GOP Holds Up Hagel

Claiming that they want more information from Chuck Hagel about his past and from the White House about Benghazi, GOP senators are maneuvering to ensure his nomination doesn’t get an up or down vote tomorrow.  With the Senate then on recess next week, the earliest he could be confirmed would be February 25.

Meanwhile, NATO defense ministers are meeting in Brussels next week, with Afghanistan prominently on the agenda, and of course President Obama wants Hagel to be there.  The GOP seems to have a weird fondness for empty chairs.  The Clint Eastwood convention stunt was just pathetic, but a NATO meeting is a BFD.

All 55 Senate Dems will vote for Hagel and 2 Republicans have said they will too, so the Administration has more than the simple majority it needs for the nomination itself.  What it doesn’t have are the 60 votes needed for cloture to end debate and bring the nomination to the floor.

Some GOP senators have said that while they will vote against Hagel, they don’t support the filibuster to prevent that vote, but it looks as if some of these senators don’t want to buck their party to end the filibuster tomorrow.

McCain Tells Obama To Get Off His Lawn

… and take Chuck Hagel with him.

Having agreed that he wouldn’t filibuster Chuck Hagel’s nomination, John McCain now says that he might, unless President Obama provides more information about his conduct on the night of the Benghazi terror attack.

Drudge Has It

Drudge now has picked up the Petraeus/Benghazi story I posted about late last night based on the new book coming out on Tuesday.

There’s some explosive stuff in the book about Petraeus being done in by his own senior people at the CIA and about John Brennan running special ops anti-terror raids from the White House that led to the Benghazi attack against us on 9/11/12.

I’m very curious to see how much media attention/official response the book gets.

Slippery Butters

Lindsey “Butters” Graham (R-SC) is threatening to put a hold on both Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense and John Brennan’s for CIA Director until the President explains what he did on the night of the Benghazi terror attack that left four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, dead.  Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation, Graham vowed:

“I’m not going to stop until we get to the bottom of it.  We know nothing about what the president did on the night of September 11, during a time of national crisis, and the American people need to know what their Commander-in-Chief did, if anything, during the eight-hour attack.

“I don’t know what the president did that evening.  I don’t know if he ever called anyone. I know he never talked to the Secretary of Defense. I know that he never talked to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. … I know the Secretary of State never talked to the Secretary of Defense. This was incredibly mismanaged. And what we know now, it seems to be a very disengaged president.”

His battle cry is “No confirmation without information.”  Senator, I would say to you, “No clout without coming out.”

Petraeus Brought Down in Palace Coup

According to a new book coming out Tuesday, senior CIA officials went after David Petraeus to make sure that the FBI found out about his affair with Paula Broadwell so that Petraeus would have to resign.  These officials were unhappy with how Petraeus was running the agency, specifically that he was too focused on paramilitary operations (like drone strikes) at the expense of intelligence gathering and analysis.  His military management style at a political agency also brought him many enemies who wanted him gone.

The authors of the book, Brandon Webb and Jack Murphy, discovered the Petraeus information while researching their book on the Benghazi terrorist attack, BenghaziThe Definitive Report.

As for Benghazi, they say the attacks on the Benghazi mission and CIA annex that left four Americans dead were retaliation for U. S. raids against Islamic terrorist extremists in Libya.  They claim that neither Petraeus nor Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, who died in the attacks, was aware of our ongoing military operations using special ops forces.  They say John Brennan, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser and now his nominee to head the CIA, was running these operations from the White House outside the traditional command structure, and that the State Department and the CIA didn’t know about them.

It will be interesting to see if this book has any impact on Brennan’s nomination and what Petraeus’ response is.

For GOP and Hillary, 2016 Is Now

I don’t think Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony really told us anything new.

I see it as the GOP taking her deposition.  Just as in litigation, you hope to use something from a deposition transcript to embarrass or discredit a witness at trial, the GOP hoped, as Hillary exits the public stage for now, to get some sound bites they can use against her in 2016.

So much will happen between now and then in our War on Terror that Benghazi won’t matter at all in terms of who gets the Democratic nomination and who wins the next presidential election.  But nice try, GOP.

Now Graham Threatens Brennan Delay

Besides  spewing vitriol about Chuck Hagel, Sen. Lindsey “Butters” Graham (R-SC) now wants to hold up the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA until he gets more information from the Administration about the Benghazi attack last September.

Hillary Clinton is scheduled to testify about Benghazi on January 22.

If Graham is so concerned about national security, doesn’t he want a permanent head of the CIA in place ASAP?

The Scapegoats at State

“It’s not the military’s job to protect diplomats; it’s the host government’s.  But in the absence of a real government, we never asked the question, ‘So how do we do this?'”

A “senior Pentagon official” quoted in the NYT, “4 Are Out at State Dept. After Scathing Report on Benghazi Attack,” Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt

I am tired of these insulting and infuriating whitewashes like the Pickering-Mullen Benghazi report that merely create scapegoats without addressing the real issues and speaking the honest truth.  I’ve seen too many of these in my lifetime, going back to the Warren Commission.

The truth is that why they call a “diplomatic compound” in Benghazi was just cover for the extensive CIA operation there.  To explain why there were so many Americans running around, we had to pretend to have a diplomatic presence.  When you join the CIA, you know that if you get into trouble overseas, you’re probably on our own because you’re not supposed to be there.

The four State Department officials who have now lost their jobs had no control over the CIA’s activities in Benghazi.  They couldn’t adequately protect diplomats in countries like Libya that don’t have a real government.  It was up to officials above their pay grade to decide what our diplomatic and intelligence presence would be in both Tripoli and Benghazi, and how we would protect those people.

Ambassador Stevens probably shouldn’t have been in Benghazi at all, but he sure as hell shouldn’t have been there on 9/11.  He had many friends there, but he also knew it is one of the major terrorist centers in the world right now.

Why isn’t anyone complaining that the Pentagon’s Africa Command, which is responsible for Libya, is the only one of our commands without a Commanders’ In-Extremis Force (CIF), which is designed to send special forces quickly in an emergency?

WSJ Says CIA Watered Down Rice

The Wall Street Journal — no friend of President Obama’s — is reporting* that the CIA removed the reference to Al Qaeda in the talking points Susan Rice used on the Sunday talk shows:

“The officials said the first draft of the talking points had a reference to al Qaeda [as former CIA Director Petraeus told Congress], but it was removed by the Central Intelligence Agency, to protect sources and protect investigations, before the talking points were shared with the White House.  No evidence has so far emerged that the White House interfered to tone down the public intelligence assessment, despite the attention the charge has received.

“The 94-word intelligence summary emerged from a daylong email debate between more than two dozen intelligence officials, in which they contested and whittled the available evidence into a bland summary with no reference to al Qaeda….”

Then why have Rice do the talk shows at all?  Better to say nothing than to offer disinformation.

* “Bureaucratic Battle Blunted Libya Attack ‘Talking Points,'” Siobhan Gorman and Adam Entous

 

Getting Even Stickier for Rice

Well, that didn’t go well.

Secretary of State wannabe Susan Rice had a private, hour-long meeting with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a moderate, that left Collins complaining that Rice had played a “political role” in her five Sunday talk show appearances about Benghazi in the midst of the presidential election.

Collins also called Benghazi an “eerie echo” of the 1998 Al Qaeda bombings of our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, when Rice was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

We don’t need the Empty Barn Jacket back in the Senate.  But, Mr. President, there are plenty of excellent choices for State besides Rice and John Kerry.

Offer the country an accurate, coherent explanation for Benghazi before investigations do it for you, choose someone else for State, and get on with your second term.