Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Killing jobs, it's what government does best

Fast food CEO: How govt regulation is driving us abroad

CNBC.com | Tuesday, 31 Dec 2013 | 11:07 AM ET
In China, customers don't order french fries—they're shu tiao. In Turkey, they're called patates and in Russia, you would ask for kartofel' Fri.
Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Hardee's and Carl's Jr., should know. His company is expanding rapidly abroad due to higher potential outside the U.S., which is hampered by what he sees as too much government regulation.
"It's difficult to open in the U.S., but we love the U.S. and continue to fight the good fight to open restaurants and create jobs," Puzder said. "It's just that the government is making it hard for us to build those restaurants."
Over the last three years, Hardee's and Carl's Jr. opened more restaurants internationally than in their own backyards—a first, he added. CKE now operates restaurants in 30 foreign countries.
On a percentage basis, the growth rate is striking. During this period, the company increased its restaurant count domestically by 2 percent. Meanwhile international locations jumped by 53 percent as CKE filled in "white space" or areas where it currently doesn't have restaurants.
Easier to open in Siberia than California
"Under the current U.S. business climate, regulatory and tax restrictions tend to curb otherwise dynamic entrepreneurial energy," Puzder said. "We'd love to see more growth in domestic markets. Unfortunately, it's easier for our franchisees to open a restaurant in Siberia than in California."
In the U.S., the company's Hardee's division is expanding in New York, New Jersey, Chicago and South Florida. Meanwhile, the Carl's Jr. division is growing in Texas and the Seattle area.
Puzder named Brazil, Russia, India, China and Europe as the places where he sees the greatest opportunities for growth.
"Other than Antarctica and the North Pole, I can't think of any countries we're not looking at," he added.
Currently, the company has 36 locations in Russia, where it's expanding "aggressively," six in China through a joint venture and two in Brazil. He added that the number in Brazil could balloon to 500.
It's "just hard to talk about the numbers in China," he said. "You could have 1,000 (or) 2,000 there. It's hard to estimate the potential in that country."
CKE is currently in talks to open its first locations in Spain, Germany, Great Britain and Australia.
It's also "very close to a deal" in India, which Puzder said "would be an interesting country for us because they don't eat burgers," but would go for chicken sandwiches and veggie patties.
Challenges to U.S. expansion
Puzder named ethanol regulation, which has resulted in higher beef costs, a rising minimum wage and higher labor costs due to Obamacare as three obstacles that make doing business in the U.S. more difficult than in the past.
To help lessen the effect of these rising labor costs and to attract a tech-savvy generation, CKE is turning to technology and looking into options for mobile ordering as well as tablet ordering within its restaurants.
"I think it satisfies the needs of younger people. It also reduces your costs," he said. "When they talk about raising the minimum wage or providing health care for employees over 30 hours, you're really encouraging automation."

Justifiable Need

Brian Kelly on the courts abuse of Second Amendment rights.

