The Republican-led House committee investigating the 2012 deaths of four Americans in Libya focused heavily Oct. 22 on a prosecution-style attack on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
As Republicans built a case alleging her poor judgment and misleading comments afterward, they failed to address largely hidden scandals from the Obama administration's Libyan policies or to score significant damage to her. Indeed, her donors showered her with new funds immediately afterward and most commentators, including conservatives, hammered the interrogators as counter-productive.
Led by Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina (shown at right in a file photo), the seven Republicans on a special House committee used much of the all-day hearing ending at 9 p.m. to grill Clinton in detail on her email correspondence as key to her priorities. The ostensible purpose was to explore whether she failed to protect a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans from being killed by attackers in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.
Promoted by cable news ratings leader Fox News, conservative media for months had built up the drama whereby tea party hero Gowdy, a former prosecutor bolstered by a GOP committee majority staffed by other Bush-era prosecutors, could expose Clinton at the hearing.
Gowdy had denied that the committee has a prosecution mentality. His aggressive tone undercut that claim. His manner was mirrored by his colleagues, especially Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Peter Roskam of Illinois, Martha Roby of Alabama, and Mike Pompeo of Kansas. The CNN screenshot at left came while Pompeo was demanding a "yes or no" answer from Clinton and forbade her from going beyond those syllables. She ignored his command and answered more extensively.
Clinton effectively parried most of their arguments by noting that she and her top staff relied entirely on security professionals at the State Department. She maintained, without any factual contradiction from at least seven previous investigations, that complaints on security never reached her desk.
By pursuing that accusatory but ineffective focus, the committee has failed so far almost entirely to explore the role of other security personnel, including those of the CIA, Defense Department — or specifics regarding how the State' Department security functioned at Benghazi, aside from Clinton's chronology of how she spent her time and what she learned.
Today's column analyzes what was visible at the hearing, provides an appendix of other commentary, and a summary of what was not obvious because of bipartisan agreement to keep silent about secrets.
Of those matters not addressed at the hearing, most important is the vast human suffering created by the bipartisan U.S. policy advocated by Clinton to overthrow Libya's government, leaving the region in chaos, poverty and other misery without a functioning government, thus prompting vast numbers of jihadist to meddle in other countries and refugees to risk their lives going to Europe. The result is huge resentment against American foreign policy, all to remove Libya's dictator, who posed no known current threat to the United States or Europe.
But anyone who follows the news knows that by now.
So we move next to a hidden scandal that neither Republicans, Democrats, nor the media wanted to touch during the hearing — nor apparently at any other time:
Washington insiders now know that Clinton's friend Sidney Blumenthal wrote her a private email headlined "Re: Petraeus/October Surprise" dated Nov. 12, 2012. In the memo, Blumenthal opined that the forced resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus just after Obama's 2012 re-election probably arose from a Republican-led plot by his political allies against Obama more than from the sex scandal that the Obama administration had sold to media as the ostensible reason for the former general's forced resignation. That is the kind of tip about what others in the administration are doing, whether true or false, that a busy cabinet member like Clinton would not necessarily get from her official sources or from reading newspapers.
"My operative theory on the Petraeus scandal," Blumenthal wrote her Nov. 12 shortly after the Petraeus resignation, "is that it became an October surprise that failed." He continued: "Forcing the scandal public and his resignation would have been the trifecta: leaks, Benghazi, then Petraeus allowing Romney to argue that Obama had created a national security collapse. It would have overtaken the end of the campaign."
Building on the 2012 research of a few bold bloggers well connected to the intelligence community (including Wayne Madsen and Webster Tarpley), we reported on that October Surprise plot with additional detail and slightly different interpretation in our 2013 book Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters and in columns here, most recently last spring in GOP Pre-Election 2012 Benghazi Plot With Petraeus? (Clinton Emails, Part II). The term "October Surprise" refers to alleged dirty tricks that partisan operatives use to distort presidential election results just before November elections, with the most notorious allegations surrounding the Iranian hostage crisis in 1980.
Not a hint of that surfaced at the hearing. Neither was there a clue for the public that Blumenthal's primary source for his memos was Tyler Drumheller, a former high-level CIA officer. Instead, the Oct. 22 hearing featured abuse heaped up on Blumenthal personally. No would mentioned the obvious: If Blumenthal and Drumheller were sharing with Clinton highly confidential information warning her of potential Seven Days In May-style plotting they and Clinton were wise to keep their names from being circulated elsewhere, even within the administration. The Republicans sought to trivialize a desire for confidential communications but that underestimates the high stakes and levels of intrigue involved.
By the count of Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, Blumenthal was mentioned 149 times before the lunch break, nearly always at the instigation of Republicans. Similarly, both Republicans and Democrats focused only holding accountable Clinton and other State Department personnel. No one mentioned how the Obama administration had forced in a nearly unprecedented manner the resignations of a half dozen high-level CIA and military executives soon after the attacks.
The hearing, in other words, reeked of bipartisan whitewash on the major issues regarded as too important for the public to learn about, but with a show of partisan fireworks regarding controversies trumped up for most part, as described in more detail below.
Regarding security at the consulate in Benghazi, a temporary facility:
A reduced congressional budget for diplomatic security had cutbacks throughout the world. Also, a longstanding policy required that the State Department hire low-cost outside contractors to augment security, as in Libya. In this case, the security was by a British company that used local personnel with no firearms. They fled the scene during the attack, thereby leaving protection with five armed Americans. No questions about the British company were raised.
Democrats on the committee also noted that the CIA and Department of Defense held heavy response and other security duties for the ambassador, as in other State Department installations. But the committee has not questioned CIA and defense leaders during its 17 months so far.
Instead, the committee has focused heavily on the Democratic 2016 presidential front-runner, her personal staff, and friends, and noted repeatedly that the many requests from the ambassador for increased security went only to the relevant security executives at the department.
