As events unfolded in Libya Mitt Romney and his sycophants have already tried to rewrite the history of events and to shift blame. So I thought I would post some of the more important links and a chronology of what happened. Though before I get to that there is this post from Josh at TPM, When You Learn They’re Not Ready
Romney’s attack was not only ill-judged and ill-timed, it was actually based on what appears to be a demonstrable falsehood. Romney, or folks writing in his name at his campaign, claimed that the administration’s first response to the attacks was to issue a press release condemning the anti-Islam film which had helped trigger the attack. This they picked wholesale from the right-wing blogosphere.
In fact, according to all available press reports and the account of the State Department, the press release in question came from the US Embassy in Egypt and preceded the attacks. So to claim it was a response to the attacks was simply false. So while American diplomats were dying in the field, Romney pops up with an egregious attempt to politicize the deaths with a flat out lie.
Behind the curtains a more chaotic and rash picture emerges.
The statement from the Romney campaign was initially released by Romney press secretary Andrea Saul at 10:09 PM — but under an embargo until midnight on September 12th. In other words, it was embargoed until September 11th was over.
Then a few minutes later at 10:24 PM the embargo was lifted and reporters were told they could use the statement immediately. There was no clear explanation of the change.
Bear in mind, this was all happening while attacks on US personnel abroad were ongoing. According to a statement released this morning by the White House, the President was told last night that Ambassador Chris Stevens was unaccounted for. Only this morning did he learn that Stevens had died in the attacks that were on-going last night.
The campaign also authorized Romney’s top foreign policy advisor to give a blistering interview attacking the president while the attacks were continuing.
Politics is hardball. Everything is, in some sense, fair. But campaigns are also a prism into the judgment and steadiness under pressure of a person who would be president. This was amateur hour for the opposition campaign last night, reminiscent of John McCain’s rash call four years ago to cancel the presidential debates and the campaign itself to deal with the unfolding economic crisis. There was nothing ignoble or dishonorable about McCain’s suggestion. It just showed a certain rashness that was widely viewed as unpresidential.
Romney’s moment was quite different — rash and shameful. Not worthy of a president. Crass, undignified and troubling on many levels.
In short, there were some rumbling in the streets of Libya and Egypt about this inflammatory anti-Islam film. One person at the U.S. embassy in Libya took it upon himself to issue a statement on Twitter that condemned the film. That statement was not approved by the State Department, nor Sec. of State Clinton, nor President Obama. In fact that embassy employee was explicitly told not to release such a statement. Josh and some others think Romney’s rush to exploit this tragedy without the facts is very damning for Romney. Things like this do not matter to the far Right. Todd Atins makes a statement about no woman ever getting pregnant from “real” rape. A few conservatives condemn him, but most of the far Right comes to his defense. While the name George W. Bush may still be political poison, the far Right still defends the righteousness of getting over 4000 Americans killed for a lie. Does anyone really think the fans of Akins or Bush’s lies care that Romney has acted like a vile little gutter rat. of course not. It does make a difference around the edges. Romney just caused…whatever a half percent or two percent of conservative to stay home on election day. Mitt infuriated a few more undecided independent voters that do not want another manipulative immature arrogant blow-hard in charge of U.S. foreign policy. Those are the practical reasons. Sure to Democrats, some independents and a few Republicans this whole debacle matters on principle, the kind of issue that Josh is framing it as, to the radical Right, its another day for flame throwing and demagoguery. Josh laid out the time-line, but this is an interesting bit of news that was in the NYT and later changed, that had a source within the Romney campaign speaking about how Romney had screwed up yet again, Anonymous Romney-Bashing Quote Disappears From New York Times Story
Early Wednesday evening, the New York Times published an article online titled, “Behind Romney’s Decision to Attack Obama on Libya,” that included an exceptionally juicy quote about halfway down.
In that story — whose text was emailed to reporters by the liberal group Americans United for Change — there was a paragraph that read as follows:
And as an adviser to the campaign who worked in the George W. Bush administration said on Wednesday, Mr. Romney’s accusation that Mr. Obama had invited the attacks because he had weakened America looked like “he had forgotten the first rule in a crisis: don’t start talking before you understand what’s happening.”
