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The severe effects of eight years of disinvestment are taking hold on the United States Navy, at the same time that massive investment by Russia and China have dramatically increased the threat at sea. America has not been this imperiled on the oceans since the middle of World War 2.
An unclassified study by the Mitre organization found that the “Navy’s budget is insufficient to fund required force levels. The Navy’s budget is insufficient to develop, procure, operate, and sustain all the forces need to meet the revised defeat / hold scenario force structure. In addition, budget instability forces the Navy to make acquisition decisions that undermine affordability initiatives…for the last four years, the Navy has been operating under reduced top-lines and significant shortfalls. There will likely continue to be increasing pressure on the procurement accounts, which in turn threatens the near-term health of the defense industrial base.”
Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Adm. William F. Moran painted a dismal picture of a Navy that has been strained to the limit. Moran told committee members the ongoing demand for U.S. Naval forces far exceeds its long-term supply. And, he added, the Navy is the smallest it’s been in 99 years, making it urgent to “adequately fund, fix and maintain the fleet we do have.”The U.S. Navy has never been busier in a world of global threats, Admiral Moran said. While the Navy is getting the job done the unrelenting pace, inadequate resources and small size are taking their toll.
“For years, we’ve all learned to live with less and less, we have certainly learned to execute our budget inefficiently with nine consecutive continuing resolutions,” Moran said. But this has forced the Navy to repeatedly take money from cash accounts that are the lifeblood of building long-term readiness in its ranks, he added.
Moran’s testimony painted a dismal picture of a Navy that has been strained to the limit, noting that “As our Sailors and Navy civilians… prepare to ensure our next ships and aircraft squadrons deploy with all that they need, the strain is significant and growing…our shipyards and aviation depots are struggling to get our ships and airplanes through maintenance periods on time. In turn, these delays directly impact the time Sailors have to train and hone their skills prior to deployment. These challenges are further exacerbated by low stocks of critical parts and fleet-wide shortfalls in ordnance, and an aging shore infrastructure…It has become clear to me that the Navy’s overall readiness has reached its lowest level in many years…
“Our readiness challenges go deeper than ship and aircraft maintenance, directly affecting our ability to care for the Navy Team. Our people are what make the U.S. Navy the best in the world, but our actions do not reflect that reality. To meet the constraints of the Balanced Budget Act, the Navy’s FY 2017 budget request was forced to reduce funding for Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves. These reductions have been compounded by the Continuing Resolution, which imposed even further reductions on that account. Without sufficient PCS funding, the Navy will be unable to move Sailors to replace ship and squadron crewmembers leaving service, increasing the strain on those who remain. This is an area in which timing also matters greatly. Even if the money comes eventually, if it is too late, necessary moves will be delayed until the beginning of the new fiscal year. That means our Sailors with children will be forced to relocate their children in the middle of a school year. And because we don’t know if and when additional PCS funding may come, we cannot give our Sailors and their families much time to prepare, often leaving them with weeks, rather than months, to prepare for and conduct a move, often from one coast, or even one country, to another. Meanwhile, our shore infrastructure has become severely degraded and is getting worse because it has been a repeated bill payer for other readiness accounts in an effort to maintain afloat readiness. Consequently, we continue to carry a substantial backlog of facilities maintenance and replacement, approaching $8 billion.
“Time is running out. Years of sustained deployments and constrained and uncertain funding have resulted in a readiness debt that will take years to pay down. If the slow pace of readiness recovery continues, unnecessary equipment damage, poorly trained operators at sea, and a force improperly trained and equipped to sustain itself will result. Absent sufficient funding for readiness, modernization and force structure, the Navy cannot return to full health, where it can continue to meet its mission on a sustainable basis.”
A Defense News analysis put the crisis in stark terms: “…nearly two-thirds of the fleet’s strike fighters can’t fly — grounded because they’re either undergoing maintenance or simply waiting for parts or their turn in line on the aviation depot backlog…more than half the Navy’s aircraft are grounded, most because there isn’t enough money to fix them…there isn’t enough money to fix the fleet’s ships, and the backlog of ships needing work continues to grow…some submarines are out of service for prolonged periods.”
The perilous and diminished condition of the U.S. Navy must be contrasted with the rapidly growing strength of its Russian and Chinese adversaries.
Andrew Erickson, writing for the National Interest, notes that “ China has parlayed the world’s second-largest economy and second-largest defense budget into the world’s largest ongoing comprehensive naval buildup, which has already yielded the world’s second-largest navy China may assemble a combat fleet that in overall order of battle (hardware only) is quantitatively, and perhaps even qualitatively, in the same league as the USN. In my personal opinion, even the perception that China was on track to achieve such parity would have grave consequences for America’s standing and influence across the Asia-Pacific and around the world.
The ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2016” notes that “Over the past 15 years, China’s ambitious naval modernization program has produced a more technologically advanced and flexible force. The PLAN now possesses the largest number of vessels in Asia, with more than 300 surface ships, submarines, amphibious ships, and patrol craft. China is rapidly retiring legacy combatants in favor of larger, multi-mission ships equipped with advanced anti-ship, antiair, and anti-submarine weapons and sensors. China continues its gradual shift from “near sea” defense to “far seas” protection.”…China is expanding its access to foreign ports to pre-position the necessary logistics support to regularize and sustain deployments in the “far seas,” waters as distant as the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Atlantic Ocean. In late November, China publicly confirmed its intention to build military supporting facilities in Djibouti…This Chinese initiative both reflects and amplifies China’s growing geopolitical clout, extending the reach of its influence and armed forces…
Admiral Harris, the U.S. Navy Pacific Commander, has told the U.S. Senate that China’s Navy is increasing its routine operations in the Indian Ocean, expanding the area and duration of operations and exercises in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, and is beginning to act as a global navy – venturing into other areas, including Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and the Middle East.
The Congressional Research Service has released its analysis of the challenge. The New York Analysis of Policy and Government provides this summary:
China is building a modern and regionally powerful navy with a limited but growing capability for conducting operations beyond China’s near-seas region. Observers of Chinese and U.S. military forces view China’s improving naval capabilities as posing a potential challenge in the Western Pacific to the U.S. Navy’s ability to achieve and maintain control of blue-water ocean areas in wartime—the first such challenge the U.S. Navy has faced since the end of the Cold War. More broadly, these observers view China’s naval capabilities as a key element of an emerging broader Chinese military challenge to the long-standing status of the United States as the leading military power in the Western Pacific. The question of how the United States should respond to China’s military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, is a key issue in U.S. defense planning.
China’s naval modernization effort encompasses a broad array of platform and weapon acquisition programs, including anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), submarines, surface ships, aircraft, and supporting C4ISR (command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems. China’s naval modernization effort also includes improvements in maintenance and logistics, doctrine, personnel quality, education and training, and exercises…
Potential oversight issues for Congress include the following:
- whether the U.S. Navy in coming years will be large enough and capable enough to adequately counter improved Chinese maritime A2/AD forces while also adequately performing other missions around the world;
- whether the Navy’s plans for developing and procuring long-range carrier-based aircraft and long-range ship-and aircraft-launched weapons are appropriate;
- whether the Navy can effectively counter Chinese ASBMs and submarines; and
- whether the Navy, in response to China’s maritime A2/AD capabilities, should shift over time to a more distributed fleet architecture.
U.S. Navy Adm. Mark Ferguson, who commands NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy, and U.S. Navy forces in Europe and Africa, reports that “From the North Atlantic to the Black Sea, Russia is fielding an increasingly capable navy…unveiling a new maritime strategy and demonstrating new equipment and capabilities at sea. The strategy is clearly aimed at deterring NATO maritime forces, he said, and is not defensive. The proficiency and operational tempo of the Russian submarine force is increasing…”
The Office of Naval Intelligence notes that Moscow’s navy “is capable of delivering nuclear and conventional strikes against an enemy’s land facilities, destroying enemy naval formations at sea and in base, interdicting enemy maritime and oceanic sea lines of communication while protecting its own shipping, cooperating with ground forces in continental theaters of military operations, making amphibious landings, repelling enemy landings, and fulfilling other missions.”
Research from Ponars Eurasia explains that “Russia’s takeover of Crimea in 2014 and subsequent reinforcement of the region’s military forces have been combined with a general increase in naval activity—including aggressive activity vis-à-vis NATO countries’ maritime interests beyond the Black Sea…”
The Federation of American Scientists notes that “The new technologically advanced Russian Navy… will also provide a flexible platform for Russia to demonstrate offensive capability, threaten neighbors, project power regionally, and advance President Putin’s stated goal of returning Russia to clear great power status…As Russia asserts itself on the world stage, it is giving priority of effort and funding to recapitalizing its navy. The Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Viktor Chirkov, has asserted that “The Russian Navy is being equipped with the newest; including precision long-range strike weapons, and has big nuclear power. Naval forces today are capable of operating for a long time and with high combat readiness in operationally important areas of the global ocean”
Sputnik News reports that “The Russian Navy received a total of four combat surface ships, four submarines and 52 auxiliary ships in 2015,” according to Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov.
