self-inflicted concussion, as expected, Hillary Clinton’s perfunctory testimony on the deaths of four Americans in Libya a) took “responsibility” for Benghazi in words alone, shucking blame and (in)action onto others, b) wrapped herself in the flag to shout down her questioners and c) revealed nothing new. Always eyes on the 2016 prize, that one.

    The re-death of Rice has been clearly signaled by the former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya, Gregory Hicks, in his leaked statements slathered all over CNN. The Republicans will go red meat crazy over all this, but they won’t find any smoking gun at the White House or from Hillary Land. Both are too clever, even if they were involved, and Rice was too gullible and too disposable. Poor Susan Rice, she even now on Twitter is just a shell of her old self. Whereas pre-Benghazi she’d often be calling for the blood and stones of some dictator, her Tweets now are just sad little acknowledgments of some International Women’s Day or the like. She’ll hang around the UN where she does not matter and is outside Washington, or drift into some make-work academic slot. Bye.

    Proof that Rice is finished? Biden just confirmed the President’s “confidence” in her, even though no one asked.



    4) The Big Money Shot: How high did State Department malfeasance for the Benghazi attack go?

    Here’s where the action is. State’s own internal review, the so-called After Action Review Board, pinged only some relative worker bees, sending them into administrative leave purgatory. The highest ranking person spanked just changed job titles. The Board, hand-selected by Hillary, never even bothered to interview Hillary. Will the hearing find a way to stick some blame on her? Expect no discussion about the After Action process itself, or why Obama has not appointed an Inspector General for the State Department, a job empty since 2008.

    Or maybe not. Hicks’ leaked statement aims a bit higher, but only it seems as high as Under Secretary for Management slug Pat Kennedy. Inside State, this is a big deal, as Kennedy effectively runs the bureaucratic, administrative and personnel sides of the State Department and is thus a very powerful man in there (Diplomatic Security reports to him.) However, outside of State (i.e., on Fox News) he is a nobody. Still, if Kennedy were encouraged to retire after this, an awful lot of garbage would go out the door at State with him, to the betterment of the organization.

    If Kennedy is as high as it goes, it goes nowhere really. Kennedy is well-known for throwing himself on his sword to save his Boss, and the likelihood of him implicating Hillary is precisely zero.

    Zero with extreme prejudice.

    And in the End?

    Prediction: Much smoke, nothing more, at least a default win for Hillary 2016, even more for her if Issa makes an idiot of himself.



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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Oh Poppycock!

    May 1, 2013 // 11 Comments »




    At an April 30 briefing regarding press reports that the State Department is seeking to intimidate or punish employees planning on blowing the whistle on Department incompetence surrounding the deaths at the Benghazi Consulate, deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell said:


    The State Department would never tolerate or sanction retaliation against whistleblowers on any issue, including this one. That’s an obligation we take very seriously.

    To which I reply: Poppycock.

    State retaliated against my whistleblowing with all the joy and energy of a dog rolling in its own poop. Have a look here, or here to start.

    And by the way, any of you potential State Department whistleblowers need some advice, it is info(at)wemeantwell.com



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Diplomacy Lost: State Does Not Come Clean on Afghan Death

    April 11, 2013 // 17 Comments »

    The initial reports about FSO Anne Smedinghoff in Afghanistan stated she was in an armored vehicle, which was hit by either an IED and/or a suicide bomber. She was enroute to a book give away at a local school. Smedinghoff’s father told journalists in the United States that he’d been told she was in a vehicle and the bomber either rammed it or detonated his explosives nearby.

    New reports suggest a different picture. According to McClatchy News, Smedinghoff was accompanying a group of perhaps a dozen Afghan journalists, perhaps in the company of a minor U.S. Ambassador, and that the group was walking, not in vehicles. The report stated that:

    …on the 200-yard walk from the local headquarters of the U.S.-led Provincial Reconstruction Team to what they thought was the school. A man at the gate said they had the wrong place, though, that this was the provincial agriculture institute.

    The group retraced its steps to the American base to figure out what to do next, Abed said. The entrance to the base is just a few feet from the street, he said, and just as they reached it, walking more or less in single file, something slammed into his back and he staggered forward. Disoriented, he saw a car wheel roll past him.

    “At first I thought that a car had left the road and struck me,” he said. “But then I turned around and saw it had been a bomb.”


    That narrative differs significantly from the initial State Department version. Instead of a gallant young do-gooder snatched by fate, we see a group of diplomats who did not know what they were doing, physically lost, circling back to their camp to try again. If that is true, how did it happen? If that is true, why did State report a different version of events?

    Procedures

    My own Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) service was embedded with a U.S. Army unit and in Iraq, so procedures may vary, but we did our share of media events and book donations. Here is how things went and why it is hard to accept that the new discrepancies about Afghanistan are merely fog of war.

    Any movement outside the wire was planned meticulously. Excellent photographic maps were consulted, and a numerical grid location of our destination was established accurate down to (deleted) meters. Routes in and out were noted, with secondary routes established. Using maps and photos, we would decide where we would disembark our vehicles and how security would be kept. Medevac procedures would be reviewed, available air assets identified and so forth. Movement inside a war zone was a clear military operation. It was not free-lanced or improvised. Records were kept.

    If we did get off track, the unit went into defensive posture and nobody left the vehicles until we sorted that out. Lots of radio calls were made, and the Army’s electronic mapping and reporting system Blue Force Tracker was used. Our own headquarters always knew where we were and what we were doing. Log entries were made and records exist (some of what Bradley Manning leaked to Wikileaks consisted of such sitreps and Blue Force Tracker updates).