Within hours, however, that story — initially bylined David Sanger and Ashley Parker — was replaced by a lengthier, more fleshed-out version of the story, now bylined by Peter Baker and Ashley Parker. (The initial item can be read here.) The new article included more context, a few fresh bits of reporting, and a structure that seemed more fitting for the print edition of the newspaper. It also carried a new headline: “A Challenger’s Criticism Is Furiously Returned.” (The URL for the story still included the original headline.)
But the new version of the story was missing the quote from the anonymous Romney adviser slamming his own candidate — perhaps the newsiest piece of information in the original item.
The current version of the story does include quotes from other Republicans questioning the timing of Romney’s aggressive critiques of the Obama administration, but not from anyone officially aligned with the campaign.
This is the internet. There are no take-backs of quotes like that. Romney’s own campaign, a neocon at that, said that Romney threw himself under the bus. The Obama administration’s first official statement was released read , ‘FACT CHECK: Romney Misstates Facts On Attacks
Clinton had offered the administration’s first response to the violence in Libya, explicitly condemning the attack there and confirming the death of a State Department official.
“I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today,” Clinton said in a written statement received by The Associated Press at 10:08 p.m. “As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss.”
At the time, the Romney campaign did not know that the U.S. ambassador, Christopher Stevens, had been killed, nor did the Obama administration. Libyans told American officials around midnight that the ambassador had died, but Americans were unable to confirm his identity until hours later.
“I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens,” Obama said in his first statement at 7:21 a.m. Wednesday, the next morning.
There was no apology to any terrorists, no apology for any American policy. Simply a condemnation of the violence and later the death. There were other conservatives who thought Mitt had jumped the shark, Even As Experts, GOP Figures Criticize Romney’s Embassy Statement, Right-Wing Pundits Blame “The Media”
VOA: Former Defense Department Official Korb Said He Is “Appalled” By Romney’s Comments. From a September 12 Voice of America article about Romney’s criticism of Obama following the embassy attacks:
The Romney comments also provoked a strong reaction from some foreign policy experts.
Lawrence Korb is a former Defense Department official who is now with the Center for American Progress, a Democratic-leaning policy research group in Washington.
“Well, I should say that I’m appalled, but not surprised because I think the Romney campaign is desperate to try and close the gap on foreign policy, which had been a traditional Republican strength in the elections but it is not this time,” Korb said. [Voice of America, 9/12/12]
Former Ambassador And NATO Representative Burns: “I Was Frankly Very Disappointed And Dismayed To See Gov. Romney Inject Politics Into This Very Difficult Situation.” During an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Nicholas Burns, who served in State Departments under President George W. Bush and President Clinton, said:
BURNS: This is a tragic day for our country and our foreign service. Four outstanding Americans have been killed. And I was frankly very disappointed and dismayed to see Governor Romney inject politics into this very difficult situation, where our embassies are under attack, where there’s been a big misunderstanding in the Middle East, apparently, about an American film, where we’re trying to preserve the lives of our diplomats — this is no time for politics.
I watched Secretary Clinton’s statement this morning, and I read President Obama’s statement, and I’ve looked at the statement that you’ve just referred to issued 24 hours ago by our embassy in Cairo. In no way, shape, or form is the U.S. government or the Obama administration apologizing for terrorists or sympathizing with them. What I heard from the president and Secretary Clinton was a very definite rejection of terrorism and, of course, our government’s going to call on the Egyptian and Libyan governments to apprehend these people and to put them on trial. So I just think that Governor Romney has, in a very unwise way, injected himself into a situation where he clearly doesn’t have all the facts. [MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell Reports, 9/12/12]
… And Was Challenged By Conservative Political And Media Figures — Including Fox’s Bill O’Reilly
Bill O’Reilly: “I’m Not Sure [Romney] Is Correct On That. The Embassy Was Trying To Head Off The Violence” With Statement. During the September 12 edition of Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly played video of Romney’s remarks from his September 12 press conference and said, “I’m not sure the governor is correct on that. The embassy was trying to head off the violence” with their statement. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 9/12/12]
Former McCain Adviser: Pointing Out “That We Reject Vile Attacks On Muslims…Does Not Constitute Sympathy For The People Besieging Our Embassy As Gov. Romney Alleged.” Longtime John McCain adviser Mark Salter responded to Romney’s remarks on the embassy’s statement on the website RealClearPolitics:
[T]here is nothing wrong in principle with making clear to people, who have yet to embrace the categorical right to free speech, that Americans and their government deplore the deplorable, that we reject vile attacks on Muslims as vigorously as we reject vile anti-Semitic attacks.
