These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 17, 2012.
Saturday, 17 November 2012
Generals and Geographic Bachelors
“It wasn’t his infidelity that I couldn’t bear; it was his cowardice.” – Tatiana de Rosnay
General David Petraeus illuminates two grand military issues at just the right moment; officer corps character and flag officer performance. Petraeus could be the poster child for a clueless Gilbert and Sullivan character too; “The very model of a modern major-general.” Major-general was the highest rank to which an officer might aspire to in the last century. Grade inflation created the contemporary glut of four stars, including Petraeus.
Gilbert and Sullivan’s Major General
David Petraeus gloried in wearing every token of service on his chest, including presumably the good conduct ribbon. Or maybe not! The good conduct medal only goes to grunts, not officers. Clearly, the good conduct award should hereafter be a badge of misplaced military expectations.
Nonetheless; the US Army, West Point, and officers like Petraeus continue to pay lip service to traditional military values and ethics like “duty, honor, and country.” The second imperative seems to have been honored in breach by the former ISAF commander. It’s hard to believe, as it was with Bill Clinton, that Paula Broadwell was a “one of.”
Or maybe the West Point honor oath is more relevant: “a cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal; or tolerate those who do.” Ironically, cheating on your wife seems to be a moral misdemeanor in the Army; while cheating on your trigonometry quiz could lead to dismissal. Alas, Cadet David gets the hat trick here. On the larceny count, Petraeus stole reputation from both sides of his family. His wife Holly is the daughter of a former West Point Superintendent.
And be not distracted by any “honey trap” nonsense; cheating on wives is a military tradition, not a scandal. Officially, a remote tour is designated “unaccompanied,” but overseas orders seldom require celibacy. Alas, unaccompanied officers are known in the trade as “geographic” bachelors. A senior officer is not busted for cheating; he gets drummed out of the corps for getting caught - too visibly.
And morality only becomes an issue when it embarrasses the Service. In this respect, contemporary military culture is no different than American political culture. If and when, Holly Petraeus, sings a few choruses of “Stand by Your Man,” as did Hilary Clinton; the triumph of bimbo ethics will be confirmed. Men behave like swine because the women in their lives, mothers and wives, have low or no expectations.
Patraeus not only gives new meaning to terms like “embedded” and “all in” but he and Mrs. Broadwell give a whole new dimension to “ring knockers,” a military euphemism for arogant military academy graduates. Indeed, if the general was making booty calls with GI Jane in Kabul, the angst in the ranks should be unique. Unlike Europe, Korea, and Vietnam; ordinary soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are discouraged, if not prohibited, from fraternizing with Muslim women. Like Saigon back in the day, however, apparently the brass gets first run on the imported camp followers. Rank still has perks.
For those who might argue that the military ethos is different, consider who comes to defend Petraeus and the nature of the arguments. Members of both political parties, (e.g. Nancy Pelosi and Lindsey Graham ) and the Media lament the loss of a “great leader” to personal, as opposed to professional, failings.
This is the same limp mantra cooked up for Bill Clinton. Neither defense holds water. Perjury is a crime in any court; and adultery, as Petraeus should know, is a court martial offence under the UCMJ. Note that it is the Republican House who excuses Petraeus from testifying, as scheduled, in the Benghazi fiasco. Republicans can’t seem to court enough ill will these days.
So much for the general’s character.
Defending Petraeus on performance grounds may be an even a shakier argument. The general belongs to the “kiss up, kick down” school of military management, again an import from the political world. Like politicians, political generals insist on deprivations from which they usually exempt themselves.
Recall, that during the hot war in Iraq, serving under a Republican, Petraeus was vilified as General “Betrayus.” Now, under a Democrat administration, as the retreat from Afghanistan unfolds, the former ISAF commander is held up as a national hero. Where are the victories? Is the Arab or Muslim world more pacific or stable today, because Petraeus marched through?
Even insipid goals like “transition” are a shell game. We still have troops in Iraq; and after 2014, a similar contingent will remain in Kabul. The true accomplishments of all those small wars in the Muslim world to date are twofold; NATO has simplified the Islamist target set and enabled the triumph of radical religious politics. Indeed, American troops are now killed by our so-called “moderate” Muslim allies; surely a comfort to Islamists.
The great failure of senior officers like Petraeus is candor, or more bluntly, integrity. America cannot do for Muslims what Islam is unwilling to do for itself. That fundamental ground truth is ignored or spun by senior military officers and politicians alike.
And are we to believe that Petraeus reinvented the Army with novel counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine? The test of any doctrine is achievement; or to use a word absent from flag officer vocabulary these days, the test of military theory is victory. There are only two routes to change in the Ummah; reform or defeat. Neither is evident after 50 years of futile American sacrifice.
Politics and yearly troop rotations are at odds with the Petraeus doctrine. The force ratios required by the Army Manual (FM 3-24) will never be achieved with the current force structure; and brief, but repeat, deployments are at odds with consolidating any annual gains or winning any “hearts or minds.”
