A second and equally interesting, D.C. Whispers report in the same week. If you have not yet read the initial update, please do so as it will greatly benefit your understanding of the follow-up post here. It appears President Obama was given an ultimatum by the Pentagon with a strong assist from a high ranking member of the Senate – an ultimatum that proved influential enough that it convinced Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett herself.
Regarding the earlier update that had the president yelling his defense of Islam to Pentagon staffers. This meeting was linked to an earlier meeting from the prior week between State Dept. and Defense. White House was apparently unwilling to sign off on ISIS bombings in Syria w/o Congressional go ahead to allow subsequent bombing of Assad installments. State was opposed to this due to fears of Russian repercussions, political blowback, and additional hints from Iran they would not support such an agreement.
Something happened between that first meeting, and the one referenced in the earlier update that took place at the White House. Word from some on the Hill is a high ranking member of the Senate with an established history of personal animosity toward the president, threatened to “expose them all after November” if the White House continued dragging its feet on the ISIL situation. This threat reached the White House inner circle, which is likely exactly what the Senator intended it to do. A week later we had the White House briefing between the president and Pentagon staff taking place.
At some point during this meeting the president was told outright by Pentagon officials, “Mr. President, you have no choice. You’re exposed here. Besides, this is going to make great television.” That may very well have been the real source of the president’s anger during that meeting. He walked out, then it was reported the president, Jarrett, and a personal aide walked back in, and he agreed to the more limited air strikes and training of rebel forces in Syria, with Jarrett clearly twisting his arm to do so.
Now here is where things get even more interesting. It is now believed by some that ISIS was tipped off as to the exact timing of the bombing campaign. It is not known by anyone I have contact with, if that came from anyone associated within the administration, another Arab state involved, etc. There is more though. Ansar al-Sharia, the al Qaeda-affiliate group that took the brunt of the initial Syria bombings, has direct ties to the 2012 Benghazi U.S. consulate attack. (the Khorasan Group is simply another affiliate of Ansar al-Sharia, though the administration used the name of that group as political cover)
This was pointed out to me by another congressional staffer who then indicated the motivation for focusing on Ansar al-Sharia was due to that group’s leader having hinted during the summer to contacts in Turkey of his intention to leak information pertaining to the others linked to the Benghazi incident if his group was not allowed more influence in the build-up against Assad. These links would apparently prove damaging to Turkey and the White House. If true, and if the Ansar al-Sharia leader was actually silenced, it sends a very strong message to others who may be in the know regarding those earlier allegations of gunrunning from Libya to Turkey and then Syria, to keep their mouths shut.
Perhaps the combination of killing a potential scandal threat, and some “great television” was enough to convince Jarrett, and then Obama, to proceed with the bombing campaign.