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The President began his day in Phoenix were he unveiled his plan to help Americans at risk to have their house foreclosed. The plan will cost $75 Billion and is expected to help as many at 9 million home owners. Text of Remarks
After giving his speech the President spent the rest of the day flying back to Washington. For the past two weeks the president has been traveling out of Washington three or four times a week.
First Lady Michelle Obama invited about 180 students from D.C. schools to the East Room of the White House today for a celebration of African American History Month and to hear a performance by the famous a cappella ensemble, "Sweet Honey in the Rock."
An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.
“Net neutrality” has been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation — but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted. We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas. That is why today, I am asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.
When I was a candidate for this office, I made clear my commitment to a free and open Internet, and my commitment remains as strong as ever. Four years ago, the FCC tried to implement rules that would protect net neutrality with little to no impact on the telecommunications companies that make important investments in our economy. After the rules were challenged, the court reviewing the rules agreed with the FCC that net neutrality was essential for preserving an environment that encourages new investment in the network, new online services and content, and everything else that makes up the Internet as we now know it. Unfortunately, the court ultimately struck down the rules — not because it disagreed with the need to protect net neutrality, but because it believed the FCC had taken the wrong legal approach.
The FCC is an independent agency, and ultimately this decision is theirs alone. I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online. The rules I am asking for are simple, common-sense steps that reflect the Internet you and I use every day, and that some ISPs already observe. These bright-line rules include:
- No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player — not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.
- No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called “throttling” — based on the type of service or your ISP’s preferences.
- Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called “last mile” — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
- No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.
If carefully designed, these rules should not create any undue burden for ISPs, and can have clear, monitored exceptions for reasonable network management and for specialized services such as dedicated, mission-critical networks serving a hospital. But combined, these rules mean everything for preserving the Internet’s openness.
The rules also have to reflect the way people use the Internet today, which increasingly means on a mobile device. I believe the FCC should make these rules fully applicable to mobile broadband as well, while recognizing the special challenges that come with managing wireless networks.
To be current, these rules must also build on the lessons of the past. For almost a century, our law has recognized that companies who connect you to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access in and out of your home or business. That is why a phone call from a customer of one phone company can reliably reach a customer of a different one, and why you will not be penalized solely for calling someone who is using another provider. It is common sense that the same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information — whether a phone call, or a packet of data.
So the time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act — while at the same time forbearing from rate regulation and other provisions less relevant to broadband services. This is a basic acknowledgment of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone — not just one or two companies.
Investment in wired and wireless networks has supported jobs and made America the center of a vibrant ecosystem of digital devices, apps, and platforms that fuel growth and expand opportunity. Importantly, network investment remained strong under the previous net neutrality regime, before it was struck down by the court in fact, the court agreed that protecting net neutrality helps foster more investment and innovation. If the FCC appropriately forbears from the Title II regulations that are not needed to implement the principles above — principles that most ISPs have followed for years — it will help ensure new rules are consistent with incentives for further investment in the infrastructure of the Internet.
The Internet has been one of the greatest gifts our economy — and our society — has ever known. The FCC was chartered to promote competition, innovation, and investment in our networks. In service of that mission, there is no higher calling than protecting an open, accessible, and free Internet. I thank the Commissioners for having served this cause with distinction and integrity, and I respectfully ask them to adopt the policies I have outlined here, to preserve this technology’s promise for today, and future generations to come.
By the numbers: How do 100 days of Biden and Trump (and Obama) compare?
As a candidate, Joe Biden pitched himself as the anti-Donald Trump.
And as president, he has so far kept his focus on trying to be the opposite of his predecessor.
On some fronts, he’s been successful. NBC News kept track of several key metrics that show how Biden, Trump and Barack Obama compared during the first 100 days of each of their presidencies.
The numbers help to show how much Biden has attempted to undo his predecessor’s legacy. Some key findings.
- Trump vowed to remake the government using executive orders he said would quickly undo many of the Obama administration's policies. According to NBC News’ count, he signed 29 in his first 100 days. But Biden, who vowed to undo many Trump policies using executive orders, signed more than 40 in his first 100 days, according to the Federal Register. (Obama signed 19.)
- Trump, through his first 100 days, signed 29 pieces of legislation into law. Biden, on the other hand, has signed only 11, according to the White House. But his Covid-19 relief package was much larger than any of the measures Trump enacted during the same time frame. Thirteen of those were measures that undid Obama-era rules and laws, including one that had banned mentally ill people from being able to buy guns.
- While Trump received a lot of attention for the large number of federal judges he appointed to the bench in his four-year term, Biden has actually outpaced him in judicial nominations through 100 days, having already made 14. Trump nominated two through his first 100 days and Obama, three.
- By the 100-day mark, Biden has held a similar number of solo press conferences and visited a similar number of states as Trump did neither had yet visited any foreign countries.
- What about golf? Trump hit the links far more than Biden did in 100 days. A lot more.
Another telling comparison is how the approval ratings through 100 days of all three presidents stack up. At around the 100-day mark, 53 percent of Americans said they approved of the job Biden was doing. At the same point, just 41 percent said the same of Trump. Obama, by contrast, saw 65 percent of Americans approve of the job he was doing 100 days in.
Sept. 11: The Attack
2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (8:30 p.m. Benghazi time): U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens steps outside the consulate to say goodbye to a Turkish diplomat. There are no protesters at this time. (“Everything is calm at 8:30,” a State Department official would later say at an Oct. 9 background briefing for reporters. “There’s nothing unusual. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside.”)
3 p.m.: Ambassador Stevens retires to his bedroom for the evening. (See Oct. 9 briefing.)
Approximately 3:40 p.m. A security agent at the Benghazi compound hears “loud noises” coming from the front gate and “gunfire and an explosion.” A senior State Department official at the Oct. 9 briefing says that “the camera on the main gate reveals a large number of people – a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound.”
About 4 p.m.: This is the approximate time of attack that was given to reporters at a Sept. 12 State Department background briefing. An administration official identified only as “senior administration official one” provides an official timeline of events at the consulate, but only from the time of the attack — not prior to the attack. The official says, “The compound where our office is in Benghazi began taking fire from unidentified Libyan extremists.” (Six of the next seven entries in this timeline — through 8:30 p.m. EDT — all come from the Sept. 12 briefing. The exception being the 6:07 p.m. entry, which comes from Reuters.)
About 4:15 p.m.: “The attackers gained access to the compound and began firing into the main building, setting it on fire. The Libyan guard force and our mission security personnel responded. At that time, there were three people inside the building: Ambassador Stevens, one of our regional security officers, and Information Management Officer Sean Smith.”
Between 4:15 p.m.-4:45 p.m.: Sean Smith is found dead.
About 4:45 p.m.: “U.S. security personnel assigned to the mission annex tried to regain the main building, but that group also took heavy fire and had to return to the mission annex.”
About 5:20 p.m.: “U.S. and Libyan security personnel … regain the main building and they were able to secure it.”
Around 6 p.m.: “The mission annex then came under fire itself at around 6 o’clock in the evening our time, and that continued for about two hours. It was during that time that two additional U.S. personnel were killed and two more were wounded during that ongoing attack.”
6:07 p.m.: The State Department’s Operations Center sends an email to the White House, Pentagon, FBI and other government agencies that said Ansar al-Sharia has claimed credit for the attack on its Facebook and Twitter accounts. (The existence of the email was not disclosed until Reuters reported it on Oct. 24.)
About 8:30 p.m.: “Libyan security forces were able to assist us in regaining control of the situation. At some point in all of this – and frankly, we do not know when – we believe that Ambassador Stevens got out of the building and was taken to a hospital in Benghazi. We do not have any information what his condition was at that time. His body was later returned to U.S. personnel at the Benghazi airport.”
About 10:00 p.m.: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issues a statement confirming that one State official was killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Her statement, which MSNBC posted at 10:32 p.m., made reference to the anti-Muslim video.
Clinton: Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.
11:12 p.m.: Clinton sends an email to her daughter, Chelsea, that reads: “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an al Qaeda-like group: The Ambassador, whom I handpicked and a young communications officer on temporary duty w a wife and two young children. Very hard day and I fear more of the same tomorrow.” (The email was discovered in 2015 by the House Select Committee on Benghazi. It is written to “Diane Reynolds,” which was Chelsea Clinton’s alias.)
