Countdown Clocks

Countdown Clocks

Tweets by @JGibsonDem
Posts tagged "Foreign Policy"


In a stunning rebuke to its base, the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted to declassify on Thursday the results of its nearly two-year, $3.3 million taxpayer-paid investigation on the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, finding no intentional wrongdoing by President Barack Obama, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or by the Obama administration. 

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson, a Democrat, “said the report ‘confirms that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given.’”

Among the Intelligence Committee’s findings, according to Thompson:

— Intelligence agencies were “warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened.”

— “A mixed group of individuals, including those associated with al Qaeda, (Moammar) Khadafy loyalists and other Libyan militias, participated in the attack.”

— “There was no ‘stand-down order’ given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, no illegal activity or illegal arms transfers occurring by U.S. personnel in Benghazi, and no American was left behind.”

— The administration’s process for developing “talking points” was “flawed, but the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis.”

Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died during the attacks.

The Tea Party, Republicans, and conservatives have spent nearly two years claiming the Obama administration committed treason, were at the center of a massive cover-up, and have propagated many other falsehoods and conspiracy theories that have been officially rebuked by this report and several other official government investigations, most led, ironically, by Republicans.

Meanwhile, Republicans will start yet another series of hearings, led by GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy, trying g once again to prove that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were somehow to blame for the deaths of four Americans.

For a look at Tea Party memes of Benghazi, including Obama hang nooses, see our compilation on Storify.

h/t: Ben Dreyfuss at Mother Jones


The right’s BENGHAZI!!! narrative collapses once again.

(via thepoliticalfreakshow)


Fox's Pirro Delivers Another Insane Rant Attacking Obama's ‘Feckless Foreign Policy’

It seems that The Daily Banter’s Bob Cesca just discovered that Fox’s “Judge” Jeanine Pirro is completely out of her gourd. We’ve been posting some of her rants for a while now, so this latest one comes as no surprise to me, but it does seem she’s getting crazier and more vicious by the week if that’s possible.

Bob did do a great job of taking her apart and debunking the majority of the garbage she was spewing in the clip above, and I’ll just share part of his opening here: This is One of the Craziest Fox News Rants Ever, and It’s Not Hannity or O’Reilly:

read more

John Bolton getting a taste of his own medicine.

From the 06.16.2014 edition of FBN’s The Independents:

Good call, President Obama. 

H/T: Jason Easley at PoliticusUSA


ISTANBUL, Turkey — It was never simply about Syria for the extremists who have overrun Iraq so suddenly this week, even as they built their brand and carved out territory amid the chaos of the war against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. They called themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — and they were deadly serious about the name. The goal was to take big pieces of each nation and use them to build their own, to be ruled by a harsh and rudimentary Islam. The war in Syria was most useful in this sense: A weakened regime gave them room to operate, as well as an easy means of recruitment.



For those who say ISIS doesn’t have a strategy. #blackgold

This desire for statehood manifested itself across Syria. ISIS plastered its logo over the towns and cities it controlled with exuberance. Its fighters were said to be irked by the nickname other rebels gave the group — Daesh, its acronym in Arabic — preferring the grandeur of the full title.

Now the offensive sweeping Iraq — a blitzkrieg assault that saw the surprise takeover of Mosul on Monday, and has seen ISIS and allied militants pressing closer by the day to Baghdad — suggests ISIS is booming. And it seems as intent as ever on state-building — taking over banks and security installations, even the airport, in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, whose population of 2 million would put it fifth on the list of U.S. cities. As jihadi expert Aaron Zelin noted, taking a look at these boundaries on a map, the territory includes a number of oil refineries. “For those who think ISIS doesn’t have a strategy. #blackgold,” he wrote.

To be sure, ISIS seems to have collaborated in this offensive with some of Iraq’s disenchanted Sunni groups, including Baathist officers from the Saddam Hussein era. And much of its success can be blamed on the dysfunction of the Iraqi state, marred by the U.S. war and the disastrous tenure of Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite prime minister. Iraqi troops reportedly laid down their arms and fled before the far smaller invading force. Though ISIS leaders are urging their forces onward to Baghdad, it remains to be seen whether the group will hold its recent gains or pull back to its stronghold in Syria.

Regardless, the idea of a possible ISIS state has now been made very real — both to a worried international community, and to potential supporters watching from the sidelines. One of the group’s first moves after its win in Mosul, according to images posted by fighters online, was to take commandeered bulldozers and demolish the borderline between Syria and Iraq.



