Via Mediaite: CBS 60 Minutes’ Lara Logan Apologizes for Erroneous Benghazi Survivor Report: ‘We Were Wrong’

Full video at the link.

This blog linked to the erroneous story, too, and shares in the wrongness:

‘In late October, 60 Minutes ran a report featuring the account of British security expert Dylan Davies – though he called himself Morgan Jones – who recounted in detail his actions in the early morning hours during the Benghazi attack.

It was later revealed that Davies told the FBI he did not visit the American diplomatic compound on the night of the attack and had not, as he claimed, seen the body of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.’

Apologies.   Journalists and even rogue bloggers need to get the facts right as much as possible and use good judgment, even prudence, when in doubt.

This issue continues to be a hot-button politically while investigations continue (comments highlight the emotions and the partisan divide).

In the meantime, it’s probably more worthwhile to be thinking about how to come-up with a budget that lines-up with our expectations, tactics that line-up with strategy, and a strategy that lines-up to what’s possible politically at home, and what’s happening on the ground in other countries.

Update: Instead of using all available channels to pressure the Iranian regime from getting deliverable nukes, Obama has been easing those crippling economic sanctions to gain leverage.  More here.  This is probably not going to position us well at all.

Addition:  Eli Lake at the Daily Beast: Benghazi’s Al Qaeda Connection.

Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘U.S. Officials Knew Libya Attacks Were Work of Al Qaeda Affiliates’ From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Via Reuters: ‘U.S. Ambassador To Libya Killed In Benghazi Attack’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanFrom The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

Lara Logan At 60 Minutes Via Youtube-More on Benghazi

Update:  How reliable is that British contractor, anyways?

Logan interviews a British soldier hired to provide security to our mission in Benghazi, who was on-scene in the weeks leading-up to and during the attack.

Full embedded video can be viewed here at Legal Insurrection (addition: or CBS).

My takeaway, for what it’s worth: There were plenty of direct warnings that Benghazi was highly unsafe, and that the American mission there was specifically being targeted by Al Qaeda and enemy forces.   It was very risky to be there at that point, with unreliable, local security forces, relatively un-secure locations, and with Al Qaeda flags flying all over town.

After both the attack and the order to stand down during the attack, I suspect official messages given to the American public were part of a larger strategy:  To forward liberal internationalist policy and keep the administration’s goals in view.  They wanted to keep a lid on things, and not provoke other uprisings which were going on at the time throughout the Middle-East.   Basically, the State department didn’t want to rock the boat too much and was directed to continue the PR campaign to soothe the Arab Street in order to further the idea of democratic activism and grass-roots Arab-Spring civil unrest.  The U.S. and its military needed to be seen as a non-threatening force, subsuming itself to International institutions as well as carrots and sticks for democracy promotion.

Basically, I attribute very risky decision-making and possible incompetence for our decision to still be there under those conditions.  Perhaps there were other operations going on, as you never get all the facts, and it seems Chris Stevens was particularly dedicated.  I attribute incompetence and possibly other motives regarding the decision to stand-down and the ‘not a planned attack’ response the administration gave to the American people.  This could range from aggressively staying-on-message (look at Syria and Iran, as this administration’s proven to hold particularly idealistic objectives and a lack of strategy) to poor leadership to political calculation and maintaining the appearance of meeting political objectives despite obvious contrary evidence.

Tell me what I’m missing!

Any thoughts and comments are welcome

See previous posts below which indicate that if there was a cover-up, it likely has as much to do with CIA operations in the area.

Update:  See what’s become a very embarrassing story for Lara Logan: Via Mediaite: CBS 60 Minutes’ Lara Logan Apologizes for Erroneous Benghazi Survivor Report: ‘We Were Wrong’

Addition:  Thanks for the link: Eli Lake at the Daily Beast: Benghazi’s Al Qaeda Connection.

Related On This SiteLara Logan On Afghanistan Via Youtube: ’2012 BGA Annual Luncheon Keynote Speech’

Conor Friedersdorf At The Atlantic-’The Attack In Benghazi: Worth Investigating After All’

Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘U.S. Officials Knew Libya Attacks Were Work of Al Qaeda Affiliates’ From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Via Reuters: ‘U.S. Ambassador To Libya Killed In Benghazi Attack’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanFrom The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

Just how far Left is this administration anyways? Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Horror And Hope-Some Links On Rebuilding After 9/11

It’s taken the dedication and quiet determination of many people, working purposefully, in memory of what was lost that day.  9/11 still hovers beneath many of the debates we’re having about our freedom and security, commerce and law, immigration and openness.

