Darrell Issa

Congress Currently Has Access to the Phone Dragnet Query Results

When Bernie Sanders asked the NSA whether it spied on Members of Congress, Keith Alexander responded, in part,

Among those protections is the condition that NSA can query the metadata only based on phone numbers reasonably suspected to be associated with specific foreign terrorist groups. For that reason, NSA cannot lawfully search to determine if any records NSA has received under the program have included metadata of the phone calls of any member of Congress, other American elected officials, or any other American without that predicate.

Alexander’s response was dated January 10, 2014, one week after the current dragnet order was signed.

It’s an interesting response, because one of the changes made to the dragnet access rules with the January 3 order was to provide Congress access to the data for oversight reasons. Paragraph 3D reads, in part,

Notwithstanding the above requirements, NSA may share the results from intelligence analysis queries of the BR metadata, including United States person information, with Legislative Branch personnel to facilitate lawful oversight functions.

This doesn’t actually mean Sanders (and Darrell Issa, Jerrold Nadler, and Jim Sensenbrenner, who sent a letter on just this issue yesterday) can just query up the database to find out if their records are in there. The legislature can only get query results — it can’t perform queries. And as of last week, all query identifiers have to be approved by the FISC.

Still, they might legitimately ask to see what is in the corporate store, the database including some or all past query results, which may include hundreds of millions of Americans’ call records. And Nadler and Sensenbrenner — as members of the Judiciary Committee — can legitimately claim to play an oversight role over the dragnet.

So why don’t they just ask to shop the corporate store, complete with all the US person data, as permitted by this dragnet order? While they’re at it, why not check to see if the 6 McClatchy journalists whose FOIA NSA just rejected have been dumped into the corporate store? (No, I don’t think giving Congress this access is wise, but since they have it, why not use it?)

Incidentally, this access for legislative personnel is not unprecedented. Starting on February 25, 2010 and lasting through 3 orders (so until October 29, 2010, though someone should check my work on this point) the dragnet orders included even broader language.

Notwithstanding the above requirements, NSA may share certain information, as appropriate, derived from the BR metadata, including U.S. person identifying information, with Executive Branch and Legislative Branch personnel in order to enable them to fulfill their lawful oversight functions…

Of course at that point, most of Congress had no real understanding of what the dragnet is.

Now that they do, Nadler and Sensenbrenner should use the clear provision of the dragnet order as an opportunity to develop a better understanding of what happens to query results and how broadly they implicate average Americans’ privacy.

Update: Added short explanation of corporate store.

Darrell Issa’s Net Worth Goes Up 152% in One Year

Screen shot 2013-09-17 at 1.23.12 PM

It is wealth inequality day, in which, on the same day, the Census Bureau releases information on poverty and CQ releases the list of richest members of Congress.

As for poverty: things didn’t get statistically worse, but things didn’t get better at all, not even with decreasing unemployment (which, admittedly, is largely about labor market participation). (In good news, President Obama today extended minimum wage and overtime protections to home healthcare workers, though he bizarrely delayed implementation of the rule until 2015.)

As for wealth, 50 members of Congress are worth $6.67 million or more.

No wonder they seem so distant from the worries of their constituents.

But the truly mind-blowing detail from CQ’s wealthiest list is the remarkable luck Darrell Issa had in the last year. In just the last year, his net worth has increased from $140.55 million to $355.38 million — or a net worth increase of 152.8%. (He also became the richest member, but would have anyway on account of John Kerry’s retirement.)

No wonder he gins up factually problematic attacks on the IRS.

Here’s how CQ describes Issa managed such a feat:

The longtime denizen of the 50 Richest list finally reached the No. 1 spot after making about $135 million in 2012, mostly from investments that swelled in a bull market.

[snip]

Issa appears to make his money in the stock market. He ended 2012 with at least $390 million in bonds and stocks. His true worth, however, could be far greater. Members of Congress aren’t obligated to disclose exact figures, only ranges, and Issa has seven accounts with a minimum of $50 million, which is the highest category available on standard disclosure forms.

Issa also has about $75 million in outstanding loans, owing at least $50 million to Merrill Lynch and $25 million to Union Bank. Whether he truly is the richest member of Congress actually depends on precisely how much money he owes to Merrill Lynch.

