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Lack of Intelligence Community

Lack of Intelligence Community

Four “senior Obama Administration officials” held a press briefing yesterday regarding the attacks in Libya and Egypt.  For reasons we can only divine, they remain unnamed in the official transcript.

Near the end, NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston asked “whether there was any specific recent intelligence indicating that there was going to be a threat against the consulate” in Libya.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Dina, you won’t be surprised if we decline to talk about intelligence. I did speak a little bit earlier about our review of our security posture in advance of September 11th.

In other words, either the administration ignored warnings or the CIA and rest of the intelligence community hadn’t had a friggin’ clue—though as the New York Times reported yesterday, “the assailants seemed organized, well trained and heavily armed and appeared to have at least some level of advanced planning.”

That our intelligence community was yet again in the dark is terrifying to contemplate, especially given how our political moves vis-à-vis Iran’s nuclear program are in measure dictated by what the geniuses in Langley and elsewhere uncover.

My conclusion that this was the result of poor intelligence rather than the White House’s lack of action stems from my former acquaintanceship with a uniquely remarkable man named Jack Vaughn, who once related a story that bears directly on this subject.

There’s a great deal written about Jack on the Web, though sadly, to the best of my knowledge, he’s never penned his own memoir, which I promise you would be epic in scope.  Born in 1920, he went from growing up humbly in Michigan to being a professional boxer in Mexico, then ambassador to two Latin American countries, the second head of the Peace Corps, an undersecretary of state, and a number of positions that would be career capstones for anyone else.

Jack left government service in the late ‘70s, and in the spring of 1978 began working in a senior position for an international company that, among other things, was in charge of Iran’s water resources.

Soon after touching down in-country, he recognized an old Peace Corps volunteer who’d been posted to Iran in the early ‘60s.  This man, fluent in Farsi, was now a v.p. of Manufacturers Hanover Trust Bank.  The two met for lunch and the man blurted out, “I want you to know the revolution is already over.  All the deals have been cut and there’s a date certain when the Ayatollah’s returning.”

This was earth-shaking news that Vaughn, considering the source, believed was credible.  So he set a meeting for the guy with the U.S. Ambassador, as well as a two-star general military attaché and some high-level spooks, including the CIA station chief.

Four minutes after the meeting had begun in the embassy, the guy called Vaughn to say he’d been dismissed with a sneer.  And eight months later, his prediction came true.  To the last, the CIA missed the big happening, which seems particularly ironic given the Agency’s role in putting the shah on the throne nearly three decades earlier.

No doubt our foreign intelligence community has some excellent and capable people in it. But keep Jack Vaughn in mind the next time you hear that there’s nothing to worry about.

(If you read only one thing about Jack, read this short NYT story.)

UPDATE: Confirmed: The attacks were preplanned.  So instead of talking about what the Administration did or didn’t know and when it did or didn’t know it and why/why not on both counts, let’s keep criticizing Romney for speaking.  Either that, or let’s talk about how that girl’s provocative dress forced all those nice Muslims to rape her, as our secretary of state just did.  But if you think about it, Mrs. Clinton, you can’t on the one hand acknowledge that the violence was planned and on the other condemn a film for inciting the violence.  Please, go ahead, think about it.  I’ll wait.  This rudderless ship is making me seasick.

SECOND UPDATE: Well, they’ve rounded up the usual suspects and the show trial should be over within days.

Libyan authorities have made four arrests in the investigation into the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which the U.S. ambassador and three embassy staff were killed, the deputy interior minister said on Thursday.

“Four men are in custody and we are interrogating them because they are suspected of helping instigate the events at the U.S. consulate,” Wanis Sharif told Reuters.

He gave no more details.

What more is there to say?  By now they’re begging for the waterboard.


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Conservative Beaner | September 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm

“Those who do know history are doomed to repeat it”.

Edmund Burke

History is repeating itself and it looks like it is going to be worse.

“…In an exclusive report, Wynton Hall writes in Big Peace that there is no record of President Obama attending his daily intelligence briefing, known as the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB). Readers may check for themselves the official record.
According to a recent study by the Government Accountability Institute, Mr. Obama has only attended 43.8 percent of his Presidential Daily Briefs in the first 1,225 days of his Administration….”

Read more:

As one commenter noted “Obama 43.8% Empty chair 56.2% The intelligence community has done an excellent job in the past but what can they accomplish with a Pres’ent that is absent?
Romney’s speech was the first Presidential speech I’ve heard in almost 4 years. Especially his nice smile at the end at the hostile media questioners. Reaganest!

    GrumpyOne in reply to Ragspierre. | September 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I think that most of the material presented would just fly over his head or pass through the empty void between his ears…

      Ragspierre in reply to GrumpyOne. | September 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      Well, I guess it is just important that Pres. Jarret gets briefed in.

      She can point him in the direction he needs to go when he comes in off the course or back from the fund raiser.

The White House is behind all of this. You just watch. It will come out.

This ties in to a persistent criticism of Obama’s tendency to wage the terror war with drones. When he blows people up, there is no chance to take them to Gitmo and waterboard them for useful information.

IOW, it is possible that the strategic decision to wage the war in as hands off a way as possible was at least partially responsible for our side not having a clue that the embassy attacks were going to happen.

Partly responsible. There appears to have been some negligence of security concerns at State as well (That means YOU Hillary!)

Welcome to LI, Mr. Engel. It’s nice to see that you’ve hit the ground running.

The thing about the guvmnt is that they don’t know what they don’t know.

And unlike the private sector, where if you B.S. all the time you will eventually get caught, these guys can give bad briefs all day long, but if nothing happens, they’re in the clear. They face NO downside risk.

they are not in the dark. They were warned. In advance.