Sept.12: Obama Labels Attack ‘Act of Terror,’ Not ‘Terrorism’
Sept. 12: Clinton issues a statement confirming that four U.S. officials, not one, had been killed. She calls it a “violent attack.”
Clinton: All the Americans we lost in yesterday’s attacks made the ultimate sacrifice. We condemn this vicious and violent attack that took their lives, which they had committed to helping the Libyan people reach for a better future.
Sept. 12: CIA’s Middle East and North Africa Situation Report says, “[T]he presence of armed assailants from the outset suggests this was an intentional assault and not the escalation of a peaceful protest.” The report was transmitted at 7 a.m. EDT.
Sept. 12: Clinton delivers a speech at the State Department to condemn the attack in Benghazi and to praise the victims as “heroes.” She again makes reference to the anti-Muslim video in similar language.
Clinton: Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear — there is no justification for this, none.
Sept. 12: Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, sends an email prior to Obama’s Rose Garden address to Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor for strategic communications at the White House, and others that says, “There was not really much violence in Egypt. And we are not saying that the violence in Libya erupted ‘over inflammatory videos.’”
Sept. 12: Obama delivers a morning speech in the Rose Garden to address the deaths of U.S. diplomats in Libya. He said, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” He also makes reference to the anti-Muslim video when he says: “Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None.” He uses the term “act of terror” later that night when talking about the attack at a campaign event in Las Vegas.
Sept. 12: After his Rose Garden speech, Obama tapes an interview for Minutes.” Obama says he didn’t use the word “terrorism” in his Rose Garden speech because “it’s too early to know exactly how this came about.” Steve Kroft, the show’s host, wonders how the attack could be described as a “mob action” since the attackers were “very heavily armed.” Obama says “we’re still investigating,” but he suspects “folks involved in this . . . were looking to target Americans from the start.”
Kroft: Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word terrorism in connection with the Libya attack.
Kroft: Do you believe that this was a terrorist attack?
Obama: Well, it’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans and we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice one way or the other.
Kroft: It’s been described as a mob action. But there are reports that they were very heavily armed with grenades. That doesn’t sound like your normal demonstration.
Obama: As I said, we’re still investigating exactly what happened. I don’t want to jump the gun on this. But you’re right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt. And my suspicion is, is that there are folks involved in this, who were looking to target Americans from the start.
Sept. 12: Senior administration officials, who did not permit use of their names, hold a briefing with reporters to answer questions about the attack. Twice officials characterize those involved in the attack as “extremists.” In one case, an official identified only as “senior administration official one” is asked by Fox News reporter Justin Fishel if the administration had ruled out the possibly that the attack was in response to the anti-Muslim video. The official says, “We just don’t know.”
Senior administration official one: With regard to whether there is any connection between this Internet activity and this extremist attack in Benghazi, frankly, we just don’t know. We’re not going to know until we have a chance to investigate. And I’m sorry that it is frustrating for you that so many of our answers are “We don’t know,” but they are truthful in that.
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell asks officials to address news reports that the attack has been “linked to a terror attack, an organized terror attack,” possibly al Qaeda. The official refers to it as a “complex attack,” but says it is “too early to say who they were” and their affiliation.
Senior administration official one: Frankly, we are not in a position to speak any further to the perpetrators of this attack. It was clearly a complex attack. We’re going to have to do a full investigation. We are committed to working with the Libyans both on the investigation and to ensure that we bring the perpetrators to justice. The FBI is already committed to assisting in that, but I just – we’re – it’s just too early to speak to who they were and if they might have been otherwise affiliated beyond Libya.
Sept. 12, 3:04 p.m.: Clinton calls then-Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and tells him, “We know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack — not a protest.” An account of that call was contained in an email written by State Department Public Affairs Officer Lawrence Randolph. The email was released by the House Benghazi committee.
Sept. 12, 4:09 p.m.: At a press briefing en route to Las Vegas, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is asked, “Does the White House believe that the attack in Benghazi was planned and premeditated?” He responds, “It’s too early for us to make that judgment. I think — I know that this is being investigated, and we’re working with the Libyan government to investigate the incident. So I would not want to speculate on that at this time.”
Sept. 12: Libya’s deputy ambassador to London, Ahmad Jibril, tells the BBC that Ansar al-Sharia was behind the attack. The little-known militant group issues a statement that says it “didn’t participate as a sole entity,” neither confirming nor denying the report.
Sept. 12, 6:06 p.m.: Beth Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for the Near East, sends an email to top State Department officials that reads in part: “[T]he group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic extremists.” (An excerpt of Jones’ email was read by Rep. Trey Gowdy at the May 8, 2013, House oversight hearing.)
Sept. 12: Citing unnamed “U.S. government officials,” Reuters reports that “the Benghazi attack may have been planned in advance” and that members of Ansar al-Sharia “may have been involved.” Reuters quotes one of the U.S. officials as saying: “It bears the hallmarks of an organized attack.”
Sept. 13: ‘Clearly Planned’ or ‘Spontaneous’ Attack?
Sept. 13: Clinton meets with Ali Suleiman Aujali — the Libyan ambassador to the U.S. — at a State Department event to mark the end of Ramadan. Ambassador Aujali apologizes to Clinton for what he called “this terrorist attack which took place against the American consulate in Libya.” Clinton, in her remarks, does not refer to it as a terrorist attack. She condemns the anti-Muslim video, but adds that there is “never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
Clinton: Religious freedom and religious tolerance are essential to the stability of any nation, any people. Hatred and violence in the name of religion only poison the well. All people of faith and good will know that the actions of a small and savage group in Benghazi do not honor religion or God in any way. Nor do they speak for the more than 1 billion Muslims around the world, many of whom have shown an outpouring of support during this time.
Unfortunately, however, over the last 24 hours, we have also seen violence spread elsewhere. Some seek to justify this behavior as a response to inflammatory, despicable material posted on the Internet. As I said earlier today, the United States rejects both the content and the message of that video. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. At our meeting earlier today, my colleague, the foreign minister of Morocco, said that all prophets should be respected because they are all symbols of our humanity, for all humanity.
But both of us were crystal clear in this paramount message: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind. And we look to leaders around the world to stand up and speak out against violence, and to take steps to protect diplomatic missions from attack.
Sept. 13: At a daily press briefing, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland is asked if the Benghazi attack was “purely spontaneous or was premeditated by militants.” She declines to say, reiterating that the administration did not want to “jump to conclusions.”
Nuland: Well, as we said yesterday when we were on background, we are very cautious about drawing any conclusions with regard to who the perpetrators were, what their motivations were, whether it was premeditated, whether they had any external contacts, whether there was any link, until we have a chance to investigate along with the Libyans. So I know that’s going to be frustrating for you, but we really want to make sure that we do this right and we don’t jump to conclusions.
That said, obviously, there are plenty of people around the region citing this disgusting video as something that has been motivating. As the Secretary said this morning, while we as Americans, of course, respect free speech, respect free expression, there’s never an excuse for it to become violent.
Sept. 13: Clinton meets with Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani. She condemns what she calls the “disgusting and reprehensible” anti-Muslim video and the violence that it triggered. She says, “Islam, like other religions, respects the fundamental dignity of human beings, and it is a violation of that fundamental dignity to wage attacks on innocents. As long as there are those who are willing to shed blood and take innocent life in the name of religion, the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace.”
Sept. 13: At a campaign event in Colorado, Obama again uses the phrase “act of terror.” He says: “I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished.”
Sept. 13: A CIA World Intelligence Review (WIRe) report, “Libya: Government Poorly Positioned to Address Attacks,” says, “We assess the attacks on Tuesday against the US Consulate in Benghazi began spontaneously following the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the Consulate and a separate US facility in the city.” (The Benghazi committee report later would say that the report was “rife with errors.” It included, for example, a section that was mistakenly titled “Extremists Capitalized on Benghazi Protests,” which the committee said should have been titled “Extremists Capitalized on Cairo Protests.”)
Sept. 13: CNN reports that unnamed “State Department officials” say the incident in Benghazi was a “clearly planned military-type attack” unrelated to the anti-Muslim movie.
CNN: “It was not an innocent mob,” one senior official said. “The video or 9/11 made a handy excuse and could be fortuitous from their perspective but this was a clearly planned military-type attack.”
