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Friday, October 26, 2012

The Real October Surprise

“When the taste for physical gratifications among them has grown more rapidly than their education the time will come when men are carried away and lose all self-restraint. It is not necessary to do violence to such a people in order to strip them of the rights they enjoy; they themselves willingly loosen their hold. they neglect their chief business which is to remain their own masters.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America Volume 2.

Every presidential election cycle, Americans of all walks and political affiliations eagerly anticipate an “October surprise” — that one bombshell revelation made public roughly two weeks before voters head to the polling stations to cast their ballots — that will effectively tar and feather one candidate so thoroughly his or her chances at claiming the presidency become null and void.

All of the pundits have been touting the possibility of the proverbial “October surprise” as they wait for some shocking revelation about Mitt Romney. Right now the infamous Los Angeles slip and fall attorney Gloria Allred may be attempting to debut an “October surprise.” Specifically, that “surprise” would be based on decades-old testimony by Romney in the divorce proceedings of Tom Stemberg, the founder of Staples, and might allege that Romney — then one of Staples’ main investors — purposefully misrepresented the value of Staples stock in order to cheat Stemberg’s ex-wife, Maureen.

It is too soon to tell whether the prospective accusation will be made, or indeed if Allred will go any further with this story, but a judge in Massachusetts granted Allred at least half of what she wanted in crafting this “October surprise.” Specifically, Romney’s testimony in the case has been released to the public, and can be reported about in the press.

However, Allred has also suffered a setback. The Daily Mail reports:

“Allred, a staunch Obama supporter who promised an ‘October surprise’ for Romney, arrived at the court in Canton, Massachusetts on Thursday morning with Maureen Sullivan Stemberg, 61.

She demanded a gagging order against her client be lifted so she could speak about Romney’s conduct through her divorce proceedings, which dragged on between 1987 and 2002.

“She is apparently the only person in the United States of America – perhaps the world – who cannot speak about Governor Romney,” Allred said. “She needs to be able to speak.”

She argued that Maureen Stemberg is “denied her first amendment right” by the court inarticle-2223026-15AF581E000005DC-504_634x499 the “most comprehensive gag order I have ever seen in my 36 years of law.”

Allred, a Democrat Party operative has done this in the past when she damaged Republican candidate Herman Cain with her baseless accusations and in the 2012 California gubernatorial election with allegations against the Republican candidate Meg Whitman over hiring an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper.

While the ambulance chasing Allred is fritting around a Massachusetts courtroom with a scorned woman the real “October surprise” is unfolding right in front of our eyes.

It is Libya.

The attack on our diplomatic outpost in Benghazi that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens, two Navy SEALs and an additional civil servant dead has soured quickly from foreign policy debacle to an all-out scandal from which the president may not recover — nor should he. When viewed in its proper context, Allred’s October surprise, which rings more like something found in an episode of the Real House Wives of New Jersey, is an insult to the fallen Americans in Benghazi and their families.

The facts as they now stand reveal that not only did Obama know from day one that the Benghazi breach was an act of terror waged by pro-al Qaeda militants, but that he likely watched the carnage unfold via cameras fed live into the Situation Room from a predator drone hovering above the consulate during at least a portion of the attack, which was roughly seven-hours long.

Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command — who also told the CIA operators twice to "stand down" rather than help the ambassador's team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11. The latest report from Fox states:

“Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to "stand down," according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to "stand down."

Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The rescue team from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.

At that point, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Spectre gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours — enough time for any planes based in Signorelli Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.

A Special Operations team, or CIF which stands for Commanders in Extremis Force, operating in Central Europe had been moved to Sigonella, Italy, but they were never told to deploy. In fact, a Pentagon official says there were never any requests to deploy assets from outside the country. A second force that specializes in counterterrorism rescues was on hand at Sigonella, according to senior military and intelligence sources. According to those sources, they could have flown to Benghazi in less than two hours. They were the same distance to Benghazi as those that were sent from Tripoli. Spectre gunships are commonly used by the Special Operations community to provide close air support.

According to sources on the ground during the attack, the special operator on the roof of the CIA annex had visual contact and a laser pointing at the Libyan mortar team that was targeting the CIA annex. The operators were calling in coordinates of where the Libyan forces were firing from.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that there was not a clear enough picture of what was occurring on the ground in Benghazi to send help.

