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Monday, December 24, 2012
Did Benghazi mission violate international law?
Newly released probe may raise new questions about facility
by Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – Was the U.S. mission in Benghazi established in violation of international law?
According to the 39-page report released this week by independent investigators probing the Sept. 11 attacks at the diplomatic facility, the U.S. mission in Benghazi was set up without the knowledge of the new Libyan government.
“Another key driver behind the weak security platform in Benghazi was the decision to treat Benghazi as a temporary, residential facility, not officially notified to the host government, even though it was also a full-time office facility,” the report states.
“This resulted in the Special Mission compound being excepted from office facility standards and accountability under the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999 (SECCA) and the Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB).”
The report, based on a probe led by former U.S. diplomat Thomas Pickering, calls the facility a “Special U.S. Mission.”
Until now, government descriptions routinely referred to the facility as a “mission,” while news media largely wrongly labeled the building a “consulate.”
While the report documents how the U.S. mission’s special “non-status” exempted the facility from State Department security standards, it is not immediately clear whether the mission was also exempt from the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which governs the establishment of overseas missions.
Like most nations, the U.S. is a signatory to the 1961 United Nations convention.
Article 2 of the convention makes clear the host government must be informed about the establishment of any permanent foreign mission on its soil: “The establishment of diplomatic relations between States, and of permanent diplomatic missions, takes place by mutual consent.”
According to Pickering’s report, there was a decision “to treat Benghazi as a temporary, residential facility,” likely disqualifying the building from permanent mission status if the mission was indeed temporary.
However, the same sentence in Pickering’s report note the host government was not notified about the Benghazi mission “even though it was also a full-time office facility.”
Articles 12 of the Vienna Convention dictates, “The sending State may not, without the prior express consent of the receiving State, establish offices forming part of the mission in localities other than those in which the mission itself is established.”
If the Benghazi mission was a “full-time office facility,” it may violate Article 12 in that the mission most likely was considered an arm of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, which served as the main U.S. mission to Libya.
The Tripoli embassy was led by Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who reportedly used the Benghazi mission as an office meeting space, meaning it may have been an extension of the U.S. Embassy and thus its establishment may have required “prior express consent” of the Libyan government.
It was clear the Tripoli embassy was the main U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya. The facility also served as a consulate.
On Aug. 26, about two weeks before his was killed, Stevens attended a ceremony marking the opening of consular services at the Tripoli embassy.
“I’m happy to announce that starting on Monday, August 27, we are ready to offer a full range of consular services to Libyans,” stated Stevens at the ceremony in Tripoli. “This means non-immigrant visas, as well as assistance to Americans residing in, or visiting, Libya.”
The main role of a consulate is to foster trade with the host and care for its own citizens who are traveling or living in the host nation.
Diplomatic missions, on the other hand, maintain a more generalized role. A diplomatic mission is simply a group of people from one state or an international inter-governmental organization present in another state to represent matters of the sending state or organization in the receiving state.
While the Benghazi investigative report did not focus on international law, it concluded that systematic management and leadership failures at the State Department led to “grossly” inadequate security at the mission in Benghazi.
“Systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place,” the panel said.
The report pointed a finger at State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near East Affairs, charging a lack of coordination and confusion over protecting the Benghazi mission.
Reagan called him 'a great hero'
by Jerome R. Corsi / WND
Having snapped a tendon in his left leg while trying to prevent the A6 from crashing after being hit by enemy fire, Denton ejected and parachuted to ground, only to land in a river where armed North Vietnamese soldiers easily captured him.
“Dazed and bleeding as I was, my principal emotion was fury,” Denton wrote in his 1975 bestseller, “When Hell Was In Session,” describing the almost unimaginable hardships he faced – as well as the phenomenal ingenuity and perseverance of the American POWs – during his nearly eight years of captivity in and around the notorious “Hanoi Hilton.”
“I was mad as hell at being shot down,” said Denton, “and even angrier at being captured.”
What the North Vietnamese captured, Denton explained, was “an average product of Middle America and its values,” such that his heritage, training, and background made him “the very antithesis of everything my Communist captors stood for.”
