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The PJ Tatler

Defense Sec at Arlington: ‘Troops of Such Caliber’ Have ‘Great Leader’ in Obama

Monday, May 25th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

At today’s Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Day observance, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said “troops of such caliber demand great leaders, and there’s no doubt they have one in our commander in chief.”

“I see that every day,” continued Carter, who assumed his post in February. “He knows well the challenges we must face, the obligations we must meet, and the opportunities we must seize in order to keep our nation safe and to make a better world for our children. And I see that he cares deeply about the safety, welfare, and dignity of our men and women in uniform and their families.”

“For all that, and so much more, I am tremendously proud to serve as his secretary of Defense,” he added.

Carter named Fallujah among the battles that left “a legacy that has made our military the finest fighting force the world has ever known.”

A decade ago in the first and second battles of Fallujah, 134 coalition soldiers lost their lives. The city fell to ISIS in February 2014, and nearby Ramadi fell this month.

“On a day set aside for Americans to honor and remember those who perished while serving our country, our obligation and our opportunity are one and the same. Our obligation is to give voice to the fallen, honor them, and share their stories of sacrifice and heroism,” Carter said. “Our opportunity is to use this day to inspire new generations to understand the freedom they have been given, to grasp how and why it is theirs, and to dedicate themselves to pass it on to generations unborn.”

President Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns this morning before the Arlington ceremony attended by about 5,000, including Gold Star families.

“For many of us, this Memorial Day is especially meaningful; it is the first since our war in Afghanistan came to an end. Today is the first Memorial Day in 14 years that the United States is not engaged in a major ground war,” Obama said. “So on this day, we honor the sacrifice of the thousands of American servicemembers — men and women — who gave their lives since 9/11, including more than 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.”

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said on the Senate floor Friday that “we should say a special prayer for the parents of young Americans who fought and died in Iraq and Afghanistan and the current wars today.”

“We had a tragedy with the fall of Fallujah, we had a tragedy with the fall of Ramadi, we need those parents to know their sons and daughters did not die in vain,” Isakson said.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), an Iraq war veteran, told CNN on Sunday that Obama is wrong when he says the U.S. is not losing the war against ISIS.

“Clearly, ISIS has gained momentum, in particular over the last week, as we have seen the ground that they have gained both in Iraq and Syria,” Gabbard said. “…You have this solution. You have got the Kurds, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and you have Sunni tribesmen who are literally begging — I met with a Sunni tribal leader last week in Washington — they are begging for arms, heavy weapons, ammunition, to be able to fight against ISIS to protect their families and their tribal lands and their territories, but still to this point, both the U.S. and the central Iraqi government is failing to provide that, and, therefore, ISIS continues to be able to grow.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), also an Iraq veteran, said “you are not losing and you are not winning because we are not really engaged in this fight.”

“In essence, what the president did was say, look, we need to destroy ISIS, until that takes boots on the ground, in which case the existence of boots on the ground is worse than the existence of ISIS,” Kinzinger said.

“This is not just a situation where, if the house catches on fire, it will burn down and then we just look at a burned-down house. This is now a house on fire in a densely packed neighborhood, where this is going to spread to other places.”

The White House said Vice President Joe Biden called Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi today “to reaffirm U.S. support for the Iraqi government’s fight against ISIL.”

“The vice president recognized the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past eighteen months in Ramadi and elsewhere,” the administration readout said. “The vice president welcomed the Council of Ministers’ unanimous decision on May 19th to mobilize additional troops, honor those who have fallen, and prepare for counter-attack operations. The vice president pledged full U.S. support in these and other Iraqi efforts to liberate territory from ISIL, including the expedited provision of U.S. training and equipment to address the threat posed by ISIL’s use of truck bombs.

 

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A Day of Remembrance Is Nothing Without Poetry

Monday, May 25th, 2015 - by Robert Wargas

I have always been deficient in expressing emotion through anything other than the written word. It’s one reason I always return to poetry when the occasion calls for some depth of feeling.

My favorite American poet, the late Richard Hugo, is a forgotten figure. You will not see his sinewy free verse quoted during special occasions in the manner one might invoke Shakespeare, Whitman, or Frost. But his strong, declarative style is appropriate for times of remembrance like Memorial Day.

A bombardier during the Second World War, Hugo continually returned to that conflict in his writing. His 1969 collection “Good Luck in Cracked Italian” distills many of the feelings he took with him from his combat missions in Europe. Here, for example, is the opening stanza of “G.I. Graves in Tuscany”:

They still seem G.I., the uniform lines
of white crosses, the gleam that rolls
white drums over the lawn. Machines
that cut the grass left their maneuvers plain.
Our flag doesn’t seem silly though plainly
it flies only because there is wind.

The last two lines might strike you as flippant. But what appears to be frivolity or cynicism, in a Hugo poem, often turns out to be simple bewilderment: something seen through the eyes of a broken man whose honesty has an unintended comic effect.

In “April in Cerignola,” Hugo ponders his own role in war and death:

I was desolate, too, and so survived.
I had a secret wish, to bring much food
and feed you through the war. I wished
you also dead. All roads lead to none.
You’re too far from the Adriatic
to get good wind. Harsh heat and roaring cold
are built in like abandonment each year.

This is a poetic voice lacking in any kind of self-dramatization; it’s almost clinical in its description. It might be why the poem sounds so odd and, in a way, so dated.

Poetry is how I make sense of strange times. Perhaps it can help you as well. With these modest offerings, I give endless thanks to our fallen guardians.

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Obama Uses Memorial Day Address to Explain That Our Soldiers Are No Longer Fighting a Real War

Monday, May 25th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard
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On Memorial Day, a day that we remember and honor our fallen heroes, those who gave the “last full measure of devotion” for their country and for the cause of freedom, President Obama took a few minutes out of his busy day (which no doubt will include some time on the golf course) to make sure all Americans know that this whole business we’re caught up in over in Afghanistan is not a real war — because he was the Great War Hero who ended that war.

“Hi, everybody!” Obama breezily begins his solemn tribute to our fallen heroes. “This year, the holiday is especially meaningful.  It’s the first Memorial Day since our war ended in Afghanistan.”

The president paid tribute to Specialist Wyatt Martin and Sergeant First Class Ramon Morris, who were “the final two Americans to give their lives during our combat mission in Afghanistan.” He then drew a contrast between the service of those who died before Obama unilaterally ended the war in Afghanistan in December and those who have given their lives since that date, noting that Army combat medic Corporal John Dawson was “the first American to give his life in this new mission.”

We still have 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, some of whom may not make it home to their families. Are those who die in Afghanistan from here on out going to have “this new mission” (or “this new ambiguous and convoluted mission”) engraved on their headstones at Arlington National Cemetery? Because of Obama’s ego and his fear of the left wing of his party, the families of American soldiers who die in combat will be denied the honor of saying their loved one died in a real war. Instead, they’ll have to mumble something about them dying in Obama’s Debacle in Afghanistan.

Because, you know, everything after December doesn’t count as a real war because Obama declared “game over” and turned his attention to global warming. Meanwhile, our soldiers in Afghanistan daily risk their lives so Obama has the luxury of hob-knobbing with his celebrity friends who sit around fretting about global warming and boasting about whose toilet uses the least amount of water.

Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan, May 25, 2015 (AP Images)

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Kurdish Fighters Recapture Dozens of Syrian Towns From ISIS (Video)

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015 - by Debra Heine

While Obama’s 60-nation coalition dithers,  Syrian Kurdish fighters of the YPG (People’s Protection Units) are making gains against the Islamic State (aka Daesh). In a two-week long offensive, they routed the jihadis, retaking dozens of Christian villages and towns.

Via the Voice of America, Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer was on the frontlines in Tal Shamiran to talk with with the YPG fighters. Jordan Matson, an American volunteer who has been in Northeastern Syria fighting with the YPG since September of 2014, said, “we’re here cleaning out the last Assyrian villages. There was some minimal resistance, but we had enough forces to push through, today.”

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The 28-year-old Matson is a U.S. Army vet who volunteered to join the Kurds in the fight against ISIS when he saw all of the gains that had been made in Iraq crumble away.

“I decided that if my government wasn’t going to do anything to help this country, especially Kurdish people who stood by us for 10 years and helped us out while we were in this country, then I was going to do something,” Matson said last fall.

He has vowed that he will not return home to Wisconsin “until the fight is finished and [the Islamic State] is crippled.”

Jordan Matson is among “dozens” of foreign fighters from Europe and America who have joined the Kurdish militia in the fight against ISIS. Unfortunately, some 20,000 foreigners have joined the Islamic State according to the State Department.

In an appearance on Hannity earlier this week, Matson complained about the low-watt U.S. bombing campaign. “They’re dragging this out – we could have ended this a long time ago,” he said.

He said that the way things are going, now, the fight will continue for a long time because the U.S. has limited itself to just doing bomb strikes, but with no one on the ground to help mark the targets.

“There’s so much more we could be doing to make these bombs more accurate,” he said.

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Obama’s Big Brass Clanging Tablets on Display at D.C. Synagogue

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: This Friday, hours before Shabbat is set to begin and one day before the holiday of Shavuot starts, President Obama walked into a D.C. synagogue and proceeded to tell Jews that their religious texts and traditions compel them to give away Israeli land for the creation of a Palestinian state.

That’s some big, clanging brass you-know-whats on display right there. It’s one thing to use a prayer breakfast to rip Christians a new one. Would he have the guts to walk into a church and do the same thing, hours before a holy day, one day before a holiday no less? Are we Jews that nice? That pathetic? Do we give the impression of being such pushovers that we turn our pulpits over to world leaders who crap on our identity and manipulate our covenant with God to suit their own personal political agendas?

There is no doubt that Obama created Jewish American Heritage Month and participated in today’s keynote event simply to smooth over his relationship with the Jewish American community in the wake of his aggressive negotiations with Iran and the Gulf states. We are no longer the fiddlers. We are merely the fiddles being played by a political performer who has no problem proclaiming that he knows us better than we know ourselves.

On Shavuot we will celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is, in effect, the anniversary of our entering into our covenant with God. This is the very holiday that marks the making of us as a people. A key element of that covenant is the land on which the nation of Israel is to be established. And today, 1,000 attendees at Adas Israel anxiously clapped away that promise in favor of the pervading moral relativism of the White House.