So in the last year in which insider trading was legal for members Congress, Darrell Issa managed to make at least $100 million.

And yet he believes Benghazi is the most urgent matter facing this country.

The Day After the Election, Mike Rogers Finally Decides To Do His Job

On October 2, 26 days ago and over a month before the election, I asked why Darrell Issa, rather than House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers, was leading an investigation into the Benghazi attack.

Issa’s subsequent investigation worked out as expected: a big showy hearing, sensitive information revealed, and a month of misleading leaks. Even Dana Milbank realized having Issa lead investigation didn’t make sense.

Lo and behold, today, the day after the election, the House Intelligence Committee has revealed that they–like their counterpart in the Senate–will conduct an investigation.

Finally! A serious investigation rather than a transparent effort to trump up an October Surprise.

If CIA’s Benghazi Annex Was So Secret, Why Were Its Personnel Being Harassed?

Of all the stories reporting David Petraeus’ pushback on the Benghazi story, WSJ’s was clearly the most thorough.

But I want to question this claim.

The significance of the annex was a well-kept secret in Benghazi. A neighbor said that he never saw Libyan security guards at the annex compound and that the street never had any extra police presence or security cordon. “If the CIA was living there, we never knew it,” the neighbor said.

The comment is part of the CIA’s partial disclosure about its activities in Benghazi, which makes it clear that the Benghazi presence was really a CIA operation with a diplomatic face.

The spy agency was the first to set up shop. It began building up its presence there soon after the Libyan revolution started in February 2011. The uprising overturned what had been a tight working relationship between the Gadhafi regime’s spy services and the Americans, creating a gap that the CIA presence sought to fill, officials said.

The CIA worked from a compound publicly referred to as the “annex,” which was given a State Department office name to disguise its purpose. The agency focused on countering proliferation and terrorist threats, said an American security contractor who has worked closely with CIA, the Pentagon and State. A main concern was the spread of weapons and militant influences throughout the region, including in Mali, Somalia and Syria, this person said.

Libyan officials say they were kept in the dark about what the CIA was doing in Benghazi. “The Americans had people coming and going with great frequency. Frankly, our records were never clear [about] who was out there” in Benghazi, said a senior Libyan government official in Tripoli.

In mid-2011, the State Department established its consulate in Benghazi, to have a diplomatic presence in the birthplace of the Libyan revolution. At the annex, many of the analysts and officers had what is referred to in intelligence circles as “light cover,” carrying U.S. diplomatic passports.

All this “transparency” about what the spooks were doing in Benghazi appears designed to show why CIA prioritized the Annex over the Mission compound the night of the attack.

But I don’t buy the claim that the Libyans were as clueless about the spooks’ presence as this story suggests.

This July 2012 review of security incidents in the last two years (see PDF 67-117, particularly 89 and 99-100) describes two events this year in which people who appear to have been tied to CIA’s mission were harassed by militias.

First, on February 19, two women described as “Mission personnel” but not by rank were stopped late at night in a “hastily crafted checkpoint” on their way back from the airport.

U.S. Mission personnel were detained by militia personnel after they drove through a previously unknown and hastily crafted checkpoint in Benghazi. The Mission vehicle and personnel were returning from Benghazi’s Benina airport at approximately 0100 hours. The Mission vehicle was pursued and stopped by a militia vehicle and additional militia personnel arrived at the site after the Mission vehicle was stopped. The two female Employees in the vehicle identified themselves as U.S. diplomats by referring to their vehicle license plate, diplomatic placard, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs ID card but were still prevented from leaving. The one English speaking militia member at the checkpoint demanded to see their passports and to inspect their cargo. Mission personnel refused access to the vehicle and its cargo. The detained employees contacted Mission security personnel and 17 Feb Martyrs Brigade QRF members, who responded to the checkpoint and were able to resolve the situation with the checkpoint commander.

Then, on April 27, two South African contractors working on US funded disarmament projects were kidnapped, interrogated, then released.

