US aircraft carrier sent to block Iranian shipments to Yemen

A U.S. aircraft carrier has been dispatched to waters off Yemen to join other American ships prepared to block any Iranian shipments to the Houthi rebels fighting in Yemen.

The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea amid reports that a convoy of about eight Iranian ships is heading toward Yemen and possibly carrying arms for the Houthis.

A Navy official confirmed to Fox News that the USS Theodore Roosevelt — along with her escort ship, the USS Normandy, a guided-missile cruiser — left the Persian Gulf on Sunday en route for the Arabian Sea, to help enforce the blockade.

Tensions are rising in the region even as the U.S. and five other world powers scramble to strike a final deal with Iran on its nuclear program by the end of June. The fighting in Yemen, where U.S. ally Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition against the Iran-backed rebels, is complicating matters.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, without commenting specifically on any Navy movements, said the U.S. has concerns about Iran’s “continued support” for the Houthis.

 

“We have seen evidence that the Iranians are supplying weapons and other armed support to the Houthis in Yemen. That support will only contribute to greater violence in that country,” he said. “These are exactly the kind of destabilizing activities that we have in mind when we raise concerns about Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East.” 

He said “the Iranians are acutely aware of our concerns for their continued support of the Houthis by sending them large shipments of weapons.”

A written statement from the Navy on Monday said the two ships are joining others in conducting “maritime security operations” in the region.

“In recent days, the U.S. Navy has increased its presence in this area as a result of the current instability in Yemen,” the statement said.

“The purpose of these operations is to ensure the vital shipping lanes in the region remain open and safe. The United States remains committed to its regional partners and to maintaining security in the maritime environment.” 

The Houthis are battling government-backed fighters in an effort to take control of the country.

There are now about nine U.S. Navy ships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels, as well as three support ships.

The U.S. Navy generally conducts consensual boardings of ships when needed, including to combat piracy around Africa and the region. So far, however, U.S. naval personnel have not boarded any Iranian vessels since the Yemen conflict began.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/04/20/us-navy-stationing-aircraft-carrier-and-escort-ship-in-yemeni-waters-to/

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Grassley to Holder: Why Is The VA Putting So Many Veterans on Your Federal Gun Ban List?

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing deep concerns over Veterans Affairs evaluations classifying veterans as “mentally defective” and banning them in the federal background check system from purchasing or owning a firearm.

According to Grassley’s office, the VA “reports individuals to the gun ban list if an individual merely needs financial assistance managing VA benefits,” keeping them from exercising their Second Amendment rights. (Bolding is mine)

“The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is effectively a national gun ban list and placement on the list precludes the ownership and possession of firearms. According to the Congressional Research Service, as of June 1, 2012, 99.3% of all names reported to the NICS list’s “mental defective” category were provided by the Veterans Administration (VA) even though reporting requirements apply to all federal agencies. And that percentage remained virtually unchanged as of April 2013. Given the numbers, it is essential to ensure that the process by which the VA reports names to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for placement on the NICS list recognizes and protects the fundamental nature of veterans’ rights under the Second Amendment,” Grassley wrote in the letter. “Specifically, once the VA determines that a veteran requires a fiduciary to administer benefit payments, the VA reports that veteran to the gun ban list, consequently denying his or her right to possess and own firearms. In the past, the VA has attempted to justify its actions by relying on a single federal regulation, 38 C.F.R. § 3.353, which by its plain language grants limited authority to determine incompetence, but only in the context of financial matters: ‘Ratings agencies have sole authority to make official determinations of competency and incompetency for purposes of: insurance and…disbursement of benefits.'”

The VA is placing veterans on the gun ban list without proper legal backing and is certainly engaged in over reach through this practice.

On top of serious concerns about the infringement of Second Amendment rights, Grassley is raising questions about the lack of due process for veterans classified as “mentally defective,” and therefore unfit to purchase a firearm, who simply need help managing VA benefits.

“The VA’s regulation appears to omit important findings and never reaches the question of whether a veteran is a danger to himself, herself, or others. Thus, a VA determination that a veteran is “incompetent” to manage finances is insufficient to conclude that the veteran is “mentally defective” under the ATF’s standard that is codified in federal law,” Grassley continued. “Furthermore, when a veteran receives a letter stating that the VA believes he is unable to manage his finances, that veteran now has the burden of proving that he is in fact competent to manage his benefit payments and does not need a fiduciary. However, underlying the hearing is a real possibility that the right to firearms will be infringed. Therefore, in light of the liberty and property interests involved, placing the burden of proof on the veteran is highly suspect. Under similar circumstances, the burden is generally on the government. Further, the hearing that takes place is inside the VA administrative system and composed of VA employees rather than a neutral decision maker. Under the current practice, a VA finding that concludes that a veteran requires a fiduciary to administer benefit payments effectively voids his Second Amendment rights—a consequence which is wholly unrelated to and unsupported by the record developed in the VA process. Accordingly, Congress needs to understand what justifies taking such action without more due process protections for the veteran.”

Grassley has asked Holder to respond to the following questions by April 30, 2015:

1. Is the primary purpose of the NICS list to preclude firearm ownership and possession by individuals who are a danger to themselves and/or others? If not, what is the primary purpose of the NICS list?

2. Is the primary purpose of the VA’s reporting system to report the names of individuals who are appointed a fiduciary?

3. Out of all names on the NICS list, what percentage of them have been referred by the VA?

4. Do you believe that a veteran adjudicated as incompetent to manage finances and appointed a fiduciary is likewise mentally defective under the ATF standard? If so, what is the basis for that conclusion?

5. Does the standard employed by the VA to report names to the DOJ for subsequent placement on the NICS list comply with the protections of the Second Amendment? If so, please explain how, in light of due process concerns described above.

6. Given that the VA adjudication process can result in a complete infringement of a person’s fundamental Second Amendment right, do you believe that the use of the “clear and convincing” evidentiary standard is proper? If so, why?

7. Is the DOJ satisfied that all names reported from the VA for placement on the NICS are, in fact and in law, persons who should not own or possess a firearm because they are dangers to themselves and/or others? If so, what evidence supports that conclusion?

8. Given that 99.3% of all names in the NICS “mental defective” category are reported from the VA, has the DOJ reviewed the VA’s reporting standards and procedure? If so, please provide a copy of the review that took place. If no review took place, please explain why not.
9. What review process does DOJ have in place to ensure that names are properly on the NICS list

10. How many individuals have appealed their placement on the NICS list? How many individuals were successful in their appeal?

11. In light of the fact that the Supreme Court has held the Second Amendment to be a fundamental right, has the DOJ changed any processes and procedures relating to the NICS system which were in existence prior to that holding?

12. Besides the VA, what other federal agencies have reported names to the NICS list since 2005? And how many names were reported by each agency since 2005?

Source: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2015/04/17/grassley-to-doj-why-are-so-many-veterans-on-your-gun-ban-list-n1985787

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Skeptical Climate Scientist Dismantles Dem Lawmaker’s Alarmism

Steam billows from cooling towers at the Radcliffe Power Station near Nottingham in central England on May 25, 2005. Business is booming in Europe

Georgia Tech climate scientist Judith Curry completely dismantled criticisms from a Democratic congressman that her testimony was full of errors when it came to the seriousness of global warming.

Curry, a noted global warming skeptic, was recently targeted by Democrats in an investigation trying to tie scientists who disagree with the White House on global warming to funding from fossil fuels interests.

“I found myself deeply troubled by Dr. Curry’s written and oral testimony,” Rep. Don Beyer, a Virginia Democrat, said during a hearing Thursday. “I found the testimony just full of internally conflicting facts and opinions.”

“In almost total conflict with anything I’ve read over the last 15 years,” Beyer said after listing off reasons he thought Curry’s testimony was wrong. But Curry wasn’t about to let Beyer lambaste her testimony and responded to the Democrat’s confused rebuttal.

“This whole issue of human-caused climate change is a relatively recent notion,” Curry said in the House hearing on President Barack Obama’s pledge to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

“So climate is always changing and it’s going to change in the future, the issue is how much of the change is caused by humans,” Curry said. “We don’t know… what the 21st Century holds. Climate change may be really unpleasant and that may happen independently of anything humans do.”

“All science is contention — we continue to learn, we must be humble at all times about what we know — but it seems to me very much sticking your head in the sand,” Beyer retorted, adding that debating over which year is the hottest was “silly” since 10 of the last 15 years were record warm years.

“The climate has been warming since the 1700s, okay, since the end of the ‘Little Ice Age,’” Curry explained. “We don’t know what’s causing that warming in the 18th Century, in the 19th Century — it’s not attributed to humans.”

 

“So there are other things going on in the climate system that have been contributing to warming over several centuries,” Curry said. “We can’t blame all of this on humans, and we don’t know how all this is going to play out in the 21st Century. We just don’t know.”

Beyer then switched tactics, and compared Democrats’ advocacy for carbon dioxide regulations to former Vice President Dick Cheney’s arguing for the use of “enhanced interrogation” on the “one percent chance” it could prevent al-Qaida from getting a nuclear weapon.

“And are we going to do nothing because there’s a greater than one percent chance climate change…” Beyer said before being interrupted by Curry.

“There is nothing in my testimony that says we do nothing,” Curry said. “What is being proposed is ineffective, it’s not going to do anything even if the U.S. is successful at meeting 80 percent reductions by 2050 this is going to reduce warming by about a tenth of a degree centigrade. It’s not going to do anything.”

“I’m saying we need to acknowledge that and rethink how we’re going to deal with the risks from future climate change whether it’s caused by humans or natural processes,” said Curry.

Source: http://dailycaller.com/2015/04/15/skeptical-climate-scientist-dismantles-dem-lawmakers-alarmism/

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Rand: The Press Should Ask Dems if it’s OK to Kill Babies in the Womb

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is fed up with being cornered on questions about abortion. So now, he’s now trying to turn the tables.

A press conference in New Hampshire Wednesday managed to bristle the newly tinted 2016 candidate. When a reporter asked Paul about a recent Associated Press report that suggested he had avoided answering questions about abortion, he responded in frustration, suggesting the media ask Democrats this question instead:

“Why don’t you ask the DNC, ‘Is it OK to kill a seven-pound baby in the uterus?'” 

“You go back and you ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she’s okay with killing a seven-pound baby that is just not yet born yet. Ask her when life begins, and you ask Debbie when she’s willing to protect life,” he said. “When you get an answer from Debbie, come back to me.”

He didn’t have to wait long.

“Here’s an answer,” she said in an emailed statement. “I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story. Now your turn, Senator Paul.”

CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer read Wasserman Schultz’s statement to Paul later that afternoon, to which Paul offered a translation:

“Sounds like her answer is yes, that she’s okay with killing a seven-pound baby.”

The RNC spoke on behalf of Americans who cherish unborn life when they responded to the DNC’s extremist views:

“Today, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz made clear her extreme position on the issue of life,” said RNC Press Secretary Allison Moore. “It’s disturbing to know that the Chairwoman of the DNC supports zero protections for the life of an unborn child, not even in the final days before birth. We should be willing to protect the innocent. Do her fellow Democrats share their party chair’s position, which is out-of-step with the majority of American women?”

In her hasty statement, Wasserman Schultz also alluded to Paul’s testy on air encounter with CNBC‘s Kelly Evans, saying, “I’d appreciate it if you could respond without ‘shushing’ me.”

Paul could only laugh at her immaturity. I’m sure he’s not the only one.

Lest we forget, Wasserman Schultz also once claimed Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) was giving women theback of his hand,’ essentially comparing his record with physical abuse. Maybe the DNC chair should stop going through life with such a misogynistic lens before she really embarrasses herself. (Too late.)

While he could have just dismissed the DNC’s chair’s full statement, Paul went on to explain why she was wrong. The doctor explained to Blitzer that even his pro-choice friends would have an issue with seven, eight, and nine pound babies being killed in the womb.

“Debbie’s position, which I guess is the Democrat Party’s position, that all the way up until birth would be fine. I think most pro-choice people would be a little uncomfortable with. I really think that she’s got some explaining to do.

Yet, the media has failed to make Democrats explain themselves when it comes to their views on abortion. Remember that time Diane Sawyer asked Hillary Clinton if an unborn baby was a human being that deserved natural born rights? Yeah, me neither. The Big Three are too busy trying to convince viewers Republicans are waging a ‘war on women.’ They are always asking about the ‘rape or incest’ exceptions and just waiting for conservatives to slip up. Or, they try to trap them with questions about birth control. In the 2012 presidential primary debate season, ABC’s George Stephanopoulous asked this bizarre question to the Republican candidates: “Do states have a right to ban contraception?” Romney was dumbfounded by the random inquiry. Save some of that grilling for the Democratic primaries, George.

