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General Tells Senators al-Qaeda Has ‘Grown Fourfold in Last Five Years’

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The former vice chief of staff of the Army warned the Senate Armed Services Committee today that al-Qaeda has “grown fourfold in the last five years.”

“AQ and its affiliates exceeds Iran in beginning to dominate multiple countries,” retired four-star Gen. Jack Keane testified.

Using a term that the Obama administration now eschews, Keane called radical Islam “the major security challenge of our generation.”

“Radical Islam, as I’m defining it for today’s discussion, consists of three distinct movements who share a radical fundamentalist ideology, use jihad or terror to achieve objectives that compete with each other for influence and power,” he said.

“In 1980, Iran declared the United States as a strategic enemy and its goal is to drive the United States out of the region, achieve regional hegemony, and destroy the state of Israel. It uses proxies, primarily as the world’s number one state sponsoring terrorism. Thirty plus years Iran has used these proxies to attack the United States. To date, the result is U.S. troops left Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, while Iran has direct influence and some control over Beirut, Lebanon, Gaza, Damascus, Syria, Baghdad, Iraq, and now Sana’a, Yemen,” the general continued.

“Is there any doubt that Iran is on the march and is systematically moving toward their regional hegemonic objective? Iran has been on a 20-year journey to acquire nuclear weapons, simply because they know it guarantees preservation of the regime and makes them, along with their partners, the dominant power in the region, thereby capable of expanding their control and influence. Add to this their ballistic missile delivery system and Iran is not only a threat to the region, but to Europe, as well. And as they increase missile range, eventually a threat to the United States. And as we know, a nuclear arms race, because of their nuclear ambition, is on the horizon for the Middle East.”

Keane detailed the growth of al-Qaeda in its quest to “eventually achieve world domination.”

“Third, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, ISIS, is an outgrowth from Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which was defeated in Iraq by 2009. After U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq in 2011, ISIS reemerged as a terrorist organization in Iraq, moved into Syria in 2012, and began seizing towns and villages from the Syria-Iraq border all the way to the western Syria from Aleppo to Damascus,” he reminded the committee.

That leads to an “unmistakable” conclusion that “our policies have failed,” Keane added.

“And the unequivocal explanation is U.S. policy has focused on disengaging from the Middle East, while our stated policy is pivoting to the east,” he said. “U.S. policymakers choose to ignore the very harsh realities of the rise of radical Islam. In my view, we became paralyzed by the fear of adverse consequences in the Middle East after fighting two wars. Moreover, as we sit here this morning, in the face of radical Islam, U.S. policymakers refuse to accurately name the movement as radical Islam. We further choose not to define it, nor explain its ideology, and most critical, we have no comprehensive strategy to stop it or defeat it.”

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Report: Bergdahl to be Charged with Desertion

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

No official confirmation yet from either the White House or the Defense Department, but NBC News is quoting senior Defense officials as saying Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will be charged with desertion within a week:

According to the officials, the desertion charges would be based on allegations that Bergdahl abandoned his remote outpost in June 2009 to avoid hazardous duty or important service, which are grounds for charges of desertion under the Uniform Military Code of Justice, (UCMJ). According to one senior official, Bergdahl’s actions in Afghanistan go well beyond the lesser offense of AWOL, absent without leave, because he allegedly abandoned his post “in the middle of a combat zone, potentially putting the lives of his fellows soldiers at risk.”

The charges will apparently not allege that Bergdahl left with the intent never to return. Bergdahls was reportedly captured by the Haqqani terrorist network in Pakistan. He was released in a prisoner swap for five Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo Bay in May.

While a court martial could lead to imprisonment, defense and military officials tell NBC News it is likely Bergdahl would be given consideration for the 5 years he spent in captivity and be permitted to leave the Army with a “less than honorable discharge.” If accepted, Bergdahl would be denied as much as $300 thousand in back pay and bonuses, and reduced in rank to at least Private First Class, the rank he held when he disappeared from his outpost in Afghanistan.

More than half a year after his Memorial Day release in a swap with the Taliban, the Defense Department referred Bergdahl’s case to a General Courts Martial Convening Authority just before Christmas.

Gen. Mark Milley, commanding general of Forces Command, “will determine appropriate action – which ranges from no further action to convening a court martial,” the Pentagon said in a brief statement then, adding that “a thorough investigation and a comprehensive legal review” had been conducted.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said the five Taliban traded for Bergdahl’s release “are in Qatar but they are scheduled to go back to Afghanistan.”

“And that’s the real worry that some many of us have had,” Ayotte told Fox. “The issue really is that what’s the price being put on American lives, number one, we now are going to have a pattern where people are being asked to be traded — you have ISIS also saying for certain individuals, we want terrorists released in exchange for some of the prisoners we have. And so it gets us down this slippery slope and Qatar, of course, in the middle of this, Qatar is where the Taliban Five were transferred to and where from there they will be returning to Afghanistan.”

UPDATE: A Forces Command spokesman tells Army Times that no decision has been made, despite reports from NBC and Fox. Bergdahl’s attorney refused to comment.

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Sundance Film Claims FBI Entraps Innocent Muslims

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 - by Patrick Poole

Any of my regular readers here at PJ Media can attest, I am no fan of the FBI’s counter-terrorism programs. Recently, I’ve been writing about the FBI’s failures to catch “Known Wolf” terrorists – individuals who were already known to law enforcement prior to their acts of terror. So no one can accuse me of being an apologist for the bureau.

But an article yesterday in The Guardian entitled “Counter-terrorism is supposed to let us live without fear. Instead, it’s creating more of it” by two individuals currently promoting the screening of their film (T)ERROR at the Sundance International Film Festival falsely claims the FBI is engaged in a deliberate effort to entrap innocent American Muslims.

Here’s the case they make:

While making our film (T)ERROR, which tracks a single counter-terrorism sting operation over seven months, we realized that most people have serious misconceptions about FBI counter-terrorism efforts. They assume that informants infiltrate terrorist networks and then provide the FBI with information about those networks in order to stop terrorist plots from being carried out. That’s not true in the vast majority of domestic terrorism cases.

Since 9/11, as Human Rights Watch and others have documented, the FBI has routinely used paid informants not to capture existing terrorists, but to cultivate them. Through elaborate sting operations, informants are directed to spend months – sometimes years – building relationships with targets, stoking their anger and offering ideas and incentives that encourage them to engage in terrorist activity. And the moment a target takes a decisive step forward, crossing the line from aspirational to operational, the FBI swoops in to arrest him.

So they accuse the FBI of setting suspects up and then arresting them — entrapment. This “entrapment” claim is commonly repeated by defense attorneys and self-styled “civil rights” groups. In fact, that’s what the authors of The Guardian article explicitly say:

The cumulative effects of FBI surveillance and entrapment in communities of color have been devastating.

I’ll leave aside their “communities of color” smear, but there is one glaring problem with their entrapment claim: in no single jihadist-related terrorism trial since the 9/11 attacks has a federal court on ANY LEVEL found that the FBI engaged in entrapment. Many suspects have made the claim, but none have successfully argued it. In only one case I remember, that of Ahmadullah Niazi, did the Justice Department voluntarily drop an indictment because of the reliability of an informant.

Those who peddle these FBI entrapment claims have been found to regularly play fast and loose with data, such as describing terror conspirators who turn state’s evidence against their partners and are sentenced to jail for their roles in terror plots as “informants.”

Another tactic taken is to equate the involvement of an informant as a de facto case of entrapment, as do the authors of The Guardian article. They cite the arrest earlier this month of a Cincinnati-area man:

A recent example: on 14 January, the FBI announced that it had interrupted an Isis-inspired terrorist plot in the United States. Christopher Lee Cornell, a 20-year-old recent Muslim convert from Cincinnati, was allegedly plotting to attack the US Capitol with pipe bombs and gun down government officials.

But then they make a colossal leap with this non sequitur:

Cornell was arrested after purchasing two semiautomatic weapons from an Ohio gun store because the man that Cornell thought was his partner was actually an FBI informant.

So the reason he bought the weapons was because there was an informant? In the information made available so far, there’s no indication that’s the case. If the record of every single jihad-related terror case since 9/11 is any guide, it’s unlikely their claim will stand. One reason why these terrorism cases have universally withstood scrutiny by the federal courts are the extensive measures taken by the FBI to prevent entrapment.

As an example of how far the FBI will go to prevent someone from turning to terror, consider the case of 19-year-old Colorado woman Shannon Conley, who was sentenced last week to four years in prison. As the court record shows, the FBI repeatedly warned Conley over a period of months not to attempt to travel to Syria to join ISIS and even talked to her parents asking them to intervene. And yet she persisted in her plans and was arrested trying to board a plane bound for Turkey. Now her parents are saying “the terrorists have won” after her sentencing, blaming the federal government for prosecuting their daughter.

If anything, this administration has bent over backwards to accommodate the concerns that they are unfairly targeting Muslims, such as special rules for dealing with the Muslim community and conducting a wide-spread purge of counter-terrorism training materials at the request of Muslim organizations. Curiously, none of this is mentioned in The Guardian article.

Attorney General Eric Holder, hardly a right-wing neo-con “Islamophobe,” has directly challenged the claims that the FBI uses entrapment targeting the Muslim community, telling one Muslim legal group:

Those who characterize the FBI’s activities in this case as ‘entrapment’ simply do not have their facts straight or do not have a full understanding of the law.

And yet The Guardian regurgitates a number of howlers, such as this:

And on campuses across the country, Muslim student associations have banned discussions of politics, terrorism and the “war on terror.”

But Muslim Student Associations (MSA) have had no trouble at all discussing politics, terrorism and the “war on terror.” In fact, you can’t shut them up from talking about it. One topic you won’t hear addressed at MSA meetings, however, is the long litany of senior MSA leaders who have been convicted in terrorism cases.

In the absence of actual evidence, The Guardian authors have to resort to anecdotes, including this one:

After a recent screening of our film at a New York City mosque, a young African-American convert to Islam, sporting a brown full-body covering with matching hijab, confessed to us that she feels uncomfortable discussing aspects of her identity. She does not speak about her religious conversion in public, for fear of attracting or encouraging informants.

