Sunday, September 30

Colombian band Bomba Estéreo's "El Alma Y El Cuerpo" (Soul and Body)

I took heat from a reader about this post, first because I implied that the song was new. The reader sent a YouTube version of the group singing the song on a street in Bogota in March 2011, and which was uploaded to YouTube in Aug. 2011.

Second, the reader told me that my Spanish sucked if I got from the lyrics what the group's vocalist, Liliana Saumet, told the Beeb about the song. (See below.)

It's just a song, folks. Let's not make a federal case out of it. But this is a lesson to Pundita to stick to simple topics, like war.

As near as I can gather, and please don't quote me on this, I think the song has only been released a few weeks ago under a record label. And the 'official' video of the song is a new release. (See below.)

As to the lyrics, I'll grant that the ideas Saumet explained to the BBC are only implied in the song -- at least, if the English at Google Translation is somewhat accurate (See below.) So I will cop to that error. Yes, it's very clear from the translation that the song doesn't start by saying, 'You know, Colombians and Latin Americans in general worry a lot about things, about what other people are doing, but aren't looking inside for the answers.' But these observations are implied in the song's opening, "Know that I will mourn; I'm going to complain." 

And the 'official' video (above), released more than a year after the group first brought it to the public, makes the themes that Saumet explained very explicit. The imagery -- introspection, purification, regeneration -- can be universally understood even without lyrics and carries forward Saumet's explanation of the song.

Unless the reader wants to tell me that the video is just about a sexy chick lounging in a hammock then taking a stroll on the beach and a swim in the ocean. 

Here's the Google translation of the lyrics:
know that I will mourn
que me voy a quejar I'm going to complain
que me voy a reir I'm going to laugh
se que en la oscuridad is that in the dark
no se puede ver nada si tu no estas aqui(bis) can not see anything if you're not here (bis)

duro dos segundos el atardecer lasted two seconds the sunset
me quemo por dentro I burn inside
el alma y el cuerpo the soul and body
la sangre esta hirviendo(bis) blood is boiling (bis)

me quemo por dentro I burn inside
el alma y el cuerpo the soul and body
me quemo por dentro I burn inside
y puede estar mas asi and ... I can not be more so
y puedo estar mas asi ahhh and I ... I can not be more so ahhh

sin alma en el cuerpo no soul in the body
me quemo por dentro I burn inside
me quemo por dentro I burn inside
sin alma en el cuerpo no soul in the body
me quemo por dentro I burn inside
me quemo por dentro... I'm burning inside ...

ya se que no vendra I know they will not come
nadie te va a enseñar nobody will teach
lo que es estar asi what is to be so
que en esta soledad in this solitude
enfrenta la verdad Face the truth
es casi como huir(bis) is almost as escape (bis)

duro dos segundos el atardecer lasted two seconds the sunset
me quemo por dentro I burn inside
el alma y el cuerpo the soul and body
la sangre esta hirviendo blood is boiling

me quemo por dentro I burn inside
el alma y el cuerpo the soul and body

Fuente: Source:
Letra añadida por edanbece Lyrics added by edanbece
Now to return to my original post.
Is this is a revolutionary song? I don't know; is it revolutionary for a Colombian to say that people in Colombia and Latin America worry a lot about things, about what other people are doing, but aren't looking inside for the answers? To say this in a country where politics is considered the alpha and omega?

The song is from the quartet's third album, "Elegancia Tropical." It's the first single to be released from the album, which is being debuted internationally in October.

Here is a version that seems to have been made for the BBC; the performance is interspersed with vocalist Liliana Saumet's explanation of the meaning of the song.

The official version has slightly different orchestration than the BBC one. (H/T The Latin Americanist.)

March 2011 version

Friday, September 28

Security fears hobble inquiry of attack on U.S. consulate in Benghazi: “It’s a cavalcade of obstacles right now.”

See also September 27 CNN report, Sources: 15 days after Benghazi attack, FBI still investigating from afar. ("FBI agents have made a request through the U.S. State Department for the crime scene to be secured ... but that has not happened.")

September 27, The New York Times:
Security Fears Hobble Inquiry of Libya Attack
By David D. Kirkpatrick, Eric Schmitt and Michael S. Schmidt

BENGHAZI, Libya — Sixteen days after the death of four Americans in an attack on a United States diplomatic mission here, fears about the near-total lack of security have kept F.B.I. agents from visiting the scene of the killings and forced them to try to piece together the complicated crime from Tripoli, more than 400 miles away.

Investigators are so worried about the tenuous security, people involved in the investigation say, that they have been unwilling to risk taking some potential Libyan witnesses into the American Embassy in Tripoli. Instead, the investigators have resorted to the awkward solution of questioning some witnesses in cars outside the embassy, which is operating under emergency staffing and was evacuated of even more diplomats on Thursday because of a heightened security alert.

“It’s a cavalcade of obstacles right now,” said a senior American law enforcement official who is receiving regular updates on the Benghazi investigation and who described the crime scene, which has been trampled on, looted and burned, [and] s badly “degraded” that even once F.B.I. agents do eventually gain access “it’ll be very difficult to see what evidence can be attributed to the bad guys.”

Piecing together exactly how Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died here would be difficult even under the best of conditions. But the volatile security situation in post-Qaddafi Libya has added to the challenge of determining whether it was purely a local group of extremists who initiated the fatal assault or whether the attackers had ties to international terrorist groups, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton suggested Wednesday may be the case.

The Libyan government has advised the F.B.I. that it cannot assure the safety of the American investigators in Benghazi. So agents have been conducting interviews from afar, relying on local Libyan authorities to help identify and arrange meetings with witnesses to the attack and working closely with the Libyans to gauge the veracity of any of those accounts.

“There’s a chance we never make it in there,” said a senior law enforcement official.
Lots more in the report -- lots. "David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Benghazi and Tripoli, Libya, and Eric Schmitt and Michael S. Schmidt from Washington. Adam Nossiter contributed reporting from Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, and Steven Lee Myers from New York."

Thursday, September 27

"Innocence of Muslims Filmmaker Nakoula Arrested in L.A."

Bloomberg, Sep 27, 2012 8:04 PM ET
'Innocence of Muslims’ Filmmaker Nakoula Arrested in L.A.
by Joel Rosenblatt

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who made the trailer for the film “Innocence of Muslims” that sparked violent outbreaks in several Muslim countries, was arrested for violating the terms of his supervised release.

Nakoula was scheduled to appear at a hearing in federal court in Los Angles today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal, according to a court website. Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, said Nakoula was arrested today in Los Angeles.

The 14-minute trailer shows a fictional attack by Muslims on a Christian family, followed by an account of the origins of Islam depicting Mohammed as a womanizer. Google Inc. (GOOG)’s YouTube blocked access to the clip in Egypt and Libya following attacks on the U.S. missions in those countries.
Jack Whitaker, a lawyer for Nakoula, declined to comment on today’s arrest.

Nakoula, 55, has a criminal history that includes bank fraud by using false identities and a drug conviction. He was questioned this month by U.S. authorities investigating whether he violated terms of his parole.
Under the terms of his release, Nakoula is prohibited from representing himself with anything other than his true legal name, and is barred from using the Internet without permission from his probation officer.
Nakoula was sentenced to one year in jail in 1997 for intent to manufacture methamphetamine, according to Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley. He was given another year for violating probation in 2002.

Nakoula pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay $794,700 in restitution, according to the June 24, 2010, sentencing document by U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder in Los Angeles.

The case is USA v. Nakoula, 09-cr-00617, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

Benghazi consulate death trap

Who killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and why are still mysteries. But if he died of asphyxiation from smoke inhalation, then technically his death was due to his employer's negligence. That's because the villa in Benghazi that the U.S. Department of State rented for its staff was a death trap.