"There's a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on here," Panetta said Thursday. "But the basic principle here ... is that you don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on."

U.S. officials argue that there was a period of several hours when the fighting stopped before the mortars were fired at the annex, leading officials to believe the attack was over.

Fox News has learned that there were two military surveillance drones redirected to Benghazi shortly after the attack on the consulate began. They were already in the vicinity. The second surveillance craft was sent to relieve the first drone, perhaps due to fuel issues. Both were capable of sending real time visuals back to U.S. officials in Washington, D.C. Any U.S. official or agency with the proper clearance, including the White House Situation Room, State Department, CIA, Pentagon and others, could call up that video in real time on their computers.

Tyrone Woods was later joined at the scene by fellow former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who was sent in from Tripoli as part of a Global Response Staff or GRS that provides security to CIA case officers and provides counter surveillance and surveillance protection. They were killed by a mortar shell at 4 a.m. Libyan time, nearly seven hours after the attack on the consulate began -- a window that represented more than enough time for the U.S. military to send back-up from nearby bases in Europe, according to sources familiar with Special Operations. Four mortars were fired at the annex. The first one struck outside the annex. Three more hit the annex.

A motorcade of dozens of Libyan vehicles, some mounted with 50 caliber machine guns, belonging to the February 17th Brigades, a Libyan militia which is friendly to the U.S., finally showed up at the CIA annex at approximately 3 a.m. An American Quick Reaction Force sent from Tripoli had arrived at the Benghazi airport at 2 a.m. (four hours after the initial attack on the consulate) and was delayed for 45 minutes at the airport because they could not at first get transportation, allegedly due to confusion among Libyan militias who were supposed to escort them to the annex, according to Benghazi sources.

The American special operators, Woods, Doherty and at least two others were part of the Global Response Staff, a CIA element, based at the CIA annex and were protecting CIA operators who were part of a mission to track and repurchase arms in Benghazi that had proliferated in the wake of Muammar Qaddafi's fall. Part of their mission was to find the more than 20,000 missing MANPADS, or shoulder-held missiles capable of bringing down a commercial aircraft. According to a source on the ground at the time of the attack, the team inside the CIA annex had captured three Libyan attackers and was forced to hand them over to the Libyans. U.S. officials do not know what happened to those three attackers and whether they were released by the Libyan forces. “

The violent attack on the American Ambassador and other American personnel in Benghazi, Libya, by radical Islamists brought American foreign policy jarringly back to the forefront of our consciousness. Regrettably, this tragedy serves as a grim reminder of the kind of enemy we still face in radical Islam.

As you will recall when Osama bin Laden was justly killed by brave American soldiers, the Obama Administration immediately leaked all kinds of details about the operation and the role of senior officials, including the president in particular.

Now nearly seven weeks after the violent attack on our consulate in Libya, we have learned the Obama Administration knew about the nature of the attack within hours of it occurring. The lack of adequate security (particularly in the light of the 11th Anniversary of September 11 and the attack and desecration of our Embassy in Cairo that same day) was a mistake which needs to be thoroughly investigated.

This week we learned through news reports that emails reveal the White House was advised a mere two hours after the attacks in Libya that a terrorist organization, Ansar al-Sharia, had claimed responsibility. It was terrorism, of course, but President Obama did not want to acknowledge that.

The idea that the president and senior officials knew the nature of the attack, and yet repeatedly laid the blame at the feet of an online video clip rather than radical Islamic attackers is dishonest and an increasingly apparent offensive cover-up.

If this was intended in any way to distract the American people from a major real-time failure of leadership — as it increasingly appears — the president and senior officials should be held responsible. All relevant information should be released within the next week and prior to the election to clear the full record.

The failure to immediately unleash all American assets in the region, including fighter aircraft to deter the attackers and aid those under attack and in harm’s way for an extended period of time, would clearly be incompetence; a tragic example of leading from behind with deadly consequences.

President Barack Obama reportedly refused to provide a direct answer to repeated questions on whether requests for help in Benghazi were denied as the attack was underway during an interview with 9News in Denver on Friday.

Kyle Clark, a reporter with 9News, asked the president about the requests for help and whether or not it was fair to make Americans wait for answers on Benghazi until after the election.

“The election has nothing to do with four brave Americans getting killed and us wanting to find out exactly what happened,” Obama said. “Nobody wants to find out more what happened than I do.”

