Real News Mashup–Feb 11, 2019

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

Real News Mashup is a compilation of articles that I consider to be interesting, informative, or both. Please feel free to share articles of your own in the comments. Perhaps if we work together, we can remember that the world is bigger than the propaganda storm.

 

Things That Might Make You Want to Slap Someone

Apple and Google Accused of Helping “Enforce Gender Apartheid” by Hosting Saudi Government App That Tracks Women and Stops Them Leaving the Country

 

Midterm Assessment: Hezbollah

 

Hezbollah Parade in Beirut
Image by Voice of America, public domain

New Gun Bill Would Require Buyers to Reveal Social Media History

 

They Got “Everything” Inside a Demo of NSO group’s Powerful iPhone Malware

 

Text of Green New Deal

IMHO, it reads like a lovely letter to Santa Claus, or perhaps a Utopian Manifesto.

It’s worth noting that the text does not specify that taxpayers should guarantee “economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work,” as many sources are quoting. Rather, it does say “providing all people of the United States” with “economic security.”

The following document, taken by NPR from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s website, does actually endorse providing “economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work,” or, in other words, “all people of the United States.” This document was taken down and disavowed by Ocasio-Cortez after an uproar.

 

Green New Deal FAQ

 

Stepping Back from the Edge . . .

Colorado Man Kills Mountain Lion with Bare Hands in Self-Defense

And an Idaho woman say, “Hold my beer!” . . .

 

Idaho Woman Accidentally Grabs Mountain Lion in Attempt to Break Up “Dog Fight”

Bad week to be a mountain lion.

 

One Woman’s Selfless Act Spurs Group to Rent 60 Hotel Rooms to Keep Homeless People Off Chicago Streets During Historic Cold

 

Woman Becomes First Black Female Pilot in Georgia Air National Guard

 

1st Lt. Andrea Lewis
Image public domain

 

CIA Paid This Soviet Traitor Millions–But Got Billions in Return

 

And These are Just Fun . . .

This Army Wife’s Wedding Dress is Made from the Parachute That Saved Her Husband

 

Study Finds Those Who Read Books Live Longer Than Those Who Don’t

 

El Paso Zoo Will Name a Cockroach After Your Ex and Feed It to Their Meerkats

Now that’s a fundraiser!

 

What Did Ancient Babylonians Eat? A Yale-Harvard Team Tested Their Recipes

 

Rare Century-Old Images of the Inuit People

 

Incredible Photos of Freezing Penguins, Waterfalls, and Isolated Communities Reveal Earth’s Stunning Natural Beauty

 

All the best to all of you for a loving Valentine’s week.

 

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Rules of Engagement:

We want comments.

Feel free to disagree with us and with each other in comments as long as arguments are rational and not things like “It scares me so it should be banned.” Thoughtful disagreement fosters intellectual growth for all of us.

Civil Discourse is strictly enforced. That means you can say anything as long as you focus on the concepts and say it with respect, free of personal insults.

No arguing or advocating for or against Trump or any other politician, no matter what your position. We are all inundated with too much of that already, so please focus comments on the issues and not the personalities.

Bayard & Holmes reserve the right to remove comments for any reason.

Real News Mashup–January 24, 2019

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard

News Finds is a compilation of articles that I consider to be interesting, informative, or both. Please feel free to share non-political articles of your own in the comments. Perhaps if we work together, we can combat the overwhelming propaganda we are bombarded with by mainstream media.

This post is a bit long, as I’ve been stacking up articles for a while.

 

General Interest

 

Tony Mendez, “Argo” CIA Officer Who Smuggled US Hostages Out of Iran During Crisis, Dies at 78

A master of forgery and disguise, Tony Mendez was an outstanding professional and an outstanding human being. Rest in peace. #Respect

How the Media Convinces Us All the We’re Outraged — Even When No One Cares

Someone posted a video online of youngest senator Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez dancing. Social media exploded with outrage at the “conservative outrage” over her video. I noticed, though, that I didn’t actually see any of the conservative outrage that was the supposed source of all of this leftist outrage. Apparently, I’m not the only one who noticed.

Police Have No Duty to Protect You, Federal Court Confirms Yet Again

Something to keep in mind when considering personal security issues.

Davos Billionaires Keep Getting Richer

The world’s billionaires and their political minions are meeting in Davos, Switzerland this month.

