Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Command Influence

New reporting that CENTCOM received pressure from above to conform intelligence reports about ISIL to leadership's preference to see the terror group as contained and therefore not needing dramatic American action points back to my concerns over our Benghazi 2012 response.

So our intelligence people were told to stop hyping ISIL threats:

Analysts at U.S. Central Command were pressured to ease off negative assessments about the Islamic State threat and were even told in an email to “cut it out,” Fox News has learned – as an investigation expands into whether intelligence reports were altered to present a more positive picture.

As Jennifer Rubin notes:

The emerging picture is one of a president so ideologically whetted to being the not-Bush, so determined to show he had ended the real threat from Islamist jihadists, so insistent that the prior administration had overreacted to the threat of Islamist terrorism that his administration repeatedly ignored and played down threats, refusing refused to recognize the leading-from-behind strategy of minimalist action was failing. Not even the latest attack has jarred the president.

Remember, we've had other reporting that the president lives in a bubble of his own ideology that his minions have commanded not be pierced by reality:

After years of being told that our president is cool under pressure when responding to crises (no-drama Obama), it increasingly seems as if our president does not wish to grapple with crises.

Call it "Drama? No Obama." ...

If the boss doesn't like to hear bad news that requires action, it shouldn't be a surprise that those below the boss suppress the very idea that there is bad news.

This is what has bothered me the most about our Benghazi response. It didn't require explicit orders to "stand down" or anything like that. Our failure to respond could just be the result of knowing what the boss expects:

I remain concerned by the failure of our military to even try to send help that day. The secondary question is whether for political reasons the administration tried to dismiss the attack as a video-related protest gone awry to support the notion that our wars were responsibly ending.

Those questions are related to my suspicion that there was command influence from the White House that the war was over and that nobody should act like we are at war to undermine the campaign narrative.

I've written many times that I don't believe it is true that we could not have sent troops to Benghazi to try to influence events as the crisis unfolded--as the State Department actually did (which would actually make Clinton look better if she wasn't so invested in the related video-caused explanation attempt).

Conclusions that we could not have affected the crisis as it did unfold rely on hindsight as to when the crisis ended.

I suspect that we did not even try to react to the ongoing attacks at Benghazi on September 11, 2012, despite our relatively large concentration of forces in Europe because our military commanders understood all too well the administration themes that the tide of war had receded, jihadis were on the run, and our president was responsibly ending our wars.

Under those circumstances, the natural military inclination to move to the sound of the guns was suppressed. Because that's a wartime instinct. And we weren't at war, as civilian leaders believed (perhaps even sincerely).

Yet even after Benghazi--which demonstrated that our jihadi enemies have a great interest in us even if we have no interest in them--our leadership had little interest in waging war on jihadis.

And since then our leadership may have gone so far as to explicitly direct our intelligence people not to bother them with inconvenient truths.

But the inconvenient truth continues to slaughter people in Iraq and Syria, and has expanded to Egypt, Turkey, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Mali (well, some variant of the jihad), and France.

In the language of chants that our Left cherishes so much, it could be said that "Obama denied. People died."

Well, I suspect that the instructions to deny didn't come from the president. It probably came from a trusted aid who was under command influence to keep unpleasant information away from the president.

But that makes for an unwieldy chant.