And they chose to let this happen.

Now, try to answer the question: why?

Huma Mahmood Abedin
look no further.

9thDistrictNeighbor | September 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Welcome to the world of September 10, 2001; January 15, 1979; and “Challenger, go with throttle up.”

The problem with people learning from history, is that they INTEND to repeat it. And so if YOU don’t learn from history, you’re going to repeat the parts of it they want.

NC Mountain Girl | September 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Over at Powerline they likened these attacks to Taleb’s black swan theory. In politic have have found there are seldom true black swans. Almost all of the time there are some very solid indicators that something big is about to happen. But the clues don’t fit the boss’s pet theories or the favored narrative or and are thus ignored or explained away. Those who look outside the ordinary sources are often not caught by surprise.

If you ignore Obama’s words, and look at the his actions, it’s almost like Obama went into the WH with the goal of paving the way for the destruction of Israel.
But that would be crazy, right?

    DemNoMore in reply to votermom. | September 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Not to nitpick, but I believe you inadvertently omitted the words “and the United States” at the end of your first sentence.

Both the State Department and the CIA need to be rebuilt entirely. There are far too many entrenched career employees in both agencies that have their own agenda.

The intelligence community does not create policy. It only gathers intel. The intel community is generally competent in collecting intel. People at the top make the call about what to do with the intel.

    nomadic100 in reply to Sally Paradise. | September 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    I don’t understand the comment. Simply put, there are the spies, the data collectors, and the analysts. If the analysts don’t like the direction the synthesized information points to, it doesn’t reach the policy makers.

Lived in tripoli as a young child, from what I remember through the years it was common knowledge not to trust the U.S. embassy. Not that they would give you bad info, just that the info was always waaaaay too late. You want good info, talk to the oil company people on the ground, they will always give you the lay of the land.

Yes Sally, career employees that now abound in the intelligence agencies and only care about safeguarding their positions and pensions.

    I would say that most intel employees love their country and love what they do. Yes, they make a career out of it.

    There are “entrenched” politicians who control policy but not their egos, i.e., Empty Chair.

    Osama Bin Laden could have been taken out many times before his final day.

    Owen J in reply to MAB. | September 14, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Do you speak from experience? If you claim to, post your real name, the position you hold [held], and who you work[ed] for. Then we’ll see if I know you.

Central Planners always assume that they can control a mob…..

Obama’s peeps are out saying (paraphrased with sarc) “Obama reads the briefings in his residence, and is smarter than all advisers so never needs to ask any questions. Bush is illiterate so needed them read to him and explained. The Won’s method is obviously superior.”

Of course reality is probably … Obama wants to sleep in and eat his waffles in peace. He doesn’t need to read the briefings because all his responses are scripted anyway.

Does anyone think even if obama had attended 100% of those briefings he would have made a decision or anything about the embassies would be any different. He had to be dragged kicking and screaming to out osama.

    nomadic100 in reply to BarbaraS. | September 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Well, yes, had he been aware that trouble was brewing, he might have responded differently because, even for a Muslim president, deaths of U.S. personnel are not politically helpful.

[…] mainstream media focusing more on what Mitt Romney said about the Mideast violence than about the failures of intelligence or policy that led to it, any news executive who insists that mainstream reporters are simply […]

Is this a repetition of the way that “great” president Clinton governed? You know, kept those dirty men and women in uniform far away and the agencies did not talk to each other (thanks Granholm).

Staffer: “Mr. President, will you be attending the intelligence briefing?”

Obama: “Naw, got plenty. More’n anybody else.”

Seems to me that this being Obama’s big reelection year and the impending foreign affairs crises Iran, Libya, and Egypt is likely not a coincidence. Obama and Axelrod, et. al., probably think some kind of military action about right now would be a great boost for Obama’s numbers. But the little boy-king would be best advised to tread cautiously. These kinds of adventures do not always have the outcomes he seems to expect. It could just as easily blow up in his face, and given his dominant leading traits of narcissism, arrogance, and ignorance, it seems all the more likely that it will blow up in his face.

Meanwhile, the country is in the very best of hands.

From Bill’s Hillary link:

“Now I know it is hard for some people to understand why the United States cannot or does not just prevent these kinds of reprehensible videos from ever seeing the light of day,” Clinton said. “Even if it were possible, our country does have a long tradition of free expression, which is enshrined in our Constitution and our law. And we do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views, no matter how distasteful they may be.”

It’s not just a “long tradition”, you mealy-mouthed two-faced power-lusting demagogic hypocrite. It’s a fundamental human right, justifiable under natural law and as God-given. Someone who won’t bluntly say so has no business representing America in the world community.

Hopefully Romney will keep hammering. Hopefully he will not be dissuaded by “prudent” RINO advice.

Heard on Rush today that the US Marine Guards at the Cairo embassy were under Obama Regime orders to carry NO LIVE AMMO. WT*!!??

My personal feeling is that we could eliminate most of society’s issues if we made it illegal for anyone for the liberal arts degree to work for the government in any capacity. Their compassion will be the death of us all.

    9thDistrictNeighbor in reply to imfine. | September 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Mighty broad brush you’re painting with, there. Not everyone with a liberal arts degree is spaghetti-spined.

9thDistrictNeighbor | September 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm
I second that!

Intel is certainly important, but the US consulate in Benghazi was attacked with an IED just three months ago on June 6th, not the sort of event that requires extensive analysis to point the way, in fact, I’d say that sort of thing clearly calls for increased security, but who am I to question….. SMART POWER.

We have not had any human intelligence operatives for at least 30 years. The CIA was effectively castrated and infiltrated with political hacks. Recall the report that came out during the Bush administration pooh poohing Iran’s nuclear program undermining a sitting president.