As for the big picture? Congressional Republicans missed what is likely to have been their main opportunity before the 2016 elections to grill her on the seemingly disastrous State Department policy of regime change she advocated in Libya that turned one of Africa's high-income countries into political and economic chaos created such vast suffering that Libyan migrants are dying in droves to escape to Europe but arriving in such numbers as to undermine pro-U.S. governments politically.
Rather clearly, neither Republicans nor Democrats wanted to explore that larger foreign policy, which has been supported by a bipartisan alliance that includes neo-conservative tea party Republicans and Democratic leaders alike.
Neither did anyone want to explore October Surprise allegations under the theory they may have been orchestrated by those who wanted Obama embarrassed by a major foreign policy disaster before the election. Under that theory, some may have curtailed assistance from the 50-person CIA installation in Benghazi and a larger CIA force based in Tripoli, or Defense Department aircraft in Italy or Mediterranean Sea-based naval bases.
Instead, committee members from both parties ignored those possibilities, just as a series of Obama-ordered military and CIA resignations of top-level command personnel occurred quietly in 2012 soon after the attacks under claims that the leaders had committed sexual or financial misconduct.
The Attack and Attempted Rescue
As a summary of the often-reported story of the Benghazi attack:
Two would-be rescuers from Tripoli died heroically in their unauthorized attempt at rescue. But CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were referenced at the hearing only in terms of their courage and not to explore the command structure that proved ineffective, at best, in providing a timely rescue.
Similarly, none of the members of the committee are known to be among two dozen or so in the House supporting release of the still-secret 2002 joint Senate-House Intelligence committee report identifying those who funded the 9/11 hijackers. The hijackers are accused of killing more than 3,000 Americans Sept. 11, 2001.
The Senate co-author of the report (former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham of Florida) is among those advocating its release, which was sought by a total of 46 of the 100 U.S. senators during the Bush administration. But more than 400 current members of the House currently avoid the topic entirely, according to a list of co-sponsors of the pending House resolution seeking the identification. Opponents of release avoid quotation, but presumably it's because of their desire not to antagonize powerful suspected funders and their allies within the United States.
That's a topic we shall continue to address in other columns. For now, we return focus on the hearing and its U.S. political implications.
Sometimes raising his voice and otherwise clearly hostile to the witness, the Ohio congressman Jordan did score rhetorical points by revealing that Clinton, in the midst of unsuccessful late night phone calls trying to obtain CIA or Defense Department reinforcements for the beleaguered personnel, had told her daughter and later Egyptian counterparts in separate messages that the attack had appeared to be from an Al Qaeda-type group.
In interviews afterward, Jordan gloated over his triumph with no apparent appreciation of the impact his bullying manner might have on audiences not predisposed to despise Clinton.
Roby demanded to know if Clinton was alone after she went home from the office. Clinton said she was alone.
Roby, at left in the MSNBC screen shot of the moment, followed up with wanting to know further "the whole night?" That prompted Clinton and some in the House hearing audience to burst into a laugh at the congresswoman's off-color innuendo, angering Roby.
More generally, however, Rep. Adam Smith of the State of Washington told Clinton: "The purpose of this committee is to prosecute you."
"The effort today seems to be," Smith continued, "to prove that you personally decided not to your job."
The committee's majority focused heavily on Clinton's use of a private email server, for which she expressed regret. But her use of the server had scant apparent relevance to the committee's ostensible mandate of examining security in Benghazi, except to provide fodder for attacks.
Neither members of the committee nor the witness made any specific reference until 8:20 p.m. (in a hearing beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing into the night) to the underlying reasons for the Obama administration's focus on Benghazi, endangering the ambassador or reasons why Republicans and Democrats alike have so far avoided a focus on the CIA's role under then-director David Petraeus.
Update: At 8:20 p.m., Pompeo asked whether she was aware of any arms being smuggled from Libya to Syria. She denied any such awareness. Cummings concurred, citing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
Beyond that, commentators from the conservative Washington Times and Wall Street Journal each said during interviews on Fox News that the day's proceedings, including sometimes dramatic confrontations, were unlikely to change many opinions.
Republicans spent much of their time accusing Clinton of making or tolerating comments, particularly by then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, suggesting that the fatal attack stemmed from from an anti-Muslim propaganda video. The video had been created under mysterious circumstances in Hollywood just before the attack and distributed via social media globally, prompting anti-American riots in Egypt, Yemen, and Tunisia. Rice's talking points were jointly created by the White House, State Department, Defense Department and CIA based in significant part on information from the CIA, according to previous reports.
The Justice Integrity Project is among those in the alternative media who have cited evidence for years that the video was part of a otherwise little-reported plan by Obama opponents to create pre-election protests in the Middle East that would undermine the president's re-election campaign, much like the failure of Iranians to release hostages seized in 1979 doomed President Carter's re-election bid in 1980. No results of an investigation into the video manufacturers and funders has been announced aside from the quiet conviction of its producer.
Mainstream media have failed to report the specifics doubtless because neither Republicans nor Democrats want to focus on many of the national security factors. These range from the heavy role of CIA personnel infiltrated within diplomatic ranks, including in Benghazi, as well as the more complex and sinister implications of rogue opposition methods during an American presidential election.
We documented some of them involving Libya in our 2013 book Presidential Puppetry. For one thing, Petraeus and certain members of his inner-circle such as his lover-biographer Paula Broadwell became complicit in actions undermining Obama regarding his track record on foreign affairs success. Rogue operations involving members of the powerful intelligence community are almost never mentioned in public discourse.
Clinton addressed, among other topics, actions during the late afternoon and evening of the attack after she learned approximately at 4 p.m. (Eastern time) of the attack first on U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens (shown at right) and his State Department security officer Sean Smith.
Gowdy said the purpose of the committee and hearing was to prevent similar security lapses. But seven previous hearings and State Department review board have addressed those issues repeatedly.
Thus, Republicans repeatedly focused on Clinton's use of a private email server and other presumed political vulnerabilities. Republicans cited the emails as evidence of how she allocated her time. Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana used stacks of emails to make the point. Brooks also during her interrogation conceded, perhaps without appreciating the irony, "most of us don't know much about Libya."