Refugees fleeing Mosul. AP Photo

As ISIS grew into one of Syria’s most fearsome militant groups, signs of the intensity of its vision became apparent. The group cracked down relentlessly on its opponents, be they regime, fellow rebel, or simply civilian. It employed abduction,imprisonment and torture on a grand scale, beheadings, and crucifixions — all a dark preview for the new reality the group was trying to create.

This brutality made ISIS increasingly unpopular among Syrians, as did the presence among its ranks of so many foreign jihadis, recruited from across the world, from Saudi Arabia to England. These outsiders developed reputations as some of the group’s most brutal and extreme members, adding to its image as an alien oppressor. The group’s senior leadership, though secretive, was believed to be Iraqi. After those in the organization’s ranks came other foreigners, some Syrians complained, saying that local recruits were used mainly as rank and file, guards and frontline soldiers, and fodder for suicide attacks. Other rebel groups launched aninternal war against ISIS earlier this year, and even the local branch of al-Qaeda joined the fight — even for them, ISIS had become too extreme. At times, ISIS seemed to be on the ropes in Syria, but its recent gains in Iraq will put that narrative to rest.



Kurdish Iraqi Peshmerga forces deploy their troops and armored vehicles on the outskirts of the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk, not far from areas under ISIS control. MARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP / Getty Images

There is a word for the relationship between ISIS’s steady growth in Syria and its newfound surge in Iraq: spillover.

Regional spillover is the alarm that has been sounded about the Syrian conflict from the start — often by critics of U.S. policy who called on the White House to put an end to the conflict by helping moderate rebels topple Assad. The risk was that a long war would destabilize Syria’s five neighbors, all of them important allies. (The Obama administration’s supporters countered that serious U.S. involvement would only magnify the effect.) In Lebanon, which has descended into regular sectarian bloodletting, the spillover happened gradually, in fits and starts. Turkey and Jordan, likewise, were pulled ever deeper into the murky world of offering assistance to the rebels while taking on the burden of hundreds of thousands of refugees.

The recent ISIS surge in Iraq has been far more jarring. It threatens to undermine any progress U.S. forces made before leaving the country in late 2011. It also looks a lot like a worst-case scenario, threatening to throw the region even further into chaos. The world’s most dangerous extremists — as many experts now describe ISIS — now control significant territory, appear to be armed with significant weaponry, and have just received a very significant boost to morale. ISIS and its allies captured the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah earlier this year, prompting a flurry of international concern that soon dropped from the news headlines. But Mosul is a far greater prize.



AP Photo

It remains to be seen whether Iraq’s neighbors will be drawn into this brewing and sectarian fight. If they do make it to Baghdad, ISIS and its allies will deal a bracingblow to Prime Minister Maliki; with his army in a shambles, he has reportedly turned to irregular Shiite militias. Iraq’s Kurds are already up in arms and reportedly skirmishing with ISIS, playing out tensions inflamed by the war in Syria, where ISIS has engaged in bitter fighting with Syrian Kurds.

In Turkey, the military has already sent shells, on occasion, across the border into Syria, aimed at both ISIS and the regime. But the crisis in Iraq threatens to draw in the powerful NATO country even deeper, with ISIS having kidnapped Turkish diplomats and staff from the consulate in Mosul on Wednesday. Markets in Turkey dipped at news of the Mosul offensive while the press has speculated that the Turkish military may somehow intervene. But after years of allowing foreign fighters to cross its borders into northern Syria, Turkey has given ISIS the chance to build up a dangerous presence in its own back yard.

Iran, Maliki’s Shiite benefactor, has been heavily engaged in propping up the Assad regime in Syria. It may now see fit to step lend a hand to its ally in Iraq. On Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that Tehran would not “tolerate this violence and terror.”

Smaller countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, meanwhile, would only suffer from any further regional instability. “The problem is that the U.S. expected its regional allies to bear the brunt of the containment of the Syria crisis,” said Andrew Tabler, a senior fellow at the the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, adding that the Obama administration’s best chance of stemming the ISIS tide is to help its moderate Sunni rivals. “You can’t defeat ISIS without having a moderate Sunni force in Syria. The same goes for Iraq.”



U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a Memorial Day event at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va. Drew Angerer/SIPA/Abaca Press / MCT

But as in Syria, Iraq’s moderate Sunnis are looking weak, and the U.S. will likely remain “late, very late” in addressing such concerns, Tabler said. The Obama administration has been deliberate in its approach of limited action in Syria as elsewhere in the world, as it tries to wean the U.S. public and policymakers off the idea of America as the world’s policeman. The U.S. may well stick to that mind-set, even as warnings of spillover and worst-case scenarios sound louder than ever.

