Clarice Feldman imagines the revelry as Washington’s trial lawyer establishment looks forward to the hefty retainer checks flowing from Obama Administration scandals.
After running an errand at the Courthouse, I decided to pop into the Barrister Bar and Bistro for a quick bite. The place was packed and Charlie, the maitre d’, shrugged his shoulders apologetically. “There’s a huge party here this afternoon, but I can seat you at the bar if you don’t mind.”
I didn’t mind and was happy to see that my favorite bartender, Joe, was at work,
“Place is jammed. I’ve never seen it so packed. What’s up?” I asked as Joe placed my vodka tonic in front of me. “Looks like every former U.S. Attorney in town is here.”
He pressed in closer so that he wouldn’t be overheard.
“Celebration of the scandals. They are about to make more money defending these clowns than they ever dreamed of. Second terms are always more lucrative for them than first, but this is the ultimate jackpot. Like winning the Powerball.”
The bar was mirrored so even with my back to the crowd I could see what was going on. In the center of the room at a round table sat one of the president’s biggest campaign bundlers, an extremely well garbed man—hand-tailored navy suit, lustrous silk tie, crisp shirt and glittering cufflinks—with a great haircut. He was seated with a group of well-sloshed men and women all of whom were drinking heartily.
Suddenly everyone stood up for the toast.
“Here’s to George,” began his colleague. “We asked why we should support Obama after that disastrous first term and he said, ‘Cast your crumbs upon the water and you’ll get fig newtons back.’”
“And he was right!” came a shout from the rear and a wild round of applause followed.
Aside from the circular table in the middle where George and his cronies sat, there were seven tables.
“What are the colored badges for?” I asked.
“They signify which scandal defendants they are representing so they can exchange useful procedural and related information without disclosing who they are representing or breaching client confidentiality. The orange tag means the attorney is representing someone in the Benghazi scandal.”
“I see seven—probably Petraeus, Clinton, Rice, Donilon, Brennan, Nuland, Rhodes. And the blue badge?” I asked, sipping the drink.
“IRS scandal,” George whispered, wiping the counter to appear more inconspicuous.
“Hmm,” I thought, “Shulman, Ingram, Miller, Lerner, and some others to be named at a later date. And the red badge?”
“Small table—must be Justice officials on the Associated Press scandal.”
A triple helping of scandals and five years of arrogance on the part of the president and administration are coming together to mark a turning point in relations between this administration and the Washington political establishment. The special protection that Barack Obama has enjoyed for five years may be coming to an end.
The town is turning on President Obama — and this is very bad news for this White House.
Republicans have waited five years for the moment to put the screws to Obama — and they have one-third of all congressional committees on the case now. Establishment Democrats, never big fans of this president to begin with, are starting to speak out. And reporters are tripping over themselves to condemn lies, bullying and shadiness in the Obama administration.
Buy-in from all three D.C. stakeholders is an essential ingredient for a good old-fashioned Washington pile-on — so get ready for bad stories and public scolding to pile up.
Vernon Jordan, a close adviser to President Bill Clinton through his darkest days, told us: “It’s never all right if you’re the president. There is no smooth sailing. So now he has the turbulence, and this is the ultimate test of his leadership.” Jordan says Obama needs to do something dramatic on the IRS, and quick: “He needs to fire somebody. He needs action, not conversation.”
Obama’s aloof mien and holier-than-thou rhetoric have left him with little reservoir of good will, even among Democrats. And the press, after years of being accused of being soft on Obama while being berated by West Wing aides on matters big and small, now has every incentive to be as ruthless as can be.
This White House’s instinctive petulance, arrogance and defensiveness have all worked to isolate Obama at a time when he most needs a support system. “It feel like they don’t know what they’re here to do,” a former senior Obama administration official said. “When there’s no narrative, stuff like this consumes you.”
Republican outrage is predictable, maybe even manageable. Democratic outrage is not.
The big news of the day is the outbreak of open war between veteran journalist Bob Woodward and Barack Obama.