The president went on to say he wants to “gather all the facts” and find out “exactly what happened” and bring justice to the terrorists who attacked the U.S. mission in Libya.

“President Obama was directly asked twice whether pleas for help on the ground in Libya were denied during the attack. Both times, he repeated his standard call for a thorough investigation,”9News reports.

Here is Obama’s full response to the question:

“Well, we are finding out exactly what happened. I can tell you, as I’ve said over the last couple of months since this happened, the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we’re going to investigate exactly what happened so that it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice. And I guarantee you that everyone in the state department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that people were safe. These were our folks and we’re going to find out exactly what happened, but what we’re also going to do it make sure that we are identifying those who carried out these terrible attacks.”

Then we have the brilliant Geraldo Rivera of Al Capone’s safe fame going ballistic on Fox and Friends this morning over the presence of unmanned drones over the Benghazi attack send back real-time images of the firefight to the Pentagon and White House.

The situation quickly got heated on the set of “Fox & Friends” this morning when Geraldo Rivera clashed with the show’s hosts over details surrounding the Benghazi terror attack. At the center of the debate was Rivera’s contention that the government was not watching the attack on the U.S. consulate in real time.

Rivera argued that drones didn’t arrive at the scene until two and a half hours after the attack commenced, and suggested that the attack couldn’t have been viewed in real-time. (The attack, though, was seven hours long, potentially giving plenty of time for the drones to catch the attack).

“This is preposterous — this notion that the Pentagon was monitoring this in real time,” Rivera said, with “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy countering that the State Department was, indeed, monitoring as the situation unfolded.

“People, stop. Stop this right now with this whole notion of live TV, and why didn’t we respond. It is not what happened,” Rivera continued.

Rivera went on to say that the tragic situation is being needlessly politicized, calling for an end to the issue’s alleged exploitation.

“I think we have to stop this politicizing,” he said. “We’re getting away from the real issue. Why wasn’t there security before this happened?”

While Rivera dismissed the notion that the battle was being viewed live by officials as it progressed, an October 20 report from CBS News claims that a portion of it was, indeed, seen by officials. In fact, according to the network, “hours after the attack began, an unmanned Predator drone was sent over the U.S. mission in Benghazi, and that the drone and other reconnaissance aircraft apparently observed the final hours of the protracted battle.”

Rivera’s contention that the attack wasn’t viewed live, at least when juxtaposed against CBS’s claims, is questionable. That said, both Rivera and CBS seem to corroborate the notion that drones didn’t arrive until hours after the militant attack began. Another report from the outlet published on Thursday provided additional details on the drone operations over Benghazi on September 11:

“Two and a half hours after the attack began, an unarmed predator drone was diverted from a surveillance mission over another part of Libya to the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

That, plus a second unarmed drone dispatched four hours and 15 minutes later, were the only U.S. military forces sent to the scene of the attack. Commandos were dispatched from Europe to an air field in Sigonella, Sicily, but by the time they got there the attack in Benghazi was over.”

While some, like Rivera, view the continued focus on drones and other related issues as merely political, others — particularly Republican lawmakers — believe it is essential that all of the details surrounding the attack are explored.

In terms of the military response, there are many questions still worth asking. In the October 20 report, CBS continued, providing more on the military response:

“The State Department, White House and Pentagon declined to say what military options were available. A White House official told CBS News that, at the start of the attack, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “looked at available options, and the ones we exercised had our military forces arrive in less than 24 hours, well ahead of timelines laid out in established policies.”

But it was too late to help the Americans in Benghazi. The ambassador and three others were dead.

A White House official told CBS News that a “small group of reinforcements” was sent from Tripoli to Benghazi, but declined to say how many or what time they arrived.”

As for Rivera’s view, not everyone agrees. Retired CIA officer Gary Berntsen said that he believes help could have arrived sooner — and he also accused the government of needlessly standing by and watching the atrocities unfold.

“You find a way to make this happen. There isn’t a plan for every single engagement. Sometimes you have to be able to make adjustments,” he said. “They made zero adjustments in this. They stood and they watched and our people died.”

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, though, has defended the military and claimed that taking direct ground action would have been too confusing at the time. Because of the convoluted nature of the situation on the ground, he said that deploying troops there without having real-time information would have been too hazardous.