We’re in a kind of war, but it’s not always clear who the enemy is.  Terrorism strikes on our soil, then melts away into the night.  It’s a religiously inspired ideology with few boundaries, an ‘-ism’ of the worst kind, with followers who remain both pathetic and dangerous.  We’ll have to keep dealing with the higher consequences and lower probability of future attacks.

Despite this, we go on with our lives.

The Freedom Tower, with spire recently attached, makes it the tallest in the Western Hemisphere at 1,776 feet.

It has extra-thick set concrete and blast-proof, or, very thick, glass.  Naturally, it’s going to be a high-value target.

Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish architect, was hired to build the transportation hub at the memorial.  The NY Times had an unfavorable review as the costs have ballooned from $2.2 billion to potentially $3.8 billion dollars.

A boondoggle?:

‘Even so, Mr. Calatrava remains unable to overcome the project’s fatal flaw: the striking incongruity between the extravagance of the architecture and the limited purpose it serves. The result is a monument to the creative ego that celebrates Mr. Calatrava’s engineering prowess but little else.’

A somewhat critical piece by Paul Goldberger at the New Yorker of how the process has gone, published September 12th, 2011:

‘Ten years on, the long-term shape of Ground Zero is coming into focus. It is turning out to be one part Daniel Libeskind to several parts Larry Silverstein, the real-estate developer who held the lease on the World Trade Center. Silverstein asked various architects to build skyscrapers on the site, none of whom, at least so far, have produced anything close to their best work.’

A more stirring, Tom Hanks-narrated, video originally shown at the 10th anniversary summit in Washington D.C.  I’m not sure I’m trusting of D.C. these days and the ‘greatness’ model to be able to get things done:

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You can look into those holes, the water flowing down and away:

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And down there seven stories below ground is where the museum will be, where many of the bodies remain, unrecovered:

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Related On This Site: The end of the ‘greatness’ model?: From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?From 2 Blowhards-We Need The Arts: A Sob Story

A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

Joan Miro: WomanGoya’s ColossusGoya’s Fight With Cudgels… Goethe’s Color Theory: Artists And ThinkersA Reaction To Jeff Koons ‘St John The Baptist’

From The NY Times: ‘Atheists Sue to Block Display of Cross-Shaped Beam in 9/11 Museum’

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Lara Logan On Afghanistan Via Youtube: ‘2012 BGA Annual Luncheon Keynote Speech’

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There are real enemies, and real dangers, facing the U.S.  The current administration has a big stake in claiming that Al Qaida and the Taliban are on the wane in Afghanistan, and that the timeline for withdrawal in 2014 is sound, even though ending the war in Afghanistan is not necessarily our objective (preventing another terrorist attack on our soil and protecting our way of life is our objective). This administration also claims that through its liberal internationalist doctrine, Libya has been a success and that the Benghazi attack wasn’t the result of an Al Qaida affiliate (it was the result of an Al Qaida affliliate). It’s conducting a lengthy FBI investigation while claiming that the persecutors will be brought to justice.

Logan, reporting from Afghanistan on the ground for many years, has been observing how that threat is very real.

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I put this up before:

Here’s a quote from Anne-Marie Slaughter, on liberal internationalism:

The central liberal internationalist premise is the value of a rules-based international order that restrains powerful states and thereby reassures their enemies and allies alike and allows weaker states to have sufficient voice in the system that they will not choose to exit’

What if you can’t even appease extreme and radical groups of violent Muslims as they murder your troops, diplomats and citizens, let alone get them on-board some sort of ‘rules-based international order’?

What if there is such a chasm between Western and Muslim civilizations that even less violent Muslims on the street have no clue as to the concepts we’re defending, and why, and have little to no incentive to expel the extremists from their own societies?

What if you go so far down this path that you are, or least appear to be, willing to bend on a key issue and core freedom for our country as well as our national security?