It’s time for pro-abortion Democrats to try and defend their defenseless opinions about the rights of unborn babies. Here are just a couple common sense inquiries journalists should raise this election season:

Once we get these answers, Americans will truly know which political party owns the radical views on abortion.


Source: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/cortneyobrien/2015/04/09/rand-the-press-should-ask-dems-if-its-ok-to-kill-babies-in-the-womb-n1982525

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Israel: The Iran Nuclear Deal Would Threaten Our Very Existence

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the rounds on yesterday’s Sunday morning talk circuit to make the case against the initial nuclear framework announced by Iranian representatives and P5+1 Western negotiators last week. Netanyahu ramped up his criticism of what he called a bad deal in a speech to a joint session of Congress last month, and reportedly reiterated his government’s belief that the accord under discussion would pose an existential threat to the state of Israel during a lengthy phone conversation with President Obama. In an interview with CNN, the Prime Minister succinctly outlined the case against the agreement, arguing that even if Iran doesn’t cheat (as they repeatedly have in the past, including very recently), it legitimizes Iran’s illegitimate nuclear program, keeps the regime’s vast nuclear infrastructure almost entirely in place, and allows key restrictions to expire within a decade:
“Not a single centrifuge is destroyed,” Netanyahu notes, ticking down a list of serious flaws within the would-be pact. “Not a single nuclear facility is shut down, including the underground facilities that they built illicitly. Thousands of centrifuges will keep spinning, enriching uranium.” All true. He also points out that because international nuclear sanctions would be lifted at the front end of the deal, many billions of dollars would “flow into the Iranian coffers,” which Netanyahu says would be used to “pump up Iran’s terror machine” around the world. The lifting of sanctions and abolishment of UN resolutions is likely to prove irreversible, unlike many of the temporary limits placed on Iran’s nuclear program. The Israeli leader also makes mention of the fact that this agreement leaves Iran’s rogue long-range missile program unscathed, and does nothing to address the regime’s global meddling and terrorism (except to free up huge sums of money to help fund Iran’s malignant projects). CNN’s Jim Acosta asks a good question just after the three-minute mark, wondering if a failed deal and increased sanctions pressure will only redouble the regime’s determination to build the bomb, with very limited Western capacity to conduct inspections or keep tabs on their behavior. Netanyahu responds by admonishing against counting on an inspections regime to deter outlaw regimes, citing Iran’s history of cheating, as well as the North Korean example. “[The West] said the same things about North Korea — it’ll make them peaceful, it’ll make them moderate, it’ll make them abandon their program — and the opposite has happened.”  In short, untrustworthy despots are…not to be trusted.  Perhaps Netanyahu’s least persuasive point comes near the end of the clip, when he cites Syria’s WMD “disarmament” as a successful example of international pressure achieving a goal that seemed unrealistic just months earlier.  In fact, that disarmament compromise was forged after feckless Obama administration stumbling, and Syria has brazenly failed to keep up its end of the bargain, with zero consequences. An odd “success” story to cite (though not as odd as this one).  Some Democrats seem to be warming to Obama’s proposal, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein effectively telling Netanyahu to back off, and rejecting the Israeli government’s assessment that the plan would threaten their country:

 

Appearing on CNN, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a leading Democratic voice on foreign affairs, said she did not believe the agreement threatened Israel, and had harsh words for Netanyahu. “I don’t think it’s helpful for Israel to come out and oppose this one opportunity to change a major dynamic which is downhill, a downhill dynamic in this part of the world,” said Feinstein.

The announced framework is far more permissive than President Obama’s own rhetorical red lines about what would constitute an acceptable resolution — both at the onset of talks, and after the interim agreement was struck in late 2013.  Following the publication of a State Department fact sheet, on which much of this analysis was based, “there appeared to be sharp disagreement over the details in the package,” according to the Los Angeles Times, citing public rebukes from Iranian officials.  President Obama said he’d seek a “constructive” role for Congress if and when a finalized deal is hammered out on paper, but he’s threatened to veto bipartisan legislation designed to guarantee the legislative branch an up-or-down vote on the accord.  I’ll leave you with thisrelax, Israel:

A State Department official dismissed a plea Friday from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Iran nuclear agreement include clear recognition of his nation’s “right to exist,” declaring negotiations are “only about the nuclear issue.” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, in a terse response to a question about Netanyahu’s concerns, told reporters, “This is an agreement that is only about the nuclear issue” — a comment that indicates the Obama administration is not looking to enshrine Israel’s security into a final agreement.

One more: Read Matt Continetti asking why we should trust Obama on this highly consequential deal in light of his track record.

Source: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2015/04/06/israel-the-iran-nuclear-deal-would-threaten-our-very-existence-n1981105

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Iran Triumphant: Nuclear Deal Capitulates To Nearly All Iranian Demands

Radioactive_keeper_drums

A beaming Iranian foreign minister emerged from the meeting rooms in Switzerland to announce that all of the theocracy’s major demands had been met. According to the new provisions released on the nuclear deal, Iran will get to both keep active its centrifuges and receive sanctions relief.

Sanctions against will be lifted immediately, and probably forever. Iran gets to keep a huge number of its nuclear centrifuges spinning, including a thousand of them at the previously hidden and illegal fortified bunker of Fordo, which is supposed to become a “peaceful” nuclear, physics, technology, and research center. There are sunset provisions on everything Iran has tentatively agreed to, although in his Rose Garden press conference announcing the deal, Obama claimed they would somehow be “permanently” blocked from various forms of weapons development.

Despite the perpetual complaints from U.N. inspectors that Iran has cheated them, Obama assured us that “if Iran cheats, the world will know.” Since Iran most predictably balks when serious inspection demands are made, this agreement “framework” could yet collapse, a possibility the President briefly mentioned in his remarks. In fact, he made a point of saying “the work is not yet done” on the deal, so we’re back to the announcement-of-a-declaration-of-a-framework-to-have-more-meetings stuff characteristic of these negotiations.

Most of the President’s remarks consisted of declarations about how “historic” the deal was, straw-man false choices about how the only alternative to his deal is an immediate regional war, excuses about how his supposedly awesome bargain with Iran was the best anyone could have managed under impossible circumstances, and loads of rhetoric about how dedicated to Middle Eastern stability he is. There were loads of promises about how inspections would be so rigorous that Iran could not possibly break the deal, even though they have successfully bamboozled, or outright defied, every previous attempt to monitor their nuclear program. The Iranians knew all along that what Obama most desired was an opportunity to give speeches like this. The messy details can be dealt with later.

The President made rhetorical gestures toward the security of American allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia under the terms of this agreement. The former nation is now headed by the most vindicated man in the world – Benjamin Netanyau predicted the outcome of Obama’s wheeling and dealing with Iran almost to the word. The latter will now scramble to purchase nuclear weapons of its own, as will everyone else who doesn’t want to find out when Iran’s nuclear umbrella will really snap open, or be caught unarmed beneath it.

One curious detail that stood out from the President’s remarks was his assertion that, without this deal, Iran might have been only 2 to 3 months away from having a nuclear weapon.  That is the kind of timetable Obama and his spokespeople have been deriding for years as uninformed scaremongering, but now it turns out that was a reasonable estimate after all?

Obama tried comparing his nuclear deal to Reagan’s arms negotiations with the Soviet Union, which spotlights the most dangerous thing about Obama’s Iran policy: he really thinks the mullahs represent the sort of sane, relatively responsible (if rather aggressive) government, interested in stability and material prosperity, that liberals love to recall their dear departed Soviets as.  Note also that liberals most certainly did not think Reagan’s dealings with the Soviets were a model of American statecraft to be emulated at the time.

This is all theater, while the reality of Iranian nuclear weapons moves forward… brought to you by the man who swore in his 2012 re-election campaign that he’d never let it happen, under any circumstances.

Source: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/04/02/iran-triumphant-nuclear-deal-capitulates-to-nearly-all-iranian-demands/

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New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez indicted on corruption charges

 

menendez_032315.jpg

March 23, 2015: U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., answers questions as he addresses a gathering in Garwood, N.J. (AP)

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez was indicted Wednesday on corruption charges, accused of using his office to improperly benefit a political donor — who allegedly offered the senator an array of perks including trips on his private jet and access to an exclusive Dominican resort.

A federal grand jury indicted the powerful senator on 14 counts, including conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud.

The Newark grand jury has been investigating Menendez for official actions he took on behalf of his friend Dr. Salomon Melgen. Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist, was also indicted Wednesday.

The indictment is a blow to Menendez, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and until recently was chairman, at a critical time. He has been a leading skeptic of the Obama administration’s Cuba and Iran policies — the indictment comes as the U.S. and other world powers are struggling to strike a nuclear agreement with Iran.

Menendez has acknowledged that he flew multiple times on Melgen’s private jet to the Dominican Republic and initially failed to properly pay for the trips. In 2013, Menendez agreed to reimburse Melgen $58,500 for the full cost of two flights.

The senator’s office later disclosed another flight from Florida to New Jersey in 2011, and said Menendez had repaid Melgen $11,250 for it.

Last year, Menendez disclosed that his campaign accounts had paid a law firm $250,000 for legal costs related to investigations by the Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee of his ties to Melgen.

Menendez has also acknowledged taking actions that could benefit Melgen, among them contacting U.S. health agencies to ask about billing practices and policies.

But the lawmaker has said he did nothing wrong and that he and Melgen have been friends for decades.

“We celebrated holidays together,” he once told reporters. “We have been there for family weddings and sad times like funerals and have given each other birthday, holiday and wedding presents, just as friends do.”

In its case against Menendez, the government also points to emails between him and former Chief Counsel, Kerru Talbot and a staffer with Customs and Border Patrol in ‎which Talbot asked CBP not to donate screening equipment to the Dominican Republic, but instead to allow a private contractor controlled by Melgen to provide that equipment.

Melgen came under renewed scrutiny when government data last year showed he had received more in Medicare reimbursements in 2012 than any other doctor in the country.

Menendez becomes the first sitting U.S. senator to face indictment since then-Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, in 2008. Stevens was found guilty of concealing gifts from donors on financial disclosure statements, but the Justice Department later dropped the case after admitting that prosecutors failed to turn over evidence that would have been favorable to his defense.

“Senator Menendez’s ethics lapses have long been a distraction to the United States Senate,” Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman with the National Republican Senatorial Committee said in a written statement. “With today’s indictment, the FBI and the Justice Department made it clear that Senator Menendez has betrayed the trust of New Jersey families. His actions reinforce all that the American people believe is wrong with Washington Democrats and closes the book on a Senate Democrat majority that put their personal interests ahead of the American people.”

Menedez joined the Senate in 2006 after serving more than a decade in the House of Representatives.

A lawyer and former mayor of Union City, New Jersey, Menendez also served in the New Jersey General Assembly and state Senate.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/04/01/new-jersey-sen-bob-menendez-indicted-on-corruption-charges/?intcmp=latestnews

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ARMY CHARGING SGT. BOWE BERGDAHL WITH DESERTION Obama traded ‘Taliban 5′ for release

Editors Note: Being a Veteran myself I feel I have earned the right to both Criticize and Condemn the actions of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. There is no greater dishonor than to desert your fellow soldiers in a combat zone and to consort with the enemy.

President Barack Hussein Obama to bolster his image seized the chance to play upon the feelings of most Americans to secure the release of a captured American combatant. Obama and members of his administration knew from the beginning that there were questions regarding Sgt. Bergdahl’s leaving his base and resulting capture. With this knowledge Obama disregarded the advice from his military advisers and traded (5) high ranking Taliban leaders for Sgt. Bergdahl’s release. With great fanfare and a nationally carried broadcast, Obama flanked by both of Sgt. Bergdahl’s parents announced that he had negotiated and instrumented the release of their son Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. It was then learned to cost for that release was the return of (5) Taliban leaders specifically asked for by the Taliban. With his reckless disregard President Obama has enabled these (5) proven Terrorists to return to the battlefield to possibly initiate the killing of more Americans. With this in mind Congress needs to investigate if Obama or any members of his administration are guilty of pressuring the Army to drop the investigation so any possible Court Marshal would not embarrass the President for his fool hardy trade for a deserter.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will be tried for his alleged crimes in a Military Court according the the rules set forth in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) under Articles #32, #85 and #99.

Article #32 INVESTIGATION

(a) No charge or specification may be referred to a general court-martial for trial until a through and impartial investigation of all the matters set forth therein has been made. This investigation shall include inquiry as to the truth of the matter set forth in the charges, consideration of the form of charges, and recommendation as to the disposition which should be made of the case in the interest of justice and discipline.

(b) The accused shall be advised of the charges against him and of his right to be represented at that investigation as provided in section 838 of this title (article 38) and in regulations prescribed under that section. At that investigation full opportunity shall be given to the accused to cross-examine witnesses against him if they are available and to present anything he may desire in his own behalf, either in defense or mitigation, and the investigation officer shall examine available witnesses requested by the accused. If the charges are forwarded after the investigation, they shall be accompanied by a statement of the substance of the testimony taken on both sides and a copy thereof shall be given to the accused.