This is heartbreaking and enraging. Timely assistance could have been brought to bear. Lives could have been saved. But for some inexplicable reason, CIA chieftains repeatedly opted to hang our own people out to dry — including a sitting ambassador. We now know that the State Department and the White House were aware of the fire-fight within minutes of the first shots being fired. They also knew it was a terrorist attack within two hours; after which five more hours of fighting took place. US officials watched the disaster unfold in real time, thanks to an unarmed drone overhead, and the Americans on the ground were in constant radio contact with headquarters. Why the hell were reinforcements actively withheld over and over again? Why? CBS News reports that former intelligence operatives believe even a small US intervention could have saved lives:

Retired CIA officer Gary Berntsen believes help could have come much sooner. He commanded CIA counter-terrorism missions targeting Osama bin Laden and led the team that responded after bombings of the U.S. Embassy in East Africa. "You find a way to make this happen," Berntsen says. "There isn't a plan for every single engagement. Sometimes you have to be able to make adjustments. They made zero adjustments in this. They stood and they watched and our people died." The Pentagon says it did move a team of special operators from central Europe to the large Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Italy, but gave no other details. Sigonella is just an hour's flight from Libya. Other nearby bases include Aviano and Souda Bay. Military sources tell CBS News that resources at the three bases include fighter jets and Specter AC-130 gunships, which the sources say can be extremely effective in flying in and buzzing a crowd to disperse it. Rick Nelson, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former Navy pilot who worked in counter-terrorism, says such missions can be very risky. "A lot can go well, right, as we saw with the bin Laden raid. It was a very successful event," he says. "But also, when there are high risk activities like this. a lot can go wrong, as we saw with the Iranian hostage rescue decades ago." Add to the controversy the fact that the last two Americans didn't die until more than six hours into the attack, and the question of U.S. military help becomes very important.

This was not a "fog of war" mishap. Our government had eyes and ears on the situation as it was playing out, minute after excruciating minute. They chose to deny help, just as they did leading up to the massacre. Recall that Ambassador Stevens and other American personnel had essentially begged for more security, as Islamist attacks against Western targets (including a previous bombing attempt on the US outpost Benghazi itself) had intensified in recent months. These requests were not only shot down, some of the few competent American security forces on the ground were withdrawn from Libya. Having been abandoned by their government once, our diplomats were again left to twist in the wind, even as their lives were in imminent danger throughout the horrifying 9/11 ambush. After the dust settled and we counted our dead, the US government muddied the water about what happened, obsessing over an irrelevant and obscure YouTube video. Ambassador Stevens and the others were betrayed by their superiors before, during, and after the attack that robbed them of their lives. This is appalling. Will anyone ever he held responsible? As in, actually responsible — not politicians saying they're responsible, only to make more excuses and pass the buck, with no real consequences.

"My number one priority is to keep our diplomats safe." That's from the president, who slept through the attack as others in his White House watched it live. When he woke up, he made a brief statement, skipped his security briefing, and flew to Las Vegas for a re-election rally.

Coupled with the televised despair of Sean Smith's mother, Mr. Woods' comments this afternoon are just devastating. Tragic, infuriating, devastating.

The father of one of the former Navy SEALs killed in the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya says President Barack Obama wouldn’t even look him in the eye and Vice President Joe Biden was disrespectful during the ceremony when his son’s body returned to America. He also says the White House’s story on the attack doesn’t pass the smell test.

Charles Woods, father of Tyrone Woods, called into “The Glenn Beck Program” on TheBlazeTV Thursday and recounted his interactions with the president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Biden at the ceremony for the Libya victims at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. He told host Glenn Beck that what they told him, coupled with new reports that indicate the Obama administration knew very good and well, almost immediately, that a terrorist attack was occurring in Benghazi, make him certain that the American people are not getting the whole truth.

Mr. Woods criticized the White House reaction to his son's death — especially a bizarre and obscene comment Joe Biden made to him. Mr. Woods said he thought Barack Obama had 'no remorse' over the attack and felt Hillary Clinton was “not telling the truth”. And he revealed that at the ceremony for the return of Tyrone's body, the Vice President approached his family and asked, “Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?” Mr. Woods added that the President seemed cold and distant at the time, saying: “Shaking hands with him, quite frankly, was like shaking hands with a dead fish.” Mr. Woods told Glenn Beck that he was disappointed by his meeting with senior officials at the event marking the return of the dead men's bodies. He said that Joe Biden had acted inappropriately, asking the Woods family in a loud and boisterous' tone, 'Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?' Mr. Woods asked, “Are these the words of someone who is sorry?”