Picture a woman going to register to vote in New Jersey only to find the State has passed a law requiring her to undergo a background check, pay a fee, show proficiency in civics and, after meeting all those requirements, having to write a summary justifying her Need to vote.
Now, after attempting to justify her need to exercise her right (let that statement sink in) she is denied by a judge who has arbitrarily determined that she didn’t have an urgent need to vote.
That judge’s lover and the local police chief’s sister-in-law however have miraculously passed all the above hurtles and can freely exercise that right with gleeful abandon.
Too farfetched? How about in the aftermath of 911, New Jersey passes a law requiring anyone wishing to practice Islam must apply for an Islam permit and show ‘justifiable need’ to pray to Allah. The State justifies this by claiming a large amount of terrorists are Islamic and therefore the Islam Permits will only be issued to very few people in order to protect the public, after all they can’t have NJ turn into the Gaza Strip.
If you find these examples offensive, you should, as they clearly violate an American’s rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and no amount of fearful justification merits such infringement. Unfortunately that same, arbitrary, subjective standard applies to most New Jersian’s right to protect themselves and their loved ones in public with a firearm.
New Jersey’s ‘Justifiable Need’ requirement to obtain a carry permit is the self defense equivalent of ‘Separate but Equal’ Jim Crow laws.
In a recent Appeal (http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a3704-11.pdf) the judiciary continued to defend the reprehensible concept of ‘justifiable need’“applicants for carry permits generally must show “‘an urgent necessity . . . for self-protection’” by pointing to “specific threats or previous attacks demonstrating a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by other means.” Preis, supra, 118 N.J. at 571 (quoting Siccardi, supra, 59 N.J. at A-3704-11T4 17 557).”
Think about that for a second. So in order to show you need to carry a weapon for self-defense, which is a basic human right, guaranteed by the constitution, you have to first suffer an attack. So in the case of the recent Short Hills Mall Shooting, now that the victim is dead at the hands of violent criminals, he might meet the ‘justifiable need’ which doesn’t do him or his grieving family any good now.
It is tantamount to the government claiming you have no justifiable need to carry an umbrella because it isn’t currently raining. Ask yourself why do we as law abiding citizens have to wait until we are raped, beaten and killed before the State can see fit to grant us a right to self-defense which is a basic human right dating back to caveman times?

Read the rest here.

Government agency incompetence. Since it's not their money or investments why should they care. They'll ask for more money and still not solve the problem


Much of the Social Security Administration’s information on who’s dead and who isn’t is “inaccurate, incomplete or untimely” and could “lead to improper payments,” according to a government audit.
The report by the Government Accountability Office found numerous errors – including recording beneficiaries’ ages at deaths as between 115 and 195 year old — and cases where the agency recorded the death a decade or longer after it occurred. Such problems may also affect the payments issued by other federal agencies that rely heavily on Social Security data.
Social Security Keeping Poor Track of Death Records, Audit Shows
Zombies walk the streets during a “zombie survival” contest Dec. 1, 2013 in Spain. A U.S. government audit found the Social Security Administration risks making payments to people who have been dead for years. (Getty Images/Pablo Blazquez Dominguez)
What’s more, the Social Security Administration has done little to correct the matter, according to the GAO.
“Agency officials told us SSA has never investigated how these errors occurred or whether they may affect payments to Social Security and other federal program beneficiaries,” the GAO report stated. “They did not think these types of errors would have resulted in improper benefit payments because they involved persons recorded as deceased.”
Most other federal agencies rely on data from the Social Security Administration to make payments to individuals. In fiscal year 2012, about $108 billion in improper federal payments were issued, according to the Office of Management and Budget. In one case, more than $500,000 in federal retirement benefits were being paid to a dead beneficiary’s son over the course of 37 years because of bad federal record-keeping.
“SSA’s methods for processing death reports may result in inaccurate, incomplete, or untimely information for users of its death data. Consequently, this could lead to improper payments if benefit-paying agencies rely on this data,” said the GAO report, which was released Dec. 27. “The specific procedures include (1) verifying a limited portion of death reports, (2) not including death reports that do not match with the Numident [Numerical Identification System] file, and (3) not performing additional reviews of reports of deaths that occurred years or decades in the past.”

