Hillary’s Admission Diplomacy Couldn’t Get Pakistan To Hand Over Bin Laden

There was a really weird moment during the foreign policy section of last night’s debate.

Bernie, to respond to Hillary’s explanation of what we need to do to win wars against terrorism, said he doesn’t support regime change. To counter him, Hillary said, in part, that he had voted in favor of regime change in Libya.

Which led to this exchange:

SANDERS: Judy, if I can, there is no question, Secretary Clinton and I are friends, and I have a lot of respect for her, that she has enormous experience in foreign affairs. Secretary of state for four years. You’ve got a bit of experience, I would imagine.

But judgment matters as well. Judgment matters as well. And she and I looked at the same evidence coming from the Bush administration regarding Iraq. I lead the opposition against it. She voted for it.

But more importantly, in terms of this Libya resolution that you have noted before, this was a virtually unanimous consent. Everybody voted for it wanting to see Libya move toward democracy, of course we all wanted to do that.

SANDERS: That is very different than talking about specific action for regime change, which I did not support.

CLINTON: You did support a U.N. Security Council approach, which we did follow up on. And, look, I think it’s important to look at what the most important counterterrorism judgment of the first four years of the Obama administration was, and that was the very difficult decision as to whether or not to advise the president to go after bin Laden.

I looked at the evidence. I looked at the intelligence. I got the briefings. I recommended that the president go forward. It was a hard choice. Not all of his top national security advisors agreed with that. And at the end of the day, it was the president’s decision. So he had to leave the Situation Room after hearing from the small group advising him and he had to make that decision. I’m proud that I gave him that advice. And I’m very grateful to the brave Navy SEALs who carried out that mission.

This is not the first time Hillary has changed the subject by bringing up the Osama bin Laden killing — a far more awkward example came when she did so to respond to Chuck Todd’s question whether she would release her Goldman Sachs speech transcripts.

TODD: Are you willing to release the transcripts of all your paid speeches? We do know through reporting that there were transcription services for all of those paid speeches. In full disclosure, would you release all of them?

CLINTON: I will look into it. I don’t know the status, but I will certainly look into it. But, I can only repeat what is the fact that I spoke to a lot of different groups with a lot of different constituents, a lot of different kinds of members about issues that had to do with world affairs. I probably described more times than I can remember how stressful it was advising the President about going after Bin Laden.

But this example is more telling in a number of respects.

First, consider why she had to change the subject, aside from the fact that Libya has turned out to be such a colossal mistake. Hillary claimed Bernie voted in favor of regime change and then, without a break, described the vote as favoring Security Council involvement.

He voted in favor of regime change with Libya, voted in favor of the Security Council being an active participate in setting the parameters for what we would do, which of course we followed through on.

The resolution included, among other things, these three parts:

(3) calls on Muammar Qadhafi to desist from further violence, recognize the Libyan people’s demand for democratic change, resign his position and permit a peaceful transition to democracy governed by respect for human and civil rights and the right of the people to choose their government in free and fair elections;

(7) urges the United Nations Security Council to take such further action as may be necessary to protect civilians in Libya from attack, including the possible imposition of a no-fly zone over Libyan territory;

(11) Welcomes the outreach that has begun by the United States government to Libyan opposition figures and supports an orderly, irreversible and transition to a legitimate democratic government in Libya.

It certainly called for Qaddafi to resign and transfer power to a democratic government. It even endorsed the “outreach” — which ultimately involved barely covert support for rebels — as a means to “transition to a legitimate democratic government.” And it called for the UNSC to take further action, which it did weeks later in calling for a no-fly zone. Famously, Russia and China only permitted that resolution to pass because Susan Rice had led them to believe it did not entail regime change (which is why Russia refused to play along with multilateral efforts to do something about Bashar Assad’s massacres).

VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said he had abstained, although his country’s position opposing violence against civilians in Libya was clear.  Work on the resolution was not in keeping with Security Council practice, with many questions having remained unanswered, including how it would be enforced and by whom, and what the limits of engagement would be.  His country had not prevented the adoption of the resolution, but he was convinced that an immediate ceasefire was the best way to stop the loss of life.  His country, in fact, had pressed earlier for a resolution calling for such a ceasefire, which could have saved many additional lives.  Cautioning against unpredicted consequences, he stressed that there was a need to avoid further destabilization in the region.