My own observation:

In the past, the richest people were visible and had the responsibility of ruling nations. We called them kings and queens. Since democratic forms of government came along, the richest people have been able to outsource public appearances and the daily headaches of governing the masses to minions known as “world leaders.” We like to believe that media is above it all and holds these world leaders and their largely invisible billionaire backers accountable for their actions, but mainstream media is owned by those billionaire backers, so mainstream “news” reduced to agenda-driven propaganda.

And the rest of us? The handful* who own the world see us as the barnyard animals to be herded and juggled for their money-farming needs, i.e. “We need more cheap labor in Europe. Let’s get our minions there to push open immigration.” Sort of like, “We need more plow horses. We’ll introduce another twenty to the herd. It will take some time for the herd to adjust, but it will.”

Where in the past the owners of the world used religion to inspire the outrage necessary to get the mob going the right direction, now they use social buzzwords and politics.

Conspiracy? Not at all. Simply the organic alignment of personal interests.

*When I say handful, I mean handful. According to a recent report by Oxfam, only 26 people now own as much as 50% of the entire world’s poorest.

 

 

Military/Intelligence Articles

 

Defense Intelligence Agency (“DIA”) Chinese Military Power Report

An excellent report on Chinese Military Power published by the US Naval Institute.

Does the US Face an AI Ethics Gap? 

This article explores the Artificial Intelligence Ethics Gap in the Western world that impacts military defense. In other words, Communist China and other countries develop AI technologies in ways that are ethically prohibited in Western societies. Does this put Western societies at a disadvantage? It poses an interesting dilemma.

On Nobility and the CIA’s War in Afghanistan

Setting the record straight.

The US Intelligence Community Wants Disruptive Change as Long as It’s Not Disruptive

An excellent piece on how collecting facts without thought is like doing steps without dancing.

OSS Training in the National Parks and Service Abroad in WWII

A fairly intense downloadable book on the history of the OSS and its relationship with the National Parks.

 

Now let’s lighten up!

 

Man “Marries” Laptop, Sues for State Recognition and a Wedding Cake

Yes. Really. Can’t make this up.

Bring It On! New Taliban Video Shows Intense Training for New Cheer Squad Competition

Likely hilarious to anyone who has served in the US Armed Forces.

Photos from the Moon’s Far Side: China’s Chang’e 4 Lunar Landing in Pictures

First pictures from the dark side of the moon. *queues up Pink Floyd*

Florida Couple Run Over by Patrol Car While Lying in Road to Watch Lunar Eclipse

A Darwin Award near miss, for sure.

Natural Beauty of Wildlife Beneath the Waves Revealed in Stunning Pics

The word “stunning” is generally overused these days, but it applies in this instance.

 

The Tank Chair

 

 

 

All the best to all of you for a week of stunning beauty.

Piper

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Rules of Engagement:

  1. We love comments.
  2. Feel free to disagree with me and with each other in comments as long as arguments are rational and not things like “It scares me so it should be banned.” Thoughtful disagreement fosters intellectual growth for all of us.
  3. Civil Discourse is strictly enforced. That means you can say anything as long as you focus on the concepts and say it with respect, free of personal insults.
  4. No arguing or advocating for or against Trump or any other politician, no matter what your position. We are all inundated with too much of that already.
  5. Bayard & Holmes reserve the right to remove comments for any reason.

Espionage Info for Everyone — SPYCRAFT: Essentials

Bayard & Holmes

We are proud to announce the birth of our new book baby, SPYCRAFT: Essentials.

 

 

What do the main intelligence agencies do and where do they operate? How do they recruit personnel? What are real life honey pots and sleeper agents? What about truth serums and enhanced interrogations? And what are the most common foibles of popular spy fiction?

With the voice of over forty years of experience in the Intelligence Community, Bayard & Holmes answer these questions and share information on espionage history, firearms of spycraft, tradecraft techniques, and the personalities and personal challenges of the men and women behind the myths.

Though crafted with advice and specific tips for writers, SPYCRAFT: Essentials is for anyone who wants to learn more about the inner workings of the Shadow World.

 

Now available on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, and in print at Amazon.

 

“For any author, SPYCRAFT: Essentials is the new bible for crafting stories of espionage. It’s also perfect for anyone who wants to know the lengths nations will go to keep or steal secrets and the methods they will use to do so. This is a bombshell of a book.”