    If Smedinghoff and her compatriots got lost, it suggests they were not moving as just described. This calls up serious questions of competence and leadership. How did they get lost? What happened and who is responsible, because people died here.

    (Another opinion disclaims the idea that the group was “lost”)

    Reporting

    State’s mistakes in reporting what actually happened on the ground all seem to be mistakes in favor of State’s narrative– gallant young life taken even as she worked to help local Afghans– instead of incompetently lead public affairs hack engaged in another failed feel-good media event where they did not even know the location of the school being helped. How could this have happened? Fog of war?

    State reported the death (in vehicle) on April 6. State amended the story to mention the deceased was on foot on April 10 only after news reports were making the claim.

    My former job with State for 20 some years was as a Consular Officer and entailed, in part, dealing with the deaths of American Citizens abroad. I know how hard it can be to figure out what happened. Many of the deaths I assisted in sorting out happened in combat-like confusion following earthquakes, plane crashes and the like. There is chaos, but you are trained to work past that. Our training was very simple: you’re speaking officially on behalf of the USG to grieving next of kin. Tell them what you know and how you know it. Be very clear when things are unsure, uncertain or subject to change. Don’t fill in gaps, don’t make things up, be respectful but don’t try and “help” by covering up tough things (died autoerotically, was found with a weapon, was in a hotel room with a prostitute, etc.). If you don’t know something, say you do not know. Credibility is key and trust is earned and most of the real story will come out somehow.

    It is hard to imagine that the death of an FSO with multiple witnesses was not reported fully back to Foggy Bottom. This was the first “real” FSO killed in either Iraq or Afghanistan and post-Benghazi everyone knew it would be major news. Yes, others sadly were also killed but the death of a young woman with social media presence was obviously a greedy media’s lead. Nobody at State was going to just jot down a few notes on what may have happened and flash out a press release. There were multiple witnesses, and indeed the death occurred literally at the PRT’s doorstep. It would be very, very surprising if that front door was not covered by video surveillance. The source cited by McClatchy was treated by U.S. personnel and flown back to Kabul by the U.S., so was not hard to find.

    Conspiracy theorists, have at it. Or maybe it was all just journalistic fudges and fog of war.

    Instead, I will propose something baser and cruder: to the State Department, especially post-Benghazi, what mattered in the death of Anne Smedinghoff in Afghanistan was literal damage control of the already-failed narrative that the Department was accomplishing great things in Afghanistan under a policy of competent, calculated risk. The lives were lost of course no matter what the point or purpose, but it is typically owed to the dead the respect of not exploiting them even into the grave.

    Update: Diplopundit reports an email recieved from a Foreign Service Officer which reads “I knew Anne well. I am sending you this as the Department has been actively recruiting her friends and coworkers to talk to the press or to write about her even while no Department memorial service will be held.” Stay classy State.

    The People’s Republic of Snarkistan has a thorough write-up on what may have happened to Smedinghoff and her group well-worth reading. He also informs us that the school in question was built by the U.S. in October 2009, only to enjoy a $135,000 “rennovation” a few months later that included “foundation work, installation of new windows and doors, interior and exterior paint, electricity and a garden.” Yeah, looks like the original contractor ripped off the PRT. The U.S. Army noted at the time that “The many smiles on the faces of both men and women showed all were filled with joy and excitement during this special occasion.”

    In my own Iraq PRT experience, the record for the U.S. (re)building the same school was three times in four years.

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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Did Eric Boswell Really Resign over Benghazi Fail? Define “Resign”

    March 18, 2013 // 16 Comments »




    In one of her final acts as Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton accepted the “resignation” of her head of Diplomatic Security, Eric J. Boswell. Boswell was portrayed in the media as the highest ranking State Department official to lose his job over the security failures in Benghazi, Libya that lead to the deaths of four Americans. Clinton sold the resignation to Congress as a sign of accountability over decisions made and mistakes committed. Case closed, right?

    But did Boswell really “resign?” Or is he still employed by the Department of State?

    Define “Resign”

    Before his December 19, 2012 “resignation,” Boswell actually held two jobs: head of Diplomatic Security and Director of the Office of Foreign Missions (DS/OFM) at State. The former position held immediate responsibility for the safety of America’s diplomats abroad, while the latter job covered both the security and administrative needs of foreign diplomats in the U.S. As head of OFM, Boswell was responsible for the safety of say the French Embassy in Washington as well as the duty-free import of cars for the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles.

    His celebrated resignation was cleverly worded: he resigned as head of Diplomatic Security (Benghazi accountability!) only. In a December 19 statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she “has accepted Eric Boswell’s decision to resign as Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, effective immediately.” When questioned about whether Boswell really left the State Department’s employ by a cowed media, State would only reissue the carefully crafted statement put out December 19. No one was interested in even a follow-up question– is Boswell still on State’s payroll?

    Where’s Boswell?

    So who is now head of the Office of Foreign Missions at State? Is it Boswell? Turns out that is a hard question to really answer.

    Let’s start with the list of senior officials on the State Department website. That page lists the position of Director of the Office of Foreign Missions as vacant. No Boswell.

    However, on the same main State Department site, a page from the Office of the Historian puts Boswell still in the job, as he has been, since 2008. Another page says he is still in the job. Hmm.