After an attack on the villa in June, fortification was increased.  According to CNN, fortifications "included additional barriers and barbed wire, increased lighting, chain link fences, additional sand bags and closed circuit television.  Every U.S. building on the compound was also fitted with a safe room with a steel door, although the officials recognize that the room was not fireproof."

There is no such thing as a safe room that's not fireproofed

But not only was not one single room fireproofed, the place had no fire extinguishers and no smoke masks for the employees.

That last was reported by the Wall Street Journal.

As to whether the attackers knew the employees were completely unprepared to deal with an arson attack, they showed up with diesel fuel cannisters that they lobbed into the villa.  Burning diesel fuel makes very thick black smoke.     


CNN, September 24, 2012:  U.S. post in Benghazi had less than standard security before attack

The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2012: The Libya DebacleThe more we learn, the more Benghazi looks like a gross security failure

Breaking - State has removed its staff from Tripoli embassy (UPDATED 7:05 PM EDT)

Report on FNC (Fox News at 6:00 PM EDT. State announced the move was temporary. FNC has no information at this point on why all personnel were moved.

UPDATE 18:49 PM EDT from the Beeb:
(BBC) The United States is temporarily removing further staff from its embassy in the Libyan capital, the state department has said.

It said staff were being withdrawn from Tripoli for security reasons.
A statement on the website of the US embassy in Tripoli warned that demonstrations were possible in both the capital and Benghazi on Friday.

"This is a temporary further drawdown of staff for security reasons," a state department official said in New York.

"We will review our posture again early next week with the goal of restoring staff as soon as conditions allow."

It was not revealed how many staff were being withdrawn from Tripoli.

Wednesday, September 26

Silent partner in making of anti-Islam hate video "Innocence of Muslims" is allegedly a Muslim and terrorist supporter?

The plot thickens. Yes, this is the video that started the ruckus.  This is still a developing story, the bare bones of which I picked up at Blazing Catfur blog, which is also waiting on developments:
"Court documents reveal that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the producer of the movie Innocence of Muslims, partnered in a scheme with Eiad Salameh, my first cousin  Eiad is a Muslim terror supporter and is not an Egyptian [Christian] Copt."  [...]
That's it, except for BC's hat tips and wait on developments. A little more light is shed by one of BC's readers, in the comment section:
Daniel9vs2 (11:21 AM today) 

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is actually a partner of Walid Shoebat’s first cousin, Eiad Salameh, and may belong on the FBI’s most wanted list for millions of dollars in various types of fraud, which includes social security fraud, identity theft, and illegal trade in passports.Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the maker of the film, was a major partner in crime with Salameh and much of the ill-gotten gains were likely used to make the film.

Based on an Arabic media interview with Nakoula, the producer freely admitted that he is neither a Christian nor a Jew. [...]
And here I thought CNN's Anderson Cooper and others went after Shoebat only because of his report on what's her name -- Hillary Clinton's body woman. Don't rush me, the name'll come to me....Pundita hasn't had any sleep for two days or is it three....Huma. Huma Abedin.  This was around the time what's her name.....Bachmann, Michele, and other Republicans sent all those letters to various U.S. agencies about the infiltration of Muslim terrorist-leaning people in the American government.  Something like that.  Yes it's all coming back, in bits and pieces.....

But when was it that Hillary Clinton announced that the Saudis were still the world's biggest supporters of terrorism?  Was that late last year or early this year?  I actually linked to the report but darn my crummy record keeping......

I do remember the Saudi response was something to the effect that they couldn't control fundraising for terrorists that happened during the Hajj.  I doubt Saudi King Abdullah was tickled with having his country labeled the world's #1 terror supporter, especially after President Obama threw Hosni Mubarak under the bus.   Reportedly Abdullah was so angry at Obama about that observers feared he would have a stroke. This is no joke.

Wouldn't it be a riot if the date of September 11 actually had nothing to do with the launch of the anti-American riots -- the ones organized in advance of that date?   Where is my Muslim high holy days calendar?  I know the Hajj starts next month because I just featured a report in my last post about a new SARS-type virus that broke out in Saudi Arabia and which WHO and the Saudi government are worried will break out at the Hajj next month.

Awright, Pundita, you know what happens to people who connect too many dots. They go dotty. Anyhow, it would be interesting if Shoebat's Muslim first cousin was involved in the making of that anti-Muslim video. 

Maybe somebody should clue that American pastor who bought into the video -- give me a minute..... Jones, Jones, Terry -- that if he wants to run with those kind of people he should learn that it's not possible to win at a genuine Three-Card Monte game. One card is doctored, so the game is not really a sleight-of-hand trick.  That means the only people who can win at genuine Three-Card Monte are those who're working with the dealer to draw in the marks, or those marks who're drawn into winning until they're completely hooked and put up a significant amount of money.

Jones was an easy mark because of his earlier Koran-burning stunt, or threat to burn a Koran or Korans, or whatever. What year was that? Give me a moment....oh I can't remember. So little time, so many marks.

Well, I see it's 4:00 PM. Might as well stay up long enough to watch Survivor tonight. Then I'll crash. It is Wednesday, isn't it?

WHO issues guidance on new SARS-like virus; WHO, Saudi officials try to prepare for possible viral outbreak next month at Hajj in Mecca

Those who read this blog during the Swine Flu outbreak can well imagine what I'd like to say to all U.S. agencies tasked with responding to a viral outbreak. But after you read the Reuters report, below, you'll see it's far too late for recriminations.

What use is it, at this point, to scream and yell that the U.S. government should have installed electronic temperature monitors in all U.S. international airports after the SARS outbreak, or at least after the Swine Flu outbreak? 

It's so late in the day that it's now down to prayer that the new virus is rarely lethal. Prayer, a good anti-viral disposable respiratory mask, and a helluva lot of hand sanitizer.

Remember, folks, it takes at least 30 seconds for the alcohol-based sanitizers to work.

I'll allow myself one other bit of advice:  American officials should recall that the strongest official reaction to the Swine Flu outbreak came from Egypt's Minister of Health -- a Muslim. He ordered all the pigs in Egypt slaughtered and demanded (to no avail) that the Hajj be suspended that year. 

So American officials should hand a copy of the minister's demand to any Muslim organization that bristles at the idea of the U.S. government issuing warnings to American Muslims who plan to attend this year's Hajj.

Have I made myself clear?
WHO issues guidance on new SARS-like virus, gears up for haj
by Stephanie Nebehay
Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:55am EDT

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization on Wednesday urged health workers around the world to report any patient with acute respiratory infection who may have traveled to Saudi Arabia or Qatar and been exposed to a new SARS-like virus confirmed in two people so far.

The United Nations agency put out a global alert on Sunday saying a new virus had infected a 49-year-old Qatari who had recently traveled to Saudi Arabia - where another man with an almost identical virus had died.

The Qatari remained critically ill in hospital in Britain, according to the WHO's latest information as of Tuesday.

The WHO said on Wednesday no new case of acute respiratory syndrome with renal failure due to the new virus had been reported but its investigations continued.

"We've got things in place should things change, should the behavior of the virus change," spokesman Gregory Hartl said.

The WHO said it was working closely with Saudi authorities regarding health measures for the haj pilgrimage to Mecca next month when millions of Muslims travel to the kingdom and then return to their home countries.


Its clinical guidance to 194 member states said health care workers should be alert to anyone with acute respiratory syndrome that may include fever (above 38°C or 100.4°F) and cough, requiring hospitalization, who had been in the area where the virus was found or in contact with a suspect or confirmed case within the previous 10 days.

The virus, known as a coronavirus also related to the common cold, comes from the same family as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) which emerged in China in 2002. SARS infected 8,000 people worldwide and killed 800 of them before being brought under control.

The WHO said it was identifying a network of laboratories that could provide expertise on coronaviruses to countries.

Though it is a very different virus from SARS, given the severity of the two confirmed cases so far, WHO is engaged in further characterizing the novel coronavirus," it said, referring to genetic sequencing.

