Brutal: Former Defense Secretaries Openly Slam ‘Inexperienced’ Obama White House War Micromanagement

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Town Hall, by Katie Pavlich, Apr 07, 2016:

For years the Obama administration has been accused of micromanaging the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from inside the White House. Now in an astonishing report from Fox News anchor Bret Baier, three former Obama Defense Secretaries are openly slamming him for his distrust of the military, his failure to lead and they’re exposing his inexperienced and closest advisors for second guessing senior field commanders with phone calls to the battlefield.

“President Obama, he’s one of the youngest presidents we’ve ever had. One of the most inexperienced presidents we’ve ever had. He has a staff around him that is very inexperienced. I don’t think there’s one veteran on his senior staff at the White House. I don’t believe there’s one business person. I don’t believe there is one person who’s ever run anything. Other than Vice President Biden, none of them have ever been elected to anything. You must levin the loaf, levin your advisors where you get a lot of experience at difference things where he, the President himself, is so inexperienced,” Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said. “I think he’s got to fundamentally understand and I’m not sure he ever did nor people around him, the tremendous responsibility the United States has. Not to be the world’s policemen, but to lead and we’re the only ones who can. The world becomes more dangerous, not less dangerous, when America gets less involved in the world. I don’t mean invading and occupying and imposing, but leading.”

“It was the operational micromanagement that drove me nuts of White House and NSC (National Security Council) staffers calling senior commanders out in the field and asking them questions, second guessing commanders,” Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who also served under President Bush, said. “When I I was Deputy National Security Advisor, if I would have tried to, even as deputy, if I had tried to call a field commander, going around Dick Cheney who was Secretary of Defense or Colin Powell who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, I’d have had my head handed to me, probably personally by the President.”

“I told the combatant commanders and the field commanders, ‘If you get calls from the White House staff, if you get a call from the President that’s one thing, that’s totally okay, that’s the chain of command, but you get a call from some White House or National Security Council staffer, you tell them to call me instead and then tell them, oh by the way, go to hell and that’s directly from the Secretary of Defense,” Gates continued.

“I think what I’ve seen in these last four years is almost this cautiousness and over correction which makes it appear that the United States is hesitant to take action and that sends, I think, a message of weakness,” Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.

As if inexperienced White House advisors micromanaging the battlefield wasn’t bad enough, late last year we learned from an exclusive in the Daily Beast intelligence reports were being scrubbed to fit the political narrative that terrorism around the world, including ISIS, was shrinking.

More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials, The Daily Beast has learned.

The complaints spurred the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence. The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence.

“The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,” one defense official said.

Two senior analysts at CENTCOM signed a written complaint sent to the Defense Department inspector general in July alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The reports were changed by CENTCOM higher-ups to adhere to the administration’s public line that the U.S. is winning the battle against ISIS and al Nusra, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the analysts claim.

It should be noted that second guessing field commanders had severe and serious consequences in Afghanistan with 70 percent of U.S. troop casualties there occurring during President Obama’s time in the White House.

***

Fox News Insider, 3/31/16

When Barack Obama took office, he inherited a professional, world-class, battle-toughened military. Seven years later, many experts and insiders see the U.S. armed forces as a tattered and demoralized organization.

Bret Baier looks at the hundreds of billions in cuts, the radical social change forced upon the troops and a foreign policy that breaks with decades of tradition and leaves us in a world more dangerous than ever.

The hour-long program includes interviews with Obama’s first three Secretaries of Defense – Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel – as well as numerous people on the ground, who work to keep America’s fighting forces battle ready.

Gates weighed in on Obama’s decision-making on the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The president ultimately pushed for Mubarak’s immediate removal, despite the military urging caution.

“Literally, the entire national security team recommended unanimously handling Mubarak differently than we did,” Gates said.

During the Libya uprising in 2011, Gates said he had reservations about information on military options going to the White House without his approval.

“You had concerns about that – running military operations out of the White House,” Baier noted.

“Yeah. The experience we had with that in Vietnam didn’t work so well,” Gates responded.

 

Hillary’s Libyan Lies: Muslim Brotherhood, Terror and Dirty Money

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Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield. Oct. 22, 2015:

Hillary Clinton has only one accomplishment; the Libyan War. Bombing Libya in support of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover was Hillary’s pet project.

Obama unenthusiastically signed off on a war that he had told members of Congress “is all Secretary Clinton’s matter.”