It’s not a new problem. In a separate audit last year, Social Security’s own inspector general found that 1.2 million dead beneficiaries were not on the agency’s death data file.
For its part, the agency says it’s working on correcting the problem through more technology, greater transparency, and improved sharing of information with other federal agencies.
“We believe that the relatively small percentage of errors have minimal impact on the agency or the Federal Government,” Social Security Administration Deputy Chief of Staff Katherine Thornton said in a letter responding to the GAO. “We recognize, however, that errors can cause hardships to members of the public affected by them. To help reduce errors even further, over the years we have used technology to increase timeliness and accuracy of our collection of death information
The audit also found Social Security death reports submitted in 2013 were frequently misdated.
“We found about 500 records in which the date of death recorded had occurred in 2011 or earlier; in about 200 of these, the date of death was recorded to be 10 or more years before SSA received the death report,” the GAO said. “For example, in 11 of the cases, the date of death was in 1976; in another 11, the date was 2004. This is of concern because, if these dates of death are accurate, SSA and other agencies may have been at risk of paying benefits to these individuals for long periods after they died.”
Other errors the GAO cited included, “130 records where the recorded date of death was before the date of birth; 1,941 records where the recorded age at death was between 115 and 195; and 1,826 records where the recorded death preceded 1936, the year SSN’s were first issued, although these decedents had SSNs assigned to them.”

Obama did not make the same gesture. Black neo Nazi's can only exist in willful ignorance


Will the DOJ take note?


A 70-year-old Florida man trying to protect neighborhood kids from cars he felt were driving too fast ended up in the hospital after two of the “scummiest things I’ve ever seen” disagreed with his tactics.
James Gorman from Bradenton, Fla., stepped toward a car from the sidewalk where he was pushing his wheelchair-bound wife. His granddaughter was also walking nearby, Friday evening,according to WTSP-TV.
Instead of slowing down, heeding Gorman’s gestured advice, the car came to a full stop and two men stepped out. A third man was described as an occupant of the car as well.
“He grabbed my hands and proceeded to beat the daylight of out me. He knocked me out,” Gorman told WTSP. He did apparently get a punch in of his own, but it wasn’t enough to stop the onslaught.
james gorman
James Gorman, 70, suffered more than black eye after he stepped out from the sidewalk, trying to get a speeding car to slow down. The occupants of the car stopped and beat him instead. (Image source: WTSP-TV)
“They are about the scummiest things I’ve ever seen,” Gorman continued. “It takes two young men to beat up a 70-year-old man.”
Watch WTSP-TV’s report:
Gorman told the Bradenton Herald that he regained consciousness when the men were pulling away and saw his wife fallen out of her wheelchair trying to help him. Neighborhood children who witnessed the beating were crying.
Gorman suffered a black eye, torn rotator cuff muscle and broken glasses in the attack. Since the incident, he told the news station he has had headaches.
But it could have been even worse. Gorman’s daughter, who witnessed the beating as it occurred a few houses down, said the young men tried to pull the 70-year-old into their car, according to the Herald.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident. The attackers are described as two black males in their 20s.
But Gorman, a resident of the neighborhood for 27 years, is more worried about what the children had to witness.
“I am more worried about my grandbaby, she is still pretty shook up,” Gorman told the Herald. “That bothers me more than anything, that kids had to witness that. That wasn’t necessary.”