~ James Rollins
New York Times Bestselling Author of The Demon Crown

 

“From novices to experts, I suspect everyone will find something in this book that they did not know before.”

~ Doug Patteson
Film Technical Advisor and Former CIA Officer

 

“Bayard and Holmes have done the unprecedented: crafted a fully informative, while wholly unclassified, overview on American spycraft with a special focus on preparing novelists for realistic scene writing. That said, this little treasure should not be limited to writers. Because it delivers solid, valuable information as a comprehensive primer on how the Intelligence Community really operates, SPYCRAFT: Essentials is a must-read for all involved Americans.”

~ Rob DuBois
Retired US Navy SEAL and NSA Collector

 

“An instant classic. Detailed, insightful, and authentic, SPYCRAFT: Essentials for Writers is my go-to reference for all things espionage.”

~ Grant Blackwood
New York Times Bestselling Author of the Briggs Tanner series

 

“An essential addition to every thriller writer’s library. If you want to know how the Intelligence Community really works, read SPYCRAFT: Essentials and you’ll get it right every time. Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes know their stuff!”

~Diane Capri
Award Winning New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Hunt for Jack Reacher series

Staying Safe in Public Spaces

Bayard & Holmes

With the increasing number of terrorist attacks around the world, the public is becoming ever more aware that it’s wise to take precautions and think about safety measures. Today we welcome former CIA officer Doug Patteson of Inglorious Amateurs, who shares his insights and advice on precautions we should all take as a matter of habit.

 

Staying Safe in Public Spaces

~ Doug Patteson

Whether it is the recent suicide bomb in Manchester UK, or the 2003 The Station nightclub fire, or any number of other recent catastrophic events, we are reminded that we need to always be thinking about our security in public events and transitional spaces. Just because you are in an event or location with robust security, you should not ever take your safety for granted.

 

 

At events like the Manchester attack, we tend to think we are safe. The arena has security, no weapons are allowed, it’s a fun crowd out for a fun evening.

Attackers know these thing too and they tend to look for the weak points in security. In this case, the attacker chose a transitional space, a natural funnel between a primary exit from the arena, and the nearest public transport, the Manchester train station. He knew traffic flow from the concert would be heavy and concentrated. He knew the only likely security in the transitional space would be CCTV cameras (great for post mortem, not so hot for prevention). And he knew that by the nature of the transitional space, no one would think twice about someone loitering (waiting on friends? A train?) carrying luggage (it’s a train station entrance after all).

In 2003, The Station nightclub caught fire and was engulfed in smoke and flames in 5 ½ minutes. Of the 462 people in a club with capacity for only 404, 100 died and 230 were injured. When the fire began, people panicked and fled blindly, trying to exit through the one door they had entered, ignoring other potential exits.

A framework can be helpful in this process. Largely, the model below is familiar to most military or first responders as it is similar to the traditional OODA loop, or Observe, Orient, Decide, Act model of decision making. But, sometimes jargon gets in the way of understanding. So here is some simpler language.

Pay attention

For some reason, when we get around our friends, in a social situation, excited about our plans as they unfold, we stop paying attention to the world around us. When we are alone in public, we tend to pay far more attention to our surroundings. We feel alone, which often makes us feel insecure, less safe, but heightens our focus. Being in a group brings an often false sense of security, and a fair number of distractions.

Don’t let your guard down. Stay vigilant and pay attention to the world around your group. If something seems out of place, or makes you feel off, there is probably a good reason for it. Security professionals often call this situational awareness, which is a fancy way of saying understanding the environment and events you are in, in relation to time and meaning, what is normal and expected, and thus what is out of context and therefore noticeable. And if you notice something that looks out of place, or your spidey senses start tingling, an unattended bag or individual dressed inappropriately for the environment and looking uncomfortable, etc. let someone in authority know.

 

Know the layout

There is a reason flight attendants show passengers where the exits are. Statistics point to a significantly increased probability of surviving a plane crash if you know where the exits are. Virtually any public venue you go to will have multiple entrances/exits. Don’t just remember the one you went through to get there, learn where at least one of the others is.

In 2003, during The Station nightclub fire,  100 people died, 40 of them in the doorway they had entered through. There were three other exits in the building, and an entire front of windows that could have been broken to create egress points. People are creatures of habit, they like to go in the way they came.

