Streetwise Professor

May 7, 2013

At Dusk We Slept

Filed under: Military,Politics — The Professor @ 7:57 pm

Benghazi is beginning to resemble some horror movie monster.  Obama, Hillary, and the rest of the administration had thought that they had killed it-with the active connivance of the media.  But the supposedly dead creature is coming back to life.

The cause of its rejuvenation is the testimony of 3 “whistleblowers” whose accounts flatly contradict every aspect of the Party Line.

The most eye-opening revelation was by deputy mission chief in Libya, Gregory Hicks.  Not only did he claim that he believed that the assault in Benghazi was a terrorist operation “from the get go”, he also revealed that a Special Operations team in Tripoli was denied permission to fly to Benghazi.  This flatly contradicts claims that no “stand down” order was ever given.  (Though I should note that the claim is that the “White House” gave no such order.  That does not mean DoD or the AFRICOM commander, General Ham, gave no such order.)

l had immediately discounted the account (given to Fox News) of an alleged Special Operations individual that a Special Operations team training in Croatia could have been deployed in time.  And others more knowledgeable than I discount this as bulls*t. But Tripoli is a totally different matter.  This revelation is like a bolt from the blue: there had never been any mention, to my recollection, of US operators in Tripoli.

So why weren’t they deployed?  This is the heart of the debacle, IMO.  Hicks also testified that no air assets-zero, zip, nada-were available to attack in Benghazi.  There were F-16s in Aviano, in Italy, but no tankers available to refuel them. I think that the Pentagon or General Ham was loath to reinforce failure, and to put a Special Operations team into an area taking mortar and heavy weapons fire, and under assault from a large number of insurgents, without air support.

As a tactical decision, this makes sense.  But it just emphasizes the prior, criminal failure.  A failure to have contingency plans in place, and the means available to carry them out, in the event that Benghazi was attacked.  It is said of our unpreparedness at Pearl Harbor: “At dawn we slept.”  In Benghazi, it can be said of our unpreparedness: “At dusk we slept.”

This is particularly criminal given two facts about Benghazi.  First, it was an Al Qaeda snakepit.  Second, the US was clearly up to something in Benghazi.  Something involving weapons: no, not smuggling them to rebels in Syria, but trying to collect them to keep them from radical hands.  And likely something involving interrogations of Al Qaeda captives.

Either activity-or both-made the “consulate” in Benghazi and the CIA annex prime targets for terrorists.  The place was lousy with terrorists.  Motive plus opportunity.  It was a virtual certainty that something bad would happen there, meaning that we should have been prepared for that something.  But we weren’t.

So why was the US so unprepared for a terrorist attack?  On 911 no less? Admiral Kimmel and General Short were paragons of preparedness, compared to Panetta, Petraeus, Hillary, and Obama.  It is beyond criminal, actually.

What’s next?  Can we expect bombshells?  Holding the culpable to account?

Count me as skeptical.  Who will hold them to account? Everyone in DC is highly compromised.

The press? Please. They ran cover for Obama and Hillary and Susan Rice from day 1.  Blowing the whistle on them now is blowing the whistle on themselves.

The Senate Republicans, like McCain, Graham, and Chambliss?  Please again.  They had an opportunity in October.  They made harrumphing noises, but did not press the issue.  Why?  Because they likely knew of what was happening in Benghazi (the weapons, the interrogations), and approved of it.   They knew that blowing the whistle on Benghazi would blow the lid on what the CIA was doing there, and leave them in a more than awkward position.  McCain et al played their roles in the Kabuki theater to perfection in the fall.  They will again.

The only way that the truth will out is due to the dynamics between Obama, Hillary, and the Senate Republicans.

This is like the final scene from the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly-a three way standoff.  (Except there’s no Clint Eastwood Good guy here.)  (For a grimmer example, think Stalin, Trotsky, and Bukharin.)

Hillary has ambitions for 2016.  She and Obama are not friends or allies: Obama put her in the cabinet under the “hold your friends close and your enemies closer” theory.  It seems clear that Hillary made catastrophic decisions before and during the assault.  She is the most responsible.  But given her ambitions, power, and connections, most are loath to confront her.

Obama would be hamstrung for the remaining 40-odd months of his second term by anything that laid the fault for Benghazi at his feet.  He doesn’t like Hillary.  She would make a perfect fall gal.

The Senate Republicans can push the direction of any inquiries.  But they are likely compromised.  Who should they align with?

