Top Dem calls for public testimony on Benghazi

Top Dem calls for public testimony on Benghazi

In this Sept. 14, 2012 file photo, Libyan military guards check one of the U.S. Consulate's burnt out buildings during a visit by Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif, not shown, to the U.S. Consulate to express sympathy for the death of the American ambassador, Chris Stevens and his colleagues in the deadly attack on the Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Senior State Department officials pressed for changes in the talking points that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used after the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya last September, expressing concerns that Congress might criticize the Obama administration for ignoring warnings of a growing threat in Benghazi.

In this Sept. 14, 2012 file photo, Libyan military guards check one of the U.S. Consulate’s burnt out buildings during a visit by Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif, not shown, to the U.S. Consulate to express sympathy for the death of the American ambassador, Chris Stevens and his colleagues in the deadly attack on the Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Senior State Department officials pressed for changes in the talking points that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used after the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya last September, expressing concerns that Congress might criticize the Obama administration for ignoring warnings of a growing threat in Benghazi. / Mohammad Hannon/AP
Written by
Philip Elliott
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the House Oversight panel said Monday that the authors of an independent investigation into the deadly assault in Benghazi, Libya, should answer questions about their work at a congressional hearing, not in a private deposition that the Republicans want.

“If our committee is truly interested in improving the security of American diplomatic personnel overseas, members of our committee and the American public should hear first-hand from the individuals who have done the most exhaustive review of these attacks,” Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland wrote in a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the panel’s chairman.

In a Sunday talk show appearance, Issa said he would seek sworn testimony from veteran diplomat Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two conducted an independent investigation of the Sept. 11 attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Their report was highly critical of the State Department’s handling of at the U.S. outpost. Pickering, who also appeared on the Sunday shows, defended his scathing assessment but absolved former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“We knew where the responsibility rested,” said Pickering, whose career working for Republican and Democratic administrations, spans four decades.

Issa said he wants to know with whom the pair spoke to reach their conclusions about Clinton. Cummings suggested that they testify in public before the committee on May 22.

“This is a failure, it needs to be investigated. Our committee can investigate. Now, Ambassador Pickering, his people and he refused to come before our committee,” Issa said Sunday.

Pickering, sitting next to Issa during an appearance on one Sunday show, disputed the chairman’s account and said that he was willing to testify before the committee.

“That is not true,” said the former top diplomat, referring to Issa’s claim that he refused to appear before the committee.

Guatemala Genocide Case Pressures Leader

Guatemala Genocide Case Pressures Leader

By NICHOLAS CASEY

[image]European Pressphoto AgencyNobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú, right, rejoices after the sentencing of Guatemala’s ex-dictator, Efraín Ríos Montt, on Friday.

The genocide conviction of a former Guatemalan dictator is putting the country’s current president, Otto Pérez Molina, on the defensive, based on testimony in the trial that he participated in war crimes as a regional commander under the former leader.

On Friday, Efraín Ríos Montt was given an 80-year sentence for charges of genocide and crimes against humanity related to the killings of 1,771 indigenous inhabitants of a mountainous region during the height of the country’s civil war in 1982 and 1983.

During the trial, a witness said Mr. Pérez Molina had participated in deadly campaigns as a regional commander there under a pseudonym. After the verdict, the judge in the case instructed prosecutors to begin investigations of other military personnel in the region responsible for wartime crimes under Mr. Ríos Montt.

The judge didn’t cite any names and the Guatemalan Attorney General’s office declined to comment.

On Saturday, Mr. Pérez Molina gave a tense televised interview in which he acknowledged he had been a commander under Mr. Ríos Montt in the same region and used the pseudonym cited in the trial. But he denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the judge’s ruling that genocide had occurred.

“This has now become destabilizing for the president,” said Anita Isaacs, a Guatemala political science expert at Haverford College. “He has been put into the mix now.”

Mr. Pérez Molina didn’t respond to a request for comment sent on Sunday to a member of his cabinet. As president, Mr. Pérez Molina is immune from prosecution until after his term ends in 2016.

Mr. Ríos Montt, who arrived to power during a military coup and ruled for 17 months, promised to put down leftist guerrilla fighters with an iron fist.

The trial centered around military decisions made by Mr. Ríos Montt during the height of the fighting between the government and guerrillas.

