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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 18th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We found the following in Wikipedia and thought to bring it up at this time:

Filibusters are irregular soldiers who act without authority from their own government, and are generally motivated by financial gain, political ideology, or the thrill of adventure. The freewheeling actions of the filibusters of the 1850s led to the name being applied figuratively to the political act of filibustering in the United States Congress.[1] “Freebooter” is the more familiar term in British English, in which “filibuster” normally only refers to the legislative tactic.

Filibuster William Walker launched several expeditions into Latin America. For a time he ruled Nicaragua, although he was eventually forced to return to the United States. In 1860, he was captured and executed in Honduras.

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Diplomat on the Rise, Suddenly in Turbulence

Mary Altaffer/Associated Press – Hillary Rodham Clinton and Susan E. Rice listening to President Obama at the U.N. General Assembly in September.
By
Published by The New York Times: November 17, 2012

WASHINGTON — Susan E. Rice was playing stand-in on the morning of Sept. 16 when she appeared on five Sunday news programs, a few days after the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would have been the White House’s logical choice to discuss the chaotic events in the Middle East, but she was drained after a harrowing week, administration officials said. Even if she had not been consoling the families of those who died, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Mrs. Clinton typically steers clear of the Sunday shows.

So instead, Ms. Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, delivered her now-infamous account of the episode. Reciting talking points supplied by intelligence agencies, she said that the Benghazi siege appeared to have been a spontaneous protest later hijacked by extremists, not a premeditated terrorist attack. Within days, Republicans in Congress were calling for her head.

In her sure-footed ascent of the foreign-policy ladder, Ms. Rice has rarely shrunk from a fight. But now that she appears poised to claim the top rung — White House aides say she is President Obama’s favored candidate for secretary of state — this sharp-tongued, self-confident diplomat finds herself in the middle of a bitter feud in which she is largely a bystander.

“Susan had a reputation, fairly or not, as someone who could run a little hot and shoot from the hip,” said John Norris, a foreign-policy expert at the Center for American Progress. “If someone had told me that the biggest knock on her was going to be that she too slavishly followed the talking points on Benghazi, I would have been shocked.”

At the United Nations, and in posts in President Bill Clinton’s administration, Ms. Rice, who turned 48 on Saturday, has earned a reputation as a blunt advocate, relentless on issues like pressing the government in Sudan or intervening in Libya to prevent a slaughter by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

She was a Rhodes scholar, has degrees from Stanford and Oxford, a Rolodex of contacts and a relationship with Mr. Obama sealed during his 2008 campaign. So her ascension to lead the State Department would be less a blow for diversity — she would, after all, be the second black woman named Rice to hold the job — than the natural capstone to a fast-track career.

Yet the firestorm over Benghazi raises more basic questions: Is Ms. Rice the best candidate to succeed Mrs. Clinton as the nation’s chief diplomat? Does she have the diplomatic finesse to handle thorny problems in the Middle East? And even if Mr. Obama gets the votes for her confirmation, has the episode so tainted her that it would be hard for her to thrive in the job?

Ms. Rice’s supporters say she has compiled a solid record at the United Nations, winning the passage of resolutions that impose strict sanctions on Iran and North Korea. Diplomats praise her energetic negotiating style, though her peremptory manner has bruised some egos. But even those who back her tend to emphasize factors like her ties to Mr. Obama, an advantage that Mrs. Clinton, for all her celebrity, did not have.

“Given that he’s probably the most withholding president on foreign policy since Nixon, if anyone can get him to delegate, not dominate, it’s Rice,” said Aaron David Miller, a longtime Middle East negotiator now at the Woodrow Wilson Center. “That would be good for her, and for our foreign policy.”