Yes, because wearing a brown full-body covering with a matching hijab, no one would ever know she’s a Muslim.

This is how laughably ridiculous those who peddle this false narrative have sunk. Perhaps a review of some of the jihad-related terror cases where FBI informants weren’t involved is warranted:

Beltway snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo

UNC-Chapel Hill vehicle jihadist Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar

Seattle Jewish Federation killer Naveed Afzal Haq

Little Rock killer Carlos Bledsoe (aka Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad)

Fort Hood killer Major Nidal Hasan

Would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad

Boston bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Cross-country jihadist spree killer Ali Muhammad Brown

Undoubtedly, if FBI informants had been used in any of these cases to prevent their terror attacks, The Guardian authors, Islamic “civil rights” groups and their ilk would be crying “entrapment.”

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Canada: National Newspaper’s Suspicious ‘Advertorial’ About French No-Go Zones

Monday, January 26th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

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“London is full of Arabs.”

That’s a line from Elvis Costello’s 1979 song “Oliver’s Army.”

I’m not sure if it’s still on his set list, given the current climate, but the line refers to a fact of British life that many American probably first became aware of after Princess Diana’s death, when they learned that her (late) boyfriend’s father, Mohamed Al-Fayed, owned Harrod’s.

As per Costello’s lyric, oil rich “Arabs” have always coveted prime London real estate, so snapping up the city’s world famous luxury department store was an obvious move.

Then in 2010, Harrod’s changed hands, when Al-Fayed reluctantly sold it to Qatar Holding.

What I didn’t know, until I read it on my husband Arnie’s blog this morning, was that Qatar owns a lot of retail real estate in Paris, too.

Qatar owns a lot of things, actually…

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But first, you need to know something else:

The Globe & Mail is Canada’s New York Times.

Now I’ll let walk you through my husband’s latest bit of blogging detective work:

First he notes that the Globe just published an article called “Islam: Far from ‘outsiders,’ Europe and Islam have long been intertwined,” written by one H.A. Hellyer.

Hellyer’s thesis is that Muslim majority “no-go zones” are an ugly, racist  “urban myth.”

Oh, and he works for the highly prestigious Brookings Institution think tank.

That particular detail caught Arnie’s attention.

As my husband explains on his blog — and the Globe & Mail left out of their brief bio of Hellyer — the Brookings Institution is funded by… Qatar.

Arnie quotes Daniel Pipes quoting the New York Times:

Some of this funding has been given clandestinely, with think tanks taking money under the table while benefiting from a moral image of disinterestedness. In the most prominently egregious example, the government of Qatar, as the NYT reported, “funneled hundreds of millions to Hamas-led Gaza and encouraged its rocket and tunnel assault on Israel,” also signed a four-year $14.8 million deal in 2013 to fund the Brookings Institution.

Then Arnie, as he’s wont to do, dug a little further into other things Qatar owns.

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Like that prime Parisian real estate I mentioned earlier:

The Champs-Elysees lures millions of tourists every year to enjoy shopping at the Elysees 26 mall, poker at the Aviation Club, plush cars and futuristic architecture in the Citroen showroom, or feather-clad showgirls at the Lido cabaret.

But for all their Parisian charisma, none of these attractions are French-owned. They belong to the royal family of Qatar, a resource-rich emirate about 3,000 miles away.

Arnie speculates sarcastically on why the Brookings Institution is so eager to debunk Muslim “no-go” zones (which, as has been established again and again by Fox News the New York Times, Newsweek and the New Republic, really do exist.):

Now Paris’ Mayor Hidalgo has her own reasons to prevent the City of Light’s reputation from being dimmed, after all tourism is not well served by armed soldiers guarding Le Knick Knack shoppes. Les Infidels get jumpy and spend le less.

But what could Qatar’s interest’s be beyond the usual 24/7 stream of Islamist Propaganda we’ve grown used to?

Couldn’t be an effort to protect it’s French real estate investments could it? You know, those heavily tourist reliant real estate investments?

My husband and I can’t help but wonder:

Didn’t Canada’s highly respected paper of record owe it to its readers to connect all those dots before printing such an article?

Should it at the very least have been run under an “advertorial” banner?

Whether the Globe & Mail innocently accepted this article over the transom or they were paid to run it — don’t readers and citizens deserve to know?

And why is it left to mere bloggers like us to make these connections and ask these questions?

We all know the old joke about why Parisian boulevards are lined with trees?

Perhaps we need a 21st century variation that mocks that city’s current fascist occupiers.

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U.S. Embassy in Sana’a Stays Open, But Urges Citizens to ‘Depart Immediately’

Monday, January 26th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The U.S. Embassy in Sana’a urged U.S. citizens to leave Yemen “immediately” as it will be unable to provide regular consular services.

“Due to ongoing security concerns, the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa is unable to provide routine consular services but remains open and operational and is providing emergency services. We are continuously analyzing the security conditions and will resume regular consular operations as soon as possible,” read the emergency message to U.S. citizens.

“The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. The Department urges U.S. citizens not to travel to Yemen. U.S. citizens still in Yemen should make plans to depart immediately. U.S. citizens seeking to depart Yemen are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. Travelers should reconfirm flight schedules with their airline prior to going to the airport. Flight cancellations occur frequently. There are no plans for charter flights or other U.S. government-coordinated evacuations,” the State Department continued.

“U.S. citizens in Yemen remain vulnerable to kidnappings and terrorist attacks, especially when in transit to and from residences or workplaces. U.S. citizens should exercise caution and take prudent security measures in all areas, especially those areas frequented by Westerners. All U.S. citizens are reminded to vary their routes and times for all travel, maintain a high level of vigilance, keep a low profile, lock car windows and doors, carry a cell phone at all times, and report suspicious incidents to the Embassy.”

The Embassy has pulled some non-esssential staff, but not completely closed the installation. The White House said Friday that it was “determined that there is not a need to change the posture at the U.S. embassy.”

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters today that the Obama administration’s anti-terror operations will continue in Yemen despite a lack of a functioning government to work with.

“We’ve made clear that we’ll take direct action inside of Yemen against AQAP targets. That’s something we’ve done in the past. I’d anticipate us doing that in future. And we’ve done so in coordination with Yemen,” Rhodes said. “…We have significant ability to develop intelligence and to try to track down terrorist targets that has built up for many years, and that, yes, draws on cooperation with Yemen and also our own intelligence assets.”

“What I would also indicate is that we continue to have a broader relationship in Yemen that includes the security forces who we’ve collaborated with in the past, as well as the political leadership. And I think what we want to see going forward is a political process that can restore stability. And again, the United States is well acquainted with many of the different actors inside of Yemen. And we’re confident that if we can get the relevant factions in Yemen into a discussion about restoring stability and a political process, that we’ll be able to maintain the type of cooperation we’ve had with Yemen and its security forces in recent years.”

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New York Times Discovers Yemen’s ‘Death to America’ Houthi Rebels are Moderates and Possible U.S. Partners

Monday, January 26th, 2015 - by Patrick Poole

The New York Times launched some weapons-grade stupidity on Sunday with an article by Rod Nordland and Eric Schmitt citing “experts” claiming that the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen that have swept though critical parts of the country, including the capital Sanaa, are not just moderates, but possible U.S. counter-terrorism partners.

Because of the ongoing Houthi offensive, Yemen’s information minister admitted last week that the government had lost effective control of the country.

Thankfully, the Times is here to assure us that when the Houthis shout “Death to America” they really don’t mean it:

At first glance the official slogan and emblem of the Houthis, who are now the dominant force in Yemen, does not offer much hope to American policy makers.

It includes the words “Death to America, death to Israel, damnation to the Jews.” Houthis shout it when they march, wear it on arm patches, paint it on buildings and stick it onto their car windows. When pictured, those words are rendered in red, framed by “God is great” and “Victory to Islam” in green, on a white background.

Sometimes the red words are shown dripping blood.

But for all their harsh sloganeering, the Houthis may be a lot more moderate than it suggests, according to many diplomats and analysts who have followed them closely. They say it would be premature to dismiss them as Yemen’s Hezbollah, despite their alliance with Iran.

For reference purposes, here’s the slogan in question:

Ah, but we have nothing to fear, because they fight Al-Qaeda says the Pentagon:

On Wednesday, Michael G. Vickers, the Pentagon’s top intelligence policy official, noted that the Houthis’ dominance had been growing over the past several months as they expanded their control since last September, but he said that has not interfered with American missions. “The Houthis are anti-Al Qaeda, and we’ve been able to continue some of our counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda in the past couple months,” Mr. Vickers said.

And they’re nothing like yet another Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, say the “experts”:

“The Houthis are not Hezbollah,” said Charles Schmitz, an expert on the group and a professor at Towson University, referring to the Iranian-supported group that dominates Lebanon and is actively fighting on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. “They are domestic, homegrown, and have very deep roots in Yemen, going back thousands of years.”

In fact, they could be U.S. counter-terrorism partners if they only dropped their “Death to America” sloganeering (!!) the “experts” continue:

April Alley, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group in Sana, said: “Theoretically there is quite a bit of common ground in Yemen between the Houthis and the U.S., particularly when it comes to security issues and Al Qaeda. But so far it’s not been enough to overcome the obstacles. The Houthis have their own limits in which they can engage the Americans given the political narrative they have propagated.”

It should be noted that last week a U.S. Embassy vehicle carrying U.S. personnel was shot up at a Houthi checkpoint:

And a Houthi checkpoint featuring the “Death to America” signs has been operating right outside the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa since September:

And yet on Friday the White House said that the embassy will remain open:

One curious omission in the Times article, however, is that Obama hailed Yemen as one of his administration’s counter-terrorism successes back in September:

So with Iran or Iranian proxies in charge of another Arab capital (Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, Sanaa) we have nothing to fear, the New York Times is here to tell us.

And the Houthis take their place as acclaimed moderates in the U.S. foreign policy narrative bubble, along with the “largely secular” Muslim Brotherhood, the “vetted moderate” Syrian rebels, the “moderate elements” of Hezbollah (as cited by CIA Director John Brennan), and even “moderate” Al-Qaeda.