Clinton repeatedly said the vast bulk of her information and decision-making from 2009 to 2013 involved non-email communications. She said she did not have a computer in her office and received a daily briefing from the CIA, for example. Rep. Susan Brooks,
A particularly dramatic moment came shortly before lunch. GOP members interrogated her extensively on why she received so many emails regarding politics from former 1990s Clinton White House staffer Sidney Blumenthal, including some with unflattering references to public figures, including within the Obama administration.
Clinton responded that Blumenthal, shown at left, was a friend who sent his opinions, some of which she passed on to others at the State Department and White House for their reaction.
Republican questioners returned repeatedly to Blumenthal in sneering tones and implied that Clinton spent time reading his emails that she could have used to beef up security for the temporary facility that Stevens visited in Benghazi. Although Republicans disparaged Blumenthal, at one point describing him as "short," they were reluctant to discuss the substance or source of his emails. A leak of Blumenthal's largely suppressed testimony has revealed that a major source was a late high-ranking CIA officer who has publicly denounced the Bush administration for relying on false claims of weapons of mass destruction to justify the Iraq war that began in 2003. Details: Tyler Drumheller, CIA officer who exposed U.S. reliance on discredited Iraq source ‘Curveball,’ dies at 63.
Democrats elicited from Clinton's testimony that she supervised some 70,000 employees in some 270 embassies and consulates in 194 nations. Smith said it would have been more revealing to bring defense department and CIA personnel before the committee and not be "badgering" Clinton repeatedly.
Fireworks erupted when the special committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, demanded that the committee release Blumenthal's testimony before the committee because the Republicans had made such a major issue out of Blumenthal's role, both at the hearing and in comments to the media during recent months. Cummings said that the public deserved to learn Blumenthal's full comments, not selective leaks from Republicans to make him and Clinton look bad.
Gowdy resisted. He said Democrats should not ask simply for release of Blumenthal's testimony. Cummings responded that release of all secret testimony would be welcome. Republicans won a 7-5 vote on party lines to keep secret Blumenthal's full comments.
Looking ahead, our Justice Integrity Project's non-partisan coverage of Clinton and the Obama administration performance will continue to be critical, particularly on its many misguided foreign policy, national security and civil rights issues.
However, there is scant point in trying to calibrate coverage of this highly politicized hearing to match the preferences of all parts of the political spectrum. Clinton showed a nuanced, calm and, indeed, presidential handling of aggressive, scattershot questions.
CNN analyst Carl Bernstein, the former Washington Post reporter who has authored a biography of Clinton, called the hearing reckless and as abusive in ways comparable to the anti-Communist hearings led by Sen. Joe McCarthy in early 1950s. "She did great," he said, "because she was up against a bunch of demagogues."
"I can't recall any Secretary of State who's been badgered in this way," said David Gergen, another CNN analyst and a former senior White House advisor to four Republican and Democratic presidents. He called the hearing "disturbing."
Like Clinton's debate performance a week previous, it leaves opponents running out of ammunition -- unless they dare dig into Clinton's deeper secrets, which implicate also their own side's darker chapters.
Many readers who have reached this point doubtless will wonder why relevant officials do not mount more vigorous investigations on the most serious unanswered questions. The brief response is that many of officials rely on limited information sources and thus proceed on the narrow and often partisan agendas they understand.
Others, usually with higher rank, understand that those with vastly greater power in and out of American government want investigations confined to narrow grounds that the players can fight out on partisan grounds.
Benghazi thus falls into the category of the JFK assassination and the 9/11 funders and certain other civic mysteries. These are regarded as too important to explore publicly. If that sounds too strange to believe here is a reminder of the many clues just from the Oct. 22 hearing. There was no evidence then or even mention of the relevant CIA and Defense Department personnel whom Obama's team forced out of office soon after the tragedy.
Additionally, not one member of the majority in the voting dared permit the public to see the context of the much-derided Blumenthal emails, which actually came in part from the former high-level CIA whistleblower doubtless trying to cover his sources to prevent retaliation. And one of those emails, that of Nov. 12, 2012, specifically floats the possibility that Republicans had tried to create an "October Surprise" against Obama. The stakes here, then, potentially raise the stench of traitors.
So, the full answer is beyond the scope of today's column. But we have — and shall continue — to explore it elsewhere. This column is part of a series examining under-reported news in Washington foreign policy, intelligence and media circles that began Oct. 13. It has presented so far (in chronological order):
- U.S. v. Russia Proxy War In Syria Creates High Stakes For You
- NY Times Features Challenge To Obama Bin Laden Raid Story
- Memo Exposes Former British PM Tony Blair
- How Obama Leads Drone Strikes Killing Many Civilians
- Clinton's Benghazi Hearing
- Pardon Plea For Imprisoned CIA Whistleblower Wins Press Backing
- Madeleine Albright, Godmother To Foreign Policy Disasters
- Russian Attacks In Syria Expose U.S., Allied Debacle
Excepts from a range of the day's news coverage are listed below
This column was updated after testimony to include reaction
WhoWhatWhy, What Both Hillary and the GOP Are Covering Up About Libya, Russ Baker, Oct. 27, 2015. It Was Never About Security or Human Rightsongressional Republicans were desperate to score political points in the Benghazi saga. So desperate that they finally decided to masquerade as … peaceniks. During the recent grilling of Hillary Clinton, the Republicans — who have rarely seen a war they didn’t like — actually criticized the former Secretary of State for ignoring the difficulty of successful regime change. (No mention was made of how well George W. Bush’s regime change has gone in Iraq.) Further, they claimed that she had run roughshod over her own experts, who warned that US involvement in a 2011 air campaign in support of rebels would lead, at best, to new problems, and that they (the Republicans) had anticipated the chaos that marks Libya today.
WhoWhatWhy, Why America Will Never Hear the Entire Benghazi Story, Larry Hancock, Oct. 23, 2015. The underlying story of Benghazi is one that cannot and will not be talked about in any open session of Congress. This means that Thursday’s hearing featuring former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was nothing but an exercise in futility.
