Category Archives: Obama

Left Behind: Americans in Captivity

“We don’t leave people behind.”
–US President, Barack Obama.

On 31 Mar, Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi was driving with his friends to go to a Mexican restaurant and accidentally missed the last exit before the Mexican border. Without the ability to turn around before he crossed the border, he proceeded to the Mexican customs post, where he explained that he missed the exit before the crossing, and volunteered that he had three US legal guns in the vehicle. After that, Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi was arrested and charged with gun smuggling into Mexico.

Amir Hekmati, a 29-year-old Iranian-American who was born in Arizona and grew up in Michigan, said in a letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that he has been held for more than two years on false charges of being a spy for the CIA. He said a televised “confession” he made in December 2011 was “obtained by force, threats, miserable prison conditions, and prolonged periods of solitary confinement.”

Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent from Coral Springs, Fla., went missing during a business trip to Iran’s Kish Island on March 9, 2007. He was working on behalf of several large corporations as a private investigator researching a cigarette smuggling case. Initially, the U.S. suspected that a terrorist group was behind the kidnapping. U.S. intelligence officials have indicated they now believe Iran is behind Levinson’s captivity.

Saeed Abedini, 33, an American Christian pastor from Boise, Idaho, was arrested during a trip to Iran in the summer of 2012. He was sentenced earlier this year to eight years in prison on charges of attempting to undermine state security. His supporters say his “crime” was attempting to share his Christian faith.

Alan Gross, 64, is a U.S. government contractor serving a 15-year sentence for bringing banned communications equipment to Cuba. He was detained in 2009 while distributing computer equipment as part of a program by the U.S. Agency for International Development to increase Internet access on the island.

Kevin Sutay, a 26-year-old U.S. military veteran and New York native was taken captive on June 20 in Colombia’s volatile southeast by FARC rebels two days after arriving as a tourist. The group said Sutay’s capture was evidence of “the active participation on the ground of American military and mercenaries in counter-insurgency operations in which they appear under the euphemism of contractors.”

Kenneth Bae, a 45-year-old naturalized American citizen with family living in Washington state, was arrested by North Korea in November 2012 while leading a group of tourists in the northeastern port city of Rason. Bae, described by relatives and friends as a devout Christian, was sentenced earlier this year to 15 years of hard labor for unspecified “hostile acts” against the state.

Caitlin Coleman, an American citizen who, along with her Canadian-born husband Josh, disappeared in Afghanistan in October 2012. Coleman was pregnant and would have had a child by the following January; if the infant survived, he or she would be considered an American citizen. The third missing citizen is Warren Weinstein, 72, a government contractor who was doing work in Pakistan when he was kidnapped in August 2011. It was unclear from government officials this week what the status of these Americans was or if active discussions were taking place to secure their release.

Yahia Ibrahim, 27, is a graduate of the school of medicine at Khartoum University and a lifelong Christian. Meriam met and married her naturalized American husband in Khartoum in 2012, and they have a 20-month old toddler son. Currently pregnant with their second child, Meriam was sentenced to death for apostasy and 100 lashes for adultery by the Public Order Court in El Haj Yousif, Khartoum, Sudan on May 11, 2014.

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Busting Some Benghazi Myths:

Why are we making a big deal of this?  Embassies were attacked a lot more frequently during the Bush administration.

Sort of.

There were 12 attacks on diplomatic facilities during the Bush administration.

2 produced no fatalities.

Of the remaining 10 only 2 produced any US fatalities, and only one of those a diplomatic officer.

A common feature of all 12 attacks is the death or arrest of almost all attackers in a fairly short time frame following the events, a majorly significant difference from Benghazi. None of the attacks were of a prolonged assault nature during which the administration could have had time in which to send help, the most pertinent difference.

Why are we making a big deal of this?  The most important thing is to catch those responsible, not fix blame.

Had there actually been any emphasis on catching the perpetrators, catching them in the act was surely the easiest and most efficient way to do so. And yet every order given (and we don’t know yet by whom) was to stand down.

In all 12 attacks during the Bush administration the perpetrators were dealt with, generally, on the spot because of heightened security and a leadership priority. In this event there was no such environment–requests for more security ignored or denied.

Why are we making a big deal of this?  The attacks during the Bush administration (or any other event that they care to portray as worse) were worse.

First, “worse” when deaths are involved, is a pretty tricky, not to mention sick, calculation to make.