Woodward last week challenged the Obama Administration’s blaming Republicans for the Sequester, pointing out that the idea of an automatic trigger was originated by the White House in July of 2011.
There was immediate pushback from the left’s commentariat, disputing his interpretation and dismissing the once-admired Nixon-slayer as “troutmouth Bob” and “a hack.”
Apparently, Woodward’s questioning the White House party-line on the grand budget battle du jour was perceived as potentially very damaging, because Woodward is retaliating now by revealing that when he discussed that upcoming column with the head of the President’s National Economic Council Gene Sperling, Woodward found himself on the receiving end of a half hour long tirade.
Sperling subsequently sent a lengthy email, in which he apologized for “raising his voice,” but which also asserted (obviously falsely) that Woodward was wrong about the fact in issue (that the Sequester proposal was initiated by the White House, and not by congressional Republicans), and warning him that he “will regret staking out that claim.”
Threatening prominent reporters is an awfully bold and bad thing for any administration to do, and historically trying to intimidate the press has not worked out well for those who’ve tried it.
Bob Woodward (not surprisingly) retaliated by releasing the email exchange.
Rather than being intimidated, of course, Bob Woodward is responding to the attempts to pressure him to shut up by openly attacking Barack Obama’s decisions in other areas. Yesterday, Woodward took a swipe at Obama’s declining to deploy a carrier to the Persian Gulf “because of budget cuts.” (See video)
Elderly Americans? small children? mothers with their kids? pregnant women???
A company supplying targets for law enforcement training, selling to all sorts of federal agencies, is now offering a special”No Hesitation” line of targets featuring the kind of targets that, historically, only SS Einsatzgruppen were trained to kill.
This is the sort of story that sends me normally directly to Snopes, but it is for real. The link to the target company web-site is right below in the first sentence of the quotation.
Law Enforcement Targets, Inc. is a 21-year designer and full service provider of training targets for the DHS, the Justice Department and thousands of law enforcement agencies throughout the country.
The company’s website offers a line of “No More Hesitation” targets ”designed to give officers the experience of dealing with deadly force shooting scenarios with subjects that are not the norm during training.” The targets are, “meant to help the transition for officers who are faced with these highly unusual targets for the first time.”
The targets include “pregnant woman threat,” “older man with shotgun,” “older man in home with shotgun,” “older woman with gun,” “young school aged girl,” “young mother on playground,” and “little boy with real gun.”
Why are top training target suppliers for the government supplying the likes of the DHS with “non-traditional threat” targets of children, pregnant women, mothers in playgrounds, and elderly American gun owners unless there is a demand for such items?
This is particularly alarming given the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has purchased roughly 2 billion rounds of ammunition over the course of the last year, enough to wage a near 30 year war.
In comparison, during the height of active battle operations in Iraq, US soldiers used 5.5 million rounds of ammunition a month.
The DHS also purchased no less than 7,000 fully automatic assault rifles last September, labeling them “Personal Defense Weapons.”
The fact that targets of armed pregnant women, children, mothers in playgrounds, and American gun owners in general are being represented as “non traditional threats” “for the first time” is deeply concerning given the admitted preparations for civil unrest undertaken by Homeland Security as well as other federal agencies.
[T]he Distinguished Warfare Medal… will be given for “extra achievement” related to a military operation. That would include drone pilots operating unmanned planes from halfway around the world, or even hackers who launch a successful cyberattack on an enemy. Unlike all other combat-related medals, this would be the first one that you can be awarded without actually putting your life on the line. ...
The Distinguished Warfare Medal would be the first combat-award created by the Armed Forces since World War II, and would become the fourth-highest ranking combat decoration. (It would rank above the Bronze Star, but below the Silver Star.)
Rico has a few suggestions for additional awards the Air Force might consider adopting.
Even the left’s favorite military reporter, Tom Ricks, has problems with the Caliban Administration removing colorful Marine General “Mad Dog” Mattis from command of Central Command.
Word on the national security street is that General James Mattis is being given the bum’s rush out of his job as commander of Central Command, and is being told to vacate his office several months earlier than planned.