The Pentagon fought Hillary’s illegal war every step of the way. Both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs opposed Hillary’s plan to bomb Libya. One of the Chairman’s top aides said that he did not trust the reports coming out of the State Department and the CIA, then controlled by Clinton loyalist Leon Panetta. When it was clear that the Clintonites had gotten their war on, an irritated Secretary of Defense Gates resigned after failing to stop Hillary’s war and was replaced by Panetta.

As the State Department set the military agenda, the Pentagon retaliated by taking over the diplomatic agenda attempting to arrange a ceasefire with the Gaddafi regime over Hillary’s objections.

Hillary was using the State Department to start a war while the military was trying to use diplomacy to stop a war. The Pentagon lost the power struggle and one of her minions took over the military to make sure that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Jihadists would be able to overrun another country.

Huma Abedin had beaten the Secretary of Defense.

Panetta, unlike Gates, shared Hillary’s Arab Spring agenda. After the war, he paid a visit to Tripoli and claimed that similar “uprisings” would be taking place around the Middle East, including in Syria.

Military people never stopped loathing Hillary Clinton for her war and its consequences, the usurpation of a defense matter, the Al Qaeda training camps and the abandonment of Americans in Benghazi. That came to the surface during the Democratic debate when Senator Webb challenged Clinton on Libya.

Hillary Clinton smugly recited the same old lies about Gaddafi “threatening to massacre large numbers of the Libyan people” and European allies begging her to stop a “mass genocide.”

In reality, Hillary Clinton was the source of the claim that Gaddafi was about to commit genocide. This claim had no basis in reality and defense officials quickly shot it down. But that didn’t stop Obama from claiming during his war speech that he had bombed Libya to save Benghazi from a massacre. There was no massacre in Benghazi. At least not until Obama helped make a massacre of four Americans happen.

By September, the New York Times was asking where all the dead were. Morgue records showed that the dead on both sides actually numbered in the hundreds. The International Red Cross put the number of missing persons at around a thousand. The largest mass grave found had 34 bodies.

Obama claimed that he had seen Gaddafi “kill over a thousand people in a single day.” That never happened. It never happened when Gaddafi had actually captured a rebel city before.

“Imagine we were sitting here and Benghazi had been overrun, a city of 700,000 people, and tens of thousands of people had been slaughtered,” Hillary Clinton had said. That would be more than the entire number of people, combatants and civilians, who had died in the Libyan Civil War.

Gaddafi was an insane dictator, but he had never done anything on that scale, nor were his forces, which had been beaten by Chad in the Toyota War (Chad militias had fought using Toyota pickups), remotely capable of pulling off Saddam level of atrocities or he might have won the war.

Hillary Clinton claimed at the debate, “We had the Arabs standing by our side saying, ‘We want you to help us deal with Gadhafi.’” But by the second night of bombing, the Secretary-General of the Arab League had already condemned the “bombardment of civilians.”

“We did not put one single American soldier on the ground in Libya,” Hillary Clinton said. That’s technically true and also a lie. It was Panetta’s CIA people who were on the ground.

Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, two of the Americans murdered in Benghazi, were former Navy SEAL commandos who were working as contractors for the CIA. American soldiers still died in Libya. They were just officially contractors, more of the CIA’s “Sneakers on the Ground” approach that let hacks like Hillary and Obama claim that there were no American soldiers on the ground.

“The Libyan people had a free election the first time since 1951,” Hillary Clinton said. “And you know what, they voted for moderates, they voted with the hope of democracy.”

When Hillary says “moderate”, she means Islamist. The election was fake. It was rigged between the “moderate Islamist” Muslim Brotherhood and the “moderate Islamist” National Forces Alliance. While the media was repeating talking points about the fake election, fighting in Benghazi continued. But even though Hillary and Obama had used Benghazi as the basis for the war, no one was paying attention.

That would change soon enough. And before long every American would know the name Benghazi. But Benghazi was only an early warning. Before long entire Libyan cities would fall to Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Hillary closed by insisting, “Unless you believe the United States should not send diplomats to any place that is dangerous, which I do not, then when we send them forth, there is always the potential for danger and risk.”

Sending diplomats to dangerous places means providing them with adequate security.

Hillary’s State Department failed to do that. Even the whitewashed report of her cronies admitted that much. Benghazi’s compound was being protected by “moderate Islamist” terrorists who overlapped with the other “moderate Islamist” terrorists who attacked the diplomatic compound.

While Hillary’s State Department was spending fortunes on bad art, the Benghazi compound didn’t meet security standards in a city that had more terrorists than police officers.