The NY Times exposed

Hit Piece Journalism

Front-page editorials, disguised as news stories, have become such familiar features of the New York Times that it should have been no surprise to discover in the December 28th issue a front-page story about a professor of finance at the University of Houston who has been a paid consultant to financial enterprises.
Since professors of all sorts have been paid consultants to organizations of all sorts, it is questionable why this was a story at all, much less one that covered an entire inside page, in addition to a central front-page opening, under the headline "Academics Who Defend Wall St. Reap Reward."
Do academics who attack Wall Street, as consultants to government agencies or other organizations, not get paid?
Like the corrupt French official in the movie classic "Casablanca," the New York Times is "shocked, shocked" to discover that consultants get paid defending the kinds of people that the New York Times attacks.
Where has the New York Times been all these years, as government agencies of all sorts spend the taxpayers' money not only to hire consultants but also to hand out research grants to professors, institutions and programs that promote the kinds of policies that serve the institutional interests of these agencies?
Back when I was an economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, many years ago, officials there spoke in reverential tones about Professor Richard A. Lester, an economist at Princeton University who sometimes came down to Washington to advise the Department.
Although many other economists argued that minimum wage laws increased unemployment, especially among young unskilled workers, Professor Lester had questioned whether minimum wages had the bad effects that other economists said they had.
His view was very congenial to the institutional interests of the Department of Labor, a substantial part of whose appropriations and employment was based on its administration of the minimum wage law.
In fairness to Professor Lester, there is no reason whatever to think that his views were based on the money he got from the government. His views were undoubtedly what they were, well before they came to the attention of the Labor Department, which then decided that he was someone whose services they wanted.
The real corruption comes from arming government agencies with the taxpayers' money to hire consultants and give research grants to academics and others whose views serve the interests of those particular government agencies, as distinguished from serving the interests of the public from whom these taxes are extracted.
Does anyone seriously believe that those government agencies that stand to see their powers and money increased if the "global warming" agenda prevails will be handing out research grants impartially to both those climate scientists who agree with that agenda and those who disagree?
As someone who used to do some consulting, I once encountered the attitude exhibited in the New York Times "news" story. In a case in which I was testifying against a government policy, the opposing attorney demanded to know how much I was being paid.
When I told her, her immediate and sarcastic response was: "Is that what the traffic will bear?"
"I certainly hope not," I said. "The whole point of charging what I do is to ration my time." I had undoubtedly been selected as a consultant because my previous writings showed which side of the issue I was on already.
The central target of the New York Times hit piece was Professor Craig Pirrong, whom it says "had financial ties to both sides" of a dispute over financial speculation. Despite this, the repeated insinuation was that he has a conflict of interest.
If both sides are willing to pay him for consulting, where is the conflict? No matter what side he takes on a particular issue, somebody is going to pay him -- as people who work in any capacity usually expect to get paid, even people who write hit pieces for the New York Times.
What is really corrupting is camouflaging an editorial as a "news" story -- and acting as if people who represent one side of a controversial issue are somehow less worthy than people who represent the opposite side that happens to be favored by the New York Times.

Obamacare ad to gays

Gay advocacy group: Obamacare ad makes us look like ‘sex-crazed lechers’

The latest sexually charged ad campaign pushing Obamacare has now offended some members of its target audience, namely gay men.
video advertisement released shortly before Christmas by Out2Enroll, which features four young buff men wearing tight underwear and not much else, drew an angry blast from the gay conservative organization Log Cabin Republicans.
“This cynical ad betrays the depths Obamacare advocates will sink to in order to pad their pathetic enrollment numbers,” Log Cabin Republicans executive director Gregory T. Angelo said in a statement.
Mr. Angelo urged President Obama to “distance himself from this nonsense and denounce it immediately,” saying that the campaign promotes “harmful stereotypes that gay men are nothing but sex-crazed lechers.”
“At a time when left-wing propagandists are decrying Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson for equating homosexuality with promiscuity and deviance, Out2Enroll and others should take a look in the mirror and ask if the truth is that they are the ones responsible for promoting such harmful stereotypes,” said Mr. Angelo.
The Log Cabin Republicans are “the only LGBT advocacy organization in the Obamacare Repeal Coalition,” according to the statement.
Conor Gaughan, managing partner of Collective Conscience, which helped create the ad, posted an article on Huffington Post arguing that the sexual content of the video was justified by the importance of its mission to “build visibility” for the Affordable Care Act.
“Does it use some self-deprecating stereotypes? Perhaps. Is it unconventional? Certainly. Trivial? Far from it,” said Mr. Gaughan. “We believe that our fun and playful video will be an effective tool to raise awareness among the LGBT community, and specifically younger gay men.”