They aren’t bad Jews because they vote liberal. They aren’t bad Jews because they vote Obama. They are bad Jews, as we all are, for ignoring, belittling, dismissing, and forgetting the covenant we made with God. The covenant that crafted us into who we are and showed us what we could be. Come on, people. We’re better than that.

 

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Obama Explains How It’s Acceptable to Broker Deal with Regime That Wants to Annihilate Jews

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama told The Atlantic that ISIS is not winning, but “the training of Iraqi security forces, the fortifications, the command-and-control systems are not happening fast enough in Anbar, in the Sunni parts of the country.”

“I don’t think we’re losing,” Obama said. “There’s no doubt there was a tactical setback, although Ramadi had been vulnerable for a very long time, primarily because these are not Iraqi security forces that we have trained or reinforced.”

Obama spoke with Jeffrey Goldberg on Tuesday, after the fall of Ramadi and well into the White House spin operation on the ISIS gain.

“I know that there are some in Republican quarters who have suggested that I’ve overlearned the mistake of Iraq, and that, in fact, just because the 2003 invasion did not go well doesn’t argue that we shouldn’t go back in,” he said. “And one lesson that I think is important to draw from what happened is that if the Iraqis themselves are not willing or capable to arrive at the political accommodations necessary to govern, if they are not willing to fight for the security of their country, we cannot do that for them.”

Obama also assured the magazine that the Iran nuclear deal will be good because of his “personal interest in locking this down.”

“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing,” he said. “If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this.”

He also contested Goldberg’s suggestion that the anti-Semitic regime in Iran is not a rational negotiating partner.

“Well the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival,” Obama said. “It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations. You know, if you look at the history of anti-Semitism, Jeff, there were a whole lot of European leaders—and there were deep strains of anti-Semitism in this country—”

Goldberg interjected that European anti-Semitic leaders had, indeed, made irrational decisions.

“They may make irrational decisions with respect to discrimination, with respect to trying to use anti-Semitic rhetoric as an organizing tool. At the margins, where the costs are low, they may pursue policies based on hatred as opposed to self-interest. But the costs here are not low, and what we’ve been very clear [about] to the Iranian regime over the past six years is that we will continue to ratchet up the costs, not simply for their anti-Semitism, but also for whatever expansionist ambitions they may have,” Obama retorted.

“That’s what the sanctions represent. That’s what the military option I’ve made clear I preserve represents. And so I think it is not at all contradictory to say that there are deep strains of anti-Semitism in the core regime, but that they also are interested in maintaining power, having some semblance of legitimacy inside their own country, which requires that they get themselves out of what is a deep economic rut that we’ve put them in, and on that basis they are then willing and prepared potentially to strike an agreement on their nuclear program.”

Obama also said that the African-American experience has a parallel to Israel’s right to exist. “There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law,” he said. “These things are indivisible in my mind.”

“…I consistently received overwhelming majority support from the Jewish community, and even after all the publicity around the recent differences that I’ve had with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the majority of the Jewish American community still supports me, and supports me strongly.”

Obama appeared in the Oval Office today with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, but did not take any questions from the media.

He’s scheduled to deliver remarks at Congregation Adas Israel in D.C. tomorrow for Jewish American Heritage Month.

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After Fall of Ramadi, U.S. Vets of Bloody Battles Express Anger and Frustration

Thursday, May 21st, 2015 - by Debra Heine

The first kick in the gut came in January of 2014 — when the “JV team” took Fallujah. Since then, they’ve been falling like dominoes — one Iraqi city after another. Remember that almost 4,500 U.S. troops paid the ultimate sacrifice during the eight-year war.

Now that ISIS has planted its black and white flag in the center of Ramadi, veterans of the bloody battles that were fought to stabilize the city are expressing anger and frustration at the way the current administration has allowed the country to unravel.

The Stars and Stripes interviewed some of those disillusioned vets.

“It’s pretty disturbing,” said Thomas Daly, 32, who served in Ramadi as a Marine first lieutenant from 2006 to 2007.

Daly, the author of the Iraq memoir “Rage Company,” still holds out hope that the Iraqi military and tribesmen can take back Ramadi with American help. But he fears that if things in don’t turn around, those who fought in Iraq will feel like their Vietnam veteran brethren, many of whom say their friends died for nothing.

“It degrades the sacrifice of those who were killed and wounded,” Daly said.

In an echo of the last war in Iraq, the White House and Pentagon have put out relentlessly upbeat battlefield assessments of their efforts to roll back the Islamic State, even as militants take territory and Iraqi Army units crumble. On Friday, a Marine general insisted the Islamic State is “losing,” and on Saturday, it was confirmed that Ramadi, just 70 miles from Baghdad, had fallen. The news got worse this week with reports that Iraqi soldiers fled the city rather than defend it.

Ramadi, along with Fallujah — another city infamous for violence — lie in Anbar province, where more than 1,300 U.S. troops lost their lives during the Iraq War.

Some veterans expressed horror at the possible fate of the Iraqis who joined the so-called Awakening, when Sunni tribesman, some who once worked with insurgents, joined the Americans in a reversal that turned the tide in the war.

“In reality, there’s good people there who are dying because we abandoned them,” said Joshua Revak, a former Army specialist who was wounded by a mortar in Ramadi in 2006 that killed his friend and roommate, Sgt. Terry Lisk.

Daly, who worked with Awakening members and has kept in touch with some since leaving Iraq, said they painted a grim picture of events as the Islamic State moved in. One leader he worked with was kidnapped and burned alive, and the last tribesman he was in touch with went silent two weeks ago — he still doesn’t know his fate.

“It’s just depressing, man — I mean, how can you let that happen?” Daly said.

Many troops took to social media, and some penned opinion columns to lament the loss.

“Thinking and hearing about it. … I have tears in my eyes, our brothers and sisters we lost, for what,” one person posted on the Facebook page of Veterans of Ramadi, Iraq. “Yes we did our best and we did one hell of a job but it feels like only those who were there care and no one else does, not our government, our neighbors, media and in part the world.”

 Another posted, “It sickens and saddens me to know that all of the brave men and women who lost their lives in the defense of the city did it all in vain. Just so ISIS can take it away.”

The troops’ anger and resentment were further stoked by National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who spoke Tuesday night at a  German Embassy photography exhibit of soldiers wounded in combat.

Via Foreign Policy:

“Now that we have ended two wars responsibly, and brought home hundreds of American troops, we salute this new generation of veterans,” Rice told the audience of about 150 people who were seated between the hauntingly beautiful mural-sized portraits of severely disabled veterans.

Such a description of the U.S. military departure from Iraq in 2011 — when American forces left after failing to negotiate a security agreement to stay — raised eyebrows across the crowd that included active duty and former troops and officers, among them at least two generals and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. “Responsibly, right?” one retired Army officer said sarcastically to FP’s Lara Jakes afterward.

Susan Rice, of course,  is known for”raising eyebrows” with dubious statements.  She famously appeared on five Sunday talk shows on September 16, 2012, to proclaim that the Benghazi debacle was the result of a “spontaneous demonstration” — not a premeditated terrorist attack. We now know that by September 16, the Obama administration knew that the attack was planned in advance.  Last year, on another Sunday talk show, Rice claimed that Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl “served with honor and distinction.”

Now she’s peddling the fiction that the abandoning countries to terrorists is a responsible way to “end” a war.

It really is “pretty disturbing.”

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State Dept. ‘Deeply Concerned’ as Ancient City Palmyra Falls to ISIS

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

There was  good news and bad news on the ISIS battlefront today. I’ll give you the bad news first.

The Islamic State seized total control of the  ancient oasis city of Palmyra in central Syria Wednesday,  threatening to destroy  ”its its grand complex of 2,000-year-old colonnades and tombs, one of the world’s most magnificent remnants of antiquity.”

This comes just five days after the group seized the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

But for the fighters on the ground, the city of 50,000 people is significantbecause it sits among gas fields and astride a network of roads across the country’s central desert. Palmyra’s vast unexcavated antiquities could also provide significant revenue through illegal trafficking.

Control of Palmyra gives the Islamic State command of roads leading from its strongholds in eastern Syria to Damascus and the other major cities of the populated west, as well as new links to western Iraq, the other half of its self-declared caliphate.

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People in Palmyra, a relatively remote city, its population swollen with tens of thousands of displaced Syrians, were left on their own, literally squeezed between government forces and the Islamic State.

Residents said that by nightfall, the Islamic State had seized most of the city. Soldiers and the police could be seen fleeing, they said, prompting one cafe owner to exclaim over the phone, “Treason! It’s treason.”

The good news is the State Department is deeply concerned about all of this and will be closely watching the destruction of the city.

When a reporter asked her if something could be done to save the city, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said, “Well, we are deeply concerned about reports of ISIL’s attacks on the Syrian city, which holds the ruins of Palmyra.”

She acknowledged that “the destruction and looting of these sites has been sort of something we’ve seen in other places” and it’s “incredibly harmful,” but as to the question of what the U.S. could do, Harf only had this to offer:

“We’ll keep watching here, we’ll keep seeing what’s happening on the ground.”

Harf added: “This is the reason we’re trying to push back ISIL out of Iraq and to try and help the Syrian opposition push back ISIL in Syria.”

“This is something we’re following; we’re concerned about this. Obviously, it has been caught in the crossfire for some time and we’ll speak up about it,” said Harf. “Beyond that, I’m not sure what more can be done.”

I guess Palmyra doesn’t rate a hashtag campaign.

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Top Intel Dem: ‘No Sugarcoating’ Gravity of Ramadi Seizure by ISIS

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said there can be “no sugarcoating” the fall of Ramadi despite administration assurances that the ISIS victory isn’t as serious as it appears.

“It’s a serious setback… It means, I think, we really have to redouble our efforts to get the Baghdad government to incorporate the Sunnis more fully in the military, to help better arm the Sunni tribes and give them more encouragement to rise up and challenge ISIS,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told CNN.

“I don’t think the answer is more Iranian-backed Shia militias. And I don’t think the answer is American boots on the ground, but rather addressing some of the sectarian problems that have yet to peel the Sunni tribes away from ISIS.”

