at Palm Desert, California

mediamattersforamerica:

The right-wing media is outraged that Obama saluted while holding a cup, labeling it the “most degrading salute ever.”
Meanwhile… mediamattersforamerica:

The right-wing media is outraged that Obama saluted while holding a cup, labeling it the “most degrading salute ever.”
Meanwhile…

mediamattersforamerica:

The right-wing media is outraged that Obama saluted while holding a cup, labeling it the “most degrading salute ever.”

Meanwhile…

at Palm Desert, California

Bush Administration Role In The Rise Of ISIS

 

Iraq Lies and Misinformation Timeline

Mother Jones

The Lies We Believed (And Still Believe) About Iraq

Moyers

No link between Iraq and Al-Queda

The report released by the Joint Forces Command five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq said it found no “smoking gun” after reviewing about 600,000 Iraqi documents captured in the invasion and looking at interviews of key Iraqi leadership held by the United States, Pentagon officials said.

CNN

Bring ‘em on!

"There are some who feel like that, uh, if they attack us, that we may decide to leave prematurely. They don’t understand what they’re talkin’ about if that’s the case… Let me finish. Um, there are some who feel like, that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring ‘em on! We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation."

-George W. Bush, 7-2-2003

HuffPo

No WMD’s

“In his final word, the CIA’s top weapons inspector in Iraq said Monday that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has “gone as far as feasible” and has found nothing, closing an investigation into the purported programs of Saddam Hussein that were used to justify the 2003 invasion.”

NBC

Bush Knew Saddam Had No Weapons of Mass Destruction

“On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers. Bush dismissed as worthless this information from the Iraqi foreign minister, a member of Saddam’s inner circle, although it turned out to be accurate in every detail. Tenet never brought it up again.”

Salon

Iraq’s de-Baathification and the Origin of ISIS

“Unfortunately, de-Baathification in Iraq was a dysfunctional, counterproductive process that intensified social, sectarian and political divisions. The shortfalls of the Iraqi model should serve as a warning to those today who seek to reinforce the rule of law in their countries.”

Al Jazeera

The Re-Baathification of Iraq

“The Islamic State has conquered broad swaths of Iraq thanks to a surprising alliance with secular veterans of Saddam Hussein’s military. But now that partnership is fraying — giving Washington its first real opportunity to blunt the terrorist group’s advance without relying solely on American airstrikes or ground troops.”

FP

The Status Of Forces Agreement of 2008

“In one of his final acts in office, President Bush in December of 2008 had signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Iraqi government that set the clock ticking on ending the war he’d launched in March of 2003. The SOFA provided a legal basis for the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq after the United Nations Security Council mandate for the occupation mission expired at the end of 2008. But it required that all U.S. forces be gone from Iraq by January 1, 2012, unless the Iraqi government was willing to negotiate a new agreement that would extend their mandate. And as Middle East historian Juan Cole has noted, “Bush had to sign what the [Iraqi] parliament gave him or face the prospect that U.S. troops would have to leave by 31 December, 2008, something that would have been interpreted as a defeat”

Time

Bush’s finest moment on Iraq: SOFA, not the surge

“Signing a Status of Forces Agreement requiring the full withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq on a fixed three year timeline demonstrated a real flexibility on Bush’s part. It demonstrated a pragmatism and willingness to put the national interest ahead of partisanship that few of us believed he possessed. It is largely thanks to Bush’s acceptance of his own bargaining failure that Barack Obama will inherit a plausible route to successful disengagement from Iraq.”

FP

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

“Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a predominantly Sunni jihadist group, seeks to sow civil unrest in Iraq and the Levant with the aim of establishing a caliphate—a single, transnational Islamic state based on sharia. The group emerged in the ashes of the U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and the insurgency that followed provided it with fertile ground to wage a guerrilla war against coalition forces and their domestic allies.”

CFR

State of Confusion: ISIS’ Strategy and How to Counter It

“In 2005, Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy head of al Qaeda, had a killer idea: the al Qaeda franchise in Iraq (AQI) should declare an Islamic state. In a letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the brutal leader of AQI, Zawahiri explained how it would work. The Islamic state, he wrote, would fill security vacuums around Iraq left by departing American forces. Once the Islamic state successfully fended off the attacks from neighboring countries that would undoubtedly follow, it could proclaim the reestablishment of the caliphate, the one-man institution that had ruled a vast empire in early Islamic history. For the scheme to succeed, Zawahiri warned Zarqawi, al Qaeda had to make sure that the Sunni masses supported the project.”

Brookings

How Maliki Ruined Iraq

“Four years ago, Iraq finally had relatively good security, a generous state budget, and positive relations among the country’s various ethnic and religious communities after years of chaos following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. But Iraq’s political elites squandered this opportunity. Their corruption and hunger for power distracted them from emerging crises — like the rise of ISIS — and laid the groundwork for what is now taking place.”