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Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress is ‘Moral Imperative’

Monday, January 26th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Hat tip: Grabien

In an address to the Israeli Bonds gala in Florida this past weekend, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer explained the reasoning behind Netanyahu’s willingness to accept John Boehner’s invitation to speak to Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat:

The prime minister’s visit is also not intended to wade into your political debate… Rather, the prime minister’s visit to Washington is intended for one purpose — and one purpose only. To speak up while there is still time to speak up. To speak up when there is still time to make a difference.

…Now there may be some people who believe that the prime minister of Israel should have declined an invitation to speak before the most powerful parliament in the world on an issue that concerns the future and survival of Israel. But we have learned from history that the world becomes a more dangerous place for the Jewish people when the Jewish people are silent.

That is why the prime minister feels the deepest moral obligation to appear before Congress to speak about an existential issue facing the one and only Jewish state. This is not just the right of the prime minister of Israel. It is his most sacred duty — to do whatever he can to prevent Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons that can be aimed at Israel.

The question for both politicians and pundits to answer is, then, when do political relationships and foreign policy strategy take a back seat to moral imperative? Better yet, when do policy wonks and analysts begin to take moral imperative seriously? Or is “moral imperative” becoming yet another buzz word in the verbal parlay that belies a greater and deadlier battle?

In any case, history proves Dermer correct in his observation that the world is a better place when the Jewish people use their voice to speak out. And in an environment that is far too heavily governed by opinion and fear instead of fact and faith, the person – any person – who is willing to speak out against evil better be armed by a strong moral imperative and the confidence to go along with it.

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Anti-Israel Demonstrators Protest NYC Council’s Auschwitz Commemoration

Monday, January 26th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The New York Daily News reported on a disturbing pro-Palestinian demonstration that took place in a City Council meeting last week. Just as the council was about to conclude a vote on a resolution commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, 

Pro-Palestinian activists disrupted a City Council meeting Thursday to protest Council members’ planned trip to Israel next month.

Protesters in the balcony of the Council chamber unfurled a Palestinian flag and began yelling “Palestinian lives matter,” “Don’t support genocide,” and “Melissa, you’re a hypocrite,” a slam on Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who will lead the Israel delegation.

…A few dozen protesters were booted from the chamber, with some physically removed, and were ordered off the City Hall property all together.

Council members were appalled at the timing and actions of the pro-Palestinian group. Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito denounced their actions while Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) declared,

“What you saw here today was naked, blind anti-Semitism,” he thundered.

“That’s what you saw, and that’s what you watched, and that’s what you witnessed – people who were upset for one reason. Do you want to know why they’re upset, do you want to know why they’re angry, do you want to know why they unfurled that flag today? Because Hitler did not finish the job. He only wiped out half of my family.”

The real shocker? The demonstration was led, in part, by Pam Sporn of Jewish Voices for Peace. Sporn, a known BDS activist, continually broadcasts her Jewish identity to defend anti-Israel demonstrations around New York City. Sporn declared that the Council’s upcoming trip was designed to “legitimize the discriminatory practices of Israel.” Her’s were statements screamed out specifically during the recognition of the real genocide committed by “discriminatory” Nazis. The timing couldn’t have sent a clearer, more anti-Semitic message. How will Sporn’s Jewish identity dig her out of this one?

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Netanyahu: ‘I Will Go Anywhere I am Invited’ to Defend Israel’s ‘Existence’

Sunday, January 25th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referenced his upcoming address to a joint session of Congress in remarks at today’s cabinet meeting, stating that he has a duty without borders to keep Iran from going nuclear.

“In the coming weeks, the major powers are liable to reach a framework agreement with Iran, an agreement that is liable to leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state, which would endanger – first and foremost – the existence of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said at the outset of the meeting. “This is the same Iran that has taken over Lebanon and Syria and is now taking over Yemen and Iraq. This is the same Iran that is preparing an active front against us both on the Golan Heights and in southern Lebanon. This same Iran cannot advance toward nuclear weapons.”

Iran’s Press TV reported Saturday that a Revolutionary Guard commander threatened to open a new front against Israel across the West Bank.

“We will certainly consider a special retaliation for this issue,” IRGC’s second-in-command, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, told al-Alam of the recent strike that killed six Hezbollah members and an Iranian general in the Golan Heights. “This is part of a new reality that will gradually unravel.”

“As Prime Minister of Israel, I am obligated to make every effort in order to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons that would be aimed at the State of Israel,” Netanyahu continued. “This effort is worldwide and I will go anywhere I am invited in order to enunciate the State of Israel’s position and in order to defend its future and its existence.”

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough insisted on CNN this morning that the administration wouldn’t get into the “blame game” over the Netanyahu invitation, extended by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

“This is the most important relationship we have in the world. This is something that ought to be and will continue to be, as far as we’re concerned, above partisan politics,” McDonough said. “This is a relationship, given its importance, that stretches across many different things, from values straight through intelligence cooperation to defense and security assistance.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told CBS the situation highlights “that relations have never been worse between ourselves and the only genuine democracy in the entire Middle East.”

“They believe, they are convinced that these negotiations with Iran will lead to Iranian acquisition of a nuclear weapon, which will then nuclearize the entire Middle East and that will be a direct threat to the existence of the state of Israel,” McCain said.

“I regret that the relations have deteriorated to this degree. But I do believe that it’s important that Prime Minister Netanyahu speak to the American people. And, by the way, we need congressional ratification of any agreement that is made. This is too big to be left — to not be treated as a treaty.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said at Friday’s briefing that the Iran pact is “an agreement” and “not a treaty,” thus doesn’t need congressional approval.

“We want to have a constructive working relationship with Congress, but you know, steps that undermine the talks or steps that put in place additional sanctions in this diplomatic negotiating period while talks are ongoing aren’t constructive and aren’t going to further our efforts to resolve what’s a pretty serious national security priority for the United States of America,” Earnest said.

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Fox News Criticizes Netanyahu for Not Bowing to Obama

Sunday, January 25th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The Jerusalem Post reports:

The Fox news segment, on the show “Shepard Smith Reporting,” began with a response to a quote from Martin Indyk from The New York Times on Thursday wherein the former US ambassador to Israel and the former US envoy to the peace process says: “Netanyahu is using the Republican Congress for a photo-op for his election campaign and the Republicans are using Bibi for their campaign against Obama…Unfortunately the US relationship will take the hit. It would be far wiser for us to stay out of their politics and for them to stay out of ours.”

Wallace said he agreed completely with Indyk and that he was “shocked” by the whole affair.

Smith queried whether Netanyahu would back out of  the speech because, “Members of his own Mossad have come out and said this is a horrible idea and so have members of his own political party. Of course his political opponents are  screaming up and down, the newspapers over there are going wild over this,” he added.

“It just seems that they think we don’t pay any attention and that we are just a bunch of complete morons, the US citizens, like we wouldn’t pick up on what is happening here,” Smith said.

…”For Netanyahu to do something that is going to be seen as a deliberate and a really egregious snub of President Obama, when Obama is going to be in power for the next year and three quarters, seems to me like a pretty risky political strategy for Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Wallace said.

“For Netanyahu to come here and side with Boehner against Obama on Iran seems to me like very dicey politics,” he said.

That’s right, Shep Smith and the Fox News crowd have officially joined the ranks of the anti-Israel mainstream media, purporting that the Mossad and Israeli media somehow think American citizens are “a bunch of complete morons.” Apparently Shep and Chris Wallace have remained blind to the fact that Bibi and Barry have hated each other since the beginning. They’ve also ignored the fact that Obama’s administration, through various unnamed sources, has worked hard to hack away at any relationship the two leaders may have ever claimed.

Looks like Kathy Shaidle is right, we’ve all got to be our own Churchills now.

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Obama’s Iran Negotiations

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Hat tip: Grabien

So much for Barry’s quip about winning elections. John Boehner finally grew a pair and outwitted the Smug-in-Chief this Wednesday by inviting the White House’s greatest enemy to address Congress. No, not Iranian President Ahmadinejad, but the enemy both he and Obama share: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

After a State of the Union that paid poorly-timed lip service to terrorism the speaker of the House took matters into Republican hands and made a big show of it. Like, Ed Sullivan big. Too big, in fact, for Barry and his cohorts according to the Israeli left-wing paper Ha’aretz:

“There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price,” he said.

Officials in Washington said that the “chickensh*t” epithet — with which an anonymous administration official branded Netanyahu several months ago — was mild compared to the language used in the White House when news of Netanyahu’s planned speech came in.

It’s the kind of delicious scandal you’d only expect from Downton’s Julian Fellowes. (There’s not enough sex in it for Shonda Rhimes, or is there?) After issuing a warning to his own fellow Democrats not to “bow” to (Jewish) donors, Obama supposedly calls Netanyahu and warns him to “tone down his pro-sanctions rhetoric.” His administration avoids Paris, deciding instead to throw an anti-terrorism conference that will talk about everything but radical Islamic terror, because that’s all been staged to create a “War on Muslims” of which Barry “Cairo” Obama wants no part. Then, the glorious king and savior of HopenChange descends on the Capitol to pay lip-service to the terror that has no name and makes sure to slap anti-Semitism in the face, noting:

“It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims, the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace.”

At least he waited until the Jewish victims of the radical Islamic terror attack on a kosher supermarket were buried before lumping the hatred that murdered them in with Muslim stereotypes. If George W. Bush’s term was known for the War on Terror, dear God, let Barry’s term be known as the one that created, advocated, and fought on defense for the “War on Muslims.”

Oddly enough, as the general of the battle, Obama’s doing a darn good job of defending those radical Islamists he claims to despise, the Iranian regime in particular to the tune of 11.9 billion of your tax dollars. He’s doing an even better job of alienating his troops on the front line and their leader, Bibi. How does one say “forked tongue” in Arabic, or better yet, Persian? I know how Boehner and the Republicans in Congress say it: With the best invitation America’s ever issued to a foreign leader. And about damned time.

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Graham: Obama ‘Makes Pickett’s Charge Look Like a Sound Military Strategy’

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Freshly returned from a trip to the Middle East, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he got a chilling message from governments in the region.