Hartl, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, said: "This is not SARS, it will not become SARS, it is not SARS-like."

It was not established whether the virus spread by human to human contact or just how it was transmitted, he said.

"We don't know if all cases of infections are as severe as the two cases we have currently or in fact whether there have been 2 million cases of this virus and only 2 severe cases."

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

"French insult to Prophet Muhammad draws little protest in Cairo, elsewhere"

I didn't want readers to miss the following McClatchy report, published September 21. The report folds into the debates in the U.S. intelligence field about U.S. civilian espionage/intelligence-gathering in the post-Benghazi raid era and criticisms about U.S. intelligence-gathering -- topics I highlighted in my two most recent posts.

The report underscores the fact that the American hyperpower nation is a special target. This means its spies, and intelligence-gatherers such as envoys, are also special targets.

French insult to Prophet Muhammad draws little protest in Cairo, elsewhere
By Amina Ismail
McClatchy Newspapers
September 21, 2012

CAIRO — One week after violence swept across much of the Middle East over a YouTube video extremists blamed on the United States, there were only subdued demonstrations against France over cartoons published in a French magazine insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

In Lebanon, thousands of Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslim supporters of Hezbollah held a peaceful protest against anti-Islam movements. In Egypt, where thousands set off the worldwide protests by stomring the U.S. Embassy compound Sept. 11, scores of protesters, outnumbered by the police, gathered at the French embassy in Giza Friday and demanded an international law criminalizing insulting religions and prophets.

In Alexandria, the demonstrators in front of the French consulate could be counted in the dozens, though they did, according to Egyptian state radio, burn a French flag.

In Cairo, protesters wearing beards of ultra conservative Islamists and dressed in white robs raised black Islamic flags as they marched toward the French embassy. Police blocked roads leading to the building.

“Insulting the prophet is a red line. Religions should be respected,” said Attef Taj el Din, 40, a graphic designer, while carrying a banner that read: “A question to all rational people: Why insult the prophet? What about talking about the Jews holocaust? Is it a red line?”

But unlike last week's protests, in which went on for days and left dozens injured, the crowds Friday dispersed in a few hours. By nightfall, the police appeared bored sitting on the curb awaiting crowds that never appeared.

Some of those who did arrive seemed to be gathering in protest of the United States, not France.


Debates about U.S. espionage in post-Benghazi Raid era

I have thoughts on this matter but here I'm going to get out of the way and let the professionals speak. Robert Baer, a former Middle East CIA field officer, weighed in yesterday at TIME with Why the Benghazi Consulate Attack Will Blind the U.S. :
The overrunning of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the murder of the American ambassador to Libya are disastrous for U.S. intelligence-gathering capabilities in the Middle East. The resultant siege mentality in Washington creates an imperative to pull American spies and diplomats back into fortresses, heavily defended U.S. sanctuaries from which it’s almost impossible to collect good human intelligence.
The incidents of the past two weeks suggest it may be time to admit that large parts of the Middle East have fallen off the cliff for the U.S., and large parts of it will be beyond the ken of intelligence for the foreseeable future. Something terrible is going on in Syria, but because it’s too risky to put American intelligence officers on the ground there, it’s unclear just how terrible it is and how it could be ended. There’s simply no way for Americans to tell whether the armed rebellion is dominated by militant Islamists or Jeffersonian democrats. Nor can Americans get a picture of how the men leading the fighting forces on which Bashar Assad is most reliant might be turned.

This problem isn’t unique to Syria. A number of countries in the Middle East, from Lebanon to Yemen and from Jordan to Egypt, appear poised to fall into the political abyss. Consider Egypt: since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power, my sources tell me the army there is being purged of officers considered pro-American. I’ve been told that up to 4,000 officers have been let go, although I have no way to confirm that claim. But it would be surprising if the Muslim Brotherhood were not trying to cut Americans off from their traditional influence over the Egyptian military, just as the tragedy in Benghazi will likely cut off Americans’ access to ordinary Libyans.

Ambassador Stevens died a hero. Whether or not he took an unnecessary risk, he knew he couldn’t do his job while isolating himself from Libyans. The same holds true for American spies.

If the contagion in the Middle East continues to spread, the one thing Americans can count on is going blind — and it won’t be the fault of U.S. intelligence or anyone in Washington but just another sign of Americans’ declining position in the region.
Baer's op-ed was followed later that day with Ken Dilanian's report for the Los Angeles Times, CIA's exit from Benghazi, Libya, draws criticism from ex-officers:
WASHINGTON —- About a dozen CIA personnel were evacuated from eastern Libya after heavily armed men stormed the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and killed four Americans, setting back an important intelligence operation and prompting a debate about how much risk CIA officers should assume in dangerous overseas posts.

The decision to withdraw the team from Benghazi drew criticism from former CIA officers, who called it an overly cautious response to the Sept. 11 attack, which killed two security officers, an information technology officer and the U.S. ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens.

The critics drew analogies to Syria, where the U.S. closed its diplomatic mission. The CIA has sent few if any operatives there despite policymakers wanting clarity on the conflict. The agency has relied on local informants, other foreign intelligence services and technical systems to collect intelligence in Syria.

In Benghazi, CIA operatives were working from a diplomatic compound. Their mission included identifying and tracking extremist militants and searching for surface-to-air missiles missing since Libyan ruler Moammar Kadafi was toppled and killed last year.

For now, those efforts have been curtailed.

"This is really disgraceful," said a former CIA station chief with three decades of Middle East experience. "Why spend billions of dollars a year on the intelligence service and then run away right at the moment when you most need intelligence?"

The CIA declined to comment. A U.S. official, speaking about intelligence matters on condition of anonymity, described spying since the attack as "challenging" but said U.S. agencies have "not lost the bead on key targets that might threaten U.S. and Libyan security interests."

Others said the CIA is already planning to reestablish an operation in Benghazi.

"Benghazi has played a key role in the emergence of the new Libya, and it will continue to do so," a U.S. intelligence official said. "It makes complete sense that U.S. officials would return to continue to build relationships and help the Libyans secure their future."

Former officials said the evacuation was justified given the dangers in Benghazi, traditionally home to Islamist militants, including some affiliated with Al Qaeda. The former officials said the CIA may have left operatives behind under deep cover or, more likely, Libyan agents who can operate more easily without detection.

"If you've got 10 or 12 guys living in a house in eastern Libya somewhere, that's a target, and there's no way 10 or 12 guys are going to hold off a militia," a former CIA manager said. "Our tendency has been, if there is a problem, we pull out. Yes, we have stay-behind plans, but we rarely execute those kinds of plans because of the risks" that an American could be captured.
FBI agents are in Libya investigating the attack, and the U.S. intelligence community can listen to phone calls, hack into email traffic, conduct overhead surveillance and otherwise spy in Libya. But face-to-face meetings usually provide the best information, former CIA officers say.

A former CIA officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan said it should be possible for agents to operate relatively safely in Libya by traveling in small teams with Arabic-speaking officers.

"Look, the risks are somebody could get killed. Somebody could get grabbed. There could be terrible videos on the Internet," he said.

"This is the job. This is what we do. If we are going be relevant in a place like Libya, we're going have to take the risk," he said.
See also U.S. post in Benghazi had less than standard security before attack, by Suzanne Kelly, Elise Labott, and Mike Mount; CNN; September 24, 2012 ("Someone made the decision that the mission in Benghazi was so critical that they waived the standard security requirements...")

Tuesday, September 25

Pundita offers to loan her Ouija board to U.S. Intelligence Community

September 23, The New York Times, Deadly Attack in Libya Was Major Blow to C.I.A. Efforts:
WASHINGTON — The attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans has dealt the Central Intelligence Agency a major setback in its intelligence-gathering efforts at a time of increasing instability in the North African nation.

