Last week was a week for the conspiracy theories. First, we had Benghazi and the hearings which interviewed career State Department officers, most of whom probably vote for Democrats. The fact that they were ordered not to talk to Congressmen and denied any attempt at help when under attack, even from as close as Tripoli, invites speculation about motive. Peggy Noonan, a little unusually, hits this one out of the park.
Since it is behind a pay wall, I’ll quote a few bits.
What happened in Benghazi last Sept. 11 and 12 was terrible in every way. The genesis of the scandal? It looks to me like this:
The Obama White House sees every event as a political event. Really, every event, even an attack on a consulate and the killing of an ambassador.
Because of that, it could not tolerate the idea that the armed assault on the Benghazi consulate was a premeditated act of Islamist terrorism. That would carry a whole world of unhappy political implications, and demand certain actions. And the American presidential election was only eight weeks away. They wanted this problem to go away, or at least to bleed the meaning from it.
That sounds about right to me.
Because the White House could not tolerate the idea of Benghazi as a planned and deliberate terrorist assault, it had to be made into something else. So they said it was a spontaneous street demonstration over an anti-Muhammad YouTube video made by a nutty California con man. After all, that had happened earlier in the day, in Cairo. It sounded plausible. And maybe they believed it at first. Maybe they wanted to believe it. But the message was out: Provocative video plus primitive street Arabs equals sparky explosion. Not our fault. Blame the producer! Who was promptly jailed.
If what happened in Benghazi was not a planned and prolonged terrorist assault, if it was merely a street demonstration gone bad, the administration could not take military action to protect Americans there.
Yup. That has to be it unless someone comes up with a better rationale. Maybe one of those additional whistle blowers who are asking to testify.
Why couldn’t the administration tolerate the idea that Benghazi was a planned terrorist event? Because they didn’t want this attack dominating the headline with an election coming. It would open the administration to criticism of its intervention in Libya. President Obama had supported overthrowing Moammar Gadhafi and put U.S. force behind the Libyan rebels. Now Libyans were killing our diplomats. Was our policy wrong? More importantly, the administration’s efforts against al Qaeda would suddenly come under scrutiny and questioning.
The military disgraced itself, as well. Why no plans for evacuation or reinforcement ?
Maybe those generals and admirals who were relieved in the weeks after Benghazi were too willing to do something when the orders were to do nothing.
On October 18, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta appeared unexpectedly at an otherwise unrelated briefing on “Efforts to Enhance the Financial Health of the Force.” News organizations and CSPAN were told beforehand there was no news value to the event and gave it scant coverage. In his brief remarks Mr. Panetta said, “Today I am very pleased to announce that President Obama will nominate General David Rodriguez to succeed General Carter Ham as commander of U.S. Africa Command.”
AFRICOM was the area command that was asked for help.
The information I heard today was that General Ham as head of Africom received the same e-mails the White House received requesting help/support as the attack was taking place. General Ham immediately had a rapid response unit ready and communicated to the Pentagon that he had a unit ready.
General Ham then received the order to stand down. His response was to screw it, he was going to help anyhow. Within 30 seconds to a minute after making the move to respond, his second in command apprehended General Ham and told him that he was now relieved of his command.
The story continues that now General Rodiguez would take General Ham’s place as the head of Africom.
That sure sounds like it. However:
On Monday October 29 General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, released the following statement:
“The speculation that General Carter Ham is departing Africa Command (AFRICOM) due to events in Benghazi, Libya on 11 September 2012 is absolutely false. General Ham’s departure is part of routine succession planning that has been on going since July. He continues to serve in AFRICOM with my complete confidence.”
Well, that tells us more about Dempsey than about Ham. In 1964, as he edged into Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson repeatedly sidelined war fighters and replaced them with politicians like JCS Chairman Earle Wheeler, who spent six years presiding over the Vietnam debacle. Wheeler had no command or combat experience in WWII. He had always been a staff officer. It makes me think of Courtney Massengale, the villain of “Once an Eagle, Anton Myrer’s wonderful novel of military life. It is still required reading for military officers of all branches. I have often wondered if Myrer chose the name of his villain from the name of a popular douche at about the time he was writing the novel.
There were multiple flag officers relieved right after Banghazi. Nothing to see here. Move along.
We will learn more about the Benghazi story and Democrats dishonor themselves by their transparent efforts to divert attention and discredit honorable officers.
UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt has an interview with a Congressman about a NSA tape of that 2 AM phone call between Hillary and Hicks. Hmmm.
The next scandal that erupted last week was the IRS auditing expose. Tea Party groups have been complaining about selective harassment by the IRS since 2009 when Obama joked about doing just that.
A BEDROCK principle of U.S. democracy is that the coercive powers of government are never used for partisan purpose. The law is blind to political viewpoint, and so are its enforcers, most especially the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. Any violation of this principle threatens the trust and the voluntary cooperation of citizens upon which this democracy depends.
So it was appalling to learn Friday that the IRS had improperly targeted conservative groups for scrutiny. It was almost as disturbing that President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have not personally apologized to the American people and promised a full investigation.
And that was the Washington Post !
UPDATE: I was just reminded that this was not the first example of abuse of IRS records by the Obama people. Austin Goolsbee alleged that Koch Industries paid no corporate income tax. He was misrepresenting the records he had illegally accessed.
And then we have the spectacle of the HHS Secretary asking health executives to fund Obamacare with donations.
“Nice little insurance company you’ve got there. It would be a shame if something happened to it.”
Over the past three months, Sebelius has made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and asked that they contribute whatever they can to nonprofit groups that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law, according to an HHS official and an industry person familiar with the secretary’s activities. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk openly about private discussions.
Yes, it was all voluntary.
Young said that Sebelius did not solicit for funds directly from industries that HHS regulates, such as insurance companies and hospitals, but rather asked them to contribute in whatever way they can.
But the industry official who had knowledge of the calls but did not participate directly in them said there was a clear insinuation by the administration that the insurers should give financially to the nonprofits.
And so goes another week of Obamaworld. And I didn’t even mention “immigration reform.”