Tags: Barack Obama | Ebola Outbreak | ISIS/Islamic State | MidPoint | Barack Obama | Chuck Hagel | Susan Rice

Lt. Col. Shaffer: Obama Shielded from Reality by Susan Rice

By    |   Friday, 31 October 2014 03:46 PM

The public leak of a blunt memo by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on America's strategic failings in Syria demonstrates the "out-of-touch nature" of a White House national security team lead by the memo's recipient, Ambassador Susan Rice, says defense expert Tony Shaffer.

Shaffer, a retired Army officer and covert operations veteran of the Afghanistan war, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Friday that Rice, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, "is the least qualified person to be judging or trying to work these critical issues at this point in our history."

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"Yet, she's the gatekeeper," Shaffer said of Rice.

Shaffer said it is "very telling" that Hagel — who arguably has "the best intelligence on the planet informing him and helping him shape decisions" — cannot seem to get the president's ear by going through normal channels.

Hence, the leak.

Hagel's memo to Rice warned that U.S. military efforts in Syria against the radical Islamic State (ISIS) — through airstrikes and training rebels — could falter because there is no underlying Syria policy that addresses, among other issues, what to do with the country's ruler, Bashar al Assad.

But Hagel's advice, and the intelligence capabilities that inform it, are being "greatly ignored by the president's inner circle," said Shaffer.

"What we see here is a detachment," said Shaffer, describing a White House isolation reinforced by "senior" and "very highly educated" advisers such as Rice who are nevertheless "incompetent."

Shaffer argued that Hagel while is obligated to be more "aggressive" in making his case, on the substance he is "completely right."

"There needs to be a clarification of what our objectives are for Syria and how we're going to be going about trying to dismantle ISIS," he said.

Shaffer pointed out that dismantling ISIS will also involve separating them from their armaments, which now include easy-to-use, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile launchers made in China, which ISIS has acquired thanks to "our sometimes ally" Qatar, who supplied them initially to anti-Assad rebels.

Shaffer, a senior fellow at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies and the London Center for Policy Research, also criticized the president for in essence ignoring his own military's sensible approach to another area of concern — the Ebola crisis.
By not aligning federal policy toward civilians returning from Ebola-stricken countries with military procedure — in this case, a 21-day quarantine for troops finishing Ebola duty in west Africa — the president is endorsing a nonsensical double standard, said Shaffer.

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"When I see President Obama come out shaking hands with people who were in the region, it doesn't do anything except cause more people to ask more questions about why is there a dual standard — a standard that the military is following, using good science, good medical protocols," said Shaffer.

"And yet, you have the president playing politics, trying to say 'nothing to see here, and don't worry about it,' " he said.

He noted that now even the Italians are "up in arms" because the quarantining of U.S. troops will be at a military base in Italy.

"You can't help — if it wasn't so serious — to laugh at the complete lack of focus and policy debacle that this White House has turned the whole Ebola issue into," said Shaffer.

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The public leak of a blunt memo by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on America's strategic failings in Syria demonstrates the "out-of-touch nature" of a White House national security team lead by the memo's recipient, Susan Rice, says defense expert Tony Shaffer.
Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel, Susan Rice, ISIS
Friday, 31 October 2014 03:46 PM
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