What Fresh Hell Is This?

June 2, 2013

Jack Kelly Sunday

It's been some time since I deconstructed a Jack Kelly column. So let's get started with this week's.

This week, Jack goes after Attorney General Eric Holder.  Some things stick and some things don't - and those that don't undermine Jack's credibility (what's left of it, of course).  We'll start here:
If timely military aid could have been sent to Benghazi, the president was likely in on the decision not to send it. IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House 157 times, so it's hard to believe Mr. Obama knew nothing about IRS intimidation of his political enemies.
Ah, Benghazi and the IRS.  Jack's making two serious charges (both of which have been debunked).  Let's start with what Jack's hoping (despite his hiding behind the "If...then..." rhetoric) you'll take from that first sentence: that "timely" military aid could have been sent to Benghazi but that aid was denied by the president.

But look at this from the screamingly lib'rul USNews:
At roughly 6 p.m. local time, the defense attaché at the American Embassy in Tripoli confirmed that the Libyan government would be willing to fly a C-130 cargo plane into Benghazi to evacuate the American wounded and deceased who had rallied at a U.S. annex there.

"We wanted to send external support forces," along with the C-130 and Libyan forces to assist with the efforts, Hicks testified on Wednesday. Hicks, who was in Tripoli, was standing near a "Lt. Col. Gibson," who commanded a four-person Special Forces team. These troops were what remained from a 14-person security team tasked with establishing security at the U.S. diplomatic presence following the 2011 Libyan revolution.

The remaining Special Forces soldiers' mission had changed in August 2011 from providing security to offering training. Command of this team also switched from the embassy, under Ambassador Stevens, to Army Gen. Carter Ham, then-commander of U.S. Africa Command.

Hicks testified these troops had highly trained skills that would have been useful to the personnel in Benghazi, who were "exhausted from a night of fighting against very capable opponents."

"There was every reason to believe our personnel was still in danger," he says, adding he does not know why the Special Forces troops were not allowed to get on the C-130.

He says Lt. Col. Gibson was "furious" that he could not assist the Americans in Benghazi. "That's what he wanted to do."

Pentagon spokesmen had previously stated that no U.S. assets were ever told to "stand down" the night of the attack in Benghazi. Air Force Maj. Rob Firman told USA Today Tuesday that the military's account of this response "hasn't changed."

"There was never any kind of stand down order to anybody," Firman said.

Firman reaffirmed this statement to U.S. News following Hicks' Wednesday testimony.

"Were these guys told not to do anything? No. They were in Tripoli, supporting the U.S. security in Tripoli, and they were told to stay there," Firman says. Special Operations Command Africa leadership told them to remain where they were, and "it was more important for those guys to be in Tripoli."

"I look at that as not so much a stand-down order, as it is a 'stay where you are,'" says Firman. "Those guys met the planes and continued to support."

Firman adds that the C-130 was tasked with picking up the American personnel at the Benghazi airport and leave immediately. These Special Forces troops would not have been on the ground long enough to have contributed significantly to the operation.

"There was a very limited amount of time that they could have done anything," he says.
And yet Jack...well you know how this sentence ends.

But let's look at Jack's next bit of misinformation - where he tries to tie the White House to the IRS scandal by how many times IRS Director Schulman visited to the White House (he says it was 157 them!!!)

Uh, wrong.

The Atlantic has already dispensed with this:
The latest twist in the conservative effort to tie the IRS tax-exempt targeting scandal to the president is to focus on public visitor records released by the White House, in which former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman's name appears 157 times between 2009 and 2012. Unfortunately, few of those pushing this line have bothered to read more than the topline of that public information.
Few, like the P-G's Jack Kelly.

Turns out that the lists upon which Schulman's name appear only show the meetings he was cleared to attend - not those he actually attended:
He was cleared 40 times to meet with Obama's director of the Office of Health Reform, and a further 80 times for the biweekly health reform deputies meetings and others set up by aides involved with the health-care law implementation efforts. That's 76 percent of his planned White House visits just there, before you even add in all the meetings with Office of Management and Budget personnel also involved in health reform.

Complicating the picture is the fact that just because a meeting was scheduled and Shulman was cleared to attend it does not mean that he actually went. Routine events like the biweekly health-care deputies meeting would have had a standing list of people cleared to attend, people whose White House appointments would have been logged and forwarded to the check-in gate. But there is no time of arrival information in the records to confirm that Shulman actually signed in and went to these standing meetings.

Indeed, of the 157 events Shulman was cleared to attend, White House records only provide time of arrival information -- confirming that he actually went to them -- for 11 events over the 2009-2012 period, and time of departure information for only six appointments. According to the White House records, Shulman signed in twice in 2009, five times in 2010, twice in 2011, and twice in 2012. That does not mean that he did not go to other meetings, only that the White House records do not show he went to the 157 meetings he was granted Secret Service clearance to attend. [Italics in original.]
Jack, 11 not 157.

Such a huge amount of misinformation in such a small space - doesn't anyone at the Post-Gazette fact-check Jack Kelly?

Unfortunately, we already know the answer to that question.

Though I will leave Jack with two others:
  • Wasn't Douglas Shulman a Bush Appointee? (Hint: Yes, he was.)
  • Isn't it the IRS supposed to screen out organizations who've applied for tax-exempt status but who shouldn't get it? (Hint: Yes, it is - though in this instance, it was the way they screened that's offensive.)
More evidence that no one fact-check's Jack Kelly at the P-G. Or if they do, what he submits must be so hugely fact free that this is the best they can get out of it.

Also, Eric Holder's on his own for the AP story - he'll get no help here.

1 comment:

Heir to the Throne said...

I love progressives cling to Douglas Shulman being appointed by Bush and ignore the fact that one reason Bush appointed him because he was a candidate that the Democrat controlled Senate would confirm.

Notice the dropping of the talking point of this was a few rogue IRS agents in the Cincinnati office when it is 80 agents all over the country with orders from DC.

Still waiting for Media Matters to get the same level of screening as the "teabaggers"