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The White House ignored the State Dept’s warnings on Syria for Years

It looks like the gloves are off.  Josh Rogin at The DailyBeast reports the following this afternoon:

Throughout 2011 and well into 2012, President Obama’s White House barred Hillary Clinton’s State Department from even talking directly to the moderate Syrian rebels. This was only one of several ways the Obama team kept the Clinton team from doing more in Syria, back before the revolution was hijacked by ISIS and spread into Iraq.

The policy feud has flared up again in recent weeks, with Clinton decrying Obama’s Syria policy, Obama’s inner circle hitting back, and the president himselfcalling criticism of his Syria moves “horseshit.” Obama and his former secretary of state promised to patch things up at a social gathering on Wednesday. But the rift is deep, and years in the making.

Clinton and her senior staff warned the White House multiple times before she left office that the Syrian civil war was getting worse, that working with the civilian opposition was not enough, and that the extremists were gaining ground. The United States needed to engage directly with the Free Syrian Army, they argued; the loose conglomeration of armed rebel groups was more moderate than the Islamic forces—and begging for help from the United States. According to several administration officials who were there, her State Department also warned the White House that Iraq could fall victim to the growing instability in Syria. It was all part of a State Department plea to the president to pursue a different policy.

“The State Department warned as early as 2012 that extremists in eastern Syria would link up with extremists in Iraq. We warned in 2012 that Iraq and Syria would become one conflict,” said former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. “We highlighted the competition between rebel groups on the ground, and we warned if we didn’t help the moderates, the extremists would gain.”

But the warnings, which also came from other senior officials—including then-CIA chief David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta—fell on deaf ears. Obama’s small circle of White House foreign policy advisers resisted efforts to make connections with rebel fighters on the ground until 2013, when the administration began to train and equip a few select vetted brigades. For many who worked on Syria policy inside the administration, it was too little, too late.

Look, guys, I hate to sound like a broken record, really I do.  Do you think it gives me any pleasure to point out that lack of planning, principle and follow through that has characterized the Obama administration for the last six years?  Hell, no.  I have to live in this country too and at my age, there’s no other country in the world that’s going to accept me as an immigrant.  (Though if there is anyone in New Zealand who wants to sponsor me, I’m all ears. )

I can understand the White House’s embarrassment and desire to keep all this dissension under wraps.  But I don’t appreciate the PR campaign they have unleashed against the former SOS simply because she chooses to reveal her difficulties with the White House.

On the other hand, maybe Hillary will learn to be more sympathetic towards people like Edward Snowden.

One can only hope.

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“Step out of line, the Man come and take you away”

Read this account of a WaPo reporter, Wesley Lowery, who was arrested in Ferguson while he was charging his cell phone in a local McDonalds.

 For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald’s a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown’s shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby. But inside there’s WiFi and outlets, so it’s common for reporters to gather there.

That was the case Wednesday. My phone was just about to die, so as I charged it, I used the time to respond to people on Twitter and do a little bit of a Q&A since I wasn’t out there covering the protests.

As I sat there, many armed officers came in — some who were dressed as normal officers, others who were dressed with more gear.

Initially, both Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post and I were asked for identification. I was wearing my lanyard, but Ryan asked why he had to show his ID. They didn’t press the point, but one added that if we called 911, no one would answer.

Read the whole thing.  It’s very upsetting.

Police presence in Denver for the Democratic convention in 2008 was huge and very intimidating.  I saw a girl step off a curb and get slammed to the ground by a couple of cops in what looked like paramilitary gear.  As far as I could see, there wasn’t anything threatening about the girl’s actions.  But Denver was dwarfed by the police presence in Manhattan during Occupy Wall Street.  I went to Zucotti Park on several occasions to cover the protests for this blog and used a local Starbucks to charge my phone.  I’ll probably never do anything like that again without a press pass (how do you get them?) but this story makes me realize that even the press is not protected anymore.

Enough is enough.  Americans are not the enemy.

One more thought: Battery problems plagued me when I was in Manhattan for a variety of reasons, not least of which there are a lot of tall buildings around blocking signal, there were a lot of signals in the air dogfighting and ATT (need I say more).  I’m guessing that more savvy people keep a spare charging pack in their pockets.  That’s probably a good idea.  Another good idea is to buy something when you go to Starbucks or MickyD’s to inhale some WiFi or amperage.  I used to get at least a hot chocolate and drink it slowly to show I was legit.

