Obama’s Capitulation in Iraq

To be sure, when the last US forces left Iraq in 2011, the American population was ready for it. And the US forces had achieved most of their goals. The Hussein regime had been toppled, and a nascent viable government and security force were in place. 

Militarily, a small contingent should have been left to help build the Iraq forces, and to continue to reinforce their technical and tactical capabilities.

But during difficult negotiations with the Iraqi government over the Status of Forces led the Obama government to exercise its preferred option, and simply leave Iraq completely. After a fashion, it allowed Obama to proclaim victory. And the proclamation was far more important than any actual benefit or cost to the nation’s long term security interests.

And so we see today that Iraq has slowly been shuffling toward sectarian civil war. And now, the resurgent Al Qaeda group in the region, ISIS, has achieved significant victories in the last two days, seizing both Mosul, and today Tikrit.

This is, of course, precisely the situation critics of the abandonment policy warned of in 2011.

And not a few veterans are livid that the administration has squandered the chance for stability that their brothers in arms bought with their blood.

Then, by declining to provide a long-term security assistance force to an Iraq not yet able to handle the fight itself, we pulled defeat from the jaws of victory and increased the peril our Iraqi friends would face. By not training and equipping Syrian freedom fighters in the summer of 2012, we provided an opportunity for al-Qaeda to rebuild strength in the region. The renewed Sunni insurgency in Iraq joined with the worst of the anti-Assad forces in Syria present a threat greater than the fragile Iraqi government can handle on its own.

We are reaping the instability and increased threat to U.S. interests that we have sown through the failure of our endgame in Iraq and our indecisiveness in Syria. There is a clear lesson here for those contemplating a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Having given al-Qaeda a new lease on life in the Middle East, will we provide another base where it began, in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

This is not the end state my friends fought for and died for.

I understand that there is currently no popular public support for a recommitment of US troops to Iraq. But that isn’t the only option on the table.

It isn’t like the attacks on Mosul and Tikrit were wholly unexpected by the Iraqi government.

In fact, the Iraqi government requested US airpower, both manned and unmanned strikes, on ISIS assembly areas to blunt their attacks.

And Obama turned them down.

As the threat from Sunni militants in western Iraq escalated last month, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki secretly asked the Obama administration to consider carrying out airstrikes against extremist staging areas, according to Iraqi and American officials.

But Iraq’s appeals for military assistance have so far been rebuffed by the White House, which has been reluctant to open a new chapter in a conflict that President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011.

The swift capture of Mosul by militants aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has underscored how the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have converged into one widening regional insurgency with fighters coursing back and forth through the porous border between the two countries. But it has also cast a spotlight on the limits the White House has imposed on the use of American power in an increasingly violent and volatile region.

A spokeswoman for the National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, declined to comment on Mr. Maliki’s requests and the administration’s response, saying in a statement, “We are not going to get into details of our diplomatic discussions, but the government of Iraq has made clear that they welcome our support” in combating the Islamic extremists.

As I mentioned to a friend in relation to this topic either intentionally or through incompetence, the Obama administration has virtually always sided with the most islamist faction in every issue.

And a pretty fair amount of support could be provided to the Iraqi government without substantial presence of US forces inside Iraq. And while the American public is quite wary of any entanglements of troops on the ground, they’ve shown a remarkable complaisance toward US airpower being used. How many times has the US used drones in Yemen or Pakistan with little or no reaction from the general public?

Shift your eyes from the chaos in Iraq to Afghanistan, and we see the administration striving mightily to again flee the field. Look at the ability of the US to depose a mostly neutered Libyan strongman in favor of radical islamists, and to consistently back the most radical parts of the Muslim Brotherhood against popular opposition in Egypt. The administrations dithering and incomprehensible approach to Syria (admittedly, not a place with a lot of good options) hasn’t improved matters much.

Obama has repeatedly touted his “successes” as having “Al Qaeda on the run.” Sadly, it appears Al Qaeda is indeed running, sprinting for the finish line, while Barry trots to the locker room.

Obama will do anything to end  a war. Except win.

Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross awarded for actions in Benghazi

My primary frustration with the administration with regards to the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi is the lies, obfuscation, and dissembling.  Many will point out various warning signs before the attack and Hilary Clinton’s failure to address them. That’s a sin, of course, but she is hardly unique in that error of judgment. No, the immediate response of her and Obama was to tout a patently absurd tale of an obscure  YouTube video inciting riots, as well as willfully conflating events in Cairo with those in Benghazi.