Two South African nationals, in Libya as part of a U.S. funded weapons abatement, UXO removal, and demining project, were detained at gunpoint while walking in a residential area. At approximately 0630 hrs, a Ford sedan passed the two men while they were walking, turned around and returned to where the men were, and a soldier with an AK series assault rifle exited the vehicle. The soldier directed them to get into the vehicle. The soldier took one of the South African’s company ID, read the Arabic version on the back of the ID card, and examined the passport and visa. The two South Africans were driven to a house at high speed, where the soldier crashed the gate open with his vehicle. A second militia member wearing a hood and armed with an AK47, entered the vehicle, and questioned the two expatriates regarding their nationality, employer, and purpose for being in Libya. The vehicle departed the residential building at high-speed but stopped in order for the militia members to blindfold the two South Africans. The South Africans were then driven to a second property where a third, unidentified person joined the first two militia members. The milita members reviewed the passports, employer ID cards, and appeared to be discussing next steps. The milita members returned the South Africans’ documents and cards and then drove them back to the initial point where they were directed into the vehicle. The South Africans’ [sic] remained blindfolded until they were brought to the initial pick-up point. The milita members told the South Africans’ [sic] that they were detained “for their own safety”, shook hands with the South Africans’ [sic] and allowed them to return to their residence. The incident lasted for approximately 2 hours.

FWIW, the women appear spookier than the South Africans; after all, demining is more danger-work than analysis (indeed, it could be State or DOD funded), and State’s silence about what the women do is suggestive by itself. (Darrell Issa listed the South African’s kidnapping in his first letter to Hillary Clinton on Benghazi but not the women’s questioning, though that list was only intended to go back six months).

Both incidents appear to have been designed to let American-tied personnel know that militias were aware of their presence and movements. That attention may have had to do with the South Africans’ unspecified race (particularly if they are white) and the women’s gender and late night travels. And the militia members may have had no clue of any tie with CIA, assuming one exists. Furthermore, even if they were tracking these individuals, there’s no guarantee the militias knew where the Annex was (though it would presumably make it easy to find out).

But these incidents read to me like deliberate attempts to let Americans know they were being surveilled. Add in the repeated assertions on the part of Libyans who helped protect Americans the night of the attack that the Annex attack included pre-stationed weapons, and it seems like at least some of the militia were tracking CIA’s activities for months leading up to the attack.

Jonah Goldberg Complains That Media Treats Boys Who Cry Wolf Like Boys Who Cry Wolf

Welcome to November. As DDay joked on Twitter last night, we’ve officially moved out of October Surprise month.

I guess Jonah Goldberg was thinking of the same timing when he wrote a column–posted at midnight on October 31–complaining that the press had not taken the Benghazi attack more seriously.

If you want to understand why conservatives have lost faith in the so-called mainstream media, you need to ponder the question: Where is the Benghazi feeding frenzy?

[snip]

Last week, Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that sources on the ground in Libya say they pleaded for support during the attack on the Benghazi consulate that led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens. They were allegedly told twice to “stand down.” Worse, there are suggestions that there were significant military resources available to counterattack, but requests for help were denied.

If this is true, the White House’s concerted effort to blame the attack on a video crumbles, as do several other fraudulent claims. Yet, last Friday, the president boasted that “the minute I found out what was happening” in Benghazi, he ordered that everything possible be done to protect our personnel. That is either untrue, or he’s being disobeyed on grave matters.

This isn’t an “October surprise” foisted on the media by opposition research; it’s news.

There are just a couple problems with Jonah’s complaint, though. There’s his suggestion that reporting on Richard Mourdock’s belief that women should bear the children of their rapists is “ridiculous.” There’s his silence about the real October Surprises of history, the unpatriotic ones crafted by Republicans: Nixon’s negotiation with the Vietnamese and reported efforts to hold the Iranian hostages to hurt Jimmy Carter (and Jonah dismisses the seriousness of the Swift Boat attack on John Kerry).

But mostly there’s the evidence that the attacks on Obama’s response to Benghazi were explicitly intended to serve as an October Surprise. In fact, according to Craig Unger’s unrebutted report dating to the first day of October, Republicans explicitly called this line of attack an October Surprise.

According to a highly reliable source, as Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama prepare for the first presidential debate Wednesday night, top Republican operatives are primed to unleash a new two-pronged offensive that will attack Obama as weak on national security, and will be based, in part, on new intelligence information regarding the attacks in Libya that killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens on September 11.

The source, who has first-hand knowledge of private, high-level conversations in the Romney camp that took place in Washington, DC last week, said that at various times the GOP strategists referred to their new operation as the Jimmy Carter Strategy or the October Surprise.