Sept. 14: White House Says No Evidence of Planned Attack
Sept. 14: A State Department public information official writes in an email: “[I]t is becoming increasingly clear that the series of events in Benghazi was much more terrorist attack than a protest which escalated into violence. It is our opinion that in our messaging, we want to distinguish, not conflate, the events in other countries with this well-planned attack by militant extremists.” (The email was released Oct. 31, 2015, by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, and was contained in the Benghazi committee report issued June 28, 2016. The name of the person who sent the email and the person or persons who received the email were redacted. However, the person who wrote the email is identified in the committee report as a “public information officer from the Embassy in Tripoli,” and the email says it reflects “our view at Embassy Tripoli.” It also says, “I have discussed this with [name redacted] and he shares PAS’s view.” PAS stands for Public Affairs Section.)
Sept. 14: Clinton speaks at Andrews Air Force Base at a ceremony to receive the remains of those killed in Benghazi. She remarks that she received a letter from the president of the Palestinian Authority praising Stevens and “deploring — and I quote — ‘an act of ugly terror.’ ” She, however, did not call it an act of terror or a terrorist attack and neither did the president.
Sept. 14: At a State Department press briefing, spokeswoman Nuland says the department will no longer answer any questions about the Benghazi attack. “It is now something that you need to talk to the FBI about, not to us about, because it’s their investigation.”
Sept. 14: At a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Carney denies reports that it was a preplanned attack. “I have seen that report, and the story is absolutely wrong. We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent. That report is false.” Later in that same briefing, Carney is told that Pentagon officials informed members of Congress at a closed-door meeting that the Benghazi attack was a planned terrorist attack. Carney said the matter is being investigated but White House officials “don’t have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this was not in reaction to the film.”
Question: Jay, one last question — while we were sitting here — [Defense] Secretary [Leon] Panetta and the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee. And the senators came out and said their indication was that this, or the attack on Benghazi was a terrorist attack organized and carried out by terrorists, that it was premeditated, a calculated act of terror. Levin said — Senator Levin — I think it was a planned, premeditated attack. The kind of equipment that they had used was evidence it was a planned, premeditated attack. Is there anything more you can — now that the administration is briefing senators on this, is there anything more you can tell us?
Carney: Well, I think we wait to hear from administration officials. Again, it’s actively under investigation, both the Benghazi attack and incidents elsewhere. And my point was that we don’t have and did not have concrete evidence to suggest that this was not in reaction to the film. But we’re obviously investigating the matter, and I’ll certainly — I’m sure both the Department of Defense and the White House and other places will have more to say about that as more information becomes available.
Sept. 14: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta meets with the Senate Armed Services Committee. Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, reports that Republicans and Democrats came away with the conclusion that the Benghazi attack was a planned terrorist attack.
The Hill: Senators spoke with Panetta about the response to the situation in Libya. Four Americans were killed in an attack Tuesday on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Senators said it has become clearer the attack was coordinated, although they would not say anything specific about any connection to the broader protests that came after an anti-Muslim video was released.
“I think it was a planned, premeditated attack,” Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said. He added he did not know the specific group responsible for the assault on the complex.
[Sen. John] McCain expressed a similar view.
“People don’t go to demonstrate and carry RPGs and automatic weapons,” he said, adding that the facts suggest “this was not a ‘mob’ action [or] a group of protesters.”
Sept. 15-16: Susan Rice Contradicts Libyan President
Sept. 15: Obama discusses the Benghazi attack in his weekly address. He makes no mention of terror, terrorists or extremists. He does talk about the anti-Muslim film and “every angry mob” that it inspired in pockets of the Middle East.
Obama: This tragic attack [in Benghazi] takes place at a time of turmoil and protest in many different countries. I have made it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths. We stand for religious freedom. And we reject the denigration of any religion — including Islam.
Yet there is never any justification for violence. There is no religion that condones the targeting of innocent men and women. There is no excuse for attacks on our Embassies and Consulates.
Sept. 15: The CIA chief of station in Tripoli sends an email to senior CIA officers that states, in part, that the Tripoli station “assesses the 11-12 September attacks in Benghazi were not spurred by local protests.” The email continues, “We lack any ground-truth information that protest actually occurred, specifically in the vicinity of the consulate and leading up to the attack. We therefore judge events unfolded in a much different manner than in Tunis, Cairo, Khartoum, and Sanaa, which appear to be the result of escalating mob violence.” (The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s Nov. 21, 2014, report on Benghazi includes excerpts of the email on page 26. The report says that CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell read the email on the morning of Sept. 15.)
Sept. 16: Libya President Mohamed Magariaf says on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that the attack on the U.S. consulate was planned months in advance. But Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tells CBS News’ Bob Schieffer: “We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.” She says it began “spontaneously … as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo,” and “extremist elements” joined in the protest. (It was later learned that Rice received her information from talking points developed by the CIA.)
Update, May 16, 2013: The talking points given to Rice were extensively revised, largely at the request of the State Department. The original CIA talking points said, “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” And they said that “[i]nitial press reporting linked the attack to Ansar al-Sharia.” References to al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia were removed. However, all of the drafts say the attack began “spontaneously” in response to the Cairo protest. Read our article “Benghazi Attack, Revisited” for more information on what changes were made to the talking points.
Update, May 2, 2014: Two days before Rice’s appearance on the Sunday talk show circuit, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes sent an email to other administration officials, including White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, with the subject line “PREP CALL with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 pm ET.” Rhodes’ email outlined four “goals” for Rice’s TV appearances. One of the goals: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.” The email contained a mock Q&A session, and the third question asked whether the Benghazi attack was “an intelligence failure.” The answer in the email parroted — nearly word for word — Rice’s talking points when it said: “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate and subsequently its annex.” The Rhodes email was released April 29 by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that obtained 41 State Department documents under the Freedom of Information Act.
Schieffer: Was this a long-planned attack, as far as you know? Or what– what do you know about that?
Magariaf: The way these perpetrators acted and moved … this leaves us with no doubt that this has preplanned, determined– predetermined.
Schieffer: And you believe that this was the work of al Qaeda and you believe that it was led by foreigners. Is that — is that what you are telling us?
Magariaf: It was planned — definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who — who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their — since their arrival. …
Schieffer: And joining us now, Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador, our U.N. ambassador. Madam Ambassador, [Magariaf] says this is something that has been in the planning stages for months. I understand you have been saying that you think it was spontaneous? Are we not on the same page here?
Rice: Bob, let me tell you what we understand to be the assessment at present. First of all, very importantly, as you discussed with the president, there is an investigation that the United States government will launch led by the FBI, that has begun and —
They are not on the ground yet, but they have already begun looking at all sorts of evidence of — of various sorts already available to them and to us. And they will get on the ground and continue the investigation. So we’ll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions.
But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy — sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that– in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.
Schieffer: But you do not agree with him that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?
Rice: We do not– we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.
Schieffer: Do you agree or disagree with him that al Qaeda had some part in this?
Rice: Well, we’ll have to find out that out. I mean I think it’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we’ll have to determine.
Sept. 16: Magariaf says in an interview with NPR: “The idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous. We firmly believe that this was a precalculated, preplanned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the U.S. consulate.”
Sept. 17: State Defends Rice and ‘Initial Assessment’
Sept. 17: Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, is asked about Rice’s comments on “Face the Nation” and four other Sunday talk shows. Nuland says, “The comments that Ambassador Rice made accurately reflect our government’s initial assessment.” Nuland uses the phrase “initial assessment” three times when discussing Rice’s comments.
Sept. 18: Obama Says ‘Extremists’ Used Video As ‘Excuse’
Sept. 18: Obama is asked about the Benghazi attack on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The president says, “Here’s what happened,” and begins discussing the impact of the anti-Muslim video. He then says, “Extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya.” He also says, “As offensive as this video was and, obviously, we’ve denounced it and the United States government had nothing to do with it. That’s never an excuse for violence.”
Sept. 18: Asked about Magariaf’s assessment that the video had nothing to do with the terrorist attack in Benghazi, the White House spokesman says Obama “would rather wait” for the investigation to be completed. “But at this time, as Ambassador Rice said and as I said, our understanding and our belief based on the information we have is it was the video that caused the unrest in Cairo, and the video and the unrest in Cairo that helped — that precipitated some of the unrest in Benghazi and elsewhere,” Carney says. “What other factors were involved is a matter of investigation.”