Problems with academic theory begin with flawed assumptions; nearly all conflicts in the Muslim world are civil wars, not insurgencies. The Army doesn’t have a foreign civil war mandate. Unfortunately, the Marine Corps has bought into the COIN nonsense too. The elimination of the draft makes it easier for politicians and generals to play fast and loose with national treasure and volunteer lives; another ground truth ignored by Petraeus doctrine.
Before leaving the performance report, we might look at some of the small steps that allowed Petraeus to advance from Kabul to Langley. First was that borderline anti-Semitic CENTCOM study commissioned by Patraeus that suggests that resolving the Israel question is key to abating Muslim rage. Nonsense!
Israel/Palestine is a regional problem; Islamism is a global conflict. Secular governments worldwide are the real Islamic targets. Israel is a convenient distraction, a political stalking horse. And Tel Aviv has made a host of territorial concessions since defeating the Arab armies; all to no avail. Elimination of Israel is the oft stated goal of Palestinians and Islamists alike. Appeasement in the Levant could only hasten another Holocaust. Petraeus is no friend of Israel, and that alone made him a poor choice for CIA.
Israeli Palestinians are better off than any similar group living in any Arab country, including Jordan and Lebanon. Indeed, at one time or other, Jordanians, Egyptians, and Lebanese have successfully exterminated militant Palestinians. Israel’s tolerance of Arabs and Islam, by any measure, is enlightened.
The CENTCOM study and Petraeus clearly catered to existing bias, a kind of closet anti-Semitism, among the American academic Left and Obama acolytes. Petraeus subsequently consolidated his politically correct posture on Islam by taking a knee in Afghanistan. American women in uniform were encouraged to wear the hijab while on patrol. Pandering now trumps American troop safety as America slinks out of South Asia.
By such baby steps does an officer, with little or no Intelligence experience, advance from Princeton to CIA. Petraeus garnered an Agency sinecure with a wet finger in the political winds. He was politically correct on all things Islamic. He was reliable – until Paula came along.
So we are left to ponder the merits of several heliographic Petraeus biographies. In retrospect, Paula Broadwell’s powder puff pastiche, All In (sic): the Education of David Petraeus is at once an inside joke and reminiscent of Doris Kerns Goodwin’s methodology and subsequent biography of Lyndon Johnson - another politician who quit in the middle of a tedious war. The literary world needs to stop calling tomes about the living, “valentines.” A more appropriate classification would be toilette biography.
G. Murphy Donovan is a Vietnam veteran and former Intelligence officer who writes frequently about national security, military affairs, and politics.
The president of the extreme right-wing Swiss Nationalist Party (PNOS) has been acquitted of defamation and racial discrimination charges stemming from an anti-minaret rally. Swiss voters approved a ban on the construction of new minarets in Switzerland in 2009, approving an initiative launched by right-wing groups.
In a well-publicized stunt, Lüthard used a broom to brush away cardboard models of five minarets placed on the Swiss national flag while supporters applauded. Justice authorities pressed charges, accusing the politician of comparing a religious symbol with dirt that needed to be cleared away.
A lawyer for the Islamic Community of Lagenthal accused Lüthard of disparaging a symbol of Islam by deliberately wiping the model minarets into the dirt.
The Islamic community of Lagenthal, which had received local permission to build a minaret before the vote, has sought legal avenues to have the ban set aside, but so far without success.
A regional court in Burgdorf, in the canton of Bern, found Dominic Lüthard not guilty of the charges relating to a 2010 rally of around 150 people protesting the construction of a minaret in Langenthal.
Kim Kardashian receives a barrage of death threats after tweeting about Israel attacks
Sadly the silly girl then went and apologised for the offence caused by her praying for people's wellbeing. From Yahoo News
Kim Kardashian has been sent abuse and death threats from anti-Semitic users of Twitter. Following the recent rocket attacks on Jerusalem, the Keeping up with the Kardashian's star decided to tweet her prayers for the country.
She tweeted: "Praying for everyone in Israel."
Unfortunately for Kim, quite a lot of people on Twitter didn't agree with her sentiments and brought it upon themselves to give her a piece of their mind. The angry tweets included telling Kim Kardashian to 'kill yourself' and 'Die in HELL'.
One angry user questioned Kim's intelligence by saying: "Further enhancing your reputation as a dumb porn star," while another picked up on her Armenian heritage posting: "You are a disgrace to your people and your ancestors". Her Armenian forbears were murdered in a genocide by followers of the same ideology now threatening Israel which I would have thought contributed to her sympathy.
She later took to her official website with a statement regarding the tweet."I realized that some people were offended and hurt by what I said, and for that I apologize. I should have pointed out my intentions behind these tweets when I posted them. The fact is that regardless of religion and political beliefs, there are countless innocent people involved who didnt choose this, and I pray for all of them and also for a resolution."