For those who want to compare body counts as a valid measure of better/worse anyway:  twice as many deaths under President Obama, and in fewer attempts (meaning the terrorists are not only bolder, but more efficient as well) is better? It’s also better that Obama has let the perpetrators walk around free for the last 8 months than if they’d been killed in the event or arrested shortly after? Also better that Obama, not only failed to act during the event, but actively ordered, or allowed orders to go out, to not act?

Why are we making a big deal of this?  It was physically impossible to get assets to respond moved in the time available.

That’s bullshit. I can’t even imagine where that excuse comes from. Jets in Italy and the Med could have been there in a couple of hours. Security in Tripoli could have as well. Absolute proof of this is that Dougherty and Woods did exactly that, ignoring the order to stand down.

A commercial airliner can fly from Aviano, Italy to Benghazi, Libya in 2 hours and 6 minutes at a regular cruising speed of 500mph. The F-16 Block 30 has a sea-level speed of Mach 1.2 (915 mph) and can achieve Mach 2 at altitude. The units at Aviano have F-16 Block 40s, which I don’t have specs for, but are at least as fast. From first shots fired to the evacuation of personnel was 9 hours. It took Woods and Dougherty 2 hours to drive from Tripoli. A mediocre commander could have coordinated the arrival of land and air forces and done it while a chimpanzee beat him about the head and neck.

Why are we making a big deal of this?  What good could fighter jets have done with an attack on the ground?

Dan Quayle usually gets a lot of disrespect, but there was a day, when George Bush was undergoing surgery and had signed a 25th Amendment letter. On that day, Dan Quayle was President of the United States. On that day also was an attack on the government of the Philippines by communist rebels. It became clear that this was likely to be a successful attack resulting in a coup over President Aquino. Dan Quayle gave orders. The result was low level supersonic flybys over all the engagement areas. A lot of glass was broken in Manila, but the back of the attack was broken by the show of force, and not a shot was fired by US forces. Dan Quayle has more balls, imagination, and smarts, than President Obama.

So, why are we making a big deal of this?  Because someone made a political calculation that left people to die.  I was four, but could have been 35, and the number doesn’t matter.  If that’s not enough for you, another calculation was made to lie about it.  I think that’s plenty.

 

Related:

Check this breakdown at The Anchoress.

Dumb and Potentially Dangerous

The Senate today voted to delay conversion to the loooong planned switch from analog to terrestrial digital television broadcast by an additional four months.

Dumb.

They say the problem is that many people haven’t yet purchased the digital converter boxes.  Many people are procrastinators too and they won’t get theirs until the deadline is nearer yet than it is, or even not until after it’s passed.  There may even be people who just aren’t going to make the switch at all.  But once again, Congress wishes to play nanny to people who aren’t taking care of themselves.

Dangerous.

The analog spectrum freed up by the move to digital television is intended to go, primarily, to public safety purposes.  The 9/11 Commission (in one of its recommendations I actually agreed with) pointed out that many emergency responders were not able to communicate between agencies and even intra agency communications worked poorly or failed under different and changing circumstances.  The Obama Administration, which has asked Congress to make this delay, has also made much, wrongly and inappropriately, (if far from singlehandedly) of the supposed poor performance of federal response during Hurricane Katrina.  Today, with ice storms threatening to paralyze large sections of Oklahoma and Texas, they are still willing to contemplate pushing these enhanced communications capabilities back yet farther.

…oh and also Wasteful.

Broadcasters have been required to have their digital signals up and running since 2002 and at full power since 2004.  They have been waiting for he chance to turn off the extra transmitters for years now.  Instead the Congress and President which have bought into the Green obsessions have made the choice to continue burning energy that didn’t have to have been.  This has been planned since 1996 (timeline here) and now it’s yet another delay.  Senator Rockefeller said today that this process has been mismanaged.  No kidding.  I’s been mismanaged by a Congress that he’s been part of since the beginning.

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News Flash: Rush Limbaugh Doesn’t Even Need to Buy Ink

The old saw says not to pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.  President Obama, like President Clinton before him, seems unaware that Limbaugh doesn’t need ink to get his message out.  Just the three hours five days a week that he’s on the air.  He doesn’t even buy the air—he gets paid to fill it.

I’m sure Rush will thank the President for the additional free publicity and any rise in listenership from the newly curious tuning in.

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Meet the New Boss

Here’s hoping that bureaucracy and large government works for us in preventing too much change, too fast.

I’ll be updating this thought all day.

UPDATE 1:  The new Commander-in-Chief wants to “slow down” development of Future Combat Systems.  How much control over the Pentagon can he assert?  How fast?