While Europe remains the main focus of the Russian military, the Russian Navy has been intent on dominating the Arctic and significantly increasing its power in the Pacific, where it has held joint war training games with China.
Moscow has established a number of new bases in the Arctic. Stratfor reports that “…the militarization of the Arctic — and by extension, the construction of new bases or the repurposing of old Soviet facilities — will remain one of the Russian military’s top priorities in the coming years.”
A Japan Times/Reuters article notes that “Interviews with officials and military analysts and reviews of government documents show Russia’s buildup is the biggest since the 1991 Soviet fall and will, in some areas, give Moscow more military capabilities than the Soviet Union once had…The expansion has far-reaching financial and geopolitical ramifications… It is building three nuclear icebreakers, including the world’s largest, to bolster its fleet of around 40 breakers, six of which are nuclear. No other country has a nuclear breaker fleet, used to clear channels for military and civilian ships. U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis, in a separate written submission, described Moscow’s Arctic moves as ‘aggressive steps.’… “The modernization of Arctic forces and of Arctic military infrastructure is taking place at an unprecedented pace not seen even in Soviet times,’ Mikhail Barabanov, editor-in-chief of Moscow Defense Brief, told Reuters. He said two special Arctic brigades had been set up, something the USSR never had, and that there were plans to form a third as well as special Arctic coastal defense divisions.
Russia’s extraordinary naval buildup far from Europe is not confined to the colder climes. Moscow’s military presence in the Pacific is being bolstered by new ships, submarines, and strengthened bases.
U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Harris warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that “Ships and submarines of the Russian Pacific Fleet and long range aircraft routinely demonstrate Russia’s message that it is a Pacific power. 6 Russian ballistic missile and attack submarines remain especially active in the region. The arrival in late 2015 of Russia’s newest class of nuclear ballistic missile submarine (DOLGORUKIY SSBN) in the Far East is part of a modernization program for the Russian Pacific Fleet and signals the seriousness with which Moscow views this region.”
Following eight years of reduced budgetary support for the U.S. military, at a time when threats have increased dramatically from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and terrorists, the ability of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to defend the nation has reached a near-crisis level.
The warning signs have been apparent for some time. In 2015, General Martin Dempsey, who was serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the U.S. military, noted that funding for the armed forces was at the “lower ragged edge” of what was necessary to keep the nation safe. The latest assessments of American strength confirm that the ability of the nation to protect itself is only marginal. Even more troubling, according to another report, is that the infrastructure necessary to rebuild the military to a more acceptable level is itself below par.
The Defense Budget
At the start of 2016r, Senator John McCain displayed consternation at the inadequate budget proposed by President Obama. “…the Senate Armed Services Committee received testimony from the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who said that he cannot recall a more diverse array of challenges and crises in his more than fifty years of service to the nation…at a time when U.S. military deployments are increasing to confront growing global threats, the President’s budget request is actually less, in real dollars, than what Congress enacted last year…rather than request an increase in defense spending that reflects what our military really needs, the President’s request [will cut] important defense needs – cutting 15,000 current Army soldiers and 4,000 sailors, reducing major modernization programs, and proposing a pay increase for service members much lower than what is needed to compete with private sector wages.”
Contrary to popular misconception, the U.S. defense budget, notes the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, is a relatively small percentage of the federal budget, and a minor part of America’s GDP. “…the FY 2017 Department of Defense budget [prepared as instructed by the Obama White House] … would be 3 percent of GDP, and 14.2 percent of overall federal spending. Overall, the share of defense spending as a percentage of GDP has declined steadily since the end of the Korean War. What makes the Obama drawdown of the Pentagon unique is that, unlike the aftermath of prior wars or the Cold War, the potential threat to the U.S. is rising, not diminishing.”
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) describes the state of U.S. defenses as “a force-planning construct that is woefully inadequate for the global and everyday demands of wartime and peacetime… Gone is any plan that foresees conflict taking longer than one year in duration or any contingency with a whiff of stability operations, long-term counterinsurgency or counter-insurrection, or nation building of the type seen in Iraq and Afghanistan… After six years of budget cuts and operational shifts, hard choices have in many cases turned into stupid or bad ones. Fewer resources and the lack of bipartisan consensus in favor of a strong defense have forced commanders and planners across services to accept previously unthinkable risks as they pick and choose which portions of the national defense strategy to implement… Unmentioned is that the risk to the force grows each passing year. It is now at crisis levels and promises unnecessarily longer wars, higher numbers of wounded or killed in action, and outright potential for mission failure.”
Defense One notes that it’s not just manpower and hardware that’s the problem. America is losing its lead in technology as well. “The Pentagon is worried that rivals are developing their capabilities faster than the U.S. is rolling out new ones. The edge is shrinking.”
The Heritage Foundation’s report on U.S. military strength presents a worrisome picture of an understrength military. “The common theme across the services and the U.S. nuclear enterprise is one of force degradation resulting from many years of underinvestment, poor execution of modernization programs, and the negative effects of budget sequestration (cuts in funding) on readiness and capacity. While the military has been heavily engaged in operations, primarily in the Middle East but elsewhere as well, since September 11, 2001, experience is both ephemeral and context-sensitive. Valuable combat experience is lost over time as the service members who individually gained experience leave the force, and it maintains direct relevance only for future operations of a similar type (e.g., counterinsurgency operations in Iraq are fundamentally different from major conventional operations against a state like Iran or China). Thus, although the current Joint Force is experienced in some types of operations, it is still aged and shrinking in its capacity for operations.”
Army: The U.S. Army should have 50 brigade combat teams (BCTs); Currently, it has only 32. The force is rated as weak in capacity, readiness, and marginal in capability.“The Army has continued to trade end strength and modernization for improved readiness for current operations. However, accepting risks in these areas has enabled the Army to keep only one-third of its force at acceptable levels of readiness, and even for units deployed abroad, the Army has had to increase its reliance on contracted support to meet maintenance requirements. Budget cuts have affected combat units disproportionately: A 16 percent reduction in total end strength has led to a 32 percent reduction in the number of brigade combat teams and similar reductions in the number of combat aviation brigades. In summary, the Army is smaller, older, and weaker, a condition that is unlikely to change in the near future.”
What would this mean in the event of a major conflict? According to AEI “…a recent RAND war game found that U.S. European Command could not prevent Russian occupation of Baltic capitals within three days, leaving follow-on forces to fight through the Russian Kaliningrad exclave, which bristles with weapons and troops.”
Navy: The U.S. Navy should have 346 surface combatants; currently, it has only 273, and only one-third of those are considered mission-capable. The force is rated as weak in capability, and marginal in capacity and readiness. “While the Navy is maintaining a moderate global presence, it has little ability to surge to meet wartime demands. Deferred maintenance has kept ships at sea but is also beginning to affect the Navy’s ability to deploy. With scores of ‘weak’ in capability (due largely to old platforms and troubled modernization programs) and ‘marginal’ in capacity, the Navy is currently just able to meet operational requirements. Continuing budget shortfalls in its shipbuilding account will hinder the Navy’s ability to improve its situation, both materially and quantitatively, for the next several years.
According to AEI combatant commanders have only 62 percent of the attack submarines they need. It also is short of fighter planes. One example: Defense One reports “The U.S. Navy says it needs about 30 new Super Hornets, but it has only funded two in the Pentagon’s 2017 war budget. It has listed 14 planes as “unfunded priorities” and money would be needed for an additional 14 planes in 2018.”
Air Force: The U.S. Air Force requires 1,200 fighter/ground-attack aircraft, but has only 1,113, many of which are overaged. The force is rated as marginal in capability and readiness, but strong in capacity. “the USAF’s accumulating shortage of pilots (700) and maintenance personnel (4,000) has begun to affect its ability to generate combat power. The Air Force … lack of ability to fly and maintain its tactical aircraft, especially in a high-tempo/threat combat environment, means that its usable inventory of such aircraft is actually much smaller. This reduced ability is a result of funding deficiencies that also result in a lack of spare parts, fewer flying hours, and compromised modernization programs.”