Terrorists charged: Attack on Moscow railroad foiled
Moscow police detained members of Hizb ut-Tahrir for allegedly recruiting volunteers in the capital’s mosques last week according to Russia Today here. They have now been charged. It is not clear from the report whether the plot to attack Moscow's railway is a new one, or the men recently arrested were involved in the plot of 2010, or the plot of 2010 is mentioned to remind the reader of the sort of thing they could have been plotting.
Nine nationals of Russia and Tajikistan have officially been charged with organization of activities for the banned terrorist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, or Islamic Party of Liberation, says the Russia’s Internal Ministry.
The terrorist group activists are also accused of illegal possession of explosives, explosive devices and ammunition. Earlier this week, 18 activists of the group were arrested for allegedly recruiting volunteers in Moscow’s mosques and distributing extremist literature. During a search in the suspects’ apartments, police found guns, 10 grenades, and guides to recruiting people and promoting radical Islam. In addition, the law enforcers seized what was believed to be incomplete counterfeit notes for $1 million and 2 million euro. The activists were also issuing printing materials urging an overflow of the constitutional power in Russia and the creation of Islamic state caliphate in the country’s European part.
Hamas: "Thanks for the electricity, water, aid and the food"
While "militants" in Hamas-run Gaza were assaulting Israel on a daily basis recently, IDF soldiers and Israeli workers were risking life and limb to repair Gaza's electrical supply, which was damaged by the very same "militants". It puts the present events with Operation Pillar of Cloud in some perspective, and is all the more remarkable since Israel is demonised on the International stage for blockading Gaza. Popular British-Israeli blogger Anneinpt writes:
The photographs below were taken by an anonymous Arutz Sheva reader who witnessed a strange scene on the Gaza perimeter recently. They show an Israel Electric Company (IEC) employee hoisted on a crane in order to fix a malfunction that denied electricity to Gaza City.
The operation, which of course is carried out by Israel for the benefit of Gazans, has to be carried out with military protection, because Gaza terrorists regularly target Israelis on the perimeter fence, including those they know are trying to assist them by fixing infrastructure or letting in goods. Numerous Israelis have been killed and wounded in precisely this way since 2000.
Soldiers therefore fan out around the electrical pole where the fixing needs to be carried out. The IEC workers are briefed and they put on helmets and flak jackets. To top it all off, a large metal wall is hoisted into the air by a crane in order to protect the IEC worker as he supplies power to Gazans, including the very people who will shoot him dead if they get a clean shot.
The question that arises immediately is “Are we insane?”. Especially as Israel is constantly, persistently and perniciously accused of blockading Gaza, denying Gazans vitally necessary goods and services like electricity and water – all of which accusations are demonstrably false.
And do we ever hear condemnation from anyone anywhere outside Israel of those “poor innocent Gazans” who attack the very people who come to their aid? Imagine the outrage if the IEC refused to fix any more electrical faults because of the very real danger to their workmen?
It’s not only IEC workers of course who are targeted by those “poor innocent Gazans”. They regularly attack the border crossings where hundreds of trucks laden with thousands of tons of goods cross daily into Gaza. Why would anyone think the IEC would be exempt? [...]
Hamas have in the past refused any Israeli offer to repair their utilites. Moreover, they are not even willing to discourage attacks on Israeli workers when important work is carried out voluntarily to benefit the territory they rule with an iron grip, intimidating and violently crushing political dissent. It is clear that Hamas does not work to even to a very slightest extent with Israel for the benefit of the people that elected them. Yet apologists for that ruling terrorist institution continue to insist they're "pragmatists" - oh if only Israel would talk to them!
A Musical Interlude: Fight Fiercely Harvard (Tom Lehrer)
News item today:
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Harvard quarterback Colton Chapple scrambled 18 yards for one touchdown and had a 61-yard run to set up another on Saturday to lead the Crimson to a 34-24 victory over Yale and their sixth consecutive victory in The Game.
It is the first time in a rivalry that started in 1875 that Harvard (8-2, 5-2 Ivy League) has beaten Yale six times in a row. Yale (2-8, 1-6) won six in a row from 1902-07 and eight in a row in the 1880s.
And listen to The Elementsby him so mixed, that nature might stand up/And say to all the world, ' This was a man.'
Courant and Robbins, James Newman, Garret Birkhoff, Richard Brauer, The Infinite Corridor, Pogo For President, The Shmoo, Yee Hong Guey at 34 Oxford Street (upstairs)-- these all are part of the universe of Tom Lehrer.
Jonathan Schanzer has both important questions and analysis in this Foreign Policy article: A Pillar of Problems. Schanzer is VP for Research at the washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He has been a mainstay on our 1330AMWEBY Middle East Roundtable discussions frequently published as transcripted articles on the New English Review. Look for such an article in the December NER with Shoshana Bryen, Senior fellow of the Jewish Policy Center in Washington, 1330AMWEBY "Your Turn" host Mike Bates and co-host, yours truly, Jerry Gordon.
by Jonathan Schanzer, Foreign Policy, November 16, 2012
Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense, after three days of air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, could be entering into a new phase of a larger ground invasion. While the war has been dissected six ways to Sunday, there are still gaping holes in our understanding of it, and several questions remain unanswered. Here are eight of them.