Among the more than two dozen American personnel evacuated from the city after the assault on the American mission and a nearby annex were about a dozen C.I.A. operatives and contractors, who played a crucial role in conducting surveillance and collecting information on an array of armed militant groups in and around the city.
“It’s a catastrophic intelligence loss,” said one American official who has served in Libya and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the F.B.I. is still investigating the attack. “We got our eyes poked out.”
Senior American officials acknowledged the intelligence setback, but insisted that information was still being collected using a variety of informants on the ground, systems that intercept electronic communications like cellphone conversations and satellite imagery.

“The U.S. isn’t close to being blind in Benghazi and eastern Libya,” said an American official.
September 20, Reuters, Security concerns worsen for oil firms in Libya
For U.S. international oil companies in Libya, Stevens' death means they have lost a key interlocutor.
"In addition, IOCs have been shaken by the U.S. intel failure. If the (government) didn't get the intel right, how are the security teams at IOCs supposed to know what's going on? They're all recalibrating their assessments right now."
September 17, Fox News, No demonstration before attack on US Consulate, source says
[...][A] senior Obama administration official told Fox News on Monday morning that the Libyan president's comments [that the attack on the Benghazi embassy was premeditated and didn't arise from a protest of the anti-Islam video] are not consistent with "the consensus view of the U.S. intelligence community," which has been investigating the incident, and are accordingly not credible.

"He doesn't have the information we have," the U.S. official said of Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif. "He doesn't have the (data) collection potential that we have."
For an overview of what's wrong with American intelligence-gathering in the post-9/11 era, see ISA Intel Jen Alic's Blind, Deaf and Ignorant: 5 Recipes for US Intelligence Failure.

Saturday, September 22

Ambassador Christopher Stevens would be smiling down from his cloud in heaven

A plucky English reporter hurls himself into the middle of it all and emerges with an inspiring eyewitness account of humanity's brighter side....

Unarmed people power drums Libya's jihadists out of Benghazi
by Chris Stephen
The Guardian Observer
September 22, 2012, 11:45 AM EDT

These were the incredible scenes in Benghazi as tens of thousands of ordinary citizens marched on the Islamic extremists in their compounds and drove them out with shouts, placards and sheer courage.

As fires blazed and protestors danced in the ruined compound of a vanquished jihadist militia, I watched as the citizens of the Libyan city of Benghazi staged a dramatic display of raw people power. Numbed by the murder of an American ambassador in their city, furious with jihadist militias lording it over them and frustrated by a government too chaotic and intimidated to react, ordinary Benghazians took matters into their own hands.

Elsewhere in the world jihadists staged fiery attacks on foreign targets. In Libya they were sent running by people power. A rally called to Rescue Benghazi on Friday night became the launch pad for a spontaneous retaking of the streets, and more – a retaking of the soul that saw this city become the cradle of last year's Arab Spring revolution.

Ansar Al Sharia militia, blamed by many for the killing of ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his diplomats had last week, deployed anti-aircraft guns around their Benghazi compound, fearing attack from drones and US warships. But the attack, when it came, was from a very different direction. Civilian. Unarmed. And with nothing more than the desperation of a population staring anarchy in the face.

For the people of Benghazi, the killing of Stevens was the final outrage in a campaign of extremist violence that have seen other consulates firebombed, the convoy of Britain's ambassador rocketed, commonwealth war graves vandalised and 14 officials assassinated. As foreign missions fled and businessmen cleared out, Benghazi has found itself cast as Libya's Dodge City. And in the absence of a sheriff to impose order, they staged their own spontaneous cleansing.

The rally on Friday was peaceful: crowds of men, women and children marched on central Benghazi, with balloons, flags and placards, many calling for justice for the killers of Stevens. "We are Islam, we are not extremists!" they chanted.

Ever since the 11 September attack on the US compound that left Stevens and three fellow diplomats dead, Benghazians have been incredulous at the inability of government to act. No serious investigation has been launched for his killers, the government cowed by the power of jihadist militias.

But support for the protest was everywhere. The defence minister refused to give his support, but air force pilots made their feelings known: an attack helicopter circled Friday's protest to protect it and a pilot made low thundering passes over the crowd to remind them of the revolutionary slogan: 'The army is with the people.'

When night fell, the dam broke. The women and children of the rally were escorted home and the crowd surged towards militia bases. First to go was the Abu Salem Shahouda militia base, behind the seafront Tibesti hotel, and blamed by locals for thuggery and intimidation. A crowd of hundreds of young men, some teenagers, smashed through the gates and into the compound.

I was propelled in with them, as the frightened militiamen were manhandled out of the gates. Minutes later three jeeps loaded with red capped military police screeched into the compound, weapons ready, unsure what they would find. The protestors embraced them. "It's like in the revolution," said colonel Ben Eisa, taking command of the abandoned Abu Salem Shahouda base. "We are taking orders from the people." It was as easy as that. Months of militia violence ended by a show of unarmed force.

Then came Ansar Al Sharia: a 300-strong force blamed by Libya's head of state Mohammed Magariaf for involvement in Stevens's death. As the demonstrators approached, the militiamen flooded out of their compound and fired volleys of machine gun fire into the air. The crowd, bursting with the frustration of months of humiliation, simply kept coming. The militia, who had vowed to fight American air power, fled before people power.

Compound buildings were torched, cars set ablaze and looting of everything not nailed down began as, belatedly, red-capped military police arrived. "We are in control of this place," said colonel Saleh Yemeni, sporting a red beret and the silver wings of the parachute regiment, as a flaming car burned behind him. "We are with the people."

A well-built man, Ehad El Farsi, stopped me to ask if I was American and to apologise on behalf of Benghazi for the killing of Stevens. Told I was English, he explained he was a politics professor at Benghazi university and wanted to talk to me about the merits of singer Chris Rea. "What you have here is the people taking action," he said. "All the people."

TV pictures may give the impression of mob rule. Being there felt it felt more like a cup final crowd toasting victory. Then the cry went up to march on Hwari, the sprawling base of another militia, Raffala Al Sahati, to which Ansar Al Sharia men were believed to have fled. El Farsi found his car, a BMW, and roared off south.

Protestors crammed into cars, hooting horns and waving Libyan tricolours as an impromptu convoy surged south of the city. But this time the response was different. The first protestors who marched on the gates were met by a hail of machine gun fire, triggering pandemonium. Cars bringing fresh protestors ran into the traffic jam of abandoned vehicles and civilian cars trying to ferry the wounded to hospital. Pickup trucks with anti-aircraft guns manned by military police sat, their crews unsure if they should return fire.

Amid a cacophany of car horns, shouts and the rattle of machine gun fire, red tracer slashed the night sky and protestors dashed for cover. "The were shooting at the people – the crowd were all running away," said Mohammed El Gadari, an aviation student who had gone there to search for his younger cousin.

Abandoning my vehicle and trying to get to the battle by foot through the chaos of traffic and angry protestors, a huge, bearded man in white robe grabbed me, yelling in my ear and violently pushing me backwards. He spoke no English, and I was separated from my translator. When he caught up with us, the man explained he was not attacking me but defending me: "You must go away, it is not safe," he said. "We have to protect our foreigners."

As protestor numbers grew and fire was returned, the base garrison fled, abandoning vehicles, guns and huge quantities of ammunition which the crowd looted. City hospitals were meanwhile forced to deal with carnage not seen since last year's war: surgeons were summoned from their beds, blood donors requested. By dawn the toll stood at 11 dead and 19 injured.

The wounded included Abu Baker Feraz, who had his leg smashed by a panicking militiaman escaping in a jeep. "It was an Ansar Al Sharia guy. I know his face. I have seven brothers – we want to find this man." As he was wheeled away to be operated on at Benghazi Medical Centre, his hand snaked out from the blue shawl that covered him. "I want to say something," he said. "Ansar Al Sharia, they have somebody from Afghanistan, somebody from Tunisia, somebody from Libya. Islam is not in Ansar Al Sharia."