UPDATE 2:  From the Inaugural Address:  “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.”  Is that really the question?  My question is when these functions became the responsibility of government and if they should be.

UPDATE 3:  I’m just not inclined to trust people with clean desks.  Granted it’s the first day, but surely he’s got a coffee mug or a cup of pens, or something.  A blotter?

a_obama_oval_0121

UPDATE 4:  President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order Thursday to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center within a year and halt military trials of terror suspects held there, a senior administration official said.  Alright.  Close the detention center—That’s just another “Meet the New Boss” kind of thing—they’ll only open a new detention center somewhere else.  (Substance remains the same but the symbol’s are the thing—like an inversion of Transubstantiation.)  But the trials have been held up by dilatory tactics in the Congress and the courts ensuring that justice has been anything but speedy.  And now they want to start again and undoubtedly to grant the detainees the same rights that US citizens enjoy.

UPDATE 5:  Fidel Castro believes in President Obama.  So.  You know.  He’s got that going for him.

UPDATE 6:  Before anyone starts throwing around the “m” word, is it possible that there might be a bit more resistance to Hope & Change than people believed yesterday?  Take a look at this:

...Since Roosevelt

Number 8 of the last 17 elections as a percentage of popular vote and number 11 by electoral margin.  To be fair there are lots of points to be made each way based on these numbers.

UPDATE 7:  For “the wolf”:  In Alexandria, VA you can get a Chicago style pizza with decent reviews at Buggy’s.  http://www.bugsyspizza.com/bugsysrestaurant.htm

But I don’t think they deliver.

UPDATE 8:  A few years ago I put up a post titled, “It’s not Reform if You Didn’t Piss Everyone Off.”  I’m wondering how much reform there’s really going to be.  The administration is already writing loopholes for itself regarding today’s Executive Orders restricting lobbying.  From that link: 

“When you set very tough rules, you need to have a mechanism for the occasional exception,” this official said, adding, “We wanted to be really tough, but at the same time we didn’t want to hamstring the new administration or turn the town upside down.”

UPDATE 9:  From Darleen Click writing at Protein Wisdom

So, was it youth, caffeine or lack of learning anything from all the “research” that delivered up this bit

our security emanates from the justness of our cause,

Say what? The good always prevail? Evil is always defeated? As long as we are “just” we will have “security”?

FINAL UPDATE:  I’m going to close this by saying that the above, ultimately, for me, doesn’t matter.  I am a Soldier and I took an oath to obey the orders of the President.  The man in that role has changed once before for me, and I’ve had many years pursuing a mission I wholeheartedly believe in—many Soldiers, I imagine, can’t say that.  If my military career runs the way I hope, I’ll see that change again, perhaps several times.  I would not indulge in the garbage of “not my President” anyway, despite that the decisions I have made make that impossible.

SEN Obama’s Judgment

Senator Obama has repeatedly denied the success of the surge, credited anything but the surge for reductions in violence in Iraq, and attempted to doom it to failure before it was even fully implemented. Senator Obama in his own words:

  • “The surge is not working,” Obama’s old Iraq plan stated (on website). Daily News, 7/14/08
  • “We don’t need more spin about how the surge is succeeding in doing what it was supposed to do which is to get the Iraqi’s to stand up and take responsibility for their own future, so we can start sending our troops home.” Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks At a Town Hall, Rapid City, SD, 5/31/08
  • “I welcome the genuine reductions of violence that have taken place, although I would point out that much of that violence has been reduced because there was an agreement with tribes in Anbar province — Sunni tribes — who started to see, after the Democrats were elected in 2006, you know what, the Americans may be leaving soon, and we are going to be left very vulnerable to the Shi’as. We should start negotiating now. That’s how you change behavior.” Democratic Debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H, 1/5/08
  • “So, I think it is fair to say that the president has simply tried to gain another six months to continue on the same course that he’s been on for several years now. It is a course that will not succeed.” Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate 9/13/07
  • “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.” MSNBC’s “Response to the President’s Speech On Iraq,” 1/10/07

Other quotes:

  • “So far, I think we have not seen the kind of political reconciliation that’s going to bring about longterm stability in Iraq.” Obama speaks during a news conference at the citadel in Amman, Jordan, Tuesday, 7/22/08
  • “But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq’s leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge.” Barack Obama, Op-Ed, “My Plan For Iraq,” The New York Times, 7/14/08
  • “Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months.” Obama For America Website, Accessed 7/3/08
  • “The Problem — The Surge: The goal of the surge was to create space for Iraq’s political leaders to reach an agreement to end Iraq’s civil war. At great cost, our troops have helped reduce violence in some areas of Iraq, but even those reductions do not get us below the unsustainable levels of violence of mid-2006. Moreover, Iraq’s political leaders have made no progress in resolving the political differences at the heart of their civil war.” Obama For America Website, Accessed 7/3/08
  • “The overall strategy is failed because we have not seen any change in behavior among Iraq’s political leaders. 2007 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada 11/15/07
  • “And it is very important at this stage, understanding how badly the president’s strategy has failed.” 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College 9/27/07
  • “My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now.” NBC’s “The Today Show,” 7/18/07
  • “Given the deteriorating situation, it is clear at this point that we cannot, through putting in more troops or maintaining the presence that we have, expect that somehow the situation is going to improve.” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” 10/22/06

While on his trip to Iraq, Senator Obama suggested he would shrug off the counsel and advice from commanders on the ground with regards to force levels. In a television interview from the US Embassy, Senator Obama made the following statements:

Barack Obama ABC Nightline Interview, July 21, 2008
ABC’s Terry Moran: “And then we sat down with [Barack Obama] to talk about what has become an open disagreement between military commanders here and Obama, over his plan to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq on a 16-month timetable. Did General Petraeus talk about military concerns about your timetable?”

Barack Obama: “You know, I would characterize the concerns differently. I don’t think that they’re deep concerns about the notion of a pullout per se. There are deep concerns about, from their perspective, a timetable that doesn’t take into account what they anticipate might be some sort of changing conditions. And this is what I mean when I say we play different roles. My job is to think about the national security interests as a whole, and to have to weigh and balance risks, in Afghanistan, in Iraq. Their job is just to get the job done here. And I completely understand that.”

Moran: “But the difference is real. Commanders here want withdrawals to be based on conditions on the ground. Obama emphasizes his timetable, but he insists he would remain flexible. I’m going to try to pin you down on this “

Obama: “Here let me say this, though, Terry, because, you know, what I will refuse to do, and I think that, you know…is to get boxed in into what I consider two false choices, which is either I have a rigid timeline of such and such a date, come hell or high water, we’ve gotten our combat troops out, and I am blind to anything that happens in the intervening six months or 16 months. Or, alternatively, I am completely deferring to whatever the commanders on the ground says, which is what George Bush says he’s doing, in which case I’m not doing my job as commander-in-chief.”

(H/T: Veterans for Freedom)

The truth though is very different than Senator Obama depicts it.

  • The Surge has been spectacularly successful in flushing al Qaeda in Iara from their strongholds. Thousands of fighters have been killed or captured.
  • US losses in Iraq have fallen dramatically; just five Americans killed in combat in July 2008–the lowest level of a war with historically small casualty rates. There were 66 fatalities in the same month a year ago – and 137 in November 2004.
  • Sectarian bloodletting, which was never a “Civil War” no matter the wishful thinking of the Senator or NBC News, has plummeted, with numerous Sunni tribal leaders abandoning their former Al Qaeda allies.
  • Shi’ite radical Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army was thoroughly routed by the Iraqi military. This is of enormous significance, as the only way the Coalition, yes the Coalition–SEN Obama arrogantly speaks and makes promises as though the US was the only interested party, can safely disengage is if the Iraqis can defend themselves. Confidence is a tremendous factor in that and this early, yes early–it takes 20 years to build a modern military, success has given the Iraqi forces a critical ego boost.
  • Despite the constant refrain form SEN Obama and his proxies, Speaker Pelosi, SEN Reid and others, that there has been no progress by the Iraqis, the Iraqi government has met all but three of the 18 benchmarks set by Congress to demonstrate security, economic progress, and political reconciliation. They likewise ignore the security gains themselves and many instances of Iraqi civilians reporting problems and suspicions to Iraqi and Coalition forces–that kind of bottom up reconciliation may well be more permanent and stronger than any top down imposed reconciliation the government could engineer.
  • As for the fiction that Iraq has been a distraction, the wider war against terror has shown significant progress; the number of incidents of terrorism outside Iraq’s borders have “in fact gone way down over the past five years,” per Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria – and popular support for Islamo-fascist organizations have declined precipitously in the Muslim world.

It’s so easy to avoid the flip-flop charge…

…all you have to do is convince people you never held the previous opinion.