Born in 1924, Denton was raised Roman Catholic by a strong mother who taught him the values of God, country and family that sustained him through years of surviving day-by-day, chained, tortured and malnourished – including an unprecedented four years of solitary confinement.
Denton achieved fame in 1966 when, during an internationally televised press conference staged by the North Vietnamese for propaganda purposes, he bravely answered the interviewer’s questions while simultaneously blinking, in Morse code, the message “T-O-R-T-U-R-E,” providing confirmation to the U.S. government for the first time that U.S. POWs held in captivity in North Vietnam were being tortured.
When asked a leading question designed to elicit a compromising response – “What is your feeling toward your government’s actions?” – Denton’s measured reply shocked everyone: “I don’t know what is going on in the war now because the only sources I have access to are North Vietnam radio, magazine and newspapers, but whatever the position of my government is, I agree with it, I support it, and I will support it as long as I live.”
Finally released on Feb. 12, 1973, Denton again achieved international attention as the spokesman for the first group of POWs returning from Hanoi to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.
As he stepped from the plane in his Navy Uniform, Denton – a free man after eight years in “hell” – walked over to waiting microphones and famously said, “We are honored to have the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our commander-in-chief and to our nation for this day. God Bless America.”
View a 5-minute video documentary on Jeremiah Denton featuring both the North Vietnamese “T-O-R-T-U-R-E” press conference and Denton’s famous comments upon returning to American soil for the first time after his captivity.
Denton has always made clear that one thing, his faith in God, sustained him throughout his brutal captivity.
“My principle battle with the North Vietnamese was a moral one, and prayer was my prime source of strength,” he wrote.
Though happy and relieved to be free, when he finally arrived back in the United States, Denton was shocked by what he beheld.
“I saw the appearance of X-rated movies, adult magazines, massage parlors, the proliferation of drugs, promiscuity, premarital sex, and unwed mothers.”
This scenario, he wrote, was coupled with “the tumultuous post-war Vietnam political events, starting with Congress forfeiting our military victory, thus betraying our victorious American and allied servicemen and women, who had won the war at great cost of blood and sacrifice.”
Indeed, Denton was convinced the United States won the Vietnam War, only to throw away the victory for political reasons.
“The victory was insanely handed back to the enemy by congressional actions, motivated by political catering to the media, academic, and public antiwar activities, which tragically comprised a loud, violent, ignorant minority of our people who were swept along in the days of national dissolution,” he said in “When Hell Was In Session.”
After retiring from active service at the rank of rear admiral, having been awarded the Navy Cross and several other decorations for heroism, Denton became active in public affairs, always emphasizing the prerequisites of family strength and national morality for the American civilization to continue to advance and protect the sacred, inalienable rights of all its citizens.
In 1980, Jeremiah Denton was elected to the United States Senate from Alabama, the first Republican elected to represent that state in the Senate since Reconstruction.
At a fundraising luncheon in Birmingham, on June 6, 1985, President Ronald Reagan waxed eloquent about his friend, “Jerry” Denton:
“For almost eight years, Jeremiah Denton endured the inhuman trials and tortures of North Vietnamese prison camps, but his faith and the love of his family and country not only gave him the courage to survive, but to alert the world to the horrors of the Vietnamese gulag,” Reagan said. “He became in those eight years not only a great hero for his country, but a hero for the cause of human freedom. He learned then that the struggle for liberty is the struggle for life.”
Jerry and I came into office in the same year, 1981, and for the last four and a half years, he’s been a pillar of support for our efforts to keep America strong and free and true. He’s been rated the most conservative senator by the National Journal. That’s my kind of senator. His voting record has been rated 100 percent by the American Conservative Union, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Conservatives Against Liberal Legislation – I like the name of that one – the National Alliance of Senior Citizens, the Christian Voters Victory Fund, and some others. The magazine, Conservative Digest, took a poll of its readers, and Jerry Denton was their second most admired senator. Now, knowing Jerry, he’s probably wondering where he slipped up.A few years earlier, in his 1982 State of the Union Speech, Reagan said to the whole nation:
We don’t have to turn to our history books for heroes. They are all around us. One who sits among you here tonight epitomized that heroism at the end of the longest imprisonment ever inflicted on men of our armed forces. Who will ever forget that night when we waited for the television to bring us the scene of that first plane landing at Clark Field in the Philippines – bringing our POWs home? The plane door opened and Jeremiah Denton came slowly down the ramp. He caught sight of our flag, saluted, and said, “God Bless America.” then thanked us for bringing him home.In bestowing its first-ever “Lifetime Achievement Award,” WND wishes to honor Adm. Jeremiah Denton for being, as President Reagan expressed it so well a quarter century ago, “not only a great hero for his country, but a hero for the cause of human freedom.”