And, best of all, the Muslim Brotherhood Martyrs of the Feb. 17 Revolution Brigade terrorists Hillary was paying to protect the ambassador, hadn’t even been paid.

Benghazi was a city that was effectively under the control of Jihadists, some of them blatantly identifying with Al Qaeda. Hillary Clinton might as well have sent Ambassador Stevens into an Al Qaeda training camp with terrorists providing his security. And that’s effectively what she did.

Her dismissive line about sending diplomats to dangerous places whitewashes what happened.

Now that we’ve cleared away Hillary’s lies, let’s get to the truth. The Libyan War, like the rest of the Arab Spring, was about empowering the Muslim Brotherhood.

And there were cruder motives in the mix.

Hillary Clinton hid emails discussing the exploitation of Libya’s oil fields. The Clintons had made an art out of merging their political and financial agendas. They had extensive ties with figures in the energy industry and the companies that dug into Libya’s energy sector, Royal Dutch Shell and BP, were Clinton Foundation donors.

Some of the deleted emails discussed this with Clinton Foundation employee Sidney Blumenthal, who was also providing Hillary Clinton with supposed intel from business interests while promising that the Libyan War would be an easy matter. Blumenthal encouraged “shock and awe” bombing in Libya.

According to Congressman Gowdy, who has been investigating the events in Benghazi, “Blumenthal pushed hard for a no-fly zone in Libya before the idea was being discussed internally by senior U.S. government officials.” He blasted Obama for being “unenthusiastic about regime change in Libya.”

Blumenthal called for providing the Jihadists with “armor piercing weapons” and called Secretary of Defense Gates a “mean, vicious little prick” who is “losing” the debate. Blumenthal also offered the very specific “national interest” argument that Obama would later echo, suggesting that he was unknowingly repeating the talking points of a man he loathed which had been handed to him by Hillary Clinton.

He also told Hillary Clinton that the war had to be ramped up or Obama would lose the election.

Having dragged Obama into Hillary’s war, Blumenthal was now pushing Hillary to blackmail him with the threat of losing the election if he didn’t escalate the conflict. Meanwhile he was pursuing his interest in getting the Libyans to pay for military training from a private military company he was linked to.

The entire nightmarish mess of Democratic conspiracy theories about Iraq, Blood for Oil, politicians fighting wars to win elections, corporate conflicts of interest and even private military companies are all here and no one will touch it. A roster of Democratic candidates still running against the Iraq War won’t talk about an illegal dirty regime change war that took place with their backing and support.

Bernie Sanders, who sputters incoherently about the Iraq War, co-sponsored the Senate resolution supporting a No Fly Zone in Libya. This was the Senate resolution that Obama exploited as a fig leaf of Senate approval for his illegal war.

Senator Sanders can’t criticize Hillary’s illegal war because he helped make it happen.

Hillary’s war has been an unmitigated disaster. Her lies about the war have been disproven. But not even the Democrats running against her are ready to hold her accountable for it.

***

HILLARY CLINTON WOULD HAVE DONE ANYTHING FOR AMBASSADOR STEVENS… EXCEPT PROVIDE HIM W/SECURITY

Jim Jordan Traps Hillary Clinton: Emails Show She Knew Immediately Attack Was Not Result of Video

Also see:

Former CIA Director and Deputy Director Endorse Benghazi Select Committee

 John Hayward:

It might just have become impossible for Democrats to sit out the Benghazi Select Committee, which means the childish temper tantrums from people like Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are going to cost the Party dearly.

At a forum held by his Panetta Institute in California on Monday, former CIA director – and major Democrat Party figure – Leon Panetta endorsed the new investigation, as did former Deputy Director Michael Morell, who played a role in preparing at least one set of Benghazi talking points for the Obama Administration.  As related by Politico, one of the reasons Morell favors a definitive Select Committee investigation is that he wants to make it clear the talking points he edited weren’t the same as the hyper-politicized gobbledygook that led the Administration to lie about “spontaneous video protests” for weeks on end:

“A lot of people have looked at this, but the polls show that the American people still have questions. I want to make sure that all of those questions are cleared up. There are still some questions about the role of the agency. And there are still questions about my own personal role and I want to clear that up,” Morell said during a panel discussion at the Panetta Institute in Monterey, Calif. “It might be surprising for you to hear me say this, but  I am a supporter of the creation of this committee because I want all the facts to come together in one place and be presented as one—by one entity as one thing, so the American people can see all of this.