Why the hurry? Pentagon insiders say that he rubbed civilian officials the wrong way—not because he went all “mad dog,” which is his public image, and the view at the White House, but rather because he pushed the civilians so hard on considering the second- and third-order consequences of military action against Iran. Some of those questions apparently were uncomfortable. Like, what do you do with Iran once the nuclear issue is resolved and it remains a foe? What do you do if Iran then develops conventional capabilities that could make it hazardous for U.S. Navy ships to operate in the Persian Gulf? He kept saying, “And then what?”
Inquiry along these lines apparently was not welcomed—at least in the CENTCOM view. The White House view, apparently, is that Mattis was too hawkish, which is not something I believe, having seen him in the field over the years. I’d call him a tough-minded realist, someone who’d rather have tea with you than shoot you, but is happy to end the conversation either way.
Presidents should feel free to boot generals anytime they want, of course—that’s our system, and one I applaud. But ousting Mattis at this time, and in this way, seems wrong for several reasons:
TIMING: If Mattis leaves in March, as now appears likely, that means there will be a new person running CENTCOM just as the confrontation season with Iran begins to heat up again.
CIVIL-MILITARY SIGNALS: The message the Obama Administration is sending, intentionally or not, is that it doesn’t like tough, smart, skeptical generals who speak candidly to their civilian superiors. In fact, that is exactly what it (and every administration) should want. Had we had more back in 2003, we might not have made the colossal mistake of invading Iraq.
SERVICE RELATIONS: The Obamites might not recognize it, but they now have dissed the two Marine generals who are culture heroes in today’s Corps: Mattis and Anthony Zinni. The Marines have long memories. I know some who are still mad at the Navy for steaming away from the Marines left on Guadalcanal. Mattis made famous in Iraq the phrase, “No better friend, no worse enemy.” The Obama White House should keep that in mind.
I shot a note off to a highly-connected former Marine infantry officer I know well, with extensive experience in CENTCOM’s area of operations and who served close alongside many of the Marine generals in these kinds of key positions. He replied that while he’s no fan of Ricks, he doesn’t think Ricks is right. Specifically,
Let me absorb this. He was already at the end of his career…so now he’s fired??!! I am dubious… He was an old timer, not the future, and had already outlived his political (but not operational) relevance.
The administration says the average command in combat is 2.7 years, and March will be 2.6 for Mattis. I LOVE the general, but he does indeed have a reputation for being relentless and obtuse when questioning a plan—but shouldn’t they all be?
Bing West identifies the Obama Administration’s standard methodology for burying a scandal.
The following is a lead story about Benghazi from the Washington Post on November 2:
U.S. intelligence officials said they decided to offer a detailed account of the CIA’s role to rebut media reports that have suggested that agency leaders delayed sending help. . . . The decision to give a comprehensive account of the attack five days before the election is likely to be regarded with suspicion, particularly among Republicans who have accused the Obama administration of misleading the public.
Suspicion? The accurate word is confirmation.
Identical stories appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. The Times explained that, “The account, given by the senior officials who did not want to be identified, provided the most detailed description to date of the C.I.A.’s role.”
So what’s going on here? The national-security staff in the Obama White House has a standard operating procedure. If a military action, such as killing bin Laden, succeeds, then immediately leak selected details to shape the narrative to the political advantage of Mr. Obama. If the action is botched, as in Benghazi, then say nothing and tell the quiescent press that there is no story worth pursuing. If questions persist, the second line of defense is an investigation that wlll drag on for months. For instance, bureaucrats in the Justice Department are still investigating the leaks last spring about the U.S. cooperation with Israel in the software sabotage — cyber warfare — of Iranian centrifuges.
If pesky Fox News persists in asking questions, then the third line of defense is to give the nod to the CIA to leak a diversionary story to favored news outlets and reporters. Thus the leaks to the Washington Post and New York Times showing that CIA operatives did try to rescue their comrades. Then authorize the CIA to go public with the same timeline, further throwing the press off the trail. The New York Times, the recipient of record for White House leaks, published on November 3 a diversionary story on its front page, fixating upon the CIA director, General Petraeus. This implied that the main issue about Benghazi centered around CIA secrecy — a tautology irrelevant to the real cover-up.