While some in the State Department are wary of her, recalling her blustery style as assistant secretary for African affairs in the Clinton administration, Ms. Rice has a core of support among Mr. Obama’s aides, particularly those who worked with her on the 2008 campaign. They insist that Benghazi will not derail her chances. Some analysts said Mr. Obama’s defense of her at a news conference last week was so impassioned that he had left himself little room to put forward an alternative, like Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Still, other longtime Washington observers question if Mr. Obama would risk a battle over his secretary of state when he needs to cut a deal with Republicans on the budget and taxes.

Certainly, the vitriol between him and Senator John McCain, who charged last week that Ms. Rice had misled the public and called her “not qualified” for the State Department post, suggests that a confirmation vote for her would be a toxic affair. She has other powerful defenders, like Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who said that Ms. Rice had done nothing wrong and was a victim of character assassination.

Ms. Rice, who has kept a low profile since her TV appearances, did not comment for this article.

“The attacks are patently unfair and mean-spirited,” said Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “Susan’s record at the U.N. is exceptional.” In addition to Ms. Rice’s early support and advice on foreign policy, he said, she had been a friend of Mr. Obama’s for a long time.

A scrappy point guard in high school — she was also valedictorian at the National Cathedral School — Ms. Rice is one of several basketball players in Mr. Obama’s inner circle. He and his wife, Michelle, recently invited Ms. Rice and her husband, a Canadian-born television producer, Ian Cameron, to the White House for a celebratory, postelection dinner with Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and other friends.

Even before such invitations, Ms. Rice had an entree to elite Washington. The daughter of Emmett J. Rice, a Federal Reserve System governor, and Lois Dickson Rice, an education policy expert, Ms. Rice spent her childhood mixing with family friends like Madeleine K. Albright, another secretary of state.

At 28, she was an aide in President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council, where she once questioned embracing the term “genocide” in Rwanda because it could put Mr. Clinton in an awkward position in midterm elections. At the State Department, diplomats recall her lecturing leaders in Africa decades her senior.

As a campaign surrogate in 2008, Ms. Rice could be withering. When Mr. Obama made a trip to the Middle East, she mocked an earlier visit Mr. McCain had made to a market in Baghdad, during which he wore body armor. She said of her candidate, “I don’t think he’ll be strolling around the market in a flak jacket.”

Ms. Rice’s relationship to Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state also began on chilly terms, officials said, in part because Ms. Rice embraced Mr. Obama’s candidacy rather than Mrs. Clinton’s. In the early days of the administration, one former aide said, their offices would occasionally issue competing statements on the same topic.

But over time, representatives of both women say, they have developed a good rapport. They see plenty of each other, with Ms. Rice keeping an office at the State Department and commuting between New York and Washington, where she and Mr. Cameron have two children. Her schedule has led to some criticism that she has missed debates in New York.

While there, Ms. Rice has had little use for the bland artifice of diplomatic language. When Russia and China blocked a resolution condemning the crackdown in Syria, Ms. Rice wrote on Twitter, “Disgusted that Russia and China prevented the U.N. Security Council from fulfilling its sole purpose.” At the White House, she tangled with Mr. Obama’s special envoy to Sudan, J. Scott Gration, and became so immersed in that country’s looming split that subordinates termed her the “Sudan desk officer.”

By her own account, Ms. Rice’s fervor is fueled by the Clinton administration’s inaction in Rwanda. Years later, she told Samantha Power, then a journalist writing about the episode, that “I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.”

Last year, working with Ms. Power (now herself in the National Security Council), Mrs. Clinton, and other officials, Ms. Rice helped persuade the president to back NATO military intervention in Libya.

In some ways, friends say, Ms. Rice’s appearance on the Sunday shows underlines how she has evolved from a headstrong young staffer into a disciplined senior member of Mr. Obama’s team.

“She’s really tough, but there is a difference in how she’s tough,” said Harold H. Koh, the State Department’s legal adviser. “During the Clinton administration, there was a feeling that she had to be tough to earn her place at the table. Now she’s more comfortable.”

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Petraeus Testifies, McCain Shuts Up.