I don’t know for certain the equilibrium in this game, but the most likely reasoning goes as this.  Obama is president now-no changing that.  Hillary wants to be president, and is the most formidable Democrat challenger in 2016.  Siding with Hillary to shaft Obama would result in a crippled presidency during a period of international danger, and reduce the Republicans’ odds of prevailing in 2016.  Siding with Obama to shaft Hillary would help the Republicans in 2016, and give the Republicans some leverage over Obama for the next three-plus years.  So I predict that Hillary will carry the can.  Which will lead to a civil war in the Democratic Party.  This civil war-and Hillary’s existential fight for political survival-is the only way that something of the truth will come out.

Back in October I said the worst outcome would be that the Benghazi issue would be suppressed until after the election, only to resurface in a 2d Obama term, where it would create a political and perhaps Constitutional crisis.

That’s where we are now.  That is not a good place to be.

Our fundamental issue right now is that no one in power is on the side of the truth.  The Pentagon, the CIA, the State Department, the Administration, the President, the press, and the opposition “leadership”, such as it is, are hopelessly compromised. And they are all in the 202 area code, and the main interest of people in DC, regardless of party, is protecting DC.  Meaning that there is no real “opposition” to speak of.

So don’t expect the truth about Benghazi to come out, or for the responsible to be held accountable, except as the unintended effect of a war to the knife between Hillary and Obama.

How sad is that? How sad is that?

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  1. […] Moving read, At Dusk, We Slept. […]

    Pingback by Breakfast Links | Points and Figures — May 8, 2013 @ 4:23 am

  2. And, we still have a political prisoner in jail. I don’t see anyone rushing to his defense.

    They will skate on the unpreparedness. People will make excuses for them-“they didn’t frame the decision tree correctly” or something like that. The cover up is what really irks me. I knew the press was corrupt-but this is beyond anything we have seen in a long time. Smacks of Hearst and Yellow Journalism. I hate to say it, but if Bush had pulled the same stunt Code Pink would be marching naked in the streets.

    People say our system is broken. I don’t think the check and balance part is. However, the fourth estate is broken-and the bodies that fill many of the check and balance positions lack the courage to take a position.

    Additionally, I would add that few in politics understand risk/reward-or how to take risk. There is no appetite for failure, no tolerance for failure so there can be no failure. This leads to horrible decision making. I harken back to the early days after Pearl Harbor and Jimmy Doolittle. Do you think this administration would have had the risk tolerance to undertake an operation like that today? I don’t think so. They don’t understand the benefits of taking calculated risks.

    Comment by Jeff — May 8, 2013 @ 4:50 am

  3. It’s that “BLOWBACK” thing AGAIN! When you lay with dogs, al Qaeda as your ally and stalking horse in overthrowing Khadafi, don’t be surprised when they revert back to the form that the US originally constituted them as they did on 9/11. The US is in Afghanistan and Central Asia for the resources not to stop terrorism from groups that the US formed. Al Qaeda is now largely in control in Libya and soon to take Syria with our help.

    Comment by Bob — May 8, 2013 @ 8:24 am

  4. A wonderful post – just a few thoughts

    Re the media: actually the situation is a lot like 19th century – except now Government is a much larger part of our lives. (Oops nearly forgot the Civil War, again). The problem is that rather than realizing that our press consists of a collection of careerist whores, they actually believe that the New York Times is the font of truth. Note that the career path for a journalist – a dying profession up there with interdisciplinary untenured ethnic sociologists – leads to a PR job in some political hack’s office or in some government department.
    Re Risk taking: no our illustrious leaders will take risks; they just won’t take them where they can get caught out in any meaningful way. An example is O – he imprisons an American for exercising free speech (admittedly in bad taste), and murders American nationals by drone without the slightest form of due process or even a structure for reviewing these decisions outside of his aides. He can do this because no one gives a damn.

    Change, blowback, political consequences: People will only care when they believe their own lives are being affected. The malicious aspect of the press is that their silence, or studied ignorance is that we can ignore reality for a longer period. This administration has been masterful in a sort of “Being There” kind of way. For the past 8 months we have had a series of mis-directions, rather like a close magician.. Included in these are:

    1. “The economy is on the comeback”! Translation – people still have jobs and the process of impoverishment and induced dependence on government has slowed enough so that a little shuck and jive will see me through my next term. That millions have left the economy and that welfare, much like Bread and circuses in Rome, has created a dependent class that ain’t going away.

    2. Guns, Guns, Guns! Evil: translation – we mean guns in Detroit, not Benghazi, and we need more gun control because it has proven itself so effective in Detroit.