He added that they planned to release what they hoped would be “a bombshell” that would make Libya and Obama’s foreign policy a major issue in the campaign. “My understanding is that they have come up with evidence that the Obama administration had positive intelligence that there was going to be a terrorist attack on the intelligence.”

The day after Unger’s report, Darrell Issa–not, as would be entirely appropriate, Mike Rogers–started a loud and clumsy attack that, while it correctly exposed State’s misjudgment about security for the mission in Benghazi, completed ignored underlying (and equally serious) problems with the CIA’s response. Republicans repeatedly leaked documents claiming they said one thing when in fact they said something completely different (though what they said was still serious).

In other words, a Republican source said Republicans were planning an October Surprise, and Republicans spent the entire month of October very obviously acting to turn Benghazi into one, all the while ignoring the really serious issues raised by Benghazi that should be discussed.

I think Jonah’s most pissed about this, a story about a classified August 16 cable reporting on an emergency meeting about threats to the Benghazi mission, predicting that the mission could not withstand a coordinated attack. The story reads very much like it is the intended bombshell Unger’s source reported, the warning Obama didn’t heed, held on ice for the entire month of October like a precious prize.

The story is news. And we will return to it, presumably, next Wednesday and in the weeks thereafter, as the serious people begin to take over this investigation from buffoons like Issa and Romney surrogate Jason Chaffetz.

But for some reason it happened to get leaked the weekend before the election. In most years, such a remarkably timed release would fit right into October Surprise campaign, dominating the weekend shows just before the election (the GOP apparently haven’t updated their October Surprise plans since early voting became so important).

Except Mother Nature had an October Surprise of her own. And unless stories start breaking about seniors stuck in powerless skyscrapers with no food, water, or means to get to street level to get those things (I think this is still a distinct possibility), the pre-election weekend will be dominated by pictures of President Obama looking very presidential in a crisis and pictures of Mitt looking increasingly desperate and weak.

The Republicans, it seems, had their October Surprise preempted by a real October Surprise.

That’s the thing about surprises, I guess. Sometimes they actually are surprises and not well-managed opposition campaigns.

Darrell Issa Exposes the CIA as a Foreign Policy Debate Stunt

Darrell Issa just released a bunch of documents so as to seed the Sunday shows in time for Monday’s foreign policy debate. [Update: See Josh Rogin's reported description of some of the sensitivities Issa exposed.]

Here’s a running explication of what he released, all in the name of “national security.”

PDF 1: In December, Jeffrey Feltman asked Patrick Kennedy to approve “a combined footprint of 35 U.S. government personnel in Benghazi.” That would include 10 people identified as State: 8 State Department and USAID, and 2 temporary duty personnel.

Which leaves 25 people unaccounted for.

As it happens, the Libyans say there were 29 people they hadn’t expected when they came to evacuate the Americans. They complained afterwards that the Americans hadn’t told them about all the spooks they’d have onsite.

Well, now, Issa just confirmed they were not State or even USAID personnel. He has confirmed the Libyans’ claims–that they were spooks.

And then there’s this:

Because of budget considerations and the reduced footprint, Diplomatic Security’s current presence consists of two Special Agents…

As far back as December 2011, budget considerations were driving the small security footprint in Benghazi.

The budget considerations put into place by the GOP cuts to State’s budget.

Continue reading

Even Dana Milbank Wonders Why Darrell Issa Is Doing Mike Rogers’ Job

After it became clear that the Republicans hoped to use the Benghazi attack to turn Obama into Jimmy Carter, I predicted what would happen as Darrell Issa and Romney surrogate Jason Chaffetz investigated: there would be trouble with classified information.

And while in yesterday’s hearing they made State look like it was withholding information when Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy told Issa that a binder State had provided (presumably put together by the Accountability Review Board) was classified in its totality, even while individual documents in it were unclassified, Issa proceeded to enter a slew of unclassified documents from it into the record.

But it was Chaffetz who complained most loudly, after Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Charlene Lamb put up a satellite image that showed both Benghazi locations (see after 55:00), and, later, after she implied there were other security resources on the ground that were not being discussed in the hearing. (Note, I’m not sure, but I think there may actually be a spook who died at the safe house, too, which would be consistent with this article’s mention of five total dead.) Chaffetz interrupted and complained that the hearing–his own hearing–was exposing sources and methods.