“I went to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel. And they said it’s better to be America’s enemy than her friend, because she seemed to respect your enemies more,” Graham told Fox this morning. “Iran is on the march. There are four Arab capitals under the influence of the Iranians at a time we’re trying to negotiate with this new ‘moderate’ regime.”

“The Houthis in Yemen are Iranian-backed. Assad is completely under the control of Iran. You’ve got a problem in Iraq and Lebanon. President Obama’s standing in the region is terrible. His policies are failing. If this is a success story in Yemen, I’d hate to see failure.”

Graham called Obama “basically incompetent,” “stubborn” and “arrogant” when it comes to foreign policy.

“Because he’s refusing to adjust at a time when the circumstances are screaming out to adjust. They’re selling to us that the Iranians are new and moderate. They told us that al-Qaeda was decimated before the 2012 election. They said that Yemen is a success story. Now they’re trying to sell to the Congress, ‘Butt out. We don’t need your input. Stay away from the Iranian negotiations,’” he said. “The Iranians are destabilizing the Mideast. They want a nuclear weapon. And their missile program is inconsistent with a moderate, peaceful regime.”

Secretary of State John Kerry is “completely out of touch, like the president,” the senator added.

“I met with the Free Syrian Army commander. He says ISIL is stronger today than they’ve ever been. And here’s what they’re doing. They’re selling oil to Assad and wheat. They control vast areas of Syria, they’re economically stronger, and they have an unholy alliance with Assad,” Graham said.

“…This makes Pickett’s Charge look like a sound military strategy. What we’re doing in training the Free Syrian Army without neutralizing Assad’s air power is military unsound and immoral, and it will not work. And what we’re doing in Iraq will not work. It will take years at this pace to liberate Mosul. Iraq and Syria are the perfect platform to hit the United States.”

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U.S. Pulls Some Embassy Staff in Yemen, But White House Says No Need to ‘Change Posture’

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The State Department has pulled some of its staff from the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, as calls to evacuate the facility continued.

“While the Embassy remains open and is continuing to operate, we may continue to re-align resources based on the situation on the ground,” a senior State Department official told Reuters. “We will continue to operate as normal, albeit with reduced staff.”

Press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement late Thursday that the U.S. “is troubled by reports of President Hadi and his cabinet’s resignation. At this time, it is critical that all sides avoid violence.”

“The safety and security of U.S. personnel is our top priority in Yemen,” Psaki continued. “We are evaluating the security situation on the ground on an ongoing basis. We call on all parties to abide by their public commitments to ensure the security of the diplomatic community, including our personnel.”

She added that Yemenis “deserve a clear path back to a legitimate, federal, and unitary Yemeni government, consistent with the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference, UN Security Council resolutions and Yemeni law, with clearly defined timelines to finish writing a new Yemeni constitution, to hold a referendum on this constitution, and to launch national elections.”

“The future of Yemen should be determined by the Yemeni people in accordance with Yemen’s constitution and the National Dialogue Conference outcomes. All Yemenis have both a right and responsibility to peacefully participate in this process. The United States remains firmly committed to supporting all Yemenis in this endeavor.”

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told CNN “prudence dictates perhaps moving these people out at least temporarily.”

“AQAP, the al-Qaeda affiliate, is in the neighborhood. They’re in Sana’a as well. We know what they would like to do if they had a chance. The other complication is although the Houthi leadership apparently is making some reassuring noises to our people about not targeting the embassy, we’re not so sure about the chain of command,” King said.

“You have got an 18-year-old with a heavy-duty machine gun, and it could easily get out of control. I think the prudent thing is to move out. I know I have had a bunch of briefings in the last 24 hours. I know that the administration is monitoring this. I said, is it hour to hour? They said, no, it’s minute to minute.”

The senator, a member of the Intelligence Committee, added that “one of the big considerations is, what are the people on the ground at the embassy compound telling them about whether or not they’re able to do their job?”

“…That’s not an easy decision, because if we move out, the compound could be taken over and we couldn’t get back in. But it’s a tough call. But my inclination is err on the side of safety of those Americans.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday that “it’s been determined that there is not a need to change the posture at the U.S. embassy in Sana’a, but we’ll continue to monitor developments on the ground and if changes in that posture are necessary, we have all of the capabilities that are necessary to make those changes.”

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Pelosi Peeved That Boehner Had ‘Hubris’ to Say ‘I Rule’ and Invite Bibi

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The White House has complained that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) broke with executive protocol in his invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint sessions of Congress — and now Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is saying Boehner had the “hubris” to break an unwritten congressional protocol as well.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday that “the typical protocol would suggest that the leader of a country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there.”

“That certainly is how President Obama’s trips are planned when we travel overseas,” Earnest said. “So this particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol.”

The Netanyahu address is scheduled for Feb. 11.

“When I was — also when I was minority leader and became one of the four leaders, it was clear always that if we wanted — if we had a suggestion about a head of state to come, that it was something that had to — you passed around the four top leaders,” Pelosi told reporters at a press conference today.

“For example, one of my, as minority leader before being speaker, one of the people that I was excited to invite or hoped to invite was the president of Liberia, woman president of Liberia, [Ellen] Sirleaf Johnson. And I knew that she would be a spectacular guest for the House, but — or for the Congress, a joint session, but I talked to Senator Frist, I talked to — I talked to the leadership about would that be OK. And they agreed that it would,” she continued.

“A concern that people had, going back then, was will members show up, because members are not always enthusiastic about attending these joint sessions.”

Netanyahu’s 2011 address to a joint session of Congress was packed.

“So that was — that was my introduction to it, you talked to all four, the other three leaders. There’s some consensus among four. And I’m not saying that it’s a big challenge. People usually would cooperate. But they’d raise their concerns about attendance, this or that. I know Sirleaf Johnson we would be bursting at the seams, and we were, with member attendance,” Pelosi said, adding more examples: “So, when I was speaker, we had King Abdullah of Jordan, President Sarkozy of France, the taoiseach of Ireland, Taoiseach Ahern, Prime Minister Brown of England, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, and President Calderon of Mexico, some kind of a combination of initiated by the White House or initiated by Congress, but agreed to by all four leaders.”

“So, it’s out of the ordinary that the speaker would decide that he would be inviting people to a joint session without any bipartisan consultation.”

Pelosi added, “Of course, we always — our friendship with Israel is a very strong one. Prime Minister Netanyahu has spoken to the joint session two times already.”

“And there are concerns about the fact that this, as I understand it from this morning, that this presentation will take place within two weeks of the election in Israel. I don’t think that’s appropriate for any country, that the head of state would come here within two weeks of his own election in his own country,” she said. “The more serious part of your question is about the sanctions. Yes, the president was correct in his presentation and the strength with which he presented his appeal to Congress that we not have sanctions at this time.”

Pelosi chided pro-sanctions lawmakers, including many Dems. “Everybody knows that Congress can pass sanctions anytime. So, what is the point? What is the point? What is the — the problem is that it could seriously undermine the delicate diplomacy that is at work… And so, what is the point of — of sanctions? And if that’s the purpose of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit two weeks before his own election, right in the midst of our negotiations, I just don’t think it’s appropriate and helpful.”

She wasn’t done.

Pelosi said Boehner has “awesome power” in his position as speaker, but “that power is not to be squandered.”

“It’s hubris to say, you know, ‘I rule; I’ll decide.’ And without any sensitivity to the fact that an election is taking two weeks — and within two weeks, the invitation I get is for the 3rd of March and the election is the — what? — the 17th, something like that. And also the fact that what is the purpose of it. Is the purpose to come and talk about sanctions? To talk about a policy in opposition to the policy that our president has just put forth in his State of the Union address and that has been in operation for many months?”

Boehner said in a statement Wednesday that Netanyahu “is a great friend of our country, and this invitation carries with it our unwavering commitment to the security and well-being of his people.”

“In this time of challenge, I am asking the Prime Minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life,” Boehner continued. “Americans and Israelis have always stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again.”

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Psaki Calls Boehner Invitation to Netanyahu an ‘Episode of the Bizarre’

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said this morning that by the time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint session of Congress, lawmakers should have their Iran sanctions game plan in place.

Corker went to Israel a few days ago “to sit down with him and also sit down with Mossad, who’s their intelligence agency, in closely monitoring these negotiations,” he told CNN.

“And my guess is by the time that he comes Congress may be in sync as to what it wants to do. So I don’t know that he’ll be necessarily going against the president. There’s a lot that’s occurring,” Corker said.

“But I do know this, he’s incredibly concerned about a bad deal with Iran, very concerned about where these negotiations are going. And what appears to be happening is Iran has sort of been here, we started here, the P-5, and every day that goes by it seems that we move closer and closer to the Iran place. And that’s why Congress, again, wants to be that firm backstop. And I think he supports this, to keep the P-5 from going to a place that’s really bad for our nation.”

The chairman said he was “made aware” of the invitation, though it’s House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) call.

“I think what you’ve seen happening is the president’s been irresponsible in the way that he has dealt with Congress and continued to basically act as if it’s his way or the highway,” Corker said. “I don’t know if that’s what’s driving the leadership in this particular direction.”

Boehner said in a statement Wednesday that Netanyahu “is a great friend of our country, and this invitation carries with it our unwavering commitment to the security and well-being of his people.”

“In this time of challenge, I am asking the Prime Minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life,” Boehner continued. “Americans and Israelis have always stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again.”

Netanyahu’s address is scheduled for Feb. 11. He previously addressed Congress in 1996 and 2011.

“With respect to the prime minister and his visit here, look, we welcome the prime minister of Israel to come and speak in America anytime,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday. “And obviously, it’s a little unusual to learn of an invitation from the speaker’s office. That said, everybody knows that the subject of Iran is much on people’s minds. We have no difference in our goal with respect to our position.”

“We may have – we do have some difference in tactics of how you achieve that goal,” Kerry added. “But we are determined that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon, and the key to our negotiations is to make certain that whatever is agreed upon will show people with clarity that that is, in fact, the case that the path to a nuclear weapon is not achievable and/or has been given up or both together, and that it can be verified. And that is obviously critical.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told CNN that she “will let others be the judge of what’s appropriate or not” in the Netanyahu invitation. “It’s certainly unusual.”

