All it takes is one crack for a stone wall to start crumbling. Nine months after the deadly September 14 raid on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, the families of two fallen Marines may finally get some answers. Real accountability, of course, is another story.

A formal internal investigation into lax security at the base — a British-run NATO compound that adjoins our Marines’ Camp Leatherneck — is now under way. A few members of Congress are putting pressure on the administration for the truth. And a couple of mainstream reporters are digging deeper.

More, please. And faster. Camp Bastion belongs in the bloody-scandal lexicon with Benghazi and Fast and Furious. This trio of national-security disasters under the Obama administration didn’t just involve run-of-the-mill corruption and cover-ups. It cost American lives.
As I’ve been reporting in a series of columns and blog posts over the past year, the Taliban waged an intricately coordinated, brutal attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan last fall — three days after the deadly siege on our consulate in Libya and after months of prior security incidents and warnings. Fifteen jihadists disguised in stolen American combat fatigues penetrated the complex. They used rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles, and other weapons to wipe out nearly an entire squadron of Marine Harrier jets worth an estimated $200 million.

Along with the most devastating loss of U.S. airpower since Vietnam, two heroic U.S. Marines — Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Raible and Sergeant Bradley Atwell — were killed in the battle, and nearly a dozen others were injured. Military officials refused to release details of the fateful budget and strategy decisions that led to the attack. But Deborah Hatheway, aunt of Sergeant Atwell and the family’s spokesperson, and other Camp Bastion families learned on their own that their loved ones were left vulnerable to attack by military leaders who outsourced watchtower security on the base to soldiers from Tonga.

The neglect of security at Bastion was widely known. Nick Francona, a former Marine Corps ground-intelligence officer with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, who served as a scout sniper platoon commander in Helmand Province in 2011, recounted on Foreign Policy magazine’s “The Best Defense” blog in April: “It was obvious to even a casual observer that many of the posts were unmanned and were comically left with a ‘green Ivan’ silhouette target as a halfhearted attempt at deterrence.”



The Los Angeles Times [1] reports that journalist Michael Hastings was working on a story related to Jill Kelly the night he died in a fiery car crash, in which his car burst into flames and the engine block of his car was hurled a distance from the wreck. Readers may remember Kelly as one of the apexes of the Broadwell-Petraeus-Kelley triangle.

Kelley alleges that military officials and the FBI leaked her name to the media to discredit her after she reported receiving a stream of emails that were traced to Paula Broadwell, a biographer of former CIA director David H. Petraeus, according to a lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., on June 3. …

Since Hasting’s death early Tuesday, wild conspiracy theories have bloomed on the Internet implying that he was murdered by powerful forces wanting to silence him.

On Wednesday night, the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks inserted itself into the story, publishing a message on Twitter that Hasting had contacted a lawyer for the organization hours before his car smashed into a tree on North Highland Avenue in Los Angeles.

The spectacular nature of his demise has led to speculation that Hastings was “Breitbarted”. But was he? To set against the other side of the ledger is a story from the Hollywood Reporter [2] saying that accidents similar to that which killed the journalist are common. There are 300,000 vehicle fires every year and it simply a fact of life that fuel in high speed crashes can lead to conflagration.

Frank Markus, technical director of Motor Trend, points out that “any impact at speeds high enough to rip the drive train out of a car is highly likely to force some object to rupture the fuel tank. There is a lot of potential chemical energy in a gas tank that’s even a quarter full. Getting up to such speeds — providing he didn’t start a cold engine and floor the car into that tree — results in a lot of red hot parts, particularly the catalytic converter and other exhaust system parts.”…

Moreover the FBI insisted that Michael Hastings was not under investigation [3]. So was he running from shadows? There is little doubt that Hastings himself [4] was convinced someone was looking over his shoulder.

“He was incredibly tense and very worried and was concerned that the government was looking in on his material,” said Hastings’s friend and Current TV host Cenk Uygur. “I don’t know what his state of mind was at 4:30 in the morning, but I do know what his state of mind was in general, and it was a nervous wreck.

Maybe Hastings was going nuts. But Sharyl Attkisson [5] thought so too. Her computers began behaving strangely around the time she was investigating Benghazi.

“I was sleeping, so they would come on in the middle of the night, sometimes one right after the other,” Attkisson told O’Reilly Monday night. “By the time last fall came around, they would sometimes both be starting up kind of a cacophony of computer music at night in the middle of the night.”




