President Obama presents a picture of White House operations that is very hard to believe, especially for those of us who have had the privilege of working in the White House. The mission of the President’s inner circle is to protect him by keeping the president fully informed. There must be no surprises that blind side the president and make him look inept. If he has to get information about the working of his administration from the media, something is seriously wrong. The President’s chief of staff, the deputy assistant for National Security Affairs, Cabinet and agency heads, the President’s legal counsel, and a few others all are duty bound to keep the president informed. I didn’t mention the Vice President because he is often kept out of the serious stuff. (If you’re new to my blog and am wondering how I know this, it is because I worked in the White House for two years as a special adviser to President Reagan.)
Take the current IRS scandal. We’ve learned the President’s chief of staff, high level Treasury officials, most likely including the Secretary of the Treasury, the IRS commissioner, the President’s legal counselor, the IRS’s Inspector General and I believe the Attorney General, had to also know. It is inconceivable that not one of these loyal-to-the-President officials did not give the President a heads up. He deserved to know.
Let’s look at the leak scandal next. We know the President was aware of the leaks of national security information from his administration. From a pure national security perspective, the massive leak regarding cyber attacks against Iran’s nuclear weapons program was the most extensive and threatening to our security. No reported immediate investigation here and no culprit named. Certainly the New York Times wasn’t to blame. Leakers of this magnitude are not hard to find unless you do not want them found. Leaks of sensitive elements of the Bin Laden killing had a similar result. No investigation and no leakers named. Don’t ask the question if you do not want the answer. These leaks made the President look good. Therefore, no investigation.
The scandal of the phone records of AP reporters and Rosen of Fox News are different. These do not appear to be calculated White House leaks for political advantage. Again, no real effort to find the leakers. The investigation targeted reporters who were doing their job. Now we are to believe that our top cop, the Attorney General, didn’t know anything about the attack on reporters even though his signature was on the document authorizing the seizure of Rosen’s phone records? Besides the obvious close official connection of the AG to the President, Obama and Holder are reported to be close friends. Now why would a conscientious AG and friend of the President not help the President to get out in front of this scandal? The AG is far too wise to believe the attack on journalists by the FBI could be kept away from media coverage. The right answer is that the President was informed but like the IRS scandal, the investigation of reporters had to be held until after the election.
The last in this trilogy of scandals is the debacle in Ben Ghazi. There is a lot we don’t know but will find out. We do know that the President and his inner circle knew the truth would hurt his chances for re-election. Al Qaeda was a thing of the past. The President’s Middle East policy was a success. Libya was “saved” by the President. All was under control. The administration, meaning Secretary Clinton, President Obama, certain national security officials, a number of officers in the military command structure, counter-terrorist officers, and security officials in the State Department, all knew our Ambassador to Libya had asked for additional security and warned of impending attacks. These requests were turned down. Remember, if you will, that ambassadors serve as the representative of the President in whichever nation they serve. So the refusal of an ambassador’s pleas for security help is a big deal. On these kind of subjects the White House communications system gets it all and it is distributed to named officials in the National Security Staff and the White House.
There is absolutely no way the President, the National Security Advisor, and the Chief of Staff are not going to be informed. They would have to hide to prevent being told. As soon as the attack started emergency high precedent cables would have begun flowing out of Ben Ghazi. This cable traffic would have alerted the State Department, The White House, the CIA, NSA — all relevent military commands. Contingency plans would be pulled up and action plans formulated. At the White House, the staff of the Situation Room would be on full alert and probably augmented, where possible collection systems would focus on Ben Ghazi. A high level meeting of the appropriate players of the National Security Council would be called. The relevant officers of the National Security Staff would be called in, including the Senior Director of the Middle East and the Senior Director of Counter-Terrorism (whatever his current title), would assume the National Security Staff’s point position. Reports and recommendations would soon be on their way to the National Security Adviser. Inter-agency representatives would be on a secure TV conference exchanging information and analysis. In all of this the President would be expected to be front and center and in close touch with key players of the National Security Council who would be offering reaction plans and options. When Usama bin Laden was killed in a special operation President Obama was seen in the Situation Room. When Americans were killed, he was absent. Normally with Americans in harm’s way, doing nothing would not be an option. President Obama made doing nothing the option. As a result the Ambassador and three other Americans were abandoned and left to die. This will forever be a low point for the Obama Administration and the entire Defense Department. One short meeting with his Defense Officials and then off to a fundraiser the next morning in Las Vegas doesn’t seem to fit the role of a competent Commander-in-Chief.
The big truth in all these scandals is that they would have made President Obama’s re-election much harder and maybe even doubtful. So maybe the best defense is the oldest,”I don’t know. I wasn’t informed. I learned about it from the news reporting.” Successful. I guess. Who is sitting in the White House? The man who believes the issue is never the issue. President Obama cannot fix these problems. He is the problem.
BY THE AUTHOR OF THE JACK BRANDON THRILLER SERIES
- Transparency isn’t coming easily to Obama White House (latimes.com)
- DOJ probed and grilled NYT government sources (rinf.com)
- Next Against the Wall: White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler? (nationalreview.com