1. Was there an Israeli intelligence failure? There is reason to believe that the Israelis were surprised that so many Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles had found their way into Gaza. Of course, the Israelis cannot account for every single item smuggled through the tunnels connecting the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip. And the Israelis appear to know exactly what they are hunting for. But the existence of these rockets -- which one senior Israeli intelligence official calls "game changers" -- is a red line for the Israelis. The very fact that they made it into Gaza without being intercepted or destroyed, and that some have subsequently been fired deep into Israeli territory, represents a failure on some level. This could prompt an official inquiry in Israel, where the brass put a premium on learning from mistakes.
2. Did Turkey, Qatar, and Egypt ever have a handle on Hamas? In recent months, Turkey, Qatar, and Egypt, all closely aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, have drawn closer to Hamas, which is itself a splinter of that group. These three governments have, in one way or another, been working to politically rehabilitate the Islamist movement and integrate it into the new regional order of the Arab Spring. From all appearances, Washington tacitly approved of this; it certainly did not publicly oppose it. The assumption was that, in light of a precipitous drop in Iranian financing and Hamas' subsequent departure from its headquarters in Syria, the group was perhaps prepared to evolve into a more pragmatic entity. With this recent round of violence, and the use of Iranian long-range missiles, we can draw two broad conclusions: Either Hamas' new patrons are behind its latest violence, or they were blindsided by it. If the latter, did they ever have Hamas under control?
3. Did Iran ever relinquish its grip on Hamas? To put it another way, the reports of the demise of the Axis of Resistance (Iran-Syria-Hamas) may have been greatly exaggerated. The ties between Iran and Hamas' military apparatus, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, date back to the early 1990s, when Hamas trained in Sudan with Iranian cooperation and assistance. With the knowledge that Iranian Fajr-5 missiles made their way to Hamas, it is reasonable to wonder if Iran ever left the scene.
4. Did the Israelis target a cache of Fajr-5's in Sudan? Speaking of Sudan, it is widely believed that the Israeli Air Force targeted an Iranian weapons factory in Khartoum last month. Were the Israelis targeting Fajr-5 rockets there? Sudan has long been known to serve as a point of origin for Middle East smuggling routes delivering weapons to Gaza. After that operation, it is possible that Israel realized that a number of those "game-changer" missiles had already reached Gaza, suggesting the aforementioned intelligence failure. Was Gaza part two of a two-part operation that began in Sudan?
5. Will Hamas Upstage the PLO? Even with an arsenal of more lethal rockets in its possession, Hamas has no way of winning a war with Israel. If past is prologue, Hamas' leaders know that drawing Israel into conflict will elicit punishing reprisals. So why bother? One plausible explanation is that the war is just as much about Hamas' domestic arch-rivals, the PLO, as it is about Israel. The PLO is preparing to upgrade its mission at the United Nations later this month, and in the process, claiming to speak for the Palestinian people as a whole. This current round of violence steals the thunder of the PLO; has anyone even talked about the U.N. maneuver since this round of violence erupted? It also sends a pointed message: while the PLO concocts crafty legal schemes in New York, Hamas is doing battle with Israel in the name of the Palestinian cause. Was this the intended message? If so, Washington needs to be paying closer attention to what's happening on the ground.
6. Where's Washington? Despite long-standing tensions between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House has come out in full support of the Israeli operation in Gaza, citing Israel's right to respond to the hundreds of rockets that Hamas and other jihadis have fired off in recent days. Admittedly, many administration officials appear to be in Asia right now, but the overall message is a green light for Israel. How long will this support last?
7. Will this impact the Israeli elections in January? Netanyahu detractors charge that the Israeli leader is using the operation in Gaza as a means of increasing voter support ahead of the upcoming elections. In reality, Bibi is the front-runner by a wide margin, and scarcely needs to rally the Israeli public around the flag. If anything, military missteps could weaken his position. As a shrewd student of Israeli politics, Bibi has undoubtedly been weighing the costs of the Gaza operation every step of the way. The Israeli voting public will tell him how he did in about two months' time.
8. Can a ceasefire last? On Friday, Israel's ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, stated that the Israelis had knocked out most of the long-range missiles they were hunting, indicating that perhaps the primary mission had been accomplished. The Israelis say they want a ceasefire, even as they call up 75,000 ground troops. They say it all depends on Hamas halting the rocket fire. But even if the two primary actors agree, will the other factions in Gaza acquiesce? The Iran-sponsored Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committees, along with Salafi groups and even the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade -- a splinter of the secular Fatah faction under PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas -- have been firing rockets on a freelance basis. Will they continue to fire on Israel even if Hamas halts? If so, the conflict could last a lot longer.
Abu Qatada was home but he wouldn't answer the door . . .
Men and women of the EDL, March for England and the Casuals, being advised of the home address of Abu Qatada in the Wembley area of north London attended there this evening at short notice. I wasn't there but I am told that Qatada and Mrs Q were believed to be at home, his curtains twitched but he wouldn't open the door to them. It seems his surprise homecoming party was not welcome.