Take a few minutes, look for the exits, talk it over with your group and have a plan in case you get separated or things go south.

Take a moment to assess what’s happening

If you are in situation where an event has happened (active shooter, plane disaster, ied), don’t panic. Stop, take a moment to assess the situation. Where is the threat? Is it ongoing? What are my escape options? Remember, you already learned where the various exits were. What is the crowd doing? Is there cover available to me? Or just concealment? Can I leave? Or is hiding my only option?

In the early days of active shooter training, the mantra was Run, Hide, Fight. Today that has been replaced with Avoid, Deny, Defend. In either case though, you need to take a little time to assess what is happening. Don’t freeze however, this is an active assessment informed by your previous knowledge of the area. You are making decisions about your next steps.

Take action

With your assessment in mind, action is now required. Can you safely and quickly leave the area? Which way? What is the crowd doing? There can be significant risk in following the crowd. Crowds can lead to deadly bottlenecks. In the case of a terrorist attack, one tactic we have seen applied is an initial attack designed to stun/assault a crowd, followed by a second, potentially larger attack, designed around a bottleneck of fleeing victims and/or first responders.

Are you responsible for others? Are they with you? Can you communicate with them? Did you set up a meeting place in case you got separated? Now is the time to execute on the plan you worked through earlier. For example, “We are going to head out that emergency exit on the north side of the stage. We will make our way back to our vehicle in section X of the parking lot.” Once you leave, get away from the threat zone. Remember, debris from an explosion can travel long distances. Don’t linger in the area.

Finally, what to do if you or a friend are injured?

Do you know CPR? ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation). Are they conscious? Talking? Take another moment now to assess their injuries. Have you taken any medical training or first aid courses? Do you know to apply pressure if they are bleeding? Do you have a med kit? I highly recommend you get one, get trained on using it, and carry it. Call 911 and, if necessary seek medical attention as soon as possible.

 

 

Look, I don’t want you to live your life in fear. That’s what the bad guys want, whether a bully, criminal or terrorist. Go out with friends. Attend concerts and movies. Travel. Live your life. I am only advocating that you go out in that life a little more prepared. A slightly harder target than the average person. Someone more likely to survive when faced with a deadly threat. Because you have taken the time to pay attention, assess, build a plan and be prepared to execute on it.

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Doug is a former CIA officer with extensive overseas experience in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. He is skilled in several foreign languages, personal security, tactical driving, counter terrorism tactics and small arms. He holds an MBA from Wharton and has worked in high tech, private equity and manufacturing. He regularly writes on business and intelligence topics for both web and print publications, serves as an on air SME for news and opinion shows, and consults/produces on film and television productions.

 

For more from Doug, please see his work at Inglorious Amateurs.

5 Espionage Myths — The November Man

 

By Piper Bayard

 

The November Man movie poster

The November Man movie poster

 

The November Man is an espionage movie in which an ex-CIA operative is brought back by the Company for a personal mission in Moscow, only to find himself pitted against his protégé. It is a fast action thriller starring Pierce Brosnan and Luke Bracey that rockets viewers through the Russian and Serbian shadow world with everything from brutal assassins to rogue top-level operatives. It is also a comprehensive collection of espionage myths.

 

Myth One – CIA operatives are all ready and willing to off their own at any given moment just because a bureaucrat orders it.

Truth – US intelligence operatives are not murderous automatons who blindly kill whomever they are told to, up to and including their mentors and protégés.

 

It was common in Stalin’s KGB for Soviet operatives to kill each other. In fact, the KGB had a special branch for the express purpose of targeting fellow agents. However, such pointless slaughter has never been part of the US intelligence culture. Americans don’t put up with that crap. Presidents come and go with their various agendas, and long after they are booking their lecture tours and cutting ribbons on their presidential libraries, operatives are still on the job. Our intelligence community consists of flesh and blood human beings who would not live long if they didn’t question and comprehend their missions. They are not slovenly attack dogs to be released on any target that a transient bureaucratic overlord decides is inconvenient to their political goals, particularly when that target is one of their own.

 

Myth Two – Operatives think nothing of killing innocent people.

Truth – People who randomly kill innocents are serial killers and criminal psychopaths, not highly trained intelligence operatives.