The video isn’t the first Obamacare ad to embrace the age-old Madison Avenue adage that “sex sells.” Social-media posts promoting Colorado’s health-care exchange feature a young woman holding a pack of birth-control pills as she ogles an attractive young man.
“OMG, he’s hot! Let’s hope he’s as easy to get as this birth control,” says the woman in the post. ‘My health insurance covers the pill, which means all I have to worry about is getting him between the covers.”
Meanwhile, the enrollment deadline to receive insurance coverage by Jan. 1 has been a moving target. The Obama administration moved the original Dec. 23 deadline to Dec. 24, but then the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that anyone who had started an application would be able to call in and finish.
“Tell our customer service representative that you’ve been trying to enroll and explain why you couldn’t finish by the deadline. They can tell you what you can do to finish your enrollment and still get covered for 2014,” said the Dec. 24 post on healthcare.gov.

To see video follow link in headline 

Obama's nominations prove he's in no way race neutral. He's a retributionist.

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On December 31, 2013 

Obama’s nominee process involves finding the worst person on earth for that job or any job. It’s a process that never fails. In this case, he came up with Debo Adegbilem cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal’s lawyer and a supporter of discriminating against white students for reasons of race.
President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division led the group that represents convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Debo Adegbile, who awaits Senate confirmation to become assistant attorney general for civil rights in Eric Holder’s DOJ, would bring a radical record on racial issues to his new job, which is responsible for enforcing federal discrimination statutes.
Here is a brief Adegbile filed on behalf of the “Black Student Alliance” arguing that a white applicant was properly denied admission to the University of Texas Law School because she was white.
For a post-racial leader, Obama does seem to spend a lot of time catering to racists like Al Sharpton and employing racists like Debo Adegbile.
Meanwhile here’s a little reminder of what Mumia Abu-Jamal, Debo Adegbile’s client, did.
Danny was the youngest of seven children, born to an Irish-Catholic family from the southwest side of Philadelphia. His father, who was a railroad worker, died of a sudden heart attack when Danny was only five years old. Danny was raised by a working mother and his older siblings.
Danny left high school prior to graduation and joined the U.S. Army. It wasn’t that he didn’t like school, but this was a kid who had matured beyond many of his classmates. He just needed to get his life started. While serving in the armed forces, Danny continued his studies, earning his high school diploma as well as an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice.
Being the organized and focused young man he was, it wasn’t long before he had purchased a home of his own in his old neighborhood in southwest Philly. Not long after, he began dating the young woman that would become his wife. Danny and Maureen dated about a year, were engaged for another six months and were married in the fall of 1979.
Maureen remembers Danny as easygoing, while she was the one who always worried. He was the extrovert. Once a month, the couple would host a get-together of all their friends and the group would play cards in the Faulkner home until the wee hours of the morning. Danny was the neighborhood leader for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the organizer of the Annual Softball Marathon to benefit that charity. One of his childhood friends had suffered from the disease and Danny felt strongly about helping in the fight against it.
On December 9, 1981, at approximately 3:55 a.m., Officer Danny Faulkner, a five year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, made a traffic stop at Locust Street near Twelfth Street. The car stopped by Officer Faulkner was being driven by William Cook. After making the stop, Danny called for assistance on his police radio and requested a police wagon to transport a prisoner.
Unbeknownst to him, William Cook’s brother, Wesley (aka Mumia Abu-Jamal) was across the street. As Danny attempted to handcuff William Cook, Mumia Abu-Jamal ran from across the street and shot the officer in the back.
Danny turned and was able to fire one shot that struck Abu-Jamal in the chest; the wounded officer then fell to the pavement. Mumia Abu-Jamal stood over the downed officer and shot at him four more times at close range, striking him once directly in the face.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was found still at the scene of the shooting by officers who arrived there within seconds. The murderer was slumped against the curb in front of his brother’s car. In his possession was a .38 caliber revolver that records showed Mumia had purchased months earlier. The chamber of the gun had five spent cartridges.
A cab driver, as well as other pedestrians, had witnessed the brutal slaying and identified Mumia Abu-Jamal as the killer both at the scene and during his trial. On July 2, 1982, after being tried before a jury of ten whites and two blacks, Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering Officer Danny Faulkner. The next day, the jury sentenced him to death after deliberating for four hours.
This is what Obama supports.

