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Rich Galen / June 14, 2013

Rumbles on the Left

The hard Left and the hard Right – who sometimes share seats in black helicopters – are among the groups most upset by the recent disclosures of NSA, DoJ, and CIA snooping on Americans. President Barack Obama promised to shut down Guantanamo; but it remains open these five years later. Obama promised to reverse, or at least cut down, on the activities of the NSA and CIA against Americans, but that has not happened either.

The hard Left and the hard Right – who sometimes share seats in black helicopters – are among the groups most upset by the recent disclosures of NSA, DoJ, and CIA snooping on Americans.

President Barack Obama promised to shut down Guantanamo; but it remains open these five years later.

Obama promised to reverse, or at least cut down, on the activities of the NSA and CIA against Americans, but that has not happened either.

Obama promised to reset our relations with foreign governments – on the theory that George W. bullied allies into helping him on his foreign adventures and they were just praying for a new style of President.

These (among other promises) were part of the reason idealistic young people and cynical former 60s activists were so happy to work so hard for Barack Obama’s two victories.

Obama is being given some measure of political cover by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) who is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Just this week, she told reporters, according to Politico.com, that the National Security Agency “does not need a court order to search the database it maintains of the call data surrendered by the nation’s telecommunications firms.”

Does that sound to you at all like the catchphrase “warrantless wiretaps” that the Liberals were so upset about during the post-9/11 Bush era? Me, too.

But, it is foreign policy that may be Obama’s Achilles Heel among his base.

We are no longer in Iraq and are withdrawing from Afghanistan – both good things but we don’t know how they will turn out.

The whole Arab Spring celebration has ended up smelling of stale beer and broken promises much as the Knights of Columbus Hall the day after the big spring Fraternity and Sorority formal.

I was going to type “We know all about Libya” but, of course, we don’t know all about Libya. The White House and the State Department are blocking every avenue of investigation into Benghazi.

We do know about Egypt. The only difference between current president Mohamed Morsi and former president Hosni Mubarak appears to be that Mubarak used his thuggery to maintain control over a stable society.

Morsi is trying to be as big a political thug, but isn’t very good at it.

Then over to Syria.

We have all read about how the President’s national security staff got their collective knickers in a twist when he went off-script and said that if Syrian president Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against the rebels, it would be “a red line.”

Knowing that the President painted himself into a corner, the White House still found it necessary to issue a statement quoting, according to the New York Times, deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes saying:

“Following a deliberative review, our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year.”

Remember, this is the same intelligence community (not, maybe the same people but the same sources and methods) that convinced George W. Bush that Saddam Hussein had a stash of weapons of mass destruction.

So, if the intelligence community is convinced Assad is using chemical weapons, and Obama believes the charges, the “red line” has been crossed.

President Obama has just announced the appointment of Susan Rice to be his National Security Advisor. Ambassador Rice was the President’s choice to be Secretary of State but after her having been chosen as the tool to deliver the, probably false, Benghazi narrative there was no chance of her being confirmed.

National Security Advisor is a member of the President’s executive staff and there is no Senate confirmation involved.

But, as her first major problem, Dr. Rice will likely have to find the paint thinner and find a way to blur that pesky “red line.”

Re-set Russia and Iran (among others) are backing the Assad regime, Turkey and Qatar (among others) are backing the rebels.

The United Nations issued a report this week that the death toll in Syria has reached 93,000, so this is far beyond an extension of the Arab Spring. It is a full-blown civil war.

There are no good options for Barak Obama in Syria. If he continues to do nothing, the carnage that is only growing over the past two years will almost certainly continue to expand.

But, if he moves aggressively to help depose Assad, his entire anti-Bush, anti-Iraq position will be called into question and Obama’s already softening supporters on the American Left may, in fact, leave.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the NY Times Syria coverage and to the Politico.com article about Sen. Feinstein.

Also a Mullfoto from my hotel here in San Francisco.

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