Independent (United Kingdom), Benghazi: Hillary Clinton Is Guilty But Not As Charged, Patrick Cockburn, Oct. 24, 2015. There is a strong case against Clinton’s actions in Libya, but they relate to her support for the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and not the death of Christopher Stevens in 2012. There is no doubt that she played a crucial role, along with President Barack Obama’s advisers Samantha Power and Susan Rice, in the decision by the U.S. to intervene on the side of the anti-Gaddafi rebels. Although France and the UK played a more public role, the U.S. termed its strategy as “leading from behind.” Clinton was proud of her action, proclaiming in October 2011 after the killing of Gaddafi: “We came, we saw, he died.” She said during the recent Democratic presidential candidates’ debate that what she did in Libya was “smart power at its best.” Neither Clinton nor the Republican Congressmen showed much interest in the present calamitous state of Libya, which is divided into fiefdoms ruled by criminalized warlords reliant on terror and torture.
Benghazi is partly in ruins and is fought over by rival factions, while Islamic State has carved out enclaves where it decapitates Egyptian Copts and Ethiopian Christians. NATO’s military intervention in 2011 was justified by the claim that Gaddafi was about to massacre the people of Benghazi, which cannot be proved or disproved because it never happened. What is more certain is that, if the old regime was still in power, several thousand migrants from north and west Africa would have jobs on Libyan building sites instead of sailing from Libyan beaches and drowning in the Mediterranean.
Politico, Benghazi hearing floods Clinton campaign coffers with cash, Annie Karni, Oct. 23, 2015. Donations have been flooding into campaign coffers over the past 13 hours since her testimony in front of the House Benghazi committee wrapped late Thursday night, thrilling Clinton fundraisers on the eve of a weekend-long finance committee meeting that couldn’t have come at a better time. According to communications director Jennifer Palmieri, the hour between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. last night was their best fundraising hour of the campaign to date.
Rallying in Virginia Friday, Clinton said her campaign had broken the 500,000 donor mark, meaning she has gotten over 100,000 new contributors in October alone. The campaign then added that over half of the donations it received on Thursday were from new contributors, and that 99% of them were less than $250.
Washington Post, Clinton’s curse and her salvation: Her enemies, Karen Tumulty, Oct. 23, 2015. Throughout her political career, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s greatest curse — the reaction she provokes in her adversaries — has also been her salvation. That was proved once again during her 11-hour inquisition by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, a Republican-engineered train wreck from which she emerged without a scratch. Pale, hoarse and weary as she was, the former secretary of state left the hearing room looking stronger than she has at any point since she announced her second campaign for president. “Simply as a matter of political theater, over the course of many hours of testimony, Clinton performed brilliantly. She assumed a calm, deliberate demeanor with her opening statement and never surrendered it,” conservative columnist John Podhoretz wrote in the New York Post. “The more she sounded like a policy wonk, the less she seemed like what the Republicans clearly wanted her to seem like: a cynical political animal.”
Daily Howler, Epilogue — What tribal loathing looks like, Bob Somerby, Oct. 24, 2015. The conduct of the Republican inquisitors helped the world see what tribal loathing looks like. As one example, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Alabama) is asking the loathed party about events on the night of September 11, 2012.
Politico, Benghazi panel reconsiders scope of email probe, Rachael Bade, Oct. 22, 2015. After a barrage of Democratic complaints of partisanship, GOP considers downplaying the investigation of Clinton's unusual email setup. Amid growing Democratic accusations of overreaching, especially on the matter of Hillary Clinton’s emails, Republicans on the House Benghazi Committee are now reconsidering how aggressively to pursue the email scandal that’s been dogging the Democratic front-runner.
Truthdig, An Idiotic GOP Is Looking at the Wrong Thing in Its Clinton Probe, Robert Scheer, Oct. 24, 2015. The Republicans on that committee investigating Hillary Clinton are idiots for focusing on decisions about consulate security that are technical, clearly below her pay grade and have nothing to do with the bipartisan zeal for creating military mayhem throughout the Middle East. The real issue, and one on which they are far more culpable than the Obama regime, is the insanity of backing Islamic fanatics — the very ones who killed our ambassador — in the overthrow of secular dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The ugly reality of the Benghazi investigation is that the Republicans hawks investigating Clinton are fully complicit with the former secretary of state for the murderous pandemonium in Libya that led to the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and to the failed state that followed. It is simply immoral to now focus on whether Stevens was properly protected instead of on the nutty bipartisan arrogance of a U.S.-backed policy of regime change that left Libya in chaos, with much of its population in desperate flight from a country now ruled by three competing bands of Islamic fanatics.
Why is the possibly mismanaged security of a U.S. diplomat of more compelling interest than the hundreds of thousands of innocent Libyan civilians sacrificed by a Democratic president in an attempt to placate his militaristic critics from both parties by entering into yet another disruptive imperial adventure? What Hillary Clinton’s emails do verify is that she was one of those hawks pushing President Barack Obama to the militarist side.
“We came, we saw, he died,” Clinton boasted with a chuckle over the brutal death of a defanged dictator, ignoring the fact that the secular Gadhafi, long past his boisterous prime, was hardly a serious threat to the stability of the region. Gadhafi had been in a war with precisely the fanatics that, as she testified, Clinton was counting on to go to the aid of our ambassador, but they rewarded our support for their rebellion by meting out the same brutality they had exercised on Gadhafi himself. So much for the “Smart Power” mantra that Clinton and her ideological compatriot, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, have been proclaiming as the harbinger of a new Clinton Doctrine.
