Posts Tagged ‘Guardian’

All Eyes on Benghazi: The Petraeus Affair, Allen’s e-mails, and other distractions

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Marcellus; “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
–Hamlet, Act I, Scene 4, 87-91

If President Barack Obama had schemed with his closest confidantes to come up with a set of diversions that could distract journalists’ and the nation’s attention from the colossal national security failures which occurred at Benghazi on September 11-12, he could not have come up with a better narrative than the Petraeus affair, including the latter’s liaison with Paula Broadwell and General John Allen’s relationship with Broadwell’s nemesis, Jill Kelly.

Yet as salacious and suspenseful as the unraveling of the downfall of David Petraeus may be, the gravity of matters of state requires that we maintain our attention intently focused on what happened before, during, and after the events in Benghazi on September 11-12.

Petraeus’ testimony to Congress about Benghazi would have been riveting. Instead, he was forced out between Tuesday, November 6, and Friday, November 9.

Why? Who did the pushing? Are we to really believe that James Clapper prevailed on Petraeus to resign without running it by Obama first?

Observe closely the following chronology of events:

1.  Petraeus traveled to Libya within the last few weeks to meet with the CIA station chief, and would have brought this first hand information to the Congressional hearings at which he was to testify this week, beginning November 13, had he not been forced out.

2.  The FBI concluded that no security issue arose and no crime had been committed by either David Petraeus or Paula Broadwell, and communicated to them in late October that there would not be any further pursuit of the investigation.

3.  Nonetheless, around 5:00 p.m. on the evening of November 6, someone at the FBI reportedly called James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence and Petraeus’ immediate superior, to inform him that Petraeus had had an affair with Broadwell.

Who made this call? Why, and on whose direction was the call made?

4. Clapper then called Petraeus later Tuesday evening (November 6), and informed him of the call from the FBI. In that call or in a subsequent call on Wednesday morning, Clapper urged Petraeus to resign.

See

“Timeline of events surrounding CIA Director Petraeus’ resignation”, Reuters, November 11, 2012.

P. J. Tobia, “Timeline of Events Revolving Around Gen. David Petraeus’ Resignation,” PBS Newshour, November 12, 2012.

Heidi Moore, “Petraeus scandal: a readers’ guide to the clandestine soap opera and its cast; As the story entangles more characters, use our guide to keep track of the details that would make a TV writer’s head spin, ” The Guardian, November 14, 2012 (11:23 EST).

Clapper, as Director of National Intelligence overseeing 16 intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the FBI, the DIA, and the NSA, was Petraeus’ immediate superior.

5.  On Wednesday, Clapper called an official at the National Security Council (probably Donilon) and told him of the affair and that Petraeus was likely to resign.

6.  On Wednesday Petraeus reportedly called Tom Donilon, the President’s National Security Adviser, and requested an appointment with the President.

7. Petraeus met with President Obama on Thursday and offered his resignation.

8. On Friday, November 9, Obama called Petraeus and accepted his resignation.

Aside from the palace intrigue surrounding Obama and his national security team, the central importance of Petraeus is that he promised to be a witness before Congress who could tell the nation what really happened at Benghazi before and on the night of September 11-12.

The following questions are of critical importance, and deserve the highest priority from investigative reporters–and urgent answers:

1. Did the CIA alone prepare the talking points to prepare Susan Rice before she went on the Sunday talk shows on October 16, to give the impression the government believed the attack in Benghazi grew out of a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Muslim film which, as the administration knew then, never occurred?  What was the motive behind providing this information? Who in the CIA, at the direction of whom, prepared and presented these talking points to Rice?  Did Whit House officials have a hand in preparing the talking points?

Are we to believe that Rice, now reported on background to be Obama’s choice for Secretary of State, blindly relied on these talking points, and did not check with officials in the State Department to learn their version of events? Was Obama involved in any way with the decisions that led her to present the story to the talk shows that the attack grew out of a demonstration against the anti-Muslim film?

2. Did Petraeus and/or President Obama participate in the decisions about whether the CIA security forces at the Annex should come to the rescue of the Ambassador and others at the consulate? What was the precise timing of those decisions? Did Obama make other decisions not to send more robust assistance to defend the consulate? At what time did the attack on the consulate begin?

3. What role did Africa Command (Africom) commander General Carter Ham play in efforts to send backup security or military forces to defend the consulate and annex in Benghazi? Why was the fact that he was to be replaced suddenly and unexpectedly announced on October 18, only a year and a half after beginning the assignment? What were the reasons that led General Ham on October 30 to announce his retirement? If, as has been rumored, he disobeyed an order to stand down, why wasn’t he immediately fired, and then prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice?

4. Were there naval units in the region that might have dispatched forces to defend the consulate and annex in Benghazi? If so, why were they not used to come to the aid of Christopher Stevens and the other Americans at the consulate and the Annex?

5.  What is the explanation for the rescue force arriving at the airport and being held for hours before they were able to get through immigration?

6.  Finally, the elephant in the room, which journalists seem afraid to touch:  What were the CIA agents at the annex doing there?

The Trenchant Observer

The Human Cost: Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #3 (April 26)

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

While the international coaltion hesitates to take decisive action to remove Qaddafi from power, the human cost rises.