To do so does not constitute sympathy for the people besieging our embassy, as Gov. Romney alleged. Nor is at an apology for America, as some Obama critics have claimed. It’s an expression of our decency. [RealClearPolitics, 9/12/12]
Noonan: Romney Isn’t “Doing Himself Any Favors,” “When Hot Things Happen, Cool Words — Or No Words — Is The Way To Go.” Former Ronald Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan commented on Romney’s remarks on Fox News, a Wall Street Journal blog reported:
Peggy Noonan, a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan who writes a column for The Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages, said on Fox News that he had opened himself up to accusations that he was “trying to exploit things politically.”
“I belong to the old school of thinking in times of great drama and heightened crisis, and at times when something violent is happening to your people, I always think discretion is the better way to go,” she said. “I don’t feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors…. When hot things happen, cool words- or no words- is the way to go.” [Washington Wire, The Wall Street Journal, 9/12/12]
Frum: “The Romney Campaign’s Attempt To Score Political Points On The Killing Of American Diplomats Was A Dismal Business In Every Respect.” The Journal blog also reported that David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, was also critical of Romney’s comments:
Conservative writer David Frum wrote on Wednesday, “Politicians must pander, it goes with the job. But they mustn’t leave their fingerprints all over their pandering. The Romney campaign’s attempt to score political points on the killing of American diplomats was a dismal business in every respect.” [Washington Wire, The Wall Street Journal, 9/12/12]
There were others and I would not be surprised to see Noonan walk back some of her statement, though there is no putting the genie back in the bottle. Romney tried to exploit the deaths of Americans for political advantage. Again, does it matter if this hurts Romney politically, maybe not, though it should. What matters here is the venality, the pride Romney displayed of his deep and sickening moral bankruptcy.
To back up the time-line for a moment. The story behind the release of that first embassy Tweet, Inside the public relations disaster at the Cairo embassy
Two additional administration officials confirmed the details of this account when contacted late Wednesday by The Cable.
The statement, issued as a press release on the U.S. Embassy website, has been attacked by Republican challenger Mitt Romney, lawmakers, and conservatives around the country as an inappropriate “apology” and a failure to stand up for American principles such as freedom of speech.
The White House distanced itself from the statement Tuesday, and Romney criticized it directly in his initial reaction to the attacks in Egypt and Libya shortly thereafter, accusing President Barack Obama of evicing sympathy for the attackers.
On Wednesday, Romney doubled down on that criticism, saying, “I think it’s a terrible course for America to apologize for our values.”
President Obama commented on the controversy in an interview to be aired Wednesday evening on 60 Minutes.
“In an effort to cool the situation down, it didn’t come from me, it didn’t come from Secretary Clinton. It came from people on the ground who are potentially in danger,” Obama said. “And my tendency is to cut folks a little bit of slack when they’re in that circumstance, rather than try to question their judgment from the comfort of a campaign office.” ( I tend to agree with the President. This one guy was on the ground there and did what he thought might help diffuse the impression there was any U.S. involvement with this film)
But Obama’s remarks belie the enormous frustration of top officials at the State Department and White House with the actions of the man behind the statement, Cairo senior public affairs officer Larry Schwartz, who wrote the release and oversees the embassy’s Twitter feed, according to a detailed account of the Tuesday’s events.
The official noted that the statement was posted at exactly 12:18 p.m. Cairo time — 6:18 a.m. Washington time — well before the protests began. Romney has said, wrongly, that the statement was the administration’s first response to the protests, but the official said that the demonstrations did not begin until 4 p.m. Cairo time and protesters breached the wall about 2 hours later.
After the breach, as public criticism of the statement grew, the Cairo Embassy Twitter account continued to send out tweets defending it, some of which were later deleted. One deleted tweet, originally posted at 12:30 a.m. Cairo time, said, “This morning’s condemnation (issued before protests began) still stands. As does condemnation of unjustified breach of the Embassy.”
Before issuing the press release, Schwartz cleared it with just one person senior to himself, Deputy Chief of Mission Marc Sievers, who was the acting charge d’affairs at the embassy on Tuesday because Ambassador Anne Patterson was in Washington at the time, the official said.
