Former Democratic National Committee chairman and one-time presidential hopeful Howard Dean blasted a conservative media outlet on Thursday, calling National Review a "a right-wing conservative nutcase."
Dean's criticism came during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," after co-host Mika Brzezinski read an excerpt from a column written by Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, who blasted Attorney General Eric Holder. The former Vermont governor dismissed Lowry's argument, and accused the National Review of misquoting some of his recent comments on the attack in Benghazi, Libya.
“National Review is just silly,” he began. “Who is going to take them seriously? It's a right-wing conservative nutcase. Let’s just be blunt about the National Review, right? They claimed last week that I said that the death of four Americans in Benghazi was a joke. What I said was that the investigation was a joke. This is crap. Who gives a damn? This is why I don’t read editorial pages 'cause I don’t give a damn what these people think.”
The inquiry led by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee into the slaying of four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year has been attention-grabbing, but some senior GOP aides are worried that the partisan overtones are diverting Congress from identifying and addressing the real lessons learned from the attack.
In particular, these aides say key staffers have been overly consumed with chasing down or addressing inaccurate or unfounded accusations emerging from the inquiry.
“We have got to get past that and figure out what are we going to do going forward,” a GOP aide stressed. “Some of the accusations, I mean you wouldn’t believe some of this stuff. It’s just — I mean, you’ve got to be on Mars to come up with some of this stuff.”
Senior GOP aides pointed out that many of the accusations involving security and military forces turned out to be unfounded. One recent example involved a supposed whistle-blower who reported that an armed Predator drone was operating in the area, but was not called upon to respond to the Benghazi attack, an assertion labeled erroneous by Pentagon officials and Hill staffers.
“There are some real issues there and then there is just some crazy stuff,” the senior House GOP aide said. “The crazy stuff is, you know, the airman in Ramstein [Air Base, Germany,] that knew that the Predator [drone] was armed. There are no armed Predators in the region there. The [status of forces agreement] does not allow us to fly them armed, and everybody knows it.”
GOP aides described another criticism aired at a recent House Oversight Committee hearing that there were four security officers at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli who were ordered to remain in the capital for several hours after the first reports of an attack, rather than being scrambled to assist the consulate in Benghazi.
“The stand-down order was for four guys,” the GOP aide said. “When you step back and say how were the people killed at the annex, they were killed by an indirect fire mortar round. Four more M-4s [rifles] inside the annex doesn’t change that outcome. In fact, they might have just created more casualties. We have got to get down to what really happened on the DoD side and for us the DoD side was not properly postured, why?”
The Young Turks: Cenk, Ben Mankiewicz and Brett Erlich discuss troubling reports that the Department of Justice tapped Fox News reporter James Rosen’s phone line – and his parents’. Cenk says the journalist wiretapping is the only actual scandal going on right now (as opposed to the IRS audits and Benghazi). But because Fox News flips out over everything, it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff on the rare occasion that they’re right about something.
“Part of the problem is that Fox News cries wolf so much that once they have a legitimate argument… you’ve lost a little credibility,” Cenk says.
I'm not sure when, or if, Fox News ever had a legitimate argument -- or credibility -- but they do cry wolf rather often.
Amid a deluge of negative news, the Obama administration seems bent on convincing the media and public that it really is still open and transparent. On Wednesday afternoon, the White House released more than 100 pages of emails between top administration officials showing that the CIA drafted and then redrafted the talking points used to describe what, exactly, happened during the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last September. The House Intelligence Committee requested the talking points to use in interviews with the press.
The White House released more than 100 pages of e-mails on Wednesday in a bid to quell critics who say President Barack Obama and his aides played politics with national security following the deadly terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
The e-mails detail the complex back and forth between the CIA, State Department, and the White House in developing unclassified talking points that were used to underpin a controversial and slow-to-evolve explanation of events last September 11.
But of course, the emails aren't enough for guess who?
Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee which is investigating the matter, told CNN's "Situtation Room" that his staff wants to digest the e-mails. He stressed that they were a selected set of documents as released and the committee is still seeking a range of other information.
I've heard that if you stand facing a mirror after midnight in a dark room and repeat "Benghazi!" three times...Darrell Issa, John Boehner, Dick Cheney and Sean Hannity will appear in your mirror. I advise against trying this at home.