“Obviously, we have a close relationship with Israel. We heard, as you know and have reported on from Speaker Boehner, not from Israel, about plans for the prime minister to come here. He has come before, many times before. Many prime ministers have come before,” Psaki said. “So it was a little — it was a bit of an episode of the bizarre today seeing all of this unfold.”

Psaki was asked if Kerry was “irritated” by Boehner’s move.

“Well, he doesn’t get irritated that easily, as you know. You know him pretty well,” Psaki replied. “I think he’s focused on lots of issues we work with Israel on, whether it’s security or the tensions on the ground. He is keeping his eyes on those balls. He is not particularly worried about the protocol of when someone is told they are coming to speak here. He thought it was a little unusual, too.”

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Kerry: ‘We’re Flushing Out’ Sleeper Cells of ‘Very Nihilistic, Unbelievably Oppressive’ People

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Secretary of State John Kerry said in London today that people shouldn’t be “dismayed” by ISIS cells in their neighborhoods but “they should be encouraged” that governments are “flushing them out.”

Kerry met with UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and counterparts from other coalition nations for an anti-ISIS coalition “steering group” meeting.

“But as we have put this together now in a matter of a few months, we have gone from zero at the end of September to now, in January, in our fourth month, having stopped ISIL’s advance in Iraq, having negated their resources, their capacity to move foreign fighters, to a significant degree, and changed their operations as a result of what we’ve been able to do,” Kerry said. “We still have a lot of work to do, and the purpose of coming here is to bring everybody’s best advice, everybody’s thoughts about where there may be weaknesses, everybody’s thoughts about things we can do better, put that together, improve our own performance and operation, and lay down the strategy for the days ahead.”

However, Hammond noted separately that it could take two years to get the Iraq army up to snuff to be able to push back ISIS. And Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu stressed to British media that they can’t stop the flow of foreign fighters into Syria.

On the home front, Kerry said, “Police forces, law enforcement community, intelligence community of many countries have come together in an incredibly effective way to fight against an insidious, long-time planning process that has been in place.”

“And in a sense, we’re flushing them out. These sleeper cells have been there for years now. Many of these plans have been in place for a long period of time, long preceding what we’ve been doing with respect to ISIS. But the truth is that these groups are planning and have been planning for a long period of time, going back to Osama bin Laden and 9/11 in New York, to attack Western interests and to go after anybody that they disagree with. Their goal is to suppress and to take over and to expand a very nihilistic, unbelievably oppressive sense of how people ought to live.”

Hammond added that “we always said this would take time,” but Iraqi forces “will be capable and ready at some point to push back against ISIL.”

“And in the meantime, we have to continue the work to undermine ISIL’s message in our own countries and to protect our own homelands with security measures both here and across the continent, in collaboration with our partners,” the UK secretary said.

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Jarrett: Obama ‘Concerned,’ But No Decision on Evacuating Embassy in Yemen

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Even as senators such as Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Angus King (I-Maine) advocated evacuating the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said they’re not moving in that direction yet.

With the presidential palace overrun, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has agreed to give in to demands of Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels, Yemen’s news agency reported.

The Embassy issued a message to American citizens in the country on Tuesday: “The U.S. Embassy warns all U.S. citizens to avoid the areas around 50 and 60 Meter Road near the Presidential Palace, Presidential residence, and Haddah Area in Sana’s due to heavy fighting.  While the fighting appears to be politically motivated and an internal domestic dispute not directed against foreign interests, all U.S. citizens should be vigilant of the continued high risk of kidnapping and terrorist attacks throughout Yemen. U.S. citizens living in Yemen should take extra precautions and consider leaving the country.”

Jarrett told CNN today that they’re watching and waiting.

“Well, first of all, there is nothing more important to the president than the safety of American people. Secondly, the State Department is in very close contact with our embassy and folks on the ground, and the president is receiving regularly — regular updates from his national security team here at the White House. So, no decision has been made to announce yet,” she said. “The president is very concerned, but that’s his decision to make and he’ll make it in consultation with both folks on the ground and his national security team.”

Jarrett said they’re not evacuating yet because “having a presence there is very important.”

“That’s a very important region and the work that they’re doing, that is key to our agenda and so it’s — many of the people who serve, and it’s an important point to make in our embassies all across the world are at risk. We are very grateful to them for that service. These are oftentimes very dangerous jobs,” she continued. “And so, it’s a delicate balance, and the president, as I said, is personally monitoring the situation very closely and the State Department is in absolutely continuous contact with our folks on the ground.”

State Department press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters today that the safety of U.S. personnel ranks “very highly” in their deliberations of whether to stay or evacuate.

Psaki was asked how Iran can be trusted to negotiate or abide by a nuclear agreement when the Houthis have “concerning relations” with Iran.

“It’s never been about trust. As you know, the nuclear negotiations are about the nuclear issue. If we reach an agreement, it doesn’t mean the other issues are resolved,” Psaki replied. “As you know, there are a number of sanctions and restrictions on Iran related to other issues. But we have a fundamental belief that preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is in the interest of the United States and the global community. That’s why we’re continuing to pursue it.”

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Boehner Not ‘Poking Anyone in the Eye’ with Netanyahu Invitation

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) insisted he’s not “poking” the White House in the eye by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, while the administration complained it was a deviation of protocol.

Netanyahu is expected to address the joint session on Feb. 11 — the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution — about the danger posed by Iran and terrorism.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters onboard Air Force One today that they hadn’t heard about the invitation from the Israelis at all, and “this particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol.”

“The protocol would suggest that the leader of one country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there,” Earnest said.

He added that the administration would “reserve judgment” on the visit until they’ve had a chance to confer with the Israelis.

Boehner confirmed outside of a caucus meeting on the Hill today that he “did not consult with the White House.”

“The Congress can make this decision on its own,” Boehner stressed. “I don’t believe I’m poking anyone in the eye. There is a serious threat that exists in the world and the president, last night, kind of papered over it. And the fact is, is that there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how serious the threat is from radical Islamic jihadists and the threat posed by Iran.”

Over at the State Department, press secretary Jen Psaki said they have no opposition to Netanyahu’s visit.

“He’s spoken to a joint session many times in the past. That’s certainly not something we have opposed, nor do we oppose it, in general, in this case,” Psaki told reporters. “We don’t have information at this point on what he’ll be speaking about. Obviously, we have ongoing discussions — the secretary does — with Prime Minister Netanyahu about a range of issues, security, the ongoing tensions. Those will certainly continue.”

“…We have a different point of view, as it relates to the benefit of ongoing negotiations with Iran in our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And Prime Minister Netanyahu has spoken to that extensively. So that’s — but there are many leaders who have spoken to joint sessions in the past and there will be many in the future.”

Netanyahu met with a group of senators who visited Jerusalem over the weekend, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).

 

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VIDEO: Menendez Accuses Administration of Using Talking Points ‘Straight Out of Tehran’

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson
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At a hearing on Iran this morning, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was unambiguous on where he stands regarding the administration’s Iran policy — despite President Obama’s attempted scolding last week of pro-sanctions Dems.

“The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran,” Menendez said.

“And it feeds to the Iranian narrative of victimization, when they are the ones with original sin. An illicit nuclear weapons program going back over the course of 20 years, they’re unwilling to come clean on,” he continued. “So I don’t know why we feel compelled to make their case, when in fact … they get to cheat in a series of ways and we get to worry about their perceptions.”

Menendez was questioning Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who didn’t dispute the senator’s facts about Iran’s nuclear progress in the face of P5+1 talks.

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New Saudi Border Security Policy: Shoot on Sight

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Earlier this month, three Saudi guards were killed as four terrorists tried to cross into the kingdom from Iraq. Two reportedly detonated suicide vests, while the others were shot by Saudi officers.

So, reports the Arab News, Saudi Arabia came up with a new border security strategy:

The Border Guards has been given orders to shoot anybody who tries to cross into Saudi territory illegally, said Vice Adm. Awad bin Eid Al-Balawi, acting director general of the Border Guards. “No negotiations will be held with the intruders,” he added.

Maj. Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, official spokesman of the Border Guards, said that all Border Guards received these instructions and orders.

He explained that the new instructions demand a heavier and stricter response to the border infiltration attempts and firing at them immediately without discussion.

Al-Ghamdi said that this decision is considered the Kingdom’s sovereign right, adding that the Border Guards are working to implement these instructions in order to guarantee the safety and security of the citizens and their country.

Saudi Arabia is constructing a border fence more than 600 miles long with the Iraq border, a project that entered the planning stages in 2006 but has taken on extra urgency with the growth of the Islamic State.

Along with getting past shoot-on-sight troops, radar and night-vision scanning, ISIS will have to get through five layers of fencing on their drive to capture the Muslim holy sites of Mecca and Medina.

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BREAKING: Boehner Invites Netanyahu to Address Congress on Islamic Terrorism

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

This will make liberal heads explode:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to address a joint meeting of Congress on February 11, 2015.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is a great friend of our country, and this invitation carries with it our unwavering commitment to the security and well-being of his people,” Boehner said. “In this time of challenge, I am asking the Prime Minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life. Americans and Israelis have always stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again.”

You can read the formal letter of invitation here.

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Panetta: ‘We’re Entering More Threatening, More Dangerous Period’ in War on Terror

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta said the terrorist attacks in Ottawa and Paris, and the raids on terror cells in Belgium, highlight the fact that “we’re entering a new and perhaps more dangerous chapter in the war on terrorism.”

Panetta has previously criticized the Obama administration’s national security policies with the release of his memoir in October.

He told CNN over the weekend that the situation on the world stage is only getting worse.

“You’ve got terrorists coming at us from a lot of different directions, from ISIS, from Boko Haram, from al-Shabaab, from AQAP, from other elements of al Qaeda. They are recruiting like crazy from these various wars in Syria and Iraq and Yemen. And they seem to be involved in more planning and more weapons in terms of the types of attacks that they are working on,” Panetta said.

“So I think it’s pretty clear from what we’re seeing that we are entering a more threatening and more dangerous period in this war on terrorism.”

Panetta stressed that governments need to be “very aggressive in confronting this more dangerous threat in terms of terrorism.”

