Intelligence And National Security Priorities

Barack Obama Phone SC Intelligence and National Security Priorities

A generation ago, in the 1970s, the U.S. intelligence community possessed the technology to discern whether or not a U.S. consulate was under attack by terrorists or by rioters run amok. Moreover, no one in the community ever wanted a superior, especially at the highest levels, to point to an article in the Washington Post or something they saw on television and ask, “What’s this all about?

I know this, because I lived it—at the time and in the military.

In the ‘70s, intelligence priorities were focused on the Soviet UnionChina, and the Communist bloc; nonetheless, an attack on a U.S. consulate would have prompted an immediate call directly to the secretary of state. If an ambassador were murdered, the secretary of state would have been informed, even awakened. It’s likely the next call would have gone to the White House.

Every year, the White House publishes its National Security Strategy of the United States, setting the nation’s security agenda. From the start, the Obama administration erased the term “War on Terror” from the national-security lexicon. In recent months, the narrative has revolved around “Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive,” establishing a false syllogism between two disparate and unrelated events nevertheless reflecting national-security priorities … as well as a muddled, uncertainty in priorities.

The attacks in Benghazi started late on the night of September 11. For Americans, the time difference between Washington and Libya put the attacks at the close of a day marked by remembrances for 9/11 victims.

It is inconceivable that the intelligence community, including watch officers at Langley, the Pentagon, and in the White House, were unaware that the attack was a well-coordinated, military-style operation, one far more powerful and concentrated than the intrusion by a squad of Viet Cong commandos into the compound of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon at the onset of the Tet Offensive in 1968.

There are established intelligence protocols for passing information “up the line.” Watch officers surely contacted their immediate supervisors—even if it meant interrupting their evening—along with appropriate area specialists. The decision to continue the notification rests with officials at various levels, so it is not inconceivable that the president of the United States would not be informed immediately of such an attack. It’s quite likely that his national security advisor and Secretary of State Clinton were informed. The claim of “evincible ignorance” involves a two-edge sword. While the highest levels of the U.S. government may have been uninformed at 7:00 p.m. on the night of September 11, a dozen hours later, analysts should have had time to sift through the “fog of war” with a good approximation of what happened and who was behind it.

This is where the story gets muddled. A riot in Cairo on 9/11, attributable to an obscure internet video publicized for political purposes by the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, made for a quick and convenient cover story to explain the tragedy in Benghazi. It also fit the political narrative that with Bin Laden dead, al Qaeda was “on the run.” Tragedy in Benghazi notwithstanding, it was time to get on with the main focus of the Obama administration, ensuring another four years to affect change, hopefully for the better—something that eluded the administration in its first four years.

The video scapegoat worked well, given that if it didn’t emanate from a crackpot right-winger with Tea Party sympathies, it probably did issue from a crackpot who by extension or implication reflects the kind of injudicious and inconvenient opinions the administration attributes to its opponents. That the Republican candidate Mitt Romney dared to criticize the administration in the wake of a tragedy costing the lives of four Americans offered the opportunity for trivializing criticism, especially when the root cause might be pinned on an internet video.

The intelligence community knew what happened in Benghazi. While it’s possible that President Obama wasn’t immediately informed, it’s less likely that the secretary of state was not told as soon as Ambassador Chris Stevens’ fate was known. Only the most egregious mishandling of intelligence would have prevented the president from getting the right information at the next briefing, which should have occurred the following morning, almost 12 hours after the event.

It comes down to a matter of priorities. Clearly, this administration’s reluctance to deal with the realities of Islamist fundamentalist terrorism, even under the admittedly weak description of a “War on Terror,” and its insistence that “al Qaeda is on the run” reflect a denial of reality. The White House reaction to the Benghazi debacle is amateurish at best.


Dr. Earl Tilford is a military historian and fellow for the Middle East & terrorism with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. He currently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama where he is writing a history of the University of Alabama in the 1960s. A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Dr. Tilford earned his PhD in American and European military history at George Washington University. From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. In 2001, he left Government service for a professorship at Grove City College, where he taught courses in military history, national security, and international and domestic terrorism and counter-terrorism.

©2012 The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College

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Ryan Effectively Spars With Animated Biden At VP Debate

Paul Ruan SC Ryan effectively spars with animated Biden at VP debate

On the heels of a decisive GOP victory at the first presidential debate, VP candidate Paul Ryan generally met high expectations by going on the offensive early and often during Thursday night’s match-up against Joe Biden.

To be fair, Biden bested his boss’ dismal performance by staying true to his identity as a bombastic, old-school politician. Infinitely more animated than Obama, he frequently interrupted his Republican rival and grinned widely while Ryan spoke.

Though he steered clear of any glaringly obtuse gaffes, responses filled with long pauses and continual usage of “uh” and “um” stood in stark contrast to the obvious depth of knowledge Ryan brought to the event. While regularly referring to Ryan as “my friend,” Biden treated him dismissively while the challenger conducted himself with the character to effectively fill the nation’s second-highest executive position.

Given moderator Martha Raddatz’s history with Obama, she fostered a fairly balanced environment for the exchange of verbal jabs. Of course, I am comparing her to Jim Lehrer’s method — however ineffective — of holding Obama’s hand and prompting him to give a somewhat coherent response.

Raddatz began the debate, a more relaxed setup as both she and the candidates sat around a large desk, with the terrorist attacks in Libya exactly one month ago. An experienced foreign correspondent, Raddatz’s first asked Biden if the entire ordeal was a “massive intelligence failure.”