Three days after the bloody 9/11 siege on our consulate in Benghazi, the Taliban waged an intricately coordinated, brutal attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. The murderous jihadists released video exactly one month ago this week showing off their training exercises in preparation for the assault. Where are the questions? (See my blog dated September 27, 2012)

Where's the accountability? Where's the Obama administration? Where's the press? Where's the outrage?

Two heroic U.S. Marines were killed in the battle. Their names -- Lt. Col. Christopher Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell -- have not been uttered publicly by the commander in chief. Their arrival back in the U.S., in flag-draped coffins, was not broadcast on network TV. But their brothers-in-arms did not and will not forget. And neither must we.

On September 20, John Gresham of the Defense Media Network wrote a scathing detailed breakdown of this little-noticed terrorist attack on our troops. He called it "arguably the worst day in USMC aviation history since the Tet Offensive of 1968." Eight irreplaceable aircraft were destroyed or put out of action by Taliban warriors dressed in U.S. combat fatigues -- amounting to "approximately 7 percent of the total flying USMC Harrier fleet," Gresham reported.

His summary is bone chilling: "A Harrier squadron commander is dead, along with another Marine. Another nine personnel have been wounded, and the nearby Marines at Camp Freedom are now without effective fixed-wing air support. The USMC's response to this disaster will be a telling report card on its leadership and organizational agility."

On September 21, the left-leaning magazine The Atlantic published an article on the Camp Bastion attack titled "The U.S. Suffered Its Worst Airpower Loss Since Vietnam Last Week and No One Really Noticed." A few right-leaning blogs raised troubling questions about preparedness and security.

It has been asked if it would not have been better for the president to simply have come out immediately following the terror attack this past September 11 and admit to al Qaeda’s involvement. The issue for Obama, however, would be that by doing so, he would also have to admit that his policy of pandering to America’s enemies has been the failure common sense always indicated it would be. Taking ownership of Benghazi would mean that Obama could no longer continue to sell the bill of goods that he cut off the head of the al Qaeda snake when he “single-handedly” smote bin Laden as he skulked in an Abbottabad compound. Nor would the president be able to peddle the lie that the war on terror is over.

Liberals now who dane mention Allred’s juicy October surprise would be well advised to fear the Pandora’s Box they are opening. Benghazi is Obama’s Iran-Contra, Watergate, Whitewater, and Fast and Furious all rolled into one. And while a contingent of the U.S. may still have an appetite for reality television, there is no place for it in a U.S. presidential race, especially one that comes on the heels of American-lives lost, and lost so senselessly.

The growth of the imperial presidency, as it was described by historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. in 1973, has for decades distorted the constitutional contract between the presidency and the citizens of the republic. That distortion reached its peak with the fanfare that accompanied Barack Obama's ascension to power in 2008. Not only has Obama assumed powers never intended for the executive branch, but his messianic posturing raised expectations that could never be fulfilled.

Liberals in particular have not been this silly in love since the heady days of Camelot, as they labeled the magical aura that surrounded the Kennedy administration. Like all such childlike fantasies, however, the hope that Obama could do larger-than-life things had to be dashed upon the hard rock of reality. Now not only do his followers face the difficulty of admitting that he has failed to bring about the promised new age of prosperity at home and security abroad, but they have been disappointed in love to boot.

We can only hope that Obama's spectacular failures will finally dispel some of the more grandiose myths and dangerous expectations about the American presidency. Though voters may be solemnly warned that we are deciding in November who will "lead the nation" through the turbulent days ahead, or even that we are electing "the leader of the free world," in reality, we are doing nothing of the sort.

Americans are about evenly divided between those who want to live their own lives with minimal interference from government and those who expect government to meet every need, from wiping their tears to providing free contraceptives. The first group is not looking for someone to lead it, and the blubbers-to-rubbers group will only follow someone who promises to keep the free cell phones coming. Regardless of the outcome in November, we-the-people are too divided to be "led" by the winner. So forget about healing our divisions; just bring sanity to our fiscal mess and Islamic friendly foreign police and call it a job well done.

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