FP

Onetime U.S. allies in Sunni Awakening sit out new Iraq conflict

“With much of Iraq now besieged by an Al Qaeda splinter group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Shibib is in no hurry to pick up his weapons again. To do so, he said, would be to defend a corrupt government that has cast aside or jailed his former fighters and systematically oppressed his fellow Sunnis.”

LA Times

Voter Fraud Is Statistically Non-existent

The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters.

 The News21 report is based on a national public-records search in which reporters sent thousands of requests to elections officers in all 50 states, asking for every case of alleged fraudulent activity — including registration fraud; absentee-ballot fraud; vote buying; false election counts; campaign fraud; the casting of ballots by ineligible voters, such as felons and non-citizens; double voting; and voter impersonation.

Washington Post

A comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation finds 31 credible incidents out of one billion ballots cast.

Washington Post

Actual Voter fraud

Scott Walker Supporter Charged With Major Voter Fraud Claims Amnesia

 TPM

In-person voter fraud ‘a very rare phenomenon’

Politifact

Voter Fraud: A Massive, Anti-Democratic Deception

“Many of the claims of voter fraud amount to a great deal of smoke without much fire…Most allegations of fraud turn out to be baseless—and that of the few allegations remaining, most reveal election irregularities and other forms of election misconduct, rather than fraud by individual voters. The type of individual voter fraud supposedly targeted by recent legislative efforts—especially efforts to require certain forms of voter ID—simply does not exist.”

Forbes

The Brennan Report

The Truth About Voter Fraud

South Carolina and North Carolina

Voter fraud in North Carolina? Not so fast

In a report released Wednesday, North Carolina’s elections board said it had found 35,570 people who voted in the state in 2012 and whose names and dates of birth match those of voters in other states. The board said it also found 765 North Carolinians who voted in 2012 and whose names, birthdates, and last four digits of their Social Security number match those of people in other states. The board said it’s looking into all these cases to determine whether people voted twice.

Consider the recent experience of North Carolina’s southern neighbor. Last year, South Carolina’s DMV used Social Security matches to help find more than 900 people listed as dead who had voted in recent years, setting off a spate of hand-wringing about fraud. Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, used the findings to argue for the state’s strict voter ID law—which was later softened after the Justice Department objected. But state law enforcement ultimately found not a single person who deliberately cast a ballot in the name of a dead person.

Nearly half the cases were the result of clerical errors by poll-workers. Others were attributed to DMV officials finding that Social Security numbers matched but not making sure that names did, among several problems. (About 45,370 people have been assigned by the Social Security Administration to each four-digit combination of numbers.)

MSNBC

COLUMBIA — No one intentionally cast a ballot in South Carolina using the names of dead people in recent elections, despite allegations to the contrary, according to a State Law Enforce­ment Division report.

Attorney General Alan Wil­son asked the agency to investigate last year after the Department of Motor Vehi­cles determined in early 2012 that more than 900 people listed as deceased had voted in recent years. Wilson called the number “alarming” and said it “clearly necessitates an investigation into criminal activity.”…

The Augusta Chronicle

Koch Vs Soros - Political Spending

Koch  

Key players in the Koch-backed network have already begun engaging in the 2014 midterm elections, hiring new staff members to expand operations and strafing House and Senate Democrats with hard-hitting ads over their support for the Affordable Care Act.

Its funders remain largely unknown; the coalition was carefully constructed with extensive legal barriers to shield its donors.

But they have substantial firepower. Together, the 17 conservative groups that made up the network raised at least $407 million during the 2012 campaign, according to the analysis of tax returns by The Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics.

Washington Post

Graphic

 

In total, the Koch political empire marshaled $400 million in the 2012 election cycle toward groups and efforts that spent money directly in the electoral arena. Not every group that received money from the empire reported spending on elections, but the vast majority of that money went to groups that spent tens of millions on electoral ads — which must be reported to the Federal Election Commission — and even more on issue ads that targeted candidates but didn’t advocate their electoral victory or defeat — which is not reported. Koch players included Americans for Prosperity, the American Future Fund and the 60 Plus Association.

Already, Koch-linked dark money groups have spent more than $30 million on ads targeting vulnerable Democratic congressional candidates running in the 2014 midterms.

It is the electoral focus of the Koch nonprofits and their sophisticated efforts to shield donors’ identities – plus the vast sums of money they move — that has brought them the unwanted attention of both Democratic Senate leadership and reporters.

Bill Moyers

 

SOROS

There exists no outside network or organization supporting Democratic Party candidates in elections, while not disclosing its donors, that spends money in comparable amounts.