After the welcome he got from his immediate neighbours on Wednesday I expect he will be nagging the Home Office to hurry up and arrange his new tax-payer funded home asap.
NATO report exposed danger of Afghan 'insider attacks'
A damning report exposing the causes of a surge in “insider attacks” by Afghan troops was suppressed by military commanders, The Telegraph has learnt.
Nato chiefs were warned last year, in a document they commissioned, that the attacks were “part of a growing and systematic threat” that was undermining the war effort. But the report, from Dr Jeffrey Bordin, an American behavioural scientist, was declared secret, and he was removed from his job and forced to leave Afghanistan.
Since the report was produced, a third of British casualties have been the result of so-called green on blue attacks, with 12 soldiers shot dead by the Afghan police or army in Helmand province this year. Last weekend Capt Walter Barrie, 41, of The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Bn The Royal Regiment of Scotland, was the latest to die when he was shot by a member of the Afghan army after a football match following a Remembrance Sunday service.
The report contained a series of warnings about the risk from Afghan forces to their western allies. It said that attacks were not “isolated incidents”, as had been suggested by both British and US commanders, but were part of a worsening trend.
Days after the report was published, in May last year, Dr Bordin’s research was roundly criticised by the military and the document was classified “Secret”. Dr Bordin was removed from his job as a “Red Team Leader”, at the head of a research group formed to find weaknesses in military plans, and told to leave Afghanistan, where he had spent four years working for Nato.
By declaring it secret, it could not be shared among officers across Afghanistan. Although Isaf is American-led, its deputy commander is always British, and other senior staff are drawn from British ranks, meaning it is highly likely that senior British officers saw the report. Dr Bordin strongly criticised the decision to keep it secret. “That was the height of immoral behaviour,” he said. “I have knowledge that can help save American lives and I was ordered not to give that information out to another military entity.
It is understood that British troops arriving in Helmand are now specifically briefed that the Uniformed Afghan Police represent a “significant threat to their security” and “should not be trusted”. After interviewing more than 600 US and Afghan soldiers, Dr Bordin recognised “a rapidly growing systemic homicide threat (a magnitude of which may be unprecedented between 'allies’ in modern military history)”
His 70-page report, entitled“A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility”, spoke of a breakdown in relations between Western soldiers and their Afghan colleagues. Afghans, it found, had been provoked into fights, and even attempts to kill, by behaviour that included Western soldiers “urinating in public, their cursing at, insulting and being rude and vulgar to ANSF members, and unnecessarily shooting animals”. These are excuses - the true reason is Islam.
Western troops, especially Americans, regarded the Afghans they were fighting alongside as untrustworthy, dishonest, incompetent and practising “repulsive hygiene”. Is that a euphemism for bacha bazi?
Jennifer Rubin in her Washington Post "Right Turn" blog yesterday, cited an investigative report by John Solomon of The Washington Guardian that President knew that Ansar al Shariah, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Libya and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb were the jihadis behind the attack on the US consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi, "The President knew the truth About Benghazi" . Solomon is an ex-AP and Washington Post journalist.
Now we know that General Petreaus, the defamed formel Director of Central Intelligence, knew that as well, as leaked from yesterday's Capital Hill select Senate and House Intelligence Committee hearings, although he went along with the 'edited' time-line charade Solomon that to reveal same would 'jeopardize' sources, see this Washington Examiner report, "Talking Point Editred to Play Down Terrorrism". We await public hearings to address what the US consulate and especially the CIA Annex were doing in Benghazi. The explanation by Petreaus's paramour, Army Reserve Major Paula Broadwell at a University of Denver alumni presentation on October 26th that the CIA annex was used for interrogation of captured Ansar al Shariah terrorists appears to have been denied by the CIA. Perhaps, the CIA annex and the consulate were used for other matters, including coordination on arms filtering to Syrian opposition forces with the "absent' Turkish Consul General who the late Ambassador. Stevens dined with that evening. We note that the media, whether in Turkey or in the West, have yet to track down and interview the Turkish General Consul. Those are the speculations by Clare Lopez, Senior Fellow at RadicalIslam.org in a CounterJihad report, and Steve and Shoshana Bryen, the husband and wife team in a PJ Media, article. Steve Bryen is a former Assistant Secretary of Defense and Shoshana Bryen is Senior fellow at the Washington, DC-based Jewish policy Center.
Rubin's blog noted Solomon's revelations:
Citing officials directly familiar with the information, Solomon writes in the Washington Guardian that Obama and other administration officials were told that “that the attack was likely carried out by local militia and other armed extremists sympathetic to al-Qaida in the region.”
The details from the CIA and Pentagon assessments of the killing of Ambassador Chris [Stevens] were far more specific, more detailed and more current than the unclassified talking points that UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other officials used five days after the attack to suggest to Americans that an unruly mob angry over an anti-Islamic video was to blame, officials said.
