Obama abdicated his constitutional responsibility as Commander in Chief

When last I wrote, the CIA denied giving a stand down order and denial of aid to Glen Doherty and Lance Woods.  Since then, the White House has issued a carefully worded statement to the effect that “Neither the president nor anyone in the White House denied any requests for assistance in Benghazi.”  That leaves only the Pentagon and, just as Hillary threw herself into the breach a couple of weeks ago, yesterday Defense Secretary Leon Panetta fell on the sword for Obama:

“(The) basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on; without having some real-time information about what’s taking place,” Panetta told Pentagon reporters. “And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.”

Panetta’s statement is ludicrous on its face because we know that, both because of satellites and phone calls from Doherty and Woods, everyone in Washington knew exactly what was going on — and they watched in real time, for seven hours.  Yes, that’s too little time to start a war, but it’s more than enough time to deploy special forces.  Doherty and Woods knew that special forces could help because they once served in the same force that would have been deployed.  I can only imagine how these two men felt knowing that their country had the capability to save them, but then realizing as they fought alone on that rooftop that the current government was abandoning them.  Just the thought makes me feel simultaneously tearful and nauseous.

So, we know Panetta is lying about the facts.  We’re also unaware of any legitimate reason for this lie.  Absent a legitimate reason, we can only conclude something very ugly:  Way up on the chain of command, someone made a decision that was the product either of gross military malpractice or cold-hearted political calculation.  The latter, of course, would be the administration deciding that, if it could just focus public attention on the video, the Obama campaign could avoid a “Black Hawk down” scenario that would reflect badly on the president.  In other words, Obama or Axelrod or Jarrett decided that, for campaign reasons, discretion was the better part of valor and decency.  That might have worked in a pre-internet age, but nowadays, there’s no way to keep the lid on that type of lie.

As for the latter consideration — gross military malpractice — even if (and it’s a big if) the order to leave people to die emanated from the Pentagon, the responsibility still rests on Obama’s shoulders.  As Commander in Chief (it says so right there in the Constitution), he is and was the ultimate military authority America.  Ordinarily, of course, the President is not involved in every decision the military makes.  However, this was an emergency and the White House has stated that Obama was briefed and aware of the situation.  That means that he was the man in charge.  If risk aversion, campaign calculations, or any other algorithm unrelated to saving American lives factored into the decision to watch but not act in Benghazi, it’s Obama’s fault.  As Harry Truman understood, but Obama hates to admit, when it comes to the presidency, the buck stops there.

I’ll close with Mark Steyn, who beautifully sums up events in Washington, D.C., and Benghazi:

You’ll recall that a near-month-long attempt to blame an obscure YouTube video for the murder of four Americans and the destruction of U.S. sovereign territory climaxed in the vice-presidential debate with Joe Biden’s bald assertion that the administration had been going on the best intelligence it had at the time. By then, it had been confirmed that there never had been any protest against the video, and that the Obama line that Benghazi had been a spontaneous movie review that just got a little out of hand was utterly false. The only remaining question was whether the administration had knowingly lied or was merely innocently stupid. The innocent-stupidity line became harder to maintain this week after Fox News obtained State Department e-mails revealing that shortly after 4 p.m. Eastern, less than a half hour after the assault in Benghazi began, the White House situation room knew the exact nature of it.

We also learned that, in those first moments of the attack, a request for military back-up was made by U.S. staff on the ground but was denied by Washington. It had planes and special forces less than 500 miles away in southern Italy — or about the same distance as Washington to Boston. They could have been there in less than two hours. Yet the commander-in-chief declined to give the order. So Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods fought all night against overwhelming odds, and died on a rooftop in a benighted jihadist hellhole while Obama retired early to rest up before his big Vegas campaign stop. “Within minutes of the first bullet being fired the White House knew these heroes would be slaughtered if immediate air support was denied,” said Ty Woods’s father, Charles. “In less than an hour, the perimeters could have been secured and American lives could have been saved. After seven hours fighting numerically superior forces, my son’s life was sacrificed because of the White House’s decision.”

It would be shocking and disgusting if the American people gave this calculating coward another four years, not just to lead this nation, but to serve as Commander in Chief of the finest military in the world.