Take the Tides Foundation, a longstanding liberal donor fund that provides money to nonprofits working on the environment, labor issues, immigrant rights, gay rights, women’s rights and human rights. Conservative blogs blasted the foundation as far more influential than the Koch brothers as early as 2011.

But according to tax records accessed through CitizenAudit.org, the Tides Foundation allocates little of its money to groups that engage in FEC-reportable spending on elections. Tides gave just $3.1 million of its $136 million in 2011-2012 grants to 501(c)(4) nonprofits that are permitted to engage part-time in politics. An even smaller sum went to such groups that actually reported election spending — i.e., dark money groups.

Some of those recipient groups reported spending large sums on elections, but they received very little of that from Tides: The League of Conservation Voters, which spent $11.2 million on elections, received just $150,000 from Tides. The Michigan League of Conservation Voters spent $860,237 but received only $15,000. Planned Parenthood spent $6.7 million and received $110,000. And VoteVets.org spent $3.2 million and received $82,500.

The Advocacy Fund, a former Tides organization that is still run out of the same office, gave more to 501(c)(4) nonprofits in the last election cycle: $11.5 million. But only $5.7 million went to those dark money groups that actually spent money on the elections. Recipients that engaged in electoral spending included America Votes ($1.8 million from the Advocacy Fund), the Campaign for Community Change ($1.3 million), the League of Conservation Voters ($2 million), the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund ($125,000), the NRDC Action Fund ($80,000) and the Sierra Club ($278,000).

So if the Tides Foundation is supposed to be the liberal equivalent of the Kochs, it’s a pale shadow of the conservative juggernaut. Combined, the money from Tides and the Advocacy Fund falls well short of the amounts amassed by the Koch operation.

But again, the Soros foundations direct only a tiny fraction of their funds to groups spending money to directly influence elections. The Open Society Policy Center and the Fund for Policy Reform, the main Soros groups donating to 501(c)(4) nonprofits, gave $12.9 million to those nonprofits in the 2012 cycle, of which just $1 million went to the subset that spent money in elections. Soros himself has publicly stated his opposition to funding attack ads.

In addition, Soros was personally a major donor to Democratic super PACs in the last election, including $1 million to American Bridge 21st Century, $1 million to Priorities USA Action, $675,000 to House Majority PAC and $100,000 to Senate Majority PAC. He has also donated $25,000 to the Ready for Hillary PAC. But unlike whatever funds the Koch brothers pour into their political empire, the Soros donations to super PACs are not “dark,” for they are all disclosed to the FEC in publicly accessible records.

 

Democracy Alliance 2012

After months on the sidelines, major liberal donors including the financier George Soros are preparing to inject up to $100 million into independent groups to aid Democrats’ chances this fall.

In a move likely to draw in other major donors, Mr. Soros will contribute $1 million each to America Votes, a group that coordinates political activity for left-leaning environmental, abortion rights and civil rights groups, and American Bridge 21st Century, a super PAC that focuses on election-oriented research. The donations will be Mr. Soros’s first major contributions of the 2012 election cycle.

The advertising-oriented Democratic super PACs, including Priorities USA and two groups founded to back Democrats in Congress, remain on the list of organizations that the Democracy Alliance recommends to its members. Robert McKay, who is the chairman of the Democracy Alliance and sits on the board of Priorities USA, said the $100 million expected to be spent this year by alliance members would include some money for election ads, but would most likely favor grass-roots organizing and research groups.

NY Times

Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!

 On September 11, 2012, U.S. diplomatic and intelligence facilities in Benghazi, Libya were attacked resulting in the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Prior to the attack the region was subject to massive protests, which spread to more than fifteen countries, over an American produced anti-Islamic video.

At the onset of the attacks, Defense Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey briefed President Obama.

The President immediately ordered all available assets to respond.

“Shortly after the Benghazi attack began, General Ham, who was coincidentally visiting the Pentagon from AFRICOM headquarters in Germany, was informed. He was told the SMC was under fire and the location of Ambassador Stevens and a State Department colleague was unknown. General Ham then personally provided this information to General Dempsey and both then “immediately” briefed Secretary Panetta.

Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey then left for the White House to attend an unrelated routine weekly meeting with the President. Upon arrival, the two discussed the attack with the President for fifteen to thirty minutes, at which time they presumably shared all that was known about the unfolding events, including the fact that the ambassador and the subordinate (Mr. Sean Smith) were missing.

 According to Secretary Panetta’s statements to the Senate, the President “directed both myself and General Dempsey to do everything we need to do to try to protect the lives” in Benghazi.

 General Dempsey recounted to the House Armed Services Committee the President instructed us to use all available assets to respond to the attacks to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel in Libya and to protect U.S. personnel and interests throughout the region.”