The revelation that the National Security Agency has been secretly amassing data on countless law-abiding American citizens has aroused great concern about the potential threat such an effort poses to liberty. While the program’s defenders assure us that the power the data provide has not been used improperly by those who possess it, one would have to be completely innocent of any knowledge of history or human nature not to predict with absolute certainty that it eventually will be.

That this is so goes far toward explaining why those in charge of the NSA metadata-collection program chose to deceive the American people about its very existence, and why they are so upset that they now must defend their activities in the open court of public opinion. We are doing this for your own good, they are saying, and you have neither the need nor the right to know about it. If you wish to be safe, you just have to accept that some of your freedoms, such as those enshrined in the Fourth Amendment, will have to go.
This argument about the purported need to sacrifice liberty for safety has been rebutted by many capable writers from the time Dr. Franklin delivered his famous riposte — “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” — down to the present scandal. For the record, I am strongly with those asserting the priority of freedom.

In this article, however, I wish to advance a different argument against PRISM and related NSA domestic-spying programs: that, far from increasing our safety at the cost of some liberty, they are actually harming our safety, so much so that thousands of Americans may have already died as a result.

The issue comes down to this: The NSA metadata-collection program costs lots of money, and had funds not been expended on it, they could have been used to support other programs that might have been far more effective in saving American lives. If we are to assess the rationality of government expenditures to protect the lives of Americans through massive domestic surveillance, we need to compare this program to others aimed at saving American lives.



Okay, young’ns, here’s your chance.

In two consecutive elections, you’ve carried Barack Obama to victory. When he said, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” he basically meant you. You voted for Obama by a margin of 66 percent to 32 percent in 2008, and, despite a horrendous economy for people your age, by nearly that much again in 2012.

The president announced his candidacy in 2007 by insisting, “This campaign can’t only be about me. It must be about us — it must be about what we can do together. This campaign must be the occasion, the vehicle, of your hopes, and your dreams. . . . This campaign has to be about reclaiming the meaning of citizenship, restoring our sense of common purpose, and realizing that few obstacles can withstand the power of millions of voices calling for change.”

And on the night of his reelection in 2012, he proclaimed, “The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.”

Between those two elections, the president pandered to you like no president in American history. As I wrote last fall, he visited college campuses more often than a Red Bull delivery truck. He’s carried water for you on college loans like an aqueduct. He made sure you can stay on your parents’ health-care plans until you’re 26, which is a really nice consolation prize when you can’t find a job.



Journalist Michael Hastings was killed early Tuesday morning in a bizarre car incident in Los Angeles. Hastings, 33, was best known for writing the Rolling Stone story that ended in Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Hastings’ final story, “Why Democrats Love to Spy on Americans,” was a searing take on the NSA snooping scandal, which Hastings described as “North Korea-esque.” Hastings pulled no punches as he linked the NSA scandal to the Department of Justice’s spying on reporters and the IRS abuse scandal. Hastings built a case that the same Democrats who turned Bush-era anti-terrorism techniques into wedge issues that helped them capture Congress and the White House in 2006 and 2008 were now defending much worse and more widespread spying on American citizens by the Obama administration.

As Hastings detailed likely short-term fallout as the NSA leak is investigated, he wrote:

[J]udging by the DOJ’s and FBI’s recent history, it would seem that any new leak case would involve obtaining the phone records of reporters at the Guardian, the Washington Post, employees at various agencies who would have had access to the leaked material, as well as politicians and staffers in Congress—records, we now can safely posit, they already have unchecked and full access to.

In short: any so-called credible DOJ/FBI leak investigation, by its very nature, would have to involve the Obama administration invasively using the very surveillance and data techniques it is attempting to hide in order to snoop on a few Democratic Senators and more media outlets, including one based overseas.

At the end of the story, Hastings mentions by name several Americans who have come under questionable government scrutiny in the Obama years. Several are household names, but some are not.

Hastings died in a fatal single-car crash at 4:25 on Tuesday morning. A witness said his car “suddenly jackknifed” before crossing the median and hitting a tree, causing a ferocious explosion that reportedly threw the engine block of the brand new Mercedes Hastings was driving 30 or 40 yards from the car. Mercedes engine blocks typically weigh between 290 and 540 pounds. It would take tremendous speed or force to throw one nearly half the length of a football field.

“It sounded like a bomb went off in the middle of the night,” another witness told the TV station. “The house shook, my windows were rattling.”

Hastings’ body was burned “beyond recognition,” according to reports.




