Libya

Obama’s epic failure in Iraq doesn’t mean we should put our brave troops back in harm’s way

Mosul

The situation in Iraq is incredibly fluid, but things aren’t looking good for the fledgling democracy’s second-largest city, Mosul. CNN has a pretty good summary of what’s going on there:

Monday night into Tuesday, militants seized Mosul’s airport, its TV stations and the governor’s office. They freed up to 1,000 prisoners.

Police and soldiers ran from their posts rather than put up a fight, abandoning their weapons as they went. The militants took their place in the city’s boulevards and buildings.

“There was no presence of any government forces on the streets, the majority of their posts destroyed and manned by (Islamist militants),” resident Firas al-Maslawi said.

An audio recording purportedly from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS] promises more fighting in more Iraqi cities, including Baghdad.

“Continue your march as the battle is not yet raging,” a voice said to be that of ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani says.

Vox also has a run-down with details about how nearly 30,000 Iraqi troops “simply turned and ran” when confronted by a force of just 800 militants.

Missing in action: Bush-era antiwar activists have rubber stamped Obama’s foreign interventionism

In 2002, Barack Obama, then an unknown Illinois state senator, gave an impassioned speech at the Federal Plaza in Chicago in which he blasted the Bush administration’s plans for war in Iraq.

“I don’t oppose all wars,” he declared. “What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.” He blistered Bush administration officials, calling the looming war in Iraq one “based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.”

Obama’s speech was just one small part of the wave of antiwar activism that swept the country over the next several years. Protesters demanded an end to the war, often accusing President George W. Bush and members of his administration of war crimes and comparing them to Nazis.

By 2005, as American causalities began to mount, public opinion began to shift against the war in Iraq. The souring mood is largely the reason Republicans lost the 2006 mid-term election, handing control of Congress to Democrats and setting the stage for the rise of antiwar presidential candidate.

Obama, who by this time was a U.S. senator, had continued to speak out against the war in Iraq and used his opposition to his advantage. Most of his primary opponents — including Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, and John Edwards  — voted for the 2003 authorization for the use of military force against Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Defining insanity: Obama is repeating deadly mistakes he made in Libya by ramping up intervention in Syria

While our attention is focused on President Obama’s latest announcement concerning his plan to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 9,800 by 2016, a mission to authorize U.S. military to train Syrian rebels is close to obtaining the green light from the administration, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The program would not only provide training to what the Obama administration calls moderate rebels, it would also provide lethal aid.

A recent PBS Frontline story on Syrian rebels outlined their steps from the war-torn country to Turkey, where they allegedly meet with American handlers before heading to Qatar for training and equipment. Rebels claim they are not only trained for battle in Qatar, they are also offered a considerable supply of “sophisticated weapons.”

While Congress never formally authorized this kind of aid, Obama says he’s willing to work with lawmakers to sanction a $5 billion fund that would provide aid to the opposition in Syria. The fund would be used to support countries like Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, as well as rebels fighting Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

State Department email blamed Islamic militants for Benghazi hours after attack

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) dropped a bombshell during yesterday’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing by entering another new post-Benghazi email into the record.

The email, references discussions between the State Department and Libyan ambassador to the United States. The email was previously referenced by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), but Chaffetz read it for the committee and subsequently entered it into the record.

“The subject line is ‘Libya update’ from Beth Jones. The date is September 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm. There’s a paragraph in here that I think is pertinent to our discussions today,” said Chaffetz. “It’s referencing the Libyan ambassador: ‘When he said his government suspected that former Qaddafi regime elements carried out the attacks, I told [the Libyan ambassador] that the group that conducted the attacks — Ansar al-Sharia — is affiliated with Islamic extremists.’”

House Intel member: Two flags flew at Benghazi — al-Qaeda and the U.S.

Lynn Westmoreland

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) held a hearing earlier this month on the controversial Benghazi talking points. Members took turns questioning former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell about the edits made to the document, including the removal of references to al-Qaeda, the false narrative that the attack was a protest to a YouTube video gone awry.

Morell insisted that there was no cover-up of the talking points, telling members of the committee that that neither he “nor anyone else at the agency, deliberately misled anyone in Congress about any aspect of the tragedy in Benghazi.” But some, including Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), aren’t so sure.

Westmoreland is a member of HPSCI and, like others on the committee, posed some tough questions to Morell about the talking points, which, he notes, gave the impression that the attack was a protest. The Georgia Republican, however, wasn’t satisfied with the answers, and he’s moving forward

United Liberty spoke with Westmoreland on Thursday about the HPSCI hearing with Morell. He explained why he has doubts about the former CIA official’s testimony and how he and others House Republicans moving forward to examine testimony and interviews of witnesses in their search for answers. (You can read our story on that here.)

