Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Politico reports that a statement of condolence was drafted by the Trump administration shortly after four American servicemen were killed in Niger, but the statement was never released:
Staffers at the National Security Council drafted and circulated a statement of condolence for President Donald Trump to make almost immediately after a deadly ambush of U.S. soldiers in Niger earlier this month....

The draft statement, a copy of which was seen by POLITICO on Wednesday, was put together on Oct. 5....

The statement was circulated among NSC officials as well as Defense Department officials. But it was never released, and it was not immediately clear why.
The statement was drafted a day after the incident. So why wasn't it made public?

Was it because top officials of the administration, included the president, were too distracted by infighting?

Recall that it was reported on October 4 that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had called the president a "moron" in a July meeting. The president was livid:
John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, abruptly scrapped plans to travel with President Donald Trump [to Las Vegas] on Wednesday [October 4] so he could try to contain his boss’s fury and manage the fallout from new revelations about tensions between the president and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, according to six senior administration officials.

Kelly summoned Tillerson, and their ally Defense Secretary James Mattis, to the White House, where the three of them huddled to discuss a path forward....

Trump was furious when he saw the NBC News report, which was published shortly before 6 a.m. Wednesday.

For the next two hours the president fumed inside the White House, venting to Kelly, officials said.
By October 6, Axios's Mike Allen was reporting rumors that CIA director Mike Pompeo might replace Tillerson as secretary of state.

You could see how certain members of the administration, particularly the guy at the top, might be too distracted to stop bickering and do their jobs. Would you want to be the underling who had to get the statement approved under these circumstances?

The statement was simple, basic, and in good taste -- I can't imagine who in the administration could have written it:
“Melania and I are heartbroken at the news that three U.S. service members were killed in Niger on October 4 while providing guidance and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terror operations. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these brave American soldiers and patriots. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers.

"We are also praying for the two U.S. service members who were injured in the incident. We wish them a complete and swift recovery.

"The heroic Americans who lost their lives yesterday did so defending our freedom and fighting violent extremism in Niger. Our administration and our entire nation are deeply grateful for their sacrifice, for their service, and for their patriotism.”
But if it had been released in this form, the statement would have been controversial -- on the right. Note the last paragraph, which says that servicemen died "fighting violent extremism." That's simply not acceptable to true conservatives. Here's a story that appeared at Breitbart on September 11 this year:
On the sixteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, Islamic terrorist attacks, President Donald Trump did not once mention the terms “radical Islam” or “Islamic terrorism” during a commemoration ceremony at the Pentagon.

Those phrases were also not mentioned in speeches today by other Trump administration senior officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Instead of naming the enemy, Trump seemingly went out of his way to use other descriptors in his speech, including “terrorists who attacked us,” “barbaric forces of evil and destruction,” “horrible, horrible enemies,” “enemies of all civilized people,” and “enemies like we’ve never seen before.”
The phrase "fighting violent extremism" is conservatively incorrect. If the statement had been released as written, the Trump White House would never have heard the end of it.

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