That Clinton had strenuously supported the bombing that destabilized Libya beyond recognition as a nation was confirmed in an email to her from her confidant Sidney Blumenthal, who on Aug. 22, 2011, proclaimed the start of the bombing as “a historic moment” and added “you will be credited for realizing it.” Blumenthal went on to predict that “[w]hen Gaddafi himself is finally removed, you should of course make a public statement before the cameras wherever you are, even in the driveway of your vacation home. … You must go on camera. You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment. … The most important phrase is: ‘successful strategy.’ ”
Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, laughs out loud after Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., asked Clinton if she was home alone during night of the 2012 Benghazi attacks during testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. After laughing out loud, Clinton said it was a bit of levity at 7:15 p.m., more than nine hours since the hearing began. She described conversations with other officials and said, "I did not sleep all night."
AL.com, At Benghazi hearing, Hillary Clinton laughs at Martha Roby's 'alone all night' question, Jeremy Gray, Oct. 23, 2015. As Thursday's Benghazi hearing entered the ninth of its 11 hours, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, asked Hillary Clinton about leaving her office to go home after the attacks.
"Were you alone (at home)?" Roby asked.
"I was alone," Clinton said.
"The whole night?" Roby asked.
"Well, yes, the whole night," Clinton said with a laugh.
It was, The New York Times noted, "the first laugh in an otherwise heavy session."
Roby was not amused, The Hill reported:
"I don't know why that's funny," the Republican chided. "Did you have any in-person briefings? I don't find it funny at all."
Still chuckling, Clinton responded, "I'm sorry, a little note of levity at 7:15. Note it for the record."
"The reason I say it's not funny is because it went well into the night when our folks on the ground were still in danger, so I don't think it's funny to ask if you're alone the whole night," Roby replied.
"Clinton insisted that she had the needed equipment at home to stay in close contact with State Department officials," The Hill report continues.
"I did not sleep all night. I was very much focused on what we were doing," she said.
Rolling Stone, 5 Absurd Moments From the Hillary Clinton Benghazi Hearing, Tessa Stuart, Oct. 22, 2015. Thursday's marathon hearing brought us stacks of Clinton's emails and a Congresswoman admitting she doesn't "know much about Libya." Here were some of the key moments from the marathon hearing.
1. Early in the hearing, Rep. Susan Brooks (of Indiana) plopped two stacks of paper down on the dais. The first pile, the Congresswoman said, represented the 795 Libya-related emails Clinton received between February and December 2011, and the second pile represented the 67 emails she received about Libya between January and September 2012. Brooks: "I can only conclude by your records that there was a lack of interest in Libya in 2012," she said. (Clinton responded that, of course, not all communications happen via email.)
2. But the moment that probably best summed up the affair was when Rep. Brooks produced a map of Libya as she admitted, "Most of us don't know much about Libya."
WND, Oops! Clinton hints at murdered ambassador’s secret activities, Aaron Klein, Oct. 22, 2015. Dangerous effort may explain reason for U.S. post in Benghazi. In a revealing statement largely overlooked by the media covering Thursday’s House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton essentially implied that Ambassador Chris Stevens was engaged in securing shoulder-fired missiles in Libya. The dangerous weapons effort may shed light on why the U.S. special mission in Benghazi was attacked Sept. 11, 2012. The largest terrorist looting of Man-Portable-Air-Defense-Systems, or MANPADS, took place immediately after the U.S.-NATO military campaign strongly pushed by Clinton that helped to end Moammar Gadhafi’s rule in Libya. Gadhafi had hoarded Africa’s biggest-known reserve of MANPADS, with a stock said to number between 15,000 and 20,000. Many of the missiles were stolen by militias fighting in Libya, including those backed by the U.S. in their anti-Gadhafi efforts. There were reports of a Western effort to secure the MANPADS, including collecting some from rebels in Libya.
In her opening remarks Thursday, Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, surprisingly referenced Stevens and the threat of missiles reaching extremists. Stated Clinton: “Nobody knew the dangers of Libya better. A weak government, extremist groups, rampant instability. But Chris chose to go to Benghazi because he understood America had to be represented there at that pivotal time.” Clinton said Stevens “also knew how urgent it was to ensure that the weapons Gadhafi had left strewn across the country, including shoulder-fired missiles that could knock an airplane out of the sky, did not fall into the wrong hands.” Clinton did not further comment on any role Stevens himself may have had in securing the MANPADS.
Later in her testimony, however, Clinton appeared to have addressed the sensitive nature of Stevens’ work, admitting, “Americans representing different agencies” later came into Libya and carried out “the same work” as Stevens but not overtly. Clinton apparently was referring to the CIA annex located near the U.S. special mission. She seemed to imply Stevens was involved in efforts beyond the normal diplomatic activities of an ambassador without specifying the nature of the “same work” that both he and other agencies carried out. Clinton said the State Department relied heavily on “Chris to guide us and give us the information from the ground.” “We had no other sources. You know, there was no American outpost,” she said.
As WND reported, a Department of Defense document declassified in May as part of a Judicial Watch lawsuit and dated one day after the attack said the group thought by the Pentagon to have been behind the Benghazi attack was in possession of a large cache of “SA-7 and SA-23/4 MANPADS” as well as other missiles “over two meters in length.” Speaking to WND, Middle Eastern security officials previously stated that after Gadhafi’s downfall, Stevens was heavily involved in a State Department effort to collect weapons from the Libyan rebels. The weapons were then transferred in part to the rebels fighting in Syria, the officials stated. In March 2013, the United Nations released a report revealing that weapons from Libya to extremists were proliferating at an “alarming rate,” fueling conflicts in Mali, Syria, Gaza and elsewhere.
Washington Post via Stars and Stripes, Fox News commentator accused of lying about CIA work pleads not guilty, Matt Zapotosky, Oct. 23, 2015. Wayne S. Simmons, a frequent Fox News commentator, pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges that he made up a decades-long career with the CIA to win jobs with government contractors. The Annapolis, Md., resident, 62, said little more than "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" during a brief hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III scheduled his trial to begin Feb. 23. According to federal prosecutors, Simmons (shown below in a screenshot) lied on government documents about having a 27-year career with the CIA to get interim security clearances and jobs with government contractors, including BAE Systems. Simmons was a frequent, unpaid expert commentator on Fox News, and he served on the watchdog group Citizens' Commission on Benghazi with former military officials, at least one of whom said Simmons seemed to be knowledgeable about clandestine work.