Sept. 18: After meeting with Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Patricia Espinosa, Clinton speaks with reporters and is asked if the Libyan president is “wrong” that “this attack was planned for months.” Clinton says, “The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has said we had no actionable intelligence that an attack on our post in Benghazi was planned or imminent.” She does not say if Magariaf is right or wrong.
Sept. 19: Olsen Calls It a ‘Terrorist Attack’
Sept. 19: Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, tells a Senate subcommittee (at 1:06:49 in the video) that the four State Department officials in Benghazi “were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy.” It is the first time an administration official labeled it a “terrorist attack.” But he also tells the senators that he has no “specific evidence of significant advanced planning.”
Olsen: Yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy. … The best information we have now, the facts that we have now, indicate that this was an opportunist attack on our embassy. The attack began and evolved and escalated over several hours. … [I]t appears that individuals who were certainly well armed seized on the opportunity presented as the events unfolded. … What we don’t have, at this point, is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack.
Sept. 19: At a State Department briefing, the department spokeswoman is asked if she now believes that the attack was a “terrorist attack”? She says, “Well, I didn’t get a chance to see the whole testimony that was given by Matt Olsen of the NCTC, but obviously we stand by comments made by our intelligence community who has first responsibility for evaluating the intelligence and what they believe that we are seeing.”
Sept. 19: The White House spokesman does not call it a “terrorist attack” in his press briefing. Carney says, “Based on the information we had at the time — we have now, we do not yet have indication that it was preplanned or premeditated. There’s an active investigation. If that active investigation produces facts that lead to a different conclusion, we will make clear that that’s where the investigation has led.”
Sept. 20: W.H. Spokesman Calls It a ‘Terrorist Attack’ — Not Obama
Sept. 20: Carney calls it a “terrorist attack” after being asked how the White House now classifies the attack. But he says the White House has no evidence that it was “a significantly preplanned attack” and blames the video for igniting the incident in Benghazi.
Carney: It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Our embassy was attacked violently, and the result was four deaths of American officials. So, again, that’s self-evident. I would point you to a couple of things that Mr. Olsen said, which is that at this point it appears that a number of different elements were involved in the attack, including individuals connected to militant groups that are prevalent in Eastern Libya.
He also made clear that at this point, based on the information he has — and he is briefing the Hill on the most up-to-date intelligence — we have no information at this point that suggests that this was a significantly preplanned attack, but this was the result of opportunism, taking advantage of and exploiting what was happening as a result of reaction to the video that was found to be offensive.
Sept. 20: Obama, at a town hall meeting, says “extremists” took advantage of the “natural protests” to the anti-Muslim video to attack the consulate in Benghazi. He does not call it a “terrorist attack.”
Question: We have reports that the White House said today that the attacks in Libya were a terrorist attack. Do you have information indicating that it was Iran, or al Qaeda was behind organizing the protests?
Obama: Well, we’re still doing an investigation, and there are going to be different circumstances in different countries. And so I don’t want to speak to something until we have all the information. What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.
Sept. 21: Clinton Calls It a ‘Terrorist Attack’
Sept. 21: Clinton, speaking to reporters before a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, calls it a “terrorist attack” for the first time. She says, “Yesterday afternoon when I briefed the Congress, I made it clear that keeping our people everywhere in the world safe is our top priority. What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and we will not rest until we have tracked down and brought to justice the terrorists who murdered four Americans.”
Sept. 24-25: Obama Refuses to Call It a Terrorist Attack
Sept. 24: Clinton meets with the Libyan president and calls the Benghazi attack a “terrorist assault.” She says, “As we all know, the United States lost a great ambassador and the Libyan people lost a true friend when Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the terrorist assault on our consulate in Benghazi.”
Sept. 24: Obama tapes an appearance on “The View,” and he’s asked by co-host Joy Behar whether the Libya attack was an act of terrorism or caused by the anti-Muslim video. He does not call it a terrorist attack and says, “We’re still doing an investigation.”
Joy Behar: It was reported that people just went crazy and wild because of this anti-Muslim movie, or anti-Muhammad, I guess, movie. But then I heard Hillary Clinton say that it was an act of terrorism. Is it? What do you say?
Obama: Well, we’re still doing an investigation. There’s no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action. Now, we don’t have all the information yet, so we’re still gathering it. But what’s clear is that around the world, there’s still a lot of threats out there. That’s why we have to maintain the strongest military in the world, that’s why we can’t let down our guard when it comes to the intelligence work that we do and staying on top of — not just al Qaeda, the traditional al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. …
Sept. 25: Obama speaks at the United Nations. He praises Chris Stevens as “the best of America” and condemns the anti-Muslim video as “crude and disgusting.” He does not describe the Benghazi attack as a terrorist attack.
Sept. 26: ‘Let’s Be Clear, It Was a Terrorist Attack’
Sept. 26: Carney is asked at a press briefing aboard Air Force One en route to Ohio why the president has not called the Benghazi incident a “terrorist attack.” He said, “The president — our position is, as reflected by the NCTC director, that it was a terrorist attack. It is, I think by definition, a terrorist attack when there is a prolonged assault on an embassy with weapons. … So, let’s be clear, it was a terrorist attack and it was an inexcusable attack.”
Sept. 26: Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, in an interview with Al Jazeera, is asked whether he agrees with the president of Libya that the Benghazi attack was premeditated and had nothing to do with the anti-Muslim video. He said: “It’s clear that the attack which took the lives of Chris Stevens and three other colleagues was clearly choreographed and directed and involved a fair amount of firepower, but exactly what kind of planning went into that and how it emerged on that awful night, we just don’t know right now. But I’m confident we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
Sept. 27: When Did Administration Know?
Sept. 27: At a press briefing, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says that “it was a terrorist attack,” but declines to say when he came to that conclusion. “It took a while to really get some of the feedback from what exactly happened at that location,” he said. “As we determined the details of what took place there, and how that attack took place, that it became clear that there were terrorists who had planned that attack.”
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the same briefing addresses what the U.S. knew in advance of the Benghazi attack. He says there was “a thread of intelligence reporting that groups in … eastern Libya were seeking to coalesce, but there wasn’t anything specific and certainly not a specific threat to the consulate that I’m aware of.”
Sept. 27: In a report on “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees,” Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush, says the administration knew early on that it was a terrorist attack. “The law enforcement source who said to me, from day one we had known clearly that this was a terrorist attack,” she says.
Sept. 27-28: Intelligence ‘Evolved’
Sept. 27: The White House spokesman is asked yet again why the president has refused to call the incident a terrorist attack. “The president’s position [is] that this was a terrorist attack,” Carney says.
Question: If the president does not call it, label it a terrorist attack as you and others have, is there some legal or diplomatic trigger that that brings? Why hasn’t he said that?
Carney: I think you’re misunderstanding something here. I’m the president’s spokesman. When the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matt Olsen, in open testimony in Congress answered a question by saying yes, by the definitions we go by — this is me paraphrasing — this was a terrorist attack — I echoed that, because this president, this administration, everybody looks to the intelligence community for the assessments on this. And it has been since I said so, the president’s position that this was a terrorist attack.
Sept. 28: Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, says in a statement that the office’s position on the attack evolved. It was first believed that “the attack began spontaneously,” but it was later determined that “it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack,” he says.
Turner: In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. We provided that initial assessment to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly and provide updates as they became available. Throughout our investigation we continued to emphasize that information gathered was preliminary and evolving.
As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate.
Oct. 2-3: Clinton Cites ‘Continuing Questions’
Oct. 2: White House spokesman Carney at a press briefing in Nevada: “At every step of the way, the administration has based its public statements on the best assessments that were provided by the intelligence community. As the intelligence community learned more information they updated Congress and the American people on it.”
Oct. 3: Clinton tells reporters after a meeting with Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov: “There are continuing questions about what exactly happened in Benghazi on that night three weeks ago. And we will not rest until we answer those questions and until we track down the terrorists who killed our people.”