Schwartz sent the statement to the State Department in Washington before publishing and the State Department directed him not to post it without changes, but Schwartz posted it anyway.
“The statement was not cleared with anyone in Washington. It was sent as ‘This is what we are putting out,'” the official said. “We replied and said this was not a good statement and that it needed major revisions. The next email we received from Embassy Cairo was ‘We just put this out.'”
A heated discussion ensued among State Department and White House officials over e-mail as the controversy over the statement grew Tuesday evening, even grabbing the attention of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, those same officials were dealing with a more serious attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the death of four American officials, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
“People at the highest levels both at the State Department and at the White House were not happy with the way the statement went down. There was a lot of anger both about the process and the content,” the official said. “Frankly, people here did not understand it. The statement was just tone deaf. It didn’t provide adequate balance. We thought the references to the 9/11 attacks were inappropriate, and we strongly advised against the kind of language that talked about ‘continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.'”
Despite being aware of Washington’s objections, the embassy continued to defend the statement for several hours, fueling the controversy over it, a decision the official again attributed to Schwartz.
“Not only did they push out the statement but they continued to engage on Twitter and retweet it,” the official said. “[Schwartz] would have been the one directing folks to engage on Twitter on this.”
This is what the Scum Factory Wing of Conservatism is now putting out, Ann Coulter: Obama’s Actions “Led To Our Ambassador Being Killed” In Libya. If that is the kind of logic, the kind of lines we’re going to draw between cause and effect, than radical terrorists attacked us on 9-11-2001 because Bush was clueless and saw Republicans as weak on national security. Bush was in fact criminally negligent, yet to conservative poopahs like Coulter, Bush is the paragon of conservative national security credentials. This is probably not the last word on the subject, but conservative, the far Right of whom Coulter and Romney are paid up members, may be partly responsible for the deaths of American embassy personnel in Libya, American Who Sparked Libya, Egypt Unrest Hates Obama, Hearts the GOP
Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-American anti-Muslim activist, managed in one week’s time to take an overlooked YouTube video featuring a lame attack on Islam and turn it into a flashpoint with violent extremists, with deadly consequences. As the New York Times reported last night, Sadek drew attention to the obscure video clip “in an Arabic-language blog post and an e-mail newsletter in English publicizing the latest publicity stunt of the Florida pastor Terry Jones, reviled in the Muslim world for burning copies of the Koran.” Within days the clip was making the rounds in Egypt, prompting denunciations from politicians and generating press coverage, and culminating in protests and a deadly attack in Libya.
Sadek, who has worked with Jones in the past, says he is fighting for the rights of his fellow Coptic Christians in Egypt. Unfortunately he seems much more focused on attacking Muslims than helping the Copts. Sadek pulled his Facebook profile around 1 pm today, but we were able to take a look beforehand. Here’s what we found.
Sadek is a supporter of ACT! for America, which believes that President Obama has embraced the Muslim Brotherhood. The group rallied its supporters last month behind Michelle Bachmann’s anti-Muslim witch hunt against Huma Abedin and others. Here’s Sadek with ACT! For America president Brigitte Gabriel at one of the group’s 2010 events.
Sadek is a man of many interests. He’s a member of these groups, among many others: Islam is of the Devil, Warriors of Christ, and OBAMA IS THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER! Agree?. Sadek is also a fan of the Republican Party, George Bush, Allen West (for president no less!), and number of other Islamophobic, conservative and/or Republican institutions and leaders. Ironically enough, he’s also a fan of the American embassy in Cairo, which was overrun by the protests that he sparked:
Another instigator may be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and the film maker often mentioned – a Sam Bacile – are the same person – at least it looks that way according to this report from the AP, California man confirms role in anti-Islam film
Nakoula denied he directed the film and said he knew the self-described filmmaker, Sam Bacile. But the cell phone number that AP contacted Tuesday to reach the filmmaker who identified himself as Sam Bacile traced to the same address near Los Angeles where AP found Nakoula. Federal court papers said Nakoula’s aliases included Nicola Bacily, Erwin Salameh and others.
Nakoula told the AP that he was a Coptic Christian and said the film’s director supported the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims.