It is a refrain you hear across Benghazi: Libya is a conservative Muslim country, and perhaps for this reason jihadists are distrusted for wanting to tell Libyans how to interpret their faith. Cynics say jihadists were wrongfooted by the revolution, won by the ordinary people and NATO, then by July elections that were won by a pro-business coalition, and are staking all on taking power – and Libya's oil wealth – by force.

The desperate hope here is that the outside world that gave Libya such support in its revolution does not turn away. "How can you have business if you can't guarantee security?" said Hana El Galal, a prominent civil rights activist in the city. "Everybody now is rallying against organised extremism."

For now, the city is calm. Whether it stays that way is anyone's guess: the political vacuum at the heart of Libya's government remains, and the Islamists have powerful political allies.

Some in Benghazi worry that the streets are now protected by the same police and army commanders who made their careers in Muammar Gaddafi's security forces. Ansar Al Sharia is still around, somewhere, but its leaders are perhaps mindful that, as they showed last year against the Gaddafi regime, Libyan people power should not be underestimated

Photo Credit:  Abdullah Doma/AFP/Getty Images

Thursday, September 20

Ambassador Chris Stevens was murdered the night before he was to attend a key meeting on improving security in Libya's oil sector

Long War Journal's sources have backed up the Fox News report last night that a former al Qaeda guest at Gitmo was most likely involved in planning for the September 11 raid on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya. All this backs up the claim, which John Batchelor was the first to present to the public, that the attack on the embassy had nothing to do with an anti-Islam video and that it was an al Qaeda/AQ-linked commando operation.

Yet as fans of murder mystery novels know, a motive that seems self-evident at the start of a murder investigation could well turn out to be red herring. Such might be the case with the heavily symbolic date of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens's murder. If it should turn out that the specific date of his murder was incidental to the plot to kill him, then, despite al Qaeda's involvement and their desire to avenge the killing of one of their most valued members, the real mastermind could get away with murder most foul if the true motive for the raid isn't established.

Is there any evidence to suggest that revenge and the desire to strike hard at the USA on an anniversary of 9/11 weren't the primary motives?  There are a few suggestive reports that could point to a more prosaic motive for the murder than revenge and al Qaeda's jihadism.  Recall that at least two of the Americans who were killed along with Amb. Stevens, while referred to as his staff, were in Libya on an intelligence-gathering mission. 

Now watch carefully, don't blink:

September 14, 2012, The (U.K.) Independent
Revealed: inside story of US envoy's assassination
Exclusive: America 'was warned of embassy attack but did nothing'
by Kim Sengupta

The killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were likely to have been the result of a serious and continuing security breach, The Independent can reveal.

American officials believe the attack was planned, but Chris Stevens had been back in the country only a short while and the details of his visit to Benghazi, where he and his staff died, were meant to be confidential.

The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the "safe house" in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack. Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed "safe".

Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups, while some of the other documents are said to relate to oil contracts.
September 20, 2012, Reuters
Security concerns worsen for oil firms in Libyaby Marie-Louise Gumuchian

There has been a spate of attacks on Western missions and organizations in Benghazi, cradle of the Libyan revolt as well as capital of Libya's eastern region where most of the country's oil is produced. Foreign oil companies have their headquarters in Tripoli which is seen as safer.

"Our highest priority is safety. For this reason, we will continue to monitor and assess the situation in Libya carefully," a spokesman for Germany's Wintershall, the oil and gas arm of chemicals group BASF, said in a written statement shortly after last week's attack, adding:

"Our employees in Libya are very concerned by the attacks."

Officials have long spoken of plans to train thousands of former rebel fighters guarding Libya's oil infrastructure under an umbrella oil protection force. However progress has been slow as central authorities remain weak and fighters hold sway.

Shakmak said late U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens had been involved in discussions about security in the oil sector. A Libyan oil source has said he had been due to meet officials at Libya's Arabian Gulf Oil Company the day after the attack.

"He had a lot of positive ideas," Shakmak said.

For U.S. international oil companies in Libya, Stevens' death means they have lost a key interlocutor.

Porter said: "It's going to be a while before the U.S. appoints a new ambassador. And then he/she will have to get up to speed. This is going to slow down U.S. IOCs."


"In addition, IOCs have been shaken by the U.S. intel failure. If the (government) didn't get the intel right, how are the security teams at IOCs supposed to know what's going on? They're all recalibrating their assessments right now."

Officials hope a new government, currently in the making after the election of Mustafa Abu Shagour last week as prime minister, will lead to concrete action to improve security.

"We need strong decision-making, better security," one Libyan oil worker said. "We all want to feel safe."

New details have emerged this week on security arrangements at the Benghazi consulate where there was no military personnel.

There were five civilian American security officers at the consulate, congressional aides said on condition of anonymity.

The State Department said it contracted with a private security firm, U.K.-based Blue Mountain Group, to hire Libyan nationals to carry out security measures at the consulate, such as operate metal detectors and sweep cars for explosives.
To return to the Independent report:
According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and "lockdown", under which movement is severely restricted.

Mr Stevens had been on a visit to Germany, Austria and Sweden and had just returned to Libya when the Benghazi trip took place with the US embassy's security staff deciding that the trip could be undertaken safely.
Amb. Stevens's visit to those countries was surely connected with oil company concerns about the bad security situation in eastern Libya, where the country's oil reserves are located. Benghazi is the capital of eastern Libya.

On Friday, September 14, the same day the Independent report was published, and without naming the newspaper, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denied The Independent's claim that State had been given warning about an attack on the Benghazi embassy. Yet the Independent's senior diplomatic sources seem to have gotten much right -- although from a source that McClatchy reporters dug up on September 13 there was never any "mob" gathered outside the Benghazi embassy:
No protest before Benghazi attack, wounded Libyan guard says
By Nancy A. Youssef and Suliman Ali Zway

BENGHAZI, Libya — A Libyan security guard who said he was at the U.S. consulate here when it was attacked Tuesday night has provided new evidence that the assault on the compound that left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was a planned attack by armed Islamists and not the outgrowth of a protest over an online video that mocks Islam and its founder, the Prophet Muhammad.

The guard, interviewed Thursday in the hospital where he is being treated for five shrapnel wounds in one leg and two bullet wounds in the other, said that the consulate area was quiet – “there wasn’t a single ant outside,” he said – until about 9:35 p.m., when as many as 125 armed men descended on the compound from all directions.

The men lobbed grenades into the compound, wounding the guard and knocking him to the ground, then stormed through the facility’s main gate, shouting “God is great” and moving to one of the many villas that make up the consulate compound. He said there had been no warning that an attack was imminent.

“Wouldn’t you expect if there were protesters outside that the Americans would leave?” the guard said.
A September 17 McClatchy report filed by Jonathan S. Landay mentioned that the embassy compound's landlord, Mohammed al Bishari, who was present at the time of the attack, independently backed the guard's contention that there had been no protests outside the compound prior to the raid.  Both eyewitnesses described the attack as sudden and well-coordinated.

There is much more to the September 13 McClatchy report -- and, for American readers who're asking why in hell State farmed out to a private British firm such a grave responsibility as arranging guards for an American embassy located in a very dangerous region -- the guard's story backs up the Reuters report that security was provided by a private British firm.

There is also much more coming out about the true security situation in eastern Libya, which the White House, Congress, State Department, Pentagon and the American mainstream media kept carefully hidden from the American public until Amb. Stevens's murder blew the lid off.