Via Markos, Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, chairman of the GOP's Benghazi Oversight Committee, gives an articulate explanation [at 0:59] on why this is the worst scandal ever in American history:
"An act of terror is different than a terrorist attack."
Attribution:DailyKos/GoogleMaps: According to a new PPP survey, 39 percent of people who think Benghazi is the biggest scandal don't know that it is in Libya, including 6 percent who think it's in Cuba.
"One interesting thing about the voters who think Benghazi is the biggest political scandal in American history is that 39% of them don't actually know where it is. 10% think it's in Egypt, 9% in Iran, 6% in Cuba, 5% in Syria, 4% in Iraq, and 1% each in North Korea and Liberia with 4% not willing to venture a guess."
True, these numbers aren't really that big a shock. If you're dumb enough to think that Benghazi is the biggest scandal ever, it's not surprising if you don't know where it is. And 74 percent of Republicans think Benghazi is worse than Watergate.
Just to be clear, the attack on the American diplomatic mission at Benghazi, and the fatalities that included U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens were horrific and are not at issue today. What the GOP is trying to make an "issue" of -- and with the willing help of the "Liberal" media -- is their claim that initial speculation that the attacks were a spontaneous response to a video were over-emphasized by the Obama administration, and they are taking issue with the investigation and the response by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
And as we've already seen, if there is one thing the Republican party of today is actually good at, it is dragging out absolutely nothing for an incredibly long time.
The poll also showed that most Americans trust Hillary Clinton over Republicans on Benghazi, by a 49-39 margin.
Guest Post by Jim Messina, Campaign Manager, Obama for America
For this video, we asked people to compare Mitt Romney's real positions with the ones he's claimed to support in the final weeks of the campaign.
We know Mitt Romney will say anything to win, even if it’s not true – just like he did in Massachusetts and in the first debate. The real Mitt Romney has been running on his “severely conservative” positions for years, but now – just weeks before Election Day – he’s trying to hide them because they’ll hurt the middle class and his chances of winning.
We saw this clearly in the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, as Governor Romney cynically and dishonestly hid the self-described “severely conservative” positions he’s been running on – and there’s no doubt he’s memorizing more deceptions as he prepares for Tuesday’s second debate.
On Tuesday, Romney will be asked some simple questions by Americans from diverse backgrounds about how his plans will impact their lives. So we’ve provided some simple translations to help voters – and the media – interpret the deceptive answers he’s most likely to give in return.
Question #1: What’s your tax plan and what will it mean for middle-class families?
What he’ll say: “I will not, under any circumstances, raise taxes on middle-income families.” – Mitt Romney, Denver Presidential Debate, 10/3/12
Translation: As part of his tax plan, Romney has proposed $5 trillion in specific tax cuts. As independent, non-partisan analysts have highlighted, to pay for his plan, Mitt Romney has promised $1 trillion more in tax cuts for the rich than there are tax benefits to close. As a result, he would have to cut popular tax deductions that middle class families rely on, like the mortgage interest and charitable deductions, to pay for $250,000 tax cuts to multi-millionaires. Paying for Romney’s tax cuts would mean the average middle class family with kids would see their taxes go up by $2,000 a year.
Reality under President Obama: The typical middle class family has seen their taxes cut by $3,600 by President Obama over the course of his first term, and he has a detailed plan that would keep income taxes low for 98% of families and 97% of small businesses, while asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share to help create an economy built to last.
Question #2: What about that $5 trillion tax cut skewed toward the wealthiest I’ve heard about?
What he’ll say: “First of all, I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut…I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people.” – Mitt Romney, Denver Presidential Debate, 10/3/12
Translation: Mitt Romney has detailed a specific tax plan that provides $5 trillion in tax cuts weighted towards millionaires and billionaires – a combination of a 20 percent cut in individual income taxes, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, repealing the estate tax and the high-income Medicare tax, and cutting taxes for corporations by $1.1 trillion. That math is clear, but when it comes to paying for these tax cuts, Romney hasn’t specified a single loophole he’d close. Even if he eliminated every deduction for high-income taxpayers and enough loopholes to pay for his corporate tax cut, he’d still need to increase middle class taxes by $1 trillion to pay for his plan.
Reality under President Obama: President Obama has already signed $1 trillion in spending cuts as part of a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion, while maintaining critical investments in innovation, education, and infrastructure needed to create jobs now and grow our economy in the coming decades.
Question #3: So how can you claim your tax cuts won’t result in more taxes for the middle class?