In last night’s debate, Sanders responded — after talking about what good friends he is with the woman who just claimed he had supported regime change — that he had supported more democracy in Libya, not regime change.

Everybody voted for it wanting to see Libya move toward democracy, of course we all wanted to do that. That is very different than talking about specific action for regime change, which I did not support.

Which led Hillary to suggest, in response, that “we follow[ed] up on,” which led directly to Qaddafi taking a bayonet up his rectum.

You did support a U.N. Security Council approach, which we did follow up on.

Hillary is suggesting (whether solely for political gain or also for legal cover, it’s not entirely clear) that that Senate call for democracy entailed permission to execute regime change. That is, she seems to be claiming that the intent all along was regime change and Sanders should have known that when he did not object to a voice vote in favor of the Libya resolution.

Then, BOOM, dead Osama bin Laden…

… Just in case you start thinking too much about what it means that Hillary suggested that Senate resolution amounted to support for regime change which therefore amounted to an authorization to use military force.

Now, thus far, the exchange is troubling, but not surprising. Hillary’s hawkishness and fondness for fairly broad exercises of executive authority are known qualities.

But the juxtaposition of the disastrous regime change effort in Libya with Obama’s decision to secretly send Navy SEALs into Pakistan to execute Osama bin Laden got me thinking about how different that OBL decision looks when the former Secretary of State is boasting about it, rather than the President.

Once you decide that the way to respond to locating OBL is to sneak into a sovereign country and execute someone, you clearly have to consult with the Secretary of State, as she’s going to have to deal with the diplomatic fallout. That was all the more true as things rolled out, given that we were already conducting delicate negotiations to get Raymond Davis out. Not to mention the way that Davis fiasco soured relations between CIA and State.

Left unsaid, though, is the other option: developing good enough relations with Pakistan — or, more likely, being able to wield enough leverage against Pakistan — such that they would turn him over without the sovereignty violation.

Maybe — likely — that was never going to happen. Maybe — likely — within the bowels of CIA and State and the White House we had good reason to know that Pakistan would not turn over OBL, no matter how much leverage we used. Maybe — likely — it’s also true that the Obama Administration thinks special forces have a better success rate than diplomacy — or thought that, in his first term; his second term, post-Clinton, has had a series of impressive diplomatic successes.

I’m not suggesting I think we could have just asked nicely. But I find it notable that the Secretary of State describes her role as advising the President on whether or not to violate another country’s sovereignty to execute someone, not as considering whether there are other ways to achieve the same objective. I find it remarkable that a Secretary of State boasts about this decision, which ultimately is about the limits of diplomacy even with our so-called allies.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

35 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    you’ve heard this little ditty, of course.

    “from the halls of montezuma

    to the shores of tripoli…

    the tripoli in the song is the same tripoli we speak of today, but of a different time – 1805.

    it is a blatant fact of history and a function of our vast military power that the u. s. is not going to stop being an intervening nation. the only question is whether will we intervene when useful or necessary. or whether we will intervene as in iraq, based on our president generating false information (the WMD’s are coming) and exploiting the media hysteria generated by the world trade center bombing and anthrax attacks.

    of all the criticisms against clinton that seem utterly contrived (or naieve) when applied to an american candidate for president, none is more so than the criticism that she was too supportive of the arab spring and of “regime change” in libya and, generally, much too inclined to use american military power.

    ***f go try that one on republican presidential candidate trump, or kasitch, or rubio during a presidential debate. or watch, to your utter horror, as senator sanders waves his arms about and suddenly channels donald rumsfeld in the first presidential foreign policy debate :) ****

    like it or not, the u. s. has always been and will continue to be a nation that intervenes in some instances where there seems to be severe inhumanity (kosovo), or threat to the nation. the intervention in libya was formally justified on the grounds of preventing a million libyan citizens from being attacked by gaddafi’s troops (you’ve doubtless heard of starvation in beseiged cities in syria). it was also, i suspect, an opportunity to further support the arab spring – one of the few truly decent american actions in the arab world in decades.

    contrary to what anti-clinton propaganda might lead one to believe, secretary clinton did not order the attack on gaddafi. she and susan rice (u. nations), and samantha powers (natl security advisor) were three women who intervened with president obama to encourage a u. n. mandate and a european intervention.

    the military actions were taken by the iralian, french, and german governments primarily in the form of warplanes bombing and straffing gaddafi troops with continuous u. s. miliary support.
    here is a summary:


    • emptywheel says:

      Huh. David Ignatius wrote a piece BACKING Hillary because she wasn’t all that supportive of the Arab Spring, and counseled Obama to slow down.