According to AEI, budget contractions have resulted in the current Air Force’s dubious honor of being the smallest and oldest in its history…as F-15/F-16 retirements outpace F-35 production. Another recent RAND war game showed it would require more fighter air wings than the Air Force currently fields in total to defeat a surge of Chinese aircraft over Taiwan.
Marine Corps: The USMC needs 36 battalions; it has only 24. It’s rated as weak in capacity marginal in capability and readiness. “The Corps continues to deal with readiness challenges driven by the combined effects of high operational tempo and low levels of funding. At times during 2016, less than one-third of its F/A-18s, a little more than a quarter of its heavy-lift helicopters, and only 43 percent of its overall aviation fleet were available for operational employment. Pilots not already in a deployed status were getting less than half of needed flight hours. The Corps’ modernization programs are generally in good shape, but it will take several years for the new equipment to be produced and fielded…the Corps has only two-thirds of the combat units that it actually needs, especially when accounting for expanded requirements that include cyber units and more crisis-response forces.”
The Nuclear Deterrent: [As the New York Analysis of Policy and Government has previously noted, Russia, for the first time in history, leads the world in nuclear weaponry.] The American nuclear arsenal is rated as weak in warhead modernization, delivery system modernization, and nuclear weapons complex, and marginal in readiness and lab talent It is only ranked strong in warhead surety and delivery reliability. “Modernization, testing, and investment in intellectual and talent underpinnings continue to be the chief problems facing America’s nuclear enterprise. Delivery platforms are good, but the force depends on a very limited set of weapons (in number of designs) and models that are quite old, in stark contrast to the aggressive programs of competitor states. Of growing concern is the “marginal” score for ‘Allied Assurance’ at a time when Russia has rattled its nuclear saber in a number of recent provocative exercises; China has been more aggressive in militarily pressing its claims to the South and East China Seas; North Korea is heavily investing in a submarine-launched ballistic missile capability; and Iran has achieved a nuclear deal with the West that effectively preserves its nuclear capabilities development program for the foreseeable future.”
Russia has a larger nuclear capability than the U.S. China has more submarines and will soon have a larger navy. Both nations pose key threats to the U.S. Air Force, Notes the American Enterprise Institute. (AEI). “…the [U.S.] Air Force has weakened relative to its adversaries. As China and Russia produce and export advanced air defense and counter-stealth systems alongside fifth-generation stealth fighters, the [U.S.] Air Force treads water, buying small numbers of F-35s while spending ever-larger sums on keeping F-15s and F-16s operational – though those aircraft cannot survive on the first-day front lines of modern air combat…Simply put, the armed forces are not large enough, modern enough and ready enough to meet today’s or tomorrow’s mission requirements. This is the outcome not only of fewer dollars, but of the reduced purchasing power of those investments, rising unbudgeted costs for politically difficult reforms continuously deferred, and a now-absent bipartisan consensus on U.S. national security that existed for generations.
In prior times of military crisis, the once-mighty U.S. industrial infrastructure was capable of rapidly turning out new ships, tanks, and aircraft. According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, (AAM) that may no longer be the case. “U.S. national security is at-risk due to our military’s reliance on foreign nations for the raw materials, parts, and products used to defend the American people…With the closing of factories across the United States and the mass exodus of U.S. manufacturing jobs to China and other nations over the past 30 years, the United States’ critically important defense industrial base has deteriorated dramatically. As a result, the United States now relies heavily on imports to keep our armed forces equipped and ready. Compounding this rising reliance on foreign suppliers, the United States also depends increasingly on foreign financing arrangements. In addition, the United States is not mining enough of the critical metals and other raw materials needed to produce important weapons systems and military supplies. These products include the night-vision devices (made with a rare earth element) that enabled Navy SEALs to hunt down Osama bin Laden. Consequently, the health of the United States’ defense industrial base—and our national security—is in jeopardy. We are vulnerable to major disruptions in foreign supplies that could make it impossible for U.S. warriors, warships, tanks, aircraft, and missiles to operate effectively.”
One example cited by AAM: “The United States is completely dependent on a single Chinese company for the chemical needed to produce the solid rocket fuel used to propel HELLFIRE missiles. As current U.S. supplies diminish, our military will be reliant on the Chinese supplier to provide this critical chemical—butanetriol—in the quantities needed to maintain this missile system. HELLFIRE missiles are a widely used, reliable, and effective weapon launched from attack helicopters and unmanned drones. They are a critical component in America’s arsenal.”
The reduction in defense preparedness has been a factor in the continuing shortage of middle-income level jobs. The cuts continue to defense-related employment continues. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “Boeing Co. said [on Nov.15 that] it would cut another 500 jobs over the next four years from its defense and space business by shrinking work at its Huntington Beach facility in California and closing two smaller plants in Texas and Virginia…Boeing’s defense arm has cut thousands of jobs over the past five years, a faster pace than reductions at a commercial airplane arm that have climbed in recent months as it faced tougher competition from Airbus Group SE.”
National Review summarized the condition of the U.S. military by quoting U.S. service chiefs at budgetary hearings earlier this year: “General Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff at the time, reported that ‘readiness has been degraded to its lowest level in 20 years. . . . Today we only have 33 percent of our brigades ready to the extent we would expect them to be if asked to fight.’ The chief of naval operations at the time, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, said, ‘Our contingency response force, that’s what’s on call from the United States, is one-third of what it should be and what it needs to be.’ The Air Force chief of staff, General Mark Welsh, said that if his airplanes were cars, ‘we currently have twelve fleets — twelve fleets of airplanes that qualify for antique license plates in the state of Virginia. We must modernize our Air Force.”
President-elect Trump has pledged to increase the U.S. military and modernize the nuclear arsenal. According to the Washington Post “Trump’s win is good news for the defense industry, especially when coupled with Republican majorities in the House and Senate,’ said Loren Thompson, a defense consultant who advises many of the nation’s top-tier contractors.”
The United States is in great danger from those who advocate, condone or simply ignore the trend towards defying Constitutional mandates and practices.
America is about to turn a corner in which a movement that has engaged in the practices of ignoring Constitutional provisions and applying a different standard of law for the powerful, while pursuing the supremacy of government by power and influence rather than by rule of law, seeks to retain the White House.
The spokespersons for that movement have not been shy. In an interview reported by MRCTV Secretary of State John Kerry hailed Obama “for his ability to ‘circumvent Congress’ in getting parts of his energy policy enacted.” Whether acting domestically in his assaults on the coal industry, or internationally in his acceptance of the Paris Climate “accord,” the White House ignored the legislative branch and the Constitutional provisions which require its assent. In essence, the President acted as a one-man government.
The reduction of the Constitution from its position as the controlling law of the land has been an ongoing and increasing threat. While many presidents have at times quietly exceeded their authority, the blatant and open institutionalization of this practice during the past eight years has been extreme and exceptional.
Whether in direct statements from Mr. Obama that he would “not wait for Congress to Act,” and that he had a “pen and a phone” and would not hesitate to use them if Congress did not acquiesce to his will, or in the use of the IRS to harass opposition political groups, or the overarching influence of major Democrat political donors such as Tom Steyer over the Environmental Protection Agency, or the transformation of the Department of Justice into a partisan agency, the exclusion of Constitutional practices in favor of “strong man” tactics has been dire and dangerous.
The Justice Department example is one that should worry every citizen. J. Christian Adams, who served in the Voting section of the Justice Department, describes how the Obama Administration changed the organization’s hiring practices to ensure that only radical leftists would wield influence—and use that influence for partisan purposes. He described, in his book “Injustice” how the supposedly neutral government agency sided with political bosses.
While Adams concentrates on the Justice Department’s role in election law, the same problems exist in that agency’s misdeeds regarding Hillary Clinton’s email violations. The indictment of other figures for committing deeds similar to but far lesser in scope than the former Secretary of States’ email crimes, while refusing to indict Clinton, is a clear example of how political considerations rather than the objective enforcement of the law motivates government agencies in the Obama-Clinton era.
In many ways, the overwhelming influence of partisan political interests over federal agencies during the Obama Administration resembles the role of Communist Party commissars over the Soviet State or the Gestapo in Nazi Germany. (Before pundits go wild and claim we are comparing the Obama Administration to Communists or Nazis, which we are not, the point we are making is that the extraordinary influence of political interests over nonpartisan ones in government agencies does have historical antecedents in those prior and unsavory regimes.)
Historical examples provide clear warnings of what can happen when central governing documents containing strictly observed guarantees of rights do not exist. American slavery provides one such illustration. Africans transported to the colonies were at first considered indentured servants, similar to those from Europe. There was a reasonable expectation that after a stated period of time, they would be freed. But the elites of the time—wealthy property owners, and those claiming to have scientific expertise in the matter—found it more convenient to keep blacks in bondage. Absent a guarantee of rights, slavery was born. Even after the practice ended following the Civil War, a willingness to ignore the newly enacted Thirteenth Amendment (“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”) deprived blacks of many of their rights.
