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Caption Contest Winners: Democratic Party Screws Up Flag Day and More Summertime Fun

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 - by Myra Adams
Flag day

Image tweeted by DNC on Flag Day

 

Thanks for all who entered our latest contest. As usual, PJM readers showed the world what great believers they are in, “Truth, Justice and the American Way.” (As an aside, the first person who can identify the character associated with that slogan receives a shout-out during our next contest.)

Now, the news is bad all around: the Middle East is imploding, it’s a free-for-all on our southern border, Putin is poised to conquer the Ukraine, and since our days as a great nation are numbered, without further ado, here are the winning captions.

There was one grand pooh-bah of a winner who deserves to wrap himself in the flag and that is RockThisTown who wrote the grand prize winning caption:

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses . . . yearning to get an EBT card.

And… RockThisTown had another winning caption that reflected a memorable Obama-ism of days gone by:

At some point, you’ve made enough American flags.

Our reigning Caption King, Chris Henderson was also a winner with a twist on another Obama-ism:

“Betsy Ross, you didn’t build that!”

Zip Code won with:

I came here for the American dream and now I find out even the ex First Lady is dead broke.

Then the great cfbleachers had several winners:

First, making light of the Democratic National Committee celebrating Flag Day with a photo tweet using red, white and blue bunting instead of a flag, he wrote:

Iraq collapsing into ISIS hands, Benghazi a swirl of deceit and corruption, Ukraine overrun by communist tanks.  … Just when American morale needs a patriotic home run…Obama and the Democrats are bunting.

Second, because making fun of the IRS is just so easy these days (before they come after us) cfbleachers wrote:

All the real US flags were being held for safekeeping by the IRS…but they lost them.

Finally, because there is nothing important happening in our nation or the world, the Vice-President of the United States threw his annual first day of summer pool party this past weekend.  Here is a photo of the jolly host with his water weapon of choice, a deadly super-soaker.  This is not an official caption contest but I am confident you will all have some fun playing around with it. See you all next time a photo is super worthy of an official PJ Media caption contest!

Biden supersoaker

Credit: David Nakamura

 

 

 

 

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Lee Tries to Block Funding for Obama’s Iraq Operations

Friday, June 20th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The sole congressional vote against going into Afghanistan after 9/11 is trying to put the brakes on any action President Obama wants to take in Iraq.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) tried attaching amendments to the defense authorization bill that passed the House today.

“Despite support from the American people to end our nation’s perpetual state of war, Congress has not repealed the multiple Authorizations for Use of Military Force that have created the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan and amounts to blank check for endless war,” Lee said.

Her first amendment would have blocked any funding for Iraq operations. “President Obama has told the American people there is no military solution in Iraq and he’s right,” she said. “The situation in Iraq requires a political solution that builds a state representative and respectful of the rights for all citizens. It’s an Iraqi crisis that must be solved by Iraqis, not foreign militaries.”

Lee also had separate amendments to block funding for the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force.

“An AUMF is a powerful statement from Congress that it’s the will and in the interest of the American people to use force in a foreign country. These types of powerful action cannot remain into perpetuity,” she said. “The American people deserve a voice on whether or not American military force is used in Iraq. Congress cannot continue to offer blank checks for force while the American people have continued to express their desire for peace.”

“In failing to approve this measure, Congress has ignored its Constitutional duty to debate and give the American people a voice on matters of war and peace.”

Lee received support from Reps. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) to repeal the 2001 AUMF.

She also presented an amendment co-sponsored by Reps. Walt Jones (R-N.C.) and Jim McGovern (D-Wash.) to block funding for Afghanistan operations beyond the end of the year.

“It is clear to all that Congress must debate and approve any extension of military operations in Afghanistan beyond December 2014. After more than a decade of war, they have promised to bring our brave servicemen and women home,” said Lee. “Congress should have made that same promise and restricted future funding for war beyond the end of 2014.”

Some members voted against the final defense bill because they thought the package was just too bloated.

“The Department of Defense’s budget is out of control,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog coalition of Democrats. “With a total cost of nearly half a trillion dollars, this legislation makes no serious effort to restructure the Pentagon’s budget to ensure the long-term fiscal health of our military. Instead, it provides an astonishing $80 billion for continuing the war in Afghanistan, despite the fact that troop levels will be drawn down to fewer than 10,000.”

“Absolutely no effort was made in this bill to scale back the purchasing of large weapon systems, and we will continue to fund military bases throughout the world that were designed to fight the wars of the past,” Schrader said. “Instead, we should be focusing on properly funding our VA health system to better care for our wounded warriors who have fought so bravely overseas.”

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), though, said the measure keeps defense in the forefront by “providing funding for advanced equipment and technology, an across-the-board pay raise for our men and women in uniform and additional resources to help ensure America has a strong and unparalleled military force.”

“In addition to bolstering our defense operations, this bill prohibits funding for the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S.,” Price added. “The president has not made a compelling case nor shown he has a plan for such a course of action. His most recent release of five Taliban commanders to relative freedom in Qatar raises serious questions about his administration’s judgment in this matter.”

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Obama About to Sign Land-Mine Ban Against Pentagon’s Wishes

Friday, June 20th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The Obama administration is days away from “committing America” the Ottawa Convention, an anti-mine pact that House Armed Services Committee leaders say could tie the hands of the military.

It also, noted chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), highlights how President Obama fixates on random policy actions while bigger, more urgent issues go unresolved.

Even if the Senate fails to approve the 1997 treaty, as is expected, signing the document holds Washington accountable under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which requires that signatories not act contrary to the pact’s “object and purpose.”

“It has come to our attention through informal sources that President Obama intends to commit America to the Ottawa Convention, renouncing the use of land mines by our Armed Forces. While the NSC has attempted to obfuscate the issue, they are noticeably silent in any denial that the President is committed to this course of action,” McKeon and Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, said in a joint statement today. “No one can deny the painful human cost of the irresponsible use of these weapons, but committing our country to this treaty won’t do anything to repair that damage.”

“Signing the Ottawa treaty goes against the best advice our Nation’s military commanders have offered, substantially increases our risk in dangerous parts of the world, and imposes a needless financial burden on an already strapped military. It is the wrong decision for our country and it is especially problematic for key U.S. allies who do not need another reason to doubt U.S. commitment to their security,” they added.

“Many countries use landmines irresponsibly, but the United States is not one of them.  In fact, the over 400,000 mines in our inventory all either self-destruct or self-deactivate. America does more than any other country to mitigate the land mine damage done by others- spending over $2 billion on the problem since 1993. The cost to replace our mines in areas where they are essential to our defense and that of our allies, like the Korean Peninsula, will run into the hundreds of millions. The cost of an alternative defensive platform could be billions more.”

 

In March, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey called land mines “an important tool in the arsenal of the armed forces of the United States,” stressing that tensions on the Korean Peninsula have increased.

The Defense Department prepared a 30-page report on the dangers of signing the land-mine ban, but its contents remain classified.

“We cannot improve upon the assessment of General Dempsey,” McKeon and Forbes said. “If the White House truly wants to lay Americans concerns on this important matter to rest, they should clearly confirm that they are following the best military advice of our uniformed leadership and opposing this treaty.”

McKeon told Fox “this is a bad decision for our military.”

“It’s a bad decision for our country. It’s a bad decision for our taxpayers,” he added.

Of Obama’s decisions, McKeon said, “some… he agonizes over for a long time, and then takes no action. Some decisions just kind of seem to come out of the blue, and he takes action. It’s hard to follow this.”

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Did the Obama Administration Just Draw Another Red Line…Over Ukraine?

Friday, June 20th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Protip for international leaders, diplomats and military planners, and their paid spokesmen: Don’t make threats that you have no intention of backing up.

WASHINGTON: The United States warned Friday it would not accept any use of Russian military forces in eastern Ukraine, amid reports they could be used to protect pro-Moscow civilians in the country.

“We are monitoring the situation carefully. We will not accept the use, under any pretext, of any Russian military forces in eastern Ukraine,” said Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman.

And if they do?

And if they already have? Earnest had more to say about that, and I’ll get to that, but first, here’s what’s happening.

More Russian tanks left a base in southwest Russia on Thursday, and Russia is preparing to send additional tanks to separatists in eastern Ukraine, a senior U.S. administration official said Friday. Claiming it is “ensuring security,” Russia also moved troops to within a “handful of kilometers” from Ukraine territory, even as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared a weeklong ceasefire with the separatists.

The pro-Russian separatists do not appear to have any intention of laying down their arms and going along with the ceasefire, according to reports from the ground.

The Ukrainian government briefed Western diplomats in Kiev on Friday and told them it has evidence that 10 additional tanks, along with fuel trucks and supporting vehicles, crossed the border between the countries in the last 24 hours. The U.S. official said the U.S. government has independently confirmed additional tanks departed from a deployment site in southwest Russia on Thursday.

So that’s what’s happening. Here’s the rest of Earnest’s take:

“Reports from Moscow that the Russian defense ministry is considering creating military cordons in eastern Ukraine are also troubling,” Earnest said.

“We do not see any evidence that the Russian military units arriving to the region are connected to any type of border security mission.”

Pray tell, what does the Obama administration know about “border security?”

Setting that aside, the US is already aware that Russian tanks are operating inside Ukraine. Yet Team Obama is warning them not to do that. When they already are.

If the brain trust atop the Obama administration actually wanted to turn America into an origami tiger, what would they do differently from what they have already done in the name of “smart power?”

 

 

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Coburn: Public Opinion on Afghanistan Would be Different If Obama Conveyed Terror Threat

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Washington is now living with the consequences of a “couple of irreversible errors” on Iraq, which also foretell the result of the administration’s policy on Afghanistan withdrawal.

“I mean, the tragedy that’s going to unfold in Iraq is one of two things, is we’re going to have Americans put at risk again because we didn’t leave a residual force there,” Coburn said this morning on MSNBC. “And all you had to do is look at post-1950 in Korea and post-World War II in Europe, and the stabilization of the presence of our troops has a large impact in terms of people’s behavior.”

“So we’re either going to do that or a lot of people are going to die and you’re going to see it — this continuing worsening conflict throughout the Middle East,” he added.

“You know, we have now telegraphed the exact same thing to happen in Afghanistan that’s happening in Iraq right now with the idea that we’re going to take troops out, we’re going to leave no residual — I mean, it — none of it makes sense.”

Coburn said polling on keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan doesn’t matter as the issue isn’t properly conveyed to the public by leaders. “Had you spoken about the importance of protecting America — you know, this is really about us now. This is about putting our country at high risk again,” he said.

“You know, sitting on the Intel Committee, I can tell you that what we need is leadership to explain the importance of why we want to stop the terrorism, al-Qaeda and the Taliban, throughout the Middle East and everywhere else they are,” Coburn continued. “Because ultimately it’s going to land on our shores if we don’t. And not leading to explain that. And you know, real leadership is doing the right best thing for the country even when the public isn’t with you, and trying to win them over and then suffering the consequences if you didn’t but still doing the right thing.”

“And we’ve not done that.”

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The Voice of Fear: ABC Reporter in Iraq

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Listen to Martha Raddatz, urgently and plaintively describe the clear and present danger to American interests in Iraq, including, one must assume, to American journalists (“People are truly afraid,” she says, because it sounds more professional than, “I am truly afraid.”)

She’s not quoting “sources,” she’s clearly speaking as a person on the ground in a chaotic country bristling with hostility toward us, and unconstrained by civilization’s rules of war.

The clip has the feel of a hostage video. 

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Hoyer: Set Aside Blame Game on Iraq and ‘Defeat the Proponents of Terrorism’

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) conceded that whatever happens in Iraq, “it’s going to have consequences for us.”

“We have a group in there, whether you call it al-Qaeda, ISIS, whatever you call it, that wishes us no good, and has historically taken a lot of Americans’ lives so that we have a real stake in this, a real interest in this. Then the question becomes, OK, what do you do. I think that’s a much more complicated issue — once we decide it has consequences for us, what do we do,” Hoyer told MSNBC this morning. “I think we’re going to have to talk about that.”

Hoyer said he I talked to the administration over the weekend, including Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken.

“I think we’re going to have to see what options are available to us to try to dissuade and to defeat the proponents of terrorism. Clearly, there’s a lot of blame to go around. But right now, we need to look at what can we get done in an effective way that will have some long-term consequence, not just temporary,” he stressed.

He added that the Sunni-Shiite divide in Iraq is “part of the problem, but not all of the problem.” President Obama has pressed sectarian reconciliation as an indispensable part of any plan to rid Iraq of terrorists.

“You have a group of whether it’s in Syria, in Iraq, in Iran, that very much wants to see a hegemony of their group in power and others shut out. That’s not going to work. So we need both a short-term strategy and a longer- term strategy.”

Hoyer said he believes Obama is within the law to act as he sees fit in militarily addressing the terrorists in Iraq.

“We gave him some very broad powers,” he said. “We may want to consider those at some point in time, but I think he has the authority to act, yes.”

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Obama Sends War Powers Notification to Congress on Sending 275 Troops to Iraq

Monday, June 16th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama just notified Congress that about 275 military personnel are deploying to Iraq.

Per the War Powers Resolution, Obama sent a notice to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate President Pro Tem Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) advising that the deployment began yesterday.

“Up to approximately 275 U.S. Armed Forces personnel are deploying to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat. This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed,” Obama writes.

“This action has been directed consistent with my responsibility to protect U.S. citizens both at home and abroad, and in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.”

In a statement accompanying the resolution, White House press secretary Jay Carney stressed that “the personnel will provide assistance to the Department of State in connection with the temporary relocation of some staff from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to the U.S. Consulates General in Basra and Erbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman.”

“These U.S. military personnel are entering Iraq with the consent of the Government of Iraq,” Carney said. “The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad remains open, and a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission.”

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby stressed on CNN that “the embassy is a very safe compound.”

“There is no request by the State Department for any kind of evacuation. The embassy is still up and running, still operational. It’s true that they relocated some of the personnel over the weekend, but, again, the embassy’s open, open for business,” Kirby said.

“And, look, I mean, this is always a tough call, how you make these kinds of decisions about whether to move or not to move. We are postured and ready should the State Department require that. But there has been no request, none at all. The embassy’s still open.”

Kirby also said that the steamrolling of Iraqi cities by ISIS forces was “absolutely not an intelligence failure, none at all.”

“So, this is something we have been watching for a long time,” he said. “Yes, they moved pretty quick. And, yes, as I said Friday, we were surprised and disappointed at how some of the Iraqi security forces failed to meet those threats up in the north. But it’s not something we haven’t been watching.”

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Kerry Indicates U.S. Might Work with Shiite Extremists Against Sunni Extremists

Monday, June 16th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Secretary of State John Kerry indicated to Yahoo News that he would be open to working militarily with Shiite extremist Iran to stop Sunni extremists in Iraq.

“I think we are open to any constructive process here that could minimize the violence, hold Iraq together, the integrity of the country and eliminate the presence of outside terrorist forces that are ripping it apart,” Kerry told Katie Couric.

“I wouldn’t rule out anything that would be constructive to providing real stability, a respect for the (Iraqi) constitution, a respect for the election process, and a respect for the Iraqi people to form a government that represents all of the interests of Iraq — not one sectarian group over another,” he said.

Kerry said President Obama was giving the options presented to him a “thorough vetting.”

He also doubted that ISIS could take Baghdad. “I don’t believe that they will in the near term,” he said.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) warned Friday about the temptation to get cozy with the Iranians.

“I’m very concerned about Maliki getting in bed with Iranians that, because us not really doing anything and waiting days to figure out what we might do, that the Iranians come in,” McCain said.

“I’m hearing rumors that some people say, well, that might be good in our interests. That would be a Faustian bargain, my friends. The Iranians are our enemies, and wherever we have anything to do with them, it would be a horrific mistake.”

More P5+1 meetings on Iran’s nuclear program began today in Geneva, with Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy R. Sherman and Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns leading the U.S. delegation.

The administration faces a July 20 deadline for a final deal with Iran.

“Don’t think for a minute that Iran is not looking at this vacuum as a potential power grab, as well,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said Sunday of the Iraq crisis. “And I think we need to be very cognizant of that fact.”

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USS Mesa Verde Arrives in Gulf, Can Evacuate Americans if Need Be

Monday, June 16th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The Pentagon said this morning that the USS Mesa Verde has arrived in the Persian Gulf to join the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, destroyer USS Truxtun, and USS Philippine Sea.

“Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde into the Arabian Gulf today. The ship has completed its transit through the Strait of Hormuz,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.

“Its presence in the Gulf adds to that of other U.S. naval ships already there — including the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush — and provides the commander-in-chief additional options to protect American citizens and interests in Iraq, should he choose to use them.”

The Norfolk-based USS Mesa Verde, bearing 550 Marines, could help evacuate Americans if necessary.

“USS Mesa Verde is capable of conducting a variety of quick reaction and crisis response operations. The ship carries a complement of MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft,” Kirby said.

“USS Mesa Verde is part of the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, which departed Norfolk, Virginia, in February and is operating in the region on a routine deployment to support maritime security operations.”

Dozens of Marines have already arrived at the Green Zone in Baghdad to protect the U.S. Embassy.

“At the request of the State Department, the U.S. military is providing security assistance for our diplomatic facilities in Baghdad. A small number of DOD personnel are augmenting State Department security assets in Baghdad to help ensure the safety of our facilities,” Kirby said Sunday.

“The temporary relocation of some embassy personnel is being facilitated aboard commercial, charter and State Department aircraft as appropriate,” he added. “The U.S. military has airlift assets at the ready should State Department request them, as per normal inter-agency support arrangements.”

The State Department said late Sunday afternoon that the embassy “remains open and will continue to engage daily with Iraqis and their elected leaders – supporting them as they strengthen Iraq’s constitutional processes and defend themselves from imminent threats.”

“As a result of ongoing instability and violence in certain areas of Iraq, Embassy Baghdad is reviewing its staffing requirements in consultation with the State Department,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “Some additional U.S. government security personnel will be added to the staff in Baghdad; other staff will be temporarily relocated – both to our Consulate Generals in Basra and Erbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman.”

“Overall, a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the Embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission.”

In this video, Kurdish forces try to explain to a couple of Western tourists why they can’t drive through to Mosul, employing some grisly charades to explain that they’d end up dead if they went to the al-Qaeda-controlled city:

YouTube Preview Image

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Iraq Chaos: Enemies Must Be Defeated, Not Policed

Monday, June 16th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Iraq war vet J.R. Salzman expresses understandable frustration regarding Iraq’s collapse into chaos brought on by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Salzman and so many others have been told for years that their sacrifices were offered to establish a free and orderly Iraq. My PJM colleague Austin Bay summarizes the conventional wisdom which has informed the effort when he writes:

The US has a vital interest in helping Iraqis create a stable, democratic state. Would-be isolationists will quickly rediscover that economic links bind the 21st century world, once they see the oil price hikes spurred by the battlefield successes of the [ISIS].

What if the Iraqis don’t want a stable, democratic state? What if they lack the philosophical and moral base upon which to establish it? Wouldn’t that largely explain why their nation descends into chaos without Americans there to impose order?

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(Today’s Fightin Words podcast on this topic. 16:15 minutes long; 15.67 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

The interests of the United States are properly defined by the individual rights of its citizens. We have a right to defend our lives, our liberty, and our property. If ISIS presents a threat to those rights, they should be engaged as an enemy and utterly destroyed.

But that’s the old fashioned, pre-WWII, pre-UN way of looking at foreign policy. And it’s not very popular today. Day suggests:

To stabilize, Iraqis need confidence; a long-term US security presence inspires confidence. America kept a security “nightlight” in Germany and Japan for half a century.

Of course, Germany and Japan were first militarily defeated in total war, their cities and civilian populations devastated to the point of unconditional surrender. Unless we’re willing to first defeat our enemies, we can’t hope to police them.

Part of the problem is that Iraq doesn’t have a unified national identity. You can’t expect the natives to fight for something they don’t believe in. But that raises the question: if they don’t believe in it, why are we there? If it’s not to neutralize an objectively defined threat, then fifty years of more sacrifices like Salzman’s are hard to justify.

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Syrians Compare Obama Inaction to Clinton and Rwanda

Friday, June 13th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The northwestern Syrian fig-and-olive-producing town of Kafranbel huddled together fairly early in the war and decided the best way to get their message to the outside world would be to pen signs in English, then spread them through the Internet and social media. As President Obama admitted today that the battle in Syria was spilling over to its neighbors, this recent sign they made is an especially damning editorial of his policies in the region.

Obamas Role

The townspeople also recently had a not-suitable-for-work message for Russian President Vladimir Putin:

Fuck you Putin

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Making Sense of the Meltdown in Iraq

Friday, June 13th, 2014 - by Austin Bay

STRATEGIC POLITICAL: The US has a vital interest in helping Iraqis create a stable, democratic state. Would-be isolationists will quickly rediscover that economic links bind the 21st century world, once they see the oil price hikes spurred by the battlefield successes of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also translated as the media-friendly acronym ISIS, for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria).

However, US interest in Iraq is not simply energy or economics — it is political example.  Iran’s dictatorship and various violent Islamic militant groups know that a successful Iraqi democracy would be fatal to them and to their goals.(1)  The US and Iraq must negotiate a new Status of Forces Agreement. To stabilize, Iraqis need confidence; a long-term US security presence inspires confidence. American kept a security “nightlight” in Germany and Japan for half a century.(2)

OPERATIONAL MILITARY: Iraqi forces need US airpower, now. They need US special operations forces (SOF) teams to coordinate air strikes and tap US intelligence assets. First, target ISIL’s truck-borne flying columns. Air attacks devastate light vehicles in the open, and northwestern Iraq is open.  The US has US Navy carrier aircraft within range; so is NATO’s huge Incirlik air base.

The Iraqi Army claims that it stalled an ISIL column near Tikrit. With only 4,000 fighters, ISIL cannot fight an attrition battle. With US airpower providing an immense firepower advantage, Iraqi forces can kill the stalled ISIL column, and kill it quickly.

(1) In early 2004 US intelligence intercepted a letter from Iraq-based terrorist commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to his al-Qaida superiors. Zaraqwi wrote: When “the sons of this land (Iraq) will be the authority … this is the democracy. We will have no pretexts (i.e., for waging a terror war).” Anticipating strategic defeat, Zarqawi concluded his only option igniting a “sectarian war” in Iraq by waging a relentless terror war on Iraqi Shias. He believed this would “rally the Sunni Arabs” to his cause.

YouTube videos of summary executions in Mosul and reports that ISIL is imposing harsh Sharia law in areas it controls suggest ISIL intends to pursue the same desperate stratagem: igniting a Shia-Sunni civil war to shred Iraq. Out of the chaos, ISIL will then create a radical Sunni Islamic state in northern Iraq.  However, the Kurds, Turks and Jordanians won’t let it endure, nor will the Israelis. Though the Iranians will use the chaos to their advantage, they have no interest in a radical militant Sunni state on the border of the Syrian client. However, the best outcome is to kill the ISIL “caliphate” and kill it in a spectacular fashion.

(2) The Iraqi Army of 2008 was an increasingly capable force; the Operation Knights Charge in Basra was a highly successful Iraqi-planned and led attack. However, since US forces withdrew in 2011, cronyism and corruption have undermined Iraq’s military forces. Yes, Nouri al-Maliki bears the blame. Crooked armies are brittle armies; Mosul demonstrates that. Stabilizing Iraq means penalizing rule by whim (or cronies) while nurturing and strengthening the institutional Rule of Law.  An extended US security presence not only gives democratic political elements protection, it provides them with an on-the-ground Rule of Law institution to emulate.

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Can we expect a Vietnam style helicopter rooftop evacuation at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad?

Friday, June 13th, 2014 - by Myra Adams

 

With the terrifying news out of Iraq that the Islamist militants are vowing to capture Baghdad, is it only a matter of time before the U.S. Embassy will be evacuated and abandoned?

Should we expect to see iconic images like this rooftop evacuation from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, Vietnam in 1975?

Vietnam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or, does our 104 acre compound/fortress U.S. Embassy in Baghdad,  “the biggest and most expensive in the world” already have landing lawns so rooftop evacuations will not be necessary?

Credit: Getty

U.S. Embassy in Baghdad     Credit: Getty

 

If the U.S. is forced to evacuate, tell your children that this was when our nation officially lost the War on Terror.

But have no fear! Our Commander in Chief is totally engaged for today he is visiting an Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Is he there to gather support to change the name of the Washington Redskins?  Surely, THAT is a crisis he can handle.

Apparently, the possibility of our embassy being overrun is not that dire because after visiting the Reservation, President Obama and the First Lady have some swanky reservations of their own!  This time in ritzy Palm Springs, CA. There they will engage the locals in a little fundraising and most likely, a few rounds of golf in the golf capital of the Golden State.

According to the local Desert Sun:

“The couple are scheduled to arrive at the Palm Springs International Airport on Friday for a four-day visit. The local news also reported, “The couple’s destination within the valley remained a mystery Thursday.”

Let us hope that over the next four days, images of Obama golfing in Palm Springs will not appear along side video of American Embassy personnel hurriedly boarding aircraft while clutching boxes of classified material.

THAT might just ruin his peaceful Palm Springs weekend and interrupt strolls along Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra Drive.

 

 

 

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House Armed Services Chairman Won’t Back ‘One-Shot Strike That Looks Good for the Camera’

Friday, June 13th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Blasting an AWOL Iraq strategy from the White House, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said he will not support “a one-shot strike that looks good for the cameras but has no enduring effect.”

“All Americans should be gravely concerned by the turn of events in Iraq. What once had the potential to be a secular democratic foothold in a vital region has spiraled into chaos and bloodshed,” McKeon said in a statement. “In the near term, I am most concerned about the security of the thousands of dedicated Americans working in Iraq. The President must make their safety his first concern.”

“In the longer term, it is clear that we need a new strategy in Iraq and across the Middle East,” he continued. “The president had hoped that as America stepped back from the world, other responsible actors would step forward to provide stability. That hasn’t worked. It isn’t going to work. Our vacillation and inaction in Syira, abandonment of Iraq, politically driven withdrawal from Afghanistan, and senseless cuts to national security resources has allowed the resurrection of a transnational terrorist threat.”

“These extremists now have unprecedented wealth, technology, and a safe haven from which to launch attacks on the United States. They must be stopped.”

However, McKeon stressed, “the White House has a history of ‘considering all options’ while choosing none.”

“There are no quick fix solutions to this crisis …what is needed here is a new strategy for our regional engagement, adequate resourcing of our national security enterprise, and renewed American leadership,” he said. “The president should also ask himself if his White House National Security team is equal to the crisis at hand. I don’t believe they are.”

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Bergdahl in San Antonio, Enters Phase III Reintegration

Friday, June 13th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Former Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl touched down in the United States today, two weeks after five Guantanamo prisoners were traded for the 28-year-old’s release.

“Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has arrived at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. While there, he will continue the next phase of his reintegration process. There is no timeline for this process,” said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby. “Our focus remains on his health and well-being. Secretary Hagel is confident that the Army will continue to ensure that Sgt. Bergdahl receives the care, time and space he needs to complete his recovery and reintegration.”

A statement issued a few hours later by the Army said arrived at the San Antonio Military Medical Facility on Fort Sam Houston early this morning “where he will undergo Phase III reintegration.”

“U.S. Army South is the lead command for reintegration and will ensure Sgt. Bergdahl receives the necessary care, time and space to complete the process. Among other components of this phase, Sgt. Bergdahl will continue to receive medical treatment and debriefings,” the Army said.

“Following Sgt. Bergdahl’s reintegration, the Army will continue its comprehensive review into the circumstances of his disappearance and captivity.”

A senior defense official last week described the reintegration phases to reporters.

“Phase one encompasses the process of transporting the recovered individual to a safe area, to conduct initial medical assessment and time-sensitive debriefings. Phase one will end with the recovered individual being returned to duty or recommended for phase two reintegration,” the official said. “Phase two encompasses the transition from phase one to a theater treatment and processing facility, and further SERE and intelligence debriefings and decompression. Phase two will end with the recovered individual being released to duty or recommended for phase three reintegration.”

“Phase three reintegration begins with the transition of the recovered individual to a phase three team of the appropriate service. The phases do not have a prescribed time limit, and they depend on the needs of the recovered individual in coordination with the concerns of the service and the combatant commanders.”

A Defense Department psychologist said in that briefing that phase three is generally the point for “family unification.”

“Phase one is usually around 48 hours, but has gone as long as 96. Phase two is usually a minimum of five days, has gone as long as three weeks. And phase three has been as short as 24 hours and as long as five years,” the psychologist added.

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Can We, And Should We, Do Anything About the Islamist Capture of Iraq?

Thursday, June 12th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, continues its march toward Baghdad. But what does ISIS actually want? Is it capable of holding the territory that it is capturing? What are its aims? What are the consequences if it succeeds in toppling Iraq’s current, secular, government?

Iraq has 10% of the world’s oil supplies. In economic terms alone, if an Islamist terrorist government with al Qaeda’s ideology captures Iraq, the consequences will be serious.

But according to the New York Times, the Obama administration has already ruled out any intervention on Iraq’s behalf, on any scale.

As the threat from Sunni militants in western Iraq escalated last month, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki secretly asked the Obama administration to consider carrying out airstrikes against extremist staging areas, according to Iraqi and American officials.

But Iraq’s appeals for a military response have so far been rebuffed by the White House, which has been reluctant to open a new chapter in a conflict that President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011.

That stubbornness may prove to be very costly. Blogs of War lays out what the US might be able to do short of putting any American troops back into Iraq.

What the United States can do is provide very limited air/drone support, intelligence support, diplomatic support, and coordination with the regional teams who would actually have boots on the ground. Assorted tools from the covert war playbook would likely be enough to make life difficult for ISIS. And frankly, that is all that the United States can, or should, do. We do not need to eradicate them in bloody urban combat or commit massive development resources to a dysfunctional Iraqi government. However, we do need to find a way to check the momentum of a rapidly expanding threat before it becomes an exponentially bigger problem. All military options are ugly, and far from a permanent solution, but engaging ISIS quickly might stave off an absolute collapse of the country.

Collapse isn’t the only risk. A full ISIS takeover is a grim possibility. TIME magazine says that what ISIS really wants is what its predecessor, al Qaeda, wanted: a restoration of the Islamic caliphate.

…if ISIS can in fact hold the area it has overrun, it may well be able to fulfill its stated mission of restoring the Caliphate, the governing structure for the Sunni Muslim world that inherited authority from the Prophet Mohammed. “This is of great significance,” according to an assessment released Wednesday by The Soufan Group, a private security company. A restored Caliphate will attract “many more disaffected young people … from all over the Muslim world, especially the Middle East, lured by nostalgia for al-Khulafa al-Islamiya (the Islamic Caliphate), which remains a potent motivator for Sunni extremists.”

Restoring the Caliphate was the stated goal of Osama bin Laden in creating al-Qaeda, but the terror group has never operated militarily. “It’s ISIS that will build the Caliphate, not al-Qaeda,” says al-Tamimi.

Guess who would be a modern caliphate’s lionized and revered founding father? Besides Barack Obama, who is at least passively enabling all this, Osama bin Laden would get his face on the new caliphate’s currency.

A caliphate would out-Islam even Iran’s Islamic Revolution. It would provide a direct challenge to every secular government in every Islamic country in the Middle East. It would unite millions of Muslims in one of the caliphate’s ultimate goals — the destruction of Israel in order to recapture the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. A caliphate would also provide a threat to Shiites, and might trigger a much wider Islamic civil war, on a more or less global scale.

US power would be severely weakened in all this. In fact, it already is. Iran is already shipping oil to the Syrian government, in open violation of US and international sanctions against Assad. The Obama administration doesn’t seem to care.

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Jihadis Display ‘Power of Islam’ on Donkey Victims

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

Very graphic videos recently appeared on Arabic-language media portraying Islamic jihadis in Syria slaughtering donkeys in order to consume them.

The main point made by some of these websites is that the jihadis are hypocrites for (again) violating Islamic law, which bans the eating of domesticated donkeys.

In the words of a fatwa, or Islamic decree, titled “Is it permissible to eat donkey meat?”

Praise be to Allaah.

It is permissible to eat the meat of onagers (“wild donkeys”) and it is haraam [forbidden] to eat the meat of domesticated donkeys. The first is permitted because of the report narrated by al-Bukhaari (5492) and Muslim (1196) from Abu Qataadah (may Allaah be pleased with him) who hunted an onager and brought a piece of it to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and he ate some of it, and he said to his companions: “It is halaal [permissible], eat it.”

With regard to domesticated donkeys, their meat was permitted at first, then the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) declared it to be haraam [forbidden] on the day of Khaybar.

Questions of wild or domesticated aside—and the donkeys do appear to be domesticated—this is yet another example of the fact that, for those waging jihad to empower Allah’s word, dispensations are always available.

As discussed here, it is precisely because the strictures of Islamic law are relaxed for the jihadi—often permitting the indulgence of depraved behavior—that the jihad has always been an appealing option.

While killing animals for consumption is commonplace, what is notable about these videos is the “supremacist” demeanor of the jihadis towards the donkeys—as if the animals are also “infidels” to be treated with contempt and brutality.

Watching them slaughter the donkeys is like watching them slaughter human “infidels”—with all the triumphant theatrics.

In one video, “Allahu Akbar!” is heard while a donkey is being decapitated.

Jihadis habitually cry “Allahu Akbar” (Islam’ supremacist war-cry, which literally means Allah is “greater”) whenever striking down infidels—especially when ceremoniously beheading them.

But why say it while slaughtering a donkey—an animal—for consumption?…Keep reading

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Iranian Official Says U.S. Base At Diego Garcia Now In Missile Range

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Disturbing if true.

A top Iranian defense official’s claim that a U.S. military base in the Indian Ocean is now within missile range served both as a threat to American interests and a revelation that, if true, Tehran has doubled its striking distance.

“In the event of an irrational attack by the U.S., America’s military bases will not be safe from our missiles, whether in Bahrain or at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean,” the senior official, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) adviser Mojtaba Zonnour, was quoted as saying to Iran’s “Defa Moghadas,” or Holy Defense.

Is it just me, or does “Hope and Change” seem to be working out far better for the Iranians than anyone else? While The Idiot King tiptoed around these psychopaths and the press pretended that Iran’s new leader is “moderate” they’ve just continued to become more dangerous. Oh, it’s not so bad if you just pretend they have decent intentions, which seems to be the administration’s plan. Those of us here in a reality-based existence, however, know that this story can’t end well as it is currently being written.

Maybe it’s time for the administration to bust out a hashtag on Twitter to show Iran it is serious.

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Iraq Jihadists Show Off Their New Warfighting Equipment After Taking Mosul: Lots of U.S. Stuff

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Reporters and jihadists on the ground in Iraq have captured images of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters enjoying their new U.S. military equipment abandoned by the Iraqi army as the jihadists seized Mosul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Polls: Will the Bergdahl Swap Impact the Mid-Term Elections?

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

There are a couple of new polls out on what Americans think about President Obama’s decision to trade five Taliban commanders for Army SGT Bowe Bergdahl, the only American POW in Afghanistan.

The decision to trade the five Taliban for Bergdahl has been greeted with more anger than praise in Washington, as Democrats and Republicans in Congress criticize the Obama administration because it did not consult with them or notify them of the release of the five detainees from Gitmo. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has gone on the record saying that if Obama does that again, there will be calls for his impeachment. There are no more POWs for the administration to trade away, though there are dozens of captured terrorists remaining at the facility on Cuba. Anger with the president’s decision has been bipartisan, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) stating that she doesn’t believe the Obama administration’s rationale for doing the trade.

The American people are divided over the swap, but the division cuts along party lines, suggesting that however dangerous the decision proves to be, Obama’s base will stick with him.

A CBS News Poll finds that 45% of Americans disapprove of the deal, while 37% approve of it. A majority of Americans — 56% — say the US paid too high a price for Bergdahl. Fully 65% of veterans believe the US paid too high a price for the soldier, who his squad mates accuse of desertion prior to his capture. A majority of Democrats approve the deal, while a majority of Republicans oppose it. A large majority — 58% — of independents also believe that the US paid too high a price for Bergdahl. Independents split against the deal overall, 47% to 33%.

A Pew poll gets similar results — 43% of Americans reject the swap, while 34% say it was the right thing to do. Most Republicans disapprove; most Democrats approve. A heavy majority of veterans — 68% — say Obama made the wrong decision in trading the Taliban commanders for Bergdahl. Overall, 64% of Americans say that the president must inform Congress in advance of decisions like the Bergdahl trade, while 30% believe that he should not be required to do so. 44% of independents in the Pew poll say they believe that the deal was the wrong thing to do, versus 32% who believe it was the right thing to do. The current National Defense Authorization Act law requires the president to notify Congress 30 days before releasing any prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. President Obama knowingly broke that law.

The bottom line is, Republicans seem to be adding the Bergdahl swap to the pile of actions taken by Obama that anger them and are driving them to the polls this fall. Democrats by and large are sticking with the president, who broke the law and set the precedent of negotiating with terrorists. Independents have broken against the Obama administration on a number of issues going back into his first term, and they are breaking against him on this issue too.

The Taliban gave its answer to the swap, and the question of whether the deal made peace in Afghanistan more or less likely, by assaulting an airport in Pakistan and killing dozens of people. The Taliban’s attacks on Pakistan’s busiest airport continue.

Overall, the Bergdahl swap probably weakens Obama’s already weak position on foreign policy, but is unlikely to be a decisive issue this fall. The economy and Obamacare remain the top issues. The Bergdahl swap might give more vulnerable Democrats an anti-Obama talking point, and it also might have stopped Obama’s plan to empty Gitmo of its remaining terrorists, at least until after the mid-terms.

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Caption Contest Winner: ‘Trading Private Bergdahl’ and Obama Chomps Down on D-Day

Monday, June 9th, 2014 - by Myra Adams
mad

Credit: MAD Magazine

Thanks to all who participated in our latest successful contest based on a MAD Magazine “movie” poster.  The winning entries were judged on how well they improved upon the poster subtitle, “The Mission is a Disaster.”

There were numerous winning subtitles and one that blew us away with its subtle reminder that the Clinton’s might re-occupy the White House.

So without further adieu, the grand prize winner is JRSWINE for his R-rated subtitle, Trading Private Bergdahl: A Major Bowe Job

The second grand prize goes to Kuce for Trading Private Bergdahl: Because a bird in the hand is worth five in the Bush’s fault.

Here are the “rest of the best” in no particular order:

RockThisTown gave us –

Trading Private Bergdahl:

1. And granting him an Obamacare waiver, too!

2. “If I had  son, well, OK,  he wouldn’t look like Bergdahl…but the 5 terrorists I traded for him would!”

Allen Crowson won with – Trading Private Bergdahl: Maybe they will like us now.

Kuce cracked up the judges over and over with  –

Trading Private Bergdahl:

1. Losing one man is a tragedy, but releasing five is a voting block.

2. From the creators of Sleepless in Qatar, and You’ve Got Ca-Mail

3. An EXPLOSIVE new release starring Mohammad, Larry, Curly, Shemp & introducing Abdul as Bob the Bombmaker

Patjenn entered the winners circle with:

Trading Private Bergdahl:

1. “But we got an Afghani Falafel recipe too.”

2. “Terrorism? What, Me Worry?”

Cfbleachers our Caption King emeritus entertained with:

Trading Private Bergdahl:

1.The Mission is the Message

2. Hey, We Fallujahed You Again

3. Obama Is Dead And The Taliban Is Resurrected

4. Lyin, Triggers and Beards, Oh My

And before cfcleachers got the contest memo about writing a new subtitle, he gave us: Shaving Private Bergdahl.

There were many more highly rated “subtitles” left on the cutting room floor so go back and read them all.

Meanwhile, continuing our D-Day theme (and if you missed it, a pictorial about my visit to Omaha beach) here is what our brave Commander in Chief was doing during the 70th anniversary ceremony.

I just could not resist spitting this one out (as he should have!) See you all next time a photo is worthy of a Tatler Photo Caption Contest.

YouTube Preview Image

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British WWII Vet Bails on Nursing Home to Attend D-Day Ceremony

Friday, June 6th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Stud.

An 89-year-old WW2 veteran disappeared from his nursing home without saying where he was going and went to France for the D-Day commemorations.

The former mayor of Hove, Bernard Jordan, left the home at 10:30 BST on Thursday, and was reported missing to Sussex Police that evening.

Staff later discovered he had joined other veterans in France and was safe and well at a hotel in Ouistreham.

Later it emerged that Mr Jordan was on a ferry back to the UK.

There is just a level of badassedness to these WWII guys that we are never going to see again. They are all very old now but the men who stopped Hitler aren’t going to let age stop them.

May God bless all of them.

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Obama at Normandy: America’s ‘Claim to Liberty… Is Written in the Blood on These Beaches’

Friday, June 6th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama called Normandy “democracy’s beachhead” in ceremonies on the French coast today to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

He gave thanks to the French for taking care of the resting place of so many American soldiers “like the true friends you are.”

“Here, we don’t just commemorate victory, as proud of that victory as we are; we don’t just honor sacrifice, as grateful as the world is. We come to remember why America and our allies gave so much for the survival of liberty at this moment of maximum peril. And we come to tell the story of the men and women who did it so that it remains seared into the memory of a future world,” Obama said.

“America’s claim — our commitment — to liberty, our claim to equality, our claim to freedom and to the inherent dignity of every human being, that claim is written in the blood on these beaches, and it will endure for eternity.”

The president added that “our victory in that war decided not just a century, but shaped the security and well- being of all posterity.”

“We worked to turn old adversaries into new allies. We built new prosperity. We stood once more with the people of this continent through a long twilight struggle until finally, a wall tumbled down, and an Iron Curtain, too. From Western Europe to East, from South America to Southeast Asia, 70 years of democratic movements spread. And nations that once knew only the blinders of fear began to taste the blessings of freedom,” he said.

“None of that would have happened without the men who were willing to lay down their lives for people they’d never met and ideals they couldn’t live without. None of it would have happened without the troops President Roosevelt called ‘the life-blood of America, the hope of the world.’”

Obama said the legacy of the World War II veterans is “in good hands.”

“For in a time when it has never been more tempting to pursue narrow self-interest, to slough off common endeavor, this generation of Americans — a new generation, our men and women of war — have chosen to do their part, as well,” he said.

“And as today’s wars come to an end, this generation of servicemen and women will step out of uniform. And they, too, will build families and lives of their own. They, too, will become leaders in their communities, in commerce and industry, and perhaps politics, the leaders we need for the beachheads of our time. And, God willing, they, too, will grow old in the land they helped to keep free. And someday, future generations, whether 70 or 700 years hence, will gather at places like this to honor them and to say that these were generations of men and women who proved once again that the United States of America is and will remain the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) led the bipartisan delegation to Omaha Beach.

“Standing on this shore with the men who risked their lives to take this ground; among the graves of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, words fail me. I am reminded of what General Eisenhower said launching their mission,” McKeon said. “The eyes of the world are still upon these men. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere still march with them.”

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Walking the Sacred Sand of D-Day’s Omaha Beach

Friday, June 6th, 2014 - by Myra Adams

 

As a history buff, one of my lifetime travel goals was to visit the D-Day landing beaches.

Fortunately, in August of 2012 that goal was realized when my husband and I toured the Normandy region of France.

For two nights we stayed at the Hotel du Casino situated directly on the Omaha beachfront. Its prime location was the only reason we had chosen this small, rundown hotel built in the early 1950’s.

However, adding a touch of authenticity to the historic location was a long handwritten letter from General Eisenhower displayed in the reception area. During his first post-war visit to the D-Day beaches and years before he was president, Eisenhower had dined at the hotel’s restaurant and was friends with the owners.

Taking advantage of our room’s location, early one morning I stuck my camera out the bathroom window and took this photo of quiet, deserted Obama beach.

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Credit: Myra Adams
Peaceful Omaha Beach in the early morning of August 19, 2012

 

The prominent concrete structure is a National Guard Memorial commemorating where U.S. forces suffered their greatest number of casualties immortalized in the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.

Omaha Beach may look peaceful now, but on June 6, 1944 a major German defensive position occupied this very spot raining hell upon thousands of young American men, many of whom were seeing combat for the first time.

Within the first 24 hours of the invasion the Allies fought and won control of 50 miles of coastline divided into five landing sectors named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. But victory came at a high price for it is estimated that 2,500 Americans along with 3,000 Allied troops died on D-Day and thousands more were wounded.

Hotel du Casino also has the distinction of sitting on the Mulberry Harbour beach landing.  The “Mulberries” were two portable harbours quickly built by the British immediately after the June 6 invasion to off-load an endless train of heavy equipment from the supply ships and to remove casualties from battle.

mulbery

Mulberry Harbour at Omaha Beach was the highway to and from the supply ships in the American                     sector.  A second Mulberry was built off Gold Beach in the British sector.

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The remains of Mulberry Harbour at Omaha Beach.     Credit: Myra Adams

 

A huge concrete block of Mulberry remains in front of the Hotel du Casino. Seen on the left are three National  Guard Memorial flag poles.   Credit: Myra Adams

A huge concrete block of Mulberry remains in front of the Hotel du Casino. Seen on the left are three National Guard Memorial flag poles. Credit: Myra Adams

 

From our hotel we walked about a half mile east to the middle of Omaha Beach and were stunned by what looked like deadly machetes’ protruding from the sand.

Les Braves Memorial on central Omaha Beach.        Credit: Myra Adams

Les Braves Memorial on central Omaha Beach. Credit: Myra Adams

 

The name of this huge metal memorial sculpture is Les Braves and the sculptor was a Frenchman named Anilore Banon. It was commissioned by the French government and dedicated in 2004 at the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

I guessed that it was supposed to be uncomfortable to look at, for I assumed it symbolized all the horrific death and destruction of the “longest day.” However, both my husband and I thought it was seriously awful, totally out of place and disrupted the now peaceful beach.

According to sculptor Anilore Banon here is the meaning of his masterpiece:

The Wings of Hope: So that the spirit which carried these men on 6th June 1944 continues to inspire us, reminding us that together it is always possible to change the future.

Rise of Freedom: So that the example of those who rose up against barbarity helps us remain standing strong against all forms on inhumanity.

The Wings of Fraternity: So that the surge of brotherhood always reminds us of our responsibility towards others as well as ourselves. On 6th June 1944, these men were more than soldiers, they were our brothers.

We were left wondering why there wasn’t a more visually satisfying beach sculpture to convey those same thoughts. But who are we to judge the French!

The emotional highlight of our visit was walking on Omaha Beach knowing with each step an American or Allied soldier had either died or was wounded. These thoughts haunted us as we walked.

Then over a week ago, totally out of the blue, a friend sent me this news piece from the U.K. Daily Mail.  It was about a September 23, 2013 International Peace Day event where participants hand etched 9,000 life-sized silhouettes into the sand of the D-Day landing beaches. That 9,000 number represented both Allied and German forces killed on June 6, 1944.

My friend Susan who sent me the article (a great American patriot by the way) had no idea I was planning on writing this D-Day piece and was unaware that we had ever visited the Normandy beaches.

So here, courtesy of the Daily Mail, is an artistic representation of what was inside the heads of both my husband and me while walking on Omaha Beach in August of 2012.

Dday figure 2

 

Dday beach figure

 

Every American who walks on this sacred sand is awestruck and eternally grateful for those who planned, led, participated and died in what is today the 70th anniversary of history’s largest and greatest seaborne invasion that forever changed the world.  Let us never forget!

 

d-day-beach-landing

One of the D-Day beaches in the late afternoon of June 6, 1944

 

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Hagel ‘Satisfied’ Risk to Country was ‘Mitigated’ by Placing Taliban with Qatar

Thursday, June 5th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told BBC that he was “satisfied” that the risk of handing the five Taliban commanders “was mitigated enough, that risk, for our country that it was in the interest.”

He also called it “irrelevant” whether the Taliban “think it’s a victory or not.”

“Let’s look at the bottom line. We have back in our position — possession our one prisoner of war that was still outstanding. We have him back. Now I don’t think that’s insignificant,” Hagel said. “…The fact is I think it’s important for our individual military members to know that we will continue to find them and get them wherever they are. I think that’s a bigger — a big assurance for our military men and women to know and be confident of that.”

Hagel spoke last night with the parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who is still in Germany.

“I wanted to first reassure them that we were doing everything we possibly could to help rehabilitate him, get his health back, where it needs to be, so that he can get reunited with his family and brought back into — into society, quite frankly,” he said.

“I know of the criticism. I’ve been the target of it, so I’m quite aware of it. We did the right thing here. I wanted to reassure them that the president feels very strongly about this. I feel very strongly about it. I’ve been to war. I know a little something about this. And this was the right decision for the right reason. We don’t leave our people behind. How circumstances, why the disappearance, the Army has already addressed that and we’ll get to that.”

The Defense secretary stressed that much of the information on the Bergdahl swap remains classified and will be revealed to appropriate congressional committees, but “it was our judgment based on the information that we had that his life, his health were in peril.”

“Imminently?” asked the BBC host.

“Well, when you say ‘imminently,’ it’s easy for us to sit here and look behind and say, well, 24 hours, 48 hours. It was our judgment, and it was unanimous, by the way, I might add. It was the secretary of defense, secretary of state, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, director of national intelligence, attorney general. It all came — we call came to the same conclusion that we didn’t want to take any chances here,” Hagel replied.

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Wasserman Schultz Slams ‘Nitpicking’ GOP: ‘We Should Not be Second-Guessing the Administration’

Thursday, June 5th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The chairman of the Democratic National Committee accused Republicans of  “grasping at straws” in their criticism of the Bowe Bergdahl case and “nitpicking” over the number of Taliban exchanged for his release.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) accused GOP senators, specifically Susan Collins (R-Maine), of saying “we should leave a member of our armed forces who was in the midst of an armed conflict, regardless of the circumstances that he will likely be tried for and considered innocent until proven guilty later.”

“That she would leave a soldier in an armed conflict behind when we had intelligence from everything that I understand that he was — this was our last best opportunity. That he was potentially on death’s door. You know, looking at grainy video is not a way for us to determine that. But from everything I understand, this was our last best opportunity. And throughout the entirety of our military history, we do not leave our military behind,” she told CNN.

“When we have captives we do everything we can to bring them home and we had the highest levels of our military serving now who also said, you know, General Dempsey said we don’t leave anyone behind, regardless of the circumstances. We should all be unified around that.”

Wasserman Schultz argued that “we have throughout the tenure of many Republican and Democratic presidents, including George W. Bush, including President Nixon, President George W. Bush released 500 detainees from Guantanamo.”

“So we should not be second-guessing the administration when they have intelligence available to them and military advice. And the last best opportunity, as we are actually winding down our involvement in Afghanistan, the bottom line is we don’t leave our soldiers behind. We deal with the situation behind his finding himself captive later and we bring him home,” she said.

“I think we are really putting the details under a microscope that are — that pale in comparison in terms of their importance than the fact that we brought one of our own home… to suggest that we’re going to nitpick the president of the United States as commander in chief, bringing one of our own home and standing with his parents to celebrate that fact that we were successful and to celebrate our soldiers to help bring him home is really utterly ridiculous. It’s offensive.”

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Senators Say Bergdahl Looked ‘Drugged’ in Video Used as Swap Justification

Thursday, June 5th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) left a closed-door briefing on the Bowe Bergdahl swap last night saying there is unanimity in believing that the Taliban five will like return to the fight.

“To me what is most concerning is that everyone agrees that the five Taliban detainees that were released are extremely dangerous and after their one-year confinement in Qatar is over, they can go wherever they want. Their return is also being celebrated by the Taliban in Afghanistan and each one of these men have horrendous records that really make me question the decision to release them,” Collins told CNN.

Administration officials pulled together the classified Hill briefing for senators as dissension grew within the president’s own party about the terms of the swap.

Collins said officials “acknowledged that at least four out of five, and in some cases the judgment is all five of these Taliban detainees are extremely dangerous, and that they pose a threat in the future to our country.”

“The likelihood based on all of the briefings and evidence that I have seen as a member of the intelligence committee and in the press reports and the briefing today indicates that a very high likelihood that these men will return to the fight and that is very disturbing,” she added.

Bergdahal should get “due process” in the Army system of justice as the details are investigated, she said, but “it’s very interesting to me that they would be willing to release five extraordinarily dangerous Taliban members in exchange for this soldier who apparently left his post.”

Members were also shown the proof-of-life videos, which haven’t been released to the public, that led the administration to make the conclusion that Bergdahl’s life was in danger and immediate rescue was needed.

“I saw an individual who looked like he had been drugged. I did not — it was very difficult to judge his medical condition. I’m not a physician. I have asked whether there is any evidence that he has a serious illness or was about to be killed. And I have not received such evidence,” Collins said. “But a lot of that takes place in a classified session and I can’t really go into the details of that.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said after the briefing that the video “did not sell me at all.”

“The proof of life was basically five months ago. December? At that time he was impaired,” Manchin said. “That is not the person that was released here. He was not in that type of dire situation when he was released.”

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) told reporters that Bergdahl appeared “drugged” and “barely responsive” in the video.

“I don’t think from a health standpoint there was any issue that dictated the release of these five nasty killers in exchange for Bergdahl,” Chambliss added.

“I certainly have the same serious concerns as before,” Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said. “This puts loyal, patriotic service members and Americans at risk.”

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Taliban Commander: Yeah, We’re Gonna Kidnap More Americans Now that Obama Gave Us Our Top Guys Back

Thursday, June 5th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, doesn’t want anyone out there to “second guess” President Lightworker’s wisdom in trading five four-star Taliban commanders for one low-level US troop who may have defected.

The Taliban aren’t second-guessing anything. They got what they wanted, and now they want some more. They’re moving right on to the next phase in Obama’s shameful capitulation in Afghanistan.

A Taliban commander close to the negotiations over the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl told TIME Thursday that the deal made to secure Bergdahl’s release has made it more appealing for fighters to capture American soldiers and other high-value targets.

“It’s better to kidnap one person like Bergdahl than kidnapping hundreds of useless people,” the commander said, speaking by telephone on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird.”

The commander has been known to TIME for several years and has consistently supplied reliable information about Bergdahl’s captivity.

While the five Talibanis Obama returned to the war are all high-level guys, there are more high-level guys still at Gitmo. One of them is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of 9-11, among other things.

Obama and Eric Holder attempted to move KSM’s trial to New York, so badly do they want him out of Gitmo. That got blocked by everyone with a brain, and KSM remains in the terrorist holding pen on Cuba. What happens when the Taliban catch another American and then demand KSM’s release? Or the Blind Sheikh’s release? Yeah, that makes one think of Benghazi and the rumors of a deal to use Ambassador Chis Steven as bait to get KSM sprung.

Tatler contributor Seton Motley pointed out something jarring on Facebook yesterday that’s worth sharing. Obama claims that the Bergdahl swap was an ordinary POW exchange done at the end of wars, like all wartime presidents have conducted at the ends of wars. Then Obama admitted that the five Taliban COs that he released may indeed return to the fight. Well then, if they return to the fight, how can Obama claim that the war is over?

 

 

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Jesuit Priest Abducted in Afghanistan

Thursday, June 5th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

Jesuit-priest-abducted-in-western-Afghanistan

Father Alexis Prem Kumar, a Jesuit priest and Indian national, was abducted in western Afghanistan on Monday afternoon. According to The Hindu, India’s largest English language newspaper, Kumar was kidnapped during a visit to a Jesuit Relief Services school in Sodhadat village, 15 miles outside the city of Herat. While UPI and other news outlets are reporting that Kumar was taken by “unidentified assailants,” The Hindu says that Taliban militants are responsible:

Catholic priest Alexis Prem Kumar from Kodaikanal, working with an educational charity, “was abducted by six Taliban militants in Zenda Jan district this afternoon,” said Mohammad Nader Fahimi, a police official in Herat province.

Father Kumar is director of the Dindigul unit of Jesuit Refugee Service, a Catholic organization that assists refugees around the world. The Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman in New Delhi said an “Indian national working with an NGO in Herat province of Afghanistan has been kidnapped. Our Mission is pursuing the matter with local authorities.”

Jesuit Refugee Services International Director Peter Balleis issued a brief statement:

 We are deeply shocked by Prem’s abduction. We are in contact with all the relevant authorities and doing everything possible to ensure his safe and speedy return. Meanwhile, our prayers are with Prem and his family and friends at this difficult time.

The kidnapping follows on the heels of a heavily-armed attack on the Indian consulate in Herat last month. Insurgents attacked the consulate with rocket propelled grenades and AK-47s in the pre-dawn hours of May 23rd. Police and Afghan security forces secured the embassy after a firefight that went on for nearly eight hours; the staff of the consulate was safely evacuated. The violence comes as Afghans prepare for  presidential run-off elections on June 14.

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Putin Actively Trolls Your Favorite Websites

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

BuzzFeed broke the news that the Kremlin has been actively operating a disinformation campaign targeted at readers of a number of American-based internet publications including, but not limited to, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and BuzzFeed. Additional reports name Fox News, Huffington Post, The Blaze and World Net Daily in the list of targets. Russian agents would act as trolls on these sites, filling comment sections with various forms of anti-American propaganda.

In a report dated May 21, Internet Research Agency commercial director Svetlana Boiko discussed the progress of the trolling project’s $75,000 trial period, which began April 10. The report says that during that period, the trolls left more than 2,500 comments on 30 different news websites, tweeted 1,220 times from 12 accounts, wrote 85 Facebook posts, posted 175 times in an unspecified number of forums, and made five bizarre YouTube videos attacking the U.S. government andHarry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe.

As with many previous disinformation campaigns, the goal of the trolling operation is to:

…turn public opinion against the U.S. government on 40 different subjects ranging from Russia’s role in the world and the Ukraine crisis to unrelated American domestic issues like gun rights, taxes, and religion. The trolls also campaigned heavily against U.S. President Barack Obama on Twitter, where they used the hashtag #Obama to promote the keywords “fuck obama,” “ass obama,” and “ObamaCare.” The most popular account, @I_am_ass_, has 3,363 followers.

Millions of dollars are being spent on the Kremlin’s latest disinformation campaign, meant to manipulate internet freedom abroad while simultaneously increasing control within Russian territory:

The bizarre hive of social media activity appears to be part of a two-pronged Kremlin campaign to claim control over the internet, launching a million-dollar army of trolls to mold American public opinion as it cracks down on internet freedom at home.

A new law that comes into effect in August also forces bloggers with more than 3,000 followers to register with the government. The move entails significant and cumbersome restrictions for bloggers, who previously wrote free of Russia’s complicated media law bureaucracy, while denying them anonymity and opening them up to political pressure.

“The internet has become the main threat — a sphere that isn’t controlled by the Kremlin,” said Pavel Chikov, a member of Russia’s presidential human rights council. “That’s why they’re going after it. Its very existence as we know it is being undermined by these measures.”

The trolls have also set up YouTube accounts to post anti-American and anti-LGBT propaganda videos.  Comments on these videos illustrate the poor English skills of some of the Kremlin’s trolls, one of the dead giveaways of the now defamed disinformation campaign.

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New Caption Contest: ‘Trading Private Bergdahl’

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 - by Myra Adams
Credit: MAD Magazine

Credit: MAD Magazine

 

Another movie poster caption contest, what fun!

Credit to MAD Magazine for originating the poster but I saw it first on BizPac Review.

Just in time for the 70th anniversary of D-Day we can all celebrate by captioning Trading Private Bergdahl.

The subtitle is “The Mission is a Disaster” but I know all of you movie fans out there can do much better.

I just LOVE this contest for two reasons.

First, I swear my teen-age personality was partially shaped by reading MAD Magazine in the late 60′s and early 70′s.

Second, since the D-Day anniversary is days away, and having visited the landing beaches two years ago, I am currently writing a D-Day piece highlighting some of my photos. So watch this space!

Now, get crackin’ on captions and think how proud General Eisenhower would be of our current Commander in Chief.

 

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VIDEO: Taliban Hand Bergdahl Over to Special Forces

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson
YouTube Preview Image

This video showing the handover of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was released today by Al-Emara (The Emirate), the “Jihadi Studio” of the Taliban.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said over the weekend that the exchange was quick and uneventful, as the video reflects, though he said the details of the handover were classified.

Special Operations forces “took every possible precaution we could take through intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, through having enough of our assets positioned in the right locations having enough helicopters, doing everything we possibly could do to anticipate any violence or anything going in a different direction.”

“Fortunately, as you know, no shots were fired. There was no violence. It went as well as we not only had expected and planned, but I think as well as it could have,” Hagel said.

Taliban leader Mullah Omar said in a Monday statement that “this huge and vivid triumph requires from all Mujahidin to offer thanks to the Benevolent Creator who accepted the sincere sacrifices of our Mujahid nation and managed the release of these five renowned Mujahidin from the enemy’s clutch.”

“May Allah Almighty get, just like these five heads, all those oppressed prisoners released who are incarcerated in the path of liberating their country and serving their creed,” he said. “This huge accomplishment brings the glad tidings of liberation of the whole country and reassures us that our aspirations are on the verge of fulfillment, Insha-Allah.”

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Sen. Chambliss: Note Bergdahl Reportedly Left Behind Not Included in File for Intel Committee

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee said the classified file he was given about Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s case did not include information included in a New York Times report this week — that the soldier left a note in his tent saying goodbye.

According to the NYT, Bergdahl “left behind a note in his tent saying he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life.”

“He slipped off the remote military outpost in Paktika Province on the border with Pakistan and took with him a soft backpack, water, knives, a notebook and writing materials, but left behind his body armor and weapons — startling, given the hostile environment around his outpost,” continued the account given to the NYT by a former senior military officer briefed on the investigation.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) told Fox that when the idea of a prisoner swap was first floated months ago, he asked for a copy of Bergdahl’s file.

He said the NYT article “shocked me.”

“This note that he supposedly left that indicated that he was sympathetic to the Taliban and unsympathetic to the American interest in this conflict was not included in that file. And I’m very surprised by that because normally those classified files are pretty informative,” Chambliss said.

The senator said he had “no explanation” for the exclusion and didn’t know if it was intentional.

“What I do know is that the army doesn’t know really what happened and they haven’t apparently gotten detailed statements from his fellow platoon members who had been very vocal over the last couple of days. There was nothing in that file from, regarding statements from any of those individuals as to what they saw that night,” he said.

Chambliss also warned that the five Taliban swapped for Bergdahl’s release are “more hardened than ever.”

“They are more dangerous today than ever. The longer they stayed in Guantanamo, the more radical they’ve become,” he said. “But, if you leave them in Guantanamo as the president’s own review commission recommended in 2009, then you don’t have to worry about them and that’s fine. But the fact of the matter is that these are five of the most dangerous folks in the world. This is Mullah Omar’s board of directors, it’s his fab five team. It’s individuals who have been involved in high-level positions in the Taliban, individuals who have been directly connected to Osama bin Laden from a financial standpoint as well as from an intelligence standpoint.”

“…It’s totally irrational to me as to what the president could have been thinking when he made the decision to release these five individuals and albeit, you know, you’re a parent, I’m a parent, I’m happy this young man is going to be reunited with his parents in Idaho, but this was a bad deal and it’s a deal that, unfortunately, impacts the national security interests of every single American and it’s truly a bad idea.”

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Feinstein Latest To Question Growing Stink Around Bergdahl/Taliban Swap

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

Raining, pouring

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein took at shot at the Obama administration on Tuesday for failing to give lawmakers 30 days’ notice about a deal to release five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only POW from America’s war in Afghanistan.

“It’s very disappointing that there was not a level of trust sufficient to justify alerting us,” Feinstein told reporters in the Capitol.

A defense bill that President Obama signed into law in December 2013 requires that Congress be notified 30 days ahead of releasing prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.

Feinstein said that National Deputy Security Adviser Tony Blinken called her Monday night “apologizing” for failing to notify lawmakers sooner.

From Obamacare to this, The Idiot King doesn’t seem to be much for obeying the laws he signs.

The press has been in full cover the president’s you-know-what mode for two days now, so you can tell that Team Lightbringer is nervous about this. It is yet another monumental misread of the sentiment of the American public, coming hot on the heels of their gross miscalculations about how to proceed regarding the VA scandal.

Can we scour craigslist or LinkedIn and try to find an adult for this administration?

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