Now, of course, U.S. news organizations are scrambling to fill in the blanks for the public. On Monday Robert Windrem, senior investigative producer for NBC News reported:
For years, the United States has been concerned about al-Qaida's recruiting along a coastal highway in eastern Libya. The stretch of highway, extending from Derna in the east, through Benghazi — the scene of the attack on a U.S. consulate that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last week — to Ajdabiya in the southwest, has earned a reputation as a breeding ground not just for Libya's indigenous Islamists, but also for al-Qaida central on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Counterterrorism experts inside and outside the U.S. government argue that it is not an exaggeration to suggest that the region around Benghazi has become a crucial wellspring for al-Qaida that rivals even its historic breeding ground — Saudi Arabia.
Thanks for letting us know, Mr Windrem; ya'll come back and chew the fat with us any time, hear?

But to return to the murder mystery, fans of the genre also know that often it's the person who is the first to establish a clear account of what happened who's actually the perpetrator of the crime or its mastermind.  With that thought in mind I invite you to study Jonathan Landay's September 17 report, with special attention to these passages:
In a related development, Wanif al Sharif, the deputy interior minister who was in charge of eastern Libya and headed the investigation, was fired, according to the Libya Herald, because of the attack. Sharif was the only Libyan official to publicly say that there had been a protest before the attack. He didn’t respond to calls Monday seeking comment.

Even before the assault, many Libyans had complained about deteriorating security in Benghazi, where the uprising against Gadhafi first erupted. Scores of rogue militias have been drafted by the government to provide security in the absence of a regular force, and the role of extremists, including members of Ansar al Shariah, has been controversial.

The city is divided block by block among the groups, which have kept the weapons they procured during the uprising. Many of the militias occupy bases lined with tanks and machine-gun mounted trucks and are led by self-styled colonels.

Every time there was a bombing or other attack, Sharif blamed remnants of Gadhafi’s regime, despite evidence that groups empowered by the state were behind the violence, said Michel Cousins, the editor of the Libya Herald. The attack on the compound was the last straw for Libya’s first elected government, he said. [Acting Libyan president] Magarief has been a critic of the Interior Ministry before, blaming it last month for involvement in the destruction of mosques and shrines associated with the moderate Sufi strain of Islam. Interior Minister Fawzi Abdel Al handed in his resignation after Magarief’s criticism, but he rescinded it two days later, saying the threat from Islamist militants was too great for him to step down.[...]
With his firing on Monday Wanif al Sharif is going to be a hard man for the FBI to question -- whenever the FBI arrives in Benghazi, that is. On the same Monday a FBI investigation team finally landed in Tripoli -- the long delay in getting to Libya ostensibly because of safety concerns. But the delay has meant that the crime scene is now stone cold.

Wednesday, September 19

FNC exclusive report: "Al Qaeda, ex-Gitmo detainee behind consulate attack, intelligence sources say"

For readers who've already seen my earlier post on this breaking news, I updated the post at 5:58 pm within moments of Fox cable posting a text version of its 6:00 pm televised report to their website. Here's the link to the  report.

Breaking News: Fox discovers that AQ leader probably organized attack on US embassy in Benghazi. Tell us something we don't already know (UPDATED 5:58 PM EDT)

6:07 PM EDT -- Pundita email to a correspondent:

"S - You will NOT believe what is going on right now. Fox just reported that five minutes earlier they'd obtained info that a Libyan AQ member who had ties to 9/11 funding, and who was released from Gitmo in 2007 to Libyan custody after Libyan gov promised to keep him in jail (they lied) is most probably the leader of the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi. So this explains why the Obama administration has started back-pedaling furiously from its insistence that the attack was a spontaneous protest to the anti-Islam video."

So the press is starting to catch up with John Batchelor's sources.  [flipping a pen in the air]  A week lost while the Obama administration blew smoke.  That's not the half of it.  But let me get this posted and then I'll find the spelling of the AQ guy's name. Sounds like gooey or something like that.  Sigh.  [eying another pen in the pen cup.]  Sigh.
Okay, Fox has now posted a report at their website on the breaking news they reported at 6:00 PM on TV:

Intelligence sources tell Fox News they are convinced the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was directly tied to Al Qaeda -- with a former Guantanamo detainee involved.

That revelation comes on the same day a top Obama administration official called last week's deadly assault a "terrorist attack" -- the first time the attack has been described that way by the administration after claims it had been a "spontaneous" act.

"Yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy," Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said during a Senate hearing Wednesday.

Olsen echoed administration colleagues in saying U.S. officials have no specific intelligence about "significant advanced planning or coordination" for the attack.

However, his statement goes beyond White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, saying the Sept. 11 attack on the consulate was spontaneous. He is the first top administration official to call the strike an act of terrorism.

Sufyan Ben Qumu is thought to have been involved and even may have led the attack, Fox News' intelligence sources said. Qumu, a Libyan, was released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007 and transferred into Libyan custody on the condition he be kept in jail. His Guantanamo files also show he has ties to the financiers behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Olson, repeating Wednesday that the FBI is handling the Benghazi investigation, also acknowledged the attack could lead back to Al Qaeda and its affiliates.

"We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda's affiliates, in particular Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb," he said at the Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing.

Still, Olsen said "the facts that we have now indicate that this was an opportunistic attack on our embassy, the attack began and evolved and escalated over several hours," Olson said.

Carney said hours earlier that there still is "no evidence of a preplanned or pre-meditated attack," which occurred on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

"I made that clear last week, Ambassador Rice made that clear Sunday," Carney said at the daily White House press briefing.

Rice appeared on "Fox News Sunday" and four other morning talk shows to say the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was "spontaneous" and sparked by an early protest that day outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, over an anti-Islamic video.

"It was a reaction to a video that had nothing to do with the United States," Rice told Fox News. "The best information and the best assessment we have today is that this was not a pre-planned, pre-meditated attack. What happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo."

However, that account clashed with claims by the Libyan president that the attack was in fact premeditated. Other sources, including an intelligence source in Libya who spoke to Fox News, have echoed those claims. The intelligence source even said that, contrary to the suggestion by the Obama administration, there was no major protest in Benghazi before the deadly attack which killed four Americans. A U.S. official did not dispute the claim.

In the face of these conflicting accounts, Carney on Tuesday deferred to the ongoing investigation and opened the door to the possibility of other explanations.[END REPORT]

Monday, September 17

There's one problem with the 'Insult to Islam' explanation for the attack on U.S. embassy in Cairo

Last week a reporter in Cairo told the FNC audience that small anti-American protests had been going on for months outside the U.S. embassy there, with protesters routinely throwing Molotov cocktails, bottles and stones at the embassy walls.  He didn't get this information through heresay; Fox had at least one reporter stationed there and observing the situation at the embassy and in nearby Tahrir Square for months. 

Here American readers might well ask, 'Why in the Sam Hill did Fox News wait until the situation blew up before letting us know what was going on there?'

That's not the only thing Fox -- and CNN -- didn't report to Americans about what was going on in Egypt prior to last week. But it didn't take Fox News to clue Americans that anti-Americanism had started manifesting openly in Egypt within a couple months of Hosni Mubark's overthrow.  Since then the mainstream press has been full of reports on the steadily escalating resentment there against Americans; although of course these reports haven't been on Page 1, except for the time some American NGOs got into hot water with Egypt's military, which accused them of meddling in the country's affairs.

Different explanations have been given for the growing resentment. And during the past year different factions -- the Copts, Muslim conservatives, the military, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the liberal democracy activists -- have expressed anger against America to any inquiring Western reporter willing to listen and scribble notes.

Why?  Why are they angry at us?  Wasn't it enough that the American government fully backed the Tahrir Square protests and very quickly backed the demand that Hosni Mubarak step down?

If you put all the complaints together in a paper bag and shake the bag, then reach in and draw out the first one your hand touches, I think it would read, "Betrayal."

No matter how different the specifics of the complaints about America, the undercurrent in all of them is a sense of betrayal. 

They are afraid that as the American government betrayed Hosni Mubarak, so it will betray them.  So in Egypt, at least, the anti-Americanism is not primarily about Islam and the clash of cultures. It's about the American government crossing one of human nature's red lines. Once any one of those lines is crossed, one can expect the most savage hatred and actions in response.

