"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Friday, February 08, 2013

"Do what you have to do."

On 31 October 2012, I posted "Criminally Negligent Manslaughter ...", in which I openly accused President Barack Obama of precisely that in the Benghazi incident of 11 Sep 2012 that resulted in the deaths of four of our citizens.

If you notice that I didn't provide a link to that post, it's because I have pulled it.

In the hearings on the incident, CIA Director Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified that President Obama told him to "Do what you have to do." (OOPS!! - He was CIA Director until he became SecDef on 01 Jun 2011.)

In Dr. Jerry Pournelle's latest post Do what you have to do (from which I borrowed the title for my post) he notes ...
This morning Rush Limbaugh was castigating President Obama for not being in the command scene during the last of the Benghazi crisis. According to Limbaugh, the President told the Secretary of Defense “Do what you have to do,” and vanished from scene.

If this is true, I would say it is to the President’s credit, and reminiscent of President Reagan who, told of the opportunity to capture a known terrorist by taking him from an EgyptAir 737 now in flight. The risks and benefits were explained. The President ordered the military to do it. When asked if he wanted to be kept up to date on the operation, he said, “Sure. Let me know when you’ve got him.” This in contrast to President Carter, who was on the phone to Colonel Beckwith at all phases of the doomed attempt to rescue the American embassy personnel held captive in Tehran. As von Moltke the elder put it after his success against the Austrians, this was probably the last battle in which a general did not have a telegraph wire from supreme command up his bum. That was prophetic but not always. Reagan told his people to do the job and got out of the way.

This sounds like what President Obama did. If we seek enlightenment on why so little was done after that, we have to ask the Secretary of Defense and the duty officers in command – why the President’s blank check wasn’t passed along to the theater commander. “Do what you have to do” sounds like the kind of orders that put heart in a soldier. Why didn’t Panetta call the theater commander and simply say, “The consulate is under attack. Use whatever resources you have to get the American personnel and consulate employees out of the consulate and safe house. The President says do what you have to do. I’ll get out of your way now.”

We can ask why nothing was done, but it’s hard to say the President didn’t give the right order.


I hope Dr. Pournelle will forgive me for using half of his post in that quote above. In this case, I found him persuasive enough to pull my own post and felt that he should be quoted accurately instead of cherry picking from it.

I've seen nothing in his posts to indicate that he is a fan and supporter of The One, but he is willing to give the President a fair shake on this. I have to admit that's more than I've done.

No! I have not become a convert to The One and am not likely to ever do so.  There are many issues for which the word "despise" is not too strong to describe my feelings towards him.

The "If this is true" is a very important caveat, but, if we make it past that obstacle, then I was wrong and I have to face that.

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