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October 12, 2012

It's 3 a.m. Do You Know What Your Cabinet Is Doing?

If the Benghazi attack had occurred in a country that we hadn't just supplied with over 1 BILLION dollars of US military aid (during The Worst Recession Since the Great Depression, no less!), that would be one thing. But considering that the American taxpayer just made a pretty pricey investment in Libya, isn't a rapidly deteriorating security situation the sort of thing the State Department should be passing on to their bosses in the White House?

Vice President Joseph Biden speaks only for himself and President Barack Obama, and neither man was aware that U.S. officials in Libya had asked the State Department for more security before the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, a top White House official told The Cable.

Biden has come under fire for saying at Thursday night's debate, "We weren't told they wanted more security. We did not know they wanted more security there."

The Cable asked Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications Ben Rhodes whether Biden was speaking for the entire Obama administration, including the State Department, which acknowledged receiving multiple requests for more Libya security in the months before the attacks. Rhodes said that Biden speaks only for himself and the president and neither of them knew about the requests at the time.

The comments are devastating:

How in the world do you go on national television and say you don't know what's going on in your very own administration? To say that you had no idea that more security was needed within a nation that was militarily and politically unstable is completely reprehensable! Ray Charles could have seen that without being told! If you ever thought you deserved another four years you just shot yourself in the foot with that admission.

And then there's this gem:

OK, let me get this straight: Obama and Biden still do not know that Ambassador Stevens made multiple requests for additional security that were not only denied, but State told Stevens to stop asking. So Obama is still not aware of the actions of the State Department that enacts his foreign policy and reports to him. And the rest of us have been aware of this for 2+ weeks through statements by diplomats in Libya and the Congressional investigation. I always thought the president and VP were more aware of security matters than the American people. Do we actually know more than the president??

It strains even the most robust sense of credulity to expect voters to believe that Obama personally approves kill orders on suspected terrorists and closely supervised the Bin Laden kill, but mysteriously hasn't a clue what's going in Libya. Whatever happened to this guy?

... as President of the United States, one of the things I’ve learned, and we just talked about was anything that happens on my watch is my responsibility. That’s what people expect. Harry Truman said the buck stops with me...”

Barack Obama, July 2012

Telling the American people that a Cabinet-level department of the Executive branch isn't keeping you informed about important national security issues doesn't strike me as a particularly wise tactic. Especially after it just came out that the President thinks it's a waste of time to talk to the folks that supply him with his daily intel brief.

Five hundred million squandered on Solyndra, 400 million squandered on Abound Solar, over a billion spent for a deteriorating security situation in a country the President apparently isn't terribly concerned about...

After a while that starts to look like carelessness.

Posted by Cassandra at October 12, 2012 12:35 PM

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So, let's see.

1) Fast and Furious: The Arizona branch's fault
2) Can't use an iPhone: owner's fault
3) Economy sputtering: Bush's fault
4) Ill advised Embassy tweet: The Embassy's fault
5) Embassy Attack: Youtube filmaker's fault
6) Lack of Security: Hillary's fault

Posted by: Don Juan at October 12, 2012 01:43 PM

Overheard in the office: I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 12, 2012 02:51 PM

I was under the impression that the President didn't need to make time for intelligence briefings because he was 'one of the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet.' Here's another function of briefings, though: it's a chance to push your briefers for answers on things you don't think you're adequately informed about.

If he really didn't know, and he were really as sophisticated a thinker as he believes he is, these briefings are a great time to push for answers.

Posted by: Grim at October 12, 2012 02:59 PM

The sun was in my eyes.

I once spent a very trying day deposing the president of a debtor corporation who tried this business of claiming he was personally unaware of some of the most central strategic decisions of his company. Normally, my technique is to pique the witness's personal pride so that he finally bursts out with some kind of admission that he's not an ignorant, powerless, laughable figurehead. But this guy was completely cool with admitting that about himself under oath. I had to settle for destroying his credibility in every other statement he tried to make about his company for the rest of the case. How would he know? Apparently he was just there to pick up a paycheck and have someone bring him coffee.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 12, 2012 03:12 PM

If he really didn't know, and he were really as sophisticated a thinker as he believes he is, these briefings are a great time to push for answers.

That would assume Obama cares. But the admin has already said that the attack isn't important and the only reason anyone's talking about it is because Romney won't shut up about it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 12, 2012 03:14 PM

Five hundred million squandered on Solyndra, 400 million squandered on Abound Solar, over a billion spent for a deteriorating security situation in a country the President apparently isn't terribly concerned about...

And four Americans murdered....

So, let's see.

7) Lack of Security, Part 2: Republicans want to cut taxes on the rich.

Ed Henry of Fox News at today's noon presser asked Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, through the latter's mouth, Jay Carney, about that lack of security. That actually was part of Obama's--I mean Carney's--response. Republicans want to cut taxes. More amazingly, Obama/Carney also said no security because Republicans in the House cut funding for State.

Never mind that at Wednesday's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, there was this exchange:

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R, CA): Was there any budget consideration and lack of budget which lead you not to increase the number of people in the security force there?”

Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs Charlene Lamb: No, sir.

Never mind, further, that State also had funds for $100k+ for Volt charging stations in Munich.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at October 12, 2012 03:17 PM

The president, after promising to halve the debt, doubled it. He has undermined the economy at every opportunity. He has abrogated his oath of office. He and his homey, Eric Holder, have made the most important civic institution, the Department of Justice, indistinguishable, in its aspirations, from those of the New Black Panther Party. He has taken up with un-strange bedfellows and aligned himself and the State Department with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Once, inattentive, twice, careless, but the third time is malign. We are past three and well past careless. To credit him with incompetence mitigates his fundamentally transformational treachery and he's done not one thing to merit a doubt of it.

Posted by: George Pal at October 12, 2012 03:59 PM

Glad to hear someone else mention the stupid $100K charging station, I was yelling about it at the TV during the debate. It is such a grim example of lame spending priorities of this administration. Green energy more important than security? Plus no bullets in weapons?

Reminds me of Brian Terry's death. Border patrol officers limited to dad gum bean bag weapons? The border is not a play ground. In the time it would take to exchange weapons after being fired upon an agents life is needlessly at risk. And I bet the cartels know what the ROE are for our border patrol.

This administration puts appearances and its own agenda above the lives of Americans. If it is true that the ambassador in France has more security and Valerie Jarrett has secret service protection then this adminhas been criminally negligent. I am so angry at the senseless loss of life.

What is worse is that other Americans who travel around the world as part of their jobs are also placed even more at risk when we fail to protect diplomats. I have a hubby that travels extensively to some pretty dangerous places and this terrifies me. He never wears anything that identifies himself as an American when traveling to more hazardous places, even Mexico and South America. Now I am hoping his current work keeps him stateside for a while. Frequent flier miles are not worth it.

Posted by: TexasMom2012 at October 12, 2012 10:34 PM

Green energy more important than security? Plus no bullets in weapons?

Well, the two are not incompatible. Lead poisoning, an all that.

Unfortunately, this administration has been channeling a child tennis player (who since has grown up): Image is everything.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at October 13, 2012 02:33 PM

Such a simple mistake. They've confused self-image for image.

Posted by: htom at October 13, 2012 11:27 PM

Well said, Lady Bracknell.

Posted by: Julio at October 14, 2012 10:32 PM