(c) If an investigation of the subject matter of an offense has been conducted before the accused is charged with the offense, and if the accused was present at the investigation and afforded the opportunities for representation, cross-examination, and presentation prescribed in subsection (b), no further investigation of that charge is necessary under this article unless it is demanded by the accused after he is informed of the charge. A demand for further investigation entitles the accused to recall witnesses for further cross-examination and to offer any new evidence in his own behalf.

(d) The requirements of this article are binding on all persons administering this chapter but failure to follow them does not constitute judicial error.

Article #85 DESERTION

(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;
(2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or
(3) without being regularly separated from one of the armed forces enlists or accepts an appointment in the same or another on of the armed forces without fully disclosing the fact that he has not been regularly separated, or enters any foreign armed service except when authorized by the United States; is guilty of desertion.
(b) Any commissioned officer of the armed forces who, after tender of his resignation and before notice of its acceptance, quits his post or proper duties without leave and with intent to remain away therefrom permanently is guilty of desertion.
(c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.

Article #99 MISBEHAVIOR BEFORE THE ENEMY
Any person subject to this chapter who before or in the presence of the enemy–
(1) runs away;
(2) shamefully abandons, surrenders, or delivers up any command, unit, place, or military property which it is his duty to defend;
(3) through disobedience, neglect, or intentional misconduct endangers the safety of any such command, unit, place, or military property;
(4) casts away his arms or ammunition;
(5) is guilty of cowardly conduct;
(6) quits his place of duty to plunder or pillage;
(7) causes false alarms in any command, unit, or place under control of the armed forces;
(8) willfully fails to do his utmost to encounter, engage, capture, or destroy any enemy troops, combatants, vessels, aircraft, or any other thing, which it is his duty so to encounter, engage, capture, or destroy; or
(9) does not afford all practicable relief and assistance to any troops, combatants, vessels, or aircraft of the armed forces belonging to the United States or their allies when engaged in battle;
shall be punished by death or such punishment as a court- martial may direct.

 
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban after abandoning his post in Afghanistan, then freed five years later in exchange for five Guantanamo detainees in a deal hailed by the White House but blasted by his fellow soldiers, will be charged with desertion, officials told Fox News.
The development comes 10 months after his May 2014 release — which initially was a joyous occasion, with his parents joining President Obama in celebrating the news in the Rose Garden. Bob Bergdahl, who had studied Islam during his son’s captivity appeared with a full beard and read a Muslim prayer, while Bergdahl’s mother Jani embraced the president.
But that euphoria quickly gave way to controversy in Washington as Bergdahl was accused of walking away from his post and putting his fellow soldiers in danger. The trade of hardened Taliban fighters for his freedom raised deep concerns on Capitol Hill that the administration struck an unbalanced and possibly illegal deal.
The military plans to address the case at a press conference Wednesday afternoon at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

bergdahl parents obama reuters.jpg
U.S. President Barack Obama stands with Bob Bergdahl (R) and Jami Bergdahl (L) as he delivers a statement about the release of their son, prisoner of war U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington May 31, 2014. Obama, flanked by the parents of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier who is being released after being held for nearly five years by the Taliban, said in the White House Rose Garden on Saturday that the United States has an “ironclad commitment” to bring home its prisoners of war.
Fox News has learned he will be specifically charged with desertion and misbehavior toward the enemy. A senior U.S. official said he will face a court martial and likely trial.
Bergdahl 28, walked away from his post in Afghanistan and was captured, then released years later by the Taliban in the controversial prisoner exchange.
Gen. Mark Milley, head of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, has been reviewing the massive case files and had a broad range of legal options, including various degrees of desertion charges.
A major consideration was whether military officials would be able to prove that Bergdahl had no intention of returning to his unit — a key element in the more serious desertion charges.
The announcement marks a sharp turnaround for the administration’s narrative of Bergdahl’s service and release. After the swap last year, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.”
But as Bergdahl faced criticism from fellow servicemembers for his actions, the administration faced heated complaints from Congress over the Taliban trade itself.
“This fundamental shift in U.S. policy signals to terrorists around the world a greater incentive to take U.S. hostages,” said former Rep. Mike Rogers, (R-Mich.), then the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Bergdahl disappeared from his base in the eastern Afghanistan province of Paktika on June 30, 2009. A private first class at the time, he had three days earlier emailed his parents expressing disillusionment with the war.
“The future is too good to waste on lies,” Bergdahl wrote, according to the late Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings. “And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong. I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be American.”
Bob Bergdahl, a former UPS delivery driver in Sun Valley Idaho, replied with a message bearing the subject line, “OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!”
Bergdahl left a note in his tent that said he was leaving to start a new life and intended to renounce his citizenship, Fox News reported last year.
For the next five years, Bergdahl is believed to have been held by the Taliban and Pakistan’s infamous Haqqani network. In one of several hostage videos released during his captivity, he said he was captured when he fell behind a patrol, but fellow soldiers, outraged after the trade was made with the Taliban, accused him of deserting. Some asserted that American servicemembers’ lives were put at risk in the hunt for Bergdahl.
Bergdahl was freed on May 31, 2014, after the White House agreed to trade five high value Taliban operatives held at Guantanamo Bay for him. He was turned over to Delta Force operatives in eastern Afghanistan, near the border village of Khost, while the Taliban members were handed over to authorities in Qatar, which helped broker the swap.
The trade was branded as illegal by lawmakers, who said they weren’t advised beforehand, It was also blasted by critics who said it violated America’s longstanding tradition of not negotiating with terrorists, and from Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers, many of whom view him as a traitor.
There were also concerns – which would prove well-founded – that the Taliban members would return to the fight against the West. Of the five, Mohammad Fazl, the former Taliban army chief of staff; Khairullah Khairkhwa, a Taliban intelligence official; Abdul Haq Wasiq, a former Taliban government official; and Norullah Noori and Mohammad Nabi Omari, at least three have attempted to rejoin their old comrades, sources told Fox News.
Then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Bergdahl was a “prisoner of war,” and that the deal did not amount to negotiating with terrorists. He also said concerns about Bergdahl’s deteriorating condition made it imperative that the U.S. move quickly to make the trade.
A Pentagon probe concluded in 2010 that Bergdahl had walked away from his base, but stopped short of accusing him of desertion, reopening the probe after his return.
Bergdhal was promoted to sergeant while in captivity, and had accrued more than $200,000 in back pay by the time he was freed. He was assigned to duty at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, after his return and reportedly refused to speak with his parents.
Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/03/25/bergdahl-to-be-charged-with-desertion-official-says/

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Netanyahu’s Likud Surges to Stunning Israeli Election Win

Netanyahu's Easy Win Adds to Difficulties For Obama White House

Editors Note: Obama’s attempt to torpedo Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection has failed miserably and has resulted in Netanyahu coming out of the election stronger than before. Congress is now investigating whether Obama and his supporters used Federal Money to fund groups in Israel to oppose the Prime Ministers quest for another term.

The rift between the two leaders is well know and was exasperated when Netanyahu spoke before Congress with out Congress consulting with Obama first. Obama is willing to go to any lengths to get an agreement with Iran over their Nuclear Weapons ambitions even if it is a bad deal. Congress has been fighting to stop Obama from making any kind of pact or agreement without Congressional approval and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been openly hostile to any type of agreement with a regime that has sworn openly that it supports the total destruction of Israel as a nation and its people.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also pledged that their will also be no Palestinian State that Obama has been working towards so the tension between the two leaders will last until Obama is finally out of office. Obama’s big gamble to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made him look petty and guilty of meddling in a trusted Allie’s national election. If anything he has made Bibi more determined to side with the Republican controlled Congress to stop any agreement with Iran on their nuclear ambitions. [TS]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party scored a resounding victory in the country’s election, final results showed Wednesday, a stunning turnaround after a tight race that had put his lengthy rule in jeopardy.

With nearly all votes counted, Likud appeared to have earned 30 out of parliament’s 120 seats and was in a position to build with relative ease a coalition government with its nationalist, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies. Such a government would likely put Israel at odds with the international community over settlement construction and its opposition to Palestinian statehood, and continue clashing with the White House over hard-line policies.

The election was widely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu, who has governed the country for the past six years. Recent opinion polls indicated he was in trouble, giving chief rival Isaac Herzog of the opposition Zionist Union a slight lead. Exit polls Tuesday showed the two sides deadlocked but once the actual results came pouring in early Wednesday, Likud soared forward. Zionist Union wound up with just 24 seats.

Given the final results, it is all but assured that Israel’s largely ceremonial President Reuven Rivlin will task Netanyahu with forming a new government. Netanyahu says he hopes to do so quickly, within two to three weeks.

“Against all odds, we achieved a great victory for the Likud,” Netanyahu told supporters at his election night headquarters, declaring victory even before final results were known. “I am proud of the people of Israel, who in the moment of truth knew how to distinguish between what is important and what is peripheral, and to insist on what is important.”

Netanyahu focused his campaign primarily on security issues, while his opponents instead pledged to address the country’s high cost of living and accused the leader of being out of touch with everyday people. Netanyahu will likely look to battle that image now by adding to his government Moshe Kahlon, whose upstart Kulanu party captured 10 seats with a campaign focused almost entirely on bread-and-butter economic issues. Kahlon is expected to become the country’s next finance minister.

A union of four largely Arab-backed factions became Israel’s third largest party — with 14 seats — and gave Israel’s Arab minority significant leverage in parliament for the first time. Ten parties in all made it into parliament.

Herzog, who appeared poised only days ago to stage a coup, conceded defeat, saying he called Netanyahu and offered him congratulations. He signaled that he would not join forces with Netanyahu and would rather head to the opposition.

“I think that at this moment what Israel needs most of all is another voice, a voice that offers an alternative and a voice that tells it the truth,” he said outside his Tel Aviv home.

Netanyahu’s return to power for a fourth term likely spells trouble for Mideast peace efforts and could further escalate tensions with the United States.

Netanyahu, who already has a testy relationship with President Barack Obama, took a sharp turn to the right in the final days of the campaign, staking out a series of hard-line positions that will put him on a collision course with much of the international community.

In a dramatic policy reversal, he said he now opposes the creation of a Palestinian state — a key policy goal of the White House and the international community. He also promised to expand construction in Jewish areas of east Jerusalem, the section of the city claimed by the Palestinians as their capital.

The Palestinians, fed up after years of deadlock with Netanyahu, are now likely to press ahead with their attempts to bring war crimes charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court. Renewed violence could also loom.

The international community overwhelmingly supports the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, areas captured by Israel in 1967, and opposes settlement construction. With the race close, Netanyahu reneged on his previous stated support for a Palestinian state in an attempt to shore up his hawkish base in a frenzied last day of campaigning.

Netanyahu also infuriated the White House early this month when he delivered a speech to U.S. Congress criticizing an emerging nuclear deal with Iran. The speech was arranged with Republican leaders and not coordinated with the White House ahead of time. Reaching a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict has been a top foreign policy priority for President Obama as well.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama was confident strong U.S.-Israeli ties would endure far beyond the election, regardless of the victor.

Throughout the campaign, Netanyahu portrayed himself as the only politician capable of confronting Israel’s numerous security challenges.

Avi Degani, president of the Geocartography polling institute who had predicted an outright Likud victory, said ultimately Netanyahu’s experience prevailed.

“There was a situation where many people wanted to replace him but there was no one whom they wanted to replace him with,” he said.

Source: http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/netanyahu-victory-election-win/2015/03/18/id/630792/

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Source: Senate panel probes whether Obama administration funded effort to oust Netanyahu

It is outrageous that this administration is involved in the elections in Israel. Especially after the Democratic comments about how it was not good for Netanyahu to speak to congress because it was too lose to the elections….what a crock….

A powerful U.S. Senate investigatory committee has launched a bipartisan probe into an American nonprofit’s funding of efforts to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the Obama administration’s State Department gave the nonprofit taxpayer-funded grants, a source with knowledge of the panel’s activities told FoxNews.com.

The fact that both Democrat and Republican sides of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations have signed off on the probe could be seen as a rebuke to President Obama, who has had a well-documented adversarial relationship with the Israeli leader.

The development comes as Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel Two television station this week that there were “governments” that wanted to help with the “Just Not Bibi” campaigning – Bibi being the Israeli leader’s nickname.

It also follows a FoxNews.com report on claims the Obama administration has been meddling in the Israeli election on behalf of groups hostile to Netanyahu. A spokesperson for Sen. Rob Portman, (R-Ohio), the chair of the committee, refused comment, and aides to ranking Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, did not immediately return calls.