    3. Oh why go on.

    Some people take comfort in the fact that the majority of Americans ignore a lot of what our betters are feeding us, and there are parts of the political world that recognize that a simple idea a majority of Americans support gun control seem to have realized that what is meant by gun control is not defined, that the support is soft – not a vote changer for most – and have resisted that level of stupidity. Real change, however will only come when things get obviously broken and / or people get really angry and scared. Then things can happen, but what will happen depends on who is in the driver’s seat when it occurs.

    Re Blowback – Bob you give us much too much credit re Libya – we were a general running to get in front of the troops. In other words O was in a panic because he was becoming irrelevant. Also it is jejune to assume we created our opposition – there has been trouble in Afghanistan i.e. the Northwest Frontier of the Raj, the seat of the Greco Bactrian Empire, the source of the Moghuls? Gee that never happened before!

    Now we can certainly be blamed for a lot but most of the true radicals have ALWAYS been there: the Saudis used the Ikhwan to come to power then killed them or bought them off in the 20’s. The nature of any textually based version of Islam has all the ugliness of any literalist interpretation from the nastier bits of the Old Testament – see the KKK re quoting scripture. This is hardly a new idea: John Adams had a number of pithy things to say about the Religion of Peace. This is not going away as long as a large part of the world believes that they and they alone know the truth, and have their economic and political failure rubbed into their faces daily. That kind of cognitive dissonance, along with not getting laid, will always breed violence.

    What is true is that we did at times screwed up but it is as big a mistake to say that it is our entire fault as to say we are blameless – the goal I believe is to see the world as it is, not based on our biases and our egoism. As far as that goes the O fills our egoism quota quite sufficiently.

    Comment by sotos — May 8, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

  5. The US is in Afghanistan and Central Asia for the resources…

    What resources, exactly?

    Comment by Tim Newman — May 8, 2013 @ 11:34 pm

  6. This is now starting to get traction outside the US, although I suspect this UK press blogger’s analysis and conclusions are correct:

    Comment by Green as Grass — May 9, 2013 @ 5:27 am

  7. As a matter of interest, is Hillary perceived as an electoral asset to the Republicans?

    Comment by Green as Grass — May 9, 2013 @ 6:34 am

  8. Afghanistan is full iron, copper, lithium ( Saudi Arabia of.), gold and rare earth minerals as per USGS and the “stan” countries which it abuts are full of untapped oil and natural gas. It’s all about $!

    Comment by Bob — May 9, 2013 @ 8:50 am

  9. Afghanistan is full iron, copper, lithium ( Saudi Arabia of.), gold and rare earth minerals as per USGS and the “stan” countries which it abuts are full of untapped oil and natural gas. It’s all about $!

    And in the ‘stan’s case, none of it’s materials are worth it to export right now, due to the primitive nature of the infrastructure, bribes, and security issues. So, if you think people are in the ‘stan for money…yeah, can’t help you too much.

    Comment by Armed with Inkstick — May 9, 2013 @ 9:49 am

  10. Afghanistan is full iron…

    Iron! Now that’s a resource worth launching an invasion for!

    Comment by Tim Newman — May 9, 2013 @ 11:21 am

  11. One feels sympathy for U.S. President Barack Obama. Whatever he does in Syria, he is doomed. Had he intervened a year ago, as many pundits demanded, he might presently be in the midst of a quagmire with even more pundits angry at him, and with his approval ratings far lower than they are. If he intervenes now, the results might be even worse. Journalists often demand action for action’s sake, seemingly unaware that many international problems have no solution, given the limits of U.S. power. The United States can topple regimes; it cannot even modestly remake societies unless, perhaps, it commits itself to the level of time and expense it did in post-war Germany and Japan.

    Read more: For American Foreign Policy, No Good Options | Stratfor

    Comment by Anders — May 9, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

  12. Be patient. The powerful always attempt to control the narrative. Yes, the State Dept, WH, CIA, Pentagon… are all in the 202 area code and re-enforcing the packaged BS story. But there are grieved victims, and career bureaucrats whos reputations have been ruined to protect the powerful. Give them a voice, a blog, a youtube video and they can disrupt the balance, They are motivated and compelling. Keep the whistleblowers coming and truth may eventually come out, If and when (hopefully) the truth does come out, neither Obama or Hilary can contain the narrative. Susan Rice is abandoned…the Benghazi story is plodding along and has the capacity to destroy the reputation of many political figures. Keep the faith, Watergate and Iran-contra took years to unfold due to powerful forces.