“I am hopeful that at least getting the facts on the table will be helpful.”

[…] During his appearance Monday, Morell sought to make clear that he had no involvement whatsover in drafting Rhodes’s messaging memo and, in fact, didn’t even know about it until recently.

“It’s very important to remember that there’s actually two sets of talking points now. For months, there was only one set of talking points, now there’s two. The only set that I was ever aware of was the set that the CIA produced at the request of  Congress and those we reproduced by my analysts and they were edited by a number of people including me,” the ex-CIA official said. As for the memo Rhodes issued, “Nobody in the intelligence community ever vetted those. Nobody in the intelligence community was aware of those So, I just learned about those a couple of weeks ago, so I really don’t have anything to add on those points. The ones I can talk to are the ones that we produced.”

Morell also said he’s certain that the House panel will reject allegations that the talking points he prepared were intended to provide political solace to either Obama or Clinton.

“There is absolutely no truth to that and I am 100 percent confident that when this committee is done with its work that will be shown to be true,” he said.

The White House repeatedly tried throwing intelligence officials under the bus during its frantic efforts to keep Obama’s re-election campaign alive after the Benghazi attack.  It looks like there might be a few hard feelings about that, now that all the “good soldiers” kept their lips zipped until the elections were over.  The discovery of those White House “smoking gun” emails by Judicial Watch has been a truly seismic event.  The intelligence community wants to create some daylight between itself and the political hacks who cooked up the “video protest” story.

Read more at Human Events

Also see:

 

No, the Benghazi Questions Aren’t All Answered

pic_giant_010614_SM_Down-the-Times-Benghazi-Rabbit-Hole_0By Jim Geraghty:

NBC News’s Chuck Todd, speaking on MSNBC Tuesday morning, contended that the newly formed House select committee investigating Benghazi was likely to rehash familiar arguments and miss broader issues worth discussing:

It certainly looks more partisan than it looks like a serious inquiry. They’ve done a ton of these inquiries already, the House has. There’s been a Senate Intelligence investigation. Forget just the State Department. I think you could argue that yes, Congress should have done what it did, which is go through some of these committees. But as for the need for the select committee — you know, I’ll hear from Republicans that say, ‘But there are unanswered questions!’ Well, no, all the questions have been answered. There’s just some people that don’t like the answers, that wish the answers were somehow more conspiratorial, I guess.

Their focus seems to be off. Have a conversation about the policy. Have a debate, an investigation into whether the policy is working; to whether the response to the Arab Spring, whether we did the right thing with the light footprint in Libya. But to sit here and investigate talking points seems to be totally missing the larger point here. It’s like investigating who cut down one tree in a forest that’s been burned down.”

Todd is half-right that there are broader issues worth examining. But there is good reason for Republicans to believe that full answers have been withheld, and Americans have seen little or no real accountability for a largely preventable outrage.

As Todd notes, several House and Senate committees launched their own inquiries, but the White House withheld certain documents and evidence, which raises serious doubts about how thoroughly and accurately those committees’ questions have been answered. For example, the White House never sent Congress an e-mail from Ben Rhodes instructing then–ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice to “underscore these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy,” infuriating lawmakers.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters the White House didn’t include the e-mail in its disclosures to Capitol Hill because it wasn’t about Benghazi, but ABC News’s Jonathan Karl noted that the e-mail in question has an entire section labeled “Benghazi.” How many other documents have been withheld because the administration judged them not relevant, were momentarily struck with inexplicable illiteracy, or simply deemed them too damaging or embarrassing to turn over to Congress?

Earlier, senators had complained about heavily redacted documents:

“It was so redacted that there was no information whatsoever,” said the source, who spoke to Fox on the condition they not be identified. “There were some documents that were 100 pages with every word on the page redacted. They were worthless.”

More than a year after the attack, Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) was informed that he could not interview the survivors of the attack because it would somehow interfere with the criminal prosecution of the perpetrators. This decision came as surprising news to FBI director James Comey, whose agency is responsible for that prosecution. Comey said he had no objection to the interviews. After Graham finally did speak with the survivors, he said some told him “they’ve been told to be quiet.”

While it’s entirely possible that Graham is misinterpreting or mischaracterizing the survivors’ comments, it’s impossible to know as long as the survivors’ comments and testimony remain hidden from the public. When the public has gotten to hear from those close to the events on the ground, such as Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission in Libya who was in Tripoli at the time of the attack, the testimony has offered a gripping, eye-opening, and disturbing portrait of the U.S. government being caught flat-footed and unable to mobilize in a crisis.