The Senate subcommittee, which has subpoena power, is the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ chief investigative body with jurisdiction over all branches of government operations and compliance with laws.

“The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations does not comment on ongoing investigations,” Caitlin Conant, spokeswoman for Portman, told Foxnews.com.

But a source familiar with the matter confirmed for FoxNews.com that the probe – undisclosed until now – was both underway and bipartisan in nature.

According to the source, the probe is looking into “funding” by OneVoice Movement – a Washington-based group that has received $350,000 in recent State Department grants, and until last November was headed by a veteran diplomat from the Clinton administrations.

A subsidiary of OneVoice is the Israel-based Victory 15 campaign, itself guided by top operatives of Obama’s White House runs, which seeks to “replace the government” of Israel.

“It’s confirmed that there is a bipartisan Permanent Subcommittee inquiry into OneVoice’s funding of V15,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity about the American group, which bills itself as working for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In his television interview, Netanyahu said the coalition seeking to oust him is generously funded by foreign donors who are also encouraging a high voter turnout among Israel’s Arab and left-wing voters in a bid to replace the existing leadership.

He characterized the campaign against him as “unprecedented.” While Netanyahu pointed the finger at “European countries and left-wing people abroad,” some observers note that he held back from openly criticizing Obama during his recent trip to the U.S. to address Congress on problems his government sees with administration-backed efforts to reach a nuclear weapons inspection deal with Iran.

“We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel,” Netanyahu told lawmakers – while Obama refused to meet with the Israeli leader, and later criticized his speech as “nothing new.”

No direct link has been confirmed between Obama and the anti-Netanyahu campaign in Israel, but polls have shown that a large majority of Israelis believe the administration has been interfering in the election, set for March 17.

One expert told FoxNews.com earlier this month the State Department grants constituted indirect Obama administration funding of the anti-Netanyahu campaign by providing OneVoice with the $350,000 – even though State Department officials said the funding stopped in November, ahead of the announcement of the Israeli election.

Gerald Steinberg, founder and president of NGO Monitor, which tracks money flows to unmask non-governmental organizations that deviate from their stated human rights or humanitarian agendas, said even ostensibly unrelated grants keep an organization going during periods it is not engaged in political activity.

Indeed, by January, OneVoice – whose focus on Israel’s 1967 borders as a negotiating starting point reflects Obama’s thinking but is counter to Netanyahu’s – had announced its partnership with V15.

Around the same time, Jeremy Bird, who served as Obama’s deputy national campaign director in 2008, and his national campaign director in 2012, arrived in Israel to help direct V15. Bird took with him additional former Obama campaign operatives to help V15 achieve its goal of knocking on one million doors to make the case for a change in Israel’s leadership.

OneVoice is barred from directly targeting Netanyahu by U.S. law regulating its tax-exempt status, and doing so would threaten that status.

But the recent FoxNews.com investigation showed that the nonprofit, in its 2014 Annual Report, said its Israel branch would be “embarking on a groundbreaking campaign around the Israeli elections.” In partnering with V15, the two groups have operated from adjacent offices in Tel Aviv.

In addition to McCaskill, other Democrats on the subcommittee are Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

Republican subcommittee members, who form the majority, are Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, in addition to Portman.

State Department documents say the grants to OneVoice were meant for the group’s work in encouraging both Palestinian grass-roots civic activism and Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. The State Department itself, meanwhile, denied any of the funds had been used for election campaign activities despite OneVoice’s backing of V15.

Launched in 2002 by snack bar mogul Daniel Lubetzky and boasting the star power of such celebrities as Brad Pitt, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman and Sir Paul McCartney among its honorary advisors, OneVoice was headed until November by Marc Ginsberg, who advised President Carter on Middle East policy and served as President Clinton’s ambassador to Morocco.

Ginsberg, who has described the Obama administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a “window of opportunity,” is now serving OneVoice as “special advisor” after resigning as CEO at a time that turned out to be just ahead of the early December announcement of the Israeli election.

“I resigned on November 11, 2014, because I had only committed to serve as CEO for one year and my resignation was effective December 19, 2014,” he wrote in an email to FoxNews.com. “I agreed to be available after that as a Senior Adviser on an occasional basis to the organization…along with many others, but have had ZERO decision-making authority over personnel, budgets, programs, etc. That responsibility was transferred to the Executive Director of the OneVoice Europe organization after I resigned.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/03/14/senate-committee-probes-whether-obama-administration-funded-effort-to-oust/

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Hackers, probing Clinton server, cite security lapses

Stirred by the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, a determined band of hackers, IT bloggers, and systems analysts have trained their specialized talents and state-of-the-art software on clintonemail.com, the domain under which Clinton established multiple private email accounts, and uncovered serious lapses in security, according to data shared with Fox News.

The findings call into question Clinton’s confident declaration, at a hastily arranged news conference in New York on Tuesday, that “there were no security breaches” in her use of a private server. One prominent figure in the hacker community, bolstered by long experience in the U.S. intelligence community, has undertaken to build a virtual “replica” of Clinton’s server configuration in a cyberlab, and has begun testing it with tools designed to probe security defenses. This individual has shared details of the Clinton system not disclosed publicly but legally obtainable.

Among other things, outside experts have managed to trace the most recent location of Clinton’s server – something she did not specify during her news conference and a subject of much speculation, as the server’s physical placement would provide early clues about whether the data stored on it was adequately secured against compromise by private-sector hackers and foreign intelligence services.

Fox News has previously reported that, with the aid of software named Maltego, experts had established that the server is up and running, receiving connectivity to the Internet through an Atlanta-based firm called Internap Network Services Corporation. Clinton’s stern insistence at her news conference that her server “will remain private” would appear to rest, then, at least in part, on the inviolability of Internap.

Now, working with publicly available tools that map network connectivity, experts have established that the last “hop” before the mail server’s Internet Protocol, or IP, address (listed as 64.94.172.146) is Internap’s aggregator in Manhattan (listed as 216.52.95.10).

“This is a very strong indication that the clintonemail.com server is in Manhattan,” the source told Fox News.

By entering the IP address for the Internap aggregator into existing databases, the experts obtained the exact geolocation coordinates for the aggregator – revealed to be on lower Broadway, at the intersection with Chambers Street, some two blocks north of City Hall. This in turn suggests that the Clinton server itself lies within close proximity – most likely former President Clinton’s Harlem office, and not as far away as the Clintons’ home in Chappaqua, N.Y.

That outside experts could so swiftly unearth such information left them convinced that the server remains, as presently configured, highly “vulnerable” to unauthorized intrusion – even if, as most observers suspect, the server, with so much publicity now attendant on it, is no longer in active use. The hackers further concluded that Clinton’s email operation was likely not much better secured when she was secretary of state.

To test that proposition, they took the relatively simple step of examining the source code on the front page of clintonemail.com. This yielded the discovery, sources told Fox News, that the Clintons have not been using the latest version of Microsoft Outlook Web Application (OWA) to send and receive emails. The most recent version of OWA is listed as 14.3.224.2, whereas tests show clintonemail.com to be using the older 14.2.390.1.

“[It’s] an indication they’re not keeping up with software upgrades,” one hacker told Fox News. “If I were a bad guy, I’d start looking for any vulnerabilities in that older version they’re using.” 

 

Work on the “replica” of the Clinton system also determined that the certificate for its TLS, or Transport Layer Security, is invalid – a lapse that “makes the site less secure,” the source said. A screen-grab provided to Fox News and shown here, illustrating the results of this test, showed the word “FAIL” appearing twice in a multifaceted stress-test for the security defenses of clintonemail.com.

Perhaps most concerning, private analysts determined that clintonemail.com has been running an older model of Microsoft Internet Information Services, or IIS – specifically version 7.5, which has been documented to leave users exposed on multiple fronts. The website CVEDetails.com, which bills itself as “the ultimate security vulnerability datasource,” is awash with descriptions of serious security vulnerabilities associated with version 7.5, including “memory corruption,” “password disclosure vulnerability,” and the enabling of “remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service.”  

The cyberlab technician who discovered the Clintons’ use of version 7.5 marveled at “the vulnerabilities the Clintons are ignoring” in an email to Fox News. “This is a big deal and just the thing real-world hackers look for in a target and will exploit to the max,” the source said.

“Several of these vulnerabilities have been known since 2010 and yet HRC is running official State comms through it.”  

Coupled with the earlier disclosure, first reported by Bloomberg, that the Clinton system used a commercial encryption product with “a default encryption certificate, instead of one purchased specifically for Ms. Clinton’s service,” these latest revelations suggest a complacent approach to server security on the part of the secretary and her aides.

Representatives for Clinton have not responded to multiple requests for comment. Spokesman Nick Merrill has released a FAQ document stating that “robust protections were put in place” on the server, with “upgrades and techniques employed over time as they became available, including consulting and employing third party experts.” Merrill added that “there is no evidence” that the server was ever hacked, and said there was never an unauthorized intrusion into the secretary’s email.

The Merrill document stated that Clinton’s server “was physically located on her property, which is protected by U.S. Secret Service,” but did not address its present location.

Bruce F. Webster, an IT expert with 40 years of corporate experience — the last 15 spent testifying on IT issues in civil litigation — raised the question of whether Clinton’s server has been moved at some point. On his blog, “And Still I Persist,” Webster entitled his latest post “No, we still don’t know where the Clinton server is, was, has been.” In an email to Fox News, Webster referenced suggestions that the server remains in Chappaqua, where it was first registered, and stated: “I consider that the least likely location at this point.” 

Just the original decision to use a private email account, with Clinton’s own surname embedded in it, has baffled the hacker community. The analyst with experience in the intelligence community, a “white hat” hacker — the kind corporate firms retain to conduct “penetration testing” that exposes businesses’ cybersecurity lapses — told Fox News: “If we learned that the foreign minister of a major foreign country was using her own private server to send and receive emails, and was relying on outdated commercial software to operate and protect it, that’d be a hallelujah moment for us.”

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/03/12/hackers-probing-clinton-server-cite-security-lapses/

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Clinton admits should have used official email, says used personal account for ‘convenience’

Hillary Clinton, in her first public comments on the controversy over her use of personal email as secretary of state, acknowledged Tuesday that it “would have been better” to have used an official government account — but said she used the personal one as a “matter of convenience.” 

The former secretary of state, and likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, addressed the controversy in New York, following an event on women’s empowerment at the United Nations headquarters.

She also briefly addressed her use of a private email server, but said it contains personal communications between her and her husband.

“The server will remain private,” Clinton said.

Clinton fielded several questions about the implications raised by her unusual use of a personal email and private server after more than a week of critical news reports about her computer practices, including whether they were secure and whether she complied with records rules.

Explaining her original decision, Clinton told reporters she “opted for convenience” to use her personal email, on one device, when she became secretary of state. She said she thought it “would be simpler” to do so.

‘The server will remain private’- Hillary Clinton

 

“Obviously it hasn’t worked out this way,” Clinton said. She admitted it would have been better to use “two separate phones and two email accounts.” 

But she said federal laws and rules allowed her to do so, and that she is fully complying with the State Department’s request for her emails. She also said her server, set up for President Bill Clinton’s office, contained “numerous safeguards,” was protected by the Secret Service and experienced “no security breaches.”  

Clinton said she has “absolute confidence” that anything “in any way connected to work” is now in the possession of the State Department. She also made clear what she described as personal emails were not turned over.

Whether Clinton’s answers will calm the furor remains to be seen.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said the press conference “raised more questions than it answered.” 

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., head of the House Benghazi committee seeking her emails, said the same.

And he said: “Without access to Secretary Clinton’s personal server, there is no way for the State Department to know it has acquired all documents that should be made public, and given State’s delay in disclosing the fact Secretary Clinton exclusively used personal email to conduct State business, there is no way to accept State’s or Secretary Clinton’s certification she has turned over all documents that rightfully belong to the American people.” 

Despite Clinton’s statement, Gowdy said he sees “no choice” but for Clinton to “turn her server over to a neutral, detached third-party arbiter who can determine which documents.” 

He said the committee plans to call her to appear “at least twice,” first to clear up questions about her personal email use and again to answer questions about Benghazi.

Clinton spoke after facing mounting calls, from both sides of the aisle, to publicly address the controversy.

Until now, the only public response Clinton had was to send out a late-night tweet last week saying she’s asked the State Department to make public her emails. In the absence of any other Clinton response, the White House had been left to defend her email practices, reportedly creating tension between the Obama administration and her camp.

Senior Democrats in recent days urged her to speak up.

“Step up and come out and state exactly what the situation is,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told NBC on Sunday. “She is the leading candidate, whether it be Republican or Democrat, for the next president. … From this point on, the silence is going to hurt her.” 

The controversy indeed has hung over her expected entry into the 2016 presidential race, though her representatives insist she cooperated with the State Department and handed over thousands of emails when she was asked.