In the case of Egypt, no matter how many Egyptians wanted Hosni Mubarak gone, once the heat and dust of the protests settled down, human nature looked at how readily the Americans betrayed Hosni and said to itself, "If they did it to him, they'll do it to anyone, including me."

As to how much I think this view was a factor in all of the anti-American riots that exploded last week, there were a great many things going on last week, and anger about the anti-Islam video was certainly in play.  But New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick passed along a telling observation in his September 16 report, Cultural Clash Fuels Muslims Angry at Online Video:
Some commentators said they regretted that the violence here and around the region had overshadowed the underlying argument against the offensive video.

“Our performance came out like that of a failed lawyer in a no-lose case,” Wael Kandil, an editor of the newspaper Sharouq, wrote in a column on Sunday. “We served our opponents something that made them drop the main issue and take us to the margins — this is what we accomplished with our bad performance.”
Yes. For several years now the smartest Islamist activists have rejected violent jihad just because it works so much against their case for Islamist government.  So you may trust such activists were not happy about the riots. 

Virtually all the major anti-American riots around the world were organized, although how far in advance of September 11 and how coordinated they were with each other -- and the extent to which violent jihadi factions were responsible for the organizing -- remain open questions.  (Except in the case of the Benghazi raid, which was very clearly a straight-up commando operation.)

From this, I'd venture that a sense of betrayal was not so much a factor in the riots outside Egypt. However comma the perceived betrayal of Hosni Mubarak was followed by a spectacular American violation of another of human nature's red lines, which I term the Law of Leaving.  The law is that the more people have come to depend on you, the more careful, elaborate and drawn-out your leave-taking should be.

President Obama violated the law in February of this year when he summarily announced an early withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan. This was on top of an earlier announcement that the U.S. was withdrawing from Afghanistan sooner than the Afghans had expected. After the second announcement Afghanistan became like a powder keg.

The lit match was a purported incident of Koran burnings at Bagram Airfield. The Afghans had always complained about Americans in Afghanistan not showing enough respect for Islam. But the sense of betrayal they felt at the USA leaving them in the lurch channeled into their anger about the burned Korans incident. The upshot was that Afghanistan exploded into anti-American violence.

All this is famously known throughout the Muslim world, just as Obama's decision to throw Hosni Mubarak under the bus is known. So within a very short period, the United States has projected the image not of weakness, as many Republicans claim, but of a military juggernaut that seems to operate in the most unpredictable fashion while trampling human nature's red lines.  If many Americans are unsettled by this profile, imagine how other peoples feel.

This is not to say that Americans or the Obama Administration were the cause of the anti-American riots that exploded last week.  I'm not blaming the victim.  But it's no help to be in the right if human nature becomes outraged with you.

From human nature's point of view, the basic equation is that the more powerful you are, the more clearly and carefully you must signal what you're going to do, if you're going to radically change something.   So for American defense and foreign relations policymakers, it's not a matter of the U.S. projecting strength; it's not a matter of defending liberty and promoting American values. Nor is it about being sensitive to other people's cultures and religious values. All these things can have a place in policy, but not as the first priority for a hyperpower nation. The first priority it to be as predictable as a democratic government can manage in its foreign relations. 

That's half the battle won, right there. Peoples are willing to forgive a great deal about the actions of a powerful nation if it's reasonably predictable in its relations with them.

Additional Readings

Reuters, Sept. 17: Muslim protesters rage at United States in Asia, Middle East (about Sept. 17 riots)
Reuters, Sept. 17:  Intel agencies warned U.S. Embassy in Egypt of possible violence
VOA, Sept. 17/18:  Protests Spread Over Anti-Islam Film (about Sept. 18 riots)

Friday, September 14

Real reason Egypt's prez finally made a show of rebuking rioters

Someone from the IMF smashed a raw egg onto a table in front of him then said, 'Have a nice day.'

Don't believe me, huh? Read on, and make sure you read all the way to the bitter end of this Reuters report:
UPDATE 1-EU pledges up to 700 million euros in aid to Egypt

Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:51pm IST

* Pledge coincides with Islamist president's first Europe trip
* EU funds conditional on IMF deal for Egypt
* Mursi reassures West after attacks on U.S. embassy

By Sebastian Moffett and Justyna Pawlak

BRUSSELS, Sept 13 (Reuters) - The European Union offered Egypt economic aid of up to 700 million euros ($902 million) on Thursday, showing how European governments are trying to build ties with the Islamist rulers brought to power in Egypt's first free elections.

The pledge came as Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi [more commonly spelled Morsi] made his first trip to Europe since his election in June, hoping to reassure the EU of his democratic credentials and win economic aid as he looks to revive the broken economy.

He rose to power under the Muslim Brotherhood, which is opposed to Israel and with which Washington only opened formal relations last year. Mursi said on Thursday he backed peaceful protest but not attacks on embassies after Egyptians angry at a film deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammad climbed into the U.S. embassy in Cairo and tore down the American flag.

Europe wants to keep Egypt as a firm ally of the West after the collapse of Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian rule last year, and hopes Cairo can turn into an example in a region that has seen tumultuous change since the Arab Spring began in 2011.

"Egypt is a key country in a region that is so close to and important for Europe," said Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, which represents EU governments. "Egypt's success would have positive repercussions on the region as a whole."

Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, said the EU had offered Egypt macro-economic aid of 500 million euros - conditional on Egypt reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on financial assistance - as well as between 150 and 200 million euros to fund an agreed economic recovery plan.

These pledges come on top of 449 million euros the EU has already made available to Egypt for the period 2011-2013 to support programmes such as vocational training for young people.

The EU has ambitious plans to guide North Africa - which the bloc calls its "southern neighbourhood" - towards deeper democracy after the Arab Spring, and EU officials say they want to make clear links between aid and democratic reforms.

The talks in Brussels included questions about a new democratic constitution for Egypt, on which talks have stalled over the role of Islam in law.

"The political context of this visit is very important," a senior EU official said on Wednesday. "Egypt is now debating its future constitution which will be key for the country ... and we hope a reference for the rest of the Arab countries."


The EU is Egypt's biggest trading partner, with figures for 2010 showing trade nearly four times more valuable than with the United States, Cairo's second biggest partner.

But the bloc faces competition for influence. Mursi's first trip outside the Arab region and Africa since his election was to Beijing, Egypt's third-largest trading partner. The United States has bankrolled Egypt's military for decades, giving Washington particular leverage.

So far, the U.S. approach to Mursi's Islamist government has been cautious. Asked on television on Wednesday whether Egypt was still an ally of the United States, President Barack Obama said it was neither an ally nor an enemy. Under Mubarak, the United States usually described Egypt as a strategic ally.

The EU leaders, by contrast, were unequivocal.

Barroso said he was "extremely pleased with the reassurances given today by President Mursi regarding Egypt's unwavering commitment to democracy and the rule of law".

Van Rompuy told Mursi the EU will stand by the side of the Egyptian people, "as a friend, a neighbour and a partner".

Financial assistance is a critical need for Mursi's fledgling government. Last year's revolution damaged tourism revenues and foreign investment. The country is still trying to rebuild unity as well as its shattered economy.

Egypt has already requested a $4.8 billion loan from the IMF in the hope of a deal by the end of year, and has asked for 500 million euros ($644 million) of aid from the European Commission, the EU executive.

But its needs may be far greater. A senior EU official said on Wednesday that it may need financing of more than $10 billion to shore up the state budget and rebuild investor confidence after 18 months of political turmoil.
Now here quick-thinking Pundita readers might ask whether the egg smashing routine would also work with Pakistan's generals. Why, yes. But you know how it is when you stumble across a gang of thieves and say, 'Watch out! There are thieves in the neighborhood!'