Dead enemies mean we’re losing; dead Americans mean we’re winning

In war, it’s entirely possible to have battle causalities increase despite the fact that you’re winning.  This is because, as with the Surge in Iraq, you are aggressively engaging the enemy.  Yes, you are defeating the enemy, decimating his numbers, and driving him back, but the very fact of engagement is necessarily going to result in more losses on your own side too.

Then there’s the mirror image situation, the one that sees your enemy having the Surge — perhaps because your own Commander in Chief announced a year ago that he was giving up on the war and had already set a date for pulling the troops out.  Your troops aren’t engaging more, but the enemy troops are, and they’re very successfully killing you and destroying your weapons:

International Security Assistance Force officials are providing additional details about the Sept. 14 attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in which two coalition service members were killed when insurgents attacked the base’s airfield.

Because it is still early in the investigation of this attack, information is subject to change as new details become available, officials said.

The attack commenced just after 10 p.m., officials said, when approximately 15 insurgents executed a well-coordinated attack against the airfield on Camp Bastion. The insurgents, organized into three teams, penetrated at one point of the base’s perimeter fence, officials said.

The insurgents appeared to be well-equipped, trained and rehearsed, officials said. Dressed in U.S. Army uniforms and armed with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and suicide vests, the insurgents attacked coalition fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft parked on the flight line, aircraft hangars and other buildings, officials said.

Six coalition AV-8B Harrier jets were destroyed and two were significantly damaged, said officials, noting three coalition refueling stations were destroyed. Six soft-skin aircraft hangars were damaged to some degree.

Coalition forces engaged the insurgents, killing 14 and wounding one who was taken into custody, officials said.

In addition to the two coalition service members that were killed, nine coalition personnel — eight military and one civilian contractor — were wounded in the attack, officials said. None of their injuries are considered life-threatening.

The administration is spinning this as proof that Americans are winning.  Although Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is “concerned” about the attacks (doesn’t anyone in the administration ever get upset when Americans die?), “he sees the insider attacks as the ‘last gasp’ of a Taliban insurgency that has not been able to regain lost ground.”  Me?  I see this as Americans being on the wrong side of someone else’s Surge.  Or, as a friend of mine says,  “after Vietnam we decided the enemy body count did not mean we were winning but nowadays we equate our own body count to a sign of our certain victory.”

In other words, the Left is always completely consistent:  dead enemies mean we’re losing; dead Americans mean we’re winning.  But please, don’t question their patriotism.

Obama — enemy to Israel, and to peace and stability in the Middle East

I’ve never doubted Obama’s fundamental anti-Israel beliefs, nor have I ever thought he’s on a right, or even a sane, track in the Middle East. As much as anything, though, my feelings regarding Obama’s Israel/Middle East attitudes were predicated on a gut attitude resulting from his pre-presidency friendships and his execrable Cairo speech. Now, though, after almost three years of his presidency, the evidence is in, and Barry Rubin explains that my instincts (and yours too) are born out by the facts:

In a major address on U S. Middle East policy to the Brookings Institution, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave us a clear picture of the Obama Administration’s view of the region. When taken along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent speech on the same subject, we now know the following regarding Obama’s policy:

It is dangerously and absurdly wrong. This administration totally and completely, dangerously and disastrously for U.S. interests misunderstand the Middle East. They are 180 degrees off course, that is heading in the opposite direction of safety.

Despite the satisfactory state of relations on a purely military level, the Obama Administration is not a friend of Israel, even to the extent that it was arguably so in the first two years of this presidency.

It is now an enemy; it is on the other side.  Again, the issue is not mainly bilateral relations but the administration’s help and encouragement to those forces that are Israel’s biggest enemies, that want to rekindle war, and that are 100 percent against a two-state solution. And I don’t mean the Palestinian Authority, I mean the Islamists.

And the Obama Administration is also a strategic enemy of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Morocco, and Jordan. It is also a strategic enemy to the democratic opposition forces in Iran, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt.

Having analyzed and studied the Middle East for almost four decades I say none of this lightly. And these conclusions arise simply from watching what the administration says and does.

Read the rest here.