Earlier Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said they are reviewing the emails Clinton turned over, and plan to post them on a “publicly available website.” 

She said the review will likely take “several months.” 

Before addressing the email matter on Tuesday, Clinton began her statement by weighing in on a recent open letter written by Republican senators to Iran’s leaders on the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran. That letter challenged President Obama’s ability to strike a lasting deal without congressional approval. Clinton, joining other Democrats, called that letter “out of step with the best traditions of American leadership.” 

The first question she took on the emails, from a Turkish correspondent and official of the U.N. Correspondents Association, was about whether she thinks she would have faced such a controversy if she were a man. She did not address that directly.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/03/10/sources-clinton-to-address-email-controversy-in-next-few-days/

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EPA Scrambles To Finish ‘Global Warming’ Regulations Before Obama Leaves Office

Gina McCarthy YouTube screenshot/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

EPA Chief Administrator Gina McCarthy claims she is “busier than [she’s] ever been” as the agency rushes to finish major carbon dioxide regulations on power plants before President Obama leaves office.

“One of the main focuses of the White House right now is to make sure that the administration is coordinated, so that the entire breadth of the climate action plan can be basically realized before the president leaves office,” McCarthy told the Hill in an interview published Thursday.

With only 22 months left in Obama’s second term and the departure of climate adviser John Podesta, McCarthy has been meeting with the president more than ever in a rush to finalize the administration’s legacy: the first-ever carbon dioxide regulations on power plants.

As part of Obama’s “Climate Action Plan,” the EPA proposed two new regulations capping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The first, proposed in fall 2013, is a de facto mandate that new coal-fired power plants install carbon capture technology to meet new emissions standards.

The second regulation, and most contentious, was announced summer 2014. The rule, also called the “Clean Power Plan” of 111-D, forces states to cut carbon emissions from power plants 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Both power plant regulations have sustained legal challenges from states and the coal industry. With such heavy resistance from conservatives, both regulations need to be finalized before Obama leaves office, or else their fates will be in the hands of a future administration — possibly a Republican one.

“We certainly have enough information to know what the big issues are that we need to tackle so I have been meeting at least once a week every week with the team of people in the agency that are working on 111-D,” McCarthy said.

“For a rule like this there is no way that we are not going to be challenged,” McCarthy added. “We think we have appropriately used 111-D for this sector and that the rule will be not just be legally defensive, it’s going to be solid.”

In fact, the EPA is so keen on quickly pushing out its climate rules they may be reconsidering a key plank of the rule for new power plants: the de facto carbon capture mandate.

InsideEPA reports that the agency “is analyzing scenarios that would drop its contentious carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) mandate for new coal-fired power plants … amid growing agency concern that the rule is legally vulnerable.”

The EPA’s rule for new coal plants set carbon dioxide emissions limits at 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour — a standard that can only be met by installing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

The only problem with CCS: it’s not been proven to work well on a commercial scale. The only cases where CCS has been used are at small-scale government-funded projects.

Federal law prohibits the EPA from mandating technology that is subsidized by the government, a fact which Republicans were quick to point out. Republicans have also threatened to use the Congressional Review Act to derail the EPA’s carbon dioxide regulations.

“We’re gonna be able to use the CRA,” said Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe.

“If you talk to people in the real world they’ll tell you that EPA regulations are so onerous they can’t be competitive,” he added. “President Obama is trying to do the things he couldn’t do through legislation through regulation.”

The EPA’s proposed rule for new coal plants only cited government-backed CCS projects as proof the technology is ready for prime time. Unfortunately for the agency, those examples aren’t very good ones.

One CCS project cited by EPA got its federal funding pulled in February. FutureGen 2.0 got $1.1 billion from the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus package, but persistent problems forced the government to pull the plug earlier this year.

“In order to best protect taxpayer interests, the Department of Energy has initiated a structured closeout of federal support for the project that will help maximize the value of investments to date while minimizing ongoing risks and further costs,” said Energy Department spokesman Bill Gibbons.

Another CCS project EPA touted was the Kemper plant, which got $270 million from the Energy Department and another $133 million in investment tax credits from the IRS. This project too has run into problems, including delays and huge cost overruns. Kemper was initially projected to cost $2.4 billion, but is now estimated to cost $5.6 billion.

EPA has tried to refocus its CCS efforts by highlighting the Boundary Dam CCS plant in Canada — a project that was backed by the Canadian government. The project went online last year.

But SaskPower also ran into problems of cost overruns and delays. It was also a government-backed project, which means it still likely violates federal law.

Source: http://dailycaller.com/2015/03/06/epa-rushes-to-finish-global-warming-regulations-before-obama-leaves-office/

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The Sentinel of Liberty……The Obama Administrations Disrespect of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

old north church

                                    The Voice of Freedom and Warning
 The Obama Administrations Disrespect of Prim Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Today March 3rd 2015 is a day that Liberals in America showed their true colors by boycotting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress. Israel is Americas best and most trusted Allie in the Middle East and should have been treated to the respect the leader of an Allied country should be treated with. Starting with the President and Vice President and including his entire Cabinet and a long list of Democrats in both the Senate and House of Representatives. It was a shameful act of disrespect and it was intentional.

The hatred shown towards both Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by President Obama is well known and documented and started the day Obama took office. Obama instigated the boycott because he was upset the Republican Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu without consulting first with Obama. Rep. Boehner was well within his Constitutional rights to invite anyone he sees fit to invite without consulting the President but Obama’s feelings were hurt because he was bypassed. Obama was bypassed because Rep. Boehner knew ahead of time that Obama would try to stop him. The fact that Obama himself ordered the boycott is yet another slap in the face to not only to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but to Israel itself. Obama’s hatred has led him to order his rich supporters to actively fund the Prime Ministers opponent in the upcoming Israeli election.

Obama has no time to meet with a trusted Allie like Israel but he has more than enough time to meet with Terrorist Leaders from around the world with the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood gaining favored access to the President. The Iranian Nuclear Weapons ambitions that the world has been slow to control is a direct and imminent threat not only to Israel but to the entire world including the United States and Obama is overlooking that threat just so he can broker a deal with Iran to cease research and development of such Weapons of Mass Destruction. The entire world knows that Iran will not honor any agreement made and will continue its quest for nuclear weapons unabated by any agreement it may sign. The other Arab Middle East countries have already stated that if Iran is allowed to develop a nuclear weapons arsenal it will spark a Middle East arms race. Many of these countries have enough national wealth to just buy weapons on the open market and such countries as North Korea, China and Pakistan are more than willing to sell them to them.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was full of warnings against any agreement that doesn’t spell out clearly that Iran will be prevented at any cost from developing and such nuclear weapon systems. Obama will do anything to push his ineffective agreement through so his precious Legacy will show he managed to get an agreement even if it proves to be a bad one. Below is a list of those who boycotted the Prime Ministers address to Congress.
President of the United States Barack Obama
Vice President of the United States Joe Biden
Secretary of State John Kerry
Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter
Attorney General Eric Holder
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker
Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez
Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro
Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx
Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz
Secretary of Education Aene Duncan
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson
SENATE
Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.)
Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.)
Sen. Brian Schatz (D., Hawaii)
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.)
HOUSE
Rep. Karen Bass (D., Calif.)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D., Ore.)
Rep. Corrine Brown (D., Fla.)
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.)
Rep. Lois Capps (D., Calif.)
Rep. Andre Carson (D., Ind.)
Rep. Katherine Clark (D., Mass.)
Rep. Lacy Clay (D., Mo.)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D., Mo.)
Rep. James Clyburn (D., S.C.)
Rep. Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.)
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D., N.J.)
Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.)
Rep. Danny Davis (D., Ill.)
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.)
Rep. Diana DeGette (D., Colo.)
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D., Texas)
Rep. Donna Edwards (D., Md.)
Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.)
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.)
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D., Ohio)
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D., Ariz.)
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D., Ill.)
Rep. Denny Heck (D., Wash.)
Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D., Texas)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D., Texas)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Ohio)
Rep. Rick Larsen (D., Wash.)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D., Calif.)
Rep. John Lewis (D., Ga.)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D., Calif.)
Rep. Betty McCollum (D., Minn.):
Rep. Jim McDermott (D., Wash.)
Reps. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (D., Calif.)
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.)
Rep. Gwen Moore (D., Wis.)
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D., D.C.)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D., Texas)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D., Maine)
Rep. David Price (D., N.C.)
Rep. Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.)
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D., La.)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.)
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.)
Rep. Mike Thompson (D., Calif.)
Rep. John Yarmuth (D., Ky.)

 
Watch for the next Sentinel Alert coming soon.
TopShot

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WaPo: Four Pinnocchios for Obama on Keystone Spin

In case you’d forgotten — perhaps thanks to this fiasco sucking up political oxygen last week — President Obama has taken the dramatic, out-of-the-mainstream step of vetoing Congress’ overwhelming and bipartisan approval of the Keystone Pipeline.  All told, 332 members of Congress voted to green light the job-creating infrastructure project, including dozens of Democrats.  Keystone has the strong backing of our Canadian allies, would help North American energy production, has passed environmental and legal muster over years of study, and would cost taxpayers nothing.  Approving the pipeline merely involves getting government out of the way, and letting the private sector take things from there.  It’s a political and policy no-brainer, which is why it consistently attracts lopsided support from the American people in public polling. But the president has an extreme agenda to protect, and self-interested “green” billionaire donors and special interests to reward.  So he wielded his veto pen, laughably citing separation of powers concerns as a pretext to nix the plan.  This from a man who’s unilaterally rewriting immigration laws without Congressional input, and who’s apparently eyeing similar power grabs in order to raise taxes on his own.  In an effort to justify his extreme veto, Obama is relying on dishonest arguments, eliciting a ‘Four Pinocchios‘ ruling from the Washington Post’s fact-checker:

President Obama, seeking to explain his veto of a bill that would have leapfrogged the approval process for the Keystone XL pipeline, in an interview with a North Dakota station repeated some false claims that had previously earned him Pinocchios. Yet he managed to make his statement even more misleading than before, suggesting the pipeline would have no benefit for American producers at all…The president’s latest remarks pushes this assertion into the Four Pinocchios column. If he disagrees with the State Department’s findings, he should begin to make the case why it is wrong, rather than assert the opposite, without any factual basis. Moreover, by telling North Dakota listeners that the pipeline has no benefit for Americans, he is again being misleading, given that producers in the region have signed contracts to transport some of their production through the pipeline.

The Post notes that Keystone pipeline absolutely would benefit American producers and consumers, despite the president’s factually inaccurate insistence that it “bypasses” the US completely.  The fact-checker quotes an independent study, which happens to be reinforced by the Obama State Department’s own findings on the matter.  Obama “appears to be purposely ignoring the findings of the lead Cabinet agency on the issue,” the piece concludes.  That’s because the evidence — the “science” — doesn’t comport with Obama’s political agenda, so he’s simply ignoring it, and celebrating his intentional ignorance in public pronouncements.  USA Today’s editorial board is joining many others in urging Congress to override the president’s veto:

Obama has sent conflicting signals about whether he’ll ultimately approve or reject Keystone. Last November, he gave pipeline critics hope by buying into the argument that the oil Keystone would deliver to U.S. refineries will simply be exported, rather than be used domestically. Politifact.com rated that claim “mostly false,” and The Washington Post’s Fact Checker gave it three out of four Pinocchios for inaccuracy, noting that the best evidence is that “at least half” the oil would remain here. Congress ought to end this drama by overriding Obama’s veto, just the third of his presidency and his first since 2010. If the votes can’t be mustered on Capitol Hill, the president has more than enough information to bring down the curtain. It is long past time to just say yes.