Karl at Protein Wisdom is arguing that Obama’s shifting position on Iraq is a flim-flam job and politically motivated. I agree.

It’s also part of a larger pattern which the Senator “inartfully” tries to disrupt by claiming to have been misrepresented, or better yet, never to have held the conflicting position at all.
_____________

16 NOV 2007–
Malveaux then said: “I’d like to throw that to Senator Obama. Senator Obama, you said in a TV interview just this past weekend you didn’t believe that Senator Clinton was able to unite this country. Why do you believe she can’t?”

Obama replied: “No, that’s not what I said. What I said was I thought I could do it better. That’s why I’m running for president. If I didn’t think I could do it better, then I wouldn’t be running for president, because the stakes are too high, just as we heard.”

_________________

26 JUN 2008–
“In November you mentioned that the DC handgun law was constitutional,” Layne said. “Now you’re embracing the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision striking down that law-

That’s not what I said,” Obama interrupted, per ABC News’ Jennifer Duck.

“Your aide said that,” Layne clarified.

“I don’t know what my aide said but I’ve been very consistent, I teach constitutional law,” Obama said. What I said was that I believe 2nd Amendment as being an individual right and have said that consistently. I also think that individual right is constrained by the rights of the community to maintain issues with public safety. I don’t think those two principles are contradictory and in fact what I’ve been saying consistently is what the Supreme Court essentially said today.”

_________________

11 NOV 2007–
NBC’s Tim Russert: “But, Senator, you said last year–earlier this year that everything should be on the table for Social Security, including looking at raising retirement age, indexing benefits, and then suddenly you said, ‘No, no. Those aren’t … on the table; I’m taking them off the table.'”

Obama: “Tim, that’s not–that’s not what I said. What I said was that I will convene a meeting as president where we discuss all of the options that are available.”…

Russert: “But they would be on the table?”

Obama: “Well, I will listen to all arguments and the best options; finding out what is it going to take to close that gap.”

__________________

5 MAY 2008–
ROBERTS: Senator, you have also been very critical of Hillary Clinton’s statement about Iran and this idea that if it attacks Israel, we would be able to quote obliterate them. Your answer to that same question was far more ambiguous than hers. Is there any room for ambiguity when it comes to the issue of Israel’s survival?

OBAMA: That’s not what I said, John. I wasn’t ambiguous at all. I said that if Israel was attacked, we would respond forcefully and an attack on Israel, one of our most important allies in the world, would be considered as an attack on the United States. Using the word obliterate, however, is the kind of language that we have seen George Bush use over the last seven years and it’s precisely that kind of provocative language that Senator Clinton criticized others for in the past, suggesting that if you’re running for president, you shouldn’t be stirring up international incidents. We now have Iran bringing complaints to the United Nations. Particularly when you’re doing it right before an election, it’s probably not the best way to approach foreign policy.

___________________

1 APR 2008–
Reporter- You’ve said that you would leave a small force there

Obama- Sure. (nodds head)

Reporter -to deal with terrorist attacks. How long would you leave them there and what is your criteria for pulling them out?

Obama- No no that’s not what I said. What I’ve said is we’d have troops looking uh, looking after our embassy there. Which is what we do everywhere…

Military Times Distorts Facts, Favors Obama

The article, Obama Calls on Americans to Enlist, states “Part of Obama’s national security plan calls for a 65,000-person increase in the Army and a 27,000 increase in the Marine Corps.”

Except that that increase is already in the works, passed by Congress at the request of President Bush in January 2007 in his State of the Union address.

And one of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years.

How does this get to be Senator Obama’s “plan?”

In a separate article, Obama: I Need to Earn Troops’ Trust, Mr. Maze alludes to the truth, but still credits the Senator. “Obama’s plans for a 65,000-person increase in the Army and a 27,000-person increase in the Marine Corps match plans already underway.” The next sentence is the Senator temporizing, but the Times, which is not affiliated with the military in any way and is owned by the USA Today publisher Gannett Company, Inc., never calls him on it. “He said he is not sure about personnel levels for the Navy and Air Force, but “I don’t anticipate a reduction” for those two services.”

The truth here is that the Navy and the Air Force are currently drawing down somewhat while the Army and Marines are growing. But the Senator, while he’s happy to take credit (or at least Military Times is happy to give him credit) is equally willing to forego “credit” for the other.

Some free advice for the Senator. Trust and respect would come easily if we we believed that we’d be allowed to finish the jobs we were tasked with, which would in turn show respect for us and for those of us who have fallen and been hurt in that pursuit.