 

Killing is serious business, and the intelligence community has had standing orders for decades to avoid civilian casualties as much as possible. An operative who randomly kills innocent people would be quickly weeded out. Such behavior is unacceptable in the intelligence community.

 

Myth Three – Operatives can’t have families.

Truth – Operatives, like anyone else, can have loved ones and families that they adore.

 

While it is true that many field operatives are either single or divorced, that is due to the nature of the job and not to any taboo about bonding with other humans. The fact is that few spouses are up for, “I need to go. Can’t say where. Can’t say when I’ll be home. Sorry, but I can’t leave you a number, either.” The lifestyle is very hard on relationships, and spouses must be as committed to leading the double life as the operative is. Not many are, and they are not to blame for that. However, as my writing partner proves, some do sustain marriages and family ties for decades.

 

Myth Four – People can be killers, or they can love, but they can’t do both.

Truth – Dedicated operatives often go into the field because they DO love.

 

The notion that someone who is trained to kill the likes of Bin Laden can’t love is patently absurd. Many operatives go into the field because they are unwilling to sit still and do nothing while brutal despots butcher innocent people.

 

Myth Five – Assassins look like assassins.

Truth – Assassins look like the school secretary, the grocery store manager, the bank teller, the janitor, or anyone else who can blend in with a crowd.

 

It is not required for operatives to speak in foreign accents and wear either tailored business suits or black leather.

 

Russian Assassin from The November Man

Russian Assassin from The November Man

 

 

While not a common myth, another notable fiction in The November Man is the notion that bullets from handguns travel at four times the speed of sound . . . Excuse me? A handgun? More like a hand held rocket launcher. Clearly, Hollywood is holding out on the Navy.

 

If you care nothing for accuracy about espionage or human nature in your spy thrillers, then go ahead and spend the $13 and enjoy Pierce Brosnan doing what he does best. However, if you do know anything at all about firearms, operatives, psychology, history, NATO, or intelligence work, this movie will make your head explode at a velocity of four times the speed of sound.

Miley Cyrus to Lead US Attack on Iran

By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

Miley Cyrus proved herself above and beyond the call of duty as she completed the final phase of her CIA training at the Video Music Awards. After schooling with veteran Bangkok hookers, her task was to utterly befuddle the entire audience and perform moves that would make even a Congressman blush and would have gotten her arrested had she done them on a busy sidewalk rather than an awards stage. Outstanding job, Miley!

Prior to the show, an unnamed Pentagon insider alerted Bayard & Holmes to startling information about an imminent US attack on Iran. Our informant told us that the Pentagon prefers to keep its strategies Top Secret until the operation is well underway. The Obama administration is concerned about how the UN will respond to the first use of a Weapon of Mass Revulsion.

Test subject forced to watch VMA/CIA training performance

Test subject forced to watch VMA/CIA training performance

However, in one of the few secret documents not yet leaked to The Guardian in the UK, Bayard & Holmes uncovered the details of this unprecedented military operation. It is not normally our habit to leak sensitive information, but between Miley’s performance and PRISM, there’s nothing left to hide anyway, so why not?

The following is a quote from our Pentagon insider contact explaining this revolutionary new approach to modern warfare:

“We’ve learned our lessons from both wars in Iraq. In those wars, we called upon the US Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force pilots to deliver carefully timed air attacks in conjunction with barrages of heavy missiles. They did achieve their goals. They were in fact able to cripple the Iraqi leadership. But at what cost?

“Beyond the billions spent on the munitions, the ships, and the aircraft to deliver those attacks—beyond the risked lives of so many pilots and crewmen—we’ve spent billions of dollars trying to rebuild Iraq.  At the time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the US would employ Shock and Awe in the war. We simply didn’t understand that “Shock and Awe,” was referring to the impact on the US budget. War with Iran seems imminent, and we don’t want to make the same mistakes.

“Thanks to the CIA and its pioneering methods, we now know we can count on the brave young American Miley Cyrus to lead us in the lower budget Shock and Awe operation known as Shock and Disgust. We don’t want to reveal too many details of the pending operation, but we’re confident that a live performance by Miley will paralyze the minds of the Iranian leadership and military, leaving them in a state of horror and permitting our forces to rapidly and forcefully penetrate Iran’s most closely guarded assets.