The intent is to cause the press and the public to lose interest in a story that seems exhaustively repetitive, while the key issues are never addressed.
Tonight’s Presidential Debate will be centered on foreign policy issues, which means the prime issue on the agenda will be the Obama Administration’s failure to protect the lives of four American diplomatic personnel in Libya and the subsequent series of misstatements concerning events in Libya by the President and Administration spokesmen.
Jennifer Rubin, in the Washington Post, considers whether to ascribe the blame for what has happened to Ideological Denial, Willful Deception, or Simple Incompetence.
Pick your favorite theory or a combination thereof. Lay blame at the intelligence community or at the feet of national security adviser Tom Donilon, whose job is to make sure all aspect of national security are in sync. But the president, even if not willfully misrepresenting events to the public, has engaged in a great deal of magical thinking ( from refusing to call jihadists “jihadists” to believing he had al-Qaeda on the run to thinking he could engage the mullahs). His executive skills, which lead to havoc and missed opportunities on the domestic side, can prove deadly in matters of war and peace.
Whatever the explanation for the fiasco, it is hard to muster any confidence that this president has the judgment, will or skills to be a successful commander in chief. He hasn’t been one so far.
Tom Maguire watches the Obama Administration busily trying to pin the blame for the debacle in Benghazi anywhere else, on anyone but us.
The AllahPundit convinces me that Biden and Obama would be crazy to throw Hillary under the bus for the Benghazi debacle. However, he does not convince me that Biden is not crazy.
The Times tries to pretend that all is well with the reassuring news that, like the Flying Dutchman, the buck stops nowhere:
In a debate with Representative Paul D. Ryan on Thursday night, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said White House officials were not told about requests for any additional security. “We weren’t told they wanted more security again,” Mr. Biden said.
The Romney campaign on Friday pounced on the conflicting statements, accusing Mr. Biden of continuing to deny the nature of the attack. The White House scrambled to explain the apparent contradiction between Mr. Biden’s statement and the testimony from State Department officials at the House hearing.
The White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said Friday that security issues related to diplomatic posts in Libya and other countries were dealt with at the State Department, not the White House. Based on interviews with administration officials, as well as in diplomatic cables, and Congressional testimony, those security decisions appear to have been made largely by midlevel State Department security officials, and did not involve Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton or her top aides.
Darn those mid-level staffers! If they would only run for re-election so we could vote them out. ...
[B]laming mid-level staffers? Really? Is Obama going to campaign on a slogan that he killed Osama and will keep America safe unless those darn mid-level stafers screw up again?
The British Independent today delivered the inside story on the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi and the murder of Ambassador Stevens.
According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and “lockdown”, under which movement is severely restricted. ...
Eight Americans, some from the military, were wounded in the attack which claimed the lives of Mr Stevens, Sean Smith, an information officer, and two US Marines. ...
Senior officials are increasingly convinced, however, that the ferocious nature of the Benghazi attack, in which rocket-propelled grenades were used, indicated it was not the result of spontaneous anger due to the video, called Innocence of Muslims. Patrick Kennedy, Under-Secretary at the State Department, said he was convinced the assault was planned due to its extensive nature and the proliferation of weapons.
There is growing belief that the attack was in revenge for the killing in a drone strike in Pakistan of Mohammed Hassan Qaed, an al-Qa’ida operative who was, as his nom-de-guerre Abu Yahya al-Libi suggests, from Libya, and timed for the anniversary of the 11 September attacks. ...
According to security sources the consulate had been given a “health check” in preparation for any violence connected to the 9/11 anniversary. In the event, the perimeter was breached within 15 minutes of an angry crowd starting to attack it at around 10pm on Tuesday night. There was, according to witnesses, little defence put up by the 30 or more local guards meant to protect the staff. Ali Fetori, a 59-year-old accountant who lives near by, said: “The security people just all ran away and the people in charge were the young men with guns and bombs.”
Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya’s Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the Mohamed video which made the guards abandon their post. “There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet.”