    But, the page for the actual Office for Foreign Missions lists no personnel by name. Curiouser and curiouser.

    The main State Department telephone directory lists no position at all as “Director of the Office of Foreign Missions.” That’s kind of odd, as the office should in fact have a Director, they all do, somebody. Boswell’s name also appears nowhere in the phone book. Hmmm.


    Just Call Them

    So, I just called up the Office of Foreign Missions at the number (202-647-3417) listed in that public directory for the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Foreign Missions, the titular number two person there. I spoke with someone named *****, and said I wanted to write a letter to the Director of the Office of Foreign Missions– to whom should I address it? She helpfully said “Eric Boswell.” I asked “Eric J. Boswell?” and she said yes. I asked what salutation/title I should use and she said “Director.” She then helpfully added “But Director Boswell does not often come in to the office so you should in fact contact the Deputy Assistant Secretary.” ***** would not give me her last name.

    Then a concerned citizen still working at State told me on background that Boswell, thanks to a sweetheart deal with Under Secretary for Management Pat Kennedy after the Benghazi hearings, retains his salary and title but basically delegates all of his responsibilities as Director of the Office of Foreign Missions. He did “resign” from one titled position while cleverly keeping his other position, according to my source. Ka-ching!

    Accountability for What?

    About a week after Boswell “resigned” back in December 2012, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said she could not independently confirm a New York Post report claiming Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, remains at the State Department.

    Ros-Lehtinen said “If these reports are correct, they’re pathetic examples of yet another ruse about the tragedy of Benghazi. State Department officials proclaimed to the world that heads would roll after the deception related to the deceitful video excuse and the non existent spontaneous protest outside the consulate. Now we see that the discipline is a lie and all that has happened is the shuffling of the deck chairs. That will in no way change [the] systemic failures of management and leadership in the State Department.”

    Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, or any journalist, why not contact the Department of State and simply ask “Who is the Director of the Office of Foreign Missions?” and/or “Is Eric Boswell still employed by the Department of State?” Depending on the answers you receive, better follow-up with this question: If indeed no one lost their jobs over the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, exactly what accountability is there?

    And do ask them how the term “resign” is actually defined at the State Department.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Oh Hillary (Exit, stage left.)

    January 25, 2013 // 30 Comments »

    As expected, Hillary Clinton’s perfunctory testimony on the deaths of four Americans in Libya a) took “responsibility” for Benghazi in words alone, shucking blame and (in)action onto others, b) wrapped herself in the flag to shout down her questioners and c) revealed nothing new.

    Exit, stage left. Stick a fork in her, she is done.

    But though Hillary slithers off the national stage for hopefully a very long time, the issues she did not attend to at State remain, primarily the lack of adequate management and leadership and specifically the ongoing failure to properly utilize resources in line with policy goals and missions. State is all about the whack-a-mole approach to planning, rushing here and there to nuzzle up to the White House of the day and wondering always why they never seem to have what they need to do the job right (see Iraq, still sucking the oxygen out of State’s budget as the world’s largest and most expensive embassy, because why?)

    I could go on, but someone has already said it fairly clearly, so why not just refer you over to Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post, who has written the only intelligent, to-the-real-point essay on Hillary’s Last Stand. Rubin said:

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s testimony vividly demonstrated that competence is as critical as ideology when it comes to the highest ranks of national security officials.

    Clinton lost it at the hearing when she cried out, “What difference does it make?” with regard to the false narrative the administration put out in the days following the Benghazi attack. On one level this is simply a knee-jerk, defensive reaction. On the other hand it goes to the purpose of her job — to assimilate, analyze and formulate coherent policy based on the world as it is, not as she would want it to be.

    Marco Rubio explains why it matters and hence why Clinton’s failure is greater even than Benghazi:
    Here is why it matters. Because when they put out word that this was not a terrorist attack — that it sprung out a spontaneous uprising — it furthered the narrative that somehow Al Qaeda was in disarray. That the elimination of Bin Laden had made this extraordinary reduction in the risks in the area. As it turns out, not only was that not true in Libya but we are now seeing it’s not true in other parts of North Africa as well. And the fundamental question is, “Did the administration really believe that?” Because if they did, they badly miscalculated.

    the danger of ideologically driven self-delusion and/or management collapse will grow in the second term if yes men who will say whatever the White House deems convenient are confirmed. In Obama’s determination to create a Cabinet of weaklings with a history of bad judgment and highly questionable executive skills, he increases the chances of Clinton-like failures.


    Read the whole piece over at the Washington Post.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Colin Powell: Please Shut the F*ck Up and Stop Embarrassing Yourself

    January 16, 2013 // 29 Comments »

    Colin Powell, you need to shut the fuck up. Like Grandpa Simpson, every time you open your mouth you just embarrass yourself and demean all around you. Your time is done. Let the nurse change your diaper without fussing and just watch Matlock on TBS until you wither fully away.

    Colin emerged from the land of creamed corn and denture adhesives to cast a shadow on the Sunday talk shows. He said this about Hillary Clinton and the deaths of four Americans at Benghazi:

    I think she’s had a distinguished record. And I don’t think that this one incident–which is one of these things that those of us in government have been through many, many times where suddenly an action happens late at night … I don’t think it’s a blot on her record.

    You’re surprised. Somebody gets killed, something gets blown up. And then the after-action reports start and everybody wants to know who was at fault. Who was responsible? ‘Why didn’t you keep this from happening?’ Well, you can’t keep everything from happening. Benghazi was a very, very difficult one and a difficult situation, and maybe they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.