Today in Liberty: CNN stoops to a new low, our insurance salesman-in-chief

“The proverb warns that ‘You should not bite the hand that feeds you.’ But maybe you should if it prevents you from feeding yourself.” — Thomas Szasz

— CNN apparently now run by Alex Jones: CNN has been following the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 almost nonstop for several days now, seeing it as ratings gold. But the cable network’s coverage, which had already jumped the shark, fell to a new low last night when host Don Lemon asked panelists “is it preposterous” to think a black hole caused the plane to crash? CNN is still relevant, they said. Give it a chance, they said. It’s like they’re not even trying anymore.

— Insurance Salesman-in-Chief: The presidency used to be considered a prestigious office with heavy influence and gravitas. But the influence of the office has been reduced to appearances on radio and television talk shows as President Obama tries to sell his healthcare law to a skeptical public, the latest of which will be a live interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The appearances are targeted to reach a certain audience and it’s probably a smart strategy to get a message to the crowd they’re trying to reach. At the same time, however, it’s just sad to see a president reduced to being a cheap insurance salesman. Well, that and a college basketball expert.

Report: CIA knew within three days that Benghazi attack wasn’t a protest

In the hours following the 2012 attack on the American outpost in Benghazi, during which four Americans were killed, senior Obama administration officials — including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney — tried to advance a talking point that the incident was a protest over an anti-Islam YouTube video that had gone awry.

Even President Obama focused on religious tolerance in the days after the attack, giving passive mention to it as an “act of terror.” Eight days later, however, administration officials conceded that the incident in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.

It’s not hard to figure out why the administration didn’t want to immediately admit that the incident was a terrorist attack, after all, 2012 was a presidential election year and the Obama campaign was trying to boost his foreign policy credentials against Republican criticism. As it turned out, Mitt Romney’s campaign mishandled Benghazi at a presidential debate, and the issue was a nonfactor in the election.

Report: al-Qaeda elements involved in Benghazi attack

The claims recently made by The New York Times about the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack continues to crumble. Just last month the “paper of record” stated that there was “no evidence” that suggested al-Qaeda was involved in the attack on the American outpost in the Libyan city.

But a declassified, bipartisan report released this morning by the Senate Intelligence Committee lays waste to that claim by implicating regional affiliates of al-Qaeda —including Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — in the attack:

The administration initially claimed the attack sprung out of a protest, but has since given a more complicated assessment. Still, administration officials all along have downplayed Al Qaeda involvement, recently seizing on a New York Times report that supported those claims.

While the report does not implicate Al Qaeda “core” — the leadership believed to be in the Pakistan region — it does blame some of the most influential Al Qaeda branches, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“Individuals affiliated with terrorist groups, including AQIM, Ansar al-Sharia, AQAP, and the Mohammad Jamal Network, participated in the September 11, 2012, attacks,” the report said. The militant Ansar al-Sharia was, separately, labeled by the State Department as a terror group last week, in part over its alleged involvement in the Benghazi strike.

Declassified testimony reveals administration officials knew Benghazi was a terrorist attack

There’s been a lot of wrangling recently over Benghazi. At the end of December, for example, The New York Times ran a report stating that the attack on the American outpost in the Libyan city “was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”

The Times report also suggested that al-Qaeda wasn’t involved in the attack, though that has been disputed by members of Congress from both parties, including Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Whether or not the anti-Islam played a part in the attack or there was involvement from al-Qaeda affiliates will continue to be the subject of debate. But virtually everyone agrees that the assault on the compound, which lead to the deaths of four Americans, was a planned attack.

But questions, however, remain about the initial narrative that the White House and State Department tried to set about the attack. If you’ll recall, they blamed the incident on the anti-Islam YouTube video, calling it a protest gone awry.

James Rosen of Fox News has revealed declassified congressional testimony showing that top Defense Department officials knew from the beginning that the assault on Benghazi was a terrorist attack:

“Bridgeghazi” may not be far off, actually

In the latest episode of Twitter-spawned outrage, Politico tweeted about the New Jersey bridge scandal with a #Bridgeghazi hashtag. It turns out Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed had used it six hours earlier, and some random yahoo spawned it first on December 16. Regardless of who started it, the fury was swift and strong.

How could you compare the lane closure on a bridge in New Jersey to a terrorist attack that killed four American public servants? Seems crazy. However, the more you examine the details of the events and the responses to them, the more uncanny the similarities between the two events become.

Four Americans died in the attack on Benghazi, including two military personnel and the US Ambassador to Libya. It turns out someone may have died as a result of the bridge closure too. No, the New Jersey death isn’t directly attributable to the bridge issue, but a body count is a body count, and political foes will be sure to use it exhaustively going forward.

 


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