      • orionATL says:

        oh, come on, e. w., you think that answer is an answer to your impassioned foolishness?

        as someone as well-informed as you should know well :),

        indeed, clinton did not initally buy into a libyan intervention, but she listened to others and came to support the effort. i think that was a reasonable decision. there were 1.0 mill people threatened by gaddafi with seige. are your fortune telling skills so good you could have foretold the outcome?

        i previously pointed out the conversations between rice, powell, and clinton as important.

        please keep in mind, she was a secretary of state, not a novitiate in a nunnery.

  2. orionATL says:

    emptywheel writes:

    “… Which led Hillary to suggest, in response, that “we follow[ed] up on,” which led directly to Qaddafi taking a bayonet up his rectum… ”

    so the secretary of state, clinton, one of many individuals, american and european, who supported and carried out the intervention in libya, was responsible for the ass-assination of gaddafi.

    now that is an amazing bit of unhinged political propaganda even for an anti-clinton partisan.

    and an amazingly stupid political argument in the u. s. of today.

  3. martin says:

    quote”so the secretary of state, clinton, one of many individuals, american and european, who supported and carried out the intervention in libya, was responsible for the ass-assination of gaddafi. “unquote

    No, but she was the only one to crack a joke about the USG murdering the political leader of a sovereign country and then cackle out loud in front of the entire planet. And she was Sec. of State. Notwithstanding continuing speaking on “human rights” while Ray McGovern is arrested and beat up for standing and turning his back while she spoke, I’d say that pretty much defines her as a scum sucking cockroach.

  4. haarmeyer says:

    I’m not suggesting I think we could have just asked nicely.

    That’s nice.
    But you, through your cite of Vitali Churkin, are suggesting we could have just asked Muammar Gaddafi nicely. Because, well, we all know how much it’s been a “collosal mistake.”
    Seriously? I don’t know exactly how I feel about Libya, but the one thing I’m not so terribly sure of is that it can be labeled so succinctly. I’ve seen a lot of people trot out what they think are inevitable consequences, I’ve seen a lot of people run out timelines of falling dominoes in Africa about it. I’m not so sure about most of those things. It must be really nice to be able to take very complicated situations in which there are no good alternatives, simplify them to the point where there are, and declare others to be idiots.

    • emptywheel says:

      Banning time! Three times now you’ve claimed I’ve said something I didn’t after I told you not too. Been nice.

      • orionATL says:


        this is what you wrote above:

        “I’m not suggesting I think we could have just asked nicely. ”

        this is what haarmeyer quoted you as saying:

        “I’m not suggesting I think we could have just asked nicely.”

        what’s the difference?

        what’s happened to your sense of fairness?

        you having a wee spot of temper because you are not dealing solely with your usual pack of sempering compadres?

        time to take a break!!

  5. Watson says:

    Obama’s bragging about catching Osama Bin Laden is like a NYC mayor taking credit for a drug bust in the Bronx. Ms. Clinton’s seeking reflected glory for it is pathetic.

    It’s impossible for an outsider to know what actually happened, but according to the official version the work done and the risk taken was by intelligence professionals and Navy Seals.

    The notion that Obama was courageous to give the go-ahead is very questionable.

    When in recent years has a US president fretted about prior consent for, or ‘collateral damage’ from, a military op in a Muslim country? Richard Armitage threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age if it didn’t cooperate in Bush’s ‘war on terror’.

  6. Rayne says:

    orionATL (9:02) — The issue at hand — a candidate changing the subject during a presidential debate, to avoid discussing events and decisions leading to the termination of another sovereign country’s leader without due process and without a specific Authorization to Use Military Force or a formal declaration of war, relying upon while possibly violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 — is extremely important, deserving reasoned analysis.

