Stupidity of Benghazi report

http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/31/politics/benghazi-senate-investigation/index.html?hpt=po_c2

The first thing to remember was that there was not one attack in Benghazi, there were at least two attacks, the second being on what was supposed to be a safe house to which the parties retreated.  Apparently two persons died in the attack on the safe house, which is distinct from the security of the consulate itself. 

The defense department was criticized for not having assets close enough to intervene in the attack.

Well, do we really want armies of paratroopers that can drop anywhere within the world within 2 hours (which is too quick for formal permission from other governments and extremely dangerous in a hot zone).

There was some chatter about threats to the installation, but there always is.  

Much of it will always be nonsense and if militants know that chatter will always get a response they will generate tons of it to get people redeploying, shutting down or delaying operations and otherwise chasing their tails.  That kind of strategy may already in play to obscure what is real with tons of noise. 

The intelligence people have to determine what is credible and what isn’t, and you can’t impute a failure to them because they may have failed to identify a real threat.  In the absence of a future seeing machine like in the movie Paycheck, you never know.  

It may also be that none of the chatter that was uncovered had anything to do with the actual attack. 

So what is the intelligence community being faulted for there? Failure to use a psychic? 

Then there is the criticism that the intelligence community should have more assets in play.

It’s hard to get a serious asset who isn’t a high level traitor, and it is difficult to force those. 

With high level traitors there are a number of risks and problems, the major one being played.   They might lead people into an ambush or, as with the CIA compound bombing in Afghanistan, they might be the ambush. 

Such a person would be inherently unreliable, might switch sides again, and there would be limits to what guarantees could be offered to a person guilty of atrocities. 

Infiltration with trained US operatives is nearly impossible.  Their regimentation would stand out.  They wouldn’t be like the others.  They wouldn’t have the background and connections. 

Most difficult of all, they would probably be required to commit some minor atrocities to earn their spurs before they would be tasked with anything interesting. 

The endgame would be a difficult sell too- likely a brutal and harrowing death without accomplishing anything.  Only a masochist is going to do that for a government salary. 

Then there are minor, situational informants such as villagers that terrorists will cross paths with from time to time. 

Such persons are likely to be best at offering intelligence for drone attacks.  They are unlikely to be invited into tactical meetings.

Militants have been posting web videos of such persons being brutalized and executed for cooperating with the CIA with drone strikes.  

They aren’t trained operatives and when a strike gets called in, on some remote location with few people around, there might be one or two dozen people who could be responsible. Militants could demand to look at cell phones for call histories, or figure out who suddenly left town, look for who is suddenly flush with cash, or just see who goes to pieces when they show up asking for answers.  

The survival rate of such persons and their families is probably small and again their utility is limited.  [note: such persons are already militant bait and where feasible more militants could be picked off if they come around for revenge]

There is also a risk there of getting played and tricked into say hitting a school where a militant leader is rumored to be. 

You would get the idea from the critics of the intelligence community that getting good intelligence is easy and they are just too lazy to get it or acquire assets. 

Given the cultural divide and other factors, infiltrating the USSR was a way easier task. Infiltrating western targets might be as easy as sending somebody in with a suit and tie and resume.   That strategy doesn’t work off in the bushes. 

As for the security presence issue, considering that the Libya outpost was really a CIA operation, do we want to further hobble them by insisting that they have a high profile security presence to deter attacks?  If you want to run a more secret operation you don’t want a higher profile than necessary.

There is also the factor that you don’t want to be waving a red flag at a bull.

A big security presence of less trained marines in an unstable area may send the message “bring it on”. 

So instead of 4 dead you could wind up with a lot more.  How much do you have to increase your team before local militants can’t match you?  And then with more targets in the same space you create a target rich environment, a greater chance that any given shot is a winner. 

I wonder about the nature of the fire in the building.  The given explanation that the ambassador was trying to save documents when he was overcome by fumes doesn’t make a lot of sense, and if so his own mistake killed him, and possibly others that were waiting for him to leave. 

Given that the plan was to abandon the building, which would allow it to then be overrun, I would be surprised if the ambassador didn’t start the blaze himself.   If it is already burning then your life is easier because you don’t have to worry about militants getting a treasure trove of top secret information.  So why not just get out of there. 

To properly protect a building in that kind of a situation, you probably have to have in the order of a hundred marines, and then you have to worry about their safety too, and where to put them, and whether you need to get another location entirely which may not be where you want to be.  