The enemy gets a vote. Had the administration been willing to offer a plausible explanation, I’d have been willing to believe it. Would anyone be surprised to learn the CIA and various special operations forces were involved in post-civil war Libya, doing whatever it was they were doing? I suspect they were trying to funnel arms to various Syrian rebel factions, but a cover story about rounding up MANPADS missiles or some such would have done nicely.

But no, the admin lied, and badly at that. Worse, they’ve been doubling down time and again, thereby dragging out the scandal.

We still have no idea what really happened on the ground there that terrible night. But we do know it was a fantastically fierce fight. Via the Washington Times Rowan Scarborough:

In a unique battlefield commendation, a Marine Corps member of Delta Force has been awarded the nation’s second highest military honor for coming to the defense of Americans last year at a CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya.

Delta Force, a counterterrorism unit in the secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), has been thought of as a strictly Army outfit. But it does take on qualified “operators,” as they are called, from other services.

The Washington Times has reported that two Delta Force members were among a seven-person rescue team sent from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli to Benghazi on the night of Sept. 11, 2012. Their mission: rescue diplomats, security personnel and CIA employees pinned down by terrorists about a mile from the U.S. diplomatic mission where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and aide Sean Smith were killed by al Qaeda-directed militants.

The Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross are second only to the Medal of Honor.  One indication of just how fierce the fight must have been is the rapidity with which the awards were made. In a time when some awards languish for years, these two were made in less than a year.  Reading between the lines, one might suspect JSOC is sending a message that they aren’t pleased with the administration.

The part about a Marine being in Delta is interesting, but not really surprising. Delta is pretty open about its recruiting. Every promotable Specialist/Corporal in the Army is invited to a briefing (usually held annually). Delta makes very clear that they are looking for people outside the traditional combat arms. Their thinking is that if you can manage to pass the screening, they can teach you everything you need to know about fighting. What they want is to leverage other skillsets people outside the Army’s infantry community can bring. Delta spends a lot of its time doing stuff that needs more than just shoot/move/communicate small unit skills. And given the small size of the Infantry relative to the size of the Army, why limit themselves in the potential pool of applicants? So it’s not terribly surprising they’re willing to look outside the Army itself for qualified bodies. We’re just curious who else they might have been willing to take on. We recall that the Navy SEALs invited a handful of Coast Guardsmen to take a shot at BUD/S.

At any event, hail to the unknown heroes who have been recognized by for their gallantry and valor. Perhaps some day, their tale can be told.

H/T to This Ain’t Hell who notes:

Even though we’ll never hear about the award from the real folks who earned them, I’m sure we’ll hear from the fifty or so phonies who will claim the awards in the next few years.

Morning Links

Before I sally forth and do yardwork, here’s some items that have been on my mind.

Democrats walk out of Benghazi hearings before victims family members testify.

Seriously? How many times have we seen Democrats offer photogenic “victims” or “advocates” to testify before hearings?  The families of the dead in Benghazi have stated over and over they just wish to be heard.  But apparently “representative” to Dems means something different than what you or I might expect.

And here’s the thing about Benghazi that infuriates me. The administration lied to me (and you) with its utterly farcical story of a youtube video.

Had the administration put forth at least a plausible story, I’d be fairly understanding. Say a statement along the lines of “Amb. Stevens and the others were engaged in a low profile effort to secure missiles and other weapons from radical elements in the post-revolutionary environment in Libya when those elements staged an attack upon our consulate.” It’s plausible. And the enemy does get a vote. And it has the advantage of likely being mostly true.

Instead, the Obama administration has found itself having to deny, obfuscate and denigrate. And the thing with lying is, you keep digging yourself in deeper. It didn’t have to be this way.

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What is it with nutty professors? I support a great deal of academic freedom, and even a healthy dose of skepticism. But this dude is just nutters. FAU has enough issues they may need to rethink the value of his contributions to the school. And certainly, students and parents need to think very carefully about what kind of institutions they spend their (borrowed) money on.

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13 shot in the Navy Yard- Full court press in the news for days.
13 shot in Chicago- a blurb in the local papers.

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Have some splodey:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjOx3_-oiUU&w=448&h=252&hd=1]

The IRS Scandal- Why it was a Friday News Dump

Update- This just keeps getting better and better. The IRS Chief Counsel knew. And not just “tea party” was a code word:

Among the other revelations, on Aug. 4, 2011, staffers in the IRS’ Rulings and Agreements office “held a meeting with chief counsel so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue.”

On Jan, 25, 2012, the criteria for flagging suspect groups was changed to, “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement,” the report says. (emphasis mine-XBrad.)