As Dana Milbank describes it:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was the first to unmask the spooks. “Point of order! Point of order!” he called out as a State Department security official, seated in front of an aerial photo of the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, described the chaotic night of the attack. “We’re getting into classified issues that deal with sources and methods that would be totally inappropriate in an open forum such as this.”

A State Department official assured him that the material was “entirely unclassified” and that the photo was from a commercial satellite. “I totally object to the use of that photo,” Chaffetz continued. He went on to say that “I was told specifically while I was in Libya I could not and should not ever talk about what you’re showing here today.”

The satellite image was commercial, available to al Qaeda as readily as State. The other security resources belonged to the CIA “safe house” that had been compromised before the attack, which is one thing that led to the deaths of the two former SEALs; Chaffetz was trying to keep hidden a safe house that had already been compromised by poor spycraft or espionage. In addition, Lamb and Kennedy implied that a video showing the attack was being withheld by CIA.

Understand what this means. This hearing focused on the complaints of two security whistleblowers, complaining, credibly, about State trying to shift security responsibilities to State resources, which in this case meant relying on Libyan militia (though the February 17 Brigade appears to have acquitted itself credibly). But that part–the part Romney’s surrogate is trying to make a campaign issue–is only a part of what what went wrong on September 11. Yet Chaffetz went out his way to shield the other failures–the ones made by CIA, which traditionally has close ties to the linguistically skilled Mormon Church.

Though Issa (who kept getting whispers from a guy who apparently used to be a staffer on the House Intelligence Committee) did reveal this bit.

In this hearing room we’re not going to point out details of what may still in fact be a facility of the United States government or more facilities.

FWIW, I’ve implicitly suggested that when DOD used 3 C-130s to ferry a single FBI team to Benghazi to investigate, there may have been a lot more on those planes, some of which presumably didn’t leave with the FBI team.

In any case, this hullabaloo demonstrates what I said weeks ago: if Republicans wanted to conduct their own investigation of this attack (and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t do so), they should have done it in the House Intelligence Committee. Here’s Milbank again.

The Republican lawmakers, in their outbursts, alternated between scolding the State Department officials for hiding behind classified material and blaming them for disclosing information that should have been classified. But the lawmakers created the situation by ordering a public hearing on a matter that belonged behind closed doors.

Republicans were aiming to embarrass the Obama administration over State Department security lapses. But they inadvertently caused a different picture to emerge than the one that has been publicly known: that the victims may have been let down not by the State Department but by the CIA. If the CIA was playing such a major role in these events, which was the unmistakable impression left by Wednesday’s hearing, having a televised probe of the matter was absurd. [my emphasis]

But apparently, Rogers–who as Chair of the Intelligence Committee is of course too close to the intelligence agencies–doesn’t want to get to the bottom of this. And neither, apparently, do Issa and Chaffetz, who are conducting an investigation that by its nature will be incomplete.

There’s one more irony in all this. This very hearing room is the one where, five years ago, Republicans–including Issa–defended the right of the Executive Branch to insta-declassify things like a CIA officer’s identity for political gain. This time around, Republicans went out of their way to hide unclassified information that might reveal how the CIA fucked up.

This country’s treatment of classified information–which feeds partisan selective declassification about as often as it keeps us safer–really makes us fundamentally dysfunctional as a democracy.

Update: Cryptome has the super secret publicly available images here.

Why Can’t Darrell Issa Read the Wall Street Journal?

In addition to the rather amusing fact that Darrell Issa is conducting an investigation that Mike Rogers should be conducting, there’s another oddity about his “investigation.” The answers to the questions he asks Hillary Clinton have been available for over 10 days in this WSJ front page article.

In his letter, Issa asks,

  1. Was State Department headquarters in Washington aware of all the above incidents? If not, why not?
  2. If so, what measures did the State Department take to match the level of security provided to the U.S. Mission in Libya to the level of threat?
  3. Please detail any requests made by Embassy Tripoli to State Department headquarters for additional security, whether in general or in light of specific attacks mentioned above. How did the Department respond to each of these requests.