Justice Integrity Project Previous Coverage
Justice Integrity Project, What's Important About Hillary Clinton's Emails, Andrew Kreig, March 30, 2015. Hillary Clinton’s secret personal email system continued last week to prompt heavy news coverage but with scant scrutiny of the most sinister implications for the public. These involve frightening national security intrigues and political backstabbing.
- Arms Smuggling: The Obama-Clinton-Petraeus 'Iran-Contra' Scandal: Today's Part I in the Clinton Emails series below and here
- GOP Pre-Election 2012 Benghazi Plot With Petraeus? Clinton Emails, Part II here
- Conflict of Interest In Clinton Foundation Funding? Clinton Emails: Part III here.
Justice Integrity Project, Watchdogs Decry 'Corrupt' DC Actions On Hillary, Immigration, IRS Issues, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 15, 2015. U.S. capital leaders operate with unprecedented bipartisan corruption that threatens the American way of life, according to a Sept. 14 address several blocks from the Capitol Building by best-selling legal commentator and former New Jersey judge Andrew Napolitano.
“Expose Congress for the weaklings they are and the president for the tyrant he is,” Napolitano told a Leadership Summit on Washington, DC Corruption and the Transparency Crisis. The Fox News commentator and former New Jersey judge drew from his most recent book, Suicide Watch, and two of his WND (World Net Daily) columns, "What if Hillary doesn't care?" and "Will deceptive Hillary get a pass?"
The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch sponsored the one-day conference, which primarily documented misconduct allegations against Democrats. But many speakers like Napolitano also condemned Republican leaders for lack of integrity and effectiveness in exposing scandals involving Hillary Clinton, immigration, 9/11, and the Internal Revenue Service. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton announced that new evidence shows an inexplicable and potentially criminal five-month gap in the official emails submitted recently on behalf of Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner and former secretary of state.
Wayne Madsen Report Coverage in 2012
Wayne Madsen, above, is an investigative reporter and widely published oped political writer. Previously, he was a Navy intelligence officer, NSA analyst, and executive for Computer Sciences Corp., a major defense contractor. His breakthrough reports below promptly followed the Obama administration's forced resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus on Nov. 9, 2012 just after that year's presidential election. Also, a number of high-ranking Department of Defense officers were forced to resign during several weeks during that period under mysterious circumstances, including the head of AFRICOM. Madsen's 12 books include L'Affaire Petraeus on the scandal, published in December 2012 and expanding on the news commentaries below.
Each of the small excerpts below is used with permission, with a yearly $32 subscription required for full access.
Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Petraeus indiscretion may be linked to "October Surprise" plot, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 9, 2012. CIA director General David Petraeus, lauded by neo-cons for his marshaling of troops in contrived military campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, in support of the "global war on terror" throughout the Arab and Muslim world as the chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), resigned suddenly on November 9. Petraeus claimed that he was resigning over an extra-marital affair. Petraeus (left, in an official photo) graduated from West Point in 1974 and soon married Holly Knowlton, the daughter of General William Knowlton, the superintendent of West Point while Petraeus was a cadet. Petraeus has been married to his wife for 37 years,
The Washington spin machine is claiming that President Obama first heard about Petraeus's affair and his intent to resign on the evening of November 8. Paula Broadwell, the co-author along with the Washington Post's Vernon Loeb of Petraeus's biography titled All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, has been under investigation by the FBI for trying to access Petraeus's e-mail, possibly while Petraeus's CIA-issued secure personal digital assistant and/or laptop were left unattended during trysts. Neo-cons, who had hoped Petraeus would have run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 and challenged President Obama, expressed anger over Obama's acceptance of Petraeus's letter of resignation.
Petraeus, with his close connections to the GOP and the neo-cons, may have attracted the wrong type of girlfriend, whose access to classified CIA information may have played a role in the bungled CIA operation that resulted in the deaths of four Americans at a CIA safe house facility in Benghazi, officially identified as the U.S. Consulate. The dead included the U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, an individual who was also connected to the CIA through "official cover" status.
WMR, Sex, Lies, and Audiotapes -- The right-wing plot against Obama, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 12, 2012. The Washington Post and The New York Times, America's designated "newspapers of record" -- false record, it should be added -- are working overtime to spin the General David Petraeus scandal away from the actual story. There are many details that have not yet emerged and some informed speculation remains the order of the day.
However, based on what we now know, a perhaps somewhat unwitting Petraeus; several Republicans, including failed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Republican Party Svengali Karl Rove, Romney adviser Dan Senor; and the Binyamin Netanyahu government in Israel were involved behind the scenes to discredit and ensure the electoral downfall of President Barack Obama by engineering what Romney reportedly himself described as a "Jimmy Carter Strategy" in an October Surprise.
The strategy was to bring about an incident in the Middle East that would result in a besieged or overrun U.S. embassy, like the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 and 1980 that would result in charges that Obama, like Carter, was weak and ineffectual in dealing with a major crisis. Such a scenario would erase the street credentials Obama pocketed in the "raid" on Osama bin Laden.
WMR, Past CIA intelligence may hold clues on Benghazi attackers, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 20, 2012. The current controversy is over whether the attack resulted from a spontaneous protest caused by the YouTube posting of an anti-Muslim video titled "The Innocence of Muslims” -- the talking point put forth by U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice -- or the attack was well-planned in advance by Libyan terrorists. Both answers may be correct, with the video merely serving as both a catalyst and diversion to mask those actually behind the attack.
The attack on the Benghazi mission, which may have been planned to be a kidnapping by Libyan rebels, thus providing the Mitt Romney campaign with its "October Surprise," did not go as planned. The U.S. presence in Benghazi was under the control not of the State Department but the CIA -- and the Defense Department, rife with Romney supporters among the flag ranks, was kept out of the loop for any rescue mission of the trapped U.S. diplomats. It is also known that CIA director David Petraeus's mistress, Paula Broadwell, a potential Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from North Carolina [shown in a 2011 photo with Karl Rove at a networking event], was privy to classified information concerning the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, including CIA detainee operations involving certain Libyan militants.