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2012/12/reagan-called-him-a-great-hero/#I1ZpFZhbxbHiCbxo.99
Best Holiday Story Ever
By: Bruce Bialosky / Townhall Columnist
I met the person hosting the event and we became instant friends. I have been to Houston many times since -- for the World Series, Baseball All-Star Game, weddings and Passover amongst other events – and have made many friends. One of those friends, Gary, called me in 2004 and told me his son, Jonathan, had just graduated Indiana U. and was moving to Los Angeles to get in the entertainment business. Gary asked if we could look after the son. We of course did so, inviting him to family events, holiday dinners and baseball games. He became a surrogate family member.
Our adopted son went to a wedding in Chicago and met a young lady. As their relationship blossomed, she then moved to Los Angeles. I eventually learned she is a Cleveland native (where I also grew up), but we never really discussed that matter in full. They then let us know they were engaged to be married. The wedding was to be in Cleveland the weekend after the Presidential election. Deciding to go was an easy decision, especially since we were to be in Ohio working on the election.
Flash forward to the beginning of this past October. In planning to go to Ohio, I was asked to put together a debate between Dennis Prager and a notable Democrat in Cleveland. As I was working all my Cleveland contacts, a childhood friend suggested I contact another grade school friend named Stuart who might be able to help. We were unable to get the event done, but Stuart and I struck up a nice relationship and I told him I would be in Cleveland for the wedding. He told me that he would be at the wedding also and that the mother and father of the bride were in our junior high class (I left Shaker Heights after the ninth grade). I pulled out my ninth grade annual and sent the photos of the bride’s parents to both my friend and the future groom…
You now have the picture. I was attending the wedding of my Houston friend’s son who lived in Los Angeles with a young lady whose parents I grew up with in Cleveland. This is just the beginning.
While in Ohio, I was on the Dennis Prager show talking about what was going on from the ground in Ohio the day before the election. A couple hours later I received an email from a gentleman named Bob Barnes saying he had heard me on the show and he was my cousin – third cousin that is. We exchanged some emails where I learned he has been working on a family tree. We made plans to get together for lunch on the following Saturday – the wedding day. I connected him with another family member who had done some family history work as well.
We met that Saturday at Geraci’s, a Cleveland institution with some mighty fine pizza. Bob had traced our family back to two small towns in Lithuania in 1812. He had met with my cousin Jack who filled in the Bialosky family part of the tree for Bob. Bob told me the entire story of how he got into tracing the family and some great stories about family members. He told me of notable family members such as Milton Shap, a two-term governor of Pennsylvania, and that well-known actor James Franco was a third cousin. We spent two hours hearing story after story and he gave us blueprint size-sheets of the family tree which we immediately took to a UPS store for safe shipping home.
Back to the wedding: At the reception I tracked down Stuart. I asked if any other childhood friends were there. He takes me over and introduces me to Kathy. When he introduced me she almost fell off her chair. For four years, from kindergarten through third grade her family had lived downstairs from my family in a duplex. We talked about the old days on Normandy Road and how we played on the street and how Old Man Monard took our balls when they went on his lawn.
She then introduced me to her husband, a Rabbi in New York City. His synagogue hired the assistant executive director from mine in Los Angeles to become their executive director. Another of our clergy became one of their Rabbis. Kathy then told me she comes to Los Angeles regularly to visit her very close friends, spouses of our Cantor and Head Rabbi, both of whom had performed all our family events.
Once again the world got smaller. This was such a special day that encapsulated my history back from the shtetl in Lithuania through my childhood to where I was today with friends and family in my current life.