Most of the details affirming al-Qaida links were edited or excluded from the unclassified talking points used by Rice in appearances on news programs the weekend after the attack, officials confirmed Friday. Multiple agencies were involved in excising information, doing so because it revealed sources and methods, dealt with classified intercepts or involved information that was not yet fully confirmed, the officials said.
Solomon cautions that there were bits of evidence pointing to a spontaneous attack but, as Eli Lake of the Daily Beast and others have reported, he writes: “Among the early evidence cited in the briefings to the president and other senior officials were intercepts showing some of the participants were known members or supporters of Ansar al-Sharia — the al-Qaida-sympathizing militia in Libya — and the AQIM, which is a direct affiliate of al-Qaida in northern Africa, the officials said.”
Rubin goes on to say:
This report indicates that the president certainly knew that Benghazi wasn’t a rogue movie review gone bad. He had information that plainly spelled out what was later confirmed by additional intelligence. If this information was too confidential to share with the public, at the very least the president and others should not have mislead voters.
This is a full-blown scandal, and in light of this information, the press corps’s slothful indifference to uncovering the truth at Wednesday’s news conference with Obama is all the more shocking. It is time for the president to come clean. The scandal has now enveloped the Oval Office and will define his second term, if not resolved satisfactorily.
The irony of this is that Rice may well have been used as a patsy, unaware that she was sent out to spin a misleading tale. My colleague Dana Milbank recounts Rice’s long-standing inability to get along with others and to be circumspect in her pronouncements:
It’s true that, in her much-criticized TV performance, she was reciting talking points given to her by the intelligence agencies. But that’s the trouble. Rice stuck with her points even though they had been contradicted by the president of the Libyan National Assembly, who, on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ just before Rice, said there was “no doubt” that the attack on Americans in Benghazi “was preplanned.” Rice rebutted the Libyan official, arguing — falsely, it turned out — that there was no evidence of such planning. . . . Obama can do better at State than Susan Rice.
Frankly the same could be said of many national security positions at this point. The American people made their choice in November on the president, but it now appears they were duped regarding the real facts concerning Benghazi. What are we going to do about that?
Is the Muslim Brotherhood Behind Protests for a Change in Jordan?
Protests in Amman Jordan 11-16-12
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was rocked by four days of protests, a death, and more than 280 arrests culminating in a massive rally in Amman following Friday prayers. Is this a reflection of economic issues, the failure of Egypt to deliver cooking gas or ‘change’. If the case, is the Muslim Brotherhood poised to take over if King Abdullah II and the Hashemite Kindom falls? Is the US quietly holding behind the scene discussions?
"There is a thirst for change," Mark Toner, the deputy State Department spokesman said on Thursday. He added that Jordanians had "economic, political concerns as well as aspirations."
The WSJ account noted that the Amman protesters chanted:
Thousands of protesters turned out Friday, the fourth consecutive day of demonstrations across the country. In downtown Amman, the capital, a large group of protesters drawn from various groups including Islamists, leftist liberals and independents called for a "revolution," chanting, "People want the toppling of the regime."
The WSJ report went on to stress the economic factors:
Jordan has sidestepped the worst turmoil from the Arab Spring uprisings. But when the government cut fuel subsidies this week, discontent was stirred among a population suffering one of the region's highest rates of unemployment. The price increases that resulted pushed prices of cooking gas up more than 50%, diesel and kerosene by 33% and some grades of gasoline by 14%.
[. . .]
The government subsidy reductions were urged by international monetary authorities, to whom Jordan has turned for emergency loans, part of a plan to deal with an acute financial crisis. The government is coping with a record budget deficit, in part caused by the loss of a major gas pipeline from Egypt to recurrent sabotage by militants.
Rising global fuel prices and disruptions in gas shipments from Egypt have cost the government $5 billion, according to Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, and helped push the budget deficit to nearly $3 billion this year, or about 12% of Jordan's gross domestic product.
Since Tuesday, when the price increases were announced, protesters have clashed with police, burned tires, blocked roads and torched government buildings.
Then, we had this comment from a Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood Islamic Action Front (IAF) activist at the protests:
Abdel Rahman Khasawneh, 40 years old, an activist with the Islamic Action Front (IAF), an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), said he was protesting against "the war of prices the government has waged on citizens."
He warned of serious repercussions for the monarchy. "Too much pressure will lead to an explosion. This is how it started in Tunisia, Egypt and ended in Damascus. God forbid, we don't want Amman to explode."
Jordan is headed for new parliamentary elections in January, so the issue may be will there be reforms and will the IAF and MB doing something to foment change.
One has to ask why the US has been in behind the scenes discussions with the leadership of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, if not to prepare for a Plan B should the Hashemite Kingdom fall.
Controller General; Sheik Hamamm Said
Jordanain Islamic Action Front Muslim Brotherhood
As noted in a new Geostrategy report, The US may be quietly helping Muslim Brotherhood opposition in Jordan:
The Gatestone Institute has raised the prospect that the Obama administration is encouraging the Muslim Brotherhood opposition in Jordan to clamor for power.