Source: Mike Giglio for Buzzfeed


6 facts everyone needs to know about Benghazi:

1. The non-partiasn Accountability Review Board did not find Hillary Rodham Clinton responsible for the Benghazi attacks. She was cleared of any wrong-doing.


2. Republicans cut millions and millions of dollars in “embassy security.” Cuts that Hillary Clinton called “detrimental” to our security overseas. I can’t wait for her to bring this up in the 2016 election.

3. Over 50 people died from embassy/consulate attacks under George Bush’s Presidency. Where was the outrage over that? Oh, and if you want to play the blame game, 9/11/2001 happened under the Republican’s watch.

4. The Obama Administration did not “cover-up” the Benghazi attacks. Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olsen told Senator Joe Lieberman that Benghazi was a “terrorist attack”. This was only a few days after Susan Rice went on the Sunday morning talk-shows. Therefore, this would have to be the shortest “cover-up” in history. Thankfully, we were not plunged into another war based on faulty intelligence.

Senator Joe Lieberman: “Let me begin by asking you whether you would say that Ambassador Stevens and the three other Americans died as a result of a terrorist attack.”

Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olsen: “Certainly on that particular question I would say, yes. They were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy.”

5. Hillary’s quote, "What difference, at this point, does it make" has been taken out of context. Hillary was referring to the Republican’s obsession with what Susan Rice said, not Benghazi itself. We now know the intelligence communities talking points were incorrect. But to accuse the Administration of intentionally lying, when Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olsen called it a “terrorist attack” only a few days after Susan Rice went on the Sunday morning talk shows, is dishonest.

6. The reason the YouTube video was cited as a possible reason for Benghazi is because violent protests had been erupting throughout the Middle East when Benghazi took place. Some of the protests had to do with the YouTube video, which is why it was originally thought Benghazi was also related to the YouTube video.

(via iammyfather)


Steve Kornacki: Will Congress Use Benghazi To Impeach Obama?

Steve Kornacki’s collection of conservatives jonesing for impeachment is pretty instructive. When I first saw the segment I thought he was basically stating the obvious, but it’s a great compilation of their build toward impeachment.

If you go back to my post about the Groundswell plotters and their meeting to “message” that tragedy, you’ll see clear strategic planning around how best to use it to their advantage.

That got me thinking about other times where US Consulates were attacked. One in particular stands out — the attack on our embassy in Beirut in 1984, which followed a devastating attack in 1983 and a deadly attack on a Marine base that killed 241 people. It was a terrible time for diplomats to be in dangerous places. At the very same time Islamic extremists were bombing the hell out of our diplomatic installations, President Ronald Reagan was responsible for the sale of weapons to Iran, a designated state sponsor of terrorism.

One might imagine that if impeachment can be considered for Benghazi over some perceived talking point failure that Democrats missed an impeachment opportunity for Saint Ronnie. After all, selling weapons to the same guys that are killing your diplomats and military personnel could be considered downright treasonous.

read more

From the 05.11.2014 edition of MSNBC’s Up With Steve Kornacki:

Two groups opposing the potential 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton are fundraising off of Benghazi. The groups aim to use the money to keep Benghazi in the news through earned media coverage and advertising smearing Clinton as “responsible for 4 dead American patriots in Benghazi.”

The groups join conservative pundits such as John Bolton, Mike Huckabee, and Allen West, who have all been fundraising off of the 2012 attacks. The Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, and National Republican Senatorial Committee are also soliciting funds while invoking Benghazi.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who is leading a recently formed House select committee to investigate the thoroughly investigated attacks, has asked Republicans not to fundraise off of Benghazi (Gowdy himself has ”discussed the supposed Benghazi scandal at fundraisers and campaign events”).

Anti-Clinton groups Stop Hillary PAC and America Rising PAC are cashing in on Benghazi. Solicitations claim Clinton lied about the attacks and is “complicit in the deaths of four Americans when she left them to burn in Benghazi.”

Stop Hillary PAC states it was “created for one reason only - to ensure Hillary Clinton never becomes President of the United States.” The group is headed by Republican Colorado State Sen. Ted Harvey, and backed by political professionals who previously worked for Republicans such as Sen. John McCain and Rep. Tom Price.

America Rising was formed by Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager and Republican National Committee staffers. The super PAC aims to “ensure we never see another Clinton administration.” It reportedly also sells its research to Republican groups such as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads.