Oct. 9: ‘Everything Calm’ Prior to Benghazi Attack, No Protests
Oct. 9: At a background briefing, senior state department officials reveal there were no protests prior to the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi — contrary to what administration officials have been saying for weeks. A senior department official says “everything is calm at 8:30 p.m.” (Libya time) when Stevens was outside the building to bid a visitor goodbye. The ambassador retired to his bedroom for the evening at 9 p.m. The calm was shattered by 9:40 p.m. when “loud noises” and “gunfire and an explosion” are heard. (The background briefing provided on Sept. 12 also said the attack began at about 10 p.m., or about 4 p.m. EDT, but it did not provide information about what happened prior to the attack.)
A senior official says it was “not our conclusion” that the Benghazi attack started as a spontaneous protest to the anti-Muslim video. He also said “there was no actionable intelligence of any planned or imminent attack.”
Question: What in all of these events that you’ve described led officials to believe for the first several days that this was prompted by protests against the video?
Senior state department official two: That is a question that you would have to ask others. That was not our conclusion. I’m not saying that we had a conclusion, but we outlined what happened. The Ambassador walked guests out around 8:30 or so, there was no one on the street at approximately 9:40, then there was the noise and then we saw on the cameras the – a large number of armed men assaulting the compound.
Oct. 10: Administration Says It Gave Public ‘Best Information’
Oct. 10: Carney, the White House spokesman, is asked at a press briefing why the president and administration officials described the anti-Muslim video as the underlying cause of the attack on Benghazi when the State Department “never concluded that the assault in Benghazi was part of a protest on the anti-Muslim film.” He replied, in part: “Again, from the beginning, we have provided information based on the facts that we knew as they became available, based on assessments by the intelligence community — not opinions — assessments by the IC, by the intelligence community. And we have been clear all along that this was an ongoing investigation, that as more facts became available we would make you aware of them as appropriate, and we’ve done that.”
Oct. 10: After testifying before a House committee, Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy is asked at a press briefing what the State Department should have done differently in releasing information about the Benghazi attack. He said, “We are giving out the best information we have at the time.”
Kennedy: [T]his is obviously an incredibly complicated situation. We’ve always made clear from the very beginning that we are giving out the best information we have at the time we are giving it out. That information has evolved over time. For example, if any Administration official, including any career official, had been on television on Sunday, September 16th, they would have said the same thing that Ambassador Rice would have said. She had information at that point from the intelligence community, and that is the same information I had and this – I would have made exactly the same points. Clearly, we know more today, but we knew what we knew when we knew it.
Oct. 10: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform releases State Department memos requesting additional security in Libya. Charlene Lamb, a State Department official who denied those requests, tells the committee that the State Department had been training local Libyans for nearly a year and additional U.S. security personnel were not needed. As reported by Foreign Policy: “We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi on the night of 9/11,” Lamb testified. Others testified differently. “All of us at post were in sync that we wanted these resources,” testified Eric Nordstrom, the top regional security officer in Libya over the summer, Foreign Policy reported.
Oct. 15: Clinton Blames ‘Fog of War’
Oct. 15: Clinton, in an interview on CNN, blames the “fog of war” when asked why the administration initially claimed the attack began with the anti-Muslim video, even though the State Department never reached that conclusion. “In the wake of an attack like this in the fog of war, there’s always going to be confusion, and I think it is absolutely fair to say that everyone had the same intelligence,” Clinton says. “Everyone who spoke tried to give the information they had. As time has gone on, the information has changed, we’ve gotten more detail, but that’s not surprising. That always happens.”
Oct. 15: The New York Times reports that the Benghazi attack came “without any warning or protest,” but “Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers” say it was “in retaliation for the video.”
Oct. 24: White House, State Department Emails on Ansar al-Sharia
Oct. 24: Reuters reports the White House, Pentagon and other government agencies learned just two hours into the Benghazi attack that Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamic militant group, had “claimed credit” for it. The wire service report was based on three emails from the State Department’s Operations Center. One of the emails said, “Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripol.” The article also noted, “Intelligence experts caution that initial reports from the scene of any attack or disaster are often inaccurate.” (It should be noted that Reuters first reported on Sept. 12 that unnamed U.S. officials believed that Ansar al-Sharia may have been involved.)
Oct. 24: Clinton warns at a press conference that you cannot draw conclusions from the leaked emails because “cherry-picking one story here or one document there” can be misleading. She said, “The independent Accountability Review Board is already hard at work looking at everything — not cherry-picking one story here or one document there — but looking at everything, which I highly recommend as the appropriate approach to something as complex as an attack like this. Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence, and I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be.”
Oct. 24: Carney, the White House spokesman, says that “within a few hours” of the attack Ansar al-Sharia “claimed that it had not been responsible.” He added, “Neither should be taken as fact — that’s why there’s an investigation underway.”
May 8, 2013: At a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, Rep. Trey Gowdy reads excerpts of a Sept. 12, 2011, email written by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East Beth Jones. According to Gowdy, Jones wrote, “I spoke to the Libyan ambassador and emphasized the importance of Libyan leaders to continue to make strong statements,” and “When he said his government suspected that former Qaddafi regime elements carried out the attack, I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic extremists.” Gowdy said the email was sent to several top State Department officials, including Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy. The committee did not release the full contents of the email. House Speaker John Boehner said the State Department did not allow the House to keep a copy of it.)
May 15, 2013: The White House releases 100 pages of emails regarding the CIA’s original talking points that were developed for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice during her Sept. 16 Sunday talk show appearances. The emails show there were extensive changes made at the request of the State Department. (See “Sept. 16” in our timeline for more information.)
Update, Nov. 6, 2012: This article was updated to add the president’s Sept. 12 interview with Minutes,” which did not release the video and transcript until Nov. 4.
Update, May 9, 2013: This article was updated to include testimony from the May 8, 2013, hearing of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform.
Update, June 29, 2016: We updated this article to include material from reports issued by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Obama's 100 Days Of Progress
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Today marks 100 days since President Obama took office. Yesterday, The Progress Report examined how conservatives chose to spend their first 100 days. Today, we highlight the accomplishments of the Obama administration.
President Barack Obama took the oath of office on Jan. 21, 2009, with two broad mandates bestowed upon him by the American people: repair the mess that President Bush and his administration left behind after eight disastrous years in office, and enact a bold, progressive agenda that includes fixing our nation's health care system and seriously addressing global climate change. Obama went to work right away, pushing the "biggest, boldest countercyclical fiscal stimulus in American history" through Congress -- a $787 billion dollar measure that not only creates jobs but also provides investments in energy, transportation, education and health care. Obama also announced his intention to shift focus and resources away from Bush's misbegotten adventure in Iraq and refocus on Afghanistan, where the security situation is worse than it has been since the start of the U.S.-led war there in October 2001. Now, a series of recent public opinion polls shows that the American public not only overwhelmingly approves of the job Obama is doing as president, but they also believe the nation is heading in the right direction -- "the first time in years the nation has held such an optimistic view of its future." For example, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 50 percent of Americans now say the country is on the right track (48 percent say the wrong track), compared with just 13 percent who had the same feeling last October (85 percent said the U.S. was heading in the wrong direction at that time). Indeed, in his first 100 days in office, Obama has received the support of the American public to implement the progressive agenda he campaigned on.
BREAK FROM BUSH: Shortly after taking office, Obama worked quickly to repair the damage done under Bush and has, in total, issued 29 executive decisions reversing Bush administration policy. On his first day as president, Obama signed an executive order mandating the closure of the Guantanamo Bay terror detainee prison camp within one year. The next day, he ordered military leaders to establish a plan for a responsible withdrawal from Iraq,and he signed executive orders ending CIA secret prisons and ending torture by requiring that all interrogations abide by the Army Field Manual. Obama put these first actions as president in simple terms. "We intend to win this fight" against terrorists, he said. But "we are going to win it on our own terms." On the domestic front, Obama reversed Bush's restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research in March, asserting that his administration would "make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology." In London at the G20 Summit and in other European capitals earlier this month, Obama reassured America's friends and allies that the United States would reengage the world as an equal partner. "We're starting to see some restoration of America's standing in the world," Obama said in London. " It is "very important for us to be able to forge partnerships as opposed to dictating solutions." As far as "dictating solutions," Obama also ditched Bush's "with us or against us" foreign policy mindset in dealing with America's allies and adversaries. Indicating his sincerity in reaching out to the Muslim world, Obama granted his first television interview as president to Dubai-based Al-Arabiya. "My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy," Obama said, adding, "We are offering a hand of friendship." Most significantly, Obama also opened the door to direct dialogue with Iran last month, sending the government and its people a "groundbreaking" "special message" on Nowruz, the start of the Persian New Year, in which he said the U.S. is seeking "engagement" with Iran "that is honest and grounded in mutual respect."