The Iran-backed militias have moved in on the area between Ramadi and Baghdad but ISIS has been pressing its offensive east instead of keeping its forces concentrated in the city.

“But I think we also have to look at how ISIS has exploited this, because it wasn’t just Saddam who kept a lid on this. It’s also the fact that ISIS purposely went out and tried to stir up these sectarian instincts and frictions and divisions by blowing up Shia mosques, by antagonizing and killing the Shia,” Schiff said.

Ramadi’s fall is “harmful to the cause, and it’s something we’re going have to overcome,” he said. “And it’s part of the seesaw nature of this conflict. I think, as Ambassador Rice points out, this is going to be a long slog.”

“When you look at it overall, we have shrunk the amount of territory in Iraq that ISIS controls. That’s positive. But yet, at the same point, we’re way far away from any kind of a retaking of Mosul. And now we have got to retake Ramadi. And the challenges are extraordinary. But I don’t think that means we can back away from a commitment to the Iraqi government and helping to arm these Sunni tribes to combat the scourge.”

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told MSNBC today “there’s no way to say this is a success.”

“And the fact that we’re in the 10th month of a war that the U.S. started August 8th and there hasn’t been any meaningful debate in the House and, save for one committee vote in the Senate in December, there’s not been any meaningful debate about Congress trying to work with the executive to scope U.S. involvement and define the mission, so we can support the troops there risking their lives,” Kaine added. “What this last weekend showed is that, with urgency now, Congress should be addressing this.”

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ISIS Seizes One Third of the Ancient Syrian City of Palmyra (Video)

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

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Islamic State fighters seized part of the historic Syrian city of Palmyra on Wednesday after heavy clashes with the Syrian military and allied combatants.

They are now, the New York Times reports, “within blocks of one of the world’s most magnificent ancient sites.”

As they have swept across Syria and Iraq, the extremists have destroyed or damaged numerous ancient sites and major cultural artifacts, condemning them as idolatry, even as they pillage and sell off more portable items to finance their activities. The militants’ approach to the ruins of ancient Palmyra, with their grand 2,000-year-old colonnades and tombs, has raised fears both locally and internationally that they too may be destroyed.

Modern Palmyra, also known as Tadmur, is a relatively remote desert outpost of 50,000 people, but it sits astride the main road from the Islamic State strongholds in the east to the more populous west of Syria. It is also near gas fields that the militant group has repeatedly attacked, and last week managed to partially seize. Syrian government forces held the militants out of the city for several days, but withdrew from some checkpoints on Wednesday, residents said.

It is feared that the jihadists will destroy the ancient ruins  if they take control of the city.  

“IS fighters seized the northern parts of the city, which amount to a third of Palmyra,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Regime forces fled from these neighborhoods,” he added.

On Friday, as they advanced toward the city, the ISIS terrorists executed at least 23 civilians –  nine of them children.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nine children were among the 23 shot dead by ISIS militants near the Unesco world heritage site.

“The Islamic State group executed by gunfire 23 civilians, including nine children, in the village of Amiriyeh, north of Tadmor,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Palmyra, which means City of Palms, is known in Arabic as Tadmor, or City of Dates.

Abdel Rahman said family members of government employees were among those murdered.

CNN reported that about “100 to 150 ISIS fighters were in the area Wednesday and were as close as 700 meters” from the ancient site.

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Some of the artifacts have been relocated for safekeeping according to the NYT:

Khaled al-Homsi, an activist who opposes both the government and the Islamic State and closely monitors the Palmyra ruins, said that government workers removed artifacts from the museum near the site on Wednesday, and that other objects were taken away earlier for safekeeping. Syria’s chief antiquities official told Reuters that hundreds of statues had been relocated.

He said that in recent days, strikes by Syrian government warplanes had come dangerously close to the site’s medieval citadel. Islamic State fighters were moving farther into the modern city on Wednesday afternoon, he said, but had not yet reached the ancient site.

The UNESCO world heritage site of Palmyra is considered “an archaeological gem,” CNN’s Nima Elbagir reported. The “so-called Venice of the sands” has been threatened by the advance of ISIS.

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White House Spox Josh Earnest: Obama’s Strategy Against ISIS Has ‘Overall’ Been a Success (Video)

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

At his daily press briefing Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told skeptical reporters that despite some “setbacks,” the U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS has been a success overall.

ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl had questioned Earnest about the administration’s assessment of their overall track record in Iraq.

“You said, ‘we’ve seen periods of progress an success.’ Would you say that overall it’s been a success?” Karl asked.

Josh Earnest answered, “yeah – overall yes. Doesn’t mean there haven’t been areas of setbacks as we saw in Ramadi….”

But Karl stopped him right there: “Exporting terror to Libya? Taking over the capital of Iraq’s largest province? This is overall a success?”

Earnest took this as a cue to talk up Obama’s vaunted 60 nation coalition.

“What we’ve also seen is – we’ve seen a coalition of 60 nations within the region and around the world which has joined the United States in this fight. We’ve seen a new prime minister take office in Iraq and unite that country….”

Video via the Washington Free Beacon:

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It’s even worse than we thought if the White House press secretary can’t cite a single success story in  Iraq other than Obama’s fake coalition and (arguably) an improvement in the political situation.

Last night on Fox News, Bill O’Reilly suggested that Obama authorized the raid on ISIS oil financier Abu Sayyaf in Syria over the weekend to mitigate the coalition’s failure to stop ISIS.

Bill O’Reilly asked his guests, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (ret) and Col. David Hunt (Ret.) Monday night,  if they’ve heard the same rumor he’d heard that “the Obama administration knew that Ramadi was going to fall, knew it was an embarrassment, and then okayed this mission (as Col Hunt mentioned there were more than one hundred other requests that were not okayed – to take the sting out of the Ramadi situation.”

Peters said, “I’ve not heard that direct link, but I have heard the administration is doing everything it can to do damage control on the fall of Ramadi.”

Obama has tasked White House Press Sec. Josh Earnest, Brig. Gen. Thomas D. Weidley, and White House spokesman Eric Schultz with damage control duty — and one after another, they’re looking like even sadder versions of Baghdad Bob.

 

 

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Boehner to Obama: Rip Up Your AUMF Request and Start Over

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said today that President Obama needs to trash his weak authorization for use of military force (AUMF) request.

In February, Obama submitted his plan to Congress for an AUMF against “the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”

Obama’s AUMF plan specifically “does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.”

His proposal repeals the 2002 Iraq AUMF and limits the new one to three years. “I do not believe America’s interests are served by endless war or by remaining on a perpetual war footing,” Obama said back at the plan’s introduction, adding that it’s “not a timetable” but “it’s conceivable that the mission is completed earlier.”

It drew both Republican and Democratic opposition, from lawmakers who saw it as weak and handcuffing the administration’s abilities and those who saw it as dragging the U.S. into another war.

In short, the AUMF has gone nowhere in Congress — and Boehner indicated that’s not going to change.

“The president’s request for an authorization of the use of military force calls for less authority than he has today. I just think, given the fight that we’re in, it’s irresponsible. This is why the president, frankly, should withdraw the authorization of use of military force and start over,” he told reporters.

“We don’t have a strategy. And for those of you that come to these regularly, for over two years now, I’ve been calling on the president to develop an over-arching strategy to deal with this growing terrorist threat,” Boehner continued. “We don’t have one.”

“And the fact is, the threat is growing faster than what we and our allies can do to stop it.”

Asked why Congress just doesn’t draft an AUMF, Boehner replied, “We have one commander in chief at a time.”

“It’s the president’s responsibility to wage this battle. And the president, in my view, is not taking this threat seriously as it should. When a major city in Iraq, Ramadi, gets overrun by ISIL and the administration says, ‘Well, it’s just a temporary setback’ — it’s 70 miles from Baghdad,” he said.

“It’s time for the president to get serious about this threat to Americans and our allies all around the world.”

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Huge ISIS Convoy Parades Out in the Open in West Anbar Province in Iraq, Providing Target-Rich Environment for Coalition

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

According to a Twitter account that explores  ”the domestic and regional challenges facing Iraq’s security,” a massive convoy of ISIS fighters paraded out in the open desert in Western Anbar on Monday, providing a target rich environment for the U.S.-led coalition. But where was the coalition? 

That is what you call a perfect target for some serious air power — B-52s or warthogs doing area saturation bombing — but it looks it was another missed opportunity for the coalition.

@IraqiSecurity later tweeted that the coalition destroyed 12 vehicles near Habbaniyah, E. of Ramadi — which is on the Eastern side of Anbar.

#Iraq; Reports that coalition airstrikes destroyed targeted a Da’ish convoy trying to enter Habbaniyah, E. of Ramadi. 12 vehicles destroyed.

— حيدر سومري (@IraqiSecurity) May 19, 2015

A coalition spokesman said Monday afternoon that the U.S.-led coalition  ”has conducted 19 air strikes in the vicinity of the Iraqi city of Ramadi over the past 72 hours.”

The strikes targeted Islamic State fighting positions, armoured and technical vehicles, and buildings they control.

Obama allegedly has a coalition of 60 nations fighting ISIS with us and they only managed 19 airstrikes in a three-day period.

During the Gulf War’s “Shock and Awe” campaign, the U.S. rained down 300 to 400 cruise missiles a day on Iraq for two consecutive days. At the beginning of the Iraq War, the U.S. unleashed 800 cruise missiles in two days.

After ISIS took over Ramadi, the Obama coalition of the willing could only squeak out a paltry 6.33 missiles a day at some buildings and vehicles. And they completely missed the huge convoy parading out in the open desert on the other side of the province.

The reason for this failure was explored by the Daily Beast last October.

Within the U.S. Air Force, there’s mounting frustration that the air campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq is moving far more slowly than expected. Instead of a fast-moving operation with hundreds of sorties flown in a single day—the kind favored by many in the air service—American warplanes are hitting small numbers of targets after a painstaking and cumbersome process.

The single biggest problem, current and former Air Force officers say, is the so-called kill-chain of properly identifying and making sure the right target is being attacked. At the moment, that process is very complicated and painfully slow.

“The kill-chain is very convoluted,” one combat-experienced Air Force A-10 Warthog pilot told The Daily Beast. “Nobody really has the control in the tactical environment.”