Related News Coverage
Washington Post, The Benghazi hearing: Advantage Clinton, Kathleen Parker, Kathleen Parker writes a twice-weekly column on politics and culture. A conservative, she received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary In 2010. You don’t have to like Clinton to objectively observe that the hearing was little more than a prolonged reiteration of known bungling characterized by contempt-coated questions delivered with near-hatred. At times, I thought lasers might suddenly burst from Ohio Republican Jim Jordan’s eyes and incinerate Clinton on the spot.
Washington Post, Benghazi irrelevance; The Benghazi Committee fails to deliver, Dana Milbank, The House Select Committee on Blumenthal, as some are now calling it, came to order at 10 a.m. Lawmakers didn’t finish questioning Hillary Clinton until 11 hours later — just after the Democratic presidential candidate succumbed to a coughing fit. In that period of time, the name of Sidney Blumenthal was invoked more than 75 times, and scores of questions were asked about the longtime Clinton friend. By lunchtime, Blumenthal had been invoked 49 times — exactly the number of mentions of J. Christopher Stevens, the ambassador to Libya whose death in Benghazi is the supposed subject of the congressional probe. The other three Americans slain in Benghazi — Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods — got seven or eight mentions apiece, then-CIA director David Petraeus and former defense secretary Robert Gates each got two, and then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had none.
New York Times, Challenging G.O.P. Critics, Clinton Urges ‘Statesmanship,' Michael D. Shear and Michael S. Schmidt, Oct. 22, 2015. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she had not personally approved or denied requests for extra security for the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Representative Jim Jordan pressed Mrs. Clinton on whether a protest against an inflammatory anti-Islam video had led to the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. "Where did the false narrative start?" Mr. Jordan said. "It started with you Madame Secretary."
Fox News, Clinton challenged at hearing over security at Benghazi outpost, Staff report, Oct. 22, 2015. Gowdy to Clinton: Benghazi investigation is not about you. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was confronted Thursday with tough questions by Republicans over the slim diplomatic security in place at the Benghazi compound before the 2012 terror attacks -- and repeated unanswered requests by the late Ambassador Chris Stevens for more support -- as she testified before the congressional committee probing the attacks. She faced tough questions from Republicans even as Democratic panel members spent their time trying to discredit the work of the committee itself, describing it as a partisan outfit. But amid claims that the panel has focused too much on Clinton's personal email use, Republicans tried to focus Thursday on Benghazi.
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., noted that the late Ambassador Chris Stevens asked "numerous times" for extra security in Libya and questioned whether he was able to ask Clinton directly. "I do not believe that he had my personal email," Clinton admitted, before adding that Stevens had a "direct line" to others. Clinton acknowledged some of his requests were approved, and others were not. She also testified that those requests were handled by security professionals in the department and not her. "I did not see them. I did not approve them. I did not deny them," she said.
Washington Post, Clinton at Benghazi hearing: ‘I’m here to honor those we lost,’ David A. Fahrenthold and Karen DeYoung, Oct. 22, 2015. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is answering questions from a House committee investigating the deaths of four Americans at diplomatic outposts in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Transcript: Chairman Trey Gowdy's opening statement.
Huffington Post, Elijah Cummings: Benghazi Panel Is An 'Abusive Effort To Derail' Hillary Clinton's Campaign, Mollie Reilly, Oct. 22, 2015. "It is time for Republicans to end this taxpayer-funded fishing expedition." Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, criticized his Republican colleagues for using the panel to attempt to "derail" former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, characterizing the committee as a "fishing expedition." Clinton, who was secretary of state during the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, faced hours of questioning Thursday from the committee, which Democrats have accused of being a blatantly political endeavor. Cummings continued with that line of criticism during his opening remarks, criticizing Republicans for using the panel and Thursday's hearing to hurt Clinton's 2016 presidential bid.
Washington Post, Benghazi committee reflects a broader breakdown of GOP, Dan Balz, Oct. 22, 2015. There are calls for the Benghazi committee to be disbanded. But that misses the larger point about what the hearing revealed. There was little new information revealed Thursday, so little that Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the committee chairman, could not immediately point to anything notable after the day ended. Certainly there was nothing likely to sway the majority of Americans or change the basic story of what happened as revealed by a series of previous investigations.
Washington Post, Hillary Clinton triumphed by not losing her cool, Chris Cillizza, Oct. 22, 2015. The hearing was, in a word, boring. And that's exactly what the Democratic front-runner wanted.
Washington Post, Clinton’s testimony has high political stakes for both sides, David A. Fahrenthold and Karen DeYoung, Oct. 22, 2015. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton will testify this morning before a House committee investigating the deaths of four Americans at diplomatic outposts in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.
The Atlantic, Should There Be a Criminal Investigation Into Hillary Clinton's Email? Conor Friedersdorf, July 24, 2015. The request for a formal probe highlights the deep dysfunction of America’s system for classifying documents and prosecuting leaks. Federal overseers are urging an inquiry into whether Hillary Clinton illegally mishandled classified documents during her four-year tenure as secretary of state, according to an article published late Thursday in the New York Times. At issue is her decision to conduct official business via private email. The New York Times stands by its characterization of the requested investigation as a criminal probe, while the Los Angeles Times reports, "Government officials initially characterized the referral as involving a potential criminal investigation. The Justice Department now says it was not criminal." Whether the inspectors general technically asked for a criminal investigation or some other kind –– as now appears to be the case –– keeping classified information unsecured at one's house is illegal, as Thomas Drake and others know all too well, so any investigation could expose illegal behavior, which perhaps explains the discrepancy in characterizations.