    Comment by scott — May 9, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

  13. Hmm. Afghanistan is the Saudi Arabia of lithium. Good news for manic depressives, eh? Or is it that Afghanistan will become wealthy if manic depression becomes epidemic?

    Seriously, though, mineral abundance is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a lucrative mining industry: with no transportation infrastructure, no safety, no real property rights, the minerals are going to stay right where hey are, for a very long time. I’d consider a bet that there will be large scale commercial mining on the moon before there is in Afghanistan.

    @scott-hope you’re right. I’m skeptical. A major difference between Benghazi on the one hand and Watergate and Iran-Contra is that the press is complicit in the coverup in the first, and actively pursuing the presidents in Watergate and I-C on the other. But we shall see.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 9, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

  14. @Perfesser Even if Afghanistan has mineral riches and can get them out, this is hardly a panacea: remember the wise Venezuelan’s characterization of Oil ad the Devil’s excrement. All mineral wealth does in societies without strong political traditions is to remove government from the only most tenuous control of its people. Bernard Lewis described this as “no representation without taxation”. In other words if a government can fund itself and bribe its people using extra social assets or resources, why pay too much attention to the people, unless things get to the point of some sort of existential crisis?

    By the way, a good indictment of Foreign and NGO Aid efforts – at least the majority which seem to fund the rich in their beneficiaries” societies.

    Furthermore, see my comment as to the source of journalists future incomes – and the fact that most ” Journalism” depends in large part on the government. Not just for little things like information, but bigger issues like Broadcast licenses, exemptions from antitrust for their operating agreements, Official advertising, etc. this is going back to the 19th century model pre Pulitzer / Hearst. How is this all that much different from Lewis’ model?

    Even the government media in Syria has some circulation!

    This model implies that the press will only treat events like Benghazi when to ignore them is an existential threat. We are a ways away from that.

    Comment by Sotos — May 10, 2013 @ 8:00 am

  15. @sotos. Oh I’m down with the “resource curse” idea. Development of mineral resources in countries without strong pre-existing property rights and relatively representative government is a recipe for corruption and violence. This is precisely why I got interested in Russia in the first place-it’s like the poster child for that problem.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 10, 2013 @ 8:57 am

  16. Is opium considered a natural resource? recursion of the resource curse.

    Comment by scott — May 10, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

  17. Jason Chaffetz Utah congressman on Benghazi

    Comment by scott — May 10, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

  18. @ Scott – Chaffetz also questioned DHS here about the number of bullets they have been buying. But just another tin foil hat conspiracy theory, right?

    Do any of you readers find it interesting that the host of this site is willing to suggest that some ‘enhanced interrogations’ were going on at the Benghazi ‘consulate’ (read: CIA facility) but under no circumstances will Pirrong and cohorts admit that the place may have been a conduit for trafficking Gaddafi’s arms to Syrian jihadists? Why is that you think? And how is he so certain that no Fast and Furious style gun running to groups like the Al-Nusra Front that would later be admitted by the State Department to be Al-Qaeda was taking place?

    But of course, Obama would risk his presidency or at least his reelection to give a standown order merely to cover up a few Libyan Islamic Fighting Group types being waterboarded — while their Islamist brothers pretended to stand guard outside. These people would much rather look stupidly, ridiculously incompetent, than under any circumstances be seen as conspiring to arm the enemies of America and all civilized nations. Don’t you notice the pattern?

    Comment by Narodnik — May 12, 2013 @ 4:56 am

  19. Here is Chaffetz video, where DHS spokesman makes hilarious fun explanations of where all the ammo does go:

    100 bullets fired in by American Immigrations and Customs Enforcement last year — 14 million allegedly fired per year at training centers like in Artesia, New Mexico. But DHS still ‘needs’ at least 300 million per year under the admitted amounts that Americans are supposed to be unconcerned with since these amounts have allegedly been the same since 2009. Well what happened in 2009? That’s right the Muslim Kenyan took office. That was after Obama said in Colorado America needed a domestic force just as strong, just as well funded as U.S. military.

    Of course Germany had force just as powerful and well funded as Wehrmacht — it was called the SS. And now Obama is creating DH SS.

    Comment by Narodnik — May 12, 2013 @ 5:01 am

  20. The Republican Dumocrat stupidity and pretend by McCain and Graham who supported Syria jihadist arming cannot be put back into bottle.

    And oil is better to have than not have. Just ask Norwegians why they live better than Germans.

    Comment by Narodnik — May 12, 2013 @ 5:02 am

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