So what makes this the best holiday story ever? The holiday season is not about gifts and trees and special music -- as wonderful as they may be. Holidays are about family and friends and all those special experiences that made you what you are and what you will be. By sharing my special story of family and friends, I hope I have focused you on those special things and helped to make your holidays this year the best ever.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
Obama and Hillary...useless when Americans are in trouble
By: Diane Sori
Thankfully he's on his way home to Florida...NO thanks to Obama or Hillary...both who did NOTHING to secure his release after trumped up groundless charges were level against him by Mexican authorities.
Ex-Marine Jon Hammer's crime, a crime supposedly so horrible he was was chained like an animal to his jail bed...and what was that horrible crime...are you ready for this...his crime was he carried an antique shotgun across the border from Texas, a shotgun that he was planning to use on a hunting trip in Costa Rica.
Even though Hammer declared the shotgun with both American and Mexican authorities (as instructed he filled out registration papers for the shotgun but Mexican authorities dismissed the paperwork and charged him with possession of a weapon restricted for use by Mexico’s armed forces), he obviously was given erroneous information by US officials about the gun laws in Mexico, where such guns are, at least on the books, prohibited.
Jon Hammer was arrested back in August and until yesterday had languished chained in that cesspool for 4 months. And sadly, only recently did his plight come to light when Republican lawmakers started circulating photos of him chained to his bed, and FOX News started broadcasting those photos. Hammer's parents, appearing on The O'Reilly Factor, became a central point from which a grassroots surge of patriots came forward to help when our government wouldn't.
This poor man...a man who served his country honorably...a man who saw the horrors of war and came home a hero like all who those who served with him...this man...this Marine...was ignored by his own government...ignored by our Commander-in-Chief...ignored by our Secretary of State and all because they did NOT deem him or his plight worthy of their time. Kind of sounds like a repeat of Benghazi doesn't it.
One man was small potatoes in the scope of Obama's and Hillary's world...just another 'bump in the road' to trod over as they ignored the man behind what could have turned into a volatile situation between the US and Mexico.
And as to be expected, the ever selfish narcissistic Obama wouldn't spare a minute of his precious time from either dirty campaigning or from his personal agenda to come to the aid of a brave Marine who had been under his auspices as Commander-in-Chief. He looked away uncaring, unsympathetic, and unmoved by the cries of a mother pleading on TV for help from our government to secure her son's release. Now if this had been a muslim mother pleading for her muslim son in an American jail we all know just how fast he would have been on it.
And what of Hillary in her capacity of Secretary of State...a mother in her own right who should have been sympathetic to another mother's pain...a woman who travels the world butting into every body's business as she promotes her and Obama's liberal agenda ...a woman who hides behind the facade of being all about America, Americans, and American values...where was she all this time Jon Hammer was suffering in that prison? Oh yeah...she was brainstorming her alibi, her lies, and how to further cover-up the total mess known as Benghazi, and she was nursing her conveniently contrived 'con'cusision so she wouldn't have to testify before Congress.
And even when Florida Congresswoman Eleana Ros-Lehtinen and Florida Senator Bill Nelson spoke about Hammar on the floor of the U.S. Capitol, and even with more than two-dozen members of Congress signing a letter drafted by Ros-Lehtinen’s office to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ...still NO help from Hillary.
NO help from Obama...NO help from Hillary.
Obama and Hillary did NOTHING...ABSOLUTELY NOTHING...to help get this brave Marine released. It was FOX News that was instrumental in securing Hammer's release after they picked up on the story about his parents receiving phone calls from other inmates involved with a drug cartel demanding extortion money, telling them to send money "or else..." It was only after Bill O'Reilly kept pounding on the story in an effort to help his parents that the American people started calling Congress and demanding some action.
So instead of thanking Obama and Hillary as it should have been, remember it was FOX News and the thousands of concerned Americans whose actions through phone calls, e-mails, and petitions, that got Jon Hammer released.
And remember the fact that Hillary did NOTHING to help one of our own come 2016 when she runs for president (even though she's says she's NOT she's a Clinton snd Clintons crave power and control) and that we've already had eight years of a traitor as president...eight years of a president who sides with America's enemies...eight years of a man who turns his back on Americans in trouble.
'We the People' sure as hell don't need another eight more of the same with Hillary at the helm.