The groups make clear their fundraising is part of a strategy to keep Benghazi in the news. Stop Hillary PAC has stated they need money to speak “on FoxNews and mainstream media outlets,” and air “hard hitting radio ads reminding Americans that Hillary is responsible for 4 dead American patriots in Benghazi.” America Rising has said their research is aimed at “earned media coverage” and “reporters and bloggers looking for information.”

The push to fundraise off of Benghazi is part of Republican efforts to capitalize on tragedies by using them to try to hamstring a potential Clinton run. RNC chair Reince Priebus took to Twitter last night to attack Clinton for a “leadership failure” over the recent kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls by the extremist group Boko Haram.


Stop Hillary PAC


The Stop Hillary PAC has sent 15 fundraising emails mentioning Benghazi since April, according to a Media Matters review.

An April 15 email claimed “Hillary is complicit in the deaths of four Americans when she left them to burn in Benghazi.” It later asked for “your most generous contribution of $100, $50, $25 — or even $5 — IMMEDIATELY.” A May 7 email demanded the House select committee on Benghazi subpoena Clinton, who “is complicit with the White House in selling the American people a bold-faced-lie.” It later asked readers to “chip in $5.”

The Stop Hillary PAC states it will use the friendly confines of Fox News to speak out against Clinton. Treasurer Dan Backer wrote on April 10 that the group’s “battle plan” includes “Speaking on FoxNews and mainstream media outlets” and running ads on television and elsewhere: 


Ted Harvey wrote on April 24 that it needed money so it could air “More hard hitting radio ads reminding Americans that Hillary is responsible for 4 dead American patriots in Benghazi.”

An ad released by the group purports to highlight various Clinton scandals — among them are “Benghazi” and “Vince Foster.” Foster was a deputy White House counsel that committed suicide in 1993 and conservative conspiracy theorists have repeatedly suggested the Clintons had him murdered. 

America Rising


On October 29, 2013, America Rising sent an email touting the since-retracted 60 Minutes report on Benghazi as “must-watch” and “scathing.” The group remarked, “our central mission is doing the research now to hold Hillary Clinton accountable for her national security failures, especially in Benghazi, to make sure we never have to experience a Hillary Clinton Administration.” It then asked for donations so “we can ensure we never see another Clinton administration.”

America Rising sent a May 1 email claiming “the Obama Administration said they released all the emails related to the Benghazi talking points. You shouldn’t be shocked to find out that was a lie … They played politics with Benghazi to protect Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.” They then added: “Contribute $25, $50, $100 or whatever you can to help us continue to do the research necessary to expose these lies and prevent a third Clinton administration.”

The media plays heavily in America Rising’s strategy in disseminating attacks against Clinton. When the group launched, The Washington Post wrote that “the group plans to test different dissemination methods for maximum impact. Campaigns will include social media, digital advertising and PR aimed at earned media coverage.” Executive director Tim Miller told Politico that its site “serves as a resource for voters, reporters and bloggers looking for information.”

H/T: Eric Hananoki at MMFA


The right-wing media’s smear campaign against the Obama administration over the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, appears to be paying dividends in the form of donations.  

Media Matters review of fundraising emails and websites found that conservatives have routinely invoked Benghazi to ask followers for money. The fundraising solicitations accuse the Obama administration of “lies,” “cover-ups,” a “dereliction of duty,” and crimes worse than Watergate.   

The fundraising is only likely to intensify with the recent creation of a House select committee, led by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), to investigate the attacks. The Republican leadership convened the committee despite numerous previous inquiries into Benghazi. The Department of Defense wrote in March that it had already participated in “approximately 50 congressional hearings, briefings, and interviews” about the 2012 attacks.

Gowdy said on MSNBC today that fellow Republicans should not fundraise off of the Benghazi attacks, stating: “Yes, and I will cite myself as an example. I have never sought to raise a single penny on the backs of four murdered Americans.”

Like their counterparts in the media, the main Republican Party campaign apparatuses are actively fundraising off of Benghazi. The Republican National Committee has a donation page asking Republicans to demand “the truth about Benghazi” by contributing money. The National Republican Senatorial Committee asks Republicans to “donate today” because of Benghazi. And the National Republican Congressional Committee has a fundraising page stating: “You’re now a Benghazi Watchdog. Let’s go after Obama & Hillary Clinton. Help us fight them now.” The page features an image of President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the text, “Benghazi Was A Coverup. Demand Answers.”

Here are five recent examples of conservative pundits raising money off their Benghazi witch hunt. 

Fox News Host Mike Huckabee


Huckabee sent a May 6 email to his Fox News-promoted list titled, “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi.” Huckabee claimed that Clinton “has some explaining to do” and the Obama administration was responsible for “subsequent lies and cover-ups.”