“The plan is to recruit Miley impersonators, dress them in Victoria’s Secret seconds and white tennis shoes, and drop them into Iran’s most sensitive areas in the first wave of a parachute assault. The Pentagon says that it will need as many as 120 Mobile Miley Units to achieve complete stupefaction of the entire Iranian population to allow for repeated easy entrances and withdrawals. The challenge now is to find enough young American women with the patriotic fervor necessary to make them willing to debase themselves so thoroughly by impersonating Miley Cyrus.”

Estimated result of Mobile Miley Unit insertion

Estimated result of Mobile Miley Unit insertion

At first we were skeptical that our government would do something so radical, but when the Pentagon’s Public Affairs Office categorically denied any official association with Miley Cyrus, they convinced us that this operation will indeed come to fruition. We also queried the UK Ministry of Defense, and their spokesman, Nigel Quagmire, confirmed the existence of Shock and Disgust by saying, “The United Kingdom has not at any time taken part in the development or deployment of Mobile Miley Units or any other Weapon of Mass Revulsion and has no plans of doing so.” But what can you expect from the same people who deny UFOs?

Remember when you don’t see this on CNN, you heard it here first!

Benghazi: An Intelligence Perspective

Perspective on Benghazi

By Intelligence Operative Jay Holmes*

Image of burning US Consulate in Benghazi by Voice of America employee, public domain.

On September 11, 2012, Islamic terrorists attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi. They murdered US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans during the attack. We extend our condolences to the loved ones of those four Americans who lost their lives in service to their country.

Within twenty-four hours of the attack, both President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton stated that the incident was not a terrorist attack, but rather a spontaneous assault carried out by angry Libyans who were protesting against an anti-Islamic video produced by an Egyptian expatriate in the US.

In the weeks since the attack, the White House and State Department told the public, contrary to their original statements, that the attacks were an organized assault carried out by international terrorists. The public, along with the families of the four dead Americans, are questioning why a US Consulate in a well known danger spot like Benghazi was left with so little security.

The administration is still repeating the mantra that “the attack was unprecedented.” Apparently, these youngsters remain unaware of the November 1979 attack on the US Embassy in Tehran. Note to Self: Send son’s middle school textbook and DVD of Argo to White House.

Within days of the attack, the public learned that Ambassador Stevens had endorsed the Benghazi Consulate’s requests for increased security and passed them on to Washington. We know that request made it as far as Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. I’m not yet certain if the request made it to President Obama’s desk. However, the White House, with the cooperation of the major media outlets, played down the allegations that security was denied from the top and claimed that the lack of security was caused instead by “Republican budget cuts” of State Department security funds. The White House also claimed that “all the intelligence” indicated there was no need for increased security.

I found both of these statements worrisome because as political hot air goes, they seem fairly flimsy and desperate. After decades of listening to the statements issued forth from our various administrations, I know that often times that sort of flimsiness in White House denials indicates a concern for brewing scandals.

Most Americans are aware that all federal budgets and omnibus spending bills require the final approval of the US President so the budget excuse was at best nonsensical, and at worst an indication of deeper troubles. As for “all the intelligence” which indicated no need for increased security, the White House and the Secretary of State were both aware of two failed bombing attempts against the Benghazi Consulate that occurred April 6 and June 2, only a few months before the successful September 11 attack.

On October 26, FOX News broke an exclusive story that quoted sources from within the CIA who were involved in the rescue of US consulate staff. According to those CIA sources, CIA personnel requested military assistance three specific times during the attack and were denied.

Originally, this denial was blamed on Defense Secretary Leon Panetta alone. We now know that Panetta was in a meeting with President Obama, Vice President Biden, and National Security Advisor Thomas Donilan approximately one hour after the start of the attack. This was hours before the third denial of assistance and well before at least two of our Americans were killed. I can’t imagine Panetta would not have mentioned the ongoing assault to our nation’s two top officials and requested their input since they were, after all, sitting in the same room as a drone fed real time imagery to the White House. If he did not mention it, one has to wonder what, exactly, was more important to them at that moment.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta responded to the FOX News piece by claiming that he and the president lacked enough information to justify sending US troops “into harms way.” This response doesn’t explain why he and the president were willing to leave the US personnel in Benghazi in harm’s way by denying them assistance from the massive US military assets in the Mediterranean.