A PROGRESSIVE AGENDA: On Jan. 29, Obama signed his first major piece of legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, an equal pay law making it easier for workers -- most of whom are women -- to initiate pay discrimination lawsuits. "We are upholding one of this nation's first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness," Obama said at the bill's signing ceremony. Six days later, Obama signed a bill expanding publicly funded health insurance for children, known as SCHIP, legislation Bush had vetoed twice despite strong bipartisan support in Congress. The bill reduces the number of uninsured children by about half over the next four years and will "boost the number covered by the program to 11 million." "In a decent society, there are certain obligations that are not subject to trade offs or negotiation -- health care for our children is one of those obligations," Obama said. And just last week, the President signed a $5.7 billion national service bill championed by Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that "triples the size of the AmeriCorps service program over the next eight years and expands ways for students to earn money for college."
THE NEXT 100 DAYS AND BEYOND: Obama and Congress have yet to finalize legislation that would fully accomplish health care reform and solve our climate crisis, but these two major issues remain on the front-burner and have received significant attention in the administration's first 100 days. The economic recovery bill passed earlier this year contained key health care provisions that lead the way toward reform, including $19 billion for health care information technology to implement electronic health records and an agency to "conduct and support research that would assess the benefits of competing treatments," both of which aim to reduce future overall costs. Moreover, Obama's budget creates a "reserve fund" as a down payment to reform the health care system. The stimulus bill also provided a boost to a green economy. In what The New York Times called "the biggest energy bill in history," the Recovery Act provides $91 billion for clean energy investments. In a further indication that addressing climate change is a top priority for the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed this month that greenhouse gas pollution endangers the health and welfare of the American public. The move finally complies with the Supreme Court's 2007 ruling -- ignored by Bush -- that such emissions should be regulated by the federal government under the Clean Air Act. Obama's budget contains key energy provisions that also aim to limit greenhouse gases and build a clean-energy economy, such as a mandatory cap on carbon emissions which is expected to raise hundreds of billions of dollars over the next ten years that will go toward clean energy development and tax credits for working Americans.
Text: Obama’s Remarks on Cyber-Security
THE PRESIDENT: Everybody, please be seated. We meet today at a transformational moment -- a moment in history when our interconnected world presents us, at once, with great promise but also great peril.
Now, over the past four months my administration has taken decisive steps to seize the promise and confront these perils. We're working to recover from a global recession while laying a new foundation for lasting prosperity. We're strengthening our armed forces as they fight two wars, at the same time we're renewing American leadership to confront unconventional challenges, from nuclear proliferation to terrorism, from climate change to pandemic disease. And we're bringing to government -- and to this White House -- unprecedented transparency and accountability and new ways for Americans to participate in their democracy.
But none of this progress would be possible, and none of these 21st century challenges can be fully met, without America's digital infrastructure -- the backbone that underpins a prosperous economy and a strong military and an open and efficient government. Without that foundation we can't get the job done.
It's long been said that the revolutions in communications and information technology have given birth to a virtual world. But make no mistake: This world -- cyberspace -- is a world that we depend on every single day. It's our hardware and our software, our desktops and laptops and cell phones and Blackberries that have become woven into every aspect of our lives.
It's the broadband networks beneath us and the wireless signals around us, the local networks in our schools and hospitals and businesses, and the massive grids that power our nation. It's the classified military and intelligence networks that keep us safe, and the World Wide Web that has made us more interconnected than at any time in human history.
So cyberspace is real. And so are the risks that come with it.
It's the great irony of our Information Age -- the very technologies that empower us to create and to build also empower those who would disrupt and destroy. And this paradox -- seen and unseen -- is something that we experience every day.
It's about the privacy and the economic security of American families. We rely on the Internet to pay our bills, to bank, to shop, to file our taxes. But we've had to learn a whole new vocabulary just to stay ahead of the cyber criminals who would do us harm -- spyware and malware and spoofing and phishing and botnets. Millions of Americans have been victimized, their privacy violated, their identities stolen, their lives upended, and their wallets emptied. According to one survey, in the past two years alone cyber crime has cost Americans more than $8 billion.
I know how it feels to have privacy violated because it has happened to me and the people around me. It's no secret that my presidential campaign harnessed the Internet and technology to transform our politics. What isn't widely known is that during the general election hackers managed to penetrate our computer systems. To all of you who donated to our campaign, I want you to all rest assured, our fundraising website was untouched. (Laughter.) So your confidential personal and financial information was protected.
But between August and October, hackers gained access to emails and a range of campaign files, from policy position papers to travel plans. And we worked closely with the CIA -- with the FBI and the Secret Service and hired security consultants to restore the security of our systems. It was a powerful reminder: In this Information Age, one of your greatest strengths -- in our case, our ability to communicate to a wide range of supporters through the Internet -- could also be one of your greatest vulnerabilities.
This is a matter, as well, of America's economic competitiveness. The small businesswoman in St. Louis, the bond trader in the New York Stock Exchange, the workers at a global shipping company in Memphis, the young entrepreneur in Silicon Valley -- they all need the networks to make the next payroll, the next trade, the next delivery, the next great breakthrough. E-commerce alone last year accounted for some $132 billion in retail sales.
But every day we see waves of cyber thieves trolling for sensitive information -- the disgruntled employee on the inside, the lone hacker a thousand miles away, organized crime, the industrial spy and, increasingly, foreign intelligence services. In one brazen act last year, thieves used stolen credit card information to steal millions of dollars from 130 ATM machines in 49 cities around the world -- and they did it in just 30 minutes. A single employee of an American company was convicted of stealing intellectual property reportedly worth $400 million. It's been estimated that last year alone cyber criminals stole intellectual property from businesses worldwide worth up to $1 trillion.
In short, America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.
And this is also a matter of public safety and national security. We count on computer networks to deliver our oil and gas, our power and our water. We rely on them for public transportation and air traffic control. Yet we know that cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid and that in other countries cyber attacks have plunged entire cities into darkness.
Our technological advantage is a key to America's military dominance. But our defense and military networks are under constant attack. Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have spoken of their desire to unleash a cyber attack on our country -- attacks that are harder to detect and harder to defend against. Indeed, in today's world, acts of terror could come not only from a few extremists in suicide vests but from a few key strokes on the computer -- a weapon of mass disruption.
In one of the most serious cyber incidents to date against our military networks, several thousand computers were infected last year by malicious software -- malware. And while no sensitive information was compromised, our troops and defense personnel had to give up those external memory devices -- thumb drives -- changing the way they used their computers every day.
And last year we had a glimpse of the future face of war. As Russian tanks rolled into Georgia, cyber attacks crippled Georgian government websites. The terrorists that sowed so much death and destruction in Mumbai relied not only on guns and grenades but also on GPS and phones using voice-over-the-Internet.
For all these reasons, it's now clear this cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.
It's also clear that we're not as prepared as we should be, as a government or as a country. In recent years, some progress has been made at the federal level. But just as we failed in the past to invest in our physical infrastructure -- our roads, our bridges and rails -- we've failed to invest in the security of our digital infrastructure.
No single official oversees cybersecurity policy across the federal government, and no single agency has the responsibility or authority to match the scope and scale of the challenge. Indeed, when it comes to cybersecurity, federal agencies have overlapping missions and don't coordinate and communicate nearly as well as they should -- with each other or with the private sector. We saw this in the disorganized response to Conficker, the Internet "worm" that in recent months has infected millions of computers around the world.
This status quo is no longer acceptable -- not when there's so much at stake. We can and we must do better.
And that's why shortly after taking office I directed my National Security Council and Homeland Security Council to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the federal government's efforts to defend our information and communications infrastructure and to recommend the best way to ensure that these networks are able to secure our networks as well as our prosperity.
Our review was open and transparent. I want to acknowledge, Melissa Hathaway, who is here, who is the Acting Senior Director for Cyberspace on our National Security Council, who led the review team, as well as the Center for Strategic and International Studies bipartisan Commission on Cybersecurity, and all who were part of our 60-day review team. They listened to a wide variety of groups, many of which are represented here today and I want to thank for their input: industry and academia, civil liberties and private -- privacy advocates. We listened to every level and branch of government -- from local to state to federal, civilian, military, homeland as well as intelligence, Congress and international partners, as well. I consulted with my national security teams, my homeland security teams, and my economic advisors.