Scores of witnesses testified over Mr. Ríos Montt’s soldiers during the crackdown around the town of Nebaj, relating stories of mass killings of civilians, disappearances and rapes.

Many said that entire civilian villages had been burned by soldiers, forcing thousands of residents to flee for years into highlands forests as refugees.

Among the witnesses was a former army officer who accused Mr. Pérez Molina of participating in executions during Mr. Ríos Montt’s time.

Another witness in the trial, a Mayan peasant named Tiburcio Utuy, also testified in a separate investigation against Mr. Ríos Montt in Spain that Mr. Pérez Molina ordered him to be tortured in the 1980s.

Mr. Utuy wasn’t asked about Mr. Pérez Molina in the Guatemala trial because the current president wasn’t the trial’s focus.

Almudena Bernabéu, a human-rights attorney with the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability, said many Nebaj residents remember Mr. Pérez Molina from when he was a regional commander and say they witnessed war crimes that he carried out.

In a 2011 article about human rights crimes related to torture accusations against Mr. Pérez Molina during 1982 and 1983, The Wall Street Journal interviewed six other villagers from towns he commanded who accused him and soldiers he commanded in killing civilians whom the witnesses said had nothing to do with rebels.

Among those who named Mr. Pérez Molina in the killings were two of the men he commanded at the time.

In an interview in 2011, Mr. Pérez Molina, then a presidential candidate, denied any wrongdoing.

“These are lies,” he said. “There has not been one person who has been able to go to a court to say that Otto Pérez had responsibility in a single human rights violation.”

Guatemala’s institutions, from its courtrooms to police, all declined during the war, which left more than 200,000 people dead and pitted right-wing military governments against leftist guerrillas. Since the war’s end in 1996, drug gangs have reached into Guatemala, weakening it further.

Mr. Ríos Montt is expected to appeal last week’s ruling.

Write to Nicholas Casey at nicholas.casey@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications
The Wall Street Journal article and interviews about torture accusations against Otto Pérez Molina were in 2011. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said they were in 2010.

Mission to Mars Becomes Most Desired Job in History

Mission to Mars Becomes Most Desired Job in History
May 13, 2013 • From theTrumpet.com
What’s behind mankind’s deep-rooted urge to explore and push beyond what is known?
BY JEREMIAH JACQUES

 

Mars One—a project aiming to build a permanent human settlement on Mars—announced on May 7 that it had already received 78,000 applications from people seeking to participate in the milestone program. This staggering number of applicants, received in the space of just two weeks, makes it the most applied-for job in human history.

Mars One plans to land four people on the Red Planet in 2023 as the first phase of a permanent Martian colony, and to send more astronauts every two years thereafter. Although plans for the colony are still in preliminary phases, the designs show that it may look something like this.

But the catch is that participants would spend the rest of their lives in the tiny, tiny colony on Mars, with no chance of ever returning to Earth. It is largely this detail—the permanence of the position—that makes the high number of applicants so significant.

Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp said he was surprised by the number of hopefuls. “The fact that we are already at such a significant level in just two weeks time surprised us positively,” he said, explaining that they hope to attract a total of half a million applicants before the deadline.

The staggering number of hopefuls takes on even greater significance in light of the application fee, which ranges from $5 to $75 depending on the prosperity of the applicant’s home nation.

Why are so many people from so many nations eager to leave Earth forever behind and live out the rest of their lives in the most spartan of circumstances on Mars?

The earliest chapters of history show that mankind is imbued with a deep-rooted urge to thrust beyond what is known, and to discover new domains and opportunities. Man’s restless spirit has pushed us to the highest peaks and the deepest ocean depths; sailing to the planet’s every corner and then soaring off Earth altogether. Fame, adventure, escape and myriad other considerations factor into the allure of Mars One and other exploration opportunities. But there is another key aspect of man’s drive to discover.

King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (English Standard Version). About this verse, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible says, “God has placed in the inborn constitution of man the capability of conceiving of eternity, the struggle to apprehend the everlasting .…” Our Creator planted within us a longing for something beyond ourselves, something transcendent. It is actually a longing for God, and a desire to realize our potential with Him (though very few presently know anything about the incredible potential mankind has).

Isaiah 45:18 shows that God’s desire is for mankind to move out onto Mars and beyond. “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited.”

