Our Common Good

justinspoliticalcorner:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has not hesitated to voice his distaste towards U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, who may be nominated to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. On Face the Nation Sunday morning, McCain went even further than simply opposing Rice’s nomination and said that, “until we find out all the information” on the Benghazi consulate attacks, he would not support any Secretary of State nominee.

McCain at first said it “might be a beginning” if Rice could come on the program to explain her position. But when pressed by host Bob Schieffer, the Arizona senator dug in and refused to support any nominee “under the present circumstances”:

SCHIEFFER: Until then, you will remain opposed to her nomination?

MCCAIN: Under the present circumstances, until we find out all the information as to what happened, I don’t think you would want to support any nominee right now. Because this is very very serious and it has even larger implications than the deaths of 4 Americans. It really goes to the heart of this whole light foot print policy that this administration is pursuing.

h/t: Aviva Shen at Think Progress

thepoliticalfreakshow:


A slew of new reporting this morning debunks Fox News reports claiming that the Obama administration withheld assistance during the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya. With these revelations, the combined conservative narrative as led by Fox News — that the Obama administration failed to respond adequately during the attack and that mainstream media has not covered Benghazi enough — is in further disarray.

The Los Angeles Times’ version of the CIA’s role focuses the most heavily on pushing back on Fox’s spin:

“At every level in the chain of command, from the senior officers in Libya to the most senior officials in Washington, everyone was fully engaged in trying to provide whatever help they could,” a senior intelligence official said in a statement. “There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support.”

Fox reporter Jennifer Griffin claimed in an “exclusive” report last week that the CIA denied Tyrone Woods, one of the four Americans killed in the attack, permission to help repel the assault. Griffin’s reporting spun off into a bevy of conspiracy theories on the far right. The Pentagon, White House, and CIA had all previously denied refusing requests for support. The New York Times reports on the Pentagon’s involvement:

[A] senior official also sought to rebut reports that C.I.A. requests for support from the Pentagon that night had gone unheeded.

In fact, the official said, the military diverted a Predator drone from a reconnaissance mission in Darnah, 90 miles away, in time to oversee the mission’s evacuation. The two commandos, based at the embassy in Tripoli, joined the reinforcements. And a military transport plane flew the wounded Americans and Mr. Stevens’s body out of Libya.

The new reports also contain previously unreported details about the CIA’s role in Benghazi. President Obama and Secretary of Defense Panetta did order U.S. forces into the region, but the CIA was the first to respond to the attack, arriving on the scene in under half an hour.

The lack of security at the outpost in Benghazi, far removed from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, has been the subject of inquiry by both Fox News and Congressional Republicans. The Wall Street Journal sheds new light onto why that was the case. The CIA and State Department had entered into a series of secret deals in which the Agency would provide emergency security to the diplomats operating within Libya.

While the State Department primarily relied upon local Libyan militias for day-to-day protection, as well as contracted British private security, the arrangement between it and the CIA explains why the outpost seemed under-protected. The revelation also will prompt a renewed look at the State Department’s decisions to remove Department of Defense-provided security from the Embassy in Tripoli, which were highly scrutinized during Rep. Darrel Issa’s hearings.

The primary role of the CIA was intelligence gathering and covert operations within Benghazi. Agents there operated out of an annex originally reported to be an offshoot of the diplomatic mission, revealed officially — and accidentally — during Issa’s highly politicized hearing into the Benghazi attacks. The Agency’s large presence may also help explain why the diplomatic compound was open to journalists and looters for weeks after the attack, as more vital intelligence documents were collected.

Washington Post’s David Ignatius has gone as far as to produce a detailed minute-by-minute timeline, of the events that night. These reports together give the clearest picture yet of the events in Benghazi. Rather than the Obama Presidency unraveling as the news organization has claimed, it appears to be Fox News’ narrative that is coming undone instead.

After weeks of hyperventilating spin-coverage of the tragic events in Libya nearly two months ago, Geraldo Rivera on Friday finally had his fill and lashed out at his coworkers’ “misleading” claims, calling the network’s narrative about the attack “misinformation” designed to support an outright “lie.”