Addition: A State Department Background Briefing On Libya; a conference call transcript of some of what happened during the attack.

Related On This Site: From Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘Exclusive: Libya Cable Detailed Threats’

I don’t believe that we can appease Islamic extremists, which is the whole premise of this administration’s approach…blunt American power and incentivize Muslim societies to drive the extreme elements out through international cooperation: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘U.S. Officials Knew Libya Attacks Were Work of Al Qaeda Affiliates’ From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Via Reuters: ‘U.S. Ambassador To Libya Killed In Benghazi Attack’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanFrom The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

Just how far Left is this administration anyways? Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

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A Few Thoughts On (Absolute) Idealism, Both Religious And Political/Philosophical

Below is a challenge I don’t think I’ve met:

Here’s a video of a recent NYU protest:

Of course this is an absurd example of leftist protest, one which the real radicals would find a pale imitation of real protest.   Yet, a recognizable youthful idealism is on display here; an earnest attempt of applying highly abstract political and philosophical ideals to current circumstances and direct experience.

Here’s some of the philosophical backstory from wikipedia:

“The guiding ideal behind Hegel’s absolute idealism is the scientific thought, which he shares with Plato and other great idealist thinkers, that the exercise of reason and intellect enables the philosopher to know ultimate historical reality”

Addition:  Hegel was an idealist because empirical reality is not knowable to us, but is always mediated by the mind to some extent (after Kant), but unlike Kant, that reality isn’t attributable to categories of thought which yield genuine knowledge of the physical world (Kant was an empirical realist, influenced by Newton’s Principia and keep in mind Kant failed in his aim to put metaphysics on the same ground as the sciences).

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Such absolute idealism can pose real danger to individual liberty as can all folks seeking to institute a top down set of abstract principles… granting legitimacy to all manner of statist thinkers (who have translated that troubling relationship between individual and collective in Hegel’s work to “rational” projects which worked their way into a political philosophy and platform for actual governance for the German State…but given German piety I believe was already there to some extent), who with their followers very much believe that they are on the road to reality (serfdom?), and that such a road must be built and maintained by them.

Of course this isn’t the only influence, and it doesn’t necessarily de-legitimize Hegel’s thought either, as many other uses can be found for it even by those who don’t understand it all (of which I am one).  Francis Fukuyama, in The End Of History synthesizes Hegelian thought with many other influences (including Nietzsche, which Allan Bloom didn’t much like) into the building of neoconservatism. (which I should mention is a movement from which Fukuyama has been distancing himself since the Iraq war).

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However, I’ve been asked to come up with an intelligent connection between the political/philosophical idealism of the NYU protestors and this recent 60 minutes video, which portrays the Israeli settler situation and its religiously motivated idealism.

In the video, Israeli settlers (many of whom are young), are busy applying highly abstract religious principles as proof of their rights to the land they colonize.  It seems something of a kibbutz, where both socialism and Zionism are merged, but it is also very much religiously motivated.  Such idealism also doesn’t seem too far from Israeli nationalism (with which it may come into direct conflict through the state’s use of military force, which Israel’s elected officials and lawmakers claim they may well have to use against them).

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Perhaps the best I can come up with is what I’ve already hinted at:  a shared lack of individualism in both cases (which as an American, I may mistakenly assume has such strong roots elsewhere as it is does here).  Both groups of individuals are placing perhaps even their lives in the hands of group authority, which in turn is guided by the interpretation of highly abstract and profound ideas under which collective action is sought.

It is doubtful that any one member of either group has entirely thought the guiding ideas through, but it is likely that each of them have had many doubts…doubts which their respective groups don’t necessarily foster.

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It’s also worth pointing out that in the U.S., we have managed to create a structure in which people may believe and organize as they please, but the attendant political idealism and desire to base their principles in virtue as determined by one political party, one sitting government, or indeed one majority (and the tyranny that majority can wield over any individual) has so far been kept in check.

In addition, we have also successfully managed to develop a state in which freedom of religion is maintained, but religious idealism (and the desire to ground our principles in religious texts and belief) is also thankfully kept in check.

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I don’t know if this is a satisfactory, or even complete response, as most of what I’ve said is fairly pedestrian, over-simplified, and nothing new…

If you think you can do better, have at it.  Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

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