Today I'm releasing a report on our review, and can announce that my administration will pursue a new comprehensive approach to securing America's digital infrastructure.
This new approach starts at the top, with this commitment from me: From now on, our digital infrastructure -- the networks and computers we depend on every day -- will be treated as they should be: as a strategic national asset. Protecting this infrastructure will be a national security priority. We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient. We will deter, prevent, detect, and defend against attacks and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage.
To give these efforts the high-level focus and attention they deserve -- and as part of the new, single National Security Staff announced this week -- I'm creating a new office here at the White House that will be led by the Cybersecurity Coordinator. Because of the critical importance of this work, I will personally select this official. I'll depend on this official in all matters relating to cybersecurity, and this official will have my full support and regular access to me as we confront these challenges.
Today, I want to focus on the important responsibilities this office will fulfill: orchestrating and integrating all cybersecurity policies for the government working closely with the Office of Management and Budget to ensure agency budgets reflect those priorities and, in the event of major cyber incident or attack, coordinating our response.
To ensure that federal cyber policies enhance our security and our prosperity, my Cybersecurity Coordinator will be a member of the National Security Staff as well as the staff of my National Economic Council. To ensure that policies keep faith with our fundamental values, this office will also include an official with a portfolio specifically dedicated to safeguarding the privacy and civil liberties of the American people.
There's much work to be done, and the report we're releasing today outlines a range of actions that we will pursue in five key areas.
First, working in partnership with the communities represented here today, we will develop a new comprehensive strategy to secure America's information and communications networks. To ensure a coordinated approach across government, my Cybersecurity Coordinator will work closely with my Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra, and my Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra. To ensure accountability in federal agencies, cybersecurity will be designated as one of my key management priorities. Clear milestones and performances metrics will measure progress. And as we develop our strategy, we will be open and transparent, which is why you'll find today's report and a wealth of related information on our Web site, www.whitehouse.gov.
Second, we will work with all the key players -- including state and local governments and the private sector -- to ensure an organized and unified response to future cyber incidents. Given the enormous damage that can be caused by even a single cyber attack, ad hoc responses will not do. Nor is it sufficient to simply strengthen our defenses after incidents or attacks occur. Just as we do for natural disasters, we have to have plans and resources in place beforehand -- sharing information, issuing warnings and ensuring a coordinated response.
Third, we will strengthen the public/private partnerships that are critical to this endeavor. The vast majority of our critical information infrastructure in the United States is owned and operated by the private sector. So let me be very clear: My administration will not dictate security standards for private companies. On the contrary, we will collaborate with industry to find technology solutions that ensure our security and promote prosperity.
Fourth, we will continue to invest in the cutting-edge research and development necessary for the innovation and discovery we need to meet the digital challenges of our time. And that's why my administration is making major investments in our information infrastructure: laying broadband lines to every corner of America building a smart electric grid to deliver energy more efficiently pursuing a next generation of air traffic control systems and moving to electronic health records, with privacy protections, to reduce costs and save lives.
And finally, we will begin a national campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness and digital literacy from our boardrooms to our classrooms, and to build a digital workforce for the 21st century. And that's why we're making a new commitment to education in math and science, and historic investments in science and research and development. Because it's not enough for our children and students to master today's technologies -- social networking and e-mailing and texting and blogging -- we need them to pioneer the technologies that will allow us to work effectively through these new media and allow us to prosper in the future. So these are the things we will do.
Let me also be clear about what we will not do. Our pursuit of cybersecurity will not -- I repeat, will not include -- monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic. We will preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties that we cherish as Americans. Indeed, I remain firmly committed to net neutrality so we can keep the Internet as it should be -- open and free.
The task I have described will not be easy. Some 1.5 billion people around the world are already online, and more are logging on every day. Groups and governments are sharpening their cyber capabilities. Protecting our prosperity and security in this globalized world is going to be a long, difficult struggle demanding patience and persistence over many years.
But we need to remember: We're only at the beginning. The epochs of history are long -- the Agricultural Revolution the Industrial Revolution. By comparison, our Information Age is still in its infancy. We're only at Web 2.0. Now our virtual world is going viral. And we've only just begun to explore the next generation of technologies that will transform our lives in ways we can't even begin to imagine.
So a new world awaits -- a world of greater security and greater potential prosperity -- if we reach for it, if we lead. So long as I'm President of the United States, we will do just that. And the United States -- the nation that invented the Internet, that launched an information revolution, that transformed the world -- will do what we did in the 20th century and lead once more in the 21st.
GAFFNEY: Obama's surrender
The White House billed last week’s address by President Obama as a major foreign policy address. Indeed, it was. It was tantamount to a surrender speech in what is most accurately described not as the War on Terrorism, but as the War for the Free World — for that is what is at stake if we lose.
Of course, Team Obama clearly meant the take-away from his remarks to be about tactical adjustments, not strategic defeat — hence, the focus on changes he was announcing to U.S. policy and practice with regard to drones and Guantanamo Bay.
With respect to the former, the president severely restricted the use of one of the few tools he has used offensively against what he calls “core al Qaeda” and the leadership of some of its affiliates. Henceforth, under circumstances where a direct and imminent threat is posed to the United States and no collateral damage will be caused to innocent civilians, strikes from remotely piloted vehicles will be mostly conducted by the military.
This assumes that the chain of command can function in a sufficiently timely fashion to get the job done. It also is predicated on the assumption that the government of the country in which the strike will occur is OK with having ties with the typically more overt Pentagon, rather than enjoying the plausible deniability of dealing with the inherently covert CIA.
That prospect is further dimmed by the new guidelines precluding use of armed drones if it might be helpful just to the host government and undefined “U.S. interests,” such as our preference for its survival. Then, there is the further potential impediment created by Mr. Obama’s stated openness to having a new court rule on the appropriateness of each strike.
Mr. Obama is engaged in similar unilateral disarmament with respect to the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He insists that his administration will close down Gitmo, the only secure facility in the world for detaining unlawful enemy combatants without affording them constitutional rights they do not deserve and will likely use to our detriment. He promises to exercise his authority to send home a number of Yemenis held there, even though there is every reason to think many will return to wage jihad against us — either in their own anarchic country or elsewhere. A new special White House envoy will redouble administration efforts to unload the rest of the detainees, as well.
Taken together, the president now seems determined neither to capture and incarcerate enemies — apart from inside the United States, where they can be swiftly Mirandized and lawyered-up — nor otherwise to eliminate the threat they represent by killing them remotely.
Ill-advised as these presidential actions are, even more ominous is the fact that they were but a part of Mr. Obama’s leitmotif of denial, disengagement and defeatism: Denial about the enemy, which is not al Qaeda (core or otherwise), but the global jihadist movement of which the now-deceased Osama bin Laden and his successors are but one element. Disengagement from waging war against that enemy by hollowing out and demoralizing the only military we have to fight it. Defeatism was captured in his statement that “this war, like all wars, must end.”
Many have noted since Mr. Obama spoke that there are only two ways that a nation can end a war unilaterally: by winning it or by surrendering. Unfortunately, this president has effectively ruled out winning. Every one of America’s enemies — actual or potential — knows that by both his rhetoric and his actions, Mr. Obama is in the process of surrendering.
The extent of that surrender is evident in “The Jihadist Plot,” a riveting account by John Rosenthal of how the Obama administration “switched sides in the War on Terror.” Drawing from a variety of open and formerly classified sources, the author makes plain that we are now aligned in Libya (among other places) with not just Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood’s opportunistic jihadi stripe, but those committed exclusively to violent jihad, such as al Qaeda.
In the face of such appalling unilateral disarmament and defeatism, where is the loyal opposition in this country? Alas, the man the press construes to be the pre-eminent Republican on national security issues, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, has just demonstrated afresh his own poor judgment on these matters.
With a trip over the weekend to hobnob with jihadists among the “Syrian opposition” about the United States’ obligation to provide more arms to them, establish a no-fly zone and otherwise help them overthrow Bashar Assad, Mr. McCain is recklessly seeking a reprise of the disaster in Libya. He is insisting that we actively work to remove an autocratic, relatively secular despot and replace him with “rebels” — the preponderance of whom seek our destruction.