“You are misleading the American people because you want to make a political point,” Rivera told fellow Fox News host Eric Bolling. “We have never in the history of the United States of America mounted a raid on the circumstance described here. We have never done it. The Israelis rescued their people in Tevi — seven days to mount that operation. This was seven hours.”

[…]

Ever since Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney claimed that President Barack Obama’s first reaction was “to sympathize with those who waged the attacks” — a statement made before it was known that a U.S. ambassador and three others had been killed — Republicans on the conservative network have become insistent that Obama or someone in his administration refused to support the embassy while Obama instead went campaigning in Las Vegas.

Bolling was trying to repeat that claim on Friday, but Rivera just wasn’t having it. “When I heard Charles Woods call the president of the United States a murderer and a liar, it broke my heart,” he said, specifically citing a video that aired on “Hannity” several days ago featuring the father of a Navy SEAL who was killed in the attack.

“How many parents of GI’s lost in conflicts that were screwed up have said of the president of the United States that he murdered my child?” Rivera asked. “I love Charles Woods. I kissed him on television. But he is being led down a primrose path by misinformation that is making it look as if the president of the United States went gambling in Las Vegas when he could have been saving our people in Benghazi, and that is a lie!”

Geraldo demolishes Fox News ‘misinformation’ on Benghazi: ‘That is a lie!’

Just because someone said someone posted something on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s true. Even if you really, really want it to be.

6dogs9cats:

“This idea of Chairman Issa, that he’s going to dump the names, in public, of Libyans who are risking their lives to support America and keep us safe, in an effort to get a political toe-hold in this election, is unconscionable, It is unacceptable.”

“carelessly, recklessly putting them at risk, all to score political points in the final weeks before an election.”

“That’s disgraceful, The way they’ve handled this issue is disgraceful.”

Darrell Issa, Jason Chaffetz and the rest of the idiots in the Republican party—Mitt Romney included— are so hell-bent on finding a way to blame President Obama for the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, that they are acting like proper assholes, and recklessly endangering people’s lives.

One such life? A Libyan woman human rights activist who is leading a campaign against violence, and who was detained in Benghazi. According to an administration official, this woman “expressed fear for her safety to U.S. officials and criticized the Libyan government,” and until today, she wasn’t publicly associated with the U.S. government. She was relatively safe.

But this afternoon, Darrell Issa—in a stroke of sheer idiocy—published reams of State Department documents, and this woman’s name appears in the documents—unredacted.

And now her life is in danger. The lives of several other Libyans named in the documents are in danger. And House Republicans, specifically Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz, are to blame.

Priming the next debate topic:

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R- Calif.) has come under fire after posting 166 pages of “sensitive but unclassified” State Department cables online Friday afternoon.

The documents relate to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and four others. Administration officials, speaking with Foreign Policy magazine, accused Issa of endangering the safety of Libyans working with the U.S. government, whose names were not redacted from the report:

Much like WikiLeaks, when you dump a bunch of documents into the ether, there are a lot of unintended consequences,” an administration official told The Cable Friday afternoon. “This does damage to the individuals because they are named, danger to security cooperation because these are militias and groups that we work with and that is now well known, and danger to the investigation, because these people could help us down the road.

This will not make the GOP happy.

Playing politics with peoples’ lives….

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) compromised the identities of several Libyans working with the U.S. government and placed their lives in danger when he released reams of State Department communications Friday, according to Obama administration officials.

Issa posted 166 pages of sensitive but unclassified State Department communications related to Libya on the committee’s website afternoon as part of his effort to investigate security failures and expose contradictions in the administration’s statements regarding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that resulted in the death of Amb. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

"The American people deserve nothing less than a full explanation from this administration about these events, including why the repeated warnings about a worsening security situation appear to have been ignored by this administration. Americans also deserve a complete explanation about your administration’s decision to accelerate a normalized presence in Libya at what now appears to be at the cost of endangering American lives," Issa and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) wrote today in a letter to President Barack Obama.

But Issa didn’t bother to redact the names of Libyan civilians and local leaders mentioned in the cables, and just as with the WikiLeaks dump of State Department cables last year, the administration says that Issa has done damage to U.S. efforts to work with those Libyans and exposed them to physical danger from the very groups that had an interest in attacking the U.S. consulate.