Minority Muslim population overthrows majority Christian government.

CAR conflict: Unicef says children 'beheaded' in Bangui

At least two children have been been beheaded in the Central African Republic's capital as violence sinks to a "vicious new low", the UN has said.
About 16 children had been killed in Bangui since 5 December and an increasing number of them are being recruited into armed groups, it added.
The violence has mostly pitted Christian and Muslim militias against each other.
The UN said children were being directly targeted in revenge attacks.
The CAR is ruled by Muslim ex-rebel leader Michel Djotodia, who seized power in March forcing then-President Francois Bozize, who came from the majority Christian population, to flee into exile.
'Atrocious attacks'
About 1,000 people have been killed in tit-for-tat clashes in Bangui in December and about 370,000 people, nearly half the city's population, have been displaced, aid agencies say.
There were "unprecedented levels" of violence against children, the UN children's agency, Unicef, said in a statement.
One of the children who had been beheaded had also been mutilated, while another 60 had been injured in fighting since 5 December, it said.
"More and more children are being recruited into armed groups, and they are also being directly targeted in atrocious revenge attacks," said Souleymane Diabate, Unicef's CAR representative.
"Targeted attacks against children are a violation of international humanitarian and human rights law and must stop immediately. Concrete action is needed now to prevent violence against children."
Last month, the UN said the number of child soldiers in CAR had more than doubled to 6,000 as fighting escalated.
Many Muslim fighters belong to the former rebel group, Seleka, and Christians to militias called "anti-balaka", named after the local Sango language word for machete.
The African Union has sent nearly 4,000 troops to CAR while France, the former colonial power, has also deployed 1,600 soldiers there in an attempt to quell violence.
Many foreign governments have been evacuating their citizens from CAR.

We know who the NY Times is covering for...Obama/Hillary and as a side benefit Al Qaeda