    In comparison, many Americans did not support George Bush’s illegally justified war on Iraq, yet his administration obtained an AUMF and did not effect termination of Saddam Hussein on sight with extreme prejudice. The prosecution of that AUMF has cost this country dearly; its effects continue to haunt us as the power vacuum encouraged the rise of ISIS. Yet we did not have the same opportunity to examine these kinds of risks during the 2000 campaign. We do have that opportunity now.

    It is important presidential candidates are evaluated for their potential to expose us to similar failed foreign policy adventures, as well as their ability to use alternative methods to warfare to achieve security on behalf of civilians. I advise focusing and staying on topic, or pick a different thread if you are unable to examine the reason(s) a candidate changed tack mid-question.

    • orionATL says:

      rayne –

      your criticism is absurd. read the last 3/4 of ew’s comment.

      regime change is what the u. s. does, has done, and will continue to do whether it offends your scruples or other or not. the question is whether it is justified. it was not in iraq. it was in libya. the aumf business is a shame and should be treated as such. you would think after 75vyears (remember, roosevelt tricked us i to ww ii) some politically active americans would have understood that.

      i also point out the blatant ommission in e. w.’s discussion of the fact that all this was about 1 million civilian whom gaddafi threatened.

      how is it that this is never discussed?

      oh, i know, you and other wise folk think that was just a ploy. was that really the case? was that only the case?

      aren’t you all clever tea readers!!

      what the europeans actually did was even the playing field with air power against gaddafi’s heavy weaponry. the anti-gaddafi forces than could ply their advantages. and they did. and the deposed gaddafi – petmanently.

      no one could have been more “on topic” than i. i did however take a wide historical view. that view was approptiate to show the folly of the criticism of sec clinton.

      i do not need any lectures from you about what to post here.

      nor do i accept your blatant abuse of your moderater’s power in trying to intimidate me to “focus” my commentary where you want it focused.

      no commenter who contributes as i do here should ever be obliged to follow your script. that is how one gets sterile commentary.

      • orionATL says:

        correction to #14

        this sentence needs corrections:

        “… the aumf business is a shame and should be treated as such. you would think after 75vyears (remember, roosevelt tricked us i to ww ii)… ”

        should read:

        “… the aumf business is a SHAM and should be treated as such. you would think after 75 years (remember, roosevelt tricked us INTO ww ii)…”

    • orion Alf says:

      “… orionATL (9:02) — The issue at hand — a candidate changing the subject during a presidential debate, to avoid discussing events and decisions leading to the termination of another sovereign country’s leader without due process and without a specific Authorization to Use Military Force or a formal declaration of war, relying upon while possibly violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 — is extremely important, deserving reasoned analysis… ”

      rayne, you could not possibly have been more narrow-minded, absurdly constricting of discourse than you were in the above quote.

      you really don’t understand shit about political discourse and its needs.

      oh, and by the way madame commissar, what of the treatment of haarmeyer? was that legit?

  7. bevin says:

    I am surprised that there should be much dispute about this: the forced regime change in Libya was an act of criminal folly. The suggestion that Jefferson’s actions against the Barbary pirates were similar is nonsense.

    It is quite clear that there were no massacres in Libya carried out by Ghadaffi’s forces. Russia and China (not to mention the rest of the UNSC) were tricked into supporting a well planned action to take down Ghadaffi which allowed the various wahhabi actors free rein to do as they wished once he was dead.

    In any terms this was irresponsibility verging on genocide. The current situation in Libya is shamefully harrowing, once a land with a relatively high standard of living which played a constructive role in Pan African affairs it is now in chaos. The numbers who have died, from disease, malnutrition, and crime as well as the violence of US backed gangs which, inter alia, have massacred negro Africans on racial grounds, must far exceed the victims of Ghadaffi’s forces throughout his long rule.

    Do Americans really imagine that crimes such as the regime change in Libya,Iraq, Afghanistan and the ongoing attempts in Syria will have no consequences for them? Is the arrogance born of centuries of racism so crippling that people do not realise that the millions of people being killed- and there are millions- without second thoughts, cannot just be simply forgotten?