Ryan weighed in on the issue, mentioning the six references Obama made to the United Nations council concerning the YouTube video originally blamed for the violence. He immediately struck back with the absurdity of placing armed guards outside of the U.S. Embassy in Paris but not providing the same in Libya.

“What we are watching on our TV screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy,” he said, saying the president’s position “promotes weakness abroad.”

Biden blamed Romney for prematurely blaming the current administration’s foreign policy failures for the atmosphere of violence, to which Ryan retorted, “It’s never too early to speak up for our values.”

Continuing in the foreign policy vein, Raddatz asked the candidates about Iran’s nuclear program.

Ryan expertly dissected the last four years of Obama failure, stating the Iranian program can feasibly produce five times more nuclear weapons than it could prior to his election.

“This administration has no credibility on this issue,” he said.

Biden tried to defend the Democrats’ opposition to imposing strong sanctions on Iran, saying they would not have been supported by the rest of the world. The eternal leftist, he wants to see America liked rather than respected. Ryan, on the other hand, seems to think we can have both.

When Biden suggested Iran is not a threat because they do not currently possess a weapon with which to use its nuclear material, Raddatz shot back with her own zinger, saying, “You’re acting a little bit like they don’t want one!”

Obama’s failed promise to return unemployment to below 6 percent was the topic Raddatz used to bring the debate back to U.S. soil, asking each candidate what they would do to reach that goal.

While Biden rested on his party’s supposed laurels, touting how Obama “saved” General Motors, he also found a way to make the first mention of Romney’s off-the-cuff “47 percent” comment.

“I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way,” Ryan said without missing a beat.

In response to the question, Ryan touched on each of his ticket’s five-point plan to add 12 million jobs and achieve 4 percent economic growth. Biden scored some points in return when, after Ryan disparaged Obama’s stimulus plan, he brought up the fact that Ryan sought stimulus funds twice for his constituents.

The candidates explained differences of opinion concerning Medicare, which prompted Ryan to bring up the massive fund transfer from Medicare to ObamaCare the Democrats recently approved.

“They got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, turning Medicare into a piggybank for ObamaCare,” he said, attempting to speak over Biden’s attempts to interrupt him. “I know you’re under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we stop interrupting each other.”

Ryan performed well throughout the debate; but when the subject of taxes was broached, he was really able to shine. Attacking the Democrat plan to raise top tax rates to nearly 45 percent, he explained, “There aren’t enough rich people and small businesses to tax to pay for all their spending.”

Spewing facts faster than Biden could process them, Ryan brought up the 8 out of 10 small business filing taxes as individuals, the two-thirds of all jobs that are created by those small businesses, and the fallacy of taxing them completely out of business.

Raddatz asked what role the two candidates’ religion — Catholicism — plays in their views on abortion. Ryan’s principled view, reinforced when he saw the heartbeat of his firstborn child during a sonogram, is that life begins at conception and should be protected at all costs. While Biden claims to share the same view, he apparently has no qualms about allowing Americans to readily destroy that life. In technical terms, I believe that is called homicide.

Both candidates reportedly took debate preparation seriously; but Ryan, less experienced in such high-profile debates, seemed much more in control of his responses. His exceptional discipline, both personally and politically, was on display as he made easy work of Biden’s bombastic attacks with his own barrage of facts.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)


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Video: Electric Shock: Is GM Really Losing $49,000 On Every Chevy Volt?

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Tea Party Lawmakers Torn Between Ideology, Reality

Paul Ryan 3 SC Tea Party Lawmakers Torn Between Ideology, Reality

WASHINGTON (Official Wire) — Twenty months into a Congress they have tilted rightward, tea party loyalists are finding that ideological purity can be elusive for conservative lawmakers trying to balance their convictions against constituents’ election-year needs.

Rep. Paul Ryan, who has won tea party praise as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick, had a General Motors assembly plant that was about to be shuttered in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., when he voted for the $14 billion auto industry bailout in 2008. The seven-term House Republican also voted for the $700 billion financial industry rescue that same year.

He has since criticized both efforts by President George W. Bush to combat that year’s near economic collapse. Yet his votes — plus his support for Bush’s 2003 debt-financed expansion of Medicare to provide prescription drug coverage — rankle conservatives to this day and underscore the challenge of adhering to small-government principles when voters’ bread-and-butter interests are at stake.

Read more at Official Wire. By Alan Fram.

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Report: Auto Bailout Cost Taxpayers $3.4B More Than Estimated

Barack Obama American flag 2 SC Report: Auto bailout cost taxpayers $3.4B more than estimated

The federal government’s bailout of the auto industry will cost $3.4 billion more than previously thought, according to revised estimates this week from the Treasury Department.

The department now says the taxpayer burden is $25.1 billion, up from the last quarterly estimate of $21.7 billion, Reuters reported Monday.

The 2009 federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler continues to play a key role in the presidential election, particularly in the critical swing states of Michigan and Ohio.
President Obama has touted the bailout as a successful accomplishment in his first term. Romney has argued that the auto bailout was not such a success. He says many jobs were lost — particularly in Michigan and Ohio — which have still not been recovered. The high cost to taxpayers can only help Romney’s argument.

Democrats have repeatedly reminded voters of Mitt Romney’s advice to “Let Detroit go bankrupt,” the title of a 2008 op-ed that the Republican candidate wrote for the New York Times. In contrast, Obama’s campaign released a TV ad in May calling the intervention into the failing companies “the right thing to do.”

Read More at The Hill. By Alicia M. Cohn.

Photo Credit: The US Army (Creative Commons)

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