It should be noted that the same political party that supported slavery and then, in defiance of the Constitution, segregation, now supports the President and other politicians that espouse defying Constitutional mandates.
The historical antecedents of the Obama Administration’s disregard for the Constitution have been brewing for many years in leftist circles. Writing in The Nation almost 30 years ago, Howard Zinn stated:“… like other historic documents, the Constitution is of minor importance compared with the actions that citizens take, especially when those actions are joined in social movements…A constitution is a fine adornment for a democratic society, but it is no substitute for the energy, boldness and concerted action of the citizens.”
The concept was echoed numerous times over the intervening years. Professor Michael Seidman, writing in 2012 in the New York Times, argued: “…observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.”
Yuval Levin and Ramesh Ponnuru, writing in National Review note that “mainstream liberals now advance a vision of American government that is increasingly contemptuous of our system’s democratic character and that seeks to break through the restraints of the constitutional system in pursuit of their policy ends. They advance this vision in three ways. First, contemporary liberalism has come to ardently champion executive unilateralism…the second way…is closely connected to the first: today’s left is the party of the administrative state, which is often the means by which executive unilateralism operates but is also far more than that. The term ‘administrative state’ refers to the tangle of regulatory agencies that populate the executive branch, including the least nominally ‘independent.’ They increasingly govern beyond the control of the other branches and therefore at times generally outside the confines of our constitutional system.” Levin and Ponnuru add a third way: a judicial branch that advocates an agenda rather than enforces the law. “Liberals want everyone but Congress—at least so long as they do not control it—to advance… [their] agenda.”
In a recent Constitution Day speech, Senator Warren Hatch (R-Utah) noted: “Unfortunately, there are some today who view the Constitution as an obstacle to overcome, a barrier to supposed progress… Surely the exigencies of the day, they argue, warrant bypassing or even ignoring the separation of powers, federalism, and other critical elements of our constitutional structure. Although some of these individuals may be well intentioned, they are fundamentally misguided…The Constitution limits government in order to preserve freedom. It makes each branch the equal of the others and the states the equals of Washington, DC. It provides a check on all government action. It divides power among multiple sources because no one individual or office can be trusted with all authority. And it requires cooperation at all levels and all stages to ensure that changes in law are thoroughly vetted rather than rammed through by temporary majorities. These are the principles that should guide us as we seek solutions to our Nation’s challenges…Legislation that preserves the separation of powers rather than delegating vast lawmaking authority to an unelected bureaucracy also honors the Constitution’s teachings. So do regulations that stay within the bounds of agency authority. When agencies exceed their statutory mandate, they do violence to the Constitution’s careful system of checks of balances. They assume power that is not theirs to take and remove decisions from the give-and-take of the democratic process. This is particularly problematic when the obvious purpose of the agency action is to bypass Congress.”
What is truly worrisome about the anti-Constitutional statements and actions by many leftists/progressive politicians, pundits and others is that the basic thrust of their argument is not just a revision or even a total rewrite of the document that has made the United States the world’s most successful nation, but for the elimination of a guiding document at all. Their vision replaces the ideology of the American Revolution and its subsequent philosophy of a government restrained by law with that of the French and Russian revolutions, in which an elitist leadership accumulates power unto itself and imposes, without the restriction or restraint of law, its vision upon a people that are not truly citizens but instead mere subjects.
From across the nation, news reports and studies continue to verify the reality of voter fraud, campaign violations, and the growing influence of illegal aliens. Here’s a sampling:
- The Department of Justice continues to harass states that seek to clean up voter registration roles and enforce state voter ID laws.
- The Washington Free Beacon: “A high-dollar lobbyist and fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign failed to file legally required disclosures for his advocacy on behalf of a foreign government in discussions with Clinton’s future campaign chairman, according to a political law expert.”
- Arizona Family.com: “A campaign finance violation complaint has been filed with the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office against a newly formed independent political committee linked to [ major Clinton backer] George Soros…Soros has been spending millions of dollars this year to support Democrats in prosecutor races around the country and all but one of his favored candidates have won. Phoenix lawyer Brett Johnson says the law requires political committees making independent expenditures to a candidate or office within 60 days of an election to provide 24 hours’ notice to opponents about submitted print or television ads.”
- The Dallas News Complaints have been filed that in early voting, votes cast for Trump have been ‘switched’ by faulty machines into votes for Clinton.
- The Washington Post: “a group of undocumented immigrants is knocking on doors in Northern Virginia in support of Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates…The vote-seekers are some of the 750,000 recipients of temporary legal status under the Obama administration’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. …‘All DACA recipients should take this on as an added responsibility, to change the power structure,’ said Luis Angel Aguilar, 28, who received his protected status in 2013 and is helping to coordinate the effort. ‘Our voices need to be heard”
- Project Veritas: NYC Democratic Commissioner of the Board of Elections Alan Schulkin stated at a at a United Federation of Teachers party that there is widespread voter fraud in New York City…”Schulkin, a Democrat, said that to effectuate illegal voting, people are bussed to various polling sites. He places a blame on NYC’s radical-left Mayor de Blasio. “He gave out ID cards. De Blasio. That’s in lieu of a driver’s license, but you can use it for anything. But, they didn’t vet people to see who they really are. Anybody can go in there and say I am Joe Smith, I want an ID card. It’s absurd. There’s a lot of fraud. Not just voter fraud, all kinds of fraud.”
- A Science Direct white paper notes: We find that some non-citizens participate in U.S. elections, and that this participation has been large enough to change meaningful election outcomes including Electoral College votes, and Congressional elections. Non-citizen votes likely gave Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress.
- The Gateway Pundit’s examination of a wikileaks release finds that Clinton campaign chief John Podesta stated it was OK for illegals to vote if they have a drivers license . The quote: John Podesta: On the picture ID, the one thing I have thought of in that space is that if you show up on Election Day with a drivers license with a picture, attest that you are a citizen, you have a right to vote in Federal elections.
- Virginia: Terry McAuliffe has used various means to attempt to restore to convicted felons who have served their sentence the right to vote, a move expected to provide substantial support to Clinton.
- California: Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation allowing convicted felons the right to vote. Some have speculated that polling stations could be set up in prisons.
Some threats have been prevented. Click Orlando reports that “A federal judge has rejected the Florida Democratic Party’s request to let people cast a ballot during early voting even if their registration application hasn’t been verified.”
Far beyond any precedent in American history, President Obama’s foreign and defense policies have utterly collapsed, severely endangering both the United States and its allies to a degree never anticipated.
The Obama doctrine, which can be described as a unilateral drawdown of U.S. military capabilities, reduced American presence worldwide, acceptance of questionable international agreements, and subordinating Washington’s global role to international organizations or other powers, has not only failed to yield positive results, it has increased the risk of wars large and small worldwide, allowed terrorism to expand exponentially, and jeopardized the lives of U.S. citizens.
To a unique and extensive degree, Mr. Obama has acted on his own, leaving out Congress, the American people, and according to some reports some of his own advisors in his decision-making process. Indeed, throughout his two terms in office, the President has failed to provide a thorough and candid statement of either his worldview or his national security goals.
The hallmarks of the Obama Doctrine include:
Missteps in defense planning. Examples include the President’s opposition to a defense budget based on real threats, not politics. He also sponsored an arms control agreement, the New Start Treaty, that allowed Russia to gain the lead in nuclear weapons. In a Newsmax interview, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney said the administration is seeking to unilaterally disarm U.S. nuclear forces, something that is “the most dangerous thing I have ever seen an American president attempt to do.”
Middle Eastern withdrawal, and a failure to forcefully confront terrorism. The President ordered a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, allowing ISIS to thrive.
Mr. Obama also took a very vocal role in supporting “Arab Spring” movements, which perhaps unintentionally, allowed Islamic terrorists to gain more influence in Middle Eastern governments. Curiously, however, there was one such movement he pointedly refused to encourage: The “Green Revolution” in Iran, which would have brought more moderates into Iran’s hard-core anti-American regime. No rational explanation has ever been provided by the White House as to why it supported such movements in nations such as Egypt, while the Green Revolution in Iran was ignored.