The Pentagon, NATO, EU, White House, State -- all of them -- they already know how to deal with Pakistan's rulers and without firing a shot. As to why they don't act on what they know, because the Suez Canal doesn't cut rhough Afghanistan.

As to whether anyone from the European Commission would ever smash a raw egg in front of Morsi to make a point, that would depend on whether he's foolish enough to repeat Muammar Gaddafi's mistake. But having seen what happened after Gaddafi threatened to flood Europe with refugees, I doubt Morsi will ever decide to sign his death warrant with his tongue.

Will Morsi obey Obama's directive to contain anti-U.S. protests in Egypt? "Only in English"

SecState Clinton and POTUS Obama touring Sultan Hassan Mosque in Cairo, 2009
Two clueless Americans wandering in a romanticized past that never existed

The quote in the title of this post is from the summary that John Batchelor posted this morning about his Thursday show under the title Obama Telephones Cairo. Before I turn to the post, and just so you're clear that John was not overstating Mohammad Morsi's double dealing in English and Arabic, this is from today's Washington Post:
Even as the organization sent out an English-language tweet at 11:53 a.m. local time (5:53 a.m. in Washington) saying that it “cancels Friday’s nationwide protests, announces it will be present only in #Tahrir, for symbolic protest against the movie,” an Arabic-language statement at 12:12 p.m. from Muslim Brotherhood secretary general Mahmoud Hussein called for protests “in front of the mosques of the whole country . . . to show the whole Egyptian people’s anger.”
The Post, which is a conduit for State Department views, interprets Morsi's split tongue as an indication of the difficulties the Muslim Brotherhood faces in balancing the demands of their conservative base in Egypt and those of the 'international community," which has completely convinced itself that only one part of the Brotherhood is a bunch of thugs, the other part being Bambi.

John's post leads with the same notes he shipped me yesterday afternoon; he'd prepared the notes for his appearance on the Kudlow Report, which I posted at my blog with his permission after the Report ended. So what I'll do is put the notes at the end of John's post; in this way I'll go straight to his summary of the Thursday show. The video of his appearance on the Kudlow Report is available now, so I'll also post that here.

Warning: If you didn't hear John's interview last night with U.S. Representative Devin Nunes, you might want to belt down something stronger than coffee before you start reading because the situation Devin described for John's radio audience is unprecedented. Never before has State refused to brief congressional intelligence committees about a crisis situation. And, if you listen to the podcast of Devin's remarks, you'll know it wasn't only the GOP-controlled House committee that State refused to brief yesterday; it was also a  Senate Democrat-controlled intelligence committee. This means the representative political body of the government of the United States of America was as much in the dark as the general public about events leading to the attacks on U.S. embassies in MENA and the way the situation stood at the time.

Because State's refusal was historic, it was not about protecting the Office of the President. It was an attempt to protect one man, Barack Obama, and one woman, Hillary Clinton, from the worst of the fallout from their consistently awful judgment about the Middle East and North Africa, which led them to blindly promote uprisings in MENA that had as much to do with freedom from oppression as the World Wrestling Federation has to do with knitting.

Obama Telephones Cairo
by John Batchelor

Thursday Reporting on the Crisis.

Spoke Thursday with Malcolm Hoenlein, John Bolton, AEI; Mary Kissel, WSJ; Devin Nunes, CA-21; Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review; McKay Coppins, Buzzfeed: re the crisis in the ummah.

Devin Nunes reported that the State Department refused to brief House Select Intel Committee re the Benghazi and Cairo events.

John Bolton declared that the Arab Spring is in failure, and the Obama administration has failed to show strength in the region and now suffers the results.

Salena Zito reported that her conversation with former DNI Michael Hayden indicated that the region is in collapse to extremist, anti-American elements.

McKay Coppins reported that the Romney camp, after feeling tender about its quick response to the first day of the crisis, is now feeling stronger that the continuing collapse in the region underlines the Romney message of peace through strength, not apology and accommodation of aggressors.

Malcolm Hoenlein emphasized that the [anti-Islam] video is a fraud, produced by a fraudster, and that the video was not the cause of the Cairo or Benghazi violence: it was used as an excuse, and will now be exploited by the enemies of democracy. [See #5 from John's notes, below]

We also spoke to former IAEA inspector, Dr. Olli Heinonen, Harvard Belfer Center senior fellow, who estimated that Iran can produce a nuclear weapon by the summer of 2013.

Other voices pointed to the likelihood that while Iran did not concoct the Benghazi and Cairo operations, Iran has uses for them and will now drive protests in the Gulf. Anti-Americanism strengthens Tehran.

Obama Calls Morsi.
Late reporting from David Kirkpatrick, NYT, that POTUS Obama turned from campaigning on Air Force One to make a twenty-minute telephone call to Mohammed Morsi to speak forcefully that the Egyptian leadership must contain the violent protests in Cairo and other cities planned for the next hours.

The White House version: "The President made his point that we've been committed to the process of change in Egypt, and we want to continue to build with the Egyptian government...."

Translation: Candidate Obama is aware that the collapsing Middle East picture and the fervent anti-Americanism is a direct threat to his re-election song that he has restored American prestige and defeated the jihadists.

Will Morsi obey? Only in English. The Moslem Brothers entirely endorse the protests. Cairo University's immam entirely endorses the pogroms against the Copts.

Mr. Obama is delusional to think that a phone call to Cairo can turn back the cunning massive wave against America, fed by the Islamists, the jihadists, and Iran.

Briefing notes that I used for Larry Kudlow's show, CNBC. Of course was not able to get to most of it [during the show], but the nature of TV news is that you overprepare, because the blizzard of intelligence shapes the tone and direction of the presentation and reaction.

1. LIBYA THREAT: Benghazi and Libya: the Stevens death was an ambush by jihadists. The Libya authorities knew the date of Ambassador Stevens arrival, at their invitation. Stevens was directed to the safe house because the ambush was waiting to strike him. Stevens was ambushed by Al Q linked fighters, all under the umbrella of LIHJ. (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group) This was a revenge attack linked to the drone killed of Al q senior commander Abu-Yahya al-Libi on June 4 in AfPak. Al-Libi's older brother is a senior commander of LIHJ in Libya, Abd al-Wahhab . Many more strong links between Libya and Al Q revenge saga. Famous LIHJ commander Belhadj was trained and protected by the dead al-Libi while he was in AfPak and Malaysia. If the White House doesn't know this, it does NOT want to know this.

2. EGYPT THREAT: President Mohammed Morsi and the Supreme Council of the Moslem Brothers planned and endorsed the demonstration in Cairo at least two weeks before the event. Morsi and Moslem Brothers continued to endorse it. The video provocation did not exist before September 10. The video is excuse. Morse wants $10 Billion from US. Latest information is that Morsi WILL NOT meet with Obama in NY during UN meetings.

3. FRIDAY Embassy THREAT: Friday prayers, tomorrow, demonstrations called for in at least seven Arab capitals so far. The Yemen incident today not directly linked to Cairo and Libya, but there are plenty of Iran elements present, and there will be more trouble after Friday prayers. There is active planning in Cairo to revenge on the Copts for the video. There is evidence of Turkish Jihadist elements in Berlin who could run an anti US operation, and the evacuation of the Berlin embassy makes sense.

4. Iran and Syria benefit from all of this chaos and will drive it. US recruits fighters from Libya for "Free Syrian Army," so the link is that the attacks in Libya were run by the same LIHJ we use for Syria.

5. Re video of Mohammed. Evidence that film produced by Rogue Coptic Egyptian with family in Egypt. He is not a Jew. No Jewish money involved. Evidence that film doesn't exist, just crude trailer. Evidence that the trailer was constructed under fraudulent circumstances in order to raise money. No film evident. Film Producer, aka Bacile, has a criminal record. No Israeli would say he used "100" Jews for sponsors.