He later suggested that Benghazi is worse than Watergate, writing: “We once had real newspapers and broadcast news outlets that cared about a government lying to the people. Now, they dismiss Benghazi as ‘no Watergate.’ And they’re right: in Watergate, the press didn’t look the other way and neither did Congress. And in Watergate, no one died.” At the conclusion of his email, Huckabee wrote: “Help support conservative candidates through Huck PAC.  Chip in $5 or more to Huck PAC!”

Fox News Contributor John Bolton


Bolton sent an April 16 fundraising email for his John Bolton PAC with the title, “Benghazi is a disgrace.” Bolton wrote that “Obama, Hillary, [Leon] Panetta - not one of them will take the fall because they know their actions, leaving Americans to die at the hands of terrorists, were a gross dereliction of duty … Our enemies know that under Obama, you can kill his personal representative and get away it scot-free.” Bolton later wrote: “I encourage you to make a generous donation to support John Bolton PAC’s efforts.”

Bolton also sent an April 30 fundraising email in which he wrote that Obama “did absolutely nothing to avenge the murder of our Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, at the hands of Al-Qaeda terrorists.” 

Fox News Contributor Allen West


West sent a January 21 email for his Allen West Guardian Fund PAC claiming there “is an ongoing cover-up to hide the truth” about Benghazi. West offered a solution by writing “we need to clean up Washington.” He explained readers could help do so by making “an immediate contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more right now to the Allen West Guardian Fund.”

West sent a March 14 email claiming “Obama and his party are defeatists. When Obama retreated from his warnings to Syria regarding their chemical weapons program and told lies to avoid taking military action for the terrorist attack in Benghazi, he sent a clear message to the world: ‘America is weak. We’ll just talk tough and back down. Do as you wish.’” West then asked for donations to his political action committee. 

Accuracy In Media


A May 2 email from AIM chairman Don Irvine claimed, “After a year and a half of Benghazi damage control enforced by the administration and their lapdogs in the press, the genie is suddenly out of the bottle.” It concluded: “To move ahead with this vital work to shine the light of truth on Benghazi, Accuracy in Media needs your support. We urge you to express your confidence in our efforts by sending a generous donation today.”

AIM also convened a “Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi” which included members such as Fox News contributors Allen West, and Thomas McInerney. A donation plea on the website states: “Accuracy in Media and the CCB are taking the lead in reporting the truth about Benghazi that even Republicans on the Hill won’t touch. We are doing the real work of interviewing witnesses, collecting documents, and finding out the facts—why it happened, how it happened and why it was covered up. In order to proceed with our investigation, we must have your help. Please donate to Accuracy in Media today to shine the light of truth on this issue and end the Benghazi cover-up.” 

American Center For Law And Justice / Jay Sekulow


The ACLJ, a conservative group headed by radio host and regular Fox News guest Jay Sekulow, asks for donations to “Demand Answers on Benghazi.” The group states: “The Obama Administration has not given the American people the truth about Benghazi. Congress is forming a select committee to get to the bottom of this foreign policy disaster and get answers. We’re working with Members of Congress to get the truth. Stand with us with your tax-deductible donation today.” 


h/t: Eric Hananoki at MMFA

Pelosi’s right on the money. 

h/t: Jason Easley at PoliticusUSA


Sometimes it’s just best to vent and let it all out at once rather than hold it in any longer. Cenk Uygur did just that yesterday on The Young Turks, as their panel discussed the current raft of events that Republicans and their media have created, all seemingly with an aim to derail the anticipated candidacy of Hillary Clinton for president. As Uygur and others have noted, the current overkill is way out of all proportion, but when you control the House of Representatives and have subpoena power with a moral reprobate like Darrell Issa in charge, and have your own cable news network in Fox, it’s possible to push whatever agenda you deem necessary to win. (The ends justify the means.) That’s, in Uygur’s view, the situation here: blatant politicalization of a tragic event for cynical, partisan ends, all the while completely ignoring other over-riding current concerns, deficiencies in the Obama administration (again, Uygur’s and others views), from net neutrality, to drones, to warrantless wiretaps, and so on.

Uygur has had enough of all that, and said so.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1386288741770-3’); });

From the 05.02.2014 edition of TYT Network’s The Young Turks:

Cenk’s right on!! 

Fixed Noise the Benghazi! This, Benghazi! That channel. 
From the 05.03.2014 edition of FNC’s Cashin’ In

h/t: Jennifer Bendery at HuffPost Politics