“You have to do it with increasing our basic intelligence because obviously, whether it’s human intelligence or technical intelligence, getting the right intelligence gives you at least a chance to avoid these kinds of attacks,” he said. “Secondly, I think we have to continue to stress our counterterrorism operations, both our intelligence operations, our special forces operations, to be able to use our capabilities to target their leadership and their command and control.”

“And thirdly, you’ve got to build partnerships with the countries abroad that are confronting terrorism. We’ve got to be able to share intelligence, share operations, and be able to work together to go after this broad array of threats, because these individuals as they come back — I think, you know, we’re probably in a pretty good position with our watch list and with our defenses that have been set up to be able to check them.”

The “problem is in Europe,” Panetta said, is “that there frankly is a greater capability to be able to move from country to country without being detected.”

“So somehow working with other countries we’ve got to be able to share intelligence and improve our capability to track these foreign nationals that in one way or another are coming back to these countries and trying to conduct these attacks,” he said.

Panetta said there’s “no question” that the Paris attack was an “intelligence failure.”

“The reality is that when these foreign nationals are able to come back into our country, and there are thousands of these nationals that are overseas in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen, I think it still represents a real danger in terms of the United States,” he said. “I don’t think we can take anything for granted. I think we are dealing with a much more aggressive form of terrorism coming at us in a number of different directions, as I said. And the United States ought to continue to remain very vigilant and very aggressive in going after this kind of terrorism.”

He added that it was a “mistake” for the administration to have skipped the march of world leaders in Paris.

“Because we missed an opportunity to show solidarity with the leadership in the world that is confronting this terrorism threat that we all face. It was a missed opportunity we should have had. If not the president, certainly the vice president or secretary of state should have attended,” Panetta continued.

“As far as what went on in the White House, all I can say is when I was chief of staff, the National Security adviser and the chief of staff usually presented these kinds of issues directly to the president and the president then made the ultimate decision as to what happened. Whether or not that happened here, I just don’t know.”

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The Buck Finally Stops with Administration Official for Paris No-Show

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

More than a week after President Obama no-showed a historic march of world leaders united against terrorism in Paris, it appears the buck has finally stopped.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough took the blame for the absence of any administration-level official at the event, after a week of press secretary Josh Earnest deflected questions about the decision-making process inside the West Wing.

“We’ve said that we regret we didn’t send somebody more senior than our ambassador. That rests on me. That’s my job,” McDonough said on NBC this morning after prodded by host Matt Lauer. “I regret it, in particular, because the melee that ensued after that has covered up and, you know obfuscated the very good progress that our intelligence agencies, our law enforcement FBI and DOJ and all the cooperation they’re undertaking, not only with our French counterparts, but with our European allies across the board to confront this threat.”

“That’s what we ought to be focused on,” the chief of staff continued. “Unfortunately, the decisions I made obfuscated that effort. We’re going to continue to make sure that we’re focused on that and working with our friends to make sure that something like this does not happen again.”

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett insisted Thursday that the Obama administration got the “substance” right on the Paris attacks even if they messed up the optics of Sunday’s anti-terror march.

“I think as we said, certainly we would have liked to have participated in the parade,” Jarrett told CNN. “I remind you that Attorney General Holder was in Paris for a very important meeting together with his colleagues from around Europe and around the world to take a look at what we can do to make sure that we’re cooperating fully.”

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Iran-Backed Yemen Rebels Take Presidential Palace; U.S. Doesn’t Evacuate Embassy

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Things are going downhill quickly in Yemen as Iran-backed rebels have seized control, reports the Associated Press:

Yemen’s information minister says Shiite Houthi rebels are shelling the residence of the country’s president as they also swept into the presidential palace in the capital, Sanaa.

The minister, Nadia al-Sakkaf posted on her Twitter account on Tuesday that President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi home in downtown Sanaa has come under “heavy shelling since 3:00 PM by armed forces positioned over rooftops facing his house.”

Hadi is believed to be inside the house.

The shelling is a dramatic escalation in the violence that has gripped Sanaa since Monday and which has been described as a coup.

Al-Sakkaf’s posting came as a Yemeni army commander said the rebels have also raided the presidential palace – where Hadis’ office is – and are looting its weapons depot.

The Houthis have also seized Yemen’s state-owned media.

Shots were fired Monday night at a U.S. Embassy vehicle near the Sanaa building’s checkpoint, officials said. Yet U.S. officials told NBC late Monday “that they don’t plan to evacuate the American embassy in Yemen’s capital.”

Egypt closed its embassy Monday in the face of the mounting danger.

In September, President Obama said, “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

“More problems in Pres Obama’s anti-terror ‘success story,’” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) tweeted Monday. “Houthi rebels seize #Yemen state media, battle soldiers.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman issued a statement calling “on all sides to immediately cease all hostilities, exercise maximum restraint, and take the necessary steps to restore full authority to the legitimate government institutions.”

The UN Security Council is meeting on Yemen today behind closed doors.

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said Monday that “the reality is that we want to stay in Sanaa as long as we can.”

“We want to try to support the government,” Burr told CNN. “But, as we see, this is a government that’s not been in control of a country for quite a while now. And as the fighting continues and it grows, we have to pause and ask ourselves, what is AQAP up to at this time?”

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Prosecutor Who Tied Iran to Buenos Aires Bombing Found Dead Day Before Cover-Up Testimony

Monday, January 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The death of the prosecutor who vigorously pursued Iran for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires — and had also accused Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in a cover-up — raised red flags as the government he was investigating quickly called it suicide.

Alberto Nisman, 51, was scheduled to testify Monday before a congressional inquiry into the alleged protection of suspects by the presidential palace. Nisman had long been the target of death threats, and said four days before his death that someone in the Argentine government was leaking information contained in his inquiry to the Iranians.

The bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires killed 87 people and injured more than 100, and Nisman lived and breathed his dogged pursuit of bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Now, after the government has quickly and conveniently said that the bullet to Nisman’s head was self-inflicted, who will get justice for Nisman?

Nisman filed his case against Fernandez on Wednesday. The motive for her government to turn tail on the terrorism investigation? Better relations with Iran:

In a radio interview on Thursday, a day after filing the case, Nisman ratified his accusations against president Cristina Fernández. “From all the phone tapping records, which were verified, we proved that two months after the death of (former president) Néstor Kirchner (…) Argentina made a 180-degree turn in its foreign policy.”

The prosecutor went on: “(The Executive) decided to approach Iran geopolitically (…) they wanted to establish full diplomatic relations, and more importantly, a commercial trade due to the energy crisis that Argentina faced.”

Nisman has accused the government of improving its relation with Tehran in order to obtain oil and to boost grain exports at the expense of covering up Iranian officials’ involvement in the bombing.

…Nisman said that the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2013 between Argentina and Iran “was presented as something to help unblock the negotiations and ended up being a criminal deal of impunity which was reached once everything else was already agreed beforehand.” He added that the agreement was “a way to introduce a false lead” in the probe.

He said that before the Memorandum was approved, “Argentina’s intelligence agents told the Iranians ‘relax, good news, we have already won’.”

The New York Times on the details of Nisman’s death so far:

Mr. Nisman was found on the floor of his bathroom, according to the Security Ministry. Protected by 10 federal police officers, he had lived in an apartment on the 13th floor of a building in Puerto Madero, an exclusive neighborhood close to downtown Buenos Aires.

On Sunday afternoon, the officers were concerned because they had been unable to contact Mr. Nisman by telephone and his Sunday newspaper still lay outside his apartment. They called his family, but his mother was unable to open the apartment door with a spare key because there was a key in the lock on the other side. A locksmith was called, and Mr. Nisman’s mother entered the apartment with the officers.

The prosecutor who has been assigned to investigate Mr. Nisman’s death, Viviana Fein, told reporters on Monday morning that there were no witnesses and that Mr. Nisman had not left a suicide note. She said she was waiting for evidence like CCTV footage and a list of phone calls from the police, and that Mr. Nisman had not eaten dinner on Sunday night.

Anti-Defamation League president Abe Foxman said in a statement that Nisman’s death “should not be another excuse to extend the decades-long delays in bringing the Iranian masterminds and perpetrators to justice.”

“The timing and circumstances of Mr. Nisman’s death, coming just days after he released detailed allegations of high-level government attempts to evade his investigation and hours before he was scheduled to present additional details to members of the Argentine Congress, raise serious questions about whether Mr. Nisman’s death was related to his work on the AMIA bombing,” Foxman added.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) similarly called Nisman’s death “very concerning on many levels.”

“Given his long-standing work investigating Iran’s role in the 1994 terrorist bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center and his latest report accusing Argentina’s president of attempting to clear Iranians of these charges, one cannot help but suspect foul play,” Rubio said.

“The U.S. House of Representatives invited Dr. Nisman to testify before Congress last year, but his government did not give him permission. I intend to explore ways to ensure Dr. Nisman’s thorough investigation into Iran’s role in the AMIA and his lengthy reports on Iran’s penetration into Latin America receive the attention they deserve.”

FLASHBACK: Argentina Blocks Prosecutor from Telling Congress About Iran’s Troubling Terror Network

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The Cowardice of the Capon American Media

Monday, January 19th, 2015 - by Michael Walsh

Remember that “land of the free, home of the brave” stuff? Not so much anymore:

As newspaper Charlie Hebdo prints a record 7 million print run, editor-in-chief Gerard Biard is slamming U.S. media for refusing to show the cover of the latest issue, in an interview with NBC News.

“This cartoon is not just a little figure. It’s a symbol. It’s the symbol of freedom of speech, of freedom of religion, of democracy and secularism,” he told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd on Sunday. “When they refuse to publish this cartoon, when they blur it out, when they decline to publish it, they blur out democracy.”

Why should anyone be surprised? Over the past half-century, the type of person who went into the media changed from streetwise ethnics without a lot of formal education but plenty of savvy into upper-class college kids who majored in a subject any halfwit (e.g., me) could learn in three months on the job. Politically correct do-gooders to a fault, they were also largely physical and moral cowards whose “bravery,” such as it was, consisted of taking bold stands in complete accordance with whatever their peers were doing. As I’ve pointed out before, today the MSM date each other, marry each other, live in the same neighborhoods in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Washington, go to the same schools, send their kids to the same schools and have their vacation homes in the same places.