Intel community: NY Times wrong, al Qaeda links in Benghazi are clear

News report dismissed as politics for Clinton

Nearly 16 months after the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, the details about the perpetrators, their tactics and their motives continue to get spun, bounced and reinterpreted like a political pingpong ball.
The latest player was The New York Times, which over the weekend ran a detailed article about what Libyan militias think happened during the attack under a sweeping headline that critics claimed appeared bent on politically absolving former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The newspaper unequivocally asserted its reporters found “no evidence that al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.”
But current and former U.S. officials, congressional sources and outside analysts briefed on the attack told The Washington Times on Monday that the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment about al Qaeda’s links to the Benghazi tragedy has not changed.
The consensus, they said, remains today, as it has for more than a year, that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda and its evolving North African affiliates executed the attack, which was preceded by some degree of planning despite being launched during a spontaneous opportunity that presented itself on the 11th anniversary of al Qaeda’s horrific Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
“The intelligence community has not changed its position from Day One as far as its position of al Qaeda and its involvement in the attack,” Rep. Lynn A. Westmoreland, Georgia Republican and a key member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a telephone interview Monday. “As far as the intelligence community goes, they still understand that it was definitely al Qaeda-linked.”
The CIA on Monday pointedly stayed on the sidelines of the latest dispute and refused to address The Times’ assessment. But those briefed by the agency repeatedly over the past year unleashed fury at the New York newspaper.
Mr. Westmoreland said The New York Times evidently spoke with many militants and other sources on the ground inside Libya for its article, but he got “kind of a shock” that it appeared the paper was making assertions without having interviewed any of the U.S. intelligence officials on the ground at the CIA annex in Benghazi when it came under attack last year.
Those officials testified in October during a hearing of the House Intelligence subcommittee on oversight and investigations. “The reality of it is, you can tell more about what people think if you’re listening to them when they don’t know you’re listening,” said Mr. Westmoreland, who is chairman of the subcommittee.
In essence, the congressman said, he trusts the testimony of intelligence sources who were in Benghazi before and during the attack more than any recollection by militants claiming to have knowledge of what occurred.
Although transcripts of the testimony provided by intelligence officials during the October hearing remain classified, Mr. Westmoreland said that “from their observation, it was a planned attack.”
“These guys just saw that the attackers had at least some type of training, or coordinated movements about where to go and what each person was going to do when they were on the ground,” Mr. Westmoreland said. “So from that standpoint, it was a coordinated attack.”
Furthermore, he said, the overall assessment provided to the committee by the intelligence community “just leads you to believe, or to know that [the attackers] were al Qaeda-related.”
Mr. Westmoreland’s assessment dovetailed with comments Sunday by Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and the intelligence committee’s chairman.
Bipartisan skepticism
Although some Republican lawmakers have been accused of aggressively politicizing the Benghazi attack as a way to smear the Obama administration and tarnish Mrs. Clinton’s record as secretary of state, some Democrats also have criticized the story in The New York Times.
Most notably, a top staffer in the office of Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, said Monday that Mr. Schiff was standing by assertions he made during an interview on “Fox News Sunday” that there was at least some connection between al Qaeda and some of the militia groups involved in the attack, but that the incident did not appear to be a planned attack by the core al Qaeda group founded by Osama bin Laden.
Mr. Schiff was careful to assert that he did not think The New York Times intentionally attempted to use the story to exonerate the State Department for security lapses in Benghazi, but he said outright that “the intelligence indicates that al Qaeda was involved.”
“But,” he added, “there were also plenty of people and militias that were unaffiliated with al Qaeda that were involved.”
Counterterrorism analysts and former high-level officials indicated during interviews with The Washington Times last summer that the FBI, which was tasked by the Obama administration with carrying out an investigation into the attack, had settled on a broad conclusion: The attack was carried out by a combination of militants with varying degrees of connection to three Islamist groups: Ansar al-Sharia, the Muhammad Jamal network, and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The Pentagon’s own terrorism research agency concluded in August 2012 that “al Qaeda senior leadership” based in Pakistan was “likely seeking to build a clandestine network in Libya as it pursues its strategy of reinforcing its presence in North Africa.”
The report, published by the Library of Congress in coordination with the Irregular Warfare Support program, predicted that AQIM was “likely to join hands with the al Qaeda clandestine network.”
More specifically, the report — released roughly a month before the Benghazi attack — concluded that “Ansar al-Sharia, led by Sufian Ben Qhumu, a former Guantanamo detainee, has increasingly embodied al Qaeda’s presence in Libya, as indicated by its active social-media propaganda, extremist discourse, and hatred of the West, especially the United States.”
Benghazi’s tangled web