On the other hand, if you have a small team, attackers may try with a smaller team and find they’ve bit off more than they can chew.  They probably won’t risk exposing hundreds of attackers and the security of their operation by involving unnecessary people and creating more visible movement if they think they are taking out a diddly operation. 

If there was a more serious security presence we can be sure that the installations would have been hit harder.  There’s no glory with Allah for them to risk their entire jihadist operation to take out a minor US storefront type operation while exposing everybody.  Turn it into a major operation and they will have more eyes on it, which may irritate the CIA, and the local network may go all-in. 

I’m still waiting to see a serious allegation of an error.  All I see from the Benghazi report and the political meddling is armchair quarterbacks with a political agenda. 

World Leaders Comeback: Who Will Return To Power In 2013? (POLL): via HuffPost

World Leaders Comeback: Who Will Return To Power In 2013? (POLL): via HuffPost http://huff.to/UA1M9I As much as I hate to say it, and as awful a leader as Berlusconni was, it might be an improvement if he does come back. In the eagerness of the eurocrats to force a “one europe” solution, they artificially turned a minor problem into a global catastrophe so they could perform hostile takeovers of entire countries. The fire got out of control. There is a huge divide between the US and Canada on one side and Europe on the other, with the European model of economic mass suicide in the name of prudence continuing there while it is almost universally considered discredited on this side of the water. The left, center and right in the US and Canada have a broad consensus that severe European style cuts don’t work. Berlusconni is a buffoon but the eurocrats tried to steal his country with smoke and mirrors and he’s the only leader in his country who has shown the balls to stand up to them. Now the country is in worse shape than he left it, the only difference being that there is less heat on the bonds front because nobody is pulling puppet strings to manufacture public panic. Watch for the same dirty tricks if he wins. The right wing is running out of marks to fleece, it was inevitable that they would eventually turn on and cannibalize each other.

Fiscal Cliff: Senate Remains Deadlocked, Mitch McConnell And Harry Reid Say (UPDATE): via HuffPost

Fiscal Cliff: Senate Remains Deadlocked, Mitch McConnell And Harry Reid Say (UPDATE): via HuffPost http://huff.to/UCsuhR Boehner is far more reasonable than McConnell. If an asteroid were heading straight at earth with a week to go, McConnell and the 40 senators who will vote with him on anything would filibuster any attempt to deal with it. Since it is moot to deal with it in the senate when nothing is going to pass the house I think throwing it at the senate just served to underscore McConnell’s problem solving ability.

As GOP Searches For Story To Tell, Marco Rubio Is Hard At Work Polishing His Own: via HuffPost

As GOP Searches For Story To Tell, Marco Rubio Is Hard At Work Polishing His Own: via HuffPost http://huff.to/UAdAJ2 Narrative is important so that people can see a human being. It’s much like how racists may have a generic dislike for a race but in some cases know and respect somebody from the group they don’t like. But that is about people being able to relate to you, which while important is not the same thing as leadership. The key ingredient of leadership is the ability to appropriately tell your people things they don’t want to hear. If you don’t ever do that neither side nor the voters will respect you. A good parent is not their child’s buddy. They are not equals. The kids do not get all the ice cream they want and get to stay up all night. You can still have a good relationship without being a doormat if you are appropriate. A good boss or supervisor is not their workers’ buddy. The business needs work done and cash flow. Setting rational rules and boundaries is not going to alienate anybody that you shouldn’t fire anyways. The relationship may actually be less strained if there are clear lines and you don’t try to be equals. If a parent or a boss becomes narcisstic, arbitrary or imperious it will backfire, but those qualities while common in people in leadership positions are antithetical to leadership and damage the credibility of the message. It is important to be balanced and appropriate. As with parents and bosses, political leaders need to decide what role they want to play. Any time two or more people are dealing with each other, each one has a choice about whether to be the adult in that relationship. If everybody makes decisions like grown-ups, life is easy. But even a child can tell you most adults don’t act like grown-ups. If you walk into a legislative chamber with 100 or even 500 people, most with degrees from Harvard or Yale, you might not find any grown-ups at all. In my experience education and IQ don’t have any particular correlation with whether people make decisions like grown-ups. Rubio is sitting on the fence right now. He’s said some things that are on point while missing the point on others. He agonized before finally agreeing that the earth is more than 10,000 years old, something he has surely always known. Rubio hasn’t quite decided if he is a leader or a buddy. Right now Bobby Jindal is the main adult among republicans, with Chris Christie doing OK.