"Much like WikiLeaks, when you dump a bunch of documents into the ether, there are a lot of unintended consequences," an administration official told The Cable Friday afternoon. “This does damage to the individuals because they are named, danger to security cooperation because these are militias and groups that we work with and that is now well known, and danger to the investigation, because these people could help us down the road.”

One of the cables released by Issa names a woman human rights activist who was leading a campaign against violence and was detained in Benghazi. She expressed fear for her safety to U.S. officials and criticized the Libyan government.

"This woman is trying to raise an anti-violence campaign on her own and came to the United States for help. She isn’t publicly associated with the U.S. in any other way but she’s now named in this cable. It’s a danger to her life," the administration official said.

Another cable names a Benghazi port manager who is working with the United States on an infrastructure project.

"When you’re in a situation where Ansar al-Sharia is a risk to Americans, an individual like this guy, who is an innocent civilian who’s trying to reopen the port and is doing so in conjunction with Americans, could be at risk now because he’s publicly affiliated with America," the official said, referring to the group thought to have led the Benghazi attack.

[…]

The Cable pointed out that even WikiLeaks had approached the State Department and offered to negotiate retractions of sensitive information before releasing their cables. Hill confirmed that Issa did not grant the State Department that opportunity but said it was the State Department’s fault for not releasing the documents when they were first requested.

"We gave them the opportunity to have them present us with documents and have them tell us at that time what they were concerned about," he said.

Committee ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (D-MD) responded to Issa’s letter late Thursday, writing that Issa’s letter “completely ignores sworn testimony provided to the Committee, recklessly omits contradictory information from the very same documents it quotes, irresponsibly promotes inaccurate information, and makes numerous allegations with no evidence to substantiate them.”

UPDATE: A senior State Department official wrote in to The Cable to contest Hill’s assertion the State Department had an opportunity to work with the committee to identity sensitive information in the documents before they were released by Issa.

"Many of the documents the committee posted weren’t provided by State. So there wasn’t any discussion about their sensitivity prior to the committee revealing them for all to see," the official said. "Had State been given that opportunity, we’d have taken it and pointed out what documents needed to be handled with extreme care so as not to endanger anyone."

Karl Rove, the Republican evil genius of campaign slurs, is famous for advising candidates to attack an opponent’s strong suit. If Sen. John Kerry is a decorated war hero and your guy avoided going to Vietnam, then attack Kerry’s service record. If Sen. Max Cleland lost limbs fighting for America, question his patriotism.

The problem is that those two outrageous attacks worked, as have many others like them.

Why is the attack on Bengahzi being talked about so much? It is not because the Republicans have a long record of caring about embassy security. House Republicans cut $128 million in fiscal year 2011 and an additional $331 million in fiscal year 2012 from what Secretary of State Clinton requested for embassy security.

No, it’s because their polling and focus groups show that voters believe that President Obama has done a very good job fighting terrorists. Therefore, the Rove theory says, you attack Obama on terrorism.

Every President since Ronald Reagan has suffered American casualties to terrorism on his watch. Obama has suffered far fewer than his predecessors, largely because he has kept the terrorist groups off balance by relentlessly attacking them. He has largely eliminated Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan as an effective fighting force. His use of drones and special forces has been aggressive and successful, including in Yemen and Somalia.

Mitt Romney seems fixated on why Washington did not know with better clarity and sooner what went on during a terrorist attack. It is the kind of question that comes from someone who has no experience dealing with terrorism crisis management or, indeed, combat.

Clarke is a former counterterrorism adviser to Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He was deputy assistant secretary of state for intelligence under President Ronald Reagan.

justinspoliticalcorner:

1) “I want to make sure we keep our Pell grant program growing. We’re also going to have our loan program, so that people are able to afford school.” As part of his budget, Paul Ryan proposed cutting Pell Grants for nearly 1 million college students. In fact, Romney’s white paper on education, “A Chance for Every Child,” suggests that he “would reverse the growth in Pell Grant funding.” It says: “A Romney Administration will refocus Pell Grant dollars on the students that need them most and place the program on a responsible long-term path that avoids future funding cliffs and last-minute funding patches.”

