Beltway Insider: Obama/Pakistan; Benghazi Dominates, Hearings, Fall Out; VP Bows Out; Election 2016

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President Obama hosted the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and First lady Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan this week as the two countries unite on a future for a more empowered Pakistan and increased stability in the region.

 

According to Gallup, President Obama's job approval, over the past week, remained constant at 46% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President also remained constant at 50%.

Hillary Clinton Testifies Before Select Committee on Benghazi Terror Attack

Presumptive Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton testified before the Select Committee investigative committee on the terror attack against the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya and the subsequent time delay in assistance from Marines stationed in Tripoli.

Mrs. Clinton, Secretary of State during the time of the attacks, appeared collected and prepared for the lengthy grilling, which lasted 11hours, by the politically mixed, seven republicans and five democratic Select Committee.

Clinton, who showed an array of emotions including boredom presumably toward the exhaustive and inconclusive actions by the committee Republicans and not at the subject matter.

The Select Committee's Purpose

The Select Committee comprised of Chairman Trey Gowdy (SC-R), Susan Brook (IN-R), Jim Jordan (OH-R), Mike Pempeo (KS-R), Martha Roby (AL-R), Peter Roskam (IL-R), Lynn Westmoreland (GA=R) and Democrats Elijah Cummings (MD-D, Ranking Member), Adam Smith (WA-D), Adam Schiff (CA-D), Linda Sanchez (CA-D), Tammy Duckworth (IL-D) has been convened to investigate the Terrorist Attack on the American Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

While the timing is suspect and motivations like rumors continue to circulate of party politics the facts remain four Americans in service were murdered in a brazen embassy attack. The committee set a lengthy list of questions, of which the former Secretary of State proved she would have no trouble answering. The shady area, if the clock were turned back to the morning after the attack, would be the post attack handling, the dissemination of information as well as the conditions making the attack possible.

Benghazi Attack

The Benghazi attack, on September 11, 2012, was at the height of a very heated presidential campaign between then GOP challenger Mitt Romney and President Obama. Mrs. Clinton claimed full responsibility for the security lapse that allowed the attack that cost the lives of four Americans, Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods.

President Obama went on to win the election, Mrs. Clinton resigned her position as Secretary of State and has faced multiple inquires over her role or lapse of judgement over security on what is considered a high holy day in the terrorist world, the day Al-Quada penetrated the defense of the great Satan American and brought down the monuments of power.

The recent revelations of email misuse by the former Secretary of State has also come under scrutiny, as the committee is attempting to investigate every possible lead that led to the Ambassador's murder.

With Arab Spring in full swing and the political structures of nation after nation falling, up to 17 embassies had been closed across several nations through the season of unrest.

The volatile and repeated mass demonstrations across seventeen nations in the Middle East and Arab Peninsula had not escaped the ambassador who formerly sent communique to Washington regarding the instability and potential threats.

It still remains unclear as to why additional security was not provided to the Ambassador after he expressly requested and indicated the conditions in the region were increasingly unstable.

Libya, under the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi, engaged in long term violence against the United States and its allies. His allies, all of which have not faded, remain devoted to his cause.

The misstep in judgement appears to have been over the intensity of devotion remaining in Libya to the Gaddafi regime, to Al-Quada, to Osama Bin laden, the strength of the Arab Spring demonstrators and mob mentality all elements that should have been high on the radar of the Secretary of State.

The elements of change in Libya coupled with limited security which could be a violation of protocols including the limited Marine deployment at Benghazi, a failure to increase security as several elements presented clear need, including Arab Spring and Libya's history of substantial involvement in terrorists activities, the limited security detail provided for the Ambassador that furnished enough of a gap in security measures to allow the overthrow of the embassy and a full scale, through the front door, attack.

Mrs. Clinton, after 11 hours of intense grilling, has yet to define her culpability in the attacks in which she has fully admitted responsibility.

The September 11, 2012 attack was a beacon of hope in the region to the strength of Al-Quada and the ability of the terror organization to wage a continued, strike and move, victorious war against the United States.

Select Committee members did remark on the lengthy time frame in which they sat asking questions.

Benghazi and the Election Impact

In 382 days Americans will head to the polls to cast their vote in the 2016 Presidential Election. Today, after the most intense inquisition former Secretary of State Clinton has faced on the murder of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and two others in the terrorist attacks led by Islamic extremists, she walked away with most media declaring her "unscathed."

The voting public, her much needed constituency, are still sharply divided on the authenticity of Mrs. Clinton and her testimony. A problem she has long faced.

With 59% of Americans, after 11 hours of testimony, believing there is still something missing. A belief that Mrs. Clinton is withholding a key piece of evidence, the missing Benghazi link so to speak still holds true. Truthfulness has plagued the Clinton's and is dogging Mrs. Clinton during her bid for the White House.

Will Benghazi be the derailing of the second Clinton White House Machine? It's doubtful. Her opponents, on all sides, will need to deeply exploit underlying issues other than simply raising the Benghazi flag. Which, unfortunately, to all except the families of Ambassador Stevens and the others who were murdered, is, at this point, rhetoric.

White House Response

The White House Press machine has advanced the political interests behind the Benghazi hearings throughout the week with both Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary and Eric Schultz, Deputy Press Secretary answering questions from various members of the White House Press Corps.

Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary, delivered his beliefs prior to Mrs. Clinton appearance.

"Well, obviously some Republicans have had some interesting things to say about this over the last couple of weeks and they certainly have called into question the true motivation of the Benghazi committee.  I think what that has done is that has placed significant pressure on the Republican members of that committee to produce, to perform.  And my expectation is that those Republican members of the Benghazi committee are going to come loaded for bear when Secretary Clinton is before them because they're under a lot of pressure to produce and thus far, we haven't seen them produce much.  And so I think the pressure will really be on them to, frankly, to justify their own existence," said Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary.

Press Deputy Eric Schultz handled the media on the day after the testimony and made many observations pressing the fact that it has been 532 days of investigation and the Republicans have been on a witch hunt to derail the Obama White House any Democratic challengers since.

The facts, including $4million in tax dollar spending, seem to be the finality into pressing the subject any further. The death the Ambassador and those in service to the United States and responsibility for their deaths seem to be secondary in all conversation.   

"I will tell you my observation from yesterday, which I think anyone objectively looking at yesterday's hearing will see a former Secretary of State who exhibited a deep sense of responsibility for what happened, a deep sense of responsibility for making sure our diplomats who serve abroad in dangerous places are protected, and someone who likes to hold herself accountable when things go wrong.  So those are some of the attributes of why the President selected Hillary Clinton in the first place, and that's why he's proud of her record as Secretary of State," Deputy White House Press Secretary, Schultz said.

Both were insistent President Obama had interest and did not block time out of his presidential duties to watch the hearings.

Biden Bows Out

Vice President Biden, join by President Obama spoke with members of the media from the Rose Garden this week, ending the speculation on his intent to seek the office of the President of the United States.

In a Rose Garden speech, the Vice President spoke on his decision, his son Beau, his wife, Jill, family and above all the amount of time needed to launch a successful campaign. He didn't mention the substantial toll a campaign wages on both physical health and mental exhaustion.

As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I've said all along what I've said time and again to others, that it may very well be that that process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for President, that it might close.  I've concluded it has closed.

 

I know from previous experience that there is no timetable for this process.  The process doesn't respect or much care about things like filing deadlines or debates and primaries and caucuses.  But I also know that I could do this if -- I couldn't do this if the family wasn't ready.  

The good news is the family has reached that point.

 

But as I've said many times, my family has suffered a loss and I hope there would come a time -- and I've said this to many other families -- that sooner rather than later, when you think of your loved one it brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes.  Well, that's where the Bidens are today -- thank God.  Beau is our inspiration.  

 

Unfortunately, I believe we're out of time -- the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination.  But while I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent.  I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully, to influence as much as I can where we stand as a party and where we need to go as a nation.  - Vice President Joseph Biden

Democratic Filed Narrows; GOP Transformation

Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign received an additional boost over the past week with former challenger and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee announced he will not continue his campaign to seek the nomination of the president of the United States.

With Vice President Biden, whom odds makers considered Clinton's toughest challenger, also bowing out, followed by former Senator of Virginia Jim Webb, the Democratic Field of potential candidates narrows to what observers contend will be the pool through the initial caucuses when it will again narrow leaving only Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton, (D) until Super Tuesday results.

The Republicans are also feeling the pinch of time with real estate developer and mogul continuing to dominate headlines and polls.

Hardly the front runner, in real political circles, Mr. Trump has made his presence felt as the people consider him electable and a man of the people. His over the top comments and aggressive attack ads don't seem to agitate the loyal GOP constituency.

Former Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, has announced he is downsizing his campaign. The early signs of struggle are a concern as he was once considered the party's most electable candidate.

Marco Rubio has quietly continued his bid for the GOP presidential nomination and has grown into a strong potential ticket position.

The Republicans are disorganized at this point and the public sees the same.

United States and Pakistan Continue Partnership for Growth

The United States has agreed to continue to build foundations for greater advancement creating a more stable region by assisting the Pakistani people modernize through a series of sectorial growth plans gauged to move the struggling nation into a self-sufficiency with widespread and far reaching reforms.

The Pakistan Act of 2009, in which the United States committed $6Billion, in both emergency assistance humanitarian funding and civilian assistance has proven so successful the partnership between the two nations is expanding.

The reforms which are exhaustive cross over every area of necessary to building a better society from inter connectivity of regions to women's rights and stopping gender based crimes.

The U.S. Government has helped add nearly 1700 Watts of electricity to Pakistan's grid system and in turn benefitted 19million Pakistanis directly.  Regional Infrastructure Connectivity which assists in the building of roads and bridges to assist the Pakistani people in the ease of trade, free market exchanges of goods and agriculture, entrepreneurship and travel.

Women's Economic Advancement and Support

The United States is sponsoring the opening of WECREATE Center in Islamabad, which works with women entrepreneurs in Pakistan. The council also established a university partnership in women's entrepreneurship between AU and the Lahore University of Management Sciences. Joint Trade mission, U.S. Department of Commerce business and trade capacity building and new initiative led by council corporate member also seek to increase women's entrepreneurship and employment. The USAID Gender Equity Program promotes women's access to information, justice and economic opportunities and helps address and prevent gender based violence.

For more information on President Barack Obama: www.whitehouse.gov

Sources: Whitehouse.gov, Wikipedia.com

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