In a report, the influential institute said former CIA and other officials might have been meeting with Brotherhood controller-general Hamam Said.
“It might be helpful now to start wondering what sort of ideas Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, and its leader, Controller General Sheikh Hamam Said, will advance if they seize power in Jordan — possibly with the blessing and encouragement of the United States,” the October 26, 2012 report, titled “Jordan’s Next Leader? With Help from the U.S. Department of State,” said.
Authored by researcher Mudar Zahran, the report cited statements from an article by prominent Jordanian journalist Osama Al Rantisi. On July 14, 2011, Al Rantisi asserted that Said held a meeting in Turkey with recently retired officers from the CIA as well as Britain’s MI5. In May 2012, Al Rantisi provided further details for the Saudi-owned network Al Arabiya.
“Dr. Hamam Said and former Egyptian Brotherhood leader Dr. Kamal Halbawi had met last June [of 2011] in Istanbul, Turkey with former CIA deputy director Steven Kappes, and former MI5 chief Eliza Manningham-Buller,” Al Rantisi wrote. “The US government and its intelligence services will support the Muslim Brotherhood goals of coming to power.”
In 2008, Said, who hails from a Palestinian family, was elected leader of Jordan’s Brotherhood. The report said Said and his faction support the Palestinian Hamas as well as the overthrow of pro-U.S. regimes in the Middle East.
In mid-2012, Said’s son, Anes, posted a video on YouTube in which he attacked the Brotherhood leader. Anes, an architect, called his father “licentious and corrupt” and said the Brotherhood “trades in religion.”
The report cited U.S. Embassy cables that tell of contacts between American diplomats and Said’s close ally, Saud Abu Mahfouz. One cable, sent in March 2008, spoke of the rising influence of Said within the Islamic opposition.
“It would be illuminating to know what further communication there has been, and is today, between the U.S. administration and the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood,” the report, dated Oct. 26, said. “With a U.S. administration that has such a pronounced record of appeasing Islamists, it is not unlikely that Hamam Said will be accepted and tolerated by the U.S. establishment — at the expense of moderate Jordanians and the secular Jordanian opposition.”
If the Arab Spring comes to Jordan and the Hashemite Kingdom falls, Israel’s peace treaty will be in immediate jeopardy. Moreover, should secular Jordanian Palestinian opponents like Mudar Zahran fail in an effort to counterbalance the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Jordan, we only have ourselves and the Obama Administration to blame for another act of moral capitulation in the Middle East. Israel will truly be the canary in the mines of radical Islam, surrounded by mortal Jihadist enemies on all of its borders. Pity!
TEL AVIV — When Israel assassinated the top Hamas military commander in Gaza on Wednesday, setting off the current round of fierce fighting, it was aiming not just at a Palestinian leader but at a supply line of rockets from Iran that have for the first time given Hamas the ability to strike as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, had shifted Hamas’s low-grade militia into a disciplined force with sophisticated weapons like Fajr-5 rockets, which are named after the Persian word for dawn and have significantly increased the danger to Israel’s major cities. They have a range of about 45 miles and are fired by trained crews from underground launching pads.
Hamas had perhaps 100 of them until the Israeli attacks last week, which appear to have destroyed most of the stockpile. The rockets are assembled locally after being shipped from Iran to Sudan, trucked across the desert through Egypt, broken down into parts and moved through Sinai tunnels into Gaza, according to senior Israeli security officials.
The smuggling route involves salaried employees from Hamas along the way, Iranian technical experts traveling on forged passports and government approval in Sudan, Israeli officials said.
Mr. Jabari’s strategy has been so effective and alarming for Israel that it is preparing for a possible next stage in the four-day-old battle: a ground war in which its troops would seek to destroy remaining rocket launching bases and crews and munitions factories.
Under Mr. Jabari, Hamas also developed its own weapons industry in Gaza, building long-range rockets as well as drones that they hoped to fly over Israel just as Israeli drones roam the skies of Gaza, sowing fear in its population.
The current operation to eliminate the Hamas rocket launchers could serve to cripple the ability of Iran’s allies in Gaza from retaliating should Israel ever carry out its threat to attack Iranian nuclear facilities.
“Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad are building weapons with experts from Iran,” one top security official said Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity. “What we took care of last night was their own production facility for U.A.V.’s,” he added, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. “This was all the work of Jabari, who was a very sophisticated and strategic thinker.”
A number of recent Israeli military attacks were aimed at cutting the supply chain into Gaza. In late October, a munitions factory in Sudan was hit from the air. Israel did not acknowledge carrying out the attack, but the winks and nods of officials here make clear that it did. Israel has carried out several other such attacks on Sudan, including on convoys, in the past few years.
One official here said that until Israel ended its military occupation of Gaza in 2005, there were only primitive weapons factories there. The Hamas rockets had a flight capacity of about a mile, they could not be aimed and they flew in a wild cylindrical pattern. Hamas then built better rockets that could fly up to 12 miles.