    As we speak there are wars being conducted in Yemen and Syria by US agents deploying mercenaries indoctrinated in wahhabism. Cities are being bombed, hospitals and schools targeted and one word from the White House could put an end to it. It was a word from the White House which initiated these wars compared to which the unspecified, largely propagandistic ” Bashar Assad’s massacres” are bagatelle.

    The truth is that the United States has no business telling Libyans how to govern themselves. Nor is this a matter of misguided idealism: for decades the US has supported the vilest dictators, from Franco, the Shah, Syngman Ree and Pinochet to the scoundrels currently running Honduras, the Saud family and the rest of the Gulf tyrants. And nobody is unaware that
    this support has nothing to do with any illusions that the dictators are anything more than ruthless enemies of their own people.
    As to Hillary Clinton her record in Honduras, Haiti, Libya and Syria is one of astonishing consistency and bloodthirsty opposition to native sovereignty and movements towards democracy. She ranks with the worst Secretaries of State in the Cold War.

    • emptywheel says:

      Agree with almost all you say. Except I don’t think a word from Obama would stop the Yemeni slaughter. I think both public events — and some stuff I’ve heard off line — makes it clear we’ve lost control of the Saudi relationship (to the extent that control was ever anything but an illusion).

      I half wonder whether our backing of Saudi boots on the ground in Syria, which will clearly be used solely to go after Assad, is an effort to get them further stuck in a quagmire, because we can’t shut them down ourselves anymore (in part because we are so reliant on them for HUMINT about actual attacks in the US, as opposed to ISIS wannabes).

  8. GKJames says:

    I suspect that, with an eye on the general election and the inevitable need for Democrats to sound hawkish on foreign affairs, she boasted precisely because she knows that, for many Americans, diplomacy is for sissies and even more so when it’s about “terrorists”. A more interesting debate question would have been whether either candidate supports the due-process-free execution of Americans (e.g., Awlaki).

  9. lefty665 says:

    “But judgment matters as well. Judgment matters as well.” The head of a sovereign state ass-assassinated with our support by being sodomized with a bayonet followed by a news clip of Hillary as Sec State declaring “We came, we saw, he died… cackle, cackle, cackle” is the essence of judgement on both counts.
    Clinton’s attempts to misleadingly slime Sanders with his voice vote to advocate increased democracy in Libya then change the subject to Bin Laded is the essence of why Dems who care about honesty voted 96% for Sanders in New Hampshire.
    IMO Sanders is far too polite with her, but it’s who he is. Not many outside are calling her on everything from this kind of stuff to outright lies. Where are the speech transcripts among many other things?
    Thanks for laying it out straight on Libya EW.

  10. orionATL says:

    g. k. james wrote in #12

    “… I suspect that, with an eye on the general election and the inevitable need for Democrats to sound hawkish on foreign affairs, she boasted precisely because she knows that, for many Americans, diplomacy is for sissies and even more so when it’s about “terrorists”…”

    that is PRECISELY what clinton was doing and why.

    how is possible that ew never noted this. we live in an america of 2016. we live with a psuedo-threat from the dastardly ISIL that makes for great scare tactics. this is the political reality senator sanders or secretary clinton will face.

    go ahead dems, talk aumf to donald trump and demonstrate what a political idiot you are.

    were emptywheel not interested in mousetrapping clinton (with air support from commisssr rayne) on an aumf gambit, she would have noted that political reality.

    american politics and foreign can either be analyzed realistically here for how it unfolds, or it can be analyzed moralistically here to score trivial gotcha points against a political opponent. the former is what i tried to do. the latter is what ew tried to do.

    put differently, saving 1 million from military assault and siege is not a moral issue worth mentioning. but failing to talk aumf is a serious moral lapse.

    i love the way dems think!

    with naval gazing like this, it’s no fuckin’ wonder they’ve lost every power national position but the presidency and a few governorships.

    and now that last redoubt of democratic relelevance is up for grabs.

  11. Rayne says:

    orionATL (10:11) — Ad hominem remarks reveal a lot; they are also not on topic.