The Investigative Project on Terror reports that “Deaths from jihadist assaults rose from an annual average of roughly 2,500 innocents per year from 2001 to 2006, to an average of 3,300 per year in 2007-2011, to 9,000 per year in 2012-2013 and to an average of more than 28,000 in 2014-2015…Today ISIS claims two caliphates – one the size of Indiana in Iraq and Syria and the other along the Mediterranean coast in Libya – from which to expand its genocidal influence in the Middle East and Africa. Large areas of the African continent experienced tremendous mass slaughter from Islamist terror in recent years, led by ISIS affiliate Boko Haram.”
A key area where the President, contrary to his inclination to disengage in the Middle East, has intervened resulted in a negative outcome. Inexplicably, Mr. Obama committed American forces to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, who had renounced his own nuclear program and terrorist past and was now on the same side as the West in the fight against al-Qaeda. Gaddafi’s elimination left Libya in chaos, allowing Islamic terrorists to thrive there. The destruction of the American facility in Benghazi and the murder of the American ambassador and his staff were a direct result.
In a departure from America’s long-standing doctrine of not negotiating with terrorists, President Obama opened discussions with Afghanistan’s Taliban, and later and combined it with an announced departure date of American forces from Afghanistan. (The Wilson Center reports “in recent months, the Taliban has intensified its insurgency in Afghanistan. It now holds more territory than at any time since 2001. Civilian casualties reached record levels in 2015, and scores of Afghans are fleeing the country.”)
A failure to back U.S. allies and friends when attacked or threatened. The bizarre lack of a response by the Obama Administration to the Chinese invasion of the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone off the shores of the long-term U.S. ally set a detrimental precedent. Washington failed to even lodge a substantial diplomatic protest, despite the clear violation of international law. China clearly became emboldened by this, and has increased its aggressiveness ever since. Spacewar reports that Philippine President Aquino fears “the Philippines could lose control of its entire west coast should China succeed in enforcing its [illegal] claims.”
Israeli relations provide another clear example. Despite existential threats to that nation’s existence from Iranian missile developments, Mr. Obama has taken no steps in response to Tehran’s missile program, which has included test launches with rockets bearing “death to Israel” logos (The BBC reports that Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said “anyone who thinks negotiations are more important than building a missile system are traitors.”)
Unilateral and severe limits on anti-ballistic missile defenses. Russia has modernized its best-in-the world nuclear arsenal, China has become a major nuclear power, and then there is North Korea. The Free Beacon reports that “North Korea has developed a new long-range mobile intercontinental ballistic missile that the Pentagon says moves the country’s leader Kim Jong Un closer to the goal of building missiles capable of striking the U.S. mainland with nuclear warheads.” Despite this, the President’s long-standing opposition to adequate missile defenses continues.
Ignoring the increased military presence of Russia, China, and Iran in the Americas. The President has demonstrated remarkably little concern for truly worrisome military developments in the Americas. The Castro government’s agreement to allow the Russian Navy to return to Cuban ports didn’t impact the White House decision to establish diplomatic relations with Havana—less than a month after the Cuban-Russian agreement was reached! No response has been made to Nicaragua’s allowing Moscow’s nuclear bombers to refuel in their air facilities in order to continue threatening atomic patrols off U.S. coastlines. No substantive response has been made to the presence of Iran’s Hezbollah forces in Latin America, or China’s growing relationship with Caribbean and South American militaries.
Missteps Recognized, But Not Corrected
The latest reports, that a limited number of troops and heavy equipment will be returned to Europe following the President’s unexplained withdrawal of U.S. tanks several years ago, came shortly after the news that U.S. ground troops have been sent back to the Middle East. Mr. Obama’s earlier withdrawal of tanks from Europe and his withdrawal of American troops from the Middle East (leaving no insurance units behind had belatedly recognized disastrous consequences.)
The lack of any credible western deterrent in Europe, combined with the President’s acquiescence in the Kremlin’s first-ever lead in nuclear arms (as a result of his agreement to the 2009 nuclear arms treaty) gave Moscow an additional assurance that its invasion of Ukraine, its threats against former Soviet satellites, and its dramatic and vast military arms buildup, would result in any substantial consequences. The already diminished amount of American troops in Europe, down to 65,000 from a prior high of about 200,000, was already an indication of U.S. goodwill. What was the purpose of the tank withdrawal? Why was there no statement from the White House concerning its extraordinary and unilateral withdrawal of American armored forces? It should also be noted that Mr. Obama has also sought to close down the only facility in the U.S. that manufactures tanks, at a time when U.S. armor is over-aged, American manufacturing employment is in crisis and Russia is developing exceptionally advanced and powerful new armored vehicles.
The dire necessity which mandated the very limited return of previously withdrawn U.S. forces to Europe and Iraq, (although in numbers which suggest more a publicity stunt than a substantive military move) both tacit admissions of the Administration’s policy failures in those regions, should have been taken as a lesson by the President. But in his recent actions towards Cuba, his failure to confront the growing military presence of Russia, China, and terrorist forces in the Americas, and his continuing failure to significantly prepare for the very real threats facing the United States from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and terrorists, indicate that no such lesson was learned.
That inability by the President and the two Secretaries of State under his tenure to respond to the obvious failure of their foreign and defense policies indicates either an inability to acknowledge a reality that differs from their ideology, or an adherence to a worldview that the vast majority of Americans find both dangerous and abhorrent.
For decades, a college education was a means to enhance earning ability, for those with the aptitude to utilize what they were taught, in a gainful career. But as the “college for all” mantra took hold throughout the American educational establishment, a college degree essentially took the place of high school degrees in times past.
As tuition skyrocketed, that meant that students and their families were going deeply into debt to gain a degree that, for many, led to jobs that in the past could have been obtained for the free cost of a public high school education.
Stunning tuition cost hikes have outpaced price increases in just about every other area. U.S. News reported in 2013 that “According to data from the Labor Department, the price index for college tuition grew by nearly 80 percent between August 2003 and August 2013. That is nearly twice as fast as growth in costs in medical care, another area widely recognized for fast-rising prices. It’s also more than twice as fast as the overall consumer price index during that same period.” During that time period, college tuition increased 79.5%, while the Consumer Price index increased only 26.7%, medical care, 43.1%, food and beverages, 31.2%, and housing 22.8%.
The money hasn’t gone into improving the educational experience of students, and it hasn’t gone into the salaries of professors. A Washington Monthly review found that “as colleges and universities have had more money to spend, they have not chosen to spend it on expanding their instructional resources—that is, on paying faculty. They have chosen, instead, to enhance their administrative and staff resources. A comprehensive study published by the Delta Cost Project in 2010 reported that between 1998 and 2008, America’s private colleges increased spending on instruction by 22 percent while increasing spending on administration and staff support by 36 percent. Parents who wonder why college tuition is so high and why it increases so much each year may be less than pleased to learn that their sons and daughters will have an opportunity to interact with more administrators and staffers… Over the past four decades…the number of full-time professors or “full-time equivalents”—that is, slots filled by two or more part-time faculty members whose combined hours equal those of a full-timer—increased slightly more than 50 percent. That percentage is comparable to the growth in student enrollments during the same time period. But the number of administrators and administrative staffers employed by those schools increased by an astonishing 85 percent and 240 percent, respectively.”
Liz Peek, writing in The Fiscal Times, found that “Between 2000 and 2010…The portion [of students] receiving federal aid skyrocketed from 31.6 percent to 47.8 percent, and the average award nearly doubled. In addition, the percentage taking out student loans climbed from 40.1 percent to 50.1 percent, and the average borrowing rose 76 percent. The ramp-up in loans to students has not only driven up costs but has undermined the value of a college degree. Some 30 percent of people ages 25 to 29 are college graduates today, up from 12 percent in the 1970s…Richard Vedder, economics professor at Ohio University, has written that we have one million retail sales clerks and 115,000 janitors with college diplomas. At the same time, one fifth of the country’s managers say they can’t find skilled workers to fill job openings.”
The Huffington Post asks, “A college degree is great, but is it necessary for everyone, and at what cost (literally) are we willing to pay for this social experiment? …We overhyped a college education and as a result we may have destroyed the American Dream…Millennials have contributed $1 trillion to the national student loan debt [Bloomberg]Millennials are the most educated generation in human history, yet they have the highest share of people who are unemployed in the last 40 years [USA Today] 48% of employed college graduates have jobs that do not require a four-year degree. [Forbes]…When you compare the student loan crisis to the mortgage crisis that triggered The Great Recession, at least the government and lenders had something tangible they could take to sell. In that instance it was property. You can’t take and resell knowledge from the brains of college graduates or college drop-outs…Once the student loan bubble bursts, we will be in a world of trouble.”