Saying “yes” to a privately-funded, job-creating, environmentally-sound infrastructure project shouldn’t be difficult for a president who pays much lip service to “getting things done,” and demanding “bipartisanship.”  But it’s a problem for Obama because he’s a hardened ideologue.  His pragmatism persona is, and has always been, a fraud.  Incidentally, you may have noticed that the above USA Today house editorial mentions WaPo’s previous ‘Three Pinocchios’ assessment, which has since been upped due to bonus presidential mendacity.  The Post also points out that Obama sneers at the several hundred permanent jobs Keystone would create, effectively dismissing tens of thousands of construction jobs as a non-factor in the cost/benefit analysis.  Most Americans don’t believe our leaders are in aposition to turn up their noses at any jobs in the midst of a tepid and frustrating economic recovery.  Senate Democrats, for their part, are bizarrely planning to filibuster Mitch McConnell’s effort to proceed to a veto-override vote. Superseding the president’s veto requires 67 votes — seven more than the filibuster threshold. Why launch a doomed filibuster against something that will almost certainly fail anyway?  Perhaps because Reid and company have quickly become the very nihilistic obstructionists they’ve so often accused Republicans of being in recent years.  Proponents of the Keystone Pipeline appear to be four votes shy of overcoming Obama’s veto in the US Senate.  I’ll leave you with Majority Leader McConnell marveling at the idiocy of Reid’s redundant, pointless filibuster plot:

Source: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2015/03/02/wapo-four-pinnocchios-for-obama-on-keystone-n1964472
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U.S. and Israel: The Manufactured Crisis

Barack Obama and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Editors Note: The hatred of Netanyahu and Israel by Obama and his administration has been obvious from the start to even the most ardent backer of Obama. Obama openly favors the Arab nations over Israel and has done his best to hinder Israel in its defense of its homeland. Israel is openly threatened by Iran and has stated on the record its wish to destroy Israel and all of its people. Iran’s nuclear ambitions are a major concern to Israel and to the other Arab nations in the Middle East. Obama is so eager to get some kind of deal he can claim he is willing to sell out Israel to achieve a short term deal that Iran will immediately break and then suggest further negotiations as a way to continue its nuclear weapons program. Obama cares not that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon that it will start a nuclear arms race and unlike the arms race between the former USSR and America that was held in check but the effects of MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) that prevented WW3 Iran upon getting a viable nuclear weapons program would immediately not only threaten Israel and every Middle East Nation but would also threaten America and the rest of the world. Obama has only his own personal interests in mind and his all important Legacy and his failed Foreign Policies have proven that. Congress needs to assert itself and not allow any deal to be signed between America and Iran without the approval of the entire Congress. A bad deal endangers the entire population of the earth and this failed President has to be stopped. [TS]

The crisis between the United States and Israel has been manufactured by the Obama administration. Building a crisis up or down is well within the administration’s power, and it has chosen to build it up. Why? Three reasons: to damage and defeat Netanyahu (whom Obama has always disliked simply because he is on the right while Obama is on the left) in his election campaign, to prevent Israel from affecting the Iran policy debate in the United States, and worst of all to diminish Israel’s popularity in the United States and especially among Democrats.

Barack Obama and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Suppose for a moment that the Netanyahu speech before Congress is a mistake, a breach of protocol, a campaign maneuver, indeed all the bad things the White House is calling it. Grant all of that for a moment for the sake of argument and the behavior of the Obama administration is still inexplicable. Clearly more is behind its conduct than mere pique over the speech.

First comes the personal relationship and the desire to see Netanyahu lose the election. Recall that Obama became president before Netanyahu became prime minister, and it is obvious that the dislike was both personal and political before Netanyahu had done anything. Obama does not like people on the right, period—Americans, Israelis, Australians, you name it. Obama also decided immediately on taking office to pick a fight with Israel and make construction in settlements and in Jerusalem the central issue in U.S.-Israeli relations. Remember that he appointed George Mitchell as his special negotiator one day after assuming the presidency, and Mitchell was the father of the demand that construction—including even construction to accommodate what Mitchell called “natural growth” of families in settlement populations—be stopped dead. A confrontation was inevitable, and was desired by the White House.

Obama has overplayed his hand, in the sense that in poll after poll Israelis say that they do not support his Middle East policies. Historically, an Israeli prime minister loses domestic support when he cannot manage relations with Washington. This year may be the exception, the time when Israelis want a prime minister to oppose U.S. policies they view as dangerous. They may also believe that the Obama administration is simply so hostile that no prime minister could avoid confrontations.

I well remember how we in the Bush White House handled the poor personal relations between the president and French president Jacques Chirac. In 2004-2005 especially, the two men did not get along (arguing mostly about Iraq and just plain disliking each other as well) but we wanted to prevent their poor personal chemistry from damaging bilateral relations. So National Security Advisor Condi Rice in 2004, and then her successor Steve Hadley in 2005, set up a work-around. The French National Security Advisor Maurice Gourdault-Montagne traveled to Washington almost every month and came to the White House. There the French ambassador to the U.S., Jean-David Levitte, joined him for meetings with key NSC, DOD, and State Department officials. In 2005, Secretary of State Rice would come over from State to join Hadley and several of us on the NSC staff, and in the course of a half-day we would review every issue facing the United States and France. It was a serious time commitment for the American and French officials, but that is because we were determined to quarantine bad personal chemistry and prevent it from infecting the entire relationship—a goal set by President Bush himself.

Quite obviously, President Obama has no such goal. Israeli officials have complained to me for several years about the lack of contacts and communications with the White House. Susan Rice has determined that her job is to make bilateral relations worse, and has established no relationship with her Israeli counterpart Yossi Cohen. So the problem is not just bad chemistry at the top; it is an administration that has decided to create a tense and negative relationship from the top down.

One reason, as noted, is the hope that tension with America can lead to Netanyahu’s defeat in the March 17 election.  The second reason is Iran policy. The administration is desperately seeking a deal with Iran on terms that until recently were unacceptable to a broad swath of Democrats as well as Republicans. One after another, American demands or “red lines” have been abandoned. Clearly the administration worries that Israeli (not just Netanyahu, but Israeli) criticisms of the possible Iran nuclear deal might begin to reverberate. So it has adopted the tactic of personalizing the Israeli critique. Arguments that are shared across the Israeli political spectrum—that the likely Iran deal says nothing about Iranian ballistic missile development, says nothing about Iranian warhead development, does not require that Iran meet IAEA demands that it account for past warhead work, allows Iran thousands of centrifuges, will allow Iran to escape all monitoring and limitations after perhaps ten years—are attributed solely to Netanyahu and his election campaign. So Democrats are told they must oppose such arguments, and stiff Netanyahu, lest they contribute to his reelection. Clever, in a way, but of course completely misleading. And irresponsible when it comes to the deadly issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The third Obama administration reason for building up this crisis is also deadly serious: it is to use the current tension to harm Israel’s support in the United States permanently. All opinion polls in the last several years show a partisan edge in support: overall support for Israel is steady and high, but its composition is changing. More and more Republicans support Israel, and the gap between Democratic and Republican support levels is growing. President Obama acts as if he sees this as a terrific development, one that should be enlarged as much as possible before he leaves office. That way he would leave behind not just an Iran deal, but weakened support for Israel on Iran and everything else.  Support for Israel would become less of a bipartisan matter and more a divisive issue between the two parties. It is not hard to envision Obama in retirement joining Jimmy Carter as a frequent critic of Israel, pushing the Democratic party to move away from its decades of very strong support for the Jewish state.

Perhaps this manufactured crisis will diminish after Netanyahu’s speech, where he is likely to say things that many Democrats still agree with. Perhaps it will diminish if Iran rejects any deal, even on the terms the Obama administration is offering. Perhaps Netanyahu will lose his election and a new Labor Party-led government will appear in Jerusalem. But more likely, the remaining 23 months of the Obama administration will be months of continuing tension between Israel and the United States. That is because the administration desires that tension and views it as productive. The problem is not Netanyahu’s speech, which right or wrong to deliver should be a minor and passing factor in bilateral relations. The real issues are deeper and far more serious. This president has fostered a crisis in relations because it advances his own political and policy goals. That is what his subordinates and many Democrats in Congress are trying very hard, and with real success, to obfuscate.

Source: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/us-and-israel-manufactured-crisis_867037.html?page=1

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Another Federal Judge Strikes Down An Obama Executive Action On Immigration

Editors Note: Once again the Obama administration has been found to have overstepped its legal authority. Obama has no respect for the law or the Constitution when issuing what most legal scholars illegal executive orders. Now if Congress will show a bit of intestinal fortitude and take back their Constitutional authority and do the job that the voters elected them to these illegal actions by Obama and his administration will come to an end. [TS]

A federal judge appointed by President Obama issued a preliminary injunction last week ending a key 2014 immigration executive action that helped end a wave of illegal immigration from Central Americans countries last summer.

“At the heart of Plaintiffs’ suit is their assertion that [the Department of Homeland Security] has adopted an unlawful detention policy aimed at deterring mass migration,” United States District Court for the District of Columbia Judge James Boasberg wrote in his opinion. “Defendants have presented little empirical evidence,” Boasberg continued, “that their detention policy achieves its only desired effect – i.e. that it actually deters potential immigrants from Central America.”

DHS implemented the executive action challenged by plaintiffs in June 2014 to detain migrants coming from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador who claimed a “credible fear” of persecution and sought asylum in the United States.

Previously, DHS had just released any migrant who claimed asylum into the U.S., but DHS determined that this policy was creating an “active migration network” that was encouraging more migrants to come to the United States.

To break this network, DHS began detaining migrants in federal facilities throughout the United States, including the Kansas County Residential Facility in Texas where all ten named plaintiffs in the suit were held.

DHS tried to argue that the lawsuit should have been moot since all ten named plaintiffs have since been released, but the judge found that since they were suing as a class, they still had standing.

Federal statute explicitly authorizes DHS to detain asylum seekers for any reason, and Judge Boasberg even admits that, “the statute contains no limitation on the Executive’s discretion to detain, nor does it enumerate the factors that may be considered.”

Nevertheless, Judge Boasberg held that the statute should be rewritten to read that DHS only has the authority to detain aliens for “a period reasonably necessary to bring about that alien’s removal from the United States.” At no point does Judge Boasberg then say how long it would be “reasonably necessary” for the DHS to hold migrants seeking asylum under the statute.

“The court held that it was illegal to detain families based on deterrence. It made clear that the government cannot deprive individuals of their liberty merely to send a message to others,” American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project director Judy Rabinovitz said in a statement.

Asked at the White House press briefing Tuesday if the Obama administration will seek an emergency stay of Judge Boasberg’s injunction, like they did for the injunction on Obama’s Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest referred reporters to the Department of Justice.

The Department of Justice has not yet commented on whether or not they will seek a stay.

Source: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/conncarroll/2015/02/25/another-federal-judge-strikes-down-another-obama-executive-action-on-immigration-n1962110

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Ambassador John Bolton: ‘Obama Worse Than Neville Chamberlain’

AP Photo/Dennis Cook

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate John Bolton revealed on Breitbart News Saturday the launch of The Foundation for American Security and Freedom (FASF).

Bolton, a leading voice in advancing public debate on U.S. foreign and national security policies, believes his new organization “will provide the necessary platform, resources, and leadership to demonstrate to the world that we will recognize American exceptionalism not only in rhetoric, but also in deeds.”

The Yale Law School graduate appeared on the show airing on Sirius XM Patriot Radio, channel 125, hosted by Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow and Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon. The not-for-profit 501(c)(4) organization, explained Bolton, “is intended to educate the public on the significance of the national security threats that we face around the world.”

The staunchly pro-American diplomat explained that the FASF was designed to help America avoid the mistake of electing a president who doesn’t care that much about America’s national security, as it did when electing Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Bolton characterized Obama as a subscriber to the notion that “America’s strength and success in the world is part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

Bolton also heads up the John Bolton PAC and Bolton SuperPACs, which Bannon referred to as “enormously successful in the 2014 election in actually getting national security into that entire debate.” According to a release from the foundation on Thursday, the PACs raised a combined amount of $7.5 million and made contributions of almost $500,000 to Republican candidates who are strong on national security policies.

The foundation’s goals are more educationally oriented than the usual role of PACs, explained the former Ambassador. Americans are not going to get real information or analysis about the attacks in Paris, about Islamic terrorism, the beheading of Christians by ISIS, etc. from the administration or the media. The FASF will shed light and bring to the surface these kinds of issues, he explained.

Ambassador Bolton aims to make National Security issues one of the top two or three issues in the upcoming 2016 election. He strongly believes that Barack Obama has done his best to marginalize the discussion, and the Foundation’s mission will be to elevate it. “Getting people ready for the 2016 debate is a critical function,” he maintains.

Bolton agreed with Marlow, who suggested that it is “surreal” and a “bit of a regression… that we have to actually make a case to the American people that it is beneficial that we have a strong America.”

Bolton attributes this development in “substantial part to President Obama.” He noted that unlike president’s dating all the way back to FDR after Pearl Harbor, “Obama doesn’t wake up in the morning with his very first thoughts thinking ‘What threats does America face in the world today?’” Bolton asserts that “he doesn’t believe that American strength in the world is beneficial to protecting our way of life here at home. He really is an isolationist.”

Blame can also be cast on the Republicans, he explained, for not doing their job as the opposition. Republicans failed to explain to citizens that “not talking about foreign threats and challenges” doesn’t make it easier to resolve the problems abroad; it makes it more difficult.

The ambassador predicts a series of threats to the United States over the next couple years. Because America’s enemies know that Obama is going to be in office only two more years and his successor may prove to be more formidable, “this is the time to do it,” he argues.

A run in 2016, to correct the Obama mistakes on national security and reopen the debate on these issues, may be in the cards for the former ambassador. He and Bannon agreed that the American people, unlike the way they are often portrayed, crave the discussion and care deeply about foreign policy issues.

