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Monday, April 7, 2014

Mike Rogers: We Have Capacity To Get The Benghazi Terrorists, But Obama Won’t Do It -- PatDollard.com, Time

miketerrorExcerpted from TIME: The retiring House Intelligence Committee chief tells TIME that Obama is leaving terrorists “on the battlefield,” and explains his charge that Edward Snowden is “under the influence” of Russia’s security service.

When you think of spring break, you probably don’t envision a congressional hearing on Benghazi. But politics runs deep in the home of Mike Rogers, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, whose college-age son is spending his time off from school in Washington, D.C., this month, and who attended the hearing his dad convened Wednesday on the 2012 tragedy in Libya that Republicans call a scandal and Democrats a dead horse. “Don’t give him any ideas,” Rogers said with a chuckle when TIME suggested to his son that spring break should be enjoyed on a Florida beach, not in a Rayburn building hearing room.

For now, though, Rogers is still in the thick of it — consumed by the parade of horribles on view in his regular classified briefings, fretting about America’s myriad vulnerabilities. In a TIME Newsmaker interview, Rogers talked about which threats worry him most, his belief that President Barack Obama has gone too soft on al-Qaeda and just what he means when he says Edward Snowden is “under the influence” of Russian officials. Here’s a partial transcript:

You just held yet another hearing on Benghazi, this one featuring former deputy CIA director Michael Morell. So much has been said about that night already — did you really take away anything new?

The takeaway is that the CIA had all the relevant information. There was confusion in the day or day after the attack, but it started to gel that this was an al-Qaeda extremist event — yet the narrative of the Administration never changed.

Isn’t one reason the Benghazi debate never ends that people disagree about whether it’s correct to call it an “al-Qaeda event”? Even if people with al-Qaeda connections were involved, that doesn’t mean it was planned and organized by core al-Qaeda leaders. Which is what the New York Times reported in December.

That all went out the window today when the deputy director of the CIA said that the reason he removed references to al-Qaeda from the talking points was because they had sources that said al-Qaeda participated in the event, and in their mind they didn’t want to disclose those sources.

We have numerous people that we know participated in the Benghazi attacks affiliated with al-Qaeda that are still on the battlefield. We have the capacity to get them but there’s no planning to get them. We have other serious al-Qaeda threats that normally we would take off the battlefield, but because of this Administration’s more kinder, gentler approach we have not done that.

What do you mean by a “kinder, gentler” approach? Is that because the pace of drone strikes seems to have slowed?

I’m not allowed to talk about specific programs. But I can tell you that there are ways that we have taken people off the battlefield that have been disruptive to their ability to plan operations, and there are cases where we are no longer doing that.

And if you have serious al-Qaeda players remaining on the battlefield because of bureaucracy created here, that’s a problem. We know from the 9/11 Commission that once nothing happened after the U.S.S. Cole was bombed in 2000, the psychology of that empowered al-Qaeda and led them to do bigger and bolder things. Which led to 9/11.

The old slogan is that Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive, and that al-Qaeda core is going away. Which is inconsistent with the facts that we know. And it concerns me that it is translated into policy. If you tell everybody that works for you that al-Qaeda’s not that big a threat, well, guess what? Their decisions will reflect that.

You get classified briefings. Apart from al-Qaeda, what worries you the most?

Oh, which one? Cyber is the biggest national-security threat I’ve ever seen, one that we’re not prepared to deal with. Disengaging the size and scope of our military has sent a pretty awful message — it has said to countries they can invade their neighbors without fear of retribution. Radiological material, black-market issues around the world. Iran’s interest in getting a nuclear weapon.

How about bioterror? Not everyone thinks it’s a serious threat.

I do worry. It’s cheap. That’s worrisome. I did a biodefense bill to stockpile prophylactics. I still worry about it, because we know it’s out there and we know that al-Qaeda has talked about trying to get their hands on it. Keep Reading

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