Thursday, November 29, 2012

Big Issues Are Lost in Focus on Libya Talking Points

I concur.  The focus on the talking points is missing the forest for the trees.  We need to focus on at least three things:  (1) assignment of forces to AFRICOM, (2) the security analysis and decision making prior to the tragic event, and (3) the (my perception) strategic paralysis of decision making at the national level  (as I have said I remain concerned that the decision making process for our deliberate targeting using drones and SOF, with the expectation of superior intelligence and situational awareness as these operations are planned and executed, has eroded our crisis action decision making capability as we wait for the same quality of intelligence and situational awareness as in deliberate CT operations.)

I do not mean this as a partisan statement only as an observation of the discourse surrounding this whole situation.  Unfortunately the political spin on this is preventing us from getting at the important lessons that must be learned and the processes that must be corrected and improved while we continue to have our Diplomats (and others) in harm's way around the world.  The outcome of this will partisan fight between the Hilll and the WHite House will be the perceived political victory of the prevention of Ambassador Rice from becoming SECSTATE and this will not result in any improved US national security decision making to prevent or deal with these crises.   The only lesson learned is to be careful how you spin events after they happen. But I do not think that this will turn into a "Watergate" for the Administration which I think is what some hope.  We need to get on with business and solve the problems that this tragic event has revealed.

November 28, 2012

Big Issues Are Lost in Focus on Libya Talking Points

WASHINGTON — Three days after the lethal attack on the American Mission in Benghazi, Libya, Representative C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, asked intelligence agencies to write up some unclassified talking points on the episode. Reporters were besieging him and other legislators for comment, and he did not want to misstate facts or disclose classified information.

More than 10 weeks later, the four pallid sentences that intelligence analysts cautiously delivered are the unlikely center of a quintessential Washington drama, in which a genuine tragedy has been fed into the meat grinder of election-year politics.

In the process, the most important questions about Benghazi, where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed on Sept. 11, have largely gotten lost: Were requests for greater security for diplomats in Libya ignored? Even if Al Qaeda’s core in Pakistan has been decimated, what threat is posed by its affiliates and imitators in other countries where they have taken refuge? How can crucial diplomacy be conducted amid the dangerous chaos that has followed the toppling of dictators across the Arab world?

Instead, it is the parsing of the talking points — who wrote them, altered them, recited them on television or tried to explain them — that could decide the fate of a leading candidate for secretary of state, Susan E. Rice, currently the United Nations ambassador. On Wednesday, for the second time in two weeks, Ms. Rice received a hearty endorsement from President Obama in the face of a continuing battering on Capitol Hill.

“Susan Rice is extraordinary,” he said in response to a reporter’s question as he met at the White House with his cabinet for the first time since the election. “Couldn’t be prouder of the job that she’s done.”
Now the talking points could also affect the chances of a top candidate for C.I.A. director, Michael Morell, the agency’s acting director, who on Tuesday accompanied Ms. Rice to a briefing for some of her most vocal Senate critics and misspoke about changes in the original draft of the talking points.
(Continued at the link below)

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