Obama’s snuggling up to Iran, whom Bolton refers to as the “main banker” for thirty five years of both Shia and Sunni terrorist attacks, may lead to a nuclear armed Iran and destabilize the Middle-East. Moreover, Bolton would not put it past the Iranians to shuffle one of the nukes off to a terrorist group to sail into an American harbor.

Bolton added that he doesn’t blame Prime Minister of Israel Bibi Netanyahu in coming over to speak with Congress and circumventing the president next week, because “Israel faces a legitimately-labeled existential threat,” he said. Bolton described Obama’s behavior of objecting to the meeting as that of a “petulant high school student.”

Marlow pointed out that in an AP article on Friday night, Obama astonishingly boasted that a nuclear deal with Iran will be his signature accomplishment for the next two years. Bolton responded that this “puts Obama in a category worse than Neville Chamberlain.” He asserted that at least Chamberlain didn’t consider his appeasement of Germany in the lead up to WW II a stabilizing factor. Rather, the British Prime Minister hoped that it would satiate Hitler’s thirst for conquest. Obama’s belief, on the other hand, that allowing Iran to be a nuclear world leader will help stabilize the Middle-East is “ludicrous,” Bolton said.

Source: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/02/21/ambassador-john-bolton-obama-worse-than-neville-chamberlain/

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ISIS’ army of 7-footers? Experts say video of Copt beheadings manipulated

Video of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians being marched along a Libyan beach before being beheaded by black-clad members of ISIS is hard for any civilized person to watch, but experts who made it through the sickening, five-minute clip told FoxNews.com Friday they came to the same conclusion: The footage was faked.

No one holds out hope the victims, mostly poor fishermen who had gone to Libya to scratch out a living, are still alive. But several anomalies in the video, which was posted online Feb. 15, indicated to trained eyes that at least some of the production was done on “green screen” with background added later, perhaps to disguise the real location of the atrocity. A day after the clip went viral, Egyptian warplanes struck hard at an eastern port city near Tripoli, where the video appeared to have been shot.

“The Islamic State’s manipulation of their high-production videos has become commonplace,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Florida-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. The murders likely took place in a studio, and the background image shown was likely from another location, the Bay in Sirte, a part of the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Libya, according to Khan. There are several technical mistakes in the video that show it was manipulated, she said.

“The shot that seems really tampered with is the one with the really tall Jihadists and the dwarf Christians.”- Mary Lambert, horror film director

The most obvious, Khan said, is the speaker, “Jihad Joseph” is much larger than the sea in both the close up and wide shots, and his head is bizarrely out of proportion, meaning he was filmed indoors and the sea added behind him, Khan said. In addition, the jihadists featured in the film look to be more than 7 feet tall, towering as much as two feet above their victims.

The perspective is something several Saudi Arabians noted in their tweets about the video, questioning whether the jihadists were a part of some sort of special forces unit since they were so large.

Hollywood horror film director Mary Lambert, who among her many film credits directed Pet Cemetery, analyzed the film for FoxNews.com and quickly concluded Khan was correct.

“The shot that seems really tampered with is the one with the really tall Jihadists and the dwarf Christians,” said Lambert, also a professor at New York University’s vaunted film school. “The close-ups of Jihadists on the beach are most likely green screen.”

Other technical giveaways: The sound of the ocean is likely a well-known audio track. Even more bizarre, the stream of blood in the ocean at the end of the video, and during the beheading of the final victim, is most likely not real. TRAC’s forensic analyst said turning the sea red is the “cheapest and easiest post-production tool” and “can even be achieved with a cell phone.” But doing it in the manner portrayed in the video is actually impossible, Khan said.

The sea turning red is obviously “FX”, Lambert agreed, with special computer effects used.

“I think that in the opening shot all the figures might be animated. They never had more than six men on the beach,” Lambert said.

The directors of the video used animation and “rotoscoping” to use the six figures like a rubber stamp in the marching sequence and also in the kneeling sequence, Lambert said.

Rotoscoping is a visual effect where the image is manually removed from a background in a live action video, and then composited on a different background, usually with green screens and chroma key.

“The weird jump-cut editing in the opening is a way to conceal this,” Lambert said.

There are shots that pan the prisoners on the beach and tilt down to the kneeling that look real to Lambert, although she added they “might have been enhanced in some way.”

The most amateur mistake, according to Khan’s forensic analyst, is getting the perspective along the shoreline all wrong.

“What is supposed to be the seashore is, in reality, a bay as determined by the tide, rocks, and wave action. Looking at the two big sets of footprints in the sand shown at a 90- degree angle, neither set of footprints can be the hostages or the hostage takers. Had this been a seaside shot, the sand would have been much softer and the victims’ footprints would have sunk much deeper into the sand,” the forensic analyst reports.

Another mistake was made during the beheading of the final victim, Khan said.

“Not only did it lack the correct blood pulsation for decapitation, but seems to have had the blood ‘faked’ with cornstarch,” Khan said.

As human blood oxygenates, it darkens, Khan said, adding because this blood did not, it exposes the possibility that the beheadings were not done at the same time, despite ISIS’s claims.

Why all the bizarre video manipulation?

“Islamic State has been revolutionary in using the green screen technique, most likely to limit exposure to drones [and] satellite [locating of] their operations,” Khan said. “The producer probably required that only the cameraman and his assistant be present for the outdoor frames. Later, in post production, the editors dropped in the executions.”

The Islamic State is notorious for its high-quality productions of horrific murders such as children learning to behead victims, suspected gays being thrown from buildings and the burning alive of Jordanian air force pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh, but this video was produced by a much less talented ISIS crew, Khan said.

FoxNews.com provided TRAC’s analysis to the CIA, where a spokesperson said the matter was under review. The agency is among the intelligence bureaus already pouring over the footage to determine the identity of “Jihad Joseph,” who leads the mass beheading depicted on the video and who some have speculated may be an American.

Egyptian government officials did not respond to requests for comment, but Edward Yeranian, an Egypt-based radio correspondent for Voice of America and other news agencies, said Egyptian analysts are also openly skeptical about the video’s authenticity.

“Even the number of people beheaded is still in dispute,” Yeranian said.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/02/20/isis-army-7-footers-experts-say-video-copt-beheadings-manipulated/

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State Department spokeswoman: Call for using jobs to combat terror ‘too nuanced’ for critics

Editors Note: Another Obama administration progressive who thinks the American people are to stupid to understand the grand plan of things. Harf’s statement is reminiscent of Obamacare architect Johnathan Gruber’s statements that Americans were to stupid to understand Obamacare. Both are following the lead of their arrogant leader President Obama who also thinks Americans are to simple minded to understand the big picture of things he thinks is best for a citizenry to uneducated to know what is good for them. The typical liberal progressive mantra of not placing blame on the perpetrator but making excuses and offering them jobs to satisfy their grievances. The refuse to use the word Muslim when talking about terrorists and go out of their way not to offend them. Obama has one pressing issue on his immediate adgenda and that is a deal with Iran over their pursuit of nuclear weapons. He is willing to agree to any terms so he can say it was under his leadership a deal was brokered irregardless of the future consequences. Harf is just another example of the wrong people in a job they do not understand that has world consequences when things go wrong. While ISIS is running amok slaughtering innocent people the White House preferred method of controlling them is on Twitter and using hashtags. [TS]

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, after coming under fire for suggesting a way to fight the Islamic State and all terrorism is by creating jobs, has an answer for her critics: Her argument is just “too nuanced” for them to understand.

Harf, in TV interviews Tuesday night, stood by her original remarks and said she was speaking about a comprehensive approach to combating “extremism.”

Harf said that means airstrikes in the short-term, and going after “root causes” like poor economic conditions in the long-term.

“Longer term, we cannot kill every terrorist around the world, nor should we try,” Harf said on CNN. “How do you get at the root causes of this? Look, it might be too nuanced an argument for some, like I’ve seen over the past 24 hours some of the commentary out there, but it’s really the smart way that Democrats, Republicans, military commanders, our partners in the Arab world think we need to combat this.” 

Harf went on to say the approach doesn’t fit “into a sound bite,” when asked to respond to the intense criticism, on social media and elsewhere, of her original remarks.

On Tuesday, Rob O’Neill, former Navy SEAL Team 6 member, told Fox News a “military strategy” is what’s needed to fight ISIS.

“They get paid to cut off heads — to crucify children, to sell slaves and to cut off heads and I don’t think that a change in career path is what’s going to stop them,” he said.

O’Neill, who claims to have fired the shot that killed Usama bin Laden, warned that the problem is spreading.

“We can’t let it happen,” he said. “It’ll go to Saudi Arabia, it’ll hit Jordan.” 

Harf first pointed to jobs as a counter-ISIS strategy during an interview Monday night on MSNBC — after ISIS-aligned militants slaughtered 21 Coptic Christians in Libya.

“We’re killing a lot of them, and we’re going to keep killing more of them. … But we cannot win this war by killing them,” Harf said on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” “We need … to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs, whether –” 

At that point, Harf was interrupted by host Chris Matthews, who pointed out, “There’s always going to be poor people. There’s always going to be poor Muslims.” 

Harf continued to argue that the U.S. should work with other countries to “help improve their governance” and “help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people.” 

She said: “If we can help countries work at the root causes of this — what makes these 17-year-old kids pick up an AK-47 instead of trying to start a business?” 

Harf stood by the remarks Tuesday night on CNN, and on MSNBC. CNN host Wolf Blitzer challenged her statements, asking if she thinks these young men might not turn to terror if they just had a job.

Harf called that a “gross oversimplification.” 

Blitzer pointed out that some of the world’s most notorious terrorists, including bin Laden, came from wealth and privilege.

Harf acknowledged that point. On Twitter, she also defended herself by quoting other leaders, including former President George W. Bush, who has pointed to the need to fight poverty as a way to fight terrorism.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/02/18/state-department-spokeswoman-call-for-using-jobs-to-combat-terror-too-nuanced/

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The Cost to America of an AWOL President

Buzzfeed
Editors Note: Not only is Obama AWOL but he is also dangerous with his constant Foreign Policy screw ups that has left the Middle East in total chaos. At a time when strong American leadership is needed w have a President to is more interested in Climate Change and Selfies. Europe is being over run with terrorist attacks and the President of the United States is to busy to stand in defiance with European Leaders in a march of protest. His close associations with Terrorist Groups have emboldened them to a point they are not afraid of American intervention. Will Congress and the American people need a Charlie Hebdo incident here in America before they finally restrain the antics of the Court Jester or will they continue to allow this Community Organizer to bring the world into WW3. 2016 will be here sooner than you know and it will be up to the American people which direction America will proceed. Elect another Liberal Democrat to the White House and turn the Congress back to the Democrats and America as we have know it will cease to exist. Elections have consequences as proven by the election of Obama, America can not withstand another Democratically controlled government and survive. [TS]
In the recently released, but largely unheralded, National Security Strategy of the United States, the new buzz-word was “strategic patience.” As our unarmed Marines hastily departed Yemen, and ISIS closed in on their fellow devil-dogs in Iraq, the President was more than showing patience: he was making video about taking selfies.
The new National Security Strategy of the United States, which was a year late and strangely dropped on a Friday – a technique usually reserved for documents the administration doesn’t want to be read – opens with a a letter from President Obama. In it, he states that his answer to the threats and challenges that face the nation is “strategic patience.” Instead of tackling the dangers of the word proactively and head-on, America will play a waiting game. This fits neatly into previous approaches from the White House that have emphasized “leading from behind.” Given the geopolitical realties of today’s world, American voters should draw their own report card of what a reactive and “patient” approach has brought the Republic in the last six years:
  • The Global Jihadist Movement: Not only is Al Qaeda not on the ropes, but ISIS /The Islamic State has overtaken it as a fully-fledged insurgency which is so powerful that latest reports have it attacking the base in Iraq where US Marines are deployed to assist the Iraqi army in standing itself back up after being routed last Summer. As media attention focuses again on the Middle East, especially after the gruesome immolation of Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, the Jihadist movement grows ever stronger in Africa, with Boko Haram killing thousands and enslaving hundreds of Christian girls. Back home, we have the unprecedented statement by the director of the FBI that the Bureau is investigating ISIS activity in 49 states of the union. (Every state except Sarah Palin’s Alaska).
  • On the Shia side of this global war, we see that not only is Iran very deftly outmaneuvering the administration when it comes to its nuclear program, its proxies are gaining ground in South Asia and the Middle East, most especially in Yemen, where the Houthis have captured the capital. This despite the fact that Yemen was lauded last year by the President as one of the true success stories of his counterterrorism strategy.
  • The most populous and important Arab Muslim state, Egypt, has not responded well to “strategic patience” – or rather, strategic neglect and rejection of the White House. When the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammad Morsi was deposed by General Sisi, Cairo became the black sheep of the region as far as the administration is considered. This despite the fact that now-president Sisi is the only Muslim leader since 9/11 to openly call for a “religious revolution” in Islam aimed against the violent jihadists that threaten his nation as much as ours.
  • With the “pivot to Asia” declared by then-Secretary Clinton resulting in nominal, if any actual, redirection of our attention to the region, China has proceeded to build up its military and use it to intimidate its neighbors and lay claim to new territories in ways that could very easily lead to a shooting war in the region.
  • And in Europe, Vladimir Putin has managed to break a 60-plus year international taboo by using force to redraw borders and annex the territory of a neighboring state. Clearly, the former KGB colonel believes in being a pro-active leader.
This is just a short version of a disturbing list that could be made much longer. The empirical truth on the ground is that we have enemies at home and abroad, enemies who believe neither in “leading from behind” nor in “strategic patience.” At the same time, the most powerful nation the world has ever seen has a Commander-in-Chief who is Absent With Out Leave.
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Surprise: Obama Administration Still Stonewalling on IRS Scandal

Editors Note: More stonewalling from the self proclaimed “Most Transparent Administration In History” . When will Congress finally exert their Constitutional Authority and do a proper investigation and force this most corrupt President and his Administration to hand over all pertinent information to Congressional investigators and issue subpoenas to force the appearance of reluctant witnesses. Force Lois Lerner to appear and if she so desires plead the 5th Amendment, then give her limited immunity and require her to testify under threat of immediate arrest at the witness table and prosecution for Contempt of Congress.