    The reader is reminded that Hillary Clinton was the head of the organization that placed those Americans where, in Colin’s words, “maybe they shouldn’t have been there in the first place” and thus might, oh, I don’t know, have some responsibility for what happened. Colin, who likely can’t read anymore even with his damn glasses, wherever the hell he left them, might also recall that the State Department’s own report on Benghazi found “a lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection.” Since Slick Hilly was head of the pack that showed such poor leadership, maybe she had some responsibility?

    Nothing New for Colin Powell

    But of course not being responsible for the deaths of others is Colin’s specialty, actually the hallmark of his career.

    Colin Powell, as Secretary of State, lent his considerable credibility and gravitas to the case for war with Iraq.
    Powell spoke publicly before the UN General Assembly, and privately in depth with America’s allies, about mobile biowar labs, weapons of mass destruction and the imminent danger Saddam Hussein posed. While many people considered Bush an idiot puppet, and Cheney and Rumsfeld psychopathic fibbers, Powell convincingly represented the United States’ case for war. Of course, everything Powell said was a lie. Pimping his book Colin told all (like Benghazi, it was just a “blot”):

    A blot, a failure will always be attached to me and my UN presentation. I am mad mostly at myself for not having smelled the problem. My instincts failed me. There is nothing worse than a leader believing he has accurate information when folks who know he doesn’t don’t tell him that he doesn’t.

    So why did no one stand up and speak out during the intense hours we worked on the speech? Some of these same analysts later wrote books claiming they were shocked that I have relied on such deeply flawed evidence. Try to get over failure quickly. Learn from it. Study how you contributed to it. If you are responsible, own up to it.


    And My Lai Just Happened Too

    Colin famously served in America’s retro-war of choice, Vietnam. He was charged with investigating the My Lai Massacre. Powell wrote: “In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.” Later, Powell’s assessment would be described as whitewashing the massacre. Almost rehearsing his Hillary lines to the very word, in May 2004 Powell told radio host Larry King, “I mean, I was in a unit that was responsible for My Lai. I got there after My Lai happened. So, in war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again, but they are still to be deplored.”

    Birds of a Feather

    So it is no real surprise that Colin Powell, who took no responsibility for helping America into a horrible war with Iraq, is now dragged out of the retirement home toilet to tell us that Hillary also has no responsibility for the stuff that just kinda happens out there when you go intervening around the world. And hey, in Colin’s own words, you’d be surprised when people want to know who is responsible for the deaths of their sons and daughters. Gosh golly, why would anyone want to know who was responsible for just a blot? And why are we still listening to has-beens like Colin? Have we run out of Kardashians to interview? Do we have to wait for some pathetic sex scandal until we can heap Colin into the dust-bin of once-media-superheroes alongside Petraeus and Lance Armstrong? Colin and Hillary together, what a pair, which is good because without her Colin does not have one.

    Thanks Colin, for all your blots service. Now go away you tired old man. Meanwhile, let’s watch this:





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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Lamb to Slaughter: Benghazi, Cheryl Mills and Hillary Clinton

    January 4, 2013 // 11 Comments »


    An interesting bit of information, unconfirmed, raises new questions about how close Hillary was to the Benghazi decisions and decision-makers. Here is what we have:

    Lamb to the Slaughter

    One of the high level employees who was reassigned/resigned/was terminated because of Benghazi was Charlene Lamb.

    Ms. Lamb’s initial appointment to her position in Diplomatic Security was opposed by a number of career Department of State employees, we are told. Her biography has been disappeared from the State Department web site but is still alive in the Cloud.

    Sources inside State say objections to Lamb’s hiring were at the time overridden by Cheryl Mills, the Number 4 at State. Ms. Mills is a Clinton political appointee (see below).

    As a result, Lamb was terminated in order to prevent the inquiry from reaching higher, into the Secretary of State’s offices, where one could point the finger at Clinton for insisting on Lamb. Lamb in kind took the fall for Clinton, in what one commentator called a “bureaucratic firewall.”

    As we now know, the Benghazi facilities were CIA, and not State Department, offices. There were no permanent State Department employees assigned to either building in that city. State merely provided the cover story on the ground, over the air via Susan Rice’s lies about that stupid anti-Islam video, and now in person as Congress looks for someone to blame so this can all just go away.


    Where was Hillary?

    Lamb being disappeared also closes off a line of inquiry into exactly what Clinton was doing the night of the attack on Benghazi.

    Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb testified that on September 11, after the “full-scale assault” in Libya — “unprecedented in its size and intensity” — began about 9:40 p.m. Libyan time (4:40 p.m. Washington time), she was “in our Diplomatic Security Command Center [in Washington] monitoring multiple open lines with our agents [in Libya] for much of the attack.”

    A few days later a CNN reporter asked Hillary Clinton what she was doing as the attack occurred, and Clinton responded with a 400-word answer that avoided the question. Here is part:

    QUESTION: … could you tell us a little bit about what you were doing when that attack actually happened? I know Charlene Lamb, who as the State Department official, was mentioning that she back here in Washington was monitoring electronically from that post what was happening in real time. Could you tell us what you were doing? Were you watching? Were you talking with the President? Any details about that, please.

    SECRETARY CLINTON: … I think that it is very important to recognize that we have an investigation going on… So that’s what an investigative process is designed to do: to try to sort through all of the information, some of it contradictory and conflicting… So I’m going to be, as I have been from the very beginning, cooperating fully with the investigations that are ongoing, because nobody wants to know more about what happened and why than I do. And I think I’ll leave it at that.