This is a particularly cynical strategy by the administration: They take as long as possible to provide the information and then complain that Congress remains obsessed with long-ago issues. Former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor exemplified the delay-then-demand-others-move-on approach when he recently told Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier, “Dude, this was like two years ago.”

Read more at National Review

O’Reilly to Chaffetz: ‘Get Your Butt In Gear’ and Subpoena Leon Panetta

BY: :

Bill O’Reilly blasted the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) for failing to subpoena former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta over Benghazi Thursday on The O’Reilly Factor.

O’Reilly expressed his frustration that Panetta has yet to be subpoenaed considering he was informed the night of Benghazi that the assault was in fact a terrorist attack. President Obama was careful to avoid the exact verbiage of what Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told him the night of September 11, 2012 in his Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly.

The Fox News host said Chaffetz and the House OGR need to get their “butts in gear” and subpoena Panetta to find out what exactly transpired between the former defense secretary and President Obama the night of the Benghazi attack:

BIll O’REILLY: This is the story. This is it. Panetta is it. And nobody has asked him under oath if he told his boss, the president, the commander in chief, that it was a terror attack. If Panetta says that, all hell breaks loose. And you guys haven’t done it. So, it’s a cheap shotting Obama, all right, to complain about him when you guys haven’t brought in the guy that could break the story wide open. And I tried to get it from President Obama but he wouldn’t answer it. So now I’m asking you, Congressman, to get your butt in gear and get your committee to get Panetta in there. Is that unreasonable?

JASON CHAFFETZ: No, it’s not unreasonable at all. What we did in the Armed Services group brought in General Ham. That’s where these quotes came out.

O’REILLY: That’s right.

CHAFFETZ: Just two weeks ago.

O’REILLY: But you didn’t follow up to the big guy.

CHAFFETZ: I know. That was a couple weeks ago. This investigation is not done. To me it feels like halftime because this administration has been stonewalling us for a long time we have got to hear from for instance I want the public. This is amazing to me. The public has never heard from anybody who was on the ground that night in Benghazi and that is so wrong.

O’REILLY: That doesn’t matter.

CHAFFETZ: It does matter Bill.

O’REILLY: It doesn’t matter because the story is whether the President of the United States, all right, went along with his re-election committee and falsely put out a narrative to protect his re-election chances. That’s the story. And Panetta is the guy.

Gregory Hicks: Benghazi and the Smearing of Chris Stevens

345WSJ, By GREGORY N. HICKS:

Last week the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued its report on the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The report concluded that the attack, which resulted in the murder of four Americans, was “preventable.” Some have been suggesting that the blame for this tragedy lies at least partly with Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack. This is untrue: The blame lies entirely with Washington.

The report states that retired Gen. Carter Ham, then-commander of the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, twice offered to “sustain” the special forces security team in Tripoli and that Chris twice “declined.” Since Chris cannot speak, I want to explain the reasons and timing for his responses to Gen. Ham. As the deputy chief of mission, I was kept informed by Chris or was present throughout the process.

On Aug. 1, 2012, the day after I arrived in Tripoli, Chris invited me to a video conference with Africom to discuss changing the mission of the U.S. Special Forces from protecting the U.S. Embassy and its personnel to training Libyan forces. This change in mission would result in the transfer of authority over the unit in Tripoli from Chris to Gen. Ham. In other words, the special forces would report to the Defense Department, not State.

Chris wanted the decision postponed but could not say so directly. Chris had requested on July 9 by cable that Washington provide a minimum of 13 American security professionals for Libya over and above the diplomatic security complement of eight assigned to Tripoli and Benghazi. On July 11, the Defense Department, apparently in response to Chris’s request, offered to extend the special forces mission to protect the U.S. Embassy.

However, on July 13, State Department Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy refused the Defense Department offer and thus Chris’s July 9 request. His rationale was that Libyan guards would be hired to take over this responsibility. Because of Mr. Kennedy’s refusal, Chris had to use diplomatic language at the video conference, such as expressing “reservations” about the transfer of authority.

Chris’s concern was significant. Transferring authority would immediately strip the special forces team of its diplomatic immunity. Moreover, the U.S. had no status of forces agreement with Libya. He explained to Rear Adm. Charles J. Leidig that if a member of the special forces team used weapons to protect U.S. facilities, personnel or themselves, he would be subject to Libyan law. The law would be administered by judges appointed to the bench by Moammar Gadhafi or, worse, tribal judges.