A Consumer Reports study found that 45% of people with student loan debt said that college was not worth the cost. The detrimental impact on the U.S. economy has been dire. 44% of those in tuition debt have cut back on daily expenses, 37% have delayed saving for key financial goals, 28% delayed buying a house, and 12% delayed marriage. “Step by step, one law after another has been enacted by Congress to make student debt the worst kind of debt for Americans—and the best kind for banks and debt collectors…and in one of the industry’ greatest lobbying triumphs, student loans can no longer be discharged in bankruptcy…”
Donna Rosato, also writing in Consumer Reports, notes: “To put the growing education debt crisis into perspective, many attendees at the conference drew parallels to the housing market bubble of the mid 2000s. Rohit Chopra, [special adviser to the Department of Education and formerly the top student financial services regulator at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] pointed out that both going to college and owning a home are goals that people strive to reach. But when something good, like owning a home, involves toxic mortgages, it can quickly becomes a bad situation. Chopra says that we may now be at a similar point with student debt.”
But the problem looms beyond finances.
The American Association of University Professors notes that “…even as colleges and universities have become the focus of increased attention from the general public and policy makers alike, these institutions themselves seem to have lost their focus on a mission of preparing an informed citizenry for participation in democracy and expanding knowledge for the benefit of all. Without a doubt, higher education still provides a transformative experience for the millions of individuals who take part in its many activities. Behind the scenes, however, American higher education is changing in ways that detract from its potential to enhance the common good.”
The Daily Beast nworries that “This Orwellian climate of intimidation and fear chills free speech and thought. On college campuses it is particularly insidious… Campus censors don’t generally riot in response to presumptively offensive speech, but they do steal newspapers containing articles they don’t like, vandalize displays they find offensive, and disrupt speeches they’d rather not hear. They insist that hate speech isn’t free speech and that people who indulge in it should be punished…On today’s campuses, left-leaning administrators, professors, and students are working overtime in their campaign of silencing dissent, and their unofficial tactics of ostracizing, smearing, and humiliation are highly effective. But what is even more chilling—and more far reaching—is the official power they abuse to ensure the silencing of views they don’t like.”
As colleges become completely dominated by left-wing academics, (see the New York Analysis of Policy and Government study which reported that Democrats outnumber Republicans by a greater than 10 to 1 ratio, and at many elite universities there was not a single registered Republican on staff) traditional, core beliefs in the unifying principles of America, especially respect for the Constitution and Bill of Rights, as well as adherence to an empirical method of thinking, diminished, reducing the ability to logically review and resolve national challenge.
There is, indeed, an increasingly incestuous relationship between the Democrat Party and the university establishment. Rather than calling for a halt in excessive tuition rates, (a concept espoused by Democrats in many other pricing areas) Democrat presidential candidates are calling for “free tuition,” meaning that taxpayers would bear the burden. This, of course, would have the net effect of allowing colleges to continue raising rates, in a manner similar to the way that medical costs skyrocketed after third-party payments became commonplace.
The Great American Experiment in College for All, at devastating costs to all, has financially crippled students and their families, and is leading to a financial crisis that may make the housing bubble recession of 2007—2008 look mild. In return for all that burden and risk, a generation has endured significant unemployment and has been indoctrinated into acceptance of views that diminish the accomplishments and merits of their nation, and has inculcated them into acceptance of limitations on their freedom of speech.
Major reforms are needed. Colleges should be required to explain to applicants and current students what the tuition costs pay for, in detail, with particular emphasis on how much is spent on non-educational salaries and activities. There should be full disclosure of the percentage of graduates who obtain jobs that make use of a college degree. No federal support should go to institutions that charge excessive rates. Washington should get out of the tuition loan business, and the same consumer protections that apply to other debts should apply to tuition loans. State education departments should provide high-quality alternatives paths to careers that do not require college degrees, including vocational degrees in much-needed (and frequently lucrative) professions such as electricians, plumbing, carpentry, and mechanical fields.
The Select Committee on Benghazi has released its report and the information presents a stunningly terrible picture of a U.S. State Department in complete negligence, failing to comply with requests to strengthen the facility. It reveals in unmistakable measure that the Administration knowingly lied to the American people about the cause of the attack. It reveals that an antiterrorism team was indeed stopped from proceeding. It also demonstrates that remnants of the Qadhafi regime, which the Obama Administration intentionally helped overthrow, attempted to assist the U.S., opening up again the question of why the Obama Administration has repeatedly engaged in efforts which assisted extremist forces against nonthreatening regimes.
A summary of the report from the Committee:
The committee’s proposed report is just over 800 pages long and is comprised of five primary sections and 12 appendices. It details relevant events in 2011 and 2012.
The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part I:
- Despite President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s clear orders to deploy military assets,[to protect the site in the period before the attack] nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began.
- With Ambassador Stevens missing, the White House convened a roughly two-hour meeting at 7:30 PM, which resulted in action items focused on a YouTube video, and others containing the phrases “[i]f any deployment is made,” and “Libya must agree to any deployment,” and “[w]ill not deploy until order comes to go to either Tripoli or Benghazi.”
- The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff typically would have participated in the White House meeting, but did not attend because he went home to host a dinner party for foreign dignitaries. [pg. 107]
- A Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain, for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times.
- None of the relevant military forces met their required deployment timelines.
- The Libyan forces that evacuated Americans from the CIA Annex to the Benghazi airport was not affiliated with any of the militias the CIA or State Department had developed a relationship with during the prior 18 months. Instead, it was comprised of former Qadhafi loyalists who the U.S. had helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution. [pg. 144]
Rep. Mike Pompeo (KS-04) released the following statement regarding these findings:
“We expect our government to make every effort to save the lives of Americans who serve in harm’s way. That did not happen in Benghazi. Politics were put ahead of the lives of Americans, and while the administration had made excuses and blamed the challenges posed by time and distance, the truth is that they did not try.”
Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) released the following statement regarding these findings:
“Our committee’s insistence on additional information about the military’s response to the Benghazi attacks was met with strong opposition from the Defense Department, and now we know why. Instead of attempting to hide deficiencies in our posture and performance, it’s my hope our report will help ensure we fix what went wrong so that a tragedy like this never happens again.”
The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part II:
- Five of the 10 action items from the 7:30 PM White House meeting referenced the video, but no direct link or solid evidence existed connecting the attacks in Benghazi and the video at the time the meeting took place. The State Department senior officials at the meeting had access to eyewitness accounts to the attack in real time. The Diplomatic Security Command Center was in direct contact with the Diplomatic Security Agents on the ground in Benghazi and sent out multiple updates about the situation, including a “Terrorism Event Notification.” The State Department Watch Center had also notified Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills that it had set up a direct telephone line to Tripoli. There was no mention of the video from the agents on the ground. Greg Hicks—one of the last people to talk to Chris Stevens before he died—said there was virtually no discussion about the video in Libya leading up to the attacks.
- The morning after the attacks, the National Security Council’s Deputy Spokesperson sent an email to nearly two dozen people from the White House, Defense Department, State Department, and intelligence community, stating: “Both the President and Secretary Clinton released statements this morning. … Please refer to those for any comments for the time being. To ensure we are all in sync on messaging for the rest of the day, Ben Rhodes will host a conference call for USG communicators on this chain at 9:15 ET today.”
- Minutes before the President delivered his speech in the Rose Garden, Jake Sullivan wrote in an email to Ben Rhodes and others: “There was not really much violence in Egypt. And we are not saying that the violence in Libya erupted ‘over inflammatory videos.’”
- According to Susan Rice, both Ben Rhodes and David Plouffe prepared her for her appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows following the attacks. Nobody from the FBI, Department of Defense, or CIA participated in her prep call. While Rhodes testified Plouffe would “normally” appear on the Sunday show prep calls, Rice testified she did not recall Plouffe being on prior calls and did not understand why he was on the call in this instance.
- On the Sunday shows, Susan Rice stated the FBI had “already begun looking at all sorts of evidence” and “FBI has a lead in this investigation.” But on Monday, the Deputy Director, Office of Maghreb Affairs sent an email stating: “McDonough apparently told the SVTS [Secure Video Teleconference] group today that everyone was required to ‘shut their pieholes’ about the Benghazi attack in light of the FBI investigation, due to start tomorrow.”
- After Susan Rice’s Sunday show appearances, Jake Sullivan assured the Secretary of the State that Rice “wasn’t asked about whether we had any intel. But she did make clear our view that this started spontaneously and then evolved.”
- Susan Rice’s comments on the Sunday talk shows were met with shock and disbelief by State Department employees in Washington. The Senior Libya Desk Officer, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, State Department, wrote: “I think Rice was off the reservation on this one.” The Deputy Director, Office of Press and Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, State Department, responded: “Off the reservation on five networks!” The Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications, Bureau of Near East Affairs, State Department, wrote: “WH [White House] very worried about the politics. This was all their doing.”