Mr Stevens, it is believed, was left in the building by the rest of the staff after they failed to find him in dense smoke caused by a blaze which had engulfed the building. He was discovered lying unconscious by local people and taken to a hospital, the Benghazi Medical Centre, where, according to a doctor, Ziad Abu Ziad, he died from smoke inhalation.
An eight-strong American rescue team was sent from Tripoli and taken by troops under Captain Fathi al- Obeidi, of the February 17 Brigade, to the secret safe house to extract around 40 US staff. The building then came under fire from heavy weapons. “I don’t know how they found the place to carry out the attack. It was planned, the accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any ordinary revolutionaries,” said Captain Obeidi. “It began to rain down on us, about six mortars fell directly on the path to the villa.”
Libyan reinforcements eventually arrived, and the attack ended. News had arrived of Mr Stevens, and his body was picked up from the hospital and taken back to Tripoli with the other dead and the survivors.
Debkafile’s counter-terror sources report exclusively that far from being a spontaneous raid by angry Islamists, it was a professionally executed terrorist operation by a professional Al Qaeda assassination team, whose 20 members acted under the orders of their leader Ayman al Zawahri after special training. They were all Libyans, freed last year from prisons where they were serving sentences for terrorism passed during the late Muammar Qaddafi’s rule.
In a video tape released a few hours before the attack, Zawahri called on the faithful to take revenge on the United States for liquidating one of the organization’s top operatives, Libyan-born Abu Yahya al-Libi in June by a US drone in northwestern Pakistan.
Its release was the “go” signal for the hit team to attack the US diplomats in Benghazi. ...
The operation is rated by terror experts as the most ambitious outrage al Qaeda has pulled off in the last decade. According to our sources, the gunmen split into two groups of 10 each and struck in two stages:
1. They first fired rockets at the consulate building on the assumption that the ambassador’s bodyguards would grab him, race him out of the building and drive him to a safe place under the protection of the US secret service;
2. The second group was able to identify the getaway vehicle and the ambassador’s armed escort and lay in wait to ambush them. The gunmen then closed in and killed the ambassador and his bodyguards at point blank range.
Debkafile’s intelligence sources report that the investigation launched by US counter-terror and clandestine services is focusing on finding out why no clue was picked up of the coming attack by any intelligence body and how al Qaeda’s preparations for the attack which took place inside Libya went unnoticed by any surveillance authority.
Eleven years after 9/11, al Qaeda clearly retains the ability to plan and execute international operations striking at American citizens and officials.
The success of the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, and the obviously coordinated embassy attacks in Cairo and Yemen, do seem to confirm the validity of complaints from critics of the Obama Administration that the administration’s rush to cash in on the PR results of the success of the raid that killed Osama bin Ladin wasted priceless opportunities to exploit captured intelligence, and leaks from somewhere in the Obama Administration really did do serious harm to American interests.
Now we also learn that, despite specific known threats and with the anniversary date of 9/11 looming, the Obama Administration and its State Department failed to warn Ambassador Stevens and failed to take steps to protect embassies and American diplomatic personnel.
What a .40 S&W Hollow Point bullet does to a block of ballistic gelatin gives a fairly accurate picture of what the same bullet would do when fired into the human body.
Maj. Gen. Jerry Curry USA (ret.) argues that Congress ought to be looking for a serious explanation for such massive ammunition purchases.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) confirms that it is purchasing 174 thousand rounds of hollow point bullets to be delivered to 41 locations in major cities across the U.S. No one has yet said what the purpose of these purchases is, though we are led to believe that they will be used only in an emergency to counteract and control civil unrest. Those against whom the hollow point bullets are to be used — those causing the civil unrest — must be American citizens; since the SSA has never been used overseas to help foreign countries maintain control of their citizens.
What would be the target of these 174, 000 rounds of hollow point bullets? It can’t simply be to control demonstrators or rioters. Hollow point bullets are so lethal that the Geneva Convention does not allow their use on the battle field in time of war. Hollow point bullets don’t just stop or hurt people, they penetrate the body, spread out, fragment and cause maximum damage to the body’s organs. Death often follows.