    QUESTION: Mrs. Secretary, if you could, the question was –

    SECRETARY CLINTON: I know, but I’m going to leave it at that.

    Later that same day, the State Department spokesperson was asked why Clinton hadn’t answered, and provided this response:

    As you know, she’s not that interested in focusing on herself. But obviously, she was here very late that night. She was getting regular updates from both the DS Command Center and the senior NEA leadership in the building, she was making phone calls to senior people, and so she was obviously very much involved. But I think she was not interested in sort of giving a personal tick-tock. It’s not the way she operates.


    Who is Cheryl Mills?

    Cheryl Mills is an interesting person to have her name pop up in connection with covering Clinton’s role in Benghazi. As deputy counsel, Mills sat at the epicenter of the scandals in the Clinton White House for seven years, eventually delivering an impassioned defense of the president during his 1999 impeachment trial. Mills left the White House soon after, but her performance earned her a place in the hearts of the former president and his wife. When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pursued the presidency almost a decade later, she tapped Mills to be her senior adviser and counsel on the campaign. As her campaign imploded, Mills acted as a de-facto crisis manager.

    The Washington Post describes Mills as “close with many of the women in “Hillaryland,” including Ambassador-at-Large for Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer; senior adviser to Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Health Reform Neera Tanden and Judith McHale, undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs.”

    Quick Summary

    David Petraeus, head of the CIA when its offices were overrun in Benghazi, is gone, victim of an FBI email love-trap sting that still makes little sense except as a political assassination. We won’t be hearing from him. Susan Rice, who was voted to try and pass off some lies about an anti-Islam movie to cover this all up, was thrown under the bus and we won’t be hearing from her again. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State at the epicenter, has been incommunicado for over a month with a series of excuses and will be resigning soon.

    Why is it so hard to learn answers to some very basic questions about the decision-making behind Benghazi?




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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Slick Hilly Now Sick in Hospital

    December 31, 2012 // 15 Comments »

    Lingering Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has not been seen in public and who has not commented substantively about the report blaming State Department leadership failures for the deaths of four Americas in Benghazi (below) since early December, was hospitalized Sunday after doctors discovered a blood clot during a follow-up exam related to a concussion she suffered this month, her spokesman said.

    Clinton, who missed several opportunities to speak publicly about Benghazi, including most recently due to a leisurely three week recovery from a self-inflicted concussion, is now off-line once again. Her hospitalization raises new doubts that she will ever testify before Congress.

    C’mon you guys, she’s in the hospital and all now, this is serious for realz! You could make fun when she was just recovering at home but now it’s mean and inappropriate!111!

    OK, OK, while of course we all wish a swift recovery for America’s Sweetheart, we can’t help but wonder, coincidences being what they are, about the future. Too sick to testify? Sure, of course, get well soon. But questions about an older person’s ability to serve as president four accident-prone years in the future? Naw, no problem.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Benghazi Deaths: Gosh Darn, No One Really at Fault

    December 19, 2012 // 25 Comments »

    The State Department’s own version of reality in Benghazi, the Accountability Review Board (ARB) report, is ever so predictable. The report took close to three months to complete, conveniently bypassing the election to come out in the news doldrums of Christmas time. As could have been predicted, the report finds no one at State to blame really, at least not in an actionable way, and requests more money for the State Department.

    UPDATED: Only the head of State’s Diplomatic Security Bureau “resigned” (i.e., retire earlier than planned with full benefits and no official blot on his record), showing he has a micron more sense of responsibility than the people who drafted the report and, of course, the concussive-but-missing-in-action Secretary of State.

    The other three State Department officials who supposedly “resigned” over the Benghazi incident have merely been given different jobs within the State Department. The three are all relatively low-ranking employees; their names were withheld from the released version of the report and are only reported in the classified version, even though none of the three works undercover or anything like it. The classification is just to avoid embarrassing anyone.

    Money

    As always, State misses no chance to repurpose failure and tragedy (as with Iraq) into a request for more funding. The ARB report says:

    The solution requires a more serious and sustained commitment from Congress to support State Department needs, which, in total, constitute a small percentage both of the full national budget and that spent for national security. One overall conclusion in this report is that Congress must do its part to meet this challenge and provide necessary resources to the State Department to address security risks and meet mission imperatives.


    Who’s in Charge?

    The report has a few comments on leadership at State:

    Communication, cooperation, and coordination among Washington, Tripoli, and Benghazi functioned collegially at the working-level but were constrained by a lack of transparency, responsiveness, and leadership at the senior levels. Among various Department bureaus and personnel in the field, there appeared to be very real confusion over who, ultimately, was responsible and empowered to make decisions based on both policy and security considerations.

    The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection.


    Pretty damning stuff, right? Heads will roll? After all, four Americans were killed. But wait for the conclusion:

    However, the Board did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty.


    Though the ARB report does sort of, maybe a little, touch on the real issue here:

    The Board recognizes that poor performance does not ordinarily constitute a breach of duty that would serve as a basis for disciplinary action but is instead addressed through the performance management system. However, the Board is of the view that findings of unsatisfactory leadership performance by senior officials in relation to the security incident under review should be a potential basis for discipline recommendations by future ARBs, and would recommend a revision of Department regulations or amendment to the relevant statute to this end.