We must reject and repudiate the surrender Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain are engineering. We must also understand factors contributing to such behavior. To that end, an enormously important contribution has just been made by syndicated columnist Diana West in her new book, “American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character.”
Ms. West brings to the subject her characteristic clarity of thought, engaging writing style and exacting attention to — and documentation of — the evidence of penetration and subversion of our country and government by successive waves of ideologically driven totalitarian collectivists. If you want to understand the wellspring of our present surrender, you must read “American Betrayal.” Then take to heart its author’s clarion call for avenging the betrayal of liberty that has taken place since FDR’s time and that is reaching dangerous new heights today.
Obama marks 100th day in office
WASHINGTON&ndashPresident Barack Obama said today progress has been made in rebuilding the U.S. economy but more remains to be done.
Obama made his remarks at a prime-time news conference that capped his 100th day in office, a time of national testing given a deep economic recession and unprecedented credit crunch.
Obama said: "And all of this means you can expect an unrelenting, unyielding effort from this administration to strengthen our prosperity and our security &ndash in the second hundred days and the third hundred days and all the days after."
At his news conference, Obama also said he had no second thoughts about having approved the release of memos from the administration of former president George W. Bush detailing the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques used on terrorist suspects.
"I do believe that it is torture," he said flatly of waterboarding, which simulates drowning.
He appeared to acknowledge useful information had been obtained in interrogations in which it was used, an assessment made in a memo by his administration's top intelligence official.
The president said it was not possible to know whether the same information could have been obtained if waterboarding had not been employed.
"I'm absolutely convinced we are not taking shortcuts that undermine who we are," said Obama, who has come under criticism from numerous Republicans for his decision to release the memos.
The prime-time news conference was the third of Obama's presidency, and the first that was not dominated by the economy &ndash in part because of concerns about a swine flu epidemic still spreading in the United States.
Asked about Chrysler, he was notably more upbeat that an administration report issued nearly a month ago.
"I'm feeling more optimistic," he said.
Obama did not say so but Italian automaker Fiat Group SpA is expected to sign a partnership agreement with Chrysler LLC by Thursday as part of negotiations to keep the struggling U.S. automaker alive without bankruptcy protection.
The administration has given General Motors Corp. an additional month to present a restructuring plan that meets his administration's approval.
"They're still in the process of presenting us with another plan," he said.
He added: "I would love to get the U.S. government out of the auto business as soon as possible."
On a political matter, Obama said he thought Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter's switch Tuesday from Republican to Democrat would ``liberate him to co-operate on critical issues like health care, like infrastructure and job-creation, areas where his inclinations were to work with us but he was feeling pressure not to."
Obama's intensive schedule for the day demonstrated the degree to which the administration saw both possibility and peril in the 100-day marker &ndash traditionally a symbolic milestone for a president.
Presidential aides have derided it as a media-created holiday in which the White House participates reluctantly. They also recognize it is a time frame by which all modern presidents are judged, at least initially, and which can produce negative narratives that stick with administrations for years.
So, the White House has jumped into the celebration, making high-level Obama advisers available anywhere they were needed over the last week and crafting the president's day to maximum advantage.
The opening act of the Obama presidency has been head-turning, not only for the dire times in which he took office but his flurry of activity.
Determined to revive the dismal economy, his signature challenge, Obama has overseen a trillion-dollar infusion of federal spending and major interventions by Washington into the private sector, from directing executive pay to seizing huge governmental ownership shares in financial institutions and possibly General Motors.
Looking forward, Obama struck a cautious note, warning that ``more will be lost" in a recession that already has cost millions of Americans their homes and jobs.
Obama also has put the United States on track to end the Iraq war, while escalating the one in Afghanistan.
In fact, nearly every day since Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration has brought a sweeping new promise to upend business as usual, veering from big issues to small and back.
The reward: strong public backing despite a still-staggering economy. An Associated Press-GfK poll shows 48 per cent of Americans believe the United States is headed in the right direction, the first time in years more people than not expressed optimism for a brighter future.
But most of what Obama has done so far, as would be expected for little more than three months, amounts to no more than a down payment.
Obama stressed this during a speech and short question-and-answer session earlier Wednesday in a St. Louis, Mo, suburb.
"Our progress has to be measured in the results that we achieve over many months and years, not the minute-by-minute talk in the media," he told a friendly crowd at a high school.
For instance, he has begun redefining the U.S. image around the globe, a combination of his fresh look and diplomatic outreach. But those efforts will take time to bear fruit in places like Iran, North Korea, Russia, Cuba and Sudan.
Obama also said he will close the controversial U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but he has yet to confront the tough decisions about where to send terror suspects held there.
Most notably, Obama insisted the massive but short-term economic stimulus that has increased the federal deficit would be unwise without a commitment to cutting spending and a long-term reshaping of the U.S. economy.
So he has proposed an all-at-once agenda that includes increased education spending to produce a better-trained work force, greater support for renewable energy development, a high-priced system for companies to buy and sell rights to emit dangerous pollutants, a vast expansion of health insurance and new rules to rein in the riskiest Wall Street behaviour. He has asked Congress to provide it all by the end of the year.
Democrats in Congress gave Obama a 100-day present by advancing a $3.4-trillion federal budget for next year. The non-binding budget blueprint amounted to a first step in Obama's goal of providing health care coverage for all Americans, because it gives Democrats the option of stopping any Republican delaying tactics on the president's health care plan.
Obama’s false ‘intelligence failure’ claim
The president is nothing if not reliable when it comes to avoiding responsibility for his gross foreign policy errors. Asked in his “60 Minutes” interview if he had been surprised by the rise of the Islamic State, he replied:
Really? This is exhibit A for why Congress needs to shut down the Benghazi select committee, which is obsessing over one small aspect of the larger and much more critical issue here: How did the president allow jihadism to flourish and lose several Middle East countries?
Notice that the component of the Iraq situation Obama left out was the most critical — the withdrawal of our troops and the loss of influence over Maliki. That was foretold by numerous lawmakers, military men and outside experts who explained sectarian violence would reappear — precisely as it did.
Candidate for Senate in New Hampshire Scott Brown released a statement bashing Obama’s buck-passing: “I’m disappointed that President Obama refused to accept responsibility for underestimating ISIS. Instead, he blamed James Clapper, his director of intelligence. Yet, it was President Obama who described ISIS as a ‘Jayvee team’ earlier this year. At some point, the man in charge has to answer for what happens on his own watch.”
Many administration officials and lawmakers such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had for years argued that our hands-off policy in Syria would create a radicalizing dynamic that would result in a terrorist sanctuary in the Middle East. This prediction was accurate and was informed not by some super-secret analysis McCain saw about the Islamic State, but by understanding regional dynamics and history. It’s ironic that Obama, who won the presidency by deploring the Bush administration for following intelligence advice on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, now hides behind the intelligence community.
Lots of people knew exactly what was brewing in Syria and Iraq. The Daily Beast reported that the collapse of Iraq to Islamic State forces was no surprise to those who were paying attention:
The president either was derelict in his failure to heed warnings or — just like in Benghazi, Libya — he was unwilling to give credence to reports that would have meant he had let jihadists out of their box and American withdrawal was proving to be a disaster. Administration officials were telling Congress in 2013 how dire things had become:
Whether in Syria or Iraq, a chorus of voices tried to sound the alarm including Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who recently confirmed he had been sounding the alarm for some time that jihadism was growing:
If only Obama had heard about the Foreign Policy Initiative Summit in October 2013, which discussed the rise of Syrian militants in depth.
Sens. McCain and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently set out the numerous opportunities when Obama could have acted to check the rise of the Islamic State, which they argue “was neither inevitable nor unpredictable.” They recall that in the summer of 2012:
By ignoring experts outside his circle of toadies and discounting unspinnable media, Obama apparently missed warning after warning after warning about the rise of Islamists in Syria, like the ones The Post columnists and editorial board have given over the years. If Obama did not see the consequences of American withdrawal and the growing threat of Islamists it was because he chose not to. (Hillary Clinton wasn’t hampered by “bad” intelligence and argued for U.S. action. Only Obama was given misleading intelligence?)
Obama’s excuse that this was an intelligence failure is pure bunk. It was a leadership failure. It was Obama’s failure.