It is far past the time of allowing Obama and his administration to snub their noses at the rule of law and force an end to this ongoing circus. It is time to pull the curtain back and reveal the corruption that originates with the President of the United States Barack Hussein Obama and permeates his entire administration. No American is above the law and that includes sitting Presidents. [TS]

The Inspector General’s office charged with looking into the IRS targeting scandal has denied Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed by The Hill pertaining to more than 500 correspondences between their office (known as TIGTA) and various Obama officials and IRS scandal players.  Correspondent Bob Cusack reports on the latest stonewall:

The Obama administration is refusing to publicly release more than 500 documents on the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups. Twenty months after the IRS scandal broke, there are still many unanswered questions about who was spearheading the agency’s scrutiny of conservative-leaning organizations. The Hill sought access to government documents that might provide a glimpse of the decision-making through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The Hill asked for 2013 emails and other correspondence between the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The request specifically sought emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner and Treasury officials, including Secretary Jack Lew, while the inspector general was working on its explosive May 2013 report that the IRS used “inappropriate criteria” to review the political activities of tax-exempt groups. TIGTA opted not to release any of the 512 documents covered by the request, citing various exemptions in the law. The Hill recently appealed the FOIA decision, but TIGTA denied the appeal. TIGTA also declined to comment for this article.

So in addition to the IRS “losing” and “accidentally” destroying certain communications attached to this scandal, the IG’s office is also blocking access to documents that do exist. I discussed these latest developments with AB Stoddard on Fox News earlier today:

 

Cusack’s story goes on to list the various reasons TIGTA cited in refusing to release any of the 512 documents:

In its written response to The Hill, TIGTA cited FOIA exemptions ranging from interagency communication to personal privacy. It also claimed it cannot release relevant documents “when interference with the law enforcement proceedings can be reasonably expected.” Yet, congressional Republicans say there is no evidence of any prosecution in the works, and media outlets have indicated that the Department of Justice and the FBI have already determined that no charges will be filed. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) notes that eight months after Lerner was held in contempt of Congress for not testifying at two hearings, the matter has not yet been referred to a grand jury.

They point to “personal privacy” concerns. If only the IRS had been equally concerned about conservative groups’ privacy before leaking donor lists to hostile rival organizations.  And if only the IRS were sufficiently committed to privacy that they did not hire back hundreds of employees fired for cause, including improper use of taxpayers’ private information.  Alas, different rules.  Another excuse given is the ‘reasonable expectation’ of impending criminal proceedings, of which there have been zero indications thus far.  As I noted in the segment, one can’t help but wonder if there’s any connection between the lack of charges and the status of the leader of the DOJ’s investigation as an Obama and Democratic donor over multiple election cycles.  On one hand, there are no signs of any criminal prosecutions coming down the pike.  On the other, the possibility that they might someday materialize is being held up as a cause to deny transparency requests.  Neat trick, that.  If and when the administration is asked about any of this, they will undoubtedly return to their old playbook, directing reporters to the tens of thousands of documents they’ve released, like these:

Last week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said the IRS recently delivered 86,000 pages of new documents to the panel. Hatch added, “These documents … were given to us without notice or explanation roughly twenty months after we made our initial document request [on the targeting].”

You’re asking about a few hundred emails over here, but look over there at those tens of thousands of other emails we dumped without warning, nearly two years after they were requested!  And of the document drop, who’s to say that the most relevant or damning emails weren’t deliberately excluded, as was the case in the Benghazi cover-up?  I should point out that this lack of cooperation emanates from the Inspector General’s office, which is interesting, given the IG’s role as a pro-transparency watchdog.  We don’t know nearly enough to  impugn anyone’s motives within TIGTA at this point — recall that Democrats launched a shameful assault on the IG’s credibility when this scandal was a front-page story — but it’s not surprising that some Republicans are frustrated.  And it’s not as if GOP lawmakers haven’t questioned TIGTA’s practices in the past: When the IRS scandal broke, it eventually became clear that the IG’s office and elements within the Obama administration knew of the agency’s abuse months prior to the 2012 election, but the scandal’s existence was successfully buried until the spring of 2013.  Don’t forget, incidentally, that the White House’s official story on how any when they were made aware of the targeting practices shifted roughly half-a-dozen times before they finally settled on an answer.  It also seems worthwhile to note that a separate Inspector General’s office came under withering criticism last year for a report on the VA scandal, the findings of which were reportedly watered down following political pressure from the Obama administration.

Source: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2015/02/10/surprise-obama-administration-still-stonewalling-on-irs-scandal-n1955503

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Obama administration issues 5.5M work permits to non-citizens; critics call it ‘shadow’ immigration system

Since 2009, the Obama administration issued roughly 5.5 million work permits to non-citizens beyond what Congress has authorized, according to recently-released documents that critics of U.S. policy say reveals a “shadow” or “parallel” immigration system stifling wages and taking jobs from Americans.

The information was obtained by the conservative-leaning Center for Immigration Studies through a Freedom of Information Act request and has prompted Alabama GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions to call for an investigation.

“This request has unearthed the operation of a shadow immigration system previously unknown to the American public,” said Sessions, one of Capitol Hill’s most outspoken critics of President Obama’s immigration policy. “A full investigation is warranted.”

Congress authorized an estimated 5 million green cards and 3.5 million guest worker permits during the 2009-2014 period, in additional to the 5.5 million issued additionally by administration action, a Senate staffer said Wednesday.

Jessica Vaughn, the study author and the center’s director of policy studies, argues the administration has discovered the power to issue work permits outside the limits set by Congress and that it has become “the vehicle” for Obama’s executive actions — in which he has offered deferred deportation to millions of people now in the country illegally.

The biggest group of recipients has been people entering the U.S. without being inspected. More than 957,200 of them received permanent or “pre-permanent” work permits, according to the center.

Others received those types of permits were 23,215 parolees, nearly 1,000 stowaways and 49 people suspected of document fraud.

In addition, 531,692 students and 470,028 students received temporary work permits over that period. And those in both groups we neither originally admitted to the U.S. for employment nor qualified for admission, the group found.

“Some of those people are on track to get a green card,” Vaughn said recently on Fox News Business’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” “But the vast majority of them entered illegal or on a tourist visa or the visa waiver program. … It’s not like there’s a labor shortage here.”

Session has largely framed his argument against Obama’s immigration policy as hurtful to U.S. workers, many of whom have not seen wages increase in the growing, post-recession economy.

“The slack labor market has depressed median family income by $5,000″ since 2009, he said.

Vaughn also broke down the numbers to show the three biggest groups ineligible for work permits but receiving them are illegal immigrants (928,000), people of “unknown” immigration status (1.7 million), and those on a temporary visa (1.8 million).

“There’s no reason to issue (work permits) to people here illegally or whose status is unknown,” Vaughn also said.

She said 1.7 million have either not been recorded or their statuses have not being disclosed by the Citizenship and Immigration Services, which  should be a concern because work permits are “gateway documents” to driver’s licenses and other benefits.

The agency did return a call requesting comment.

“And if the government agency issuing them does not know or will not disclose how the bearer arrived in the country how can others rely on the authenticity of an individual’s identity? It is equally disconcerting if the government does know and chooses not to disclose it,” Vaughn said.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/02/07/obama-administration-issues-55-million-work-permits-to-non-citizens-that/

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Military intel boss: ‘Very little’ can be done to stop Taliban 5 from returning to fight

Editors Note: In his feeble attempt to demonstrate his “Compassion” for the U.S. Military he openly detests and to bolster his plummeting poll numbers Obama disregarded his military and civilian advisers and traded (5) known Terrorist leaders for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Either not bothering to properly investigate the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s disappearance or intentionally ignoring the accusations of his fellow soldiers Obama made the trade and then flanked by his parents announced it with great fanfare. The Army is expected to very soon announce that  Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will be charged with Desertion at an upcoming Court Marshal. During his absence the Army sent rescue units to try to retrieve the Sgt. where soldiers were killed in their attempt to rescue him.

Obama’s total ineptitude in dealing with any kind of foreign problem is manifested with the release of the Taliban 5. His single mindedness and obsession with closing GITMO has enabled (5) know Taliban high echelon commanders to return to the battlefield withing a short period of time with at least one confirmed to have already made contact with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Couple that with the troop draw down that was announced again against the advice of his advisers Obama has not only endangered those American troops left in Afghanistan but the Afghanistan people themselves.

It is becoming more and more evident that Obama is a very little man in a job to big for him to handle. Since his election in 2008 the Terrorist threat around the world have grown out of control especially with the advent of ISIS. World leaders now know that under Obama’s tenure as President of the United States, America can not be counted on or trusted to stand with the world in its fight against Global Terrorism. Americas closest and most trusted Allie in the Middle East Israel knows all to well that Obama is not to be trusted when it comes to negotiations with any terrorist organization or country especially Iran who is almost certainly now going to  develop a nuclear weapons program. Once that happens there will necessarily be a Middle East Nuclear Arms Race that will not only endanger Israel  and the Middle East but the entire world.

With 2 more years left in his Presidency the world will no doubt suffer more from Obama and his Administrations lack of leadership. Let us hope that Congress will finally use its Constitutional authority to stop Obama from more of his Foreign Affairs screw ups. The world has been brought to the verge of  a World War by a President who has not a clue nor the desire on how to lead the world in this fight against Radical Muslim Terrorists. When you have the leader of the Free World refusing to even designate these Terrorist Groups as such there is little hope that his agenda of disengagement will ever change. [TS]

A top military intelligence official acknowledged Tuesday there’s “very little” his agency could do to prevent the Taliban fighters traded for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from returning to the battlefield later this year.

Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, made the comments in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, shortly after officials confirmed that at least one of the five former Guantanamo prisoners freed last year was intercepted making calls to the Taliban.

Those five ex-prisoners are currently being monitored in Qatar, but the terms of that arrangement expire in May or June. Asked Wednesday what the DIA could do to protect American troops in Afghanistan from those fighters returning to the battlefield, Stewart indicated the most they could do is issue a warning.

“We continue to look at monitoring the number of sources that will tell us when these individuals have gone back into business,” he said. “Directly, though, besides notifying folks that these terrorists have gone back into business, there’s very little at this point the DIA could do besides warning of their continued operations.” 

He stressed that his agency has been on the “periphery” of the move to release those five detainees, and confirmed his agency was not even consulted prior to their release. Generally speaking, Stewart said over the last four or five years, officials have confirmed about 18 percent of former detainees have returned to the battlefield. Another 11 percent are suspected of having returned. He said, roughly, one in five former prisoners could be expected “to go back into the business.”  

The warning came during a hearing where top military officials warned about the expanding reach and ambitions of groups ranging from the Taliban to Al Qaeda to the Islamic State.

In his written remarks, Stewart warned that the Taliban, Al Qaeda and their allies “will likely seek to exploit the reduced Coalition presence” in Afghanistan by “pressuring” local security forces in rural areas and “conducting high profile attacks in major population centers, and expanding their safe havens.” 

He also warned about the “spread” of the Islamic State beyond Iraq and Syria, to three other countries.

“With affiliates in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, the group is beginning to assemble a growing international footprint that includes ungoverned and under-governed areas,” he said in written remarks.

Stewart was questioned on the so-called “Taliban 5″