The following is a guest post by Peter Landesman.
Obama’s Triple Play
President Obama has accomplished one artful maneuver. He has nominated three confidantes –Chuck Hagel, John Brennan and Jack Lew — to cabinet level positions. They therefore will be insulated from congressional testimony on the Benghazi fiasco if they are promoted to these positions. If they are then asked to testify, Obama will be able to block their testimony by invoking executive privilege, as he did for Attorney General Holder.
Hagel, Brennan and Lew have not been implicated in any subterfuge involving Benghazi. But the current intensity of suspicion necessitates slowing down the confirmation process until the Benghazi affair is more fully investigated. This was Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) thought. As he explained on Fox News on January 8, 2013: “ I am not going to confirm John Brennan or anyone else until the administration shares information with Congress…. We are not moving forward till we get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi.”
That bottom might entail what was suggested by retired Four-Star Admiral James Lyons, when he was a guest on “Lou Dobbs Tonight”: “I speculate that Ambassador Stevens was supposed to be kidnapped and held hostage in exchange for the release of the blind sheik we are currently holding in prison. That is the only thing that makes sense to me.” Lyons also said that the Navy SEALs interfered with the plot by countermanding the order to stand down, and the attackers, believing that Obama had betrayed them, tortured Ambassador Chris Stevens and dragged his body through the streets.
Additionally, consistent with Admiral Lyons statement is the rumor that General Ham as head of Africom prepared a rapid response unit to rescue the Ambassador but was ordered to stand down. When Ham refused, his second-in-command apprehended him and told him that he was now relieved of his duty.
John Batchelor on his Thursday night radio program said that Hagel’s confirmation is being delayed in part because of concern about why didn’t we get a rescue mission into Benghazi: “although Chuck Hagel was not on the job at the time and he is not the man to give these answers that [the lack of a rescue mission] has to be a shadow over Chuck Hagel and John Brennan… This is part of the Senate Republicans telling the White House that they have not been transparent [regarding Benghazi].”
Hagel’s possible connection with Benghazi is through the Atlantic Council , of which he was chairman. The Atlantic Council emphasizes that “engagement” with adversaries, not military action, is the key to addressing international problems. To promote these goals it would not be surprising if the Atlantic Council had exploratory discussions with all parties in Libya. Thus Hagel could have used these conduits to enable Obama’s communications with Libyan factions. Logically, this could include discussions with Al-Qaida about a prisoner exchange.
As for Brennan, he has served as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism since January 2009. Before that, he had an extended career with the CIA. Since the CIA most probably established contact with Libyan opposition to Colonel Gaddafi including Al-Qaida, Brennan might have established contacts with groups in Libya. Again, he could have used these contacts to facilitate a secret deal with them and Obama.
Lew also must have been privy to Obama’s dealings since he was Obama’s chief of staff since January 2012. As everyone who has watched a few episodes of the television series “24” knows, the President’s Chief of Staff guides the President’s every move, including his public face and his secret meetings. This week, during Lew’s confirmation hearings, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) tried unsuccessfully to find out details of the President’s action during the seven hours of the Benghazi attack.
Hopefully, the Benghazi fiasco described by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) as “the greatest cover-up in … [his] memory” will be illuminated during the two weeks, between now and the Senate’s next vote on Hagel’s confirmation.
Update: Linked by What Would the Founders think – thanks!