Update:  According to Bloomberg News, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is ordering St. Louis County police out of Ferguson.  He’s going to be making some kind of public statement soon.

Sounds like the jig is up and too many Americans are getting a good look at the militarization of the police and don’t like what they see.  Just a guess.

Here’s another interesting tidbit.  Representative William Lacey Clay “said that he has been urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to “take over the entire situation because we will not get justice forMichael Brown and his family and friends if the St. Louis County police and prosecutor have a say.””

Update 2: Oh, wow.  I think Obama has given the game away.  He is sooooo out of touch with what happened in Ferguson it’s not even funny.  Trying to find summary of press conference but twitter consensus is that Obama cautioned Ferguson residents against looting and vandalism.

{{facepalm}}

Just forget about the troop carriers and guys with rocket launchers.

 

Conflict unavoidable

“Rash and inexperienced traveller, we will now seriously devote ourselves to a little high tension”

The New York Times has an article today about the unavoidable conflict between Clinton and Obama.  They’re both on Martha’s Vineyard this week. For all I know, it’s manufactured by the flying monkeys in the media who seem to be salivating for a Krystle vs Alexis fight in The Pond.  But there are some encouraging utterances from the Clinton camp:

Mr. Obama is fast becoming the past, not the future, for donors, activists and Democratic strategists. Party leaders are increasingly turning toward Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as Democrats face difficult races this fall in states where the president is especially unpopular, and her aides are making plain that she has no intention of running for “Obama’s third term.”

Thank goodness for that.  I don’t think I can take another four years of careless conservatism spouting from the mouths of clueless young Ivy League males.  We have been waiting for six long years to hear what Clinton really thinks about Obama.  Yeah, it was great that she was able to swallow her pride and anger and play nice for the sake of “unity” but enough’s enough.  Even if she doesn’t run, I am looking forward to her informed critique.

I especially like the bit where Clinton says “ ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,”

Amen to that.

I am desperate to hear someone talk about their organizing principles.  No, I am not kidding.  That “put everything on the table and we’ll negotiate” crap has been an utter disaster.  And like Katiebird, I’d like the conversation to move away from foreign policy to economics.

On the other hand, this is probably not the best way to raise a lot of money from political donors who want to retain their iron grip on all the money in the universe.  Let’s hope Clinton can convince some of them that it’s in their best interests.

The Party, on the other hand, seems to think this is still 2008 before the crash:

Christine Pelosi, a longtime Democratic activist and daughter of the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, said her phone and email “just exploded” after Mrs. Clinton’s remarks.

“Now is not the time to second guess the commander in chief, particularly when you’re a former member of his cabinet and national security team,” Ms. Pelosi said.

Oooo, really?  And when would the best time be, Christine?  I mean, he’s already opened up the tax payer safe to the finance industry, took a backseat to the foreclosure crisis and long term unemployment, presided over the dismantling of our research and development sector, and locked us into a two tier class system when it comes to health insurance.  When is any Democrat allowed to criticize him?  No one ever gave Bill Clinton that kind of deference.

Anyway, here’s to a little high tension.  It’s about fricking time.

Additional thoughts: We were the target of a troll attack yesterday.  It was wildly fun, by the way.  Katiebird and I are just warming up.  Bring it on.  But we did wonder what the heck triggered it.  It reminded both of us of the days in 2008 when the Obot trolls fired barrage after barrage from different IP addresses.  In fact, we both thought it was a good idea that we hadn’t gotten rid of those addresses in the banned list for the spam filter.  Now, we can go through the IPs at our leisure and figure out if there’s a common thread.

But it does make us wonder, why bother?  Obama isn’t running for another term, we don’t have nearly the readership that we had in 2008 when we peaked at something like 56000 hits/per day.  And the left has not sought to deign us with the pleasure of their revenue stream by adding us to their blog rolls.  In fact, I’d say we were true blue all the way through the last six years but hardly worth the effort and attention.

And yet, in spite of our anonymity compared to 2008, we still seem relevant enough to send a bunch of psych-out shock troops.  We can’t dismiss the possibility of a Republican attack but yesterday’s seemed so familiar.  It left that whiff of O-zone behind it.

Go figure.