Going Over the Cliff Is the Only Way to Save the Government – The Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/jeffrey-sachs/going-over-the-cliff-is-t_b_2380390.html?icid=hp_front_featured_art I have to agree with the above article. The Bush tax cuts were reckless and irresponsible, all of them. They served to create asset bubbles and jack up inflation without benefitting the majority. It didn’t even have that much of an effect on GDP. So what does the “fiscal cliff” really do that is bad? It reduces already inadequate social services by $50 billion. But when you look at the rest of the package it’s overwhelmingly a win. If the Bush tax cuts were extended it should only be for the bottom 20 or 40%. The military budget would only be reduced to 2007 levels- not nearly deep enough. But not more will be forthcoming until 2014 thanks to the US Supreme Court’s rubber stamping of gerrymandering, leading to gems like the democrats getting over half the House vote for Ohio but only 25% of the seats. Otherwise the democrats would have a majority in the House too and there would be nothing to discuss. That needs to be brought up with every act of republican intransigence. The republican approach to the House is minority rule through gerrymandering. The republican approach to the senate is minority rule through filibuster and other obstructionism. I generally don’t agree with austerity programs but the “fiscal cliff” is mostly not that. Mostly it undoes Bush mistakes.

More confused focus on gun control

Not Good Enough, Not By a Long Shot: via HuffPost http://huff.to/Yr0xHw More dumb stuff about “assault rifles”. So real rifles that have twice the stopping power because they don’t use those wussy .223 rounds, with ten bullet clips would be acceptable? “Assault rifle” is turning into the next “fiscal cliff”. Aaaagh! Somebody strung words together! We have to do something! A load of steaming crap. If you get shot in the head or chest at point blank range it isn’t going to save you if its done with a .22 pistol. This can’t be stressed enough: an assault rifle is just a rifle that looks cool and military instead of like a hunting rifle. It doesn’t mean the bullets are more powerful than bullets from a hunting rifle. The reverse will generally be true. It doesn’t mean that the bullets are more dangerous than bullets from a hunting rifle. The reverse will generally be true. We hear people say that assault rifles are designed to kill people, not for hunting. That is true, because most of them are too weak to take down a deer. But it is intended for military we hear. I require an explanation for how it is that having an all metal stock and barrel and slopping on green paint makes a gun more dangerous. Because that is really what is for sale and attracting the psychos. Something that looks cool and military. Lately the psychos have been wearing masks and wearing black clothing. If the premise is that if we can ban psychos from looking cool then they won’t shoot people, it would be equally logical to ban masks, including halloween masks, and black clothing. This is all missing the point. Would it be an improvement if “assault rifles” became suitable for hunting, i.e. used more powerful ammunition? So each bullet could take out several kids and the first kid in the next classroom over? Assault rifle ammo is weak and some types fragment so that you only shoot who you intend to shoot. The ammo used in Newtown was designed to limit damage. Some liberal idiot who has only seen guns in pictures and who doesn’t understand how they work shouts out something about assault rifles, because they look like what he’s seen soldiers carry in pictures in Time magazine, and now the whole gun control idea is framed around civilians not owning guns that look like they should be carried by soldiers in pictures in Time magazine. Gun nuts like guns that look like the guns carried by soldiers because it makes them feel more manly, which compensates for their low self esteem, insecurity and failures with women. Is this debate going to be about banning an image or saving lives? The debate is already being hijacked by people who don’t have a clue what they are talking about when it comes to guns. Focusing on clips with over ten bullets and weak guns with green paint or other military appearance is a complete waste of time.

Weakened Filibuster Reform Plan Unveiled In Congress By John McCain, Carl Levin: via HuffPost

Weakened Filibuster Reform Plan Unveiled In Congress By John McCain, Carl Levin: via HuffPost http://huff.to/To7qL5 Point number 2, there should be no filibusters allowed, ever, under any circumstances, talking, non-talking or quacking like a duck, except for the last vote to pass a bill into law. The motion to begin debate on a bill should be pro forma, with minimal or no debate allowed. Matters of substance require debate. Unless over half don’t agree that the bill itself is a matter of substance it should go to debate and then if people want to move it to committee before concluding the debate or want to move an amendment then that should be allowed. But to filibuster even talking about a bill is absurd. Better yet, they should have a fixed schedule for most activities other than passing a final bill and have to stick to the schedule. Have either a lump sum of time available for debate on most motions and a reasonable time allocation or for more serious matters have say thirty minutes or an hour per senator, which may be assigned to another senator by consent to allow for bigger presentations while avoiding redundancy and de facto filibusters. There should only be one chance to filibuster per bill and it should be the “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” type of scenario, and where the senator doing it will either be a goat or a hero, and if he is being a donkey then everybody can see it on TV.