Defend Charlie Hebdo? Well, sure, in principle… but…

Several American news organizations — including channels ABC, CNN, and NBC along with the Associated Press, The New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter — have not shown what has been billed the “survivors’ issue” cover featuring a cartoon drawing of Islam’s Muhammad. CBS News, meanwhile, did show the cover image during broadcasting on multiple platforms.

“We do not kill anyone,” Biard said. “We must stop conflating the murderers and the victims. We must stop declaring that those who write and draw are provocateurs, that they are throwing gas on the fire. We must not place thinkers and artists in the same category as murders.”

“Every time that we draw a cartoon of Muhammad, every time that we draw a cartoon of the prophet, every time that we draw a cartoon of God, we defend the freedom of religion,” said Biard. “Religion should not be a political argument.”

Biard obviously does not summer on Martha’s Vineyard.

 

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[Video] FBI Hate Crime Report Shows Savage Inequality Toward Muslims

Monday, January 19th, 2015 - by Scott Ott

Here’s the script for my latest “Scott Ott Thought” video from PJTV, visible above.
SCOTT OTT:
I’m Scott Ott, and here’s a thought.The latest statistics from the FBI on hate crimes paint a disturbing picture of Islamophobic bigotry in America.Of course, you’re well aware of the Islamophobic pandemic backlash that innocent Muslims have experienced as a result of a few overachieving radical jihadists — who are not really Muslim, even thought they say they are, and draw their inspiration from the Koran, and do pretty much what Muhammed did, all the while shouting “Allahu akbar.”

I’m sure you’ve heard America leaders warn us about taking out our anger on people who don’t look like us, or don’t pray like us, and who put far too much clothing on their undoubtedly-comely women.

Well, first of all, the FBI report shows that Muslims are severely underrepresented as a hate-crime victims. Only 2.3 percent of hate crimes were anti-Islamic — that means only 135 out of 5,928 hate crimes were even aimed at Muslims.

Even Jews, on a per capita basis, received more attention from hateful criminals than Muslims did; twice as much. Clearly, President Obama has work to do if he hopes to address this savage inequality that Muslims experience as second-class hate-crime victims.

Beyond the basic unfairness to Muslims, perhaps the overriding concern about the hate-crimes statistics is the very small number of crimes that are motivated by hate at all.

About 9.8 million crimes were committed in the United States in 2013, but fewer than 6,000 were classified as hate-crimes.

This means that only one out of every 1,652 crimes is even motivated by hate.

All the rest are driven by greed, lust, boredom, or even personal hatred of a non-discriminatory nature.

Well, the psychological toll on non-hate-crime victims is perhaps anecdotal, but no less real in the absence of data.

In the words of one beating victim: “I’ve got a broken jaw, and bruised ribs, but my attacker said nothing against my religion or race — not a word. How am I gonna explain this to the kids. It’s just senseless.”

Well, I’m sure you join me in calling on President Obama to restore hate to its proper place in crime, and to elevate Muslims at least to the status of Jews.

But above all else, it’s important that we don’t let the current shortage of anti-Muslim hate crimes deter us from raising the alarm about Islamophobic bigotry in America.

I’m Scott Ott, and there’s a thought.

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Black Activists Make Solidarity Trip from Ferguson to Palestine

Monday, January 19th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Counter Current News reports:

Recently, a number of representatives from the Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter and various Ferguson anti-police brutality protesters made history through a solidarity trip to Palestine. The purpose of last week’s trip was to connect with activists living under Israeli occupation. The 10-day trip to the occupied Palestinian Territories, specifically in the West Bank, was organized to show a link between oppression emanating from the Israeli State as well as that which victims of police brutality are experiencing in America.

The trip was organized by the legal and policy director of the Dream Defenders, Ahmad Abuznaid, Florida attorney and Palestinian native.

Ebony adds:

Over the past week, the delegation has met with refugees, Afro-Palestinians, a family that was kicked out of their house by settlers in East Jerusalem, and organizations representing Palestinian political prisoners, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). …[tour member] Carruthers recalled their delegation crossing paths with a tour group led by Israeli authorities. “They were clearly receiving a completely different story about the occupation. It’s deeper than just spreading lies, the false narrative is violent.”

Tour participants did not bother noting that a politically motivated trip covering only Palestinian territories obviously carries the implication of a “false narrative.” They did, however, identify with the Palestinians, commenting that blacks are “displaced refugees” in the United States. This trip followed a visit to Ferguson paid by a Palestinian delegation this past November who sought to forge relationships with black activist groups.

Financial backing for Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter, and a cohort of sister organizations has all been directly traced to George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, which reportedly spent $5.4 million last year funding the Ferguson protest movement. 

The plethora of organizations involved not only shared Mr. Soros‘ funding, but they also fed off each other, using content and buzzwords developed by one organization on another’s website, referencing each other’s news columns and by creating a social media echo chamber of Facebook “likes” and Twitter hashtags that dominated the mainstream media and personal online newsfeeds.

At least 8 out of the 14 trip participants were members of organizations funded by Soros.

Support for these radical groups goes deeper into D.C. than Soros’s pockets. In 2012, Breitbart reported that Eric Holder’s

Department of Justice was facilitating the agenda of a group [the Dream Defenders] that appears to have been led by an employee of the law firm representing the Martin family, a stunning amount of bias for the federal goverment to show in a local crime case.

Most recently, Eric Holder joined President Obama and Vice President Biden in meeting with representatives of the Dream Defenders and other race-based organizations to sooth tensions in the wake of Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson’s non-indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown. Phillip Agnew, co-founder of Dream Defenders, attended both this meeting and the subsequent trip to the Palestinian territories.

With a White House bent on depicting radical Islamic terrorist acts as a “War on Muslims” and a president encouraging his fellow Democrats not to “bow” to pressure from pro-Israel donors, one can only wonder where such high level political support for groups such as the Dream Defenders will lead.

 

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Senator: ‘We Shouldn’t be Full of Such Hubris’ to Not Discuss U.S. Actions That ‘Create More Terrorists’

Sunday, January 18th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said America shouldn’t be so “full of hubris” not to talk about whether U.S. actions around the world inspire terrorists such as the ones who attacked Paris.

“It is important just to recognize that the individuals who carried out these attacks in Paris were originally radicalized not by ISIS but in coordination against the United States’ invasion and occupation of Iraq,” Murphy told MSNBC last week.

That drew rebukes from some colleagues. “It has nothing to do with our intervention in Iraq, like a Democratic United States Senator suggested that the people in Paris were radicalized because our invasion of Iraq,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox. “People who think that are missing the big picture here.”

Today, Murphy elaborated on his comments to CNN.

“There is never a justification, an excuse, a rationale for these kind of murderous terrorist attacks. The only people to blame for these murders in Paris and other assaults around the world are the individuals who perpetuated them,” the first-term senator said.

“But my point has been simply this. We shouldn’t be full of such hubris here in the United States that we don’t have a conversation about the fact that there are things that we do, there are actions that we take that can create more terrorists, create more threats to the United States, and there are things that we can do, actions that we can create that will create less terrorists across the world.”

Murphy stated “that’s a useful conversation to have.”

“I have argued — and I think many others would agree with me — that the war in Iraq, which became a recruiting tool for Islamic extremists all around the world, made this country less safe, not more safe,” he continued. “I would argue that the way in which we have conducted drone strikes in some parts of the world have become bulletin board recruiting material for many of these terrorist organizations. That doesn’t create a rationale, a justification for anything that has happened, but it just, I think, should create a conversation here in the United States about being careful about conducting a foreign policy in a way that ends up creating more of the very kind of people and organizations that we’re trying to fight.”

The senator added that while he supports the air campaign in Syria and Iraq because “ISIS is so dangerous,” he fears that using ground troops would create more of them.

“That would, I think, tip the balance in terms of what is necessary to protect American national security vs. what is going to, in Donald Rumsfeld’s opinion or the way in which he phrased it, create more of the people that we’re trying to eliminate,” Murphy argued.

He said the flogging of a blogger in Saudi Arabia and the death sentence handed to a Pakistani woman, Asia Bibi, for blasphemy perpetuate “this myth” that there’s “a war between Christianity and Islam, between the East and the West.”

“And, of course, we know that, for years, for decades, the Saudis have been funneling money to Wahhabi clerical organizations that fund the very madrasas that train Islamic jihadists. We certainly know in Pakistan that, at the same time that they have been fighting radical elements, they have also been funding those radical elements, or at least being permissive of them,” Murphy said.

“So, we have got to have some hard conversations with our allies in the coming weeks and days. We have let it go on for far too long. And now that we have realize the reality, the danger, the immediacy of this threat to the United States and to our allies, I think Republicans and Democrats can come together and say, listen, time is up. We need to see some progress or, especially with a country like Pakistan that’s the recipient of major dollars from the United States, there’s going to be some consequences.”

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Obama Warns Dems Not to Bow to (Jewish) Donors

Sunday, January 18th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The New York Times reported on the latest Senate Democrat strategy meeting that took place in Baltimore this past week. Among the issues on the table was the Iran issue, namely potential sanctions to be voted on in the form of the beleaguered Kirk-Menendez bill.

According to one of the senators and another person who was present, the president urged lawmakers to stop pursuing sanctions, saying such a move would undermine his authority and could derail the talks. Mr. Obama also said that such a provocative action could lead international observers to blame the Americans, rather than the Iranians, if the talks collapsed before the June 30 deadline.

The president said he understood the pressures that senators face from donors and others, but he urged the lawmakers to take the long view rather than make a move for short-term political gain, according to the senator. Mr. Menendez, who was seated at a table in front of the podium, stood up and said he took “personal offense.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) was quick to assert that the Jewishness of “donors and others” was inferred in Obama’s statement. While Religion Dispatches disagreed, they also pointed out, “…it does look as though Menendez received more ‘pro-Israel’ money than all but 2 Senators between 2006 and 2014. Number one on that list, incidentally, is his co-sponsor on the current Iran sanctions bill, Mark Kirk.”