In the September 21 article, the WSJ listed several of the attacks in Issa’s letter (as well as an April 10 attack on the UN’s envoy). More importantly, it provided anonymous explanations from senior State Department officials describing their thinking about security in Benghazi.

The State Department chose to maintain only limited security in Benghazi, Libya, despite months of sporadic attacks there on U.S. and other Western missions. And while the U.S. said it would ask Libya to boost security there, it did so just once, for a one-week period in June, according to Libyan officials.

[snip]

State Department officials said security for the consulate was frequently reviewed and was deemed sufficient to counter what U.S. officials considered to be the most likely threat at the time: a limited hit-and-run attack with rocket-propelled grenades or improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

There was a string of attacks in Benghazi in the months before Sept. 11, including a June 6 IED explosion outside the consulate compound. “These types of incidents were the ones that were our principal concerns,” a senior State Department official said. Based on the outcome of the June 6 attack, in which a perimeter wall was damaged but no Americans hurt, a second State Department official added: “Our security plan worked.”

[snip]

[After the Brits pulled out of their consulate in Benghazi] The U.S. deemed the security level sufficient and decided to stay, “given the very important mission that we have in eastern Libya to support U.S. national security interests,” said a senior State Department official. He said “robust” security improvements had been made to the compound since the Americans moved into it in May 2011, including cement barriers and barbed wire.

More importantly, the article describes who made the decision to opt for a light security approach over something more aggressive: Ambassador Stevens.

Current and former officials said the security choices in Benghazi reflected efforts by Mr. Stevens to maintain a low-profile security posture and show faith in Libya’s new leaders, despite questions about their ability to rein in heavily armed bands of militants. Continue reading

Why Is Darrell Issa Doing Mike Rogers’ Job?

In his latest of a series of posts on the Benghazi strike, Eli Lake reveals that Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz have written a letter to Hillary Clinton suggesting State ignored intelligence about terrorists in Benghazi.

In the five months leading up to this year’s 9/11 anniversary, there were two bombings on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and increasing threats to and attacks on the Libyan nationals hired to provide security at the U.S. missions in Tripoli and Benghazi.

Details on these alleged incidents stem in part from the testimony of a handful of whistleblowers who approached the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the days and weeks following the attack on the Benghazi consulate. The incidents are disclosed in a letter to be sent Tuesday to Hillary Clinton from Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the oversight committee’s subcommittee that deals with national security.

The State Department did not offer comment on the record last night.

The new information disclosed in the letter obtained by The Daily Beast strongly suggests the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the late Ambassador Chris Stevens were known by U.S. security personnel to be targets for terrorists. Indeed, the terrorists made their threats openly on Facebook.

Curiously, Lake doesn’t ask a really obvious question: why would a slew of “whistleblowers” go to Darrell Issa with their complaints about missed intelligence rather than Mike Rogers, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee? After all, if there was an intelligence failure, then it is HPSCI’s job to do something about it.

The question is all the more curious given that Issa’s Committee does not have the clearance for some levels of intelligence (the kind that sources who could well be these very same whistleblowers have already been sharing with Lake).

Meaning this letter will have an utterly predictable result: State will respond that they can’t share the information that Issa is seeking. And then Issa will escalate this, turning his “investigation” into Son of Fast and Furious.

Moreover, this intelligence should have already been shared with the House (and Senate) Intelligence Committees (note that Peter King, a leaky sieve, sits on both committees). If it hasn’t been, then Mike Rogers has all the more reason to escalate this issue. The only possible reasons for Issa to investigate this, then, is if 1) Rogers is failing to do his job and/or 2) this is just a stunt to turn a legitimate intelligence issue, the Benghazi attack, into a political attack on Obama.

Back in May, Mitt made it clear he was hoping for a hostage situation he could use as an electoral opportunity. Yesterday, Craig Unger confirmed what was already clear; Mitt intends to use the Benghazi attack as his “Jimmy Carter” strategy against Obama.

According to a highly reliable source, as Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama prepare for the first presidential debate Wednesday night, top Republican operatives are primed to unleash a new two-pronged offensive that will attack Obama as weak on national security, and will be based, in part, on new intelligence information regarding the attacks in Libya that killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens on September 11.