- The CIA’s September 13, 2012, intelligence assessment was rife with errors. On the first page, there is a single mention of “the early stages of the protest” buried in one of the bullet points. The article cited to support the mention of a protest in this instance was actually from September 4. In other words, the analysts used an article from a full week before the attacks to support the premise that a protest had occurred just prior to the attack on September 11.
- A headline on the following page of the CIA’s September 13 intelligence assessment stated “Extremists Capitalized on Benghazi Protests,” but nothing in the actual text box supports that title. As it turns out, the title of the text box was supposed to be “Extremists Capitalized on Cairo Protests.” That small but vital difference—from Cairo to Benghazi—had major implications in how people in the administration were able to message the attacks.
Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-04) released the following statement regarding these findings:
“Obama Administration officials, including the Secretary of State, learned almost in real time that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Rather than tell the American people the truth, the administration told one story privately and a different story publicly.”
Rep. Peter Roskam (IL-06) released the following statement regarding these findings:
“In the days and weeks after the attacks, the White House worked to pin all of the blame for their misleading and incorrect statements on officials within the intelligence community, but in reality, political operatives like Ben Rhodes and David Plouffe were spinning the false narrative and prepping Susan Rice for her interviews.”
The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part III:
- During deliberations within the State Department about whether and how to intervene in Libya in March 2011, Jake Sullivan listed the first goal as “avoid[ing] a failed state, particularly one in which al-Qaeda and other extremists might take safe haven.”
- The administration’s policy of no boots on the ground shaped the type of military assistance provided to State Department personnel in Libya. The Executive Secretariats for both the Defense Department and State Department exchanged communications outlining the diplomatic capacity in which the Defense Department SST security team members would serve, which included wearing civilian clothes so as not to offend the Libyans.
- When the State Department’s presence in Benghazi was extended in December 2012, senior officials from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security were excluded from the discussion.
- In February 2012, the lead Diplomatic Security Agent at Embassy Tripoli informed his counterpart in Benghazi that more DS agents would not be provided by decision makers, because “substantive reporting” was not Benghazi’s purpose.
- Emails indicate senior State Department officials, including Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and Huma Abedin were preparing for a trip by the Secretary of State to Libya in October 2012. According to testimony, Chris Stevens wanted to have a “deliverable” for the Secretary for her trip to Libya, and that “deliverable” would be making the Mission in Benghazi a permanent Consulate.
- In August 2012—roughly a month before the Benghazi attacks—security on the ground worsened significantly. Ambassador Stevens initially planned to travel to Benghazi in early August, but cancelled the trip “primarily for Ramadan/security reasons.”
- Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta bluntly told the committee “an intelligence failure” occurred with respect to Benghazi. Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell also acknowledged multiple times an intelligence failure did in fact occur prior to the Benghazi attacks.
Rep. Susan Brooks (IN-05) released the following statement regarding these findings:
“President Obama has said his worst mistake was ‘failing to plan for the day after … intervening in Libya.’ As a result of this ‘lead from behind’ foreign policy, the Libyan people were forced to make the dismal trade of the tyranny of Qadhafi for the terror of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and others. Although the State Department considered Libya a grave risk to American diplomats in 2011 and 2012, our people remained in a largely unprotected, unofficial facility that one diplomatic security agent the committee interviewed characterized as ‘a suicide mission.’”
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03) released the following statement regarding these findings:
“One of the most concerning parts of the State Department’s policy in Libya was its reliance upon the militias of an unstable nation to protect our men and women in Benghazi. These were by no means forces that could adequately protect Americans on the ground, and the State Department knew it. But the appearance of no boots on the ground was more important to the administration.”
Part IV of the report reveals new information about the Select Committee’s requests and subpoenas seeking documents and witnesses regarding Benghazi and Libya, and details what the Obama administration provided to Congress, what it is still withholding, and how its serial delays hindered the committee’s efforts to uncover the truth.
Part V proposes 25 recommendations for the Pentagon, State Department, Intelligence Community and Congress aimed at strengthening security for American personnel serving abroad and doing everything possible to ensure something like Benghazi never happens again, and if it does, that we are better prepared to respond, the majority make a series of recommendations.
The Select Committee intends to convene a bipartisan markup to discuss and vote on the proposed report on July 8, 2016. All members of the committee will have the opportunity to offer changes in a manner consistent with the rules of the House.
What Are President Obama’s immigration goals?
In the wake of substantial and obvious threats to the health and safety of the American population from both terror attacks and contagious disease, the failure, indeed, the unwillingness, of the White House to engage in common sense measures, including adequate health checks for illegals entering the nation, and adequate background screening to insure that terrorist and terrorist sympathizers are not admitted, must be raised.
The Orlando attack raises questions about the White House’s formula for admitting refugees from the Middle East. Mr. Obama speaks of compassion for those in danger, but his actions tell a dramatically different story.
The Washington Times reported that on a single day in May The State Department admitted 305 Syrian refugees, “setting a single-day record, as President Obama tries to meet his target of 10,000 approvals this year — renewing fears among security analysts who say the administration is cutting corners to meet a political goal…the spike is stunning, with more people accepted [one day] alone than in the entire months of January or February. ‘The Obama administration is on full throttle to admit as many people as possible before the time clock runs out on them,’ said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies. ‘This is the classic scenario when political expediency trumps prudence, and someone slips through who shouldn’t have, and tragedy ensues…Christian refugees from Syria have been accepted so far — a rate of less than one-half of 1 percent.” The Times has also reported that “Immigration agents catch an abysmally small percentage of the illegal immigrants who arrived on visas but overstayed their welcome, authorities admitted to Congress Tuesday, describing a loophole that those around the globe are increasingly using to gain a foothold in the U.S.At least 480,000 people overstayed their visas last year, adding to a backlog that’s reached some 5 million total, members of Congress said. But immigration agents launched investigations into just 10,000 of them, or about 0.2 percent, and arrested fewer than 2,000, less than 0.04 percent, saying the others don’t rise to the level of being priority targets.”
CNS reports of the total 1,037 Syrian Refugees Admitted in May, only two were Christians, the rest were Muslims. A refugee program based on compassion would have seen numbers completely reversed. Despite claim of concern for human rights, the White House has done exceptionally little for the groups most endangered and oppressed: Christians, Yazdis, and Kurds. Statistics indicate that of all the Syrian refugees admitted, only 3% have been Christian. CNS reports that since the Syrian conflict erupted, of a total of 4,646 Syrian refugees admitted, 60 (1.3 percent) are Christians; 4,422 (95.1 percent) are Sunni Muslims. The remaining 163 include Shi’a, other Muslims, Zoroastrians, Baha’i, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Yazidi, and refugees identified as “other religion” or as having “no religion.”
The end result is that those most likely to bring in the threat of terrorism are admitted in vastly greater numbers than those who are the most likely victims of terrorism. That fact presents the disturbing reality that the President’s policy favors those more likely to be terrorists than those who are more likely to be the victims of terror.
An equally disturbing lack of caution—or concern—by the President is evident in his leniency (some might say encouragement) in the illegal immigration. The spike in illegal immigration, and the refusal by the White House to take adequate measures to stem the flow, raises a different safety concern: that of contagious disease.
Research by The Center for Immigration Studies notes that “An analysis of new government data…shows more than three million new legal and illegal immigrants settled in the United States in 2014 and 2015 — a 39 percent increase over the prior two years…Several factors have likely contributed to the rebound, including cutbacks in enforcement…[the] preliminary estimate is that, of the 3.1 million immigrants who arrived in that last two years, about one-third, 1.1 million (or 550,000 annually) were new illegal immigrants, a significant increase from the 700,000 illegal immigrants (350,000 annually) who entered in 2012 and 2013.”
A Front Page report noted: “Even as exotic new diseases and nearly-eradicated old ones keep popping up across the nation, the Obama administration is unconcerned, or some would say, recklessly indifferent, to the public health threat that Third World illegal aliens pose to the American public. This isn’t an observation from would-be GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump or some wild-eyed rube — it’s a devastating criticism that comes from two public health experts at the government’s own Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It comes as deadly diseases surface or make a comeback in the U.S. Among those ailments are tuberculosis, pneumonia, paralysis-causing acute flaccid myelitis, dengue fever, swine flu, and enterovirus D68.”
Commentator Megan Barth, in an interview on the Vernuccio/Novak Report, reported on health concerns rising from illegal immigration:
(1) Threat of illness and death to Americans, particularly unvaccinated U.S. children and elderly with diminished immune response.