    The Money Shot

    Your State Department in a nutshell: A report that concludes “poor performance” alone is grounds for, well, not much, even when that level of poor performance falls to lethal levels. Best thing to do is revise some internal rules. Meanwhile, four people are dead, leadership in disarray but really, no one will officially take any fall for any of this. Senior leadership problems point to a failure to lead even higher up (the buck stops where?) but the only person who said she would take responsibility for what happened in Benghazi, the Secretary of State herself, is not mentioned in the report and won’t even appear before Congress to talk about it because she is in bed after “falling down” at home. Add in a couple of symbolic resignations without penalty and stick a fork in it, ’cause this one’s done babies. Now, about Hillary’s Nobel prize… too early?

    Seriously, about Hillary. Let’s assume it is true she fell down and hit her head a few days ago. Why can’t she make a public statement? Is she tied to a bed? On life support? Will it all magically be OK in a couple of days (after the hearings and news cycle?) She’s working from home we’re told, not in a hospital, so it is not that serious. NFL players get concussions and are back in the game. Really really really Hillary just can’t say ANYTHING? I am not a conspiracy monger but c’mon, this s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s disbelief just a bit much.

    Representative Allen West from Florida christened Hillary’s headache as the “Benghazi Flu,” and said “I don’t think that this should become the new normal and next thing you know four years from now we have Hillary Clinton running for president when we had this death of the ambassador” and others.



    Now, let’s watch Ambassador Chris Stevens’ body get dragged out of the Benghazi office and remember how no one will suffer, except him, for all this:




    You can read the entire steaming pile of self-cover up here if you’re having trouble sleeping for some reason, such as, perhaps Mrs. Clinton, guilt?




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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Hillary Calls in Sick on Benghazi

    December 17, 2012 // 15 Comments »

    Or will she go all-out and claim total amnesia?

    Hillary, now suffering from a self-inflicted concussion, dodges for the fifth time publicly testifying about the disaster in Benghazi. 2016 baby!

    Here is the piece-de-resistance de Clinton:

    Hillary Ducks Once

    Right after the attacks in Benghazi, when the US Government was still trying to sell the lie that it was all because of that dumb anti-Islam movie, Clinton did not go on the Sunday talk shows, Unter Fuhrer Susan Rice did it. And hey, Susan, how’d that work out for ya?

    Hillary Ducks Twice

    Then, just prior to the re-election of Barack Obama, lickspittle Hillary proudly proclaimed that she would assume full responsibility for what happened in Benghazi without actually saying or doing anything.

    Hillary Ducks a Third Time

    But, then she didn’t show up for the first round of Congressional hearings in November. Because she was “traveling.”

    MS. NULAND: Matt, they’ve asked for closed hearings, closed briefings; that’s what we’re complying with.

    QUESTION: The Secretary won’t appear before any of these committees?

    MS. NULAND: The Secretary has not been asked to appear. They’ve asked for the individuals that are coming.

    QUESTION: Would she be willing to fly back from Australia to appear?

    MS. NULAND: Again, she has not been asked to appear. She was asked to appear at House Foreign Affairs next week, and we have written back to the Chairman to say that she’ll be on travel next week.


    Hillary Ducks a Fourth Time

    So with the election now history, Congress scheduled some more hearings on Benghazi for December 20. Clinton was scheduled to appear and testify. But then we learned that State’s own internal report on the death of one of its ambassador’s abroad would be delayed and well, maybe Hillary would not be available. She is also listed as sole witness on the 9:00 am, December 20, hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Benghazi: The Attack and the Lessons Learned.

    But then, maybe Hillary would not be available to testify. Here’s the exchange:

    MS. NULAND: Again, the Hill has talked about a planning date on the calendar. That presumes that the ARB is finished. I don’t have any dates – any schedule of the Secretary’s to announce here. It’s dependent upon events between now and then.

    QUESTION: She hasn’t committed to testify?

    MS. NULAND: Again, it’s dependent on the work being finished. Okay?

    QUESTION: Are you aware that Senator Kerry announced that she will testify next Thursday?

    MS. NULAND: She has made clear that when the work is ready, she will go consult with Congress on it. And that’s a commitment she’s made, and she intends to keep it.


    Hillary Ducks a Fifth Time

    Well, because that lame prevarication was not enough, just the other day Hillary announced that she had the flu, and would need to cancel some travel and work from home for a full week (government employees get great sick leave benefits). And since that excuse did not seem, um, sympathetic enough when most Americans are forced to go to work no matter how sick they are, we learned that Hils got dehydrated, passed out, hit her head and got a concussion!

    One More Time?

    Update: “She looks forward to continuing to engage with them in January and she will be open to whatever they consider appropriate in that regard,” Spokesdrone Nuland said following the concussion.



    And We’re Spent

    She will thus not be able to testify before the Senate on December 20. Of course we then plunge into Christmas, New Years and poof! before you know it Hillary’s time is up, John Kerry is sworn in as Secretary of State and we are all told we are looking forward, not backward.

    The upshot of all this is that Hillary ends her term as SecState without any naughty video of her fibbing about Benghazi to follow her into the history books.

    Or into 2016.



    Note: Of course I am not implying that Hillary is faking her concussion for personal political gain. All of us here at We Meant Well wish her a quick recovery, and a joyous holiday. We join in thanking her for her tireless service to America and hope she and her staff are feeling well soon.



