Tsarnaev Update

There are reports that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s neck wound is from his trying to shoot himself while he was in the boat to avoid being captured alive.  The Daily Mail says that he put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.  There are reports that he can understand, but can’t talk and may never be able to talk again.

They also report that the brothers were planning to plant other bombs in the Boston area when the release of photos and videos of their identity stopped them.

It Just Doesn’t Make Sense

From “Petraeus Says U. S. Tried to Avoid Tipping Off Terrorists After Libya Attack,” Eric Schmitt, NYT:

“David H. Petraeus…told lawmakers on Friday…that the administration refrained from saying it suspected that the perpetrators of the attack were Al Qaeda affiliates and sympathizers to avoid tipping off the groups.”

But the local Al Qaeda group Ansar al-Sharia proudly announced they had carried out the attack just a few hours after it happened.  So just in case they thought we didn’t know, they told us.  You can’t tip off someone when they are publicly boasting.

The other aspect of Petraeus’ argument that makes no sense is that the original talking points that referenced Al Qaeda were drafted by intelligence professionals and later changed to say “extremists” by “someone outside the the intelligence community,” according to Congressman Peter King (R-NY).

Petraeus’ claim would be much more credible if some political, diplomatic, or military person wrote talking points saying Al Qaeda, and the intelligence community changed them.  But here we have the reverse.


No Al Qaeda Evidence in Benghazi Attack

From “No Evidence found of Al Qaeda role in Libya attack,” Ken Dilanian and Shashank Bengali, L A Times:

The assault on the U. S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi last month appears to have been an opportunistic attack rather than a long-planned operation, and intelligence agencies have found no evidence that it was ordered by Al Qaeda, according to U. S. officials and witnesses interviewed in Libya.

“[A]fter five weeks of investigation, U. S. intelligence agencies say they have found no evidence of Al Qaeda participation.

“The attack was ‘carried out following a minimum amount of planning,’ said a U. S. intelligence official…. ‘The attackers exhibited a high degree of disorganization.  Some joined the attack in progress, some did not have weapons and others just seemed interested in looting.’

“A second U. S. official added, ‘There isn’t any intelligence that the attackers pre-planned their assault days or weeks in advance.’  Most of the evidence so far suggests that ‘the attackers launched their assault opportunistically after they learned about the violence at the U. S. Embassy in Cairo’ earlier that day, the official said.

“[I]n Benghazi, witnesses said members of the group that raided the U. S. mission specifically mentioned the video….

“They were extremely well armed, but Libya is awash in weapons.  In Benghazi, machine guns and shoulder-fired grenade launchers…are sold on the streets.

“Republicans began portraying the attack as the work of Al Qaeda, and they accused the administration of deliberately seeking to downplay that possibility.

“Now, however, said another official with access to the intelligence, ‘it may turn out that the initial assessment was not that far off.'” Emphasis added.

The Prez needs a coherent narrative on this for the foreign affairs debate Monday. 

Quote of the Day

“She kept feeding Obama lines. She did, folks, she kept feeding him lines. She kept prompting him. You Democrats, he couldn’t have done this last night without her assistance.

“She committed an act of journalistic terror or malpractice last night. If there were any journalist standards, what she did last night would have been the equivalent of blowing up her career like a suicide bomber.”

Rush Limbaugh on Candy Crowley and the debate.

How much longer is Rush’s journalistic terror going to continue?


Mitt’s Foreign Policy Is As Dumb And Dangerous As Bush’s

Thomas Friedman slams Mitt’s shallow and simplistic foreign policy speech.  From “What Romney Didn’t Say,” NYT:

“Mitt Romney gave a foreign policy speech on Monday that could be boiled down to one argument: everything wrong with the Middle East today can be traced to a lack of leadership by President Obama. If this speech is any indication of the quality of Romney’s thinking on foreign policy, then we should worry. It was not sophisticated in describing the complex aspirations of the people of the Middle East. It was not accurate in describing what Obama has done or honest about the prior positions Romney has articulated. And it was not compelling or imaginative in terms of the strategic alternatives it offered. The worst message we can send right now to Middle Easterners is that their future is all bound up in what we do. It is not. The Arab-Muslim world has rarely been more complicated and more in need of radical new approaches by us — and them.

Look at the real trends in the region. In Iraq and Afghanistan, sadly, autocracy has not been replaced with democracy, but with “elective kleptocracy.” Elective kleptocracy is what you get when you replace an autocracy with an elected government before there are accountable institutions and transparency, while huge piles of money beckon — in Iraq thanks to oil exports, and in Afghanistan thanks to foreign aid.

Meanwhile, in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq and Libya, we have also seen the collapse of the “Mukhabarat states” — Mukhabarat is Arabic for internal security services — but not yet the rise of effective democracies, with their own security organs governed by the rule of law. As we saw in Libya, this gap is creating openings for jihadists.

At the same time, the civil war between Sunni Muslims, led by the Saudis, and Shiite Muslims, led by Iran, is blazing as hot as ever and lies at the heart of the civil war in Syria. In addition, we also have a struggle within Sunni Islam between puritanical Salafists and more traditional Muslim Brotherhood activists. And then there is the struggle between all of these Islamist parties — who argue that “Islam is the answer” for development — and the more secular mainstream forces, who may constitute the majority in most Mideast societies but are disorganized and divided.

How does the U.S. impact a region with so many cross-cutting conflicts and agendas? We start by making clear that the new Arab governments are free to choose any path they desire, but we will only support those who agree that the countries that thrive today: 1) educate their people up to the most modern standards; 2) empower their women; 3) embrace religious pluralism; 4) have multiple parties, regular elections and a free press; 5) maintain their treaty commitments; and 6) control their violent extremists with security forces governed by the rule of law.

But when we’re talking to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or the new government in Libya, we cannot let them come to us and say: “We need money, but right now our politics is not right for us to do certain things. Give us a pass.” We bought that line for 50 years from their dictators. It didn’t end well. We need to stick to our principles.  Emphasis added; italics in original.

Mitt’s foreign policy speech is one more reason why I’m voting for Obama no matter what, even if he spends the next two debates singing the theme song from “Sesame Street.”  Mitt, like Bush 43, lacks not only a background in foreign policy, but also any interest in it.  He’d just be led by the nose by the neo-cons on his team.  He’s got Liz Cheney now!  If she wants to shoot her ignorant mouth off on Fox, that’s fine, but I don’t want her anywhere near actual policy-making authority.