A major reason why: the lack of U.S. ground forces to direct American air power against ISIS positions.

These problems don’t seem to have improved at all since last fall.

As the Islamic State takes over more territory and advances toward Baghdad, I’m afraid we’ll continue seeing  more of this weak and ineffective air campaign.

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As Ramadi Falls to ISIS, POTUS Goes Golfing, Gets New Twitter Account

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

As ISIS fighters were storming Ramadi, seizing U.S. military equipment, including missile launchers and tanks – enough to  “take 3 more Mosuls and about 10 Ramadis,” according to one ISIS supporter – the president of the United States was enjoying some “me-time” on the Andrews Air Force Base golf course.

During the Iraq War, the United States paid a terrible price to secure Anbar province from terrorists.  Between April of 2004 and September of 2007, 1,335 Americans and nearly 9,000 Iraqis died in the battle for Fallujah and Ramadi. But by 2008, the battle had been won — and liberated Iraqi citizens could again walk the streets without fear.

Now Ramadi and Fallujah are back in the hands of terrorists.

But never mind that, the big news today is that POTUS has a new Twitter account, you guys!

NEAT!

Liz Cheney had a question for the president yesterday:

Since Obama got his new Twitter account today, I went ahead and retweeted Cheney’s question to @POTUS.

I’m not really interested in Obama’s answer because I already know that it will be about 5,000 words long, won’t answer the question, and would put me to sleep. I just want to hear someone from the MSM ask him the question.

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Kerry: Don’t Worry About Fall of Ramadi, ‘Daesh Has Been Driven Back’

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson
isisiraqramadi

One of the photos released by ISIS of vehicles abandoned or seized from Iraqi security forces in Ramadi

Secretary of State John Kerry said today not to worry, we’ll probably get Ramadi back from ISIS.

ISIS took the city 80 miles east of Baghdad on Sunday despite a campaign of coalition airstrikes.

Kerry said at a joint press conference with South Korea’s foreign minister today that the administration has “always said from day one that the campaign against Daesh is a long one.”

“It’s going to take a long time. We’ve always said that. And particularly in Anbar, where you don’t yet have the presence of the Iraqi Security Forces in the full numbers necessary to take the fight to Daesh everywhere yet — I underscore yet — there are targets of opportunity like or somewhere else where Daesh has the ability to inflict great damage,” he said. “Notice what they’ve done. They’ve destroyed. They’ve sent in huge numbers of vehicle-borne IEDs, big trucks, massive amounts of explosion, and they’ve destroyed the place. That’s hardly a future.”

ISIS reportedly seized an untold amount of U.S. military equipment when it overran the Iraqi 8th Army Brigade in Ramadi.

“And I am convinced that as the forces are redeployed and as the days flow in the weeks ahead, that’s going to change, because overall in Iraq, Daesh has been driven back,” Kerry claimed. “As much as 30 to 30-plus percent of the area they once controlled they no longer control.”

As government struggle to keep with up ISIS’ domination of the social media sphere, Kerry added “their communications have been reduced, their funding and financial mechanisms have been reduced, and their movements by and large, and most certainly where there are air patrols and other capacities, have been reduced.”

“But that’s not everywhere,” he then admitted. “And so it is possible to have the kind of attack we’ve seen in , but I am absolutely confident in the days ahead that will be reversed. Large numbers of Daesh were killed in the last few days and will be in the next days, because that seems to be the only thing they understand. There is no negotiation. There is no proposal whatsoever to educate a child or build a school or a hospital or do something positive. And I think the people of Iraq and the people of the region understand that, which is why every single country in the region, bar none, is opposed to Daesh and is engaged in fighting them.”

Kerry added that he’s “confident about the longer road.”

“But yes, there will be moments like yesterday in Ramadi and there will be some difficult challenges ahead,” he added. “Part of the challenge is also dealing with Anbar and the tribes, which need more resources, more training, more initial cover from the Iraq Security Forces. And that will be, I am sure, the subject of much conversation over the course of the next few days.”

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Evangelicals to Bring Christian College Students to Israel

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Christian? In college? Want to go to Israel for $500? Haaretz reports:

Conservative Jewish funders and Christian donors of Hobby Lobby fame have joined forces to launch a Christian Birthright trip, modeled after the successful program that has taken thousands of Jewish young adults to Israel for the past 16 years.

Covenant Journey, a subsidized evangelical 11-day trip to Israel that was officially announced May 8, will bring 250 students to the Holy Land by the end of the summer. It aims to bring thousands more in the upcoming years.

Just like the Taglit-Birthright Israel program it is modeled after, Covenant Journey seeks to strengthen American students’ love for Israel. But instead of having them mingle with young Jewish soldiers, participants walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and visit Christian holy sites. According to the program’s founder, the results from a recently launched pilot tour were encouraging. Participants in the trip were transformed into enthusiastic pro-Israel advocacy messengers.

…The Philos Project, a pro-Israel group with a stated mission of promoting “positive Christian engagement in the Middle East,” offered its backing early on. The group’s board includes Richard Lang, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary; Mark Tooley, president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, which is a conservative religious think tank, and Republican Jewish activist Dan Senor, who served as spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, in Iraq, during the administration of George W. Bush. The group’s main funder is Paul Singer, a Jewish hedge fund billionaire who is also one of the single largest donors to Republican politics.

Politically it’s a smart move. With anti-Semitism on the rise on college campuses and Obama stacking the decks against the Democrats when it comes to the pro-Israel vote, subsidized Israel trips are yet another great way to solidify bonds with Israel’s Christian supporters who vote in America. Targeting the millennial generation is more than a wise idea. These young adults are the ones who have been the most exposed to an anti-Israel, anti-Zionist agenda in the history of public education. What’s more, whether it is in the form of BDS, Christ at the Checkpoint, the Soros-backed Telos Group, or Palestinian Liberation Theology, the Christian community is far from immune to anti-Zionist influences.

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Ramadi Falls, More U.S. Weapons Seized: See the Gains ISIS Made in Just Two Days

Sunday, May 17th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

ramadi051515

Via Islamic World News, this was Ramadi on Friday. The red represents Iraqi forces, the dark gray ISIS, and the magenta areas, including bridges, were contested.

On Thursday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey was asked about Ramadi’s imminent fall. “The city itself is — it’s not symbolic in any way. It’s not been declared, you know, part of the caliphate, on the one hand, or central to the future of Iraq. But we want to get it back. I mean, the issue here is not — is not brick and mortar. It’s about defeating ISIL. So, as I said, this — I — you know, I would much rather that Ramadi not fall, but it won’t be the end of the campaign should it fall. We got to get it back. And that’s tragic for the people, as have — as we’ve seen along the way,” Dempsey told reporters at the Pentagon.

In a Friday teleconference, Brig. Gen. Thomas D. Weidley (USMC), chief of staff for Operation Inherent Resolve, said the coalition has conducted 420 airstrikes total in the Fallujah-Ramadi area, including 165 in support of Iraqi Security Forces in Ramadi just over the past month, “which have destroyed operational resources and facilities such as Daesh-controlled buildings, fighting positions, armored and technical vehicles.”

“After a period of relative stability in the tactical situation, Daesh executed a complex attack on Iraqi Security Forces today. These forces were able to repel most of these attacks, but some gains were made by Daesh in previously contested areas,” Weidley said. “At this point, areas of Ramadi remain contested as Daesh terrorists attempt to consolidate and defend some of their recent temporary gains in the east and south of the city. Iraqi Security Forces, as well as federal and local police, continue to control most of the key facilities, infrastructure and lines of communication in the area. Ramadi is a major population center, the provincial capital of Iraq’s largest province, and a location where Iraqi Security Forces, police and local tribes have been working together for nearly a year to defend.”

Today, two days after the commander’s statements, Ramadi, 80 miles west of Baghdad, fell.

Here’s the updated map via Islamic World News:

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 4.50.25 PM

The red area bearing the Iraqi flag, home of the 8th Army Brigade, was stormed by ISIS fighters today. Within the compound they reportedly captured more U.S. military equipment, including missile launchers and tanks.

As one ISIS supporter tweeted, they found enough arms inside the base to “take 3 more Mosuls and about 10 Ramadis.” ISIS members also tweeted rough video of celebrations in Mosul.

On Friday, Weidley also dismissed ISIS gains as “episodic temporary successes” and maintained “Daesh does remain on the defensive.”

“These typically don’t materialize into long-term gains. We’ve seen similar attacks in Ramadi over the last several months of which the ISF has been able to repel. And we see this one being similar to those, where the ISF will eventually take back the terrain that’s been lost at this point,” he said.

A tribal leader who had fled to Baghdad told the New York Times today that “men, women, kids and fighters’ bodies are scattered on the ground” in Ramadi, and “all security forces and tribal leaders have either retreated or been killed in battle. It is a big loss.”

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Obama to Arab World: Negotiations With Iran Are Useless

Sunday, May 17th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

In the wake of this past week’s summit with Arab States at Camp David, President Obama granted his first-ever interview to an Arabic language newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, a pan-Arab daily headquartered in London that publishes in 14 locations worldwide. In his attempt to pander to his Arab audience, Obama reveals the inefficacy of negotiations with Iran:

…President Obama concurred that “the countries in the region are right to be deeply concerned about Iran’s activities, especially its support for violent proxies inside the borders of other nations.”

…He explains his reasoning for extending an invitation to the leaders of the GCC, saying it is part of an effort to “further strengthen our close partnerships, including our security cooperation, and to discuss how we can meet common challenges together. That includes working to resolve the conflicts across the Middle East that have taken so many innocent lives and caused so much suffering for the people of the region.”

…”When it comes to Iran’s future, I cannot predict Iran’s internal dynamics. Within Iran, there are leaders and groups that for decades have defined themselves in opposition to both the United States and our regional partners. I’m not counting on any nuclear deal to change that.”

In other words, what is the point of negotiating with Iran? Especially in light of the fact that America’s Arab allies in the region reject the idea of negotiations to the point of forming a United Arab Army? Given that the conclusion of the appeasement summit was a statement assuring US financial and military backing in order to defend these nations, it would appear that Obama is negotiating the next Arab (or worse, Arab-Israeli) war in the Middle East.

So much for “peace in our time”.

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Did the U.S. Just Agree to Support Arab Forces in a War Against Israel?

Sunday, May 17th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

On Thursday, the White House released the rather long-winded “U.S.- Gulf Cooperation Council Camp David Joint Statement” as an appeasement to our Arab allies in the region in the wake of negotiations with Iran. Mainstream outlets reported the statement using the following language:

President Barack Obama has vowed to back Gulf allies against any “external attack,” seeking to reassure them of Washington’s commitment to their security amid Arab anxiety over US-led efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran.

Obama, hosting the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council for a rare summit at the Camp David presidential retreat, pledged that the US would cooperate with them to address what he called Iran’s “destabilizing activities in the region.”

While the American press largely ignored the entire event, the Washington Post did declare the summit to have an “upbeat ending,” with David Ignatius concluding:

For once, in the theater of the Middle East, the Arabs have opted to be the good guys, compared to an unyielding Israeli government. And Obama has responded with the sentiment conveyed by the Arabic expression, “Ahlan wa Sahlan.” You are welcome.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, of Israel’s Independent Media Review Analysis, begs to differ. Publishing the entire text of the statement, Lerner notes the following language [emphasis mine]:

In the event of such aggression or the threat of such aggression, the United States stands ready to work with our GCC partners to determineurgently what action may be appropriate, using the means at our collective disposal, including the potential use of military force, for the defense of our GCC partners.

As with Operation Decisive Storm, GCC states will consult with the United States when planning to take military action beyond GCC borders, in particular when U.S. assistance is requested for such action.

…The United States and GCC member states strongly affirmed the necessity of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a just,
lasting, comprehensive peace agreement that results in an independent and contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel.

Lerner then says what American and Arab media sources dare not:

 So the US doesn’t exactly commit to using force - just discussing the possibility.

There is a CALL FOR ISRAEL TO BE SPLIT IN TWO so that the West Bank and Gaza Strip are “contiguous Palestinian state”.

Also in the call to Israel and the Palestinians “urgent need for the parties to demonstrate—through policies and actions—genuine advancement of a two-state solution” we have missing any explicit call for the Palestinians to HONOR THEIR EXISTING COMMITMENTS. What commitments? Well, for starters, The thousands of rockets in the Gaza Strip are in complete and total violation of the agreements signed already! So are the Fatah armed militias in the West Bank!]

The reality of the language of this latest agreement is simple: It paves the way for a US-backed military war against Israel in order to create a Palestinian state. Whether or not that language will ever be realized will hopefully not be a story for another day.

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U.S. Special Forces Kill ISIS Commander in Syria (Video)

Saturday, May 16th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

A key ISIS commander and an estimated dozen ISIS fighters were killed by United States Army commandos in Syria on Friday. No Americans were killed or wounded during the raid.

The commander, Abu Sayyaf, oversaw the Islamic State’s illicit oil and financial operations, was involved with the group’s military operations, and had apparently enslaved a young Yazidi woman who was rescued by the U.S. forces.

Via the AP:

In a rare ground attack deep into Syria, U.S. Army commandos killed a man described as the Islamic State’s head of oil operations, captured his wife and rescued a woman whom American officials said was enslaved.

A team of Delta Force commandos slipped across the border from Iraq under cover of darkness Saturday aboard Black Hawk helicopters and V-22 Osprey aircraft, according to a U.S. defense official knowledgeable about details of the raid. The official was not authorized to discuss the operation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Americans intended to capture a militant identified by U.S. officials as Abu Sayyaf. When they arrived at his location, a multi-story building, they met stiff resistance, the U.S. official said, and a firefight ensued, resulting in bullet-hole damage to the U.S. aircraft.

Abu Sayyaf was killed, along with an estimated dozen IS fighters, U.S. officials said. No American was killed or wounded.

The raid is said to have involved hand-to-hand combat, with the cowardly jihadists using women and children as human shields. None of the women and children were injured because the U.S. Delta team managed to separate the women and children from Sayyaf and killed the terror leader (and about a dozen jihadists) when he resisted.

“It was a real firefight — a no kidding old school firefight,” a senior defense official told Fox News.

Ancient Assyrian texts and other priceless artifacts were recovered as well as what the defense official called a “treasure trove” of intelligence materials, such as cell phones, laptops and documents.

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Now if we could just multiply this operation by about 1000, we could maybe start getting somewhere in the fight against ISIS.

Vocativ reporters  have been watching ISIS-supporting  social media across Syria in the wake of the strike for reactions to the raid:

“If they took Abu Sayyaf, we will take Obama,” one ISIS supporter posted in the hours after the raid, which took place near the eastern Syrian city of al-Amr.

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Obama Grilled on His Rwanda, Says He Didn’t Want to Violate International Law

Friday, May 15th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama got slammed on his Syria inaction — with an Al Arabiya interviewer asking if it will go down as his Rwanda — and claimed yet again that he disposed of Assad’s chemical weapons in a sit-down interview after his Camp David summit with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

When asked exactly what he meant by vowing to come to the military aid of Gulf countries if needed, Obama went straight to citing an action of President George H.W. Bush: “We’ve seen in the past what happened in Kuwait when Saddam invaded.”

Obama divided the aid into “traditional” military assistance, such as joint exercises and assessing military capability, and non-traditional issues such as distinguishing terrorism from “legitimate political activities.”

When asked why he wouldn’t put his assurances to the Gulf countries in writing, Obama replied that “the treaty process is very cumbersome.”

“It requires congressional approval and it’s not necessary in this situation,” he said.

Al Arabiya Washington correspondent Nadia Bilbassy noted that the security arrangement discussed with the GCC does not confront the true nature of the Iranian threat, to which Obama told her, “Well, actually it does.”

He offered as an example “making sure Iran is not pouring arms into Yemen …obviously there’s a long history of political instability inside of Yemen and their own indigenous history inside of Yemen,” but if Iran starts threatening the Saudi border “that then becomes a source of concern.”

“Keep in mind the United States has been very clear that a nuclear-armed Iran would be potentially even more reckless and dangerous and so it’s in everyone’s interest to ensure that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon and that we provide a pathway for Iran to engage in positive behavior, commerce and trade and education and scientific exchange. That’s the path that we hope they take,” Obama said.

He added that “just because we’re able to resolve the nuclear issue” doesn’t mean there isn’t the problem of Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism and “their potential for mischief.”

Bilbassy asked if Obama was just engaging in a “wishful strategy” with the Iran deal.

“I don’t think it’s a wishful strategy,” he replied. “… We cannot simply trust the Iranians to abide by the deal, it has to be verifiable.” He said the verification process “extends for a very, very long period of time.”

“Often you talk about Iran with admiration,” his interviewer noted, asking him if he’s thus putting down the Sunni countries in the region.

“Al Arabiya’s going to have to do a better job delivering my message,” Obama shot back. “Our closest friends in the region are the Gulf countries.”

“Many people believe that Syria is your Rwanda, it might haunt you for years to come — more than 200,000 people dead, 9 million people displaced, the worst humanitarian crisis in the 21st century. Are we going to see the end of the bloodshed before you leave office, Mr. President?” Bilbassy asked.

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Smartest President Ever Says Weaponized Chlorine Is Not a Chemical Weapon

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Here is some video of the press conference (complete with a classic Obama snippy reply to a reporter).

Here is a tweet from a reporter quoting him if you don’t want to watch the video:

 

It’s not just me who finds this odd, noted Right Wing Nutjob organization the United Nations says that, yes, chlorine kinda always has been a chemical weapon.

The modern use of chemical weapons began with World War I, when both sides to the conflict used poisonous gas to inflict agonizing suffering and to cause significant battlefield casualties. Such weapons basically consisted of well known commercial chemicals put into standard munitions such as grenades and artillery shells. Chlorine, phosgene (a choking agent) and mustard gas (which inflicts painful burns on the skin) were among the chemicals used. The results were indiscriminate and often devastating. Nearly 100,000 deaths resulted.
Since World War I, chemical weapons have caused more than one million casualties globally.

It’s more than likely that everyone around him is buying into his arbitrary classification. Remember, this is the guy who makes up job numbers and thinks the economy is booming along and doesn’t get asked a lot about any of it.

What I’m wondering here is if he has any plans in the near future to redefine what “nuclear weapon” means.

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Here Comes the Red Line Again as Syria Found Lying About Sarin

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

The White House expressed no eagerness today about coming up against — again — President Obama’s red line on chemical weapons in Syria.

The administration repeatedly asserts that President Bashar al-Assad disposed of his chemical weapons stockpile in a deal brokered by Russia to avoid military action at the last red line, when more than 1,400 people were killed in a Damascus suburb with sarin delivered via rockets. For example, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told the J Street conference in March that they “peacefully removed Syria’s entire declared stockpile of chemical weapons.”

Assad has turned to chlorine gas as his chemical weapon of choice, with repeated deadly attacks on civilians as the administration has continued counting the red-line avoidance as a foreign policy success.

Reuters reported Friday that Organisation for the Prohibition and Chemical Weapons inspectors found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site that was not declared as a chemical weapons storage or production facility.

“This is a pretty strong indication they have been lying about what they did with sarin,” one diplomatic source told Reuters. “They have so far been unable to give a satisfactory explanation about this finding.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today the administration is “aware that the OPCW continues to receive credible allegations that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is still taking place.”

“Attempts by the OPCW to resolve some gaps and inconsistencies in Syria’s declaration of their chemical weapons have gone unresolved,” Earnest said. “And we’re also concerned that progress toward destroying all remaining chemical weapons reduction facilities in Syria have been agonizingly slow.”

Earnest acknowledged the Assad regime “continues to not abide by international standards and norms, including the Chemical Weapons Convention and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2118 and 2209.”

“But as has also been well documented, the Assad regime continues to terrorize the people of Syria through indiscriminate airstrikes, barrel bombings, arbitrary detention and other gross acts of violence that are committed against their own people,” he added.

Asked what the response would be from the White House upon another crossing of the red line, Earnest replied, “Well, this is something that, you know, we obviously are very concerned about and closely monitoring. And we’re aware of these allegations and we believe it’s important for the OPCW to investigate them fully.”

At the end of March, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) urged Obama to act swiftly against Assad’s chlorine gas attacks.

“Bashar al-Assad and those forces backing his regime, including the government of Iran and its proxy force, Hezbollah, are once again challenging the world and testing the boundaries of the will of the international community to respond,” Menendez wrote.

In September 2013, Menendez’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed an Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons.

“It is clear,” he said, that the administration’s agreement with Assad to prevent military action “has not prevented the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, nor has international pressure changed Assad’s calculus with respect to murdering his own people.”

“Worse, Assad’s supporters, including the Iranian regime, the Russian government, and Hezbollah have actually increased their support for the regime as these attacks have continued and increased in nature and scope,” Menendez wrote. “All options for response must be explored. We must send a clear signal to Assad and his backers that the international community will not tolerate further such attacks.”

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Catholic Nun Engages in Shocking Anti-Islamic Rhetoric: ‘ISIS Is Islam; Islam Is ISIS’ (Video)

Saturday, May 9th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

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*A Catholic nun engaged in shocking anti-Islamic rhetoric when she was interviewed by the Christian Broadcasting Network earlier this week. Sister Hatune Dogan, who lived in multicultural bliss in Turkey before relocating to Germany as a young girl, has little tolerance for the devout Islamists who have moved into the ancient Christian communities of Iraq and Syria.

Sister Dogan is the incendiary organizer of a foundation that purports to “help the poor and persecuted in 35 countries.” She’s been on the ground in Iraq, helping the hundreds of thousands of Christians who have somehow managed to get displaced from their homes.

Relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam, Sister Dogan spoke of how Christian and Yazidi women are being sold into sex slavery — a controversial Islamic tradition that is still practiced by many of the Muslim faithful in the Middle East. The strident nun called what she’s been witnessing in Iraq “the highest barbarism.”

 ”They choose the most beautiful one, even if they have a small child, and they sell these women, these ladies to each other. They don’t sell to another religion — only Sunni Muslim,” Dogan said.

“There have been 12,000 kidnapped at the hands of ISIS – Yazidi alone. What is going on there, what I was hearing, is the highest barbarism on earth in the history until today,” she added.

Sister Dogan loves to travel throughout the Muslim world, but does not hesitate to insult her hosts. “I’m not coming here for a holiday,” she sneered.

I’m coming here to bring a voice to the voiceless so that the world can hear their voice. They don’t have a voice. I am the channel for them. That is my mission,” Dogan declared.

She then launched into a broadside against an Islamist group that practices a very strict form of Islam. “The mission of (Abu Bakr) Baghdadi, of ISIS, is to convert the world completely to the Islamic religion and bring them to Dar Al Salaam, as they call it. And Islam is not peace, please,” the nun said.

She seemed to be addressing the president of the United States when she made the following  statement: “Whoever says ISIS has no connection to Islam or something like this — he’s a liar. ISIS is Islam; Islam is ISIS. ”

She concluded her Islamophobic diatribe by expressing “disappointment” in what she called a “weak reaction” from the war-weary West.

“We know that in Islam, there is no democracy. Islam and democracy are opposite, like black and white. And I hope America will understand. America today has the power that they can stop this disaster on the earth, with other Western countries,” she argued, perhaps sensing that her words were falling on deaf ears..

But Sister Dogan said she’ll keep on yammering about the plight of Christians around the world — whether the West wants to hear about it or not.

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*I gather not everyone grasped that this is satire. If you knew my sarcastic nature, and my love for nuns  - especially the sort who serve the needy in the horrible and dangerous locales Sister Dogan does – you would not have questioned it. The piece was written in the style of the MSM – the AP, Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and last but not least,  SPLC  – who have unleashed similar venom aimed at Pamela Geller in the wake of the terrorist attack in Garland. I even cribbed some lines from their articles about Geller, like: “incendiary organizer”,  ”relentlessly shrill and coarse”,  and “broad-brush denunciations of Islam.”

Just to be perfectly clear – Sister Hatune Dogan is a saintly heroine who has no time or use for political correctness and neither do I. I feel nothing but great admiration for Sister Dogan and pray that she stays safe.

 

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State Dept Reverses Decision to Bar Iraqi Nun from Entering the United States

Saturday, May 9th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

Good news. The Obama State Department on Friday reversed its decision to bar an Iraqi Catholic nun from coming to the United states.

Last week, religious freedom advocates loudly objected to the State Department’s decision to bar Sister Diana Momeka from entering the United States as part of delegation of Iraqi minority groups, and several conservative and religious media outlets banged pots and pans to draw attention to the injustice.

Every member of the delegation had been granted visas to visit Washington for official meetings — except Sister Diana,  a representative of the Nineveh Christians, who have been forced to flee Iraq or be slaughtered by ISIS. Sister Diana had planned to tell Americans about ISIS’ violent persecution of Christians during a week-long visit in mid-May — before she was rejected by the State Department. Now her trip is back on and her supporters are rejoicing.

Fox News reported:

Momeka, who has been likened to Mother Teresa for her work with the poor and persecuted, was turned down, she said, because she was “internally displaced” in Iraq, and deemed a risk to stay in the U.S., where she once lived and studied for six years. Ironically, her displacement came at the hands of ISIS, and is the very subject she hopes to discuss during her trip.

“That really hurt,” Sister Diana told Nina Shea, director of Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, in a phone interview after the visa was denied.

“We’re very grateful to the Department of State and happy for Sister Diana.”

- Lou Ann Sabatier, 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative

Now that her visit is back on, Sister Diana plans to come to Washington later this month to meet with the Senate and House foreign-relations committees, the State Department, USAID and various NGOs to describe the atrocities in her area.

Members of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative—one of the groups sponsoring Sister Diana’s Washington trip — told Fox News they were “thrilled” at the news of the State Department’s reversal and look forward to her visit, Lou Ann Sabatier, Communications Director, 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative told Fox News.

 “We’re very grateful to the Department of State and happy for Sister Diana,” Sabatier said.

According to Fox News, the State Department had no comment on Sister Diana’s specific case.

“All visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act and other applicable laws,” a State Department spokesman told Fox News.

It looked to one and all like Sister Diana was being unfairly singled out, because there was nothing about her case that distinguished it from cases others who were being allowed in. Sister Diana had multiple documents vouching for her and the temporary nature of her visit.

A letter from her prioress, Sister Maria Hana, attested that the nun has been gainfully employed since last February with Babel College for Philosophy and Theology in Erbil, and is contracted to teach there in the 2015–16 academic year. Erbil, some 60 miles east of Mosul, has remained safe from ISIS.

She submitted an invitation from her sponsors, the Institute for Global Engagement and 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, headed by former Republican Congressman Frank Wolf. She also had an endorsement letter from Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.

There really was no valid excuse for the Obama administration to deny Sister Diana a visa, and it was only due to the public outcry that they buckled and allowed the Iraqi “Mother Teresa” to step foot in America..

 

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After Garland Attacks, FBI Decides It Should Pay Better Attention To ‘Marginal’ Threats

Friday, May 8th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Ya think?!?!?

The FBI has ordered more U.S. terror suspects be put under 24/7 surveillance in the wake of the Garland, Texas shooting and a renewed emphasis by ISIS and other terror groups for potential American recruits to launch attacks at home, according to three FBI officials.

The officials told ABC News that agents have been ordered to review the cases of so-called “marginal” or “borderline” suspects, terms that had been applied to one of the gunmen in the Texas attack, Elton Simpson of Phoenix. FBI agents were familiar with Simpson and the views he espoused, but he was not put under 24/7 surveillance. He was viewed as being “more talk than action,” one agent said.

“We do not want to risk another marginal, homegrown extremist who was viewed as dangerous going active,” said one of the FBI officials. All three FBI officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly.

It would seem rather pathetic that this kind of thing is happening in our post-9/11 world. Once you consider the nature of the Ft. Hood and Boston Marathon attacks, however, it becomes unconscionable.

Given that they believe there is a “renewed” and not “ongoing” emphasis by terror groups to attack here it would appear that the FBI has adopted the leftist “Oh, they’re not so bad…” midnset. When the infantile liberal narrative creeps into law enforcement it becomes dangerous and life-threatening.

The fact that those charged with protecting us are still not taking it ALL seriously is disturbing enough, but the tale gets much worse (emphasis mine):

Today FBI Director James Comey and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson held a video conference call with “federal, state and local law enforcement partners” to discuss the Texas attack and the “current threat environment,” a spokesperson for the FBI said. The spokesperson said such conference calls were “commonplace and assist in the timely and comprehensive information sharing needed to address the persistent and pervasive threats fueled by social media.”

But the officials who spoke to ABC News described a “panic” and “crisis” inside the FBI because the agency and the rest of the nation’s homeland security infrastructure are not built to deal with the non-stop flow of homegrown extremists and possible threats that mark the current environment within the U.S. Another FBI spokesperson did not respond to request for comment on the broader concerns at the Bureau.

Twelve and a half years after its establishment, George W. Bush’s bureaucratic boondoggle of a security agency is just another bloated, inefficient drain on American taxpayers.

While they’re ignoring the Tsarnaevs of the world, DHS is busy making sure that my daughter is getting extra scrutiny before a flight and taking away her souvenir snow globe. All this for the bargain price of $60 billion a year!

We should give credit where credit is due: as of this writing, there have been no terrorist shampoo bottle attacks on U.S. soil.

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Susan Rice’s Disingenuous V-E Day Speech

Friday, May 8th, 2015 - by Debra Heine

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Because he was on the road pushing his domestic agenda, the president dispatched White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice to speak at the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II ceremony at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., Friday morning. President Obama marked the 70th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat with a tribute in his pre-recorded weekly address.

Rice, who is known to have intentionally misled the nation on a number of glaring occasions, made some grand assertions in her speech that may have applied to past administrations — but certainly not the present one. This was as empty and insultingly disingenuous a speech as one would expect from a member of the Obama’s administration.

With all the somber sincerity and earnestness she could muster, Rice declared that “[after] the horrors of Auschwitz, we as one world proclaimed: Never again.”

She honored “the brave men and women who served in World War II,” adding, “the story of your generation will never be forgotten. We will continue to tell it to children blessedly untouched by war. So that they understand, as this memorial reminds us, the price of freedom.”

The children of thousands of Iraq War vets who never came home might be surprised to hear that their lives were “untouched by war.”

In conclusion, Rice said:

We will continue to mark the passing of anniversaries like this one, so that memory never fades into complacency towards the evils in our world. We will carry on a march toward a world of greater rights and opportunities so that all men and women can live their lives in basic human dignity that your generation fought for — because while one mission was fulfilled in 1945, the cause of defending freedom is never finished. As President Truman put it, we must work to bind up the wounds of a suffering world, to build an abiding peace, a peace rooted in justice and in law. That is the pledge we make again today and every day. And no matter how difficult the challenges that lie ahead, or what obstacles arise, we will never abandon this struggle. Because for all that has changed in the last seventy years, one thing never will; the United States will always stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of the world on the side of liberty and justice for all.

If I didn’t suspect that Rice cribbed this speech from one given thirty years ago — when all children’s lives in the United States were indeed untouched by war — I would suspect that by “basic human dignity” she was alluding to issues like “transgender rights” in school locker rooms. Because those are the types of values this administration actually fights for. Religious peoples facing persecution throughout the world, however, get the cold shoulder from this administration.

The citizens of Iraq — whose freedom the previous administration had secured — were abandoned by the Obama administration when he fulfilled his campaign promise to withdraw all U.S. troops from the country. The “complacency toward the evils in our world” Rice spoke of was replaced by something far worse — political expedience and quite possibly malice.

What was politically convenient to Obama was an unmitigated disaster for the people of Iraq, especially the religious minorities this president seems to have no interest in protecting.

In an appearance on Fox News a few months ago, Lt. Col Ralph Peters (Ret.) expressed his disgust in a passionate tirade condemning Obama for the ongoing slaughter of religious minorities throughout the Middle East:

The immediate target are Christians, Jews, Yazidis, other minorities — but especially Christians because Christian civilization in that region predates Islam. It’s been there for 2,000 years … The first 1000 years of Christianity, in the greater Middle East and North Africa — those were the cities where the saints — the theologians — there were far more Christians in the Middle East back then, than there were in Europe …

[B]ut what we are seeing now is an Islamist attempt to exterminate the last vestiges of Christian civilization in the Middle East. After the Holocaust of World War II the world said never again. But Bill O’Reilly is right, it’s happening again. It is a genuine holocaust against Christians.

These Christians are kidnapped. Our president does nothing.

Christians are tortured and even crucified publicly. Our president does nothing.

The Christian women are kidnapped and raped and raped again. Our president does nothing.

Christians are driven from their homes in the Middle East by the hundreds of thousands, slaughtered by the tens of thousands, and our president does nothing!

He is the reincarnation of Pontius Pilate washing his hands, but this blood is not coming off.

“The cause of defending freedom is never finished,” Rice intoned in her speech today. Very true — especially if you don’t even try.

Along with Rice, dignitaries and veterans commemorated the formal acceptance by the Allied forces of Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945 at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The president, for his part, commemorated a personal milestone today. His trip to South Dakota to give an address promoting his proposal for free community college made him the fourth president to set foot in all 50 states! For your enjoyment, the White House blog has posted a gallery of Obama visiting all 50 states. Are you not entertained?

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Democrat Tim Kaine Thinks Maybe It’s Time We Call This Thing With ISIS A War

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

I concur.

Congress’ failure to even debate U.S. military action against Islamic State nine months after air strikes began is scandalous and disrespectful to Americans fighting an undeclared war, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine said on Thursday.

Kaine, a Democratic member of the Foreign Relations Committee, has been an unrelenting critic of Congress’ failure to authorize military force against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, even as a U.S.-led bombing campaign has been in effect since Aug. 8.

In media interviews before a Senate speech on Thursday, Kaine outlined reasons for the delay, including congressional reluctance to take up the matter before elections last November.

“American service members have lost their lives, we’ve spent over $2 billion, 3,300 bombing runs and Congress hasn’t even been willing to talk about this or authorize the military action,” Kaine said on CNN. “This is a big scandal in my view.”

The hinges really have flown off of the world if I find that much common sense in something Tim Kaine says. The “let’s sort of fight but hey let’s not call it a war” approach epitomizes congressional timidity. They’re will to ask some to risk all even as they make sure they’re covering their rear ends. Why have a vote on a war come back to haunt you when you can get by with a wink and no discussion?

It is Kaine’s fellow Democrats who want keep avoiding calling it a war. They play semantics while American troops are fighting.

Now that ISIS has admitted to attacking on U.S. soil in Garland, TX it would be nice if they took this more seriously. Sadly, the Democrats insist that Pamela Geller is the enemy, not ISIS.

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Obama Picks His Fifth Afghanistan Commander as Chairman of Joint Chiefs

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama today nominated the commandant of the Marine Corps to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Gen. Joseph Dunford would take over for Gen. Martin Dempsey, who has been chairman since October 2011.

Dunford, who has been Marine commandant since last summer, led the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He was Obama’s fifth Afghanistan commander.

“I’ve had a chance to work with him. I have been extraordinarily impressed by Joe from the situation room where he helped to shape our enduring commitment to Afghanistan, to my visit last year to Bagram, where I saw his leadership first-hand,” Obama said today in the Rose Garden.

“I know Joe. I trust him. He’s already proven his ability to give me his unvarnished military advice based on his experience on the ground. Under his steady hand, we’ve achieved key milestones, including the transition to Afghan responsibility for security, historic Afghan elections, and the drawdown of U.S. forces, setting the stage for our combat mission there.”

Obama urged the Senate to confirm Dunford “without delay so we can stay focused on the work that unites us all as Americans: keeping our military strong, our nation secure, our citizens safe.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) already put his stamp of approval on the pick. “General Dunford is a proven leader, commanding forces in Afghanistan, with a deep understanding of the national security challenges we face,” Graham said. “President Obama’s selection of General Dunford to become the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is outstanding.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) vowed his Armed Services Committee will the nominations of Dunford and vice-chairman pick, Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, “prompt and thorough consideration.”

“In addition to his leadership of the Marine Corps, General Dunford’s exemplary service in Iraq and Afghanistan makes him a strong choice as we confront threats to stability and peace in both countries and throughout the region,” McCain said.

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said he hopes that Dunford would continue to be straight with Congress as Obama’s top military adviser.

“General Dunford is a good choice to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Thornberry said. “The range and severity of threats America faces today is unprecedented. I am encouraged that the president has chosen as his top military officer a general who has stared down many of those threats personally. General Dunford has always been candid in giving his best military advice to this committee, if he is confirmed, I look forward to that relationship continuing.”

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Why Is the State Department Barring an Iraqi Nun from Entering the United States?

Friday, May 1st, 2015 - by Debra Heine

Sister-Diana-Momeka

Every member of a delegation of Iraqi minority groups has been granted visas to visit Washington for official meetings — except one. An Iraqi nun, who is a representative of the Nineveh Christians who have been forced to flee Iraq or be slaughtered by ISIS, has been barred from entering the United States by the Obama administration.

*Sister Diana Momeka was hoping to have a chance to tell Americans about the devastation Christians have suffered at the hands of ISIS, but the only Christian member of a delegation that includes Turkmen Shia and Yazidis is not welcome.

The State Department’s reasoning, according to National Review’s Nina Shea, is completely specious.

She told me in a phone conversation that, to her face, consular officer Christopher Patch told her she was denied because she is an “IDP” or Internally Displaced Person. “That really hurt,” she said. Essentially, the State Department was calling her a deceiver. The State Department officials made the determination that the Catholic nun could be falsely asserting that she intends to visit Washington when secretly she could be intending to stay. That would constitute illegal immigration, and that, of course, is strictly forbidden.

(Ms. Shea was being sarcastic there — in case you missed it.)

Once here, she could also be at risk for claiming political asylum, and the U.S. seems determined to deny ISIS’s Christian victims that status. In reality, Sister Diana wanted to visit for one week in mid-May. She has meetings set up with the Senate and House foreign-relations committees, the State Department, USAID, and various NGOs. In support of her application, Sister Diana had multiple documents vouching for her and the temporary nature of her visit. She submitted a letter from her prioress, Sister Maria Hana. It attested that the nun has been gainfully employed since last February with the Babel College of Philosophy and Theology in Erbil, Kurdistan, and is contracted to teach there in the 2015–16 academic year.

The Obama administration has rolled out the welcome mat for teenagers from Central America and Syrian Muslims seeking political asylum, but the prospect of a single nun — whose people are being systematically exterminated in Iraq – receiving political asylum is apparently odious to them. But that is not what Sister Diana was even planning to do.

In reality, Sister Diana wanted to visit for one week in mid-May. She has meetings set up with the Senate and House foreign-relations committees, the State Department, USAID, and various NGOs. In support of her application, Sister Diana had multiple documents vouching for her and the temporary nature of her visit. She submitted a letter from her prioress, Sister Maria Hana. It attested that the nun has been gainfully employed since last February with the Babel College of Philosophy and Theology in Erbil, Kurdistan, and is contracted to teach there in the 2015–16 academic year.

It turns out that the 30-something-year-old Sister Diana is an incredibly accomplished spokesman for persecuted Christians in Iraq, and “has become internationally known as a charismatic and articulate advocate for religious freedom and human rights.”

Rep. Frank Wolf met the notorious nun in Kurdistan a few months ago. “We had hoped to facilitate her trip to the States so that she could speak with great candor, as is her custom, to policymakers. Perhaps just as significantly, we viewed her as a critical voice to awaken the church in the West to the suffering of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq,” he explained.

Why the  U.S. consulate would bar Sister Diana from entering the United States (for being an IDP), but not a delegation of IDP Yazidis, who were given U.S. visas to come to Washington to speak last October, is anyone’s guess.

Shea concluded by sharing the State Department’s  2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review pledge, which, she notes, “adds insult to injury”: “every overseas post and domestic bureau will seek opportunities to engage religious leaders,” as part of its pursuit of countering “violent extremism.”

Right. Unless you happen to be a Catholic nun countering “violent extremism.”

Elizabeth Scalia — who is usually much more subtle and diplomatic than I am — says the excuse the State Department gave to bar Sister Diana from coming to the U.S. “sounds like pure-d bullcrap.”

