Oversight overlooked


Darrell Issa, The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee may have included names of Libyans who worked with the US Government that were previously unknown, but that isn’t the only news to come from the doc dump. These documents support the fact that US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice remarks on “Meet The Press” indeed reflected the US intelligence apparatus’ official summation of the Benghazi incident at the time:

The night before Susan Rice went public with the administration’s assessment that the Sept. 11 U.S. consulate attack in Libya grew out of a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Muslim video, intelligence analysts were receiving new information that contradicted the account she gave.

Intelligence agencies soon amended their stance, but it then took weeks longer—until early October—for a new intelligence assessment discounting the protests to make its way into public statements from senior officials in the Obama administration.

Ms. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, based her statements that Sunday on intelligence agency conclusions that the attack had spun out of protests in Benghazi, fueled by anger over an anti-Islamic, U.S.-made video that had sparked protests elsewhere.

The picture began to change over that weekend, according to U.S. intelligence officials, in the most detailed account yet to emerge of a period that has been a focus of controversy over the Obama administration’s handling of the aftermath of the attack, which killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador.

Some intelligence came in on Saturday evening that contradicted the protest claim and prompted the office of the Director of National Intelligence to begin to question the agencies’ initial conclusions, intelligence officials said.

Despite their growing uncertainty, intelligence officials didn’t feel they had enough conclusive, new information to revise their assessment. Ms. Rice wasn’t warned of their new doubts before she went on the air the next morning and spoke of the attacks being spurred by demonstrations, intelligence officials acknowledged.

The fact that Republicans are jumping about Obama conversationally using the phrase “not optimal” on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the big response from Issa is to protect his flank after possibly compromising key domestic Libyan contacts for the US government shows that the Libya exchange in the debate allowed Obama to re-establish his foreign policy narrative. His task tonight is to represent that narrative and show that Romney’s foreign policy is dominated by neo-con foolishness. Fox News has taken to calling all this a “cover up”. Of what, I have no idea.

The expectation that someone could even sit on a morning show shortly after a terror attack and have a clear view and understanding of all the forces at work are preposterous. When we have mass shootings domestically, with tons of witnesses and the full infrastructure of our local/national/cable news networks and personal reporting methods (phone cams, blogs, tweets, check-ins) it takes time to figure out who and what. I hope in the future the Obama Administration (and in a 2nd term) tempers this need to satisfy the news cycle with ravenous demands for the “full story, right away, even before an investigation can be conducted”.

Under George W Bush, the Iraq war was fought because the nation was told and believed that someone needed to stop Saddam Hussein from deploying WMD’s (and the nation did believe, Bush was re-elected to further prosecute this unnecessary war). Our soldiers served bravely but it seeded the region to a Shi’a majority Iraqi government sympathetic to the Iranian government, further isolated Kurds in Iraq and left Sunni’s to be a minority under siege in that country. Saddam Hussein is dead, but not one WMD was found.

Although I disagreed with bombing of Libya by the US military due to the use of War Powers Act to begin and sustain military action against the Khaddafi regime, I support the decision not to put American soldiers on the ground in that theater. Yes two foreign service officers (one an ambassador) and two veterans died in that attack, but deposing Khaddafi by supporting a Libyan revolution and allowing Libyans to elect a new government is a better strategy of aggressive intervention than dropping thousands of soldiers into a country. Warring is the most expensive thing a country can do. We need to be more restrained and exacting in using our military around the world. And one thing Mitt Romney is advocating for liberally using military force around the world. None of this would have stopped 9/11. All of what Romney is proposing would make us spend more money we don’t have, put more American lives at risk and directly interject us as primary stakeholders in more hot conflicts.

The Republicans are beginning to try to take away Obama’s foreign policy advantage by casting Obama through the lens of the protests around the Middle East at US embassies on and after 9/11. That would necessitate one forgetting the Iraq war draw down, the Bin Laden Raid and the appropriately measured support for citizen upheavals of totalitarian government in the Middle East.

Tonight is a foreign policy debate where the distinction needs to be drawn between “shoot first, aim later” neo-con policy and the liberal policy of patient intervention. “Please proceed governor”.