(2) Markedly higher costs to American taxpayers for free medical care to treat the refugees and illegal border crossers, who are given Medicaid benefits designed for low-income citizens. Dollars to fund the Medicaid expansion were cut from a Medicare budget designed to serve elderly over 65 and disabled under age 65.
(3) Delay in access to medical care for Americans when Medicaid facilities and hospital ERs are overused and crowded with refugees and illegal border crossers.
(4) Economic and productivity impact in the workplace and schools due to lost time due to illness.
Breitbart found that “The recent increase in the number of active TB cases reported in the United States is driven by increases in the foreign born population with high rates of active and latent TB…Two-thirds of contagious tuberculosis carriers in the United States during 2015 were born overseas…The government’s increased inflow of tuberculosis-carrying migrants appears to have reversed a 23-year decline of contagious tuberculosis cases inside the United States.…federal immigration policy is pushing up the nation’s contagious TB cases. In 2015, for the first time in 23 years, the number of active TB cases in the United States increased rather than declined. …Foreign born residents of the United States who have entered the country with [latent tuberculosis] contract active TB at a rate higher than American born residents, where LTBI infection rates average four percent, many times less than the world wide rate, which, according to some estimates, is around 33 percent.
An objective review of the President’s immigration policies indicates that they have not served the American people well. It appears that Mr. Obama is either desperately ill informed, or has motivations for his actions that he refuses to share with his constituents.
State of the Union addresses have become platforms for presidents to advocate their policies, rather than honest assessments of the actual condition of the nation. This year’s edition was no exception, and it contained numerous factual errors. The New York Analysis of Policy & Government outlines some of those errors, and provides an example of what a truly honest and precise report would have contained.
MISSTATEMENTS IN THE STATE OF THE UNION
The president said the only threat to the U.S. was from failed states. One supposes he forgot about Russia and China.
He said the Cold War was over. Apparently, Putin didn’t get the memo.
He talked about how he successfully responded to the invasion of the Ukraine. The Ukrainians would disagree.
He claimed America’s standing was higher than ever. America’s allies would disagree.
He bragged about opening up relations with Cuba. Didn’t he realize that massove amounts of political prisoners were arrested after that opening, and Havana has invited the Russian Navy back in?
He touted our partnership with the world in dealing with Syria. Hasn’t he read the headlines–the partners he is talking about are Russia and Iran, and they are there only to expand their influence.
He used the analogy of beating the USSR to the moon, but he is the president who put America’s manned space program in hibernation.
He again claimed that there is no credible disagreement about his climate change views. Apparently, he failed to read the letter sent by 31,000 scientists who do disagree.
He said his first priority was going after terrorists. Under his watch, terrorists have reached their greatest extent of power.
He said he begins every day with an intelligence briefing. Records reveal that he misses over half of all national security briefings.
He encouraged the American people to come together and put partisanship aside. But he is the president who, far more than any of his predecessors, misused federal agencies for partisan purposes and spent more time criticizing the opposition party than any of his predecessors.
He spoke of creating jobs. He ignored the fact that, for the most part, the only jobs created were low paid with no benefits.
WHAT AN HONEST STATE OF THE UNION WOULD HAVE SAID
The state of the union this year is perilous. In matters both foreign and domestic, America faces an array of challenges unparalleled in our history.
The terrible Great Recession that began in 2007 was the result of horrible mistakes made by progressives in Washington. In a good-hearted attempt during the Carter Administration back in the 1970’s to provide more housing opportunities, we mandated that lending institutions provide loans to people who really couldn’t afford them. President Clinton made that program even larger. Of course, it was inevitable that the effort would lead to disaster, and it did. The problem is, Washington still hasn’t learned its lesson, and it continues to engage in efforts that inadvertently harm the economy and destroy job growth.
America’s corporate taxes, highest among any of our trading partners, drive jobs right out of the nation, as do our increasingly rigorous regulations. The Affordable Care Act encourages employers to keep their workforce small and to hire only part-timers. The effect of all this on the middle class has been devastating. We need to do better next year. President Clinton’s tilt towards China in opening up world trade to them ravaged manufacturing employment in the U.S., virtually eliminating the type of employment that actually created the middle class.
Middle income workers aren’t the only ones who have suffered. Due to our lack of border control, the nation has been flooded with illegal immigrants who have taken jobs at the extreme lower end of the pay scale, displacing American workers. The unemployment rate of inner city youth, especially those of color, have is particularly worrisome.
Our seniors have been deprived of cost of living increases a record amount of time during the past seven years, and again this year they will not receive even a penny in cost of living increases in the Social Security benefits that they themselves paid for during their working lives. Instead of paying them what they truly deserve, Washington, during the past seven years, has increased the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by an extraordinary 41%. It is morally wrong to deprive seniors who have worked all their lives and paid taxes in order to provide more benefits to younger, healthier individuals, some of whom are not even U.S. citizens.
Abroad, America faces dangers that result from an irrational belief that if we pretended foreign threats didn’t exist, they would just go away. We slashed our defense budget, withdrew troops and equipment from key posts across the planet, and distanced ourselves from our friends and allies, endangering our security and theirs.
We allowed, for the first time in history, Russia to gain the lead in nuclear arms. We signed a deal with Iran that will allow them to become a nuclear power in the near future. We re-established relations with Cuba at a time when they were letting Russian naval units return, and we did nothing about Nicaragua turning itself into a refueling base for the Russian nuclear bombers that patrol our coasts. We have done little to respond to Russia’s takeover of much of the Arctic. We did nothing of any consequence when Moscow invaded the Ukraine, encouraging further aggression.
We ignored, except for a few symbolic gestures, China’s aggression and its’ rise to become the most feared power in Asia.
At a time when dangerous and erratic regimes, such as those in North Korea and Iran, are rushing to build intercontinental ballistic missiles, we have failed to move ahead on a reasonable basis with anti-missile defenses.
Almost all of our actions during the past seven years have served to strengthen terrorist forces. We prematurely withdrew our military from Iraq, allowing ISIS to come to power. We encouraged the overthrow of established Arab governments, allowing extremists to gain greater influence. We announced a withdrawal date for most of our forces from Afghanistan, which means the Taliban will return to power. We did nothing, absolutely nothing, to save our ambassador and his staff in Benghazi, and also did nothing to retaliate for that vicious act. We have ignored the growing presence of terrorist forces, including ISIS and Hezbollah, in Latin America.
Since the end of the terrible era of segregation in the 1960’s, race relations in our country had steadily improved. Unfortunately, that progress was slowed or even reversed during the past seven years, a result of the politicization of several incidents involving confrontations between police officers and blacks. In some cases, media and Executive Branch responses to an entire incident, such as that in Ferguson which led to a significant civil disorder, were based on wholly incorrect facts.
Despite the many differences we Americans have had among ourselves over the centuries, we have been held together by our Constitution. However, during the past seven years, we have seen repeated affronts to Constitutional provisions such as the separation of powers, particularly in the proclivity of the President to ignore Congress’s role in enacting legislative-like measures as well as in the negotiation of foreign treaties. We have also seen far too many instances in which the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments, literally half of the entire Bill of Rights, have been ignored.
The misuse of federal agencies, particularly the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice, for partisan political purposes, is unforgivable. We must assure that it never happens again by punishing those who authorized those actions. So, too, must be reinforce the time-honored practice of everyone, especially those in positions of great power, being equal in the eyes of the law and being subjected to appropriate penalties when they abuse their positions
Despite all these challenges, there is, indeed, good news. It lies within the power of the American people to correct the mistakes that have been made.
We can rebuild our armed forces, which will not only restore our national security but also put many Americans back to work in well-paying jobs manufacturing needed equipment. Our renewed strength can be used in combination with diplomacy to repair our frayed relations with allies across the globe, assuring them of our willingness to live up to our commitments, and to dissuade our adversaries from engaging in aggression.
Our reinvigorated military will be able to respond forcefully and thoroughly to any terrorist attack on American soil by striking without limit or hesitation in the homelands of those who plot against the safety of our nation.
We can take meaningful steps to develop a growing economy that produces middle income jobs by lowering corporate taxes and regulations, and by reversing bad international trade decisions that have encouraged the migration of companies away from our shores.
We can secure our borders through common-sense measures. A guest worker program can insure that we will still allow the people of our neighboring nations access to our economy, but only in positions which have first been offered to Americans.
Government spending, particularly on social programs, can be directed away from efforts meant solely to win votes and towards those who truly deserve either a helping hand or to reap the benefits they earned through decades of work and paying into social security.
The State of our Union is challenged, but hopeful.