As a multinational network, AQIM is officially listed by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, and its operatives, along with members of Ansar al-Sharia and the Muhammad Jamal network, are believed to have participated in a series of terrorist assaults on Western interests in Benghazi during the months leading up to the storming of the U.S. diplomatic post and CIA house in the city.
Former officials and intelligence community sources have said dozens of foreign fighters linked to AQIM, and to the Egypt-based Muhammad Jamal network — whether from Egypt, Tunisia or elsewhere in North Africa — arrived in Benghazi in 2011 as part of a regional jihadist push to overthrow dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Many stayed on after his downfall and began working with operatives from Ansar al-Sharia.
Among the most vexing aspects of the investigation is that none of three groups has specifically claimed responsibility.
AQIM issued a statement Sept. 18 — a week afterward — praising the attack, but did not claim credit for planning or executing it. Another statement around the same time, attributed to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, also did not claim responsibility.
Investigators have given significant attention to a video message circulated Sept. 10 in which al Qaeda’s senior leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, called for attacks on Americans in Libya to avenge the killing of a senior al Qaeda operative by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan last year.
Some analysts have argued that the al-Zawahri video proves al Qaeda’s involvement because it surely would have trickled down digitally to AQIM operatives during the hours before the attack. But that ignores a subsequent message put out by al-Zawahri roughly a month after the attack in which he made only passing reference to Benghazi, and notably avoided claiming responsibility for it.
That al Qaeda’s affiliates in North Africa are evolving rapidly, with operatives emerging in different areas, also has played into debates over exactly what transpired in Benghazi.
Former National Security Agency and CIA Director Michael V. Hayden alluded to such factors during an appearance Sunday on CBS, although he stopped short of directly disputing The New York Times‘ assertion that it had found no evidence of al Qaeda involvement in the attack, and instead praised the paper for other reporting in its weekend story. He said it provided broad view of a complex security landscape in Libya.
“When the attack happened, actually on this network a few days afterwards, I was asked who did it. And I said well, you know, the al Qaeda movement’s divided into three layers: al Qaeda prime, formally affiliated and like-minded. And at the time, I said this was probably high-end like-minded or low-end affiliated. And I think The Times story today kind of bears that out,” Mr. Hayden said.
“The al Qaeda movement has changed,” Mr. Hayden said. ” And actually, that’s probably the better word, not the al Qaeda organization, but the al Qaeda movement.”
Mr. Hayden told The Washington Times on Monday that there are still uncertainties about who precisely executed and ordered the attack, but that he could say with confidence that the perpetrators were “al Qaeda affiliated if al Qaeda is viewed as a movement, a cause, a concept.”
New names, new threats
One example of the change can be seen in Ansar al-Sharia. Although the group had been considered local in Libya, advocating for the implementation of Islamist law, indications over the past year suggest it is now involved in sending jihadist fighters to join the Nusrah Front, a group in Syria that the State Department has said is an alias for al Qaeda in Iraq.
“The fact that Ansar is sending fighters to Syria shows you they’re part of the global jihad and not just some strictly local group,” Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow focusing on al Qaeda and North Africa at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said in an interview Monday.
Mr. Joscelyn, who manages the foundation’s Long War Journal, said The New York Times story was strong in that “the reporter did a lot of on-the-ground talking to people,” but that it “missed the mark in terms of analysis.”
“You can see that when one of the main Democrats on the House intelligence committee comes out and says that al Qaeda was involved, obviously there’s intelligence showing that, which conflicts with The New York Times‘ declarative statements on the whole thing,” Mr. Joscelyn said.
More troublesome, he said, is the fact that on Oct. 29, 2012, the paper itself cited unidentified “American officials” as saying the Benghazi attack “included participants from Ansar al Sharia, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Muhammad Jamal network.”
“Nothing in the sources I’ve talked to have said that was wrong,” said Mr. Joscelyn, who noted that David D. Kirkpatrick, the author of The Times’ more recent story, did not have a byline on the October report but was listed as a contributor.
“The Times is ignoring its own previous reporting on who’s responsible for Benghazi,” Mr. Joscelyn said. “In fact, at least some of the parties responsible are known al Qaeda-linked actors, specifically Muhammad Jamal and his trainees.”
“And,” he said, “the idea that AQIM has no ties to the al Qaeda network, or is not part of the al Qaeda network, is just completely flat false.”
Speculation was rife Monday, meanwhile, over how The Times story might stand to impact the image of Mrs. Clinton, who is rumored to be preparing for a presidential run in 2016. “I think that politically, if this story were true, it would give her some protection,” Mr. Westmoreland said.
Pushing the notion that no al Qaeda-linked groups were involved in Benghazi, he suggested, would provide a kind of cover for Mrs. Clinton and for her State Department, which was roundly criticized by Republicans for not doing more to respond to requests made by diplomats on the ground prior to the attacks for beefed-up security.
“The root of these four Americans getting killed was that they were not provided the security they were requesting,” the congressman said. “One of the letters they received back was signed by Secretary Clinton.”