Got that? If you form a non-profit to teach the public about their Constitution and Bill of Rights, you deserve a colonoscopy from the IRS.  One certainly wonders of maybe the IRS also asked for similar supporting documentation from that bastion of the right wing, The ACLU, long famous for education people about the Bill of Rights. I’m not holding my breath.

Original post below:

So, when news broke yesterday that “low level” IRS employees had targeted conservative, tea party type organizations applying for tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny, my question was, why did anyone in the IRS apologize? Normally, the scandal routine is a media report, followed by an agency response. In this case, seemingly out of the blue, the IRS apologized for this illegal behavior. Why?

Today, the other shoe drops. Not surprisingly, “low level” employees in this case is a synonym for senior IRS officials.

A federal watchdog’s upcoming report says senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups in 2011.

The disclosure contradicts public statements by former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who repeatedly assured Congress that conservative groups were not targeted.

On Friday, the IRS apologized for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if those groups were violating their tax-exempt status.

The Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration is expected to release the results of a nearly yearlong investigation in the coming week.

The Friday news dump was an “inoculation,” if you will.  Rather than letting the soon to be released report hit the wires cold, now administration officials can begin the “it’s old news” spin. Further, many people who only pay passing attention will remember the bogus Friday claim of “mistakes, but no malice” by “low level employees” and not bother to learn that senior officials were aware of the IRS targeting political opponents of the current administration. Don’t forget, when these groups first complained of the extraordinarily intrusive questionnaires were sent to these groups, the IRS flatly denied they were being targeted, or otherwise subjected to a level of scrutiny beyond the norm.

In the past, this administration has had remarkable success with this technique with the willing, eager aid of the media. I suspect there will be furious attempts by many members of the press to continue that trend.

But within just the last few days, we’ve started to see a few cracks in the media/White House wall of solidarity. The congressional hearing by whistleblowers on Benghazi has been the prime example, of course, with the media finally beginning to ask questions other than the fluffiest of fluff.

And while the vast majority of the media are ideological fellow travelers of the administration, they’ve also been subject to shoddy and condescending treatment by an administration that has been bent on controlling every aspect of the news cycle. Even the most mild criticism of the White House has lead to withering condemnation, threats to withhold access, freeze out sources, and otherwise punish any and all who stray from the message the White House alone sets. Understandably, a few reporters are starting to chafe. We’ll see if that may be enough to convince them to actually do their jobs.

Update:

 

Benghazi

I’ve not written much about the September 11, 2012 attack on our diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Mostly, this is because there is a lot of reporting, but very little information. Almost everything we know about that attack that cost the lives of four Americans is from second hand. And that’s a major part of the problem- the Obama administration is doing everything they can to conceal, deflect, obfuscate or deny any and all information about the incident. And so, scads of people around the internet speculate, or take one small piece of information and either use it out of context, or extrapolate far beyond what might reasonably be deduced.

So, I don’t have any answers.  I can guess and speculate with the best of ‘em, but won’t in this forum (though you’re welcome to!).

But I do have questions. Those questions fall into three main areas- 1. Security on site prior to the attack; 2. Actual events on the ground in Benghazi during the attack; 3. Post-attack information by the administration and its surrogates.

1.  Who made the decision as to the level of security for our diplomatic mission in Benghazi? As I understand it, Charlene Lamb has already claimed responsibility for that, but no clear message as to how she made her assessment has been forthcoming. What other agencies gave input into the force level? CIA? DoD? What was their assessment? Did seniors in DoS or the White House have input? 

2. We know the four Americans killed in Benghazi, but what of those Americans wounded? Do we even know their names? Why have they not been heard from? Did the security personnel in Tripoli and Benghazi have a contingency plan for an assault on our mission? Had they rehearsed it? Did they coordinate with EUCOM or AFRICOM for reinforcement or rescue? What supporting arms or units were tasked as the ready alert force? Did they even know they were tasked? Were they alerted? Did they rehearse for an alert? What requests were made, and when were they made?  And finally, and most obvious, when will we get a firsthand, unspun account of what actually transpired?

3. Why has the administration and its surrogates worked so hard to tell the American people that the assault was the result of a youtube video? Why have they made even asking routine questions as to what transpired a no-go zone? Who told Susan Rice to go out and flat out lie to the American people? I’m sure most of my audience has their own questions as well.

I don’t think it is reasonable to expect perfection in the protection of US diplomatic facilities worldwide. It’s a human endeavor, and mistakes and misjudgments happen. But the American people have a right to know that reasonable steps are being taken to protect our missions, and that when attacks occur, the administration in power responds in an open and honest fashion. I can forgive failure. I can’t forgive malfeasance.