World Net Daily, The question list for Hillary Clinton, Andrew Napolitano, Oct. 21, 2015. Judge Andrew Napolitano has written nine books on the U.S. Constitution. At long last, Hillary Clinton testifies on the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and her emails as secretary of state. Here are some suggested questions. Although these suggestions are based on the public record, we need to assume that the members of the House Benghazi Committee have seen far more than the public has. I have framed the questions in traditional cross-examination style, though I doubt that the politicians on the committee will have the self-discipline to adhere to it. Andrew Napolitano advocates cross-examination approach for hearing,
Politico, Lawyer: Clinton 'unable to obtain' emails from first weeks as secretary, Josh Gerstein, Oct. 22, 2015. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private lawyer has confirmed that she has turned over "all federal e-mail records" in her possession to the State Department, but says she has been "unable to obtain" some emails from early in her tenure as secretary of state, according to newly-released correspondence. In an exchange of letters earlier this month with Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, Clinton lawyer David Kendall offered the assurance that Clinton handed over everything she had in December of last year.
TruthDig, Why the U.S. Owns the Rise of Islamic State and the Syria Disaster, Gareth Porter, Oct. 8, 2015. Pundits and politicians are already looking for a convenient explanation for the twin Middle East disasters of the rise of Islamic State and the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria. But over the past three decades, U.S. covert operations and war have entered repeatedly and powerfully into the chain of causality leading to Islamic State’s present position. The causal chain begins with the role of the U.S. in creating a mujahedeen force to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Osama bin Laden was a key facilitator in training that force in Afghanistan. Without that reckless U.S. policy, the blowback of the later creation of al-Qaida would very likely not have occurred. But it was the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq that made al-Qaida a significant political-military force for the first time. The war drew Islamists to Iraq from all over the Middle East, and their war of terrorism against Iraqi Shiites was a precursor to the sectarian wars to follow.
Seymour Hersh (shown in a file photo) reported last year that an unpublished addendum to the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi revealed a covert CIA operation to arm Syrian rebels, in cooperation with Sunni allies’ intelligence services. In early 2012, Hersh reported, following an agreement with Turkey, then-CIA Director David Petraeus approved an elaborate covert operation in which Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar would fund the shipment of weapons to Syrian rebels from stocks captured from the Gadhafi government. The scheme employed front companies set up in Libya to manage the shipments of arms in order to separate the U.S. government from the operation. An October 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report released by the Department of Defense to Judicial Watch confirmed the shipments of Libyan weapons from the port of Benghazi to two Syrian ports near Turkey beginning in October 2011 and continuing through August 2012.
Washington Post, Tyler Drumheller, CIA officer who exposed U.S. reliance on discredited Iraq source ‘Curveball,’ dies at 63, Greg Miller, Aug. 6, 2015. Tyler S. Drumheller, a high-level CIA officer who publicly battled agency leaders over one of the most outlandish claims in the U.S. case for war with Iraq, died Aug. 2 at a hospital in Fairfax County. He was 63. Mr. Drumheller held posts in Africa and Europe over a 26-year career during which the CIA’s focus shifted from the Cold War to terrorist threats. He rose to prominent positions at CIA headquarters, serving as chief of the European division at a time when the agency was abducting al-Qaeda suspects on the continent and U.S. allies there faced a wave of terrorist plots.
But he was best known publicly for his role in exposing the extent to which a key part of the administration’s case for war with Iraq had been built on the claims of an Iraqi defector and serial fabricator with the fitting code name “Curveball.” Mr. Drumheller spent the bulk of his career as an undercover officer seeking to avoid public attention. But after retiring in 2005, he emerged as a vocal critic of the George W. Bush administration’s use of deeply flawed intelligence to build support for its decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Curveball, who had defected to Germany in the late 1990s, was the primary source behind the administration’s assertions that Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq had developed biological weapons laboratories — lethal germ factories supposedly built on wheels or rails to evade detection. The claim was included in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech as well as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the United Nations designed to marshal international support for intervention in Iraq.
Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues
New York Review of Books, The Big Bush Question, Elizabeth Drew, Oct. 21, 2015. Poor Jeb. It’s unfathomable how he thought that he could run for the Republican nomination without having to wrestle with his brother’s record as president. While the war in Iraq is widely accepted to have been a disastrous mistake, another crucial event during the George W. Bush administration has long been considered unfit for political discussion: President Bush’s conduct, in the face of numerous warnings of a major terrorist plot, in the months leading up to September 11, 2001. The general consensus seems to have been that the 9/11 attacks were so horrible, so tragic, that to even suggest that the president at the time might bear any responsibility for not taking enough action to try to prevent them is to play “politics,” and to upset the public. And so we had a bipartisan commission examine the event and write a report; we built memorials at the spots where the Twin Towers had come down and the Pentagon was attacked; and that was to be that.
And then along came Donald Trump, to whom “political correctness” is a relic of an antiquated, stuffy, political system he’s determined to overwhelm. In an interview on October 16, he violated the longstanding taboo by saying, “When you talk about George Bush — I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time.” Trump’s comments set up a back and forth between him and Jeb Bush — who, as Trump undoubtedly anticipated, can’t let a blow against him by the frontrunner go by without response — but the real point is that with a simple declaration by Trump, there it was: the subject of George W. Bush’s handling of the warnings about the 9/11 attacks was out there. Jeb Bush had already left himself open to this charge by saying that his brother had “kept us safe.”
But that’s not the heart of the matter. The heretofore hushed-up public policy question that Trump stumbled into is: Did George W. Bush do what he could have to try to disrupt the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001? It’s not simply a question of whether he could have stopped the devastation—that’s unknowable. But did he do all he could given the various warnings that al-Qaeda was planning a major attack somewhere on US territory, most likely New York or Washington? The unpleasant, almost unbearable conclusion—one that was not to be discussed within the political realm—is that in the face of numerous warnings of an impending attack, Bush did nothing.
What is arguable about the events of 9/11 is whether they could have been stopped; what isn’t arguable is that George W. Bush didn’t try. Though Jeb Bush set out to run for president with the line, “I am my own man,” he has discovered that being George W’s brother is quite a burden.