Why Benghazi is the least worrisome foreign scandal for team Obama

Benghazi is not the first foreign policy scandal for the Obama Administration. Photo: AP

NEW YORK, May 22, 2013 ― As bad as recent revelations now look regarding the tragic situation in Benghazi, President Obama and his circle of Administration, campaign and not-for-profit officials have a more serious set of problems that begs for thorough investigation.

These international policy problems include the disastrous precedents set by fomenting regime change in Egypt and trading with the enemy (Al Qaeda and affiliates) as we apparently did in Libya and Syria.

They are compounded and brought home because it seems the Obama Campaign and allies likely pressured elements within our government and in the media to shade and suppress the truth, especially in the pivotal finishing weeks of the 2012 election.

In addition to following the trail of events in Libya, it is well past time to go carefully back over recent ground in Egypt now that the mainstream press is finding its independent feet.

Only now are we beginning to appreciate just how dire the political situation was for Team Obama scant days following the President’s acceptance speech at the Democrat National Convention on September 6, 2012.

For months in 2012, Barack Obama and Joe Biden beat a relentless refrain while dancing on the grave of Osama bin Laden, proclaiming that Al Qaeda had diminished in potency, and extolling the policy of regime change.

The truth inside our pivotal ally, Egypt, was starkly different.

There, in February 2011, President Obama hitched America’s local fortunes to regime change by supporting Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, and by ejecting long-time U.S. friend, Hosni Mubarak.

This decision did not come following extended and informed public debate. Instead, the Obama Administration instigated an abrupt transition, literally in the dead of night.

By June 29, 2012, Mohammed Morsi showed his true colors to the world.

On that day, Mohammed Morsi arranged a public swearing-in ceremony as President, following a hotly contested set of elections.

Among other promises, he delighted the expectant multitudes by promising to press President Obama for compassionate release of Omar Abdel-Rahman, the odious Blind Sheikh incarcerated for carrying out multiple terrorist crimes.

President Morsi proceeded immediately thereafter on a course that created a grave Constitutional Crisis as the summer of 2012 progressed.

Meanwhile, the rights of many Egyptian women were trampled in despicable ways, including a true War on Women, for whose casualties America bears a measure of responsibility.

As the summer drew to a close, tensions mounted still higher inside Egypt.

Throngs gathered to protest against President Morsi’s moves that seemed so clearly opposite to the anticipated democratic reform.

Ominously for those who saw Cairo’s 2011 spring through the prism of American experience, competing throngs loudly and violently displayed support for President Morsi’s descent into an intolerant form of Islamic radicalism.

We know little concerning email and cable traffic among American officials contending with developments in Egypt. No doubt these would give empowered investigators essential support for understanding and then sharing with the American people exactly what U.S. Government priorities were in the days leading up to September 11, 2012.

We do know that a two-minute portion of the 14-minute film trailer entitled, “Innocence of Muslims,” aired on September 9, 2012 on Egyptian television, inflaming passions in Egypt and elsewhere. Who actually created and distributed this film remains a mystery.

At some point on September 11, 2012, Administration officials must have been horrified about developments in Cairo. Instead of the Stars and Stripes, the black flag of Islamic Jihad flew over our Embassy in Egypt’s capital city. Protestors chanting radical Islamist slogans filled the streets to over-flowing.

On September 12, 2012 in Washington, D.C. elements in the Administration should have learned dreadful news around 12:45 AM. By then, a statement was posted in English on the website of Egyptian President Morsi’s erstwhile political party, purporting to be an official English translation:

“The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) expresses strong condemnation of the film produced and promoted by U.S. Coptic Christian individuals, which deals serious insults to the Prophet Mohammed.”

According to the FJP:

“The film is certainly a blatant violation of religious sanctities, international norms and conventions on human rights which emphasize that freedom of expression must be restricted by controls within the law that safeguard public interest, in order to protect lives, morals, rights, and freedoms.”

On and immediately after September 11, 2012, staunching a swift descent into chaos within Egypt must have been of significantly greater concern even than the tragic situation in Libya.

So far, we know little concerning how our government negotiated with President Morsi to help restore stability inside Egypt and the surrounding region as American voters assessed candidates in the closing weeks of the 2012 campaign.

The month of September was critical. Nations gathered in New York for the Clinton Global Initiative and for the United Nations General Assembly. Media coverage was unrelenting and President Morsi held power then to derail President Obama’s re-election at moments when the damage done likely would have proven irreversible.

We do not know what demands President Morsi made, nor do we know what concessions the Obama Administration extended. As of now, we have no idea what sorts of back channel messages and favors operatives traded. However, we do know the dam held. The public did not learn how little regime change in Egypt helped America before November 6, 2012.

All told, Americans spend about $ 5.6 trillion annually on government. For this, you would think we deserve to know as much of the truth as is feasible to share without compromising vital national security interests.

In Egypt, the revolution America enabled is back close to the boil.

In Libya, America seems to have traded a devil we thought we had reformed in Muammar Gaddafy for seething chaos.

In Syria, America seems close, yet again, to trading the tyrant we do know for ones we shall meet.

Since September 2001, we have grown accustomed here to accepting the assumption “Government knows most” and the companion thought, “dissent may damage national interests”.

Tyranny actually does lurk in many corners, outside our borders and even inside America.

Tyranny must not find a comfortable home in the United States of America.


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Charles Ortel

Charles Ortel became a lapsed member of the silent majority in August 2007 when he began alerting the public to dangers posed by structural changes in the global economy. Since then, Charles has appeared in the print, radio and television media with increasing frequency. Brass Tacks will attempt to offer non-partisan perspective on factors contributing to the unresolved, burgeoning crisis and discuss potential solutions. Graduated from Horace Mann School, Yale College and Harvard Business School, Charles tries to learn each day.  

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