    I’d still like to see a reasoned argument why Qaddafi had to die, instead of being taken into custody and prosecuted like Saddam Hussein. I’d like to see a rationale offered as to why violent colonialism is de rigeur and not an exhaustion of soft power first. I’d like to see a cost analysis on why we should continue to subscribe to force-first-uber-alles, costing +$1 trillion a year, at a loss of improving our country’s infrastructure and health — because that’s what’s on tap in this election when looking at the candidates and their debates to date.

    • orionATL says:

      yes. i’d like to see an explanation for why bin laden was assassinated. he was sick and isolated. he was undef observation by pak military and ksa.

      do you understand why he had to die, rayne?

      american domestic politics.

      do you undestand that gaddafi was chased down and captured by his own people? (though the person who shot him (once in the head; once in the stomach) from the crowd may well have been assigned that job by a european power).

      whose troops would you have assigned to go into libya and rescue gaddafi, rayne?

      italian, french, english, or american?

    • orionATL says:

      i’d like to see….

      yeah, who wouldn’t.

      but this is a 2016 american political campaign, not the oxford debating club.

    • orionATL says:


      “… Ad hominem remarks reveal a lot; they are also not on topic… ”

      yeah, yeah. i get this criticism all the time from the debate club types.

      i have a worked out philosophy of political argument:

      the first thing you do is state your own affiliational basis and then state if you know it, or estimate if you do not know, the affiliational, emotional basis from which the other is arguing.

      if one fails to do that, one will spend, actually waste, a lot of time running in argumentative circles. i do this a lot with trolls.

      as far as ew is concerned, she is a strong partisan of senator sanders. that is why she noted secretary clinton’s response. that is why she focused on it as she did. she constructed a negative picture. that is what most political commentary does.

      someone who was not as emotionally involved might have noted that clinton was on national television. might have noted that clinton was speaking to a dead certain republican attack in the fall. but no, ew has an emotional ax to grind and she grinds away.

      i do this too. we all do.

      identifying emotional bias prevents political propaganda from promulgating so easily. better to do it up front than to try to go back afterwards.

      i challenged ew’s bias against clinton (spare me the assertions of intellectual neutrality) directly and with historical info.

      tell me rayne, exactly who else in this chummy little weblog community would have done that?

      you can call noting affiliational and emotional bias right off the bat as “ad hominem” if you want to. i consider it essential to do in order to get down to the issues of why specific info is chosen to focus on and what spin is being put on that info for persuadive or propaganda purposes.

      you can abstract from underlying emotion if you choose. i don’t, and i ignore the “ad hominem” put down.

      study the ad hominem fallacy. calling the current gov of michigan a callous, rightgwing privitizer at the beginning of a debate with him about privitization is ad hominem, but is not the ad hominem fallacy. it describes gov, and it gets right to the heart of any arguments he will make.

      in brief, calling a thief a thief is ad hominem all right, but not a fallacy.

      • emptywheel says:

        You’re assuming Hillary will get far enough to face a GOP attack in the fall, no? I think she likely will. But if she faces Cruz, I can assure you she will face far more from Ted Cruz on the way she led (documented, even by her) the effort to overthrow Qaddafi w/o any plan for the aftermath. By then, incidentally, Libya will be an even bigger clusterfuck, because that’s where ISIL has moved to.

        So, yes, I do think it fair that Hillary be asked to answer for her warmongering. I do think attempts to change the subject, as she did here, after lying about what her opponent did, is worth raising. You find calling her out for an obvious dodge bias.

        I get you’d prefer to pretend this side of Hillary Clinton doesn’t exist. You’ve invented a new historic record for her several times in this thread. But as you say, her opponents, if she makes it that far, this fall, will not be so polite as to call Hillary a friend after she obscures the record of her (and Obama’s) abuse of power, especially not if it is Cruz.

        • orionATL says:

          ew –

          1) “So, yes, I do think it fair that Hillary be asked to answer for her warmongering”

          to call what sec of state clinton supported in libya “warmongering” is to abuse language in the service of political partisanship.

          clinton advised the president on diplomatic matters. that was her job.

          – there was concern for the possibility of high civilian casualities in benghazi.

          – there was concern for immigrants reaching europe, yes, in 2011.