That changed little until 2007, when Hamas fighters pushed the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority out of Gaza into the West Bank and took over governing the coastal strip.
“At that point, Jabari turned his neighborhood defense operation into a real army,” said a retired Israeli general whose portfolio included Gaza and who spoke on condition of anonymity. “He organized what was a militia into companies, battalions and brigades. He sent commanders to Syria and to Iran to be trained by the Revolutionary Guards. And then he built up this whole new branch to develop military technology focusing on long-range missiles.”
The collapse of the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya last year created other supply options for Hamas as Libyan military storehouses were raided and the equipment sold off. Those weapons were driven across Egypt and into Gaza.
It remains to be seen whether Mr. Jabari’s death will truly cripple Hamas, or whether it will find someone equally adept to take his place, the officials said.
In addition to the Fajr-5, Hamas has a few hundred of what are known as enhanced Grad rockets, which have a range of about 25 miles. The Grads are 122-millimeter rockets that have bigger warheads than the standard Grads, but their accuracy is relatively low. The Grads may also be coming from Iran, Mr. White said, but others are made in Gaza and imported from Libya.
In addition, Hamas has hundreds of standard Grads that have a range of about 12 miles, as well as thousands of homemade mortars and Qassam rockets with a range of about six miles.
Israeli officials said the movement of the Fajr-5 rockets through Egypt could not go unnoticed there, given their size. Each is 20 feet long and weighs more than 2,000 pounds — the warhead alone weighs 375 pounds — and the trucks carrying them across Egyptian bridges and through roadblocks into Sinai would be hard to miss.
In the current conflict, Israel’s antirocket system, known as Iron Dome, has been more effective than expected, but still dozens of rockets have landed.
Whether the military operation against Gaza is a dress rehearsal for any future attack on either Iran or Lebanon — where Hezbollah has thousands of rockets pointed at Israel — is a matter under debate here. Some see it as clearing away any possible trouble from Gaza. Others say that makes little sense, given the difference of scale in the conflict in Gaza and any war against Iran or Hezbollah. Hamas’s arsenal is tiny compared with what Hezbollah in Lebanon is thought to have: thousands of rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv.
Yonatan Touval, an analyst with Prime Source, a private Tel Aviv risk-assessment company, said, “The Iron Dome system is ineffective in intercepting longer-range projectiles, such as those that would be launched from Lebanon toward the Tel Aviv area. To address this threat, Israel is currently developing the Magic Wand system, but it is not expected to become operational before 2015.”
He added that the fighting now was therefore not really a test of a future conflict involving Iran and Lebanon. “If Israel’s political leadership is treating the current operation in Gaza as something of a rehearsal for a future war with Hezbollah and Iran, it is rehearsing the wrong play,” he said.
The BBC took to Twitter to let the world know that it thinks that there is no difference between terrorists and victims.
If you are unaware of what is going on in Israel lately, Hamas and the Palestinians have been launching rockets into the Jewish State killing women and children in a renewed and sustained attack. Today, the Israeli government and her Defense Force (IDF) have at last had enough. The IDF even took to Twitter to warn the Palestinians that retaliation is immanent.
Israel launched a few missiles of her own this week and has made threats that it is considering using ground forces to stop the constant barrage of rockets steaming into its territory, killing innocents.
So, how did the BBC turn this unprovoked attack on Israel by terrorists and a corresponding announcement of defensive action into an exercise in blame-the-victims?
Out of 824 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel over the past few days, 100 have landed in Gaza itself, statistics show.
By Elad Benari
Qassam rocket (archive)
While Gaza’s terrorists have fired hundreds of rockets and missiles into Israel over the past few days, quite a few have landed in Gaza itself.
According to statistics published by the IDF on Saturday night as the fourth day of Operation Pillar of Defense ended, 824 rockets have been fired at Israel, 243 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. 100 of those rockets have landed in Gaza.
At the same time, IAF aircraft, using precise intelligence, have succeeded in hitting no less than 900 terrorist targets in the four days of the operation.
On Saturday, the Hamas government headquarters, which housed Gaza "prime minister" Ismail Haniyeh's offices, were leveled to the ground. In addition, "security compounds, tunnels and electricity transformers" were hit, according to Al Jazeera.
The IDF's attacks from air and sea have been very accurate, and attempts to minimize civilian deaths have also been relatively successful, although with Hamas, one never knows when a family may be purposely placed in harm's way to create a bloodbath that can be blamed on Israel.
The technologically innovative Iron Dome's system's high rate of success at intercepting missiles is seen as the centerpiece of the IDF's performance in that it gives the military breathing room to pulverize Hamas targets without having to worry too much about Israeli civilian casualties.
A second rocket fired at the greater Tel Aviv area was not intercepted, however. It struck an empty area, causing no casualties or damage.
Hamas also fired a rocket at Jerusalem Friday afternoon. A siren sounded in the holy city but the rocket fell in an empty open area in the Gush Etzion area south of Jerusalem. There were no physical injuries or damage.