Chris described an incident in Pakistan in 2011 when an American security contractor killed Pakistani citizens in self-defense, precipitating a crisis in U.S.-Pakistani relations. He also pointed out that four International Criminal Court staff, who had traveled to Libya in June 2012 to interview Gadhafi’s oldest son, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, were illegally detained by tribal authorities under suspicion of spying. This was another risk U.S. military personnel might face.

During that video conference, Chris stressed that the only way to mitigate the risk was to ensure that U.S. military personnel serving in Libya would have diplomatic immunity, which should be done prior to any change of authority.

Chris understood the importance of the special forces team to the security of our embassy personnel. He believed that by explaining his concerns, the Defense Department would postpone the decision so he could have time to work with the Libyan government and get diplomatic immunity for the special forces.

According to the National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Department needed Chris’s concurrence to change the special forces mission. But soon after the Aug. 1 meeting, and as a complete surprise to us at the embassy, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed the order without Chris’s concurrence.

The SenateIntelligence Committee’s report accurately notes that on Aug. 6, after the transfer of authority, two special forces team members in a diplomatic vehicle were forced off the road in Tripoli and attacked. Only because of their courage, skills and training did they escape unharmed. But the incident highlighted the risks associated with having military personnel in Libya unprotected by diplomatic immunity or a status of forces agreement. As a result of this incident, Chris was forced to agree with Gen. Ham’s withdrawal of most of the special forces team from Tripoli until the Libyan government formally approved their new training mission and granted them diplomatic immunity.

Because Mr. Kennedy had refused to extend the special forces security mission, State Department protocol required Chris to decline Gen. Ham’s two offers to do so, which were made after Aug. 6. I have found the reporting of these so-called offers strange, since my recollection of events is that after the Aug. 6 incident, Gen. Ham wanted to withdraw the entire special forces team from Tripoli until they had Libyan government approval of their new mission and the diplomatic immunity necessary to perform their mission safely. However, Chris convinced Gen. Ham to leave six members of the team in Tripoli.

When I arrived in Tripoli on July 31, we had over 30 security personnel, from the State Department and the U.S. military, assigned to protect the diplomatic mission to Libya. All were under the ambassador’s authority. On Sept. 11, we had only nine diplomatic security agents under Chris’s authority to protect our diplomatic personnel in Tripoli and Benghazi.

I was interviewed by the Select Committee and its staff, who were professional and thorough. I explained this sequence of events. For some reason, my explanation did not make it into the Senate report.

To sum up: Chris Stevens was not responsible for the reduction in security personnel. His requests for additional security were denied or ignored. Officials at the State and Defense Departments in Washington made the decisions that resulted in reduced security. Sen. Lindsey Graham stated on the Senate floor last week that Chris “was in Benghazi because that is where he was supposed to be doing what America wanted him to do: Try to hold Libya together.” He added, “Quit blaming the dead guy.”

Mr. Hicks served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli from July 31 to Dec. 7, 2012.

Former defense secretaries criticize Obama over Syria

19gates-articleInlineFox News: Former defense secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta criticized President Obama’s strategy regarding the Syrian civil war Tuesday, with both agreeing that Obama should not have sought the approval of Congress for a military strike against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking at a forum in Dallas, Gates and Panetta, Obama’s first two defense secretaries,  disagreed on whether the United States should ultimately carry out a military strike in retaliation for a chemical attack that the U.S. says killed 1,400 people. However, both expressed skepticism (and occasionally sarcasm) about ongoing negotiations, led by Russia, for Assad to hand over his stockpile of chemical weapons to the international community.

Panetta said he supported a strike because Obama needed to enforce the “red line” he set over Syria’s use of chemical weapons.

“When the president of the United States draws a red line, the credibility of this country is dependent on him backing up his word,” Panetta said.

But Gates said a strike would be like “throwing gasoline on an extremely complex fire in the Middle East.” He brought up past interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya as examples of how American military action can lead to unintended consequences.

He also dismissed attacking Syria to enforce a red line.

“I believe to blow a bunch of stuff up over a couple of days to underscore or validate a point or principle is not a strategy,” he said.

Read more at Fox News

This —-> REPORT: OBAMA CONSULTED NY TIMES EDITORS, COLUMNISTS ON SYRIA STRATEGY (breitbart.com)