The source, who has first-hand knowledge of private, high-level conversations in the Romney camp that took place in Washington, DC last week, said that at various times the GOP strategists referred to their new operation as the Jimmy Carter Strategy or the October Surprise.

He added that they planned to release what they hoped would be “a bombshell” that would make Libya and Obama’s foreign policy a major issue in the campaign. “My understanding is that they have come up with evidence that the Obama administration had positive intelligence that there was going to be a terrorist attack on the intelligence.”

Since the presumed time of the meeting last week, Lake has written four stories about Benghazi.

But Unger’s source wouldn’t reveal what the second-prong of this attack was.

The source said that “there was quite a bit more” to the operation than simply revealing the intelligence regarding Libya. He declined to discuss what he described as the second phase of the operation.

According to Lake, Issa plans to hold an October 10 hearing on the Benghazi attack, even while Congress is out of session. That would put the hearing the day before the VP debate, and in plenty of time for Issa to create his scandal before the Presidential foreign policy debates on October 16 and 22.

I think it’s fairly clear what the second prong of this strategy is.

But the whole strategy is premised on a very flawed premise: one that says Oversight should investigate things it doesn’t have clearance for and that are solidly HPSCI’s responsibility.

I actually do want to know what happened here, and I was suggesting it was a planned al Qaeda attack longer than Lake has been. But it’s blatantly obvious Issa’s investigation is not designed to find out what happened.

Bishop Lori Took the Pig Right Out of Eric Cantor’s Mouth

Along with the ridiculous visuals, one of the most amazing parts of today’s hearing in which a bunch of men explained why birth control was a threat to their First Amendment rights was the statement of Bishop William Lori.

In it, he drew an analogy between birth control and pig flesh.

For my testimony today, I would like to tell a story. Let’s call it, “The Parable of the Kosher Deli.”
Once upon a time, a new law is proposed, so that any business that serves food must serve pork. There is a narrow exception for kosher catering halls attached to synagogues, since they serve mostly members of that synagogue, but kosher delicatessens are still subject to the mandate.

The Orthodox Jewish community—whose members run kosher delis and many other restaurants and grocers besides—expresses its outrage at the new government mandate. And they are joined by others who have no problem eating pork—not just the many Jews who eat pork, but people of all faiths—because these others recognize the threat to the principle of religious liberty. They recognize as well the practical impact of the damage to that principle.

They know that, if the mandate stands, they might be the next ones forced—under threat of severe government sanction—to violate their most deeply held beliefs, especially their unpopular beliefs.

Meanwhile, those who support the mandate respond, “But pork is good for you. It is, after all, the other white meat.”

Other supporters add, “So many Jews eat pork, and those who don’t should just get with the times.” Still others say, “Those Orthodox are just trying to impose their beliefs on everyone else.”

But Bishop Lori wasn’t the first person to make that porcine analogy. Eric Cantor made it on February 9.

President Obama’s HHS regulation violates religious freedom.  It is like forcing a kosher deli to sell pork chops.  #NotKosher

I find it pretty unclean to have a the words of the Jewish politician being voiced by the purported Catholic holy man, like mixing milk and meat.

I mean if Bishop Lori’s parables are just regurgitated Republican talking points–if Bishop Lori’s feigned interfaith concern is just a script borrowed by the his party hosts–then what does that say for Lori’s claim to espouse Catholic dogma more generally?

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JimWhiteGNV RT @CDCgov: What’s the difference between infections spread through the air or by droplets? New CDC #Ebola fact sheet explains: http://t.co
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JimWhiteGNV RT @AdamWeinstein: Rick Scott filed suit to keep his emails secret, skipped out on deposition today, lied that he didn't need to attend htt…
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JimWhiteGNV RT @BretSabes: Birthday present for himself @TheRealHos35 #GreatAB
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JimWhiteGNV Don't give up on the only lifting you even do, bro! RT @michaelwhitney: I think I am going to invest in pet stairs for @dirtmcgirt :(
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JimWhiteGNV @wheeliesmom Of course not. But the "invisible hand of the market" would never tolerate opting out before voting.
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JimWhiteGNV I'd pay $10 for a TV app that filters out political ads now that I've already voted...
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JimWhiteGNV RT @davidsirota: Docs show show @ScottWalker got $200k from restaurant industry then based min wage ruling on restaurant lobby study http:/…
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October 2014
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