By Joe Conason, National Memo

17 November 12

n Friday the Republican politicians who had so angrily demanded the testimony of David Petraeus about Benghazi got what they wanted – and what they deserved – when the former CIA director set forth the facts proving that their conspiracy theories and witch-hunts are dead wrong.

Appearing behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, Gen. Petraeus, recently resigned from the spy agency over his illicit affair with biographer Paula Broadwell, answered questions from legislators concerning the tragic Sept. 11 assault that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other diplomatic personnel dead.

When the session concluded, Petraeus was spirited away. And Senator John McCain (R-AZ), whose criticism of the Obama administration over Benghazi has verged on hysterical, emerged from the hearing room with very little to say to the reporters waiting outside.

“General Petraeus’ briefing was comprehensive. I think it was important; it added to our ability to make judgments about what was clearly a failure of intelligence, and described his actions and that of his agency and their interactions with other agencies,” said McCain, adding, “I appreciate his service and his candor” before abruptly fleeing as reporters tried to question him.

McCain’s curt statement was in sharp contrast to his voluble remarks on Thursday, when he denounced UN Ambassador Susan Rice for what he and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) described as her misleading description of the attack on Sunday television shows a few days after it occurred. (It later emerged, embarrassingly, that his posturing before the cameras on Benghazi had prevented him from attending a scheduled hearing on that subject. He didn’t want to to discuss that either.)

Essentially, McCain and Graham, joined by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), accused Rice on Thursday of lying and covering up the fact that the Benghazi consulate had been attacked by terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda. They vowed to prevent her confirmation as Secretary of State, should the president nominate her to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But with McCain departing so abruptly after the Petraeus hearing, it was left to others, including House Intelligence Committee chair Peter King (R-NY), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) to reveal what their Arizona colleague didn’t care to discuss. In his testimony, Petraeus blew apart the half-baked theories offered by McCain and Graham – and left them looking foolish.

On earlier occasions, King had echoed the same complaints made by McCain and Graham, but after Friday’s hearing he reluctantly admitted the truth: Petraeus had confirmed that the CIA had approved the talking points used by Rice, tentatively blaming the incident on a notorious anti-Muslim video sparking demonstrations in Cairo and elsewhere at the time. Although Petraeus said he had believed that terrorists were responsible, that suggestion was removed from the talking points in order to protect the ongoing FBI investigation into Benghazi, which Rice also mentioned.

As King explained in response to reporters’ questions, Petraeus not only confirmed that any allusion to al Qaeda had been removed from the talking points given to Rice, but that his agency had consented to that decision:

Q: Did he say why it was taken out of the talking points that [the attack] was al Qaeda affiliated?

KING: He didn’t know.

Q: He didn’t know? What do you mean he didn’t know?

KING: They (the CIA) were not involved – it was done, the process was completed and they said, “OK, go with those talking points.” Again, it’s interagency – I got the impression that 7, 8, 9 different agencies.

Q: Did he give you the impression that he was upset it was taken out?

KING: No.

Q: You said the CIA said “OK” to the revised report –

KING: No, well, they said in that, after it goes through the process, they OK’d it to go. Yeah, they said “Okay for it to go.”

In short, Rice was using declassified talking points, developed and approved by the intelligence community, when she discussed the Benghazi attack. So McCain’s nasty personal denunciation of her , along with most of his claims about how the White House handled Benghazi, has been blown out of the water like so much naval scrap. The Arizona senator, his colleagues, and their loud enablers on Fox News and elsewhere in the wingnut media will never apologize to Rice. But that is what they owe her.

———————–

BUT ALSO:

Is Rice Cooked?

By The New York Times Op-Ed Columnist
Published: November 17, 2012

WASHINGTON

OUR Rice is better than your Rice.

That’s the argument Democrats are aggressively making against Republicans.

And it’s true. Condi Rice sold her soul. Susan Rice merely rented hers on the talk shows one Sunday in September.