2) “I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years and rising take-home pay.” The Washington Post’s in-house fact checker tore Mitt Romney’s claim that he will create 12 MILLION jobs to shreds. The Post wrote that the “‘new math’” in Romney’s plan “doesn’t add up.” In awarding the claim four Pinocchios — the most untrue possible rating, the Post expressed incredulity at the fact Romney would personally stand behind such a flawed, baseless claim.

4) “Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters.” There are slightly fewer permits in 2009 and 2010, from between 8,000-9,000 permits to over 5,000, and they have not been cut by half. The oil and gas industry is sitting on 7,000 approved permits to drill, where it hasn’t begun exploring or developing. Two-thirds of “acreage leased by [oil] industry lies idle” on public lands, according to the Department of the Interior.

6) “And coal, coal production is not up; coal jobs are not up.” 1,500 coal jobs have been created under Obama.

9) “The proof of whether a [energy] strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump. If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you’re paying more.” Gas prices are certainly high, but oil is a global commodity, and the president has virtually no control over them. And according to the Congressional Budget Office, Romney’s proposal to increase domestic oil production would not have much impact on volatility.

10) “And I will not — I will not under any circumstances, reduce the share that’s being paid by the highest income taxpayers. And I will not, under any circumstances increase taxes on the middle-class.” As the Tax Policy Center concluded, Romney’s plan can’t both exempt middle class families from tax cuts and remain revenue neutral. “He’s promised all these things and he can’t do them all. In order for him to cover the cost of his tax cut without adding to the deficit, he’d have to find a way to raise taxes on middle income people or people making less than $200,000 a year,” the Center found.

11) “But your rate comes down and the burden also comes down on you for one more reason, and that is every middle-income taxpayer no longer will pay any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. No tax on your savings. That makes life a lot easier.” This would actually help very few Americans. Nearly three-fourths of households that make $200,000 or less annually would get literally nothing from Romney’s tax cut, due to the simple fact that most of those households have no capital gains income. To be exact, 73.9 percent of the households upon which Romney “focused” his tax cut will see zero benefit from it.

12) “A recent study has shown the people in the middle-class will see $4,000.00 per year in higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration.” Romney is pointing to this study from the American Enterprise Institute. It actually found that rather than raise taxes to pay down the debt, the Obama administration’s policies — those contained directly in his budget — would reduce the share of taxes that go toward servicing the debt by $1,289.89 per taxpayer in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.

13) “Fifty-four percent of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed as individuals. So when you bring those rates down, those small businesses are able to keep more money and hire more people.” Far less than half of the people affected by the expiration of the upper income tax cuts get any of their income at all from a small businesses. And those people could very well be receiving speaking fees or book royalties, which qualify as “small business income” but don’t have a direct impact on job creation. It’s actually hard to find a small business who think that they will be hurt if the marginal tax rate on income earned above $250,000 per year is increased.

14) “I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women. I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.” Romney did not ask women groups for candidates. Instead, prior to his election, a “bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government.” They “put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions” and presented it to Romney after he was elected. A UMass-Boston study found that “the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006.”

15) “I’m going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.” Romney has been uncomfortably silent on the issue of pay equity. He has refused to say whether he’d support the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would allow women to sue for equal pay, and named four of the justices who voted to roll back equal pay in that Supreme Court decision as his models for any of his appointments to the federal bench.

16) “I’d just note that I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.” But back in March, Romney expressed strong support for the so-called Blunt amendment, which that would allow employers to deny contraception coverage to women. Romney also wants to defund Planned Parenthood, where 76 percent of the patients seek low-cost birth control options. Defunding the organization would make it much harder for those women to get contraceptives.

17) “So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did. And — and I think it’s important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet, so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommend and ultimately what happened.” This is false. As Buisnessweek explain: “Romney is misstating his position. He opposed any use of taxpayer dollars to bail out the automakers, advice that President George W. Bush and Obama ignored. GM and Chrysler went through managed bankruptcies after Bush, at the end of his presidency, and later Obama provided federal funds.” “Without federal funds, GM and Chyrsler would not have survived. As former Bush aide Tony Fratto explained, “It wasn’t just that there wasn’t credit available; a lot of private equity had cash, they just weren’t giving it away.”