What he’ll say: “Six studies have guaranteed…that this math adds up…even their own deputy campaign manager acknowledged that it wasn't correct.” – Paul Ryan, Vice Presidential Debate, 10/11/12
Translation: While Romney will cite “studies” to back up his wild suggestion that he won’t raise taxes on middle-class families, independent fact checkers and journalists have noted time and time again, those so-called “studies” are actually partisan op-eds, blog posts and analyses by conservative think tanks. None have disputed the total cost of his plan or the fact that it is a large tax cut for those at the top – so none prove that he can pay for his tax plan without raising middle-class taxes. He’s trying to take statements out of context to get around the truth: he’s proposed $5 trillion in specific tax cuts, and even if he closes every deduction for the wealthy, he’ll still fall $1 trillion short. That means he has to either raise taxes on middle-class families or explode the deficit.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) acknowledged on Wednesday that House Republicans had consciously voted to reduce the funds allocated to the State Department for embassy security since winning the majority in 2010.
On Wednesday morning, CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien asked the Utah Republican if he had "voted to cut the funding for embassy security."
"Absolutely," Chaffetz said. "Look we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have…15,000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, a private army there, for President Obama, in Baghdad. And we’re talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces. When you’re in tough economic times, you have to make difficult choices. You have to prioritize things.”
During the past two years, House Republicans have continued to deprioritize the security forces protecting State Department personnel around the world. In fiscal year 2011, lawmakers cut $128 million off of the administration's request for embassy security funding. House Republicans drained off even more funds in fiscal year 2012, cutting back on the department's request by $331 million.
Consulate personnel stationed in Benghazi had allegedly expressed concerns over their safety in the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Chaffetz and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, have alleged that those concerns were ignored.
A Yemeni man was shot and killed by gunman on his way to work at the U.S. embassy in Sanaa early Thursday morning. The car carrying Qassem Aqlan, who headed an embassy security team, was shot at by masked attackers on a motorcycle. “This (assassination) operation has the fingerprints of al Qaeda which carried out similar operations before,” a source told Reuters. Assassination attempts have been frequent since Yemen’s army cleared Islamist fighters out of many towns earlier this year, while the U.S. has been high alert for its embassy staff overseas since the ambassador to Libya was killed with three others on Sept. 11 in Benghazi.
Rioters stormed the U.S. embassy in Yemen on Thursday morning, breaching the wall of the embassy and setting fire to vehicles as security forces reportedly opened fire. Security forces managed to gain control of the compound in Sanaa by using the live ammunition, tear gas and water cannons, injuring several people, although protests continued outside the embassy walls. Protests have broken out throughout the Muslim world over an amateur U.S. film that depicts the prophet Muhammed as a fraud. In Cairo, protests continued for the third day on Thursday outside the U.S. embassy, with at least 10 people injured in overnight clashes. In Libya, the U.S. ambassador and three others were killed on Tuesday by riots over the film outside the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
U.S. officials say that it is "too early" to say who carried out the fatal attack in Benghazi, but members of both the House and Senate intelligence committees believe that it may well have been the work of al-Qaeda:
The attack in Libya that also killed three other U.S. personnel bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda and may have been carried out by the group’s North Africa affiliate to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S., said Michigan Republican Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House intelligence committee.
“It certainly appears to me the significance of this date was important,” Rogers told CNN yesterday. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who heads the Senate intelligence panel, also told the network the attack may have been premeditated.
It may have been the work of al-Qaeda because “the weapons were somewhat sophisticated, and they blew a hole in the building and started a big fire, and that’s how the ambassador died, in a fire,” Feinstein said.
The chaotic scene was described by senior Obama administration officials, Libyan government officials and witnesses. Details about the attack were still emerging late Wednesday. Key facts remain unclear, particularly how Stevens died and how his body wound up at a Benghazi hospital.
Even as evidence was being assembled, the early indications were that the assault had been planned and the attackers had cannily taken advantage of the protest at the consulate.
“Was this a spontaneous act of violence, was this capitalizing on the opportunity posed by [a protest], or was this separate and apart from al-Qaeda?” asked Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House intelligence committee. “Any of those are possible,” Schiff said, but accounts of the attack and the firepower employed “indicate something more than a spontaneous protest.”
In response, the Pentagon has ordered two warships to the Libyan coast which carry Tomahawk cruise missiles, although they have no specific mission at this time.