These assets included two combat-ready Air Mobile/Airborne Special Forces teams close to Libya on call in Italy, and the powerful Naval Air and Marine forces of the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet, including the Sixth Fleet drone capability. Fighter strikes from Italy could have been accomplished within, at most, an hour and a half of the start of the incident. Also, with minimal air support, our people could have been evacuated more easily and safely.

Panetta’s claim that the administration lacked “enough information” is inconsistent with the fact that they knew about two prior bombing attacks on the Benghazi Consulate, and it is a direct contradiction of the fact that they received real time imagery from the drone on site. It is also a direct contradiction of the fact that eight US security personnel were sent by charter plane from Tripoli to rescue the Benghazi staff during the incident. How is it that the administration had enough information to send the team from Tripoli, but not enough information to employ any of the vast military assets that were available and may have saved some of the American lives lost in the attack and the ensuing rescue operation?

CIA sources also said CIA employee Tyrone Woods used a laser to illuminate a terrorist mortar team that was firing on the Consulate. As an ex-Navy SEAL, Woods would not have exposed his laser by illuminating a target unless he expected an air unit such as an armed drone, Navy F/A-18, or an Air Force Spectre gun ship to fire on the target right away. Permission for that fire would have come from Commander of Forces in Africa US Army General Carter Ham or any of his superiors, such as Defense Secretary Panetta or President Obama. Revocation of that permission, which Woods apparently had reason to believe was issued, could only have come from those same people, as well.

Sensibly, some members of the press have turned to the CIA for answers. Of course, asking the CIA questions when you are not the president or a member of a Congressional Intelligence Committee can lead to less than satisfying results. So far, the CIA has skillfully managed to strongly deny all of the allegations that have not been made.

In the long and proud CIA tradition of honestly answering anything but the question being asked, CIA Director General David Petraeus sternly denies that the CIA failed to respond to calls for help from the Benghazi Consulate. He does not, however, confirm or deny what requests for military assistance were made by CIA personnel in Benghazi. Thanks Dave. That really clarifies things. Keep up the good work.

Most press members know better than to ask questions of the NSA. The NSA might well have recordings of all the relevant communications from and to Benghazi, but getting that out of the NSA would be more difficult than mining diamonds on Pluto.

So far, the president has dodged the questions raised by the FOX News story by simply saying what amounts to, “I never did that.” He has left any other talking to Panetta.

Panetta claims that questions being asked “amount to Monday morning quarterbacking.” This answer is convenient for him and the Obama administration, and it is being well received by the Democratic Party faithful. But those voters who feel less constrained in their political choices might not find Panetta’s response an adequate substitution for an explanation or accountability, and the fact is that no presidential candidate can be elected solely by the votes of their party’s faithful. For either Romney or Obama to win the election, they will need the votes of those Americans who are willing to vote without regard for the labels “Democrat,” “Republican,” “liberal,” “progressive,” or “conservative.”

Based on the information thus far available, it appears the administration decided to respond to the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi with as minimal response as possible. I suspect this has everything to do with the fact that Obama was reluctant to initiate military activity on a new front so close to the election when so much of his base is anti-war under all circumstances. His minimalist approach turned out to be a bad guess, and it is now becoming clear to the public that said guess was made against the advice of his people on the ground.

Naturally, the president may be reluctant to be seen as expanding military operations into new areas, but the message he sent with his non-action was that Americans will not act militarily to protect their own on foreign soil. This is no doubt extremely encouraging to all of our terrorist enemies, as well as to the Iranian government as it rapidly approaches nuclear capability.

With time and a little interest from members of Congress, more facts will surface and a clearer picture will emerge. How much time that will take is a key question. On November 6, the administration might realize the benefits of its strategy of dodging questions concerning the Benghazi debacle, but the questions are significant enough to lose Obama some votes. In fact, the President might find himself back in the community organizing business next January.

What happened in Benghazi matters. It matters to the families; it matters to our Americans abroad; it matters to our enemies; it matters to the public, and it matters to our political future as a nation. How much it matters to the election, however, will depend on the reaction of those Americans who will vote independently this November.

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*‘Jay Holmes’, is an intelligence veteran of the Cold War and remains an anonymous member of the intelligence community. His writing partner, Piper Bayard, is the public face of their partnership.

You may contact them in blog comments, on Twitter at@piperbayard, on Facebook at Piper Bayard, or by email at piperbayard@yahoo.com

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