18) “He said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It’s gone up by $2,500 a year.” Premiums have increased, though at a lower rate than before. And while the Affordable Care Act’s most important cost contentment strategies have yet to be implemented, the law is already lowering costs. 16 million seniors have received preventive benefits without deductibles or co-pays and are saving at least $3.9 billion on prescription drugs. Millions of young adults now have insurance coverage and are staying on their parent’s health care plan, insurers have refunded consumers, and states have successfully rejected dramatic premium increases.

19) “He keeps saying, ‘Look, I’ve created 5 million jobs.’ That’s after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country.” Job creation is net positive since Obama took office in the middle of the worst recession since the great depression. Economists estimate that up to 3 million jobs were created by the stimulus alone.

23) “It was a terrorist attack and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people.”Obama called the Libya incident an act of “terror” the very next day. “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for,” he said. “Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.”

24) “Consider the distance between ourselves and — and Israel, the president said that — that he was going to put daylight between us and Israel.” The Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, told CNN, “President Obama is doing … more than anything that I can remember in the past [in regard to our security].”

25) “The president’s policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour and — and — and pursue a strategy of leading from behind, and this strategy is unraveling before our very eyes.” Obama never embarked on an “apology tour.”

26) “We, of course, don’t want to have automatic weapons, and that’s already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons.” Automatic weapons are legal in this country.

28) “What I will do as president is make sure it’s more attractive to come to America again.”Romney’s plan to move the country to a territorial tax system would let corporations do business and make profits overseas without ever being taxed on it in the U.S. This would no doubt encourage American companies to invest abroad, potentially costing the country up to 800,000 jobs.

30) “And there’s no question but that Obamacare has been an extraordinary deterrent to enterprises of all kinds hiring people.” Under the law, only companies with more than 50 employees must provide health insurance or pay a fine — that’s just 2.6 percent of businesses. If anything, expanding health care coverage to more Americans will actually create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

31) “He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they’re on the road to bankruptcy.” [T]he possibility of Medicare going bankrupt is — and historically has been — greatly exaggerated. In fact, if no changes are made, Medicare would still be able to meet 88 percent of its obligations in 2085. Social Security is fully funded for another two decades and could pay 75 percent of its benefits thereafter. There is also an easy way to ensure the program’s long-term solvency without large changes or cuts to benefits.

Mitt Romney was lying off his rocker last night. He CANNOT be trusted to lead a kids’ hockey team, let alone this nation (and the world).

h/t: Igor Volsky at Think Progress

upwithchris:

As controversy builds over the changing story about the attack on an American embassy in Libya last month, it’s worth noting that attacks on U.S. embassies abroad have dropped considerably in recent years, according to the State Department.

upwithchris:

As controversy builds over the changing story about the attack on an American embassy in Libya last month, it’s worth noting that attacks on U.S. embassies abroad have dropped considerably in recent years, according to the State Department.

justinspoliticalcorner:

(via On CNN’s The Situation Room, Pelosi Attacks Republicans For Withholding Embassy Security Funding)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday shot back at Republicans criticizing the Obama administration after the fallout of the Libya Consulate attacks, pointing out that they withheld hundreds of millions of dollars the State Department had asked for last year for embassy security and construction.

House Republicans wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggesting that the Obama administration was negligent in providing security for the consulate in Benghazi where four U.S. diplomats were killed in an attack on Sept. 11 and asked Clinton for more information. Noting that the investigation into what happened is still ongoing, Pelosi, in an interview with CNN, asked, “how can you ask the secretary to come before the information is known?”

The Minority Leader then pointed out that it was Republicans who may have some responsibility in the matter, as they turned down the administration’s request for nearly $300 million for embassy security:

PELOSI: It’s also important to note that the Republican appropriation in Congress gave the administration $300 million less than it asked for for the State Department, including funding for security.

BLITZER: Are you suggesting that there was a financial aspect to what happened in Benghazi, Libya. That the U.S. was not enough money to protect American diplomats?

PELOSI: No what I’m saying is Congress has the right of oversight but it also has the power of the purse. … We also have to look to ourselves for that funding question. $300 million less than what the administration asked for.