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    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Petraeus, Hillary, Benghazi and WTF

    November 13, 2012 // 13 Comments »


    While the hearings on what happened in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and elsewhere on the Hill this week are being held behind closed doors, and while SecState-in-Wanting John Kerry as chair is on board to make sure nothing too bad happens, what we do know continues to suggest the cesspool in Washington has no bottom.



    Exit Petraeus

    David Petraeus’ political assassination last week has taken him off the stage as effectively as any sniper’s round. Conveniently timed to drop just a few days after Obama’s re-election (and on a Friday before a three day weekend to boot, sorry Mitt), in one fell swoop a fall guy is crowned for whatever went wrong in Benghazi, Hillary’s virgin status is preserved for 2016 and at no extra charge a potential Republican candidate is shredded. Not a bad day’s work for our FBI. And of course, most immediately, Petraeus won’t be allowed to testify before the Senate to cover his own philandering butt on Libya. People have learned a lot about how to do these kinds of things since the messy demise of Vince Foster.

    New CIA Renditions?

    As part of the gift that seems to keep giving, we now can go back and examine Petraeus’ snooki, Paula Broadwell, and see what she has been saying in new light. Overnight she has gone from pretend journalist to oracle into the deepest secrets at the CIA. And what might those be?

    How about this: On October 26 Broadwell told an audience at the University of Denver that the CIA annex at the Benghazi consulate came under assault on September 11 because it had earlier “taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back.”

    Another source says that prisoners from additional countries in Africa and the Middle East were also brought to the CIA’s Benghazi location. CIA, as expected, denies everything.

    Woooo, holy mother of Christ on toast! Knowing now that Broadwell had access to Petraeus’ top secret pillow talk, her “speculative” statement becomes serious stuff. It tells us without a doubt that the September attack was aimed at the CIA (which this blog called way back then without having to had slept with anyone) not Ambassador Stevens, that the White House and Susan Rice damn well knew the attack was unrelated to the anti-Muslim video and worst of all, that the CIA is back in/still in the kidnapping and rendition business.

    The latter is major stuff people. The CIA was kidnapping dudes in Libya? To do what with them? Torture/interrogate them locally and then release them? Render them to some outside secret site? What other sites? What the hell are those bad boys (still) doing in our name?

    Where in the World is Hillary?

    Just prior to the re-election of Barack Obama, lickspittle Hillary proudly proclaimed that she would assume full responsibility for what happened in Benghazi.

    So with that statement of full responsibility, one would assume that Hillary will be up on the Hill this week, adding her insight and responsibility into the Senate’s Libya hearings, right?

    Wrong Skippy.

    Hillary is off to Australia to pimp for money to prop up America’s overweight defense structure in Asia. And don’t ask her for next week either, because she’ll be “on travel.” And also don’t expect to hear any testimony from any Libyans, either.

    From Friday’s State Department press briefing:

    MS. NULAND: Matt, they’ve asked for closed hearings, closed briefings; that’s what we’re complying with.

    QUESTION: The Secretary won’t appear before any of these committees?

    MS. NULAND: The Secretary has not been asked to appear. They’ve asked for the individuals that are coming.

    QUESTION: Would she be willing to fly back from Australia to appear?

    MS. NULAND: Again, she has not been asked to appear. She was asked to appear at House Foreign Affairs next week, and we have written back to the Chairman to say that she’ll be on travel next week.

    QUESTION: Are you aware that any Libyans will be called to the hearings to be talked to?

    MS. NULAND: That sounds like a question for the Hill. I’m not aware of any panels other than the government panels.

    QUESTION: But you have not been asked to facilitate any visas or anything like this for –

    MS. NULAND: To my knowledge, no.

    QUESTION: — maybe some Libyan officials?

    MS. NULAND: No.


    As a public service, looking ahead to the Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016, opposition researchers are invited to bookmark this page.




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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    One of These Things is Not Like the Other

    October 25, 2012 // 6 Comments »

    (no link to source, fact or why anyone would say this unless tripping on bad mushrooms)




    Source material: US denied access to terror suspect tied to Libya attacks

    BONUS! Spelunking down into the Susan Rice Twitter stream, one notices that a) all of her Tweets regarding how the Benghazi Consulate attack was related to that anti-Islam video have been deleted and b) Rice follows the Obama for President political campaign Tweets but not the Romney political campaign Tweets, which seems to say something about whether she thinks she represents “America” at the UN or the Obama Campaign. This also seems at variance with the Hatch Act.

    Hah hah, fooled you. Susan Rice only cares about representing Susan Rice’s political future and could give a flying f*ck for American or the Obama Campaign.


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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

    Ambassador Stevens in Libya: Just Wrong (CIA) Place, Wrong Time?

    September 26, 2012 // 7 Comments »

    A blind man in the dark with ear muffs on knows that something happened in Benghazi, Libya more than a spontaneous angry mob pissed off over a Grade Z video attacked an American Consulate and killed the US Ambassador to Libya.

    I hate internet conspiracy theories, and loathe slinging a new one into the mix, but the evidence available adds up one way: the attack, well-planned, was surgical payback for CIA activity in the area. Stevens wasn’t the target at all, he was just a celebrity in the wrong place at the wrong time. The guff about the dumb Prophet movie was the first cover story for the US Government and when that fell apart like cardboard in the rain, the State Department shifted the meme to flag waving over Stevens’ death.