Nakoula denied he had posed as Bacile. During a conversation outside his home, he offered his driver’s license to show his identity but kept his thumb over his middle name, Basseley. Records checks by the AP subsequently found it and other connections to the Bacile persona.
This all may have played right into a radical Islamic group in Libya who used the film as pretense for the attack. U.S. Launching Apparent Terrorist Hunt In Libya
The Obama administration, roiled by the first killing of a U.S. ambassador in more than 30 years, has begun what appears to be a terrorist hunt in Libya, as evidence mounts that the deaths of four diplomatic workers there were perpetrated by well-armed thugs and not an out-of-control crowd.
CBS News correspondent David Martin reports the FBI has opened an investigation into the deaths, and agents will be sent to sift through the wreckage for evidence. They will be accompanied by a second team sent just for their protection.
As part of the hunt for the attackers, officials say the U.S. will increase its surveillance over Libya, including the use of unmanned drones. In addition, the U.S. Navy is positioning two destroyers armed with cruise missiles off the coast of Libya.
One destroyer, the USS Laboon, moved to a position off the coast Wednesday, and the USS McFaul is en route and should be stationed off the coast within days. Officials said the ships, which carry Tomahawk cruise missiles, do not have a specific mission. But they give commanders flexibility to respond to any mission ordered by the president.
The investigation will focus on whether the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya was a planned terrorist strike to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and not a spontaneous mob enraged over an anti-Islam YouTube video.
After the attack, an elite anti-terrorist unit of about 40 Marines was flown in to beef up security at the American embassy in the capital of Tripoli.
The preposterous Republican claim that President Obama has been weak on fighting terrorists is a feeble attempt for the same folks who failed us with the Iraq quagmire to deflect credit where due, The Terrorist Notches on Obama’s Belt
The list of senior terrorists killed during the Obama presidency is fairly extensive.
There’s Osama bin Laden, of course, killed in May.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Anwar al-Awlaki as of today.
Earlier this month officials confirmed that al Qaeda’s chief of Pakistan operations, Abu Hafs al-Shahri, was killed in Waziristan, Pakistan.
In August, ‘Atiyah ‘Abd al-Rahman, the deputy leader of al Qaeda was killed.
In June, one of the group’s most dangerous commanders, Ilyas Kashmiri, was killed in Pakistan. In Yemen that same month, AQAP senior operatives Ammar al-Wa’ili, Abu Ali al-Harithi, and Ali Saleh Farhan were killed. In Somalia, Al-Qa’ida in East Africa (AQEA) senior leader Harun Fazul was killed.
Administration officials also herald the recent U.S./Pakistani joint arrest of Younis al-Mauritani in Quetta.
Going back to August 2009, Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan leader Baitullah Mahsud was killed in Pakistan.
In September of that month, Jemayah Islamiya operational planner Noordin Muhammad Top was killed in Indonesia, and AQEA planner Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was killed in Somalia.
Then in December 2009 in Pakistan, al Qaeda operational commanders Saleh al-Somali and ‘Abdallah Sa’id were killed.
In February 2010, in Pakistan, Taliban deputy and military commander Abdul Ghani Beradar was captured; Haqqani network commander Muhammad Haqqani was killed; and Lashkar-e Jhangvi leader Qari Zafar was killed.
In March 2010, al Qaeda operative Hussein al-Yemeni was killed in Pakistan, while senior Jemayah Islamiya operative Dulmatin – accused of being the mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombings – was killed during a raid in Indonesia.
In April 2010, al Qaeda in Iraq leaders Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi were killed.
In May, al Qaeda’s number three commander, Sheik Saeed al-Masri was killed.
In June 2010 in Pakistan, al Qaeda commander Hamza al-Jawfi was killed.
Remember when Rudy Giuliani warned that electing Barack Obama would mean that the U.S. played defense, not offense, against the terrorists?
If this is defense, what does offense look like?
Finally it is unfair to label all Libyans and all Muslims killers based on events in Libya, from which these photos were taken, ‘This Does Not Represent Us’: Moving Photos of Pro-American Rallies in Libya
Under another photo, with a man who appears to be the father of the two children, at the link is this caption, “Update: In the photo above, the sign held by the man on the far left says “No to al Qaeda, no to violence, this is a youth revolution.” The middle one says, “No No No to Al Qaeda.” The sign held by the boy on the right is hard to read at this angle, but says something against killing.”.