This jaw-dropping verse, alongside Hebrews 1 and Romans 8, reveals that God designed the whole universe—not just Earth—to be inhabited. He did not create it in vain, just to be an ornament.

Of the half a million people expected to apply for Mars One, only four will ultimately be accepted. But each one of those people—and the vast majority of all men who have ever lived—have the potential to go far beyond Mars, and to inhabit the whole universe!

Mankind’s ultimate destiny lies out among the stars.Mars One

Ron Paul: What No One Wants to Hear About Benghazi

What No One Wants to Hear About Benghazi
http://tinyurl.com/c4qpkjl

 

May 13, 2013

***Please note: This is the temporary home for my weekly column until my personal web page is up and running.***
What No One Wants to Hear About Benghazi
Congressional hearings, White House damage control, endless op-eds, accusations, and defensive denials. Controversy over the events in Benghazi last September took center stage in Washington and elsewhere last week. However, the whole discussion is again more of a sideshow. Each side seeks to score political points instead of asking the real questions about the attack on the US facility, which resulted in the death of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Republicans smell a political opportunity over evidence that the Administration heavily edited initial intelligence community talking points about the attack to remove or soften anything that might reflect badly on the president or the State Department.
Are we are supposed to be shocked by such behavior? Are we supposed to forget that this kind of whitewashing of facts is standard operating procedure when it comes to the US government?
Democrats in Congress have offered the even less convincing explanation for Benghazi, that somehow the attack occurred due to Republican sponsored cuts in the security budget at facilities overseas. With a one trillion dollar military budget, it is hard to take this seriously.
It appears that the Administration scrubbed initial intelligence reports of references to extremist Islamist involvement in the attacks, preferring to craft a lie that the demonstrations were a spontaneous response to an anti-Islamic video that developed into a full-out attack on the US outpost.
Who can blame the administration for wanting to shift the focus? The Islamic radicals who attacked Benghazi were the same people let loose by the US-led attack on Libya. They were the rebels on whose behalf the US overthrew the Libyan government. Ambassador Stevens was slain by the same Islamic radicals he personally assisted just over one year earlier.
But the Republicans in Congress also want to shift the blame. They supported the Obama Administration’s policy of bombing Libya and overthrowing its government. They also repeated the same manufactured claims that Gaddafi was “killing his own people” and was about to commit mass genocide if he were not stopped. Republicans want to draw attention to the President’s editing talking points in hopes no one will notice that if the attack on Libya they supported had not taken place, Ambassador Stevens would be alive today.
Neither side wants to talk about the real lesson of Benghazi: interventionism always carries with it unintended consequences. The US attack on Libya led to the unleashing of Islamist radicals in Libya. These radicals have destroyed the country, murdered thousands, and killed the US ambassador. Some of these then turned their attention to Mali which required another intervention by the US and France.
Previously secure weapons in Libya flooded the region after the US attack, with many of them going to Islamist radicals who make up the majority of those fighting to overthrow the government in Syria. The US government has intervened in the Syrian conflict on behalf of the same rebels it assisted in the Libya conflict, likely helping with the weapons transfers. With word out that these rebels are mostly affiliated with al Qaeda, the US is now intervening to persuade some factions of the Syrian rebels to kill other factions before completing the task of ousting the Syrian government. It is the dizzying cycle of interventionism.
The real lesson of Benghazi will not be learned because neither Republicans nor Democrats want to hear it. But it is our interventionist foreign policy and its unintended consequences that have created these problems, including the attack and murder of Ambassador Stevens. The disputed talking points and White House whitewashing are just a sideshow.
Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

Live Terror Drills

 

In Feb. 1933 the German Nazis burned the Reichstag and blamed the Communists, which gave the Nazis the excuse to arrest many Communists. With the Communists out of power, the Nazis went from being a plurality party to a majority party. The fire also gave the Nazis an excuse to suspend civil liberties.

The “terror attacks” listed above follow the same model. The government takes our tax dollars and sets up a terror drill. The patsy is an innocent volunteer, a person such as Adam Lanza. (The murderous government officials can set up numerous patsies, as with 9/11.)

When the drill goes live, thugs kill innocent citizens and the innocent volunteer, who is the patsy. The controlled media believes the Big Lies from authority figures, and reports the Big Lies without independent investigation. The government, having used our tax dollars to kill citizens with impunity, now has an excuse to restrict civil liberties such as by pushing for more gun control.