    Let’s see what we know:

    – The attack was not spontaneous. It involved a large number of men, perhaps as many as 125, fighting in a coordinated fashion, using weapons such as RPGs and mortars on multiple targets. Yes, yes, lots of people carry guns around Libya, but not RPGs and certainly not crew served weapons like mortars. It appears also that the so-called Libyan security forces assigned to protect the Consulate either conveniently disappeared on cue or saw the smack coming down and ran to save themselves. This information is widely available from media outside the US, but scare in US media sources for some reason.

    – The attack did not target Stevens. Indeed, famously, his body was only pulled from the ruins of the Consulate by a secondary crowd. Whether the crowd abused the body or dragged it to a hospital, it clearly had no idea or concern for who it held. The Consulate attackers went for documents, and ignored the Ambassador. Stevens just happened to be there, wrong place, wrong time.

    Half the US personnel evacuated out of Benghazi were CIA. While it is common knowledge that the CIA stations personnel abroad, it seems very unusual to have half a mission’s complement to be Agency. The New York Times reports that though the Agency has been cooperating with the new post-Qaddafi Libyan intelligence service, the size of the CIA’s presence in Benghazi apparently surprised some Libyan leaders. The deputy prime minister, Mustafa Abushagour, was quoted in The Wall Street Journal last week saying that he learned about some of the delicate American operations in Benghazi only after the attack on the mission, in large part because a surprisingly large number of Americans showed up at the Benghazi airport to be evacuated.

    – In its reporting on the large number of CIA personnel in Benghazi, the New York Times agreed to withhold locations and details of Agency operations at the request of Obama administration officials, who said that disclosing such information could jeopardize future sensitive government activities and put at risk American personnel working in dangerous settings.

    – The UK’s Independent noted that the Consulate attackers made off with documents listing names of Libyans who were working with Americans, and documents related to oil contracts. This strongly suggests the attack itself may have been a diversion to steal these documents and the Ambassador’s death, in U.S. terms, merely collateral damage. The organized attacking mob did not seem to be primarily interested in looting or stealing computer stuff.

    – Many wondered why the media was reporting from early on the deaths of four Americans at the Benghazi Consulate, while Clinton continuously only mentioned two (Ambassador Stevens and computer person Sean Smith). Well, that’s because she did not want to tell us that the other two who lost their lives were “former” Navy SEALS now acting as State Department “contractors.” Even when Clinton finally acknowledged the SEALS’ deaths following widespread press reports, she only mentioned that one’s role was as security for the Ambassador.

    Clinton pointedly did not mention what the other SEAL was doing in Libya. That is because the other deceased man was in Libya on an intel mission. The SEAL told ABC News that he was in Libya in the field tracking down and blowing up MANPADS, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. The US saw its way to allowing those weapons to be used against Qaddafi and now wants to take them back so they are not used against us. Such ops are not State Department work and fall cleanly into CIA territory.

    – The State Department’s curious mix up over who was providing security at the Benghazi Consulate also may point toward other US government Agencies. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland initially said “at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya,” while federal procurement records easily Googleable showed a contract for “security guards and patrol services” on May 3 for $387,413.68. An extension option brought the tab for protecting the consulate to $783,000. The contract lists only “foreign security awardees” as its recipient. Was typically fastidious Nuland’s wrong answer simply because she was misbriefed, or was it in fact an honest answer, that the guards were not State Department contractors at all?

    According to Danger Room, the State Department frequently hires security companies to protect diplomats in conflict zones. It usually is done through what’s known as the Worldwide Protective Services contract, in which a handful of approved firms compete to safeguard specific diplomatic installations.

    In 2010, State selected eight firms for the most recent contract. Blue Mountain wasn’t among them, and the State Department did not explain why the Benghazi consulate contract did not go to one of those eight firms. How the State Department could have even hired a foreign firm outside that blanket contract is unclear. State’s Inspector General had criticized State’s management of personnel security firms, so unilaterally expanding the pool just for one Libyan Consulate seems off base.

    – The US government has had a heck of a time getting its story straight over what happened in Benghazi, most famously in sending UN ambassador and attack dog Susan Rice around to claim the attack was purely spontaneous even as the White House backed away from the idea. We’ve already mentioned Clinton’s duplicity over the identities and roles of the two deceased American “ex-” SEALS. Even long-time State drone Patrick Kennedy, Under-Secretary at the State Department, said at one point he was convinced the assault was planned due to its extensive nature and the proliferation of weapons.

    BuzzFeed sums up by saying:

    The election-year focus on President Barack Obama meant that the White House had at first been catching most of the heat for the tragedy in Benghazi. It’s certainly true the explanations from White House spokesman Jay Carney and UN Ambassador Susan Rice have strained common sense — mainly, the idea that the attack could be blamed solely on an anti-Islamic video, and that there was a protest outside the consulate at 10 p.m. (there reportedly wasn’t,) among other misleading details. That initial story has crumbled, and it took Robert Gibbs to get the Obama administration back on message on the Sunday shows.


    State’s later calling reporter Michael Hastings an “asshole” and telling him to “fuck off” in relation to CNN’s use of Ambassador Steven’s found diary just adds fuel to the make-it-up-as-you-go-along nature of all this.


    – Of course, there is a sort of precedent for this, most famously in 1991 when the KGB used a fire in the US Embassy in Moscow as a cover to roam around the building collecting documents,


    Look, if all you have to do is tell the truth, it is pretty easy. Making up a cover story on the fly requires revisions. It may not be in our lifetimes that we learn what really happened in Libya, but something more than just a protest gone wild did happen.



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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

    Posted in Embassy/State, Libya

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