Susan Rice fails up, becomes National Security Adviser

John Hayward

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, famed as the chief purveyor of the Obama Administration’s false talking points on the Benghazi attack, will become Barack Obama’s new National Security Adviser following the resignation of Tom Donilon.  Obama previously tried to promote her to Secretary of State, but that required confirmation, so the effort collapsed.

susan-rice-16nov2012-620x348 Susan Rice fails up, becomes National Security Adviser

I’d say that a more brazen insult to the American people from this President could not be imagined, but, hey, IRS.

This means the President who claims he learns about his Administration’s activities by watching the news will be advised on national security by a woman famous for lying to the media.  That seems like a closed information loop.  Rice’s defenders claimed she had nothing to do with preparing the phony talking points – she was just mindlessly reciting them.  Is that really the sort of thing America wants on a national security adviser’s resume?

Why is the current national security adviser, Tom Donilon, retiring?  The New York Times describes Donilon as “a central member of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy team since he first took office” who “exerted sweeping influence, mostly behind the scenes, on issues from counterterroism to the reorientation of America to Asia from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”  However, he’s apparently made some enemies, possibly including the White House Chief of Staff, although they both deny friction between them is a factor:

But Mr. Donilon has also hit a rough patch recently, with the publication of an unflattering profile in Foreign Policy magazine that cast him as a sharp-elbowed infighter and a domineering boss, who had strained relationships with colleagues, including his former deputy, Denis R. McDonough, now the White House chief of staff.

Mr. Donilon and Mr. McDonough, however, both denied those reports, with Mr. McDonough saying he had a “very good relationship with Tom.” He added, “It pains me to think anybody would think he’s leaving because of me.”

Mr. Donilon, whose departure is effective early July, said he had planned to leave after Mr. Obama’s first term but stayed on at the president’s request to break in a new team led by Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John O. Brennan.

The Washington Post theorizes that Donilon’s “reputation for protecting Obama politically has caused friction with other agencies over the years, beginning in the fall of 2009, when he advocated for a far smaller deployment of U.S. troops in Afghanistan than the Pentagon had requested.”

Adding to the mayhem, Rice’s replacement as UN Ambassador will be Samantha Power, a noted student of Hagelian philosophy – that is, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s philosophy about Israel’s influence on American politics.  Power is famous for indulging in a “thought experiment” where she thoughtfully experimented with the idea of sending American troops to invade Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.  

She also used to chair Obama’s much-heralded “Atrocities Prevention Board,” but it was criticized as inert and unresponsive during her tenure, as in this May 2013 editorial at the Seattle Times:

Wanting to ascertain whether the board was actually doing anything to help prevent crimes against humanity, some 60 scholars of genocide studies and human-rights activists from across the globe sent a letter to Samantha Power, then-chair of the board, in December. Power never responded. They sent her a second letter in January, and again received no response.

[…] President Obama has repeatedly touted his administration as one of the most open and transparent in the history of the United States. He has said, “My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.”

A grand promise. But when the rubber hits the road, both the words and promise seem hollow, at least when it comes to the Atrocities Prevention Board.

Not only do board members refuse to respond to legitimate concerns, but the board does not have a website, a Twitter account or even list email addresses for its main office or its members. Where’s the “unprecedented” transparency?

Like many top Administration officials, Power probably has a secret email address to evade those pesky “transparency” laws.  If the scholars of genocide had sent their concerns to that address, they might have gotten a response.

Besides stirring up his political opponents and distracting from his scandals, Obama’s appointment of Rice is a way to bury the Benghazi outrage under the famous “What difference, at this point, does it make?” doctrine proposed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  And it continues a nearly unbroken streak of key scandal figures promoted, rather than facing dismissal or reprimand.  From Operation Fast and Furious, to Benghazi, to the IRS, failure and wrongdoing are the instruments of career success in this Administration – not only as rewards for loyal service and incentive to keep lips zipped, but also to fuel that constant media narrative about how everything bad for Obama “happened a long time ago,” as his spokesman described the eight-month old murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.