 

 

Curl: Watch out for Petraeus in Benghazi Scandal

CURL: Watch out for Petraeus in Benghazi scandal
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By Joseph Curl Sunday, May 12, 2013

 

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Call it “Oval Office Couch Syndrome.”

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Benghazi Attack Under Microscope
By their second term “inside the bubble,” presidents have completely lost touch with reality: Aides and confidants conspire to keep the chief executive insulated from the real world — the bad news, the worse press coverage. They think it’s their job, and lounging on the Oval Office couches, they nod along with the president’s every musing.

But this presidency has taken OOCS to new heights. Mr. Obama has only a few trusted aides, and occasional leaks from the West Wing show a paranoid president suspicious of nearly everyone around him. Supremely confident, convinced by the fawning minions at his feet that he is untouchable, the president dismisses all controversy as partisan attacks by an overzealous opposition. A pliant press corps of stenographers follows in lockstep.

Not surprisingly, every president in the past 60 years has had a major scandal in Term 2: Dwight Eisenhower had the U-2 “incident”; Richard Nixon had Watergate; Ronald Reagan had Iran-Contra; Bill Clinton had Monica (literally); George W. Bush had Katrina (and let’s not forget those WMDs that never turned up); and now, this president has Benghazi.

Make no mistake: Benghazi is a major scandal. Benghazi is a scandal before, during and after the terrorist attack that left four Americas dead, including an ambassador.

For months before, there were warnings about weak security at the U.S. Consulate in Libya; no one paid attention. During the attack, when Americans were begging for help, the White House ignored their pleas, sent no help.

And after? That’s when the Obama scandal falls into the predictable second-term pattern his predecessors all learned the very hard way. Faced with a crisis, the Obama White House panicked. “We can’t have a terrorist strike two months before Election Day, so … let’s not have a terrorist strike two months before Election Day.” Cue the Cover-Up.

So little is known about what happened in Benghazi: Where was the commander in chief that night? No pictures from the Situation Room this time. Why didn’t the Pentagon authorize a quick-response team to swoop in? Members of the military say they were ready — burning — to go. The call came in: Stand down. Let them die. There were dozens of witnesses to the attack that night: Where are they? What do they know? What really happened that night?

And who forced the heavy-handed redactions of those infamous “talking points,” the ones that sent Mr. Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations onto the Sunday talk shows to declare that the attack was just the culmination of a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video posted on YouTube?

Carnival barker Jay Carney looked almost ashen Friday as he took the podium to face a suddenly invigorated press corps. Of course, the public briefing came after a private session with “reporters who matter,” a sure sign the White House is in full hunker-down mode — and, more precisely, terrified.

“Again,” one newly curious reporter asked, “what role did the White House play, not just in making but in directing changes that took place to these?”

“Well,” the carney said, “thank you for that question. The way to look at this, I think, is to start from that week and understand that in the wake of the attacks in Benghazi, an effort was underway to find out what happened, who was responsible. In response to a request from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to the CIA, the CIA began a process of developing points that could be used in public by members of Congress, by members of that committee. And that process, as is always the case — again, led by the CIA — involved input from a variety of …”

Enough. You get the point: Full Spin Cycle.

. . .

For the record, this is what the CIA “generated”:
“Since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants.” That line was stricken: Everything was fine there — fine fine fine.
And: “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to Al Qaeda participated in the attack.” That line, too, was deleted by … someone. Instead, this was inserted: “There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”
Despite protestations by the White House, this scandal is just beginning. And the White House has picked a very bad scapegoat: the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA follows RFK’s edict: “Don’t get mad, get even.” And when the CIA gets even, it isn’t pretty.
With the White House putting all blame on the agency, expect push back this week — nuclear push back. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former director forced to resign after a sex scandal, is a dangerous man to the Obama administration. Mad and intent on getting even, he’s already talking, telling one reporter the talking points were “useless” and that he preferred not to use them at all. The floodgates will open this week, and by the end of business Friday, the scandal will be full blown.
A warning to those West Wing sycophants suffering from acute OOCS: Don’t walk down any dark alleys.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times and is now editor of the Drudge Report. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and @josephcurl.
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Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter