Anti-israel activists unfurl protest banners in midst of NY city council mtg just as we voted on Holocaust commemoration reso. #Disgusting
— Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) January 22, 2015
The New York Daily News reported on a disturbing pro-Palestinian demonstration that took place in a City Council meeting last week. Just as the council was about to conclude a vote on a resolution commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp,
Pro-Palestinian activists disrupted a City Council meeting Thursday to protest Council members’ planned trip to Israel next month.
Protesters in the balcony of the Council chamber unfurled a Palestinian flag and began yelling “Palestinian lives matter,” “Don’t support genocide,” and “Melissa, you’re a hypocrite,” a slam on Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who will lead the Israel delegation.
…A few dozen protesters were booted from the chamber, with some physically removed, and were ordered off the City Hall property all together.
Council members were appalled at the timing and actions of the pro-Palestinian group. Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito denounced their actions while Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) declared,
“What you saw here today was naked, blind anti-Semitism,” he thundered.
“That’s what you saw, and that’s what you watched, and that’s what you witnessed – people who were upset for one reason. Do you want to know why they’re upset, do you want to know why they’re angry, do you want to know why they unfurled that flag today? Because Hitler did not finish the job. He only wiped out half of my family.”
The real shocker? The demonstration was led, in part, by Pam Sporn of Jewish Voices for Peace. Sporn, a known BDS activist, continually broadcasts her Jewish identity to defend anti-Israel demonstrations around New York City. Sporn declared that the Council’s upcoming trip was designed to “legitimize the discriminatory practices of Israel.” Her’s were statements screamed out specifically during the recognition of the real genocide committed by “discriminatory” Nazis. The timing couldn’t have sent a clearer, more anti-Semitic message. How will Sporn’s Jewish identity dig her out of this one?
The Jerusalem Post reports:
The Fox news segment, on the show “Shepard Smith Reporting,” began with a response to a quote from Martin Indyk from The New York Times on Thursday wherein the former US ambassador to Israel and the former US envoy to the peace process says: “Netanyahu is using the Republican Congress for a photo-op for his election campaign and the Republicans are using Bibi for their campaign against Obama…Unfortunately the US relationship will take the hit. It would be far wiser for us to stay out of their politics and for them to stay out of ours.”
Wallace said he agreed completely with Indyk and that he was “shocked” by the whole affair.
Smith queried whether Netanyahu would back out of the speech because, “Members of his own Mossad have come out and said this is a horrible idea and so have members of his own political party. Of course his political opponents are screaming up and down, the newspapers over there are going wild over this,” he added.
“It just seems that they think we don’t pay any attention and that we are just a bunch of complete morons, the US citizens, like we wouldn’t pick up on what is happening here,” Smith said.
…”For Netanyahu to do something that is going to be seen as a deliberate and a really egregious snub of President Obama, when Obama is going to be in power for the next year and three quarters, seems to me like a pretty risky political strategy for Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Wallace said.
“For Netanyahu to come here and side with Boehner against Obama on Iran seems to me like very dicey politics,” he said.
That’s right, Shep Smith and the Fox News crowd have officially joined the ranks of the anti-Israel mainstream media, purporting that the Mossad and Israeli media somehow think American citizens are “a bunch of complete morons.” Apparently Shep and Chris Wallace have remained blind to the fact that Bibi and Barry have hated each other since the beginning. They’ve also ignored the fact that Obama’s administration, through various unnamed sources, has worked hard to hack away at any relationship the two leaders may have ever claimed.
Looks like Kathy Shaidle is right, we’ve all got to be our own Churchills now.
Hat tip: Grabien
So much for Barry’s quip about winning elections. John Boehner finally grew a pair and outwitted the Smug-in-Chief this Wednesday by inviting the White House’s greatest enemy to address Congress. No, not Iranian President Ahmadinejad, but the enemy both he and Obama share: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After a State of the Union that paid poorly-timed lip service to terrorism the speaker of the House took matters into Republican hands and made a big show of it. Like, Ed Sullivan big. Too big, in fact, for Barry and his cohorts according to the Israeli left-wing paper Ha’aretz:
“There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price,” he said.
Officials in Washington said that the “chickensh*t” epithet — with which an anonymous administration official branded Netanyahu several months ago — was mild compared to the language used in the White House when news of Netanyahu’s planned speech came in.
It’s the kind of delicious scandal you’d only expect from Downton’s Julian Fellowes. (There’s not enough sex in it for Shonda Rhimes, or is there?) After issuing a warning to his own fellow Democrats not to “bow” to (Jewish) donors, Obama supposedly calls Netanyahu and warns him to “tone down his pro-sanctions rhetoric.” His administration avoids Paris, deciding instead to throw an anti-terrorism conference that will talk about everything but radical Islamic terror, because that’s all been staged to create a “War on Muslims” of which Barry “Cairo” Obama wants no part. Then, the glorious king and savior of HopenChange descends on the Capitol to pay lip-service to the terror that has no name and makes sure to slap anti-Semitism in the face, noting:
“It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims, the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace.”
At least he waited until the Jewish victims of the radical Islamic terror attack on a kosher supermarket were buried before lumping the hatred that murdered them in with Muslim stereotypes. If George W. Bush’s term was known for the War on Terror, dear God, let Barry’s term be known as the one that created, advocated, and fought on defense for the “War on Muslims.”
Oddly enough, as the general of the battle, Obama’s doing a darn good job of defending those radical Islamists he claims to despise, the Iranian regime in particular to the tune of 11.9 billion of your tax dollars. He’s doing an even better job of alienating his troops on the front line and their leader, Bibi. How does one say “forked tongue” in Arabic, or better yet, Persian? I know how Boehner and the Republicans in Congress say it: With the best invitation America’s ever issued to a foreign leader. And about damned time.
— Nora Abdulkarim (@Ana3rabeya) January 16, 2015
Counter Current News reports:
Recently, a number of representatives from the Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter and various Ferguson anti-police brutality protesters made history through a solidarity trip to Palestine. The purpose of last week’s trip was to connect with activists living under Israeli occupation. The 10-day trip to the occupied Palestinian Territories, specifically in the West Bank, was organized to show a link between oppression emanating from the Israeli State as well as that which victims of police brutality are experiencing in America.
The trip was organized by the legal and policy director of the Dream Defenders, Ahmad Abuznaid, Florida attorney and Palestinian native.
Over the past week, the delegation has met with refugees, Afro-Palestinians, a family that was kicked out of their house by settlers in East Jerusalem, and organizations representing Palestinian political prisoners, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). …[tour member] Carruthers recalled their delegation crossing paths with a tour group led by Israeli authorities. “They were clearly receiving a completely different story about the occupation. It’s deeper than just spreading lies, the false narrative is violent.”
Tour participants did not bother noting that a politically motivated trip covering only Palestinian territories obviously carries the implication of a “false narrative.” They did, however, identify with the Palestinians, commenting that blacks are “displaced refugees” in the United States. This trip followed a visit to Ferguson paid by a Palestinian delegation this past November who sought to forge relationships with black activist groups.
— ICantBreathe (@I_Cant_Breathe_) January 10, 2015
Financial backing for Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter, and a cohort of sister organizations has all been directly traced to George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, which reportedly spent $5.4 million last year funding the Ferguson protest movement.
The plethora of organizations involved not only shared Mr. Soros‘ funding, but they also fed off each other, using content and buzzwords developed by one organization on another’s website, referencing each other’s news columns and by creating a social media echo chamber of Facebook “likes” and Twitter hashtags that dominated the mainstream media and personal online newsfeeds.
At least 8 out of the 14 trip participants were members of organizations funded by Soros.
Support for these radical groups goes deeper into D.C. than Soros’s pockets. In 2012, Breitbart reported that Eric Holder’s
Department of Justice was facilitating the agenda of a group [the Dream Defenders] that appears to have been led by an employee of the law firm representing the Martin family, a stunning amount of bias for the federal goverment to show in a local crime case.
Most recently, Eric Holder joined President Obama and Vice President Biden in meeting with representatives of the Dream Defenders and other race-based organizations to sooth tensions in the wake of Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson’s non-indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown. Phillip Agnew, co-founder of Dream Defenders, attended both this meeting and the subsequent trip to the Palestinian territories.
With a White House bent on depicting radical Islamic terrorist acts as a “War on Muslims” and a president encouraging his fellow Democrats not to “bow” to pressure from pro-Israel donors, one can only wonder where such high level political support for groups such as the Dream Defenders will lead.
The New York Times reported on the latest Senate Democrat strategy meeting that took place in Baltimore this past week. Among the issues on the table was the Iran issue, namely potential sanctions to be voted on in the form of the beleaguered Kirk-Menendez bill.
According to one of the senators and another person who was present, the president urged lawmakers to stop pursuing sanctions, saying such a move would undermine his authority and could derail the talks. Mr. Obama also said that such a provocative action could lead international observers to blame the Americans, rather than the Iranians, if the talks collapsed before the June 30 deadline.
The president said he understood the pressures that senators face from donors and others, but he urged the lawmakers to take the long view rather than make a move for short-term political gain, according to the senator. Mr. Menendez, who was seated at a table in front of the podium, stood up and said he took “personal offense.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) was quick to assert that the Jewishness of “donors and others” was inferred in Obama’s statement. While Religion Dispatches disagreed, they also pointed out, “…it does look as though Menendez received more ‘pro-Israel’ money than all but 2 Senators between 2006 and 2014. Number one on that list, incidentally, is his co-sponsor on the current Iran sanctions bill, Mark Kirk.”
The Kirk-Menendez bill has been battered around Capitol Hill for nearly a year. In a recent CNN report, Kirk went on record citing their need for American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest pro-Israel lobbying group in D.C., to support their efforts to get the bill passed and an inevitable Presidential veto overridden. In light of the strong relationship between AIPAC, Kirk and Menendez, perhaps the Jewish Press was right in their observation: “‘Neocon’ used to be the code word for Jews, now it appears to be ‘donors,’ at least when used by certain politicians, including U.S. President Barack Obama.”
This image appeared with the below-quoted Tweet. Follow the image link to find that the Tweet was removed mere minutes after grabbing it for this article.
Don’t say we didn’t warn…. pic.twitter.com/YOzdOURnjf
— Israel in Ireland (@IsraelinIreland) January 12, 2015
The Israeli Embassy in Ireland published a far more provocative piece of art than did Charlie Hebdo this week. Far too angry to even broach forgiveness, the JPost reports that the Embassy
…posted a photograph on its Twitter account on Wednesday featuring Mona Lisa decked out in Islamic garb while holding what appears to be a rocket.
The post seems to be a common sentiment among Israelis who are angry over what they perceive as the international community’s inability to empathize with its precarious security situation.
Sensitive to criticism over its response to Hamas rocket fire, Israel has often sought to conflate its struggle against Palestinian terrorism with the jihadist violence that reared its ugly head in France last week, claiming the lives of 20 people.
The artwork was released amid news that French President Hollande did not want Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attend Sunday’s unity march in Paris. Hollande felt the Israeli prime minister’s presence would “…divert attention from the theme of national unity the million-person event was intended to symbolize,” according to Israeli media reports.
…The French official who conveyed Hollande’s wish to Jerusalem said that Netanyahu’s presence and that of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, would “cause difficulties.” The French believed that Netanyahu’s presence among the foreign notables leading the march would inevitably introduce dissonant echoes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Jewish-Muslim relations that would jar the somber atmosphere.”
As France works to distance itself and its Jews politically from Israel, the Obama administration is hard at work crafting acts of radical Islamic terror into a War on Muslims. The White House refuses to employ France’s term “war against radical Islam,” instead choosing to refer “…to terrorists as ‘violent extremists who have sought to incite a religious war against Islam.’” The Orwellian doublespeak does not bode well for Jews abroad or in America. Despite the fact that anti-Semitism motivated many of the non-Muslim related terror attacks that will be discussed in February’s “summit on violent extremism,” Obama’s ultimate goal regarding radical Islamic terror is and always will be to defend Muslims. Even if it is at the risk of the Jewish population.
Perhaps the Israeli Embassy in Ireland is correct in saying that “Israel is the last frontier of the free world.” And perhaps that is the real reason their artwork is so disturbing.
I love a good Jewish conspiracy. I’ve even been known to dabble in creating a few myself. If you’ve heard that the “We’ve Taken Over the World” after-party will be hosted by the Free Masons and we (the Jews) have already signed up to bring the cake, that’s one of mine. The one about the “magical Jews” behind last week’s Paris attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket Hyper Cacher being “a hybrid race of shape-shifters” who “know how to get everywhere” because “they are master manipulators” belongs to the Muslims in the “Park Slope” of Paris ghettos.
That’s right. In case you weren’t already aware, Jews are X-Men in disguise, Clark Kent-ish disguises, because somehow despite their shape-shifty ways they manage to look just like average human beings. This conspiracy theory is the kind best attributed to immigrant populations that embrace the hatred and radicalization common among the ignorant, willfully unemployed and unassimilated of western civilization. We, the assimilated, acculturated, intellectualized of the bunch like Jose Diaz-Balart have educated ourselves into romanticizing such situations with wacky theories of our own, like:
You can be surrounded by a very comfortable-looking situation but feel despair because you feel that you are so isolated within a society that has nice restaurants but ignores you and ignores your dreams and aspirations.
But how quickly Diaz-Balart and his intellectual compatriots forget that Western Europe, too, was a cultural victim of conspiracy theory-level ignorance, not that long ago. Dreams and aspirations grounded in that anti-Semitic ignorance led to world wars and the murders of millions of Jews. So, should we really be encouraging France to feed into the “dreams and aspirations” of today’s madmen?
Apparently Dana Kennedy thinks so. Or, at least, she’s resigned to it. After detailing the conspiracy theories in her article for The Daily Beast, she back-tracked on Telemundo when Diaz-Balart whipped out the “not all Muslims are like this” clause, turning an important piece on the roots of radical Islamic anti-Semitism into a tepid commentary on Paris housing projects.
Want the real scoop? Read the story. You know, before those shape-shifty Jews sneak on the Internet and remove it.
The AFP via Yahoo News this morning:
“Two rooms on lower floors were damaged but the fire was put out quickly.”
The Hamburger Morgenpost, known locally as the MOPO, had splashed the Charlie Hebdo cartoons on its front page after the massacre at the Paris publication, running the headline “This much freedom must be possible!”
Police said the attack had occurred at about 0120 GMT and that two young men seen acting suspiciously near the scene were detained. State security has opened an investigation, a spokesman added.
Last year saw the beheading of journalists by ISIS, this year now sees the attack on free speech widened as whole publications are attacked. The newspaper recently increased its security:
Media reports said the newspaper’s publishers had ordered private security protection for the building in the western district of Othmarschen after publishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
German news agency DPA quoted a police spokeswoman as saying that the editorial team should be able to continue work in the building as the damage was relatively minor.
What we’re seeing now is a further expansion of the trend I identified in 2013 after the Boston Bombing. The Jihad has evolved. I described it then, April 19 2013, in the opening to a piece titled “10 Depressing, Morally Confused Reactions to 4/15/13, the Boston Jihad” that collected many of the same sorts of responses we’ve grown accustomed to in the years since. I’m not sure if this World War I/World War II comparison is still the best to utilize:
I will state my position about what has happened this way:
Al Qaeda’s Attack on America on September 11, 2001 = the beginning of World War 1
Two NON-ARAB, WHITE, WHOLLY AMERICANIZED Homegrown Millennial Jihadists Take America Hostage And Launch a New Template for How to Wage A DIY, Low Budget-Download-The-Instructions-Off-The-Internet Terror War = the beginning of World War II.
We are now entering a new phase of the Islamic war to replace liberal societies with Sharia law. This is World War IV, a multi-decade conflict that will be for our generation what the war against Nazism and Fascism was for our grandparents. Except it will probably be worse.
On May 8, 2013, in “Every American Needs to Read Books to Understand Islam,” I expanded the generational explanation of the war’s evolution:
Islam’s long Jihad against Judeo-Christian societies has entered a new cycle as members of my generation marry the ideology of Osama bin laden with the internet ethos of Mark Zuckerberg. The pressure cooker bomb plans the Tsarnaev brothers utilized were published in Al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine. This easy availability to information for building lethal weapons is something Millennial men have known for most of their lives. I remember the subversive thrill as a seventh grader in the early days of dial-up internet — instructions for creating weapons of mass destructions are at the fingertips of anyone with access to a search engine.
In trying to describe how the Jihad war against the West has changed since 9/11, right now I’m leaning toward this 3-phase, on the next page, explaining how tactics have shifted as the world’s gotten smaller and smarter…
— The Jewish Press (@JewishPress) January 10, 2015
Lassana Bathily, a Muslim immigrant from Mali in West Africa, obviously has no problem with Jews. As an employee of the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris, he not only worked for Jews on a daily basis, he also took the opportunity to save 15 Jewish lives when the store was attacked by radical Islamists this past Friday.
The Jewish Press reports:
Lassana Bathily, a Muslim employee at the HyperChacher supermarket in Paris, saved the lives of 15 Jewish shoppers, when he hid them in the supermarket’s basement freezer after the terrorist, Amedy Coulibaly, entered the store and opened fire.
Bathily also had the presence of mind to also turn the freezer off.
BuzzFeed carried a translation of the French television news interview with Bathily:
“When they ran down, I opened the door [to the freezer],” he told France’s BFMTV.
He quickly shut off the freezer and switched off its light. As he closed the door to shelter the customers inside, he told them, “Stay calm here. I’m going out.”
Eventually police raided the market, killing Coulibaly. As the hostages were freed from the freezer, they had a few words of thanks for Bathily. “They congratulated me,” he told BFMTV.
Describing the 24-year-old man as “shy,” the UK Daily Mail explains, “Using a goods lift he escaped and was able to give the police valuable information about what was happening inside and where the hostages were hiding.” Those huddled in the freezer were able to use cell phones to contact relatives and make them aware of the situation and that they were safe.
Multiculturalists may attempt to use Bathily as an example against stereotyping Muslims and avoiding the identification of radical Islamic terrorism. However, the exact opposite is the case. Bathily is yet another example of why saying “Je Suis” is the ultimate statement after a tumultuous week of terror in France. Whether we are Charlie Hebdo or Juif, the reality is that our existence as a free people who believe in the Divine, inalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of justice” alone is enough to offend radical Islamic terrorists.
When Melissa Harris-Perry’s producers invited J.J. Goldberg on to speak about the Jewish community in France, they were probably expecting textbook politically correct responses from the editor at large of America’s largest left-wing Jewish newspaper, the Forward. Which is why it’s so funny to watch Harris-Perry attempt not to balk at Goldberg’s frank candor on the radical Islamist roots of anti-Semitism in France. “The anti-Semitism problem in France is not primarily a problem of anti-Semitism from French Muslims,” she rushes to clarify at 2:32. “There is a problem of anti-Semitism there, but it is not primarily a problem of Muslim versus Jewish populations there, but rather a question of – sort of — French citizens in the broadest sense.”
“Um, I don’t think so,” Goldberg begins before detailing in brief France’s dance with anti-Semitism over the past century, noting that the incidents happening now are “happening from the Muslim community.” He then rattles off a series of French leaders who are Jewish and have established bonds with the Israeli Jewish community. “The integration of Jews into France and the acceptance of Jews in France is very, very thorough,” he explains. He ends his segment by noting that 70% of Jews in France today have come from Sephardic countries of origin where they have experienced “tension with their Arab neighbors”.
Harris-Perry attempts to interrupt his scholarly explanation twice before giving in and going to the commercial break.
Seeking to inject vigor into the search for U.S. troops missing from foreign wars, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Friday unveiled a new consolidated agency responsible for the effort and named its temporary leadership.
Hagel ordered the reorganization earlier last year as the U.S. Congress pressured the Defense Department to boost its accounting for some 83,000 missing troops – about 73,000 from World War Two and 10,000 from other conflicts, mainly Korea.
“Finding, recovering and identifying the remains of these individuals is one of our highest responsibilities, and I believe that DoD (Defense Department) could more effectively and transparently account for our missing personnel,” he said in a statement.
Each year, the Pentagon spends about $100 million trying to account for missing personnel and identifies the remains of about 70 people. It is under congressional mandate to boost capacity to locating and identifying the remains of 200 troops annually by the end of the 2015 fiscal year on Sept. 30.
Few things are more unconscionable than subjecting the military and their loved ones to bureaucratic snafus that exacerbate their pain. Let’s hope and pray that this latest effort is a bit more successful at bringing some closure to these long-suffering families.
Thousands of Indians have fled from their homes as fighting between India and Pakistan spread along a 200-km (124 mile) stretch of the border in the disputed region of Kashmir.
Tension between the nuclear-armed rivals has risen since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called off peace talks in August and clashes along stretches of their border have been erupting intermittently since October.
At least 10 Indian and Pakistani soldiers and civilians have been killed in fighting over the past week.
About 6,000 civilians in Indian-controlled Kashmir fled from their homes late on Monday as fighting moved to civilian areas, said Shantmanu, the divisional commissioner of Jammu region. About 4,000 left after fighting began last week.
“We had a narrow escape and there is a war-like situation,” Sham Kumar, 54, from Sherpur village told Reuters. “Pakistani troops are using long-range weapons. It is the first time we have seen such intense shelling.”
Comforting, no? A couple of newer nuclear powers in a region not known for stability getting edgy with one another certainly adds to the falling apart feeling around the globe. At this point I think Greenland is the only place that hasn’t gotten violent.
Thankfully, we have a strong international body like the United Nations to keep things calm around the world.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 2014 was the deadliest year yet since fighting began in the country in 2011.
By year’s end, the group documented 76,021 deaths, a conservative count they believe to be about 30,000 below the real number of casualties.
The largest group of casualties was civilians, with 17,790 deaths including 3,501 children and 1,987 women.
Among rebels groups ranging from the secular Free Syrian Army to Islamic factions, 15,488 were killed. Of Syrian regime soldiers and officers who defected to fight Bashar Assad, 259 died.
Assad’s regime lost 12,681 soldiers and officers. The pro-regime Popular Defense Committees, National Defense Forces, and al Shabiha lost 9,766 fighters, while 2,167 Arabs and Asians were killed fighting with pro-regime Shiite militias.
ISIS, the al-Nusra Front, Junoud al-Sham battalion, Jund Al-Aqsa battalion, Jund al-Sham Movement and al-Khadra’ battalion lost 16,979 Arab, European, Asian, American and Australian fighters.
The group also documented the deaths of 366 Hezbollah militiamen inside the country.
The group received 345 documented reports of deaths, confirmed by photos or video) for which it could not identify the victims or any affiliation.
Thousands of detainees remain inside Assad’s prisons and thousands more are still missing after regime raids and attacks. Rebel groups are estimated to be holding hundreds of regime soldiers and pro-regime militants.
The Islamic State is pulling thousands of people into their jails, as well.
“The silence of the International community for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria encourages the criminals to kill more and more Syrian people because they have not found anyone that deter them from continuing their crimes that cause to wound more than 1,500,000 people; some of them with permanent disabilities, make hundreds of thousands children without parents, displace more than half of Syrian people and destroy infrastructure, private and public properties,” the human-rights group said.
“After the failure of referring cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria to the International criminal court because of the Russian-Chinese veto in the Security Council, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights renews its call to all international sides to establish a special court for Syria. We in the Syrian Observatory demand the punishment of all perpetrators, instigators, collaborators and all individuals and sides who used the Syrian blood as a political card and as means to carry out their personal agendas, as well as those who transformed a revolution for dignity to a sectarian and ethnic civil war.”
With the world descending into chaos driven in no small measure by the incoherent, contradictory and frequently non-existent foreign policy of the Obama administration, it was difficult this year to narrow the field for this year’s biggest national security blunders. The task seemed so formidable, I nearly abandoned the endeavor.
But undaunted, I present to you the National Security “Not Top 10” of 2014, in no particular order.
1) Befriending “moderate Al-Qaeda” in Syria:
There are some ideas so at war with reason and reality they can only exist in the fetid Potomac fever swamps of DC think tanks and the foreign policy community. Such was the case in January when three of the best and brightest from those ranks published an article in Foreign Affairs (the same publication that in 2007 brought us the “Moderate Muslim Brotherhood”) contending that the US needed to “befriend” the Syrian jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham as some kind of counter to more extreme jihadist groups, like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. The precedent they cited was the US failure to designate the Taliban (!!!) after 9/11.
Mind you, at the time they wrote this, one of Ahrar al-Sham’s top leaders was a lieutenant for Al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri who openly declared himself a member of Al-Qaeda. After most of their leadership was wiped out in a bombing in September, they gravitated closer to the jihadist groups they were supposed to counter and their positions have been bombed by the US – much to the consternation of other “vetted moderate” rebel groups. So ridiculous was their proposition that the original subtitle of their article, “An Al-Qaeda Affiliate Worth Befriending,” was changed online to “An Al-Qaeda-Linked Group Worth Befriending” in the hopes of minimizing the absurdity of their case.
2) Obama administration deploys three hashtag divisions in response to Russian invasion of Ukraine.
As Ukrainians made their bid to free themselves from Russia’s interference, Putin responded by deploying tanks and troops into Ukraine in violation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Obama’s rejoinder was to give a speech and to deploy three divisions of State Department employees all armed with a #UnitedForUkraine hashtag. Hilarity ensued as the Russian Foreign Ministry counterattacked by hijacking the hashtag, prompting State Department spox Jen Psaki to decry, “Let’s hope the Kremlin will live by the promise of hashtag,” leaving many asking: Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
3) Obama: ISIS is the “JV team.”
In January President Obama sat down for an interview with the New Yorker, and when asked about ISIS gains in Iraq, he likened them to a JV team, saying “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” Those words came back to haunt him as ISIS surged in both Syria and Iraq, particularly when Obama authorized missile strikes against ISIS in August. Even then Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken defended the president’s “JV team” remark, saying they didn’t pose the threat to America as much as Al-Qaeda. A few week later, the Washington Post noted the attempts to spin the president’s statement. By September, Obama laughably claimed in an interview on Meet the Press that he wasn’t talking about ISIS in his New Yorker interview. But even the notoriously biased Politifact rated his walk-back as “false” and two weeks ago Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler branded Obama’s “JV team” spin as “the lie of the year.”
In a painfully intellectual breakdown of the American struggle to comprehend ISIS, the New York Times discusses the educational endeavors undertaken by Maj. Gen. Michael K. Nagata, commander of American Special Operations forces in the Middle East, to “defang” the Islamic State:
Trying to decipher this complex enemy — a hybrid terrorist organization and a conventional army — is such a conundrum that General Nagata assembled an unofficial brain trust outside the traditional realms of expertise within the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies, in search of fresh ideas and inspiration. Business professors, for example, are examining the Islamic State’s marketing and branding strategies.
That’s right, your tax dollars are paying for professors to develop even more politically correct terminology and intellectual strategy to dodge the dangers of radical Islamic militants in favor of convincing themselves and the American public that said religiously-motivated lunatics couldn’t actually be as powerful as they appear to be.
General Nagata’s frustration is shared by other American officials. Even as President Obama and his top civilian and military aides express growing confidence that Iraqi troops backed by allied airstrikes have blunted the Islamic State’s momentum on the ground in Iraq and undermined its base of support in Syria, other officials acknowledge they have barely made a dent in the larger, longer-term campaign to kill the ideology that animates the terrorist movement.
And when the President is losing on the ground, the President turns to think tanks to fix the problem. Stay tuned for the nomination of Obama’s “ISIS Czar” to lord over the
…disagreements among the experts over whether ISIS’ main objective is ideological or territorial — General Nagata encourages competing views, urging the group to have “one hell of a debate” over his questions.
But the panel raised doubts whether ISIS “has the bureaucratic sophistication necessary to govern.”
Apparently the panel of experts is unaware of a little militant group-turned-governing body known as Hamas.
“When I watch Americans use words like cowardly, barbaric, murder, outrageous, shocking, etc., to describe a violent extremist organization’s actions, we are playing right into the enemy’s hands,” General Nagata added. “They want us to become emotional. They revel in being called murderers when the words are coming from an apostate.”
The funny thing is, academic papers and speeches don’t motivate public opinion or soldiers the way the plain, simple truth does. But as long as Nagata is determined to avoid the truth of radical Islam’s dual ideological and territorial goals that are, indeed, barbaric, murderous and outrageous, ISIS and their radical Islamic terror allies will continue to gain ground in this global battle. Our bureaucratic waste is the Obama Administration’s tacit declaration that time is on radical Islam’s side.
The Taliban said today that the fact coalition forces had to hold a small withdrawal ceremony in a secure location proves that they’re won the war after 13 years.
The Sunday ceremony in Kabul marked the transition from Operation Enduring Freedom to Operation Resolute Support.
“Today marks an end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Resolute Support will serve as the bedrock of our enduring partnership with Afghanistan,” said Resolute Support Commander U.S. Army General John F. Campbell, according to the International Security Assistance Force.
“Together, we have lifted the Afghan people out of the darkness of despair and given them hope for the future. We’re very proud of our relationship – a relationship built on trust, friendship, and shared interests,” Campbell said. “That trust and a common vision for a stable, secure, and unified Afghanistan fills me with confidence that we’ll continue to be successful. The road before us remains challenging, but we will triumph.”
A residual force of 13,500, mostly Americans, will be left in the country to help with training and other security needs.
“At the invitation of the Afghan government, and to preserve the gains we have made together, the United States–along with our allies and partners–will maintain a limited military presence in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al Qaeda,” President Obama said in a statement from Hawaii. “Our personnel will continue to face risks, but this reflects the enduring commitment of the United States to the Afghan people and to a united, secure and sovereign Afghanistan that is never again used as a source of attacks against our nation.”
Operation Freedom’s Sentinel is the U.S. mission that will back the NATO’s Resolute Support mission.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said it would “help secure and build upon the hard-fought gains of the last 13 years.”
“Through enduring security cooperation, we will continue assisting the Afghan government to build its capacity and self-sufficiency, as we transition to the next phase of the U.S.-Afghanistan defense relationship,” Hagel said in a statement. “We will continue to work with our Afghan partners to secure the great progress we have made since 2001 and to seize this defining moment of opportunity for Afghanistan’s future.”
The Taliban in their statement said the ISAF withdrawal ceremony “went strangely unheralded in the United States and much of the world and then news surfaced that ISAF was going to arrange its big farewell ceremony in secret due to threat of Mujahidin attacks in Kabul!!!”
“It should be emphasized that due to the blessed Jihad most of the involved nations excluding America have withdrawn all of their troops from Afghanistan, nearly all the provinces have been cleansed from the vile presence of foreign invaders accept for Mazar-e-Sharif in the North and Nangarhar in the East as well as a small presence in the country’s capital and surrounding areas where the invaders are also working tirelessly to pull out as quickly as possible,” the Taliban continued.
The group added that the “without a doubt the defeat of the infidel Western military alliance in Afghansitan at the hands of a few empty handed believing Mujahidin, the destruction of fortified bases by their own hands and their hasty withdrawal were unconceivable and is a clear sign of the divine help of Allah Almighty.”
“While the admonitory withdrawal of foreign forces is taking place, the presence of their internal stooges is being rolled back from much of the country at the same time. Mujahidin are taking over new areas daily, dismantling their bases and are tightening their sieges,” the Taliban added, calling the “haughty invasion of the international infidel coalition” a “humiliating defeat.”
U.S. Central Command said a Jordanian F-16 that went down on a bombing run over the Islamic State “clearly” wasn’t shot down with a manpad as ISIS has been claiming.
ISIS released the ID card of Lt. Muath Kasasbeh and paraded parts of his downed plane, as well as images of the pilot in a soaked T-shirt and naked from the waist down with blood coming from his mouth.
CENTCOM confirmed the plane went down near Raqqa, Syria, and the pilot had been taken captive.
“Evidence clearly indicates that ISIL did not down the aircraft as the terrorist organization is claiming,” CENTCOM said in a statement.
“The Jordanians are highly-respected and valued partners and their pilots and crews have performed exceptionally well over the course of this campaign,” said Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, who is overseeing coalition operations in Iraq and Syria. “We strongly condemn the actions of ISIL which has taken captive the downed pilot. We will support efforts to ensure his safe recovery, and will not tolerate ISIL’s attempts to misrepresent or exploit this unfortunate aircraft crash for their own purposes.”
ISIS-friendly social media accounts said the lieutenant had “confessed” to a dozen bombing runs over the caliphate, with one stressing that his fate is “set in stone” if there’s no trade with the Hashemite kingdom.
“The United States is working closely with the Government of Jordan concerning the Jordanian pilot captured today,” State Department press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the pilot, his family, and our partners in the Jordanian Armed Forces.”
The pilot’s father has begged ISIS to find mercy in their hearts to release him, and Kasasbeh’s brother asked ISIS to free the pilot for the sake of their “old and sick parents.”
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) December 24, 2014
As pilgrims flock to holy sites and Jews prepare to go to work the next day, Israeli Greek Orthodox Father Gabriel Naddaf continues his holy mission to recruit Christian soldiers into the Israeli Defense Forces. Unlike their Jewish neighbors, non-Jews in Israel are not required to serve in the IDF. Druze and Bedouin populations serve voluntarily, as do some 400 Arabs of both Christian and Muslim affiliation.The small number of Arab volunteers is largely due to nationalistic conflicts within the Arab world, conflicts that have made Father Gabriel Naddaf and his Israeli Christians Recruitment Forum (ICRF) a target of both Muslim and Christian Arab contempt.
Forum members, including the priest, said they have been threatened, and Father Nadaf’s son was attacked in Nazareth. “Some people may say we are traitors,” said the younger Nadaf, who after his compulsory service wants to make a career in the army. “But I tell them to go live in Gaza if they are against Israel. We live here. This is my country and I have to give back.” Arab members of the Israeli Knesset are among opponents of the forum’s work, including its support for the recently passed legislation creating a specific Christian seat on the equal employment opportunities advisory committee that addresses job discrimination. They accused Israel and the forum of ignoring discrimination concerns and trying to divide Israel’s Arab population.
The attacks faced by Christian Arabs affiliated with the ICRF haven’t just caused them to be accused of dual loyalties. They’ve also motivated these Christian Arabs to observe that they are “Arabic speaking Christians” who, if they lived in any other country in the Middle East, would be facing persecution for their religious beliefs. After his son Judaan was attacked in the streets of Nazareth, Father Naddaf commented:
[M]y son very much wants to enlist, in the near future, and serve in a combat unit. He believes in what I do, that we all have a home here, that he also needs to give to the country. The country gives him his rights, and should receive what it is due in return. We all need to live here in peace, and protect the existence of the country that we live in, since our future is here.
Only a few weeks ago Judaan enlisted in the IDF:
This is “…a historic and exciting day at the Nadaf household and a happy day for Christians in Israel.” Nadaf stated, adding that he “sees this step as a personal example to Christian parents who teach their kids to love, cherish, honor and serve their country and contribute to society!”
The father and his organization have increased voluntary Arab recruitment from 30 to 150 persons per year. On the eve of one of the holiest days in the Christian year, Father Gabriel Naddaf continues to put his faith into action, sending a powerful statement about the importance of Israel to Christians across the globe.
As news begins to trickle out on Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the shooter who murdered two NYPD cops today execution-style, it has been discovered that Brinsley posted on his Facebook account a page of the Quran with a notorious verse calling for waging terror on Allah’s enemies.
Quran 8:60 says:
Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly.
The title for Suran 8 is “Al-Anfal,” “The Spoils of War.” A segment of this same verse is used by the Muslim Brotherhood in their logo directly beneath the two swords, “And make ready…”:
Another image from what appears to be his now deactivated Instagram account from five months ago shows him wishing viewers an “Eid Mubarak” during Ramadan, as well as another image of a burning American flag.
From CNN: “Source: Hackers send new message to Sony”:
The hacker message is effectively a victory lap, telling the studio, “Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy.”
The message also says, “And we want everything related to the movie, including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any website hosting them immediately.”
It warns the studio executives that “we still have your private and sensitive data” and claims that they will “ensure the security of your data unless you make additional trouble.”
The email was titled “Message from GOP.” The anonymous hackers have called themselves “Guardians of Peace.”
So how long will these trailers and clips remain up? It’s already become tricky to find online the final sequence of Kim Jong-un’s exploding head.
Yesterday I highlighted a report about Korean activists seeking bootleg copies of The Interview and predicted that the effect of North Korea bullying Sony into burying Seth Rogen and James Franco’s new film would be that it would leak all around the world and the internet, becoming unstoppable and much more damaging. But if the blackmailing goes a step further, if now Sony must start pulling the material they’ve already released in addition to legally threatening anyone who might be so bold as to share the film illegally, then I’m now not so sure.
It’s entirely within the realm of possibility that soon The Interview trailers will be pulled and an army of recently-recruited Sony lawyers will even start sending notices to websites that have written movie promotions or stories covering the controversy, asking them to delete pieces, lest more embarrassing emails be released.
The question will be: how far backwards could this go? Already the screenings of Team America: World Police announced to replace The Interview have been cancelled. Will this go further or will American companies fight back?
Obviously, it’s hard to expect them to want to fight when the example set by the Jarrett-Obama administration, per Cuba and Iran, has been to bend over backwards and embrace illiberal tyrannies.
Some have suggested the fantasy of the federal government buying the movie, endorsing it, and spreading the film around for free. My prescription goes several miles further in hawkishness, of course…
CNN’s South Korea correspondent, Kyung Lah, reports that activists are trying to get bootleg DVDs of the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy that inspired the North Korean hack attack against Sony in retaliation for the film’s depiction of its tyrant’s death:
“They see it as being critical in trying to crumble the regime. That’s how potent this movie is being seen here in the peninsula. It has a significant amount of power,” Lah said.
Hacking goes multiple ways. My prediction of what happens next now that Sony has been bullied into pulling the film: someone is going to leak the whole movie online, just as celebrity naked pics and Sony emails have gone out. And it will then be impossible for the regime to stamp it out.
I wonder if next time the wife and I are at the laundromat here in Inglewood, and the guy comes around hocking the bootleg DVDs, if he’ll have The Interview. I imagine some bootleggers have probably had it already for weeks. Now what’s going to happen to demand for it on the black market?
— Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) December 17, 2014
What lessons does this debacle have for activists who want to see the world’s tyrannies overthrown? Should more movies like The Interview be produced and released en masse — perhaps by non-profits and at more modest budgets — making satirical, hilarious assaults on the leaders of slave states?
Secretary of State John Kerry tried to cheer up family members of foreign service officers posted alone abroad with a tale from the Vietnam War.
The State Department hosted the officers’ families for holiday reception yesterday. Kerry noted that there’s been a 350 percent jump in the number of FSOs who have to serve in unaccompanied posts — leaving family behind for security reasons — since 9/11.
“And it obviously is a sad commentary on the challenges that we face in the world beyond our control, where countries are in turmoil, places are in transition,” Kerry said.
“…I want to emphasize that as we gather here for what is a celebration, a festive time, we do so mindful that in a lot of vital but troubled places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Yemen, South Sudan, Pakistan, where yesterday’s news was just horrendous, we have people who are working to carry the torch for America and for universal values that go with the presence of these committed public servants.”
Kerry stressed that he knows “personally” that “it is never easy when you are separated by thousands of miles and the office and the home are, in a sense, divided, and employee from family, and it’s complicated.”
“Obviously, this holiday season, a lot of you are yearning for the idea of being together with your loved ones, and we understand that. There are going to be empty seats at a dinner table, which is hard to deal with. There are fewer hands to decorate a tree or more packages that get lugged to the post office instead of being handed over personally. We understand every aspect of what it means to be here, part of this family, this particular family within the family,” he said.
Which led to his personal anecdote:
And I know sometimes there’s tension, anxious moments, even tears. Skype has a lot of benefits, but hugging ain’t one of them. So I’ll just share with you, 46 years ago — my staff tells me it was 46 years ago — it was 1968, that I remember — 1968, Christmas, I was in a river in Vietnam up in — near the Co Chien River, for anybody who knows what that means. And I was on a patrol boat. We were out there alone at night. The tracers were flying in the sky, the flares were dropping, sounds of eruptions of machine gun fire and other things here and there, and it was Christmas Eve. And there was supposed to be a truce, but the truce was broken. And I remember thinking how absurd that was, but it was life. And I took a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, went up and sat on the top of the roof of the boat, and just sat there. And frankly, I had visions of, really, sugar plums, chestnuts, New England in the snow. But what I learned was that the family of people around you make up for a lot. And I also learned that nothing ever makes up for the meaning of the quality of that service, of being able to be there for your country and make a difference.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II attack jet has been carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State since late November on a near-daily basis, a U.S. military official said Tuesday. It marks the first time the use of the pugnacious plane against the militant group has been confirmed, although U.S. military officials disclosed last month that they had deployed the A-10 in support of the mission in Iraq and Syria.
The jet is beloved by U.S. ground troops for its ability to strikes enemy fighters from the air, but it remains in a fierce budget battle in Washington. Air Force officials and some fiscal conservatives have advocated retiring the aircraft to save money and using other planes for close-air support missions. A compromise in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act will keep it flying at least one more year, but it’s future afterward is still uncertain.
The slow-moving jet isn’t designed to get into dogfights with fighter jets, but is well suited for the mission in Iraq and Syria. Nicknamed the Warthog, it has an armored belly to protect pilots from ground fire, and carries a 30mm Gatling gun cannon and a variety of bombs, missiles and rockets. It has been in the Air Force since the 1970s and flown in combat missions since the 1990s.
This plane and its fate remain a perfect reminder of just why we shouldn’t trust the Ruling Class bureaucrats with, well, anything. To them, it’s a budget concern. To the people who have been fighting this psychotic Jihadis to protect us, this plane is a lifesaver, quite literally. Bloated morons playing with the money of the citizens are deciding the fates of American troops from afar based on accountants’ recommendations. It is bad enough that we send young Americans into battle with rules of engagement that are seemingly designed to prevent the feelings of the enemy from getting hurt, but denying them the equipment most proven in the field is unconscionable.
Russia denies Sweden’s claim that one of its military planes nearly hit a commercial jetliner over international airspace on Friday, but one congressman said Washington needs to take the near-collision as a serious threat from the Kremlin.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), an Air Force pilot, said he doesn’t believe Russia as they try to sweep the incident under the rug.
“Look, especially when it comes to commercial airliners, flying close to each other is not something that you do. This is obviously the Russians’ attempt to show power and show that they have the teeth of a bear, to try to bully their neighbors, and it’s just — it’s ludicrous,” Kinzinger told Fox.
“I mean, any time you come near — the Russians can basically claim that the Ukrainians shot down the airliner out of Ukraine, but we know that they did it. And that’s what’s going to happen,” he continued. “They are going to go harass these airliners and, some day, there’s going to be something that happens where maybe a Russian jet collides with an airliner again and they have to answer to that.”
“But, no, I’m not buying that this is no big deal. It’s a show of force by the Russians and we’ve been seeing this now for the last year.”
Sweden and Denmark summoned their ambassadors from Moscow to protest the incident, according to The Moscow Times. Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard said it was “completely unreasonable that civilian lives are put in danger in this way.”
The Russian intelligence plane had turned off its transponder to cloak itself from radar in the region. The Scandinavian Airlines flight involved was headed from Copenhagen to Poland.
“There were no prerequisites for an air accident,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said.
Kinzinger said the first step is calling attention to what Russia is doing.
“The Russians are trying to intimidate folks. We need to show the Russians that not only are we going to be intimidated, we’re going to respond with increased NATO presence and flights along the Russian border and in the sea. This is going to be important to do. I think when you see jets — Russian jets intercepting airliners, let’s shadow with NATO jets, if we can do that,” the congressman said.
“But ultimately, again, it’s bringing shame to the Russians. You’re not showing us that you’re tough. You’re showing us that you’re reckless, doing this with innocent airline passengers, and getting yourself in a position where you may collide. I’m a pilot. I know one mistake can lead to a collision. It’s very dangerous and reckless, and not a good neighbor.”
Kinzinger added that “turning off your IFF, your squawk, your transponder is also showing a hostile intention in some cases.”
“So, look, the Russians are not being good neighbors. They are trying to show off. But it should be very clear that while there won’t be a shooting war between the West and Russia, their military would be dispatched quite quickly if, in fact, it came to that,” he said.
“When I was in Kurdistan with the military — I was there I think in 2006 — I remember the Russian jets flying over our base as a show of force. It was a frog-foot jet. And they’ve been doing this for a while. But they’re really stepping it up. So if they claim it’s a response to sanctions, maybe in their mind, it is, but this is not new. The Russians under Vladimir Putin have decided that they want to try to rebuild the pieces of the Soviet Union. And this is part of that. It’s provocation. It’s show of force. And I think the West needs to respond, not by escalation but showing that we won’t be bullied.”
Earlier this month I reported here at PJ Media that U.S.-backed Syrian rebel groups were allying with Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, in the south, while others were surrendering their weapons to the terror group in the north.
Now a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights indicates that Jabhat al-Nusra is using TOW anti-tank missiles, which had previously been supplied by the CIA to “vetted moderates” groups, in an assault on a Syrian army position in the north (HT: Zaid Benjamin):
Idlib province: No less than 15 soldiers in regime forces were killed by an attack by Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic fighters on their bastions in Wadi al-Deif and al-Hamdia camps, while no less than 8 fighters from the other side were killed during the clashes in the area, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic battalions have taken over the checkpoints of ” al-Za’lan, al-Raii, al-Rab’an ” around the camps. Jabhat al-Nusra devastated a tank for regime forces around Wadi al-Deif camp with an American Tao [sic] missile.
A report last month indicated that the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and Harakat Hazm — both U.S.-backed and supplied by the CIA with TOW missiles — had surrendered or abandoned their weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra.
Today the timing of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s declassified executive summary on enhanced interrogation techniques used by the Bush Administration raises an intriguing list of political questions. One is even about movies and another has huge implications for the 2016 presidential race.
Now that Senate Committee’s torture report is bedside reading for our enemies, when is ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban going to release their torture reports so we can all compare techniques?
With Republicans taking control of the Senate on January 3, 2015, why did the Democrats insist on releasing this controversial report today?
Today was scheduled to be “Gruber Day” when controversial MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber testified before the House Oversight Committee. As predicted, Gruber generated headlines embarrassing to President Obama and the Democrats.
There is no doubt that Gruber’s testimony would have been the lead story in the next 24-hour news cycle. But now, due to the torture report, Gruber’s apologetic, yet pathetic testimony will not get the media attention it deserves. (Gruber refused to tell the committee how much he was paid even though it was been widely reported that he pocketed over $2 million of your tax dollars.)
This leads one to ask, Was Gruber Day and the torture report release merely a news day coincidence?
Now let’s ask a Hollywood question.
The Senate Intelligence Committee report says that no useful intelligence was gained by these enhanced interrogation techniques.
Therefore, was the movie Zero Dark Thirty showing how these techniques gleaned information leading our SEALS to Osama bin Laden’s hiding place, just for the sake of Hollywood action? (Didn’t the Pentagon and CIA cooperate in the making of Zero Dark Thirty?) I am confused!
Finally, let’s think about the effect of the torture report on 2016 politics.
The Senate Intelligence Committee report has been condemned by the CIA and Republicans as PJ Media’s Bridget Johnson reported. It is also a five-year $40 million one-sided exercise in Bush-bashing, detailing how the Bush Administration’s reacted to the War on Terror covering the years 2001 – 2009.
As everyone knows, there is a potential Republican presidential candidate named Jeb Bush who just happens to be the brother of the president at the center of the report. Jeb is supposed to make his decision about whether to run for the 2016 GOP nomination early next year.
As a result of this report, will Jeb Bush decide against entering the race?
Think about it like this — in order for Jeb to run for president his family name needed to be somewhat restored. Thus today, with negative headlines around the world tied to the Bush Administration — coupled with the report’s gruesome details, the Bush family name is toxic once again.
These circumstances make Jeb’s potential candidacy highly unlikely. (His campaign trail safety too.) And that sets off an entire chain of 2016 political jockeying better left for another day.
The retiring chairman of the House Armed Services Committee delivered a scathing rebuke of administration defense policy in his farewell speech on the floor yesterday, arguing that the troops’ sacrifice is repaid with failing equipment and pay cuts.
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), whose 22 years in Congress have included famous tangles with the White House over weak policy, bid goodbye to colleagues as the defense reauthorization bill passed 300-119.
McKeon said he hopes a bill can come to the floor next year that ends defense sequestration. ”When that solution comes, it will be a tough vote on both sides,” he said. “For some of my colleagues, it might be a fatal vote. I pray that you will hold this thought in your hearts when that vote comes: Remember the great sacrifice our troops are making around the world.”
“Right now, they are walking patrol in the mountains of Afghanistan. They are at sea within missile range of Iran. They are flying wingtip-to-wingtip against Russia bombers over the North Sea. They are nose to nose with the North Koreans. They are sweating in the equatorial heat of Africa, fighting a horrible disease. They are standing on the sand of Iraq, risking everything against a brutal enemy. They take those risks, they make those sacrifices, because of you. They do it for you. They do it for us. For their families, for their flag. For our freedom,” McKeon continued.
“And how we have repaid them? With equipment that is falling apart. By laying them off while they’re off in war zones. By docking their pay and their medical benefits. By throwing them out of the service and onto a broken economy.”
The congressman quoted Lord Byron: “They never fail, who die in a great cause.”
“I’ve met our forces on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, dirty and sweaty from fighting. I’ve watched too many families spend long months waiting for the deployed to come home. I’ve seen too many heroes put into the ground. They never failed us. Not once,” he said. “So shame on us, if we’re unwilling to pay back the debt we owe them. Shame on all of us, from the White House down, if we cannot make far less a sacrifice on their behalf.”
McKeon said it will fall on the 114th Congress and President Obama “to make these injustices right.”
“So please, show our troops the respect they deserve. Give them the tools they need. Help keep them safe. Honor their service, with your service. I know you will do the right thing.”
Befitting a McKeon, he left the chamber with an old Irish blessing.
“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand,” the chairman said. “To this great body, and to our troops – wherever you may be — may God bless you and keep you, and may God bless America.”
As is usual for a prime minister under fire, Bibi Netanyahu dissolved the Knesset this week in a call for early elections slated for March 2015. Those on the right rejoiced as Livni and Lapid, Leftist and Center-Leftist respectively, were kicked out of their high-ranking positions in the now defunct coalition. But, that isn’t the Right’s only reason for rejoicing. As David Horovitz reports in Times of Israel, the ultra-Right stands to claim a solid victory in March 2015:
The first three instant polls, taken late Tuesday and early Wednesday, for Channel 2, Channel 10, and Walla, predict a very different Knesset array three-and-a-half months from now. The three polls produce findings very similar to one another, indicating that Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and the former Likud minister Moshe Kahlon’s as-yet-unnamed new party will win 49-51 seats together — a staggering surge compared to the 31 won by Likud-Yisrael Beytenu last time. Jewish Home also gains five seats, in all three polls, to 17. That means the right wing could muster a 66- to 68-seat coalition — a healthy Knesset majority — with no need of outside assistance. Certainly no reliance on the likes of Livni or Lapid. And no reliance, either, on Shas or UTJ. The ultra-Orthodox parties could be invited into the coalition, but they wouldn’t have make-or-break leverage.
Let’s hope they don’t. The Israeli Left was abuzz this past September during my own visit to Israel. “Netanyahu will call for early elections. He’ll form a new coalition with the ultra-Orthodox,” they shook their heads, and with good reason. Yair Lapid may be playing politics, but the former TV news anchor-turned-politician made good points regarding Netanyahu’s timing:
The ultra-Orthodox Shas party entered the fray late Monday, with chairman Aryeh Deri reiterating his own demands for entering a post-election Netanyahu government. These included cutting the 18% sales tax on many basic grocery goods, raising the minimum hourly wage from NIS 23.12 ($5.87) to NIS 30 ($7.62), changing the recently passed ultra-Orthodox draft law, restoring some funds cut by the current government from ultra-Orthodox religious seminaries and schools – and the cancellation of Lapid’s tax-free housing program, which would only apply for those who served in the military, leaving many ultra-Orthodox out.
For months I’ve been reporting here at PJ Media about the ongoing cooperation between US-backed “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel units and designated terrorist groups ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. This includes U.S.-backed rebel units who have defected wholesale to ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
Despite multiple reports of this cooperation, in September the congressional GOP leadership jumped on board with Obama’s proposal to spend an additional $500 million to arm and train the “vetted moderates” just weeks before the Obama administration abandoned the Free Syrian Army that had been the primary beneficiary of U.S. support for the past three years.
Now reports this weekend indicate growing cooperation between U.S.-backed rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra operating in southern Syria.
According to the LA Times:
Opposition activists reported intensified government bombardment in and around Sheik Maskin and the arrival of battle-tested loyalist reinforcements.
Fighting along with U.S.-backed rebels were elements of Al Nusra Front, the official Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
In a Facebook posting, Al Nusra supporters reported “vicious battles” in the Sheik Maskin area. Earlier posts also eulogized a prominent Al Nusra commander, Abu Humam Jazrawi, who was killed in the fighting.
Al Nusra’s participation illustrates how Western-supported rebel groups often cooperate with the Al Qaeda franchise, though both sides try to play down the extent of coordination. Recent clashes between Al Nusra Front and U.S.-backed rebels in northwestern Syria do not appear to have broken the de facto alliance between the Al Qaeda affiliate and West-backed fighters in the south. (emphasis added)
Meanwhile, in northern Syria as “vetted moderate” groups were forming an umbrella with hardcore jihadist groups, such as Ahrar al-Sham, other U.S.-backed units were surrendering to Jabhat al-Nusra (a trend I noted last month) and turning over their CIA-provided arms to Ahrar al-Sham, McClatchy reports:
On Friday, as the groups were meeting here, the Nusra Front stormed the bases of two moderate rebel groups in Syria’s north: the Ansar Brigades in Idlib and the Haqq Front in Hama. The two groups, both of which were receiving U.S. support through a covert CIA program, surrendered to Nusra, delivered their weapons to Ahrar al Sham and returned to their homes. (emphasis added)
And today Syria analyst Aron Lund noted that the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army signed an agreement last week with Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham for the Qalamoun area near the Lebanese border guaranteeing the imposition of sharia and creating a mutual defense pact.
The “vetted moderate” follies continue.
Our latest contest photo and headline come to us from the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, who wrote at “The Fix” blog:
But, all of the reporting on the departure suggests that it was not really Hagel’s decision at all. And, judging from the body language and facial expressions on display at the announcement this morning, the reporting is right. Big time.
And to that I say, “Who needs a secretary of Defense anyway when we have such a strong commander in chief — winner of the Nobel Peace Prize?”
Caption-contest fans will find my declaration very comforting because we know a “Peace Through Strength” sign hangs in the Oval Office. (Shhhhh, Obama does not want you to know that he crossed out “Through Strength” with his famous “red line” using a Sharpie.)
For more on why Hagel “resigned” be sure to read Bridget Johnson’s report here at PJ Media. Here is my favorite line:
“You’ve always given it to me straight and for that I’ll always be grateful,” said Obama.
Now for more “straight” talk, click to the next page to find out the winners of our last contest, which posed the question:
“Is Our King Playing with a Full Deck?”
How about taking a look at your hosts…
QOM, Iran (AP) — Shiite and Sunni clerics from about 80 countries gathered in Iran’s holy city of Qom on Sunday to develop a strategy to combat extremists, including the Islamic State group that has captured large parts of Iraq and Syria.
Shiite-majority Iran has been helping Iraqi, Syrian and Kurdish forces battle the Sunni extremist group on the ground while the U.S.-led coalition has been bombing it from the air. The Islamic State group views Shiites as apostates deserving of death and has massacred hundreds of captured Syrian and Iraqi soldiers, as well as Sunni rivals.
Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, the chief organizer of the conference, appealed for consensus among Islam’s two main branches, urging all Muslim clerics to work to discredit groups espousing extremism.
Such as, the regime that routinely calls the United States the “Great Satan,” Israel the “Little Satan,” and calls for the latter to be wiped off the face of the earth? No?
Some of the clerics there said helpful things about taking ISIS down. Others…not so much.
Others repeated widely-circulated conspiracy theories holding that the United States and Israel created the Islamic State group to sow discord in the Muslim world.
“IS is a pawn whose job is to deepen divisions among Muslims,” said Mahdi Alizadeh Mousavi, a lower-level Iranian Shiite cleric.
Yahoo news helpfully notes that Iran isn’t really the model state for combating terrorism.
Iran is a strong backer of the Lebanese Hezbollah — viewed as a terrorist group in the West — and supports Iraqi Shiite militias that rights groups say have abducted and killed scores of Sunni civilians in reprisal attacks.
Iran also kept the Iraqi insurgency going for years. So there’s that.
Departing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel may have sealed his exit in this interview with Charlie Rose last week. Rose conducted the interview at the Pentagon.
In the interview, Hagel made two key points that serve as accusations that President Barack Obama is mismanaging the United States military and the ISIS threat.
Rose asked Hagel to elaborate on comments that he made in a speech at the Reagan Library last weekend. In that speech, Hagel said that America’s military capability, while still the best in the world, is being threatened.
Hagel re-iterated that to Rose, but also left viewers to wonder about the direction that President Obama is taking the military.
“I am worried about it, I am concerned about it, Chairman Dempsey is, the chiefs are, every leader of this institution,” Hagel said, including Pentagon leadership but leaving both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s names out of his list of officials who are worried about the U.S. military’s declining capability. Hagel said that the Congress and the American people need to know what while the U.S. military remains the strongest, best trained and most motivated in the world, its lead is being threatened because of policies being implemented now.
Hagel went on to note that a good leader prepares their institution for future success, saying that “the main responsibility of any leader is to prepare your institution for the future. If you don’t do that, you’ve failed. I don’t care how good you are, how smart you are, any part of your job. If you don’t prepare your institution, you’ve failed.”
In the past couple of years, Hagel has warned that defense budget cuts implemented under President Obama were hurting readiness and capability. The “how smart you are” line may be a veiled shot at President Obama, who basks in a media image that he is a cerebral, professorial president.
In the same interview, Hagel also commented on the rise of ISIS and how it must be fought. Hagel charged that Obama’s handling of the ISIS threat is now indirectly assisting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
While President Obama has downplayed the ISIS threat, even calling the group “jayvee” as it rose to power, Hagel warned last week that it is a threat unlike any other we have ever faced.
“We’ve never seen an organization like ISIL that is so well-organized, so well-trained, so well-funded, so strategic, so brutal, so completely ruthless,” Hagel said. “We have never seen anything quite like that in one institution.
“And then they blend in ideology — which will eventually lose, we get that — and social media. The sophistication of their social media program is something that we’ve never seen before. You blend all of that together, that is an incredibly powerful new threat.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) today released a “declaration of war against the Islamic State” with the intention of introducing when Congress comes back into session after Thanksgiving.
The resolution would kill the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force and put a one-year expiration date on the 2001 Afghanistan AUMF. The administration has been leaning upon those war on terror statutes to conduct current operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
It notes that “the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State has declared war on the United States and its allies” and “presents a clear and present danger to United States diplomatic facilities in the region, including our embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.”
“The state of war between the United States and the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been thrust upon the United States, is hereby formally declared pursuant to Article I, section 8, clause 11, of the United States Constitution,” the resolution states.
“The President is hereby authorized and directed to use the Armed Forces of the United States to protect the people and facilities of the United States in Iraq and Syria against the threats posed thereto by the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”
It clarifies that it can’t be “construed as declaring war or authorizing force against any organization” except ISIS or direct affiliates.
It limit the use of ground forces except “as necessary for the protection or rescue of members of the United States Armed Forces or United States citizens from imminent danger posed by the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS); for limited operations against high value targets; or as necessary for advisory and intelligence gathering operations.”
The lame duck Senate, still under Democratic control, has at least one major national decision to make: confirming departing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s successor. That is, if President Obama nominates Hagel’s successor before the session ends.
The Senate could and should take up an important national security bill before the 113th Congress’ clock runs out. That bill is S.2329, the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2014. The bill directs the president to designate Hezbollah,up to now viewed primarily as a terrorist group and national security threat, as a significant narcotics trafficker and a significant transnational criminal organization.
Hezbollah has American blood on its hands. The terrorist group bombed the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon on October 23, 1983, killing 241 American personnel. The group was founded in 1982 and has been an officially designated terrorist group for nearly 20 years. But it has flourished, thanks to its Iranian patronage and to its extensive criminal activities. In addition to launching numerous attacks against Israel, Hezbollah has killed civilians in attacks all over the world.
S.2329 was introduced by Sen. Jean Shaheen (D-NH) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in May 2013. There has been no Senate action on it since.
The House version passed unanimously on July 22, 2014. It has 321 co-sponsors in the House, including conservatives like Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and liberals like Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL).
In the Senate, in addition to Shaheen and Rubio, the bill has 55 co-sponsors from both parties. Those co-sponsors include conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). It has support across the ideological divide, in both houses of Congress, and for good reason: It would enable the United States to bring new law enforcement firepower to bear against a major international terrorist group, in two key ways.
One, it would “prevent Hezbollah’s global logistics and financial network from operating in order to curtail funding of its domestic and international activities.” Two, it would “utilize diplomatic, legislative, and executive avenues to combat Hezbollah’s criminal activities in order to block that organization’s ability to fund its global terrorist activities.”
The bill would also go after Hezbollah’s broadcasting operations and its worldwide logistics network. By choking off its finances and its propaganda, the U.S. may eliminate Hezbollah as a threat both to our country and to our allies. Doing so would weaken Iran’s hand as the U.S. and our allies look to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
The U.S. has had some important successes in choking off Hezbollah’s criminal funding streams over the past few years, by prosecuting banks and individuals found to be assisting Hezbollah’s financial operations. But more tools are needed to fight Hezbollah.
The bill is needed, in short, because it would add Hezbollah’s criminal activities to its its ideological-terrorism activities as crimes which the U.S. government and our allies would vigorously fight worldwide. The fact is, while Hezbollah receives funding from Iran to conduct its operations primarily against Israel, it is also a major worldwide drug trafficking network and money laundering operation. Hezbollah is both an Islamic terrorist group and a violent drug cartel. Its cartel activities fund its mass murder attacks. But its criminal activities mostly take a back seat to its ideological activities, in terms of national security priorities and its overall treatment by the United States.
S.2329 would change that, and bring significant law enforcement tools to bear against Hezbollah. These tools will help close off the terrorist group’s finance streams all over the world, and put countries that host Hezbollah on notice that they are harboring a group that the United States now considers a major global criminal network as well as an ideological foe.
All the Senates needs to do is pass the bipartisan bill. Then it would go to President Obama’s desk for his signature, and the United States would significantly ramp up the fight against Hezbollah terrorism, all over the world.