Why does this administration go out of its way to avoid noticing or mentioning what is happening to Christians in Iraq and Libya and elsewhere? Why are Catholic nuns too suspect to be allowed into the country? What is the problem, exactly?

Indeed. It’s difficult not to see this latest affront as part of the Obama administrations’s increasingly hostile stance toward Christians here and abroad.

Here, via the Anchoress, is a video featuring Sister Diana with two other nuns talking about the desperate plight of Christians in Iraq back in January of 2013. The brave woman stuck it out until August of 2014, when she, along with 50,000 other Christians, had to flee Qaraqosh when ISIS stormed the town.

Behold what the Obama administration deems unworthy of entering the United States:

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 *An earlier version of this post contained a typo that has been corrected. The Iraqi nun’s full name is Sister Diana Momeka.

 

 

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Why Are We Star Struck on Drone Strikes?

Friday, May 1st, 2015 - by James Jay Carafano
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Recent polling finds a plurality in support of continuing the policy of hunting down our enemies with drones.  The results are intriguing. They come in the wake of the US government acknowledging one of the most high profile screw-ups ever in the controversial drone program. Last month, the president admitted that hostages, including a US citizen, had been inadvertently killed in a drone strike.

Why Americans remain so supportive of drone operations is a bit of a head scratcher. On the one hand, they are fearsome weapons.  Americans are also right to wave off criticism that these airborne attacks are illegitimate. Condemnations are just another form of “lawfare,” clothing political opposition with legalistic sounding arguments. Say what you want about drones — but they are perfectly legal.

On the other, the president’s “drone strategy” has failed. Islamists terrorist groups control far more ground today than when president Obama took office. The number of attacks aimed at the US homeland is increasing. Last month, three plots were uncovered in 17 days.

Drone strikes are a “tactic,” a way to deal with a particular target.  They are not a way to win a war. Drones are no more an answer to ending al Qaeda than a tank was to winning World War II. Americans  are right to vote up drones. Strikes make sense when done right. But Obama’s war on terrorism, that is another matter. The president gets two thumbs down.

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Kerry on ‘Acceleration’ of Global Zero, Pledge to Cut Nuclear Arsenal ‘Even Further’

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Secretary of State John Kerry told the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference at the United Nations in New York on Monday that as the U.S. negotiates with Iran to rein in its nuclear program, the administration is stepping up dismantlement of the nuclear arsenal at home.

“We have and we will continue to scale down our arsenal, and to continue to move, step by step, toward nuclear disarmament. And I would say to you that our progress is indisputable. As of September 2014, the number of nuclear weapons in our stockpile has fallen to 4,717, or 85 percent below the Cold War peak. And yes, still way too many. Over the last 20 years alone, we have dismantled 10,251 warheads, with another approximately 2,500 warheads retired and in the queue for elimination. Now, this is complex and costly work, but we are committed to reducing this backlog,” Kerry said. “And I am pleased to announce today that President Obama has decided that the United States will seek to accelerate the dismantlement of retired nuclear warheads by 20 percent.”

The White House today released a joint statement with Japan, during the visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, reaffirming “our commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

“In this 70th year since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we are reminded of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use… We further emphasize the importance of applying the principles of irreversibility, verifiability and transparency in the process of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.”

Kerry told the NPT conference that the administration’s “commitment to disarmament is clear in other areas as well.”

“We have pledged not to pursue new nuclear warheads or support new military missions or military capabilities for the weapons that we do have, and we haven’t tested a nuclear weapon in 23 years. We have clearly demonstrated our commitment to abide by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. We have reduced the role that nuclear weapons play in our national security strategy. And the primary purpose today is simply to deter nuclear threats from others. We have reduced the alert status of our nuclear arsenal, and we have taken every reasonable step to ensure its safety, security, and strict control,” he continued.

Kerry said implementation of the New START Treaty with Russia is “going well,” and lauded his Senate role in getting it past. Republicans who agreed to ratification did so on the administration promise of modernizing the nuclear arsenal, something that’s never happened.

“We know that we can cut back even further, and President Obama has made clear our willingness, readiness, now, to engage and negotiate further reductions of deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third below the level set by New START,” he said. “Let me underscore: That offer remains on the table, and we urge the Russians to take us up on it.”

He acknowledge that Russia’s “clear violation of its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.”

“We are urging Russia to return to compliance. For decades, that treaty has contributed to the peace and the security in Europe and Asia. And there is no reason — no reason — to create new dangers by undermining it now,” Kerry added.

“…We also remain firmly committed to holding the proposed conference on a regional zone in the Middle East, free of all weapons of mass destruction. And this zone is a hugely ambitious goal and fraught with challenges, but ambitious goals are always the ones worth pursuing. We support the regional efforts underway to reach agreement on terms for a conference, and those terms must be shared by all — there is no prospect for engagement or agreement absent the consent of the states involved. And this principle needs to be observed and respected if a process is really to start. And if that’s the case, I guarantee you the effort will have the full support of the United States.”

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Ferguson-Palestine Seed Bearing Fruit in Baltimore Riots

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

From Legal Insurrection:

This is becoming a recurring theme.

When there is a riot or other protest in the U.S., particularly if involving minority communities, “pro-Palestinian” activists try to hijack it and turn it into a criticism of Israel.

We saw it in Ferguson where “pro-Palestinian” activists spread lies that Israel trained the Ferguson police, and actually embedded themselves in the protests to try to turn the protests into anti-Israel protests.

The same thing has happened repeatedly with #BlackLivesMatters protests, most notably the dangerous blockade of the San Mateo – Hayward Bridge.

This is part of the emerging theme of anti-Israeli activists trying to tie unrelated movements, such as fossil fuel divestment, to Palestinian issues. Now we are seeing it with the Baltimore riots.

Max Blumenthal, notorious anti-Zionist and self-hating Jew, joined in to fuel the fire with Tweets like:

and

Blumenthal’s attempt to join in the community organizing through social media is yet another illustration of the yuppie socialist class fueling insurrection for their own nefarious political purposes. Like Ayers and Soros, these folks never let a good crisis go to waste, and when there isn’t one to be had, one can easily be made. It is no secret that the #BlackLivesMatter movement, along with associated organizations, has been funded and prepped to turn riot-like community organizing into violent expressions of pro-Palestinian unity. We’ve seen what this terror-backed rage can do in places like the Gaza Strip and Israel’s West Bank. What can we learn from Israel before our cities go down in flames?

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‘Are You Afraid of Turkey?’: Harf Gets Owned on Armenian Genocide Questions

Friday, April 24th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Reporters tried to get the G-word out of the administration today on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, but both the White House and State Department went through every verbal dance possible to not anger Turkey.

President Obama edited the word Ankara hates out of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, issuing a lengthy statement marking “Armenian Remembrance Day.” He promised as a presidential candidate in 2008 to recognize the Armenian Genocide once in the Oval Office, but has never done so.

“This centennial is a solemn moment. It calls on us to reflect on the importance of historical remembrance, and the difficult but necessary work of reckoning with the past. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all our interests,” Obama said.

“Peoples and nations grow stronger, and build a foundation for a more just and tolerant future, by acknowledging and reckoning with painful elements of the past. We welcome the expression of views by Pope Francis, Turkish and Armenian historians, and the many others who have sought to shed light on this dark chapter of history.”

Asked today what is preventing Obama from keeping his promise, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president “has spoken very clearly and directly in the context of this specific statement so I’d refer you to those comments.”

“I’d also point out that United States Treasury Secretary Jack Lew led a U.S. delegation to the Armenian remembrance services and activities in Armenia,” Earnest said. “And again, I think that’s an indication of the president’s commitment to ensuring that we not allow even these very tragic incidents from going unnoticed. And that acknowledging what had happened in history is important.”

At the State Department today, Marie Harf got exasperated with questions about the Armenian Genocide.

“You’ve asked the same question everyday this week, and I gave the same answer,” she snapped at Matt Lee of the Associated Press.

“The president put out a very powerful statement speaking to the historical events that happened. It was a very lengthy statement. I know you’ve all read it,” Harf told reporters. “We understand that some people want to hear different language used. We believe this is the right course. But all you have to do is read the president’s statement to see how seriously he feels about these historical issues.”

She told Lee that he’s “certainly happy to have your own opinion about whether you like my answer or not.”

“Compared to what he usually does — it’s five paragraphs. Most presidential statements are not this long, OK? Speaking very forcefully to this issue and how he sees these historical events,” Harf said.

“Are you afraid of Turkey?” Lee asked.

“I’m not even sure how to answer that question,” Harf replied.

“What can Turkey do to a country as big and powerful as the United States?” he continued.

“As I said, we believe this is the right course to take, and I’m not going to have much more for you on this issue than that,” she answered.

Harf was presented with Obama’s statement that “amid horrific violence that so suffering on all sides, 1.5 million Armenians perished,” and asked if the administration would speak of “suffering on all sides” on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“We’re just not going to compare any two historical events,” she said.

“Do you understand why people are making — why people are asking these questions?” Lee asked.

“We understand that some people would like to hear different language,” Harf replied.

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Earn College Credit for Bashing Jews!

Friday, April 24th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Shalom Life reports:

Outraged students and pro-Israel groups are up in arms over a new course being taught at the University of California Riverside. The class, called “Palestine & Israel: Settler-Colonialism and Apartheid,” labels Jewish citizens of Israel as “occupiers,” and tries to discredit their claims to their homeland.

The class is being taught by Tina Matar, an undergrad student at the school. Matar is also part of the university’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter, and has (along with other members of the SJP) voiced her support of Hamas and other terrorist groups committing genocide against the Jewish peoples. Matar, along with the SJP, have also tried to get the school to boycott Israel, and partake in the BDS movement at campuses around the globe.

The campus is an active participant in the BDS movement. Matar, still a student herself, is being sponsored by a pro-BDS professor, David Lloyd. And here’s the real kicker: Janet Napolitano is a university administrator.

In his letter protesting the one-credit class, Christians United for Israel head David Brog commented, “I’m not sure what’s worse, having a college course taught by an undergraduate student or having a course syllabus that reads like the Facebook page of a skinhead teenager.”

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