          – there was interest in supporting the arab uprisings in tunisia etc.

          – the british and french were interested in intervening using nato.

          these were matters where diplomatic input was expected.

          clinton can rightly claim credit for her part.

          do i need to remind you that clinton was not president, not the nsc, not the dod?

          in any reading of america history but your narrow reading, helping a nation move away from dictatorship toward some sort of representative government is something to be proud of – both as an involved official and as a nation. libya was not iraq. iraq was an improper use of power with an aumf. libya was a proper use of military power without an ausf.

          the impulse which i have just described and which most americans share is not going away no matter who is president.

          realpolitik gets complicated.

          2) – “she led (documented, even by her) the effort to overthrow Qaddafi w/o any plan for the aftermath.”

          – i keep having to remind you clinton was not the president, not the dod.

          – do you know why there was no there was” no plan for the aftermath”?

          – because we were already in for two illegitimate wars at the time

          – because there was a presidential election coming up.

          i have to say, emptywheel, you are very good at back seat driving.

          3) “But if she faces Cruz, I can assure you she will face far more from Ted Cruz on the way she led (documented, even by her) the effort to overthrow Qaddafi….”

          – so clinton should have been more cautious of her future in 2011?

          – should not have worried about civilian siege and purges?

          – should not have supported the arab spring in the form of a nato intervention in libya
          supported by u. s.?

          you do understand, don’t you that republicans will run on more war – isis war?

          do you really believe that clinton can’t defend her position on libya with two republican wars ongoing at the time and the libya effort being effort presented as effort to support democracy?

          well. we’ll find out if that works.

          or we can watch cruz crucifiy :) your boy for niggling about an aumf or watch trump using his patented vulgarity to describe senator sanders as a coward.

          see. anybody can make up scenarios. anybody can use “pussy” or “warmonger”. it’s just that some people just prefer not to.

  12. Watson says:

    Outsiders have no way of knowing the real story about bin Laden, but I’ve never credited the official version of his alleged demise.
    For example, although the authorities claim that the need for intelligence for the GWOT is so urgent that they must intercept all of our communications, they supposedly did not insist on attempting to capture bin Laden alive so as to interrogate him?
    No stun grenades, gas, or ‘flash-bang’ devices?
    So it seems very possible to me that they DID take bin Laden alive for interrogation in one of our secret prisons. What happened to him hereafter would depend on his health and how long he was considered to be a ‘high value’ source of information.

    • orionATL says:

      president obama has lost control of american domestic government policy and actions.

      nothing will happen until jan 20, 2017.

      but there will now be lots of 4-4 ties.

  13. tinao says:


    DING DONG scalia IS DEAD. And to the rest of his little proteges you too will meet the maker. It might be a good time to reevaluate what is good for ALL, NOT JUST YOUR SELFISH SELVES.

  14. tinao says:

    The bastard circumnavigated democracy and appointed the worst ever president for this country. We need to make elections paper ballots counted in front of the people before leaving the precincts. Believe me I’ve been judge of elections. FUCK BUSH’S hava ELECTRONIC VOTING IS EASILY CORRUPTED!

    • Watson says:

      ‘We need to make elections paper ballots counted in front of the people before leaving the precincts’
      Give me tangible, preservable, paper ballots, so that the results can be reviewed by laypeople. I’d prefer voting on clay tablets to touch-screen machines

  15. lefty665 says:

    Nominate one of the Senate’s own to replace Scalia, someone like Sheldon Whitehouse from the Judiciary Committee for example, and they’d have a hard time not confirming him. He’s from a state with a Democratic Guv so his appointed replacement wouldn’t upset the balance in the Senate.

    • orionATL says:

      better still, nominate an intellectual and emotional equal to thurgood marshall.

      and let the senate republicans choke on it.

      assuming president obama has learned about the uses of the ad hominem.

      but no more catholics. six is enough :)

  16. lefty665 says:

    Depends on whether you want an emotional meal or a sitting justice. Me, I’d rather have the justice. Repubs have already announced they don’t intend to confirm anyone Obama nominates. Giving the Senate a nominee who is one of their own, a member of the club, is an offer they will find difficult to refuse.

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