Qaddafi’s forces unleased artillery attacks on Misrata’s civilian population Tuesday, with devastating effect. The following dispatch gives you a sense of what these words mean, in human terms. See

Charles Livingston (Misrata) and Richard Boudreaux (Tripoli), “Rebel Gains Fail to End Siege of Libyan City–Opposition Triumph Is Followed by Shelling of Civilians in Misrata; NATO Strikes Gadhafi Compound, Escalating Campaign,” Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2011.

For a critique of Obama’s foreign-policy decision making style, which has led to the current debacle in Libya, see

Michael Gerson, “Obama’s serial indecision on the Middle East,”
Washington Post, April 26, 2011.

In an op-ed in the New York Times this morning, James M. Dubik draws attention to the very obvious need for U.S. leadership in the Libyan campaign, as follows:

In war, leadership is not exercised from the rear by those who seek to risk as little as possible. Washington must stop pretending that we’ve passed the leadership for the Libyan operation on to NATO. We did so in Bosnia, claiming Europe would take the lead, only to have the 1995 Srebrenica genocide jolt us back to reality. Like it or not, America’s leadership has been crucial to most of NATO’s successes. The same will be true in Libya (emphasis added).

–James M. Dubik, “Finish the Job,” New York Times, April 25, 2011 (op-ed).

You almost have to pinch yourself in the arm to realize that the coalition acting against Qaddafi is comprised of the strongest military alliance in the world, plus other countries from the region.

Could U.S. leadership make a difference in the results, and the time and lost lives required to achieve them?

We may never know.

What is certain, however, is that the Republicans will use Obama’s “leadership…from the rear by (one) who seek(s) to risk as little as possible” against him in the 2012 presidential campaign.

The Trenchant Observer

Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #2 (April 23)

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Qaddafi’s troops are reported to have withdrawn from the siege of Misurata. See

Charles Levinson (Misrata), “Libyan Rebels Drive Army Out of Misrata,” Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2011.

Juan Miguel Muñoz (Bangasí / Enviado Especial) / agencias, “Las tropas de Gadafi se retiran de Misrata tras casi dos meses de ofensiva: Un portavoz rebelde confirma el giro en la estrategia de guerra del régimen libio, acuciado por los bombardeos de la OTAN,” 23 de abril de 2011.

Xan Rice (Misrata) “Libya: ‘If people in Misrata put down their guns, Gaddafi will kill all of us’: More than 1,000 people have died in Misrata since protests began in February, but its volunteer fighters remain defiant,” The Guardian (guardian.co.uk), April 23, 2011.

The breaking of the siege of Misurata is a very significant victory for the insurgents in Libya.

Possibly, it could be a turning point. But the need for foreign troops on the ground to end the assault on civilians by Qaddafi and his forces can not be excluded.

It is clear that the civilian population of Libya will not be secure from the bombardment of civilian populations, assassinations by snipers, extrajudicial killings throughout Libya, and being tracked down one-by-one by Qaddafi’s state security forces, often in the still of the night, until he is prevented from committing further war crimes and crimes against humanity by being removed from power.

The Trenchant Observer

Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #1 (April 22)

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

For vivid accounts of what is happening right now in Misurata, see

Andrew Malone, “The moment a Libyan sniper targeted two Mailmen, firing a bullet that tore into rebel guide’s side,” The Daily Mail, April 22, 2011.

Xan Rice, “Misrata rebels strike back against Gaddafi snipers: Libya rebels seize tallest buildings, favoured by pro-Gaddafi snipers,” The Guardian, April 22, 2011.

For an overview of the current situation, by the reporter providing perhaps the best day-to-day coverage of the war, see

Juan Miguel Muñoz, “La guerra de Libia se eterniza: Occidente descarta el desplome inmediato del régimen de Muamar el Gadafi — Los rebeldes resisten, pero no logran victorias para cambiar el curso bélico,” El País, April 22, 2011.

(The article can be translated by Google translate, at the bottom of this page.)

The U.S. has decided to send two drone aircraft to be used over Libya, but it is highly doubtful they they alone can turn the tide.

Security Council Resolution 1973 authorizes the use of “all necessary measures” to protect the civilian population of Libya. That includes the use of ground troops if necessary. It is the text of the Seurity Council resolution that has binding force. Consequently, any country is legally authorized to send ground troops into Libya to protect the civilian population, if it so decides.

Too little attention has been given by the nations of the world to the risks of failing to halt the attacks on civilians in Libya.

Coaltion governments agonize over the risk of inflicting civilian damage and hesitate to act, while hundreds of civilians die.

That is the collateral damage to the civilian population that the failure to act decisively has caused.

Senator McCain is in Libya urging stronger action, and also laying the foundation for a Republican campaign argument in 2012 that Obama is a weak leader on the international stage. In Libya, he stated,

“It is still incredibly puzzling to me that the two most accurate close air support weapons systems, the A-10 and the AC-130, have been taken out of the fight,” he said.

“I just came from a hospital where I saw the dead and dying, and it argues for us to help them and to get this thing over with and Gaddafi out.”

–Michael Brissenden, “McCain visits Libya to support rebels,” ABC News, April 22, 2011

So far, Obama’s debacle in Libia continues, unabated.

The Trenchant Observer