Ambitious to be secretary of state, Condi jilted her mentor, Brent Scowcroft, who publicly opposed the Iraq invasion. In 2002, she bolted to the winning, warmongering side with W., Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, helping them twist intelligence and getting Foggy Bottom in return.

Ambitious to be secretary of state, Susan Rice wanted to prove she had the gravitas for the job and help out the White House. So the ambassador to the United Nations agreed to a National Security Council request to go on all five Sunday shows to talk about the attack on the American consulate in Libya.

“She saw this as a great opportunity to go out and close the stature gap,” said one administration official. “She was focused on the performance, not the content. People said, ‘It’s sad because it was one of her best performances.’ But it’s not a movie, it’s the news. Everyone in politics thinks, you just get your good talking points and learn them and reiterate them on camera. But what if they’re not good talking points? What if what you’re saying isn’t true, even if you’re saying it well?”

Testifying on Capitol Hill on Friday, the beheaded Head Spook David Petraeus said the C.I.A. knew quickly that the Benghazi raid was a terrorist attack.

“It was such a no-brainer,” one intelligence official told me.

Intelligence officials suspected affiliates of Al Qaeda and named them in their original talking points for Rice, but that information was deemed classified and was softened to “extremists” as the talking points were cycled past Justice, State, the National Security Council and other intelligence analysts.

As The Times’s Eric Schmitt wrote, some analysts worried that identifying the groups “could reveal that American spy services were eavesdropping on the militants — a fact most insurgents are already aware of.”

Rice was given the toned-down talking points, but she has access to classified information. Though she told Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the extremist elements could have included Qaeda affiliates or Al Qaeda itself, she mostly used her appearances to emphasize the story line of the spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Muslim video. She disputed the contention of the president of Libya’s General National Congress, who called the attack “preplanned” when he talked to Schieffer just before Rice.

Some have wondered if Rice, who has a bull-in-a-china-shop reputation, is diplomatic enough for the top diplomatic job. But she would have been wise to be more bull-in-a-china-shop and vet her talking points, given that members of the intelligence and diplomatic communities and sources in news accounts considered it a terrorist attack days before Rice went on the shows. (The president and his spokesman also clung to the video story for too long.)

Rice should have been wary of a White House staff with a tendency to gild the lily, with her pal Valerie Jarrett and other staffers zealous about casting the president in a more flattering light, like national security officials filigreeing the story of the raid on Osama to say Bin Laden fought back. Did administration officials foolishly assume that if affiliates of Al Qaeda were to blame, it would dilute the credit the president got for decimating Al Qaeda? Were aides overeager to keep Mitt Romney, who had stumbled after the Benghazi attack by accusing the president of appeasing Islamic extremists, on the defensive?

Writing in a 2002 book about President Clinton’s failure to intervene in the genocide in Rwanda, Samantha Power, now a National Security Council official, suggested that Rice was swayed by domestic politics when, as a rising star at the N.S.C. who would soon become Clinton’s director for African affairs, she mused about the ’94 midterms, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November election?”

An Africa expert, Rice should have realized that when a gang showed up with R.P.G.’s and mortars in a place known as a hotbed of Qaeda sympathizers and Islamic extremist training camps, it was not anger over a movie. She should have been savvy enough to wonder why the wily Hillary was avoiding the talk shows.

The president’s fierce defense of Rice had virile flare. But he might have been better off leaving it to aides, so he did not end up going mano a mano with his nemesis John McCain on an appointment he hasn’t even made (though now Obama might feel compelled to, just to prove that he can’t be pushed around), and so he could focus on fiscal cliff bipartisanship.

His argument that Rice “had nothing to do with Benghazi,” raises the question: Then why was she the point person?

The president’s protecting a diplomatic damsel in distress made Rice look more vulnerable, when her reason for doing those shows in the first place was to look more venerable.

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