The Kirk-Menendez bill has been battered around Capitol Hill for nearly a year. In a recent CNN report, Kirk went on record citing their need for American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest pro-Israel lobbying group in D.C., to support their efforts to get the bill passed and an inevitable Presidential veto overridden. In light of the strong relationship between AIPAC, Kirk and Menendez, perhaps the Jewish Press was right in their observation: “‘Neocon’ used to be the code word for Jews, now it appears to be ‘donors,’ at least when used by certain politicians, including U.S. President Barack Obama.”

 

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Anti-Israel CNN Reporter Jim Clancy Resigns

Friday, January 16th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Hasbara

Last week we covered the story of CNN’s Jim Clancy, who embarrassed himself with a feeble Twitter attempt to tie the radical Islamists behind the Charlie Hebdo massacre to Hasbara (Israeli PR). Today, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports:

Veteran CNN anchor Jim Clancy stepped down on Friday, one week after a series of Twitter posts in which he mocked pro-Israel tweeters on a thread discussing the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

Neither CNN nor Jim Clancy gave a reason for his departure, which was reported by AdWeek. Clancy had worked at CNN for 34 years.

Although Clancy’s Twitter account no longer existed as of Thursday, the tweets have been preserved on a number of websites, including Twitchy and Mediaite, and by Tablet journalist Yair Rosenberg.

Apparently, at one point the Twitter backlash got so bad that Clancy took mouthing off to a whole new disgusting level:

Clancy later told the Twitter account for Human Rights News, “You and the Hasbara team need to pick on some cripple at the edge of the herd.”

Jay Ruderman, head of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which is dedicated to advocacy and inclusion for the disabled, demanded an apology from Clancy and CNN. Ruderman said the use of the term “cripple” was insensitive.

Whether it was a long-overdue retirement or a simple parting of the ways, Clancy’s exit from CNN is one thing for which we can fully thank some serious Twitter hasbara.

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Report: Menendez has ‘Forceful Exchange’ with Obama Over Iran Sanctions

Thursday, January 15th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama reportedly told senators at a closed-door retreat Thursday that they shouldn’t push Iran sanctions legislation because it would “undermine his authority.”

The key Democratic proponent of the sanctions, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), reportedly got into a heated exchange with the president after taking offense to the president’s suggestion that lawmakers wanted to get tough on Iran just for political gain or at the direction of well-heeled donors.

From the New York Times:

In the course of the argument, which was described as tense but generally respectful, Mr. Obama vowed to veto legislation being drafted by Mr. Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and Senator Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, that would impose the sanctions before the multiparty talks are set to end this summer.

…His exchange with Mr. Menendez occurred near the end of a question-and-answer session after Senator Angus King of Maine — an independent who caucuses with the Democrats — asked for an update to the nuclear talks.

According to one of the senators and another person who was present, the president urged lawmakers to stop pursuing sanctions, saying such a move would undermine his authority and could derail the talks. Mr. Obama also said that such a provocative action could lead international observers to blame the Americans, rather than the Iranians, if the talks collapsed before the June 30 deadline.

The president said he understood the pressures that senators face from donors and others, but he urged the lawmakers to take the long view rather than make a move for short-term political gain, according to the senator. Mr. Menendez, who was seated at a table in front of the podium, stood up and said he took “personal offense.”

Mr. Menendez told the president that he had worked for more than 20 years to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and had always been focused on the long-term implications. Mr. Menendez also warned the president that sanctions could not be imposed quickly if Congress waited to act and the talks failed, according to two people who were present.

“It was a forceful exchange between two strong personalities,” the senator, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said. “It was not an angry exchange. It was clear, forceful, vigorous.”

As a journalist who’s covered Iran and Congress for many years, I’ve seen the frustration in those lawmakers who are trying to effect real action against the Islamic Republic, who know the roster of human rights abuses committed by the regime, who comprehended the gravity of the mullahs acquiring nuclear capability. I can only imagine the feeling of offense at the president suggesting that you’re not doing it for moral conviction but for some sort of monetary or political gain.

As for Obama’s veto threat, the likelihood of a veto-proof majority in the 113th is why the White House heaped pressure on then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to not bring it to the floor. Now Republicans have the majority in both chambers of Congress and even larger numbers. Democrats who rarely side with the GOP, such as Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) in the House and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in the Senate, will be rallying their colleagues to the sanctions cause. Repeated extensions of the negotiations deadlines and scant progress updates to Congress as Tehran benefits from sanctions relief have wiped away much of any optimism lawmakers may have felt about the administration’s strategy.

Obama will probably drop a few lines in his State of the Union address next Tuesday about how Iran is cooperating and lawmakers shouldn’t screw up his strategy. But his two arguments in the leak to the NYT — that sanctions legislation would “undermine his authority” and make other countries blame the U.S. for collapsed talks — won’t win him any friends in Congress as these reasons glaringly bypass what should be the No. 1 goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capability.

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Two Jihadists Killed as Belgians Bust Cells Before ‘Imminent Attacks’

Thursday, January 15th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson
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Belgium authorities killed two jihadi suspects today in what they said was the foiling of a “major imminent attack” by a terrorist cell in the country.

No police or members of the public were hit during the dramatic firefight, and a third suspect was taken into custody during the Verviers raid.

“During the investigation we found that this group was about to commit terrorist attacks in Belgium,” prosecutor Eric Van der Sypt told media.

“During the search warrant in Verviers, certain suspects immediately opened fire with automatic weapons at special forces of the police. They opened fire for several minutes before being neutralized,” he said.

“The investigation is still going on and you can understand that we cannot give any further information.”

Reports later Thursday indicated that Belgium authorities had launched 10 anti-terror raids across the country.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the story was too new for comment.

“I’ve seen those reports, but I don’t have anything to say about them at this point,” Earnest said during the daily briefing. “But later on today we may be able to get you something.”

Per capita, Belgium has contributed more foreign fighters to the conflict in Iraq and Syria than any other Western country.

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Harf: ‘Primarily the Government of Nigeria’s Responsibility to Protect Citizens’ from Boko Haram

Thursday, January 15th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Doro Baga Satellite view on 2 Jan 2015 and 7 Jan 2015

Satellite photos released by Amnesty International provide “indisputable and shocking evidence” of the Boko Haram attack that targeted Baga, Nigeria, beginning Jan. 3.

Some 2,000 people were reported killed in the terrorist attack, but it’s been difficult to get verification of the scope of devastation in the territory. Boko Haram now controls area near Lake Chad roughly the size of Belgium, and declared its territory part of the caliphate.

“These detailed images show devastation of catastrophic proportions in two towns, one of which was almost wiped off the map in the space of four days,” said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International. “Of all Boko Haram assaults analysed by Amnesty International, this is the largest and most destructive yet. It represents a deliberate attack on civilians whose homes, clinics and schools are now burnt out ruins.”

A study of the satellite images showed 620 stuctures in Baga and 3,100 in neighboring Doron Baga damaged or destroyed by fire. Fishing boats that had been along the shore in Jan. 2 satellite photos are missing, supporting survivors’ accounts that many tried to flee across Lake Chad.

“They killed so many people. I saw maybe around 100 killed at that time in Baga,” one survivor told Amnesty. “I ran to the bush. As we were running, they were shooting and killing.”

Another described how Boko Haram terrorists shot a mother while she was giving birth.

“Boko Haram took around 300 women and kept us in a school in Baga,” said one woman who was held by the terrorists. “They released the older women, mothers and most of the children after four days but are still keeping the younger women.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest was asked at today’s briefing why the U.S. stepped in to save the Yazidis in Iraq from terrorists but has just worked in an advisory role to Nigerian officials as Boko Haram has spiraled out of control.

“These are the kinds of moral dilemmas that American presidents for generations have faced,” Earnest replied. “…One of the things that we have believed is most important is dedicating an effort to work closer with forces that are on the ground, local forces, to try to confront these challenges, and that is the strategy that we have employed in Iraq to try to support Iraq’s security forces on the ground to take the fight to these extremists is the same strategy that we’ve used in Nigeria on a different scale, because each situation is different, where you to have an American military presence that’s using our extensive capabilities to support the Nigerian government’s efforts to — to take the fight to these extremists.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said today it’s “primarily the government of Nigeria’s responsibility to take the steps it needs to protect its citizens.”

“We know this is a very significant threat and a very challenging one for the Nigerians. That’s why we’ve offered to work with them,” Harf said. “We have done some joint training. We have a security cooperation relationship.”

Baga, North Eastern Nigeria Satellite view on 2 Jan 2015 and 7 Jan 2015

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Jarrett on Paris ‘Parade’: ‘We Certainly Got the Substance Right’

Thursday, January 15th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett insisted this morning that the Obama administration got the “substance” right on the Paris attacks even if they messed up the optics of Sunday’s anti-terror march.

“I think as we said, certainly we would have liked to have participated in the parade,” Jarrett told CNN. “I remind you that Attorney General Holder was in Paris for a very important meeting together with his colleagues from around Europe and around the world to take a look at what we can do to make sure that we’re cooperating fully.”

“And so I think we certainly got the substance right, but it would have been great to participate in the parade, and we’re delighted Secretary Kerry is there now,” she added.

And why didn’t Eric Holder participate in the march, when he was already in Paris and did the Sunday morning news shows?

Jarrett said she was “not aware” of any consideration that Holder should go to the rally.

“I know that he had pressing issues to get back. And he dropped everything to fly over there at the invitation of the French to participate in the meeting. But I don’t know the facts about whether or not he was asked to stay.”

Jarrett complimented the FBI and local law enforcement in Ohio for working “so vigilantly” to capture Christopher Lee Cornell, 20, who allegedly plotted to attack the U.S. Capitol.

“And so, yes, we have to be on high alert. We have to cooperate. We have to involve the public. People have to be aware of what’s going on around you,” she said. “And fortunately this issue resolved itself very well thanks to great efforts of law enforcement.”

Using the name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, Cornell advocated jihad on Twitter. His father said he was a convert to Islam.

“Everything you’re hearing in the media right now, they’ve already painted him as some kind of terrorist,” John Cornell told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “They’ve painted him as some kind of jihadist. … (Christopher) is one of the most peace-loving people I know.”

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