House Armed Services report

“…his (Obama’s) staff was engaged with the national military command center pretty constantly through the period, which is the way it would normally work.”

- General Dempsey

Military Actions Authorized by the President and the DOD

The first step DOD took upon learning of the attack involved a U.S. drone that was overflying Darnah, a city in northeastern Libya. AFRICOM’s operations officer immediately redirected the unarmed Predator to Benghazi, which was about an hour’s flight time away.

Separately, following the meeting in the White House, Secretary Panetta (in consultation with General Ham, General Dempsey, and others) verbally authorized three specific actions.

First, two Marine FAST platoons in Rota, Spain were ordered to prepare to deploy; one bound for Benghazi and one destined for Tripoli.

Second, a special operations unit assigned to the European Command, known as a Commander’s In-Extremis Force (CIF), which was training in Croatia was ordered to move to a U.S. Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Italy and await further instructions.

Third, a special operations unit in the United States was also dispatched to the region. These orders were issued approximately two to four hours after the initial attack on the SMC.

There was no stand down order.

“There was no “stand down” order issued to U.S. military personnel in Tripoli who sought to join the fight in Benghazi.

However, because official reviews after the attack were not sufficiently comprehensive, there was confusion about the roles and responsibilities of these individuals.”

-Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, House Committee on Armed Services

Senate Intelligence Committee’s January 2014 review of the attacks found that during that delay, the CIA’s Chief of Base (CIA Annex in Benghazi) “attempted to secure assistance and heavy weapons” from US allies in the region, and that Although some members of the security team expressed frustration that they were unable to respond more quickly to the Mission compound, the Committee found no evidence of intentional delay or obstruction by the Chief of Base or any other party.

The Senate Intelligence report and House Armed Services report found no fault with the administration’s military response to the attack. They did site a lack of additional staged security for the 9-11 anniversary and other security failures prior to the attacks.

Senate IC report

Motive and Planning

The Senate report states that there is no evidence of significant preplanning of the attack and that it was mostly “Opportunist”

The attack was perpetrated primarily by members of the militant group Ansar al-Shariah, a loose Al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa. The report found no clear evidence of direct Al Qaeda involvement in the attack.

“In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the IC received numerous reports, both classified and unclassified, which provided contradictory accounts that there were demonstrations at the Temporary Mission Facility. In some cases, these intelligence reports which were disseminated widely in the Intelligence Community contained references to press reports on protests that were simply copied into intelligence products.

Senate IC Report

 

 “It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attacks or whether extremist group leaders directed their members to participate,” the report said. “Some intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day’s violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video.”

-Senate IC report

“There was no intelligence of a specific “imminent” threat in Libya.”

House Armed Services report

Independent investigations have also concluded that the attack was at least partially motivated by the anti-Islamic video and the violent demonstrations in the region.

“On the day of the attack, Islamists in Cairo had staged a demonstration outside the United States Embassy there to protest an American-made online video mocking Islam, and the protest culminated in a breach of the embassy’s walls — images that flashed through news coverage around the Arab world.

As the attack in Benghazi was unfolding a few hours later, Mr. Abu Khattala told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him.”

-New York Times

 

The CIA Intelligence assessment.

Talking points issued by the CIA show that the Administration did not originate the Protest/Video assessment. The original draft was written by CIA Director of Intelligence Analysis, Friday September 14, 2012.

• We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex.

The final, unclassified version of the CIA talking points, as provided on September 15, 2012, read as follows:

-The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US diplomatic post in Benghazi and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.

-This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed as currently available information continues to be evaluated.

-The investigation is ongoing and the US Government is working With Libyan authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of US citizens.

-Senate IC Report

 Clinton and What Difference Does It Make

Clinton: “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.”

 

Letter to Armed Services Committee from Chris Stevens’ Family

“Chris was not willing to be the kind of diplomat who would strut around in fortified compounds. He amazed and impressed the Libyans by walking the streets with the lightest of escorts, sitting in sidewalk cafes, chatting with passers-by. There was a risk to being accessible. He knew it, and he accepted it.

 What Chris never would have accepted was the idea that his death would be used for political purposes. There were security shortcomings, no doubt. Both internal and outside investigations have identified and publicly disclosed them. Steps are being taken to prevent their reoccurrence.

Chris would not have wanted to be remembered as a victim. Chris knew, and accepted, that he was working under dangerous circumstances. He did so just as so many of our diplomatic and development professionals do every day because he believed the work was vitally important. He would have wanted the critical work he was doing to build bridges of mutual understanding and respect the kind of work that made him literally thousands of friends and admirers across the broader Middle East to continue.”

Remarks by the President on the Deaths of U.S. Embassy Staff in Libya

“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.”

Rose Garden Speech 9-12-12

Getty