Potentially each hollow nose bullet represents a dead American. If so, why would the U.S. government want the SSA to kill 174,000 of our citizens, even during a time of civil unrest? ...
If this were only a one time order of ammunition, it could easily be dismissed. But there is a pattern here. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has ordered 46,000 rounds of hollow point ammunition. Notice that all of these purchases are for the lethal hollow nose bullets. These bullets are not being purchased and stored for squirrel or coyote hunting. This is serious ammunition manufactured to be used for serious purposes.
In the war in Iraq, our military forces expended approximately 70 million rounds per year. In March DHS ordered 750 million rounds of hollow point ammunition. It then turned around and ordered an additional 750 million rounds of miscellaneous bullets including some that are capable of penetrating walls. This is enough ammunition to empty five rounds into the body of every living American citizen. Is this something we and the Congress should be concerned about? What’s the plan that requires so many dead Americans, even during times of civil unrest? ...
Shouldn’t Congress hold hearings on why the Administration is stockpiling this ammunition all across the nation? How will it be used; what are the Administration’s plans?
Anthony Martin points out that the Federal agencies’ explanation that they are buying all these rounds for practicing has a problem.
On Friday the government stated that the hollow point bullets it has procured are “standard issue” and that they are used to train security agents used by each of the various federal agencies. ...
When this reporter first heard the government’s explanation for the hollow point bullets, the warning bells immediately rang indicating a cover up. As every gun owner knows if they are serious about developing and maintaining their shooting skills, the type of bullets used for practice at the firing range are normally different from the ammunition one would use when getting the firearm set to be used in the event of a home invasion or other situations in which one’s life is in mortal danger.
Firing range bullets are much less expensive and are not designed for the day to day use of the gun for maximum self protection. One uses the more expensive variety, such as hollow point bullets, for real-life danger.
Thus, immediately this reporter knew that when the government claimed that its agencies had purchased multimillions of rounds of hollow point bullets for “practice and training” at the firing range, something was amiss. Most citizens are likely unaware that such ammo is not used for practice and will accept the government’s explanation at face value. This is in all likelihood what the Feds are counting on.
Of course, it may be that, if you are a federal agency, and you have tax payers paying for your practice ammunition, you aren’t concerned about economizing with cheaper practice ammo.
Even taking practice shooting into account, the ammunition purchases on such a tremendous scale by agencies like Social Security and the Weather Bureau, which don’t even really have a law enforcement function, is still bizarre enough to produce a need for serious questions. Saying that agency security guards needs enough hollow point rounds to shoot every living American five times is just a bit far-fetched.
In this political ad, a variety of retired military and intelligence officers and special forces operatives go after Barack Obama and the Obama Administration for leaking sensitive national security information for political gain.
John O. Brennan, Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Assistant to the President
Michael A. Walsh, in the New York Post, spills the beans on the damaging leak which has seriously compromised relations between British and American intelligence services.
So that “CIA coup” in Yemen against another al Qaeda underwear bomber turns out to actually have been a joint Saudi-British intelligence operation — which apparently was prematurely terminated thanks to flapping lips on this side of the Atlantic.
So the leak didn’t just blow our chances to nail the notorious bomb designer behind the plot, Ibrahim al-Asiri, and put the life of the double agent in mortal danger for no reason.
It also seriously damaged Langley’s relationship with its foreign counterparts, who now understand that operational security and the lives of their operatives mean nothing to us (not in an election year, anyway).
Which makes it even more important to find out: Who leaked?
The betting starts with former CIA official John Brennan, the White House’s deputy nationalsecurity adviser for counterterrorism. Shortly after details about the operation leaked to the Associated Press via unnamed “officials,” Brennan took to the airwaves to crow publicly about how the wedgie bomber was “no longer a threat to the American people.”
And the AP admitted it cleared its story with the feds in advance.
The uncharitable immediately saw this naked self-aggrandizement as a blatant attempt by the Obama administration to take political credit for something it had almost nothing to do with.