It’s not easy being Terry McAuliffe. The Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia has a union problem in a state that’s not enthusiastic about unions and their bosses.

Since 1947, for example, the commonwealth has protected Virginians from forced membership in a union, however cleverly forced unionism is portrayed, with a tough right-to-work law that protects everyone’s right to hold a job without having to share a paycheck with strangers. Virginia’s stance on right-to-work is rooted in the principle expressed by Thomas Jefferson: “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

Mr. McAuliffe has collected $1.5 million for his campaign from unions, much of it deducted from union paychecks around the country, and in exchange, the unions will reasonably expect a return for their money. Union bosses do not like right-to-work. They hate it. In return for their support, as Mr. McAuliffe knows, the union bosses want their man in Richmond to do what he can to overturn or water down the right-to-work law, and “what he can” is expected to be a lot. This puts the astute Mr. McAuliffe in a bit of a pickle, no doubt a sour dill.

He knows the people he’s asking to vote for him don’t particularly like the idea of a man or woman being forced to join a union. Some Virginians might join as long as it’s a free choice. Others want no part of a union. It’s the right to a choice that’s crucial. In a speech in January to the National Federation of Independent Business, Mr. McAuliffe acknowledged this. “We are a great right-to-work state,” he said. “We should never change that. It helps us do what we need to do to grow our businesses here in Virginia. I think it’s very important.”

But that was in January. Now it’s June. Campaigning in Loudoun County this week, Mr. McAuliffe didn’t change his tune, exactly, but he danced around the subject, unwilling to say anything to upset his labor benefactors at an event celebrating Metrorail’s Silver Line, a $6 billion extension of Metrorail to Washington Dulles International Airport. He looked like a man wishing he were somewhere else. There was nothing to say to this audience about what a great right-to-work state Virginia is, nor was there a promise “never to change that.”



Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel found some common ground with Vice President Joe Biden in an address at the University of Nebraska.

After talking military posture and global threats, Hagel took questions from the audience.
“Way up in the back there… You’re not a member of the Taliban are you?” he said.“Mr. Secretary, I’m Robin Gandhi. I’m an assistant professor at UNO,” the professor responded.


http://pjmedia.com/blog/dont-end-the-cuban-embargo/ Michael Edghill [1] proposes a novel but convoluted and factually challenged argument to end the United States’ embargo on Cuba’s Castro regime. Edghill begins his argument by highlighting the oft-repeated advice that the Republican Party needs to do a better job of appealing to Hispanics. I agree completely with this and have written extensively […]


http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/06/how_to_not_inspire_confidence.html This is what happens when the President of the United States is dragged into making foreign and defense policy decisions, instead of determining American interests and then making policy to suit. And it is what happens when the president fails to make a clear case for those policies not only to the American public, […]


The Parochial President
Obama’s Catholic school comments are less substantial than his critics think.

Barack Obama is turning into a one-man gaffe machine. “Obama repeatedly called British finance minister George Osborne ‘Jeffrey’ at the G8 summit.” Agence France-Presse includes this lovely deadpan observation: “The chancellor, 42, bears little resemblance to Jeffrey Osborne, a 65-year-old African-American hit singer-songwriter known for his 1982 classic ‘On the Wings of Love.’ ”

Sky News called Jeffrey Osborne for comment, and he said: “I was really delighted actually. I was really not aware that [Obama] was that much of a fan that he would call the chancellor Jeffrey Osborne. Tell the chancellor when I come over I will have to hook up with him and we will do a duet of ‘On The Wings Of Love.’ ”

Yeah, well, it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Earlier in the week, Obama made what the Scottish Catholic Observer construed as “an alarming call for an end to Catholic education in Northern Ireland”:

Obama . . . repeated the oft disproved claim that Catholic education increases division in front of an audience of 2000 young people, including many Catholics, at Belfast’s Waterfront hall when he arrived in the country this morning.

“If towns remain divided–if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden–that too encourages division and discourages cooperation,” the US president said.

The president’s words rankled on the other side of the Atlantic too. CNSNews.com tied them in with the ObamaCare assault on religious liberty, which America’s Catholic bishops, rightly in our view, call “an ‘unjust and illegal mandate’ that violates the constitutionally guaranteed right to free exercise of religion” (the quote is from CNSNews).

On this point, however, it seems to us that the president’s critics are overreaching. Considered in context, his comments seem to us the product of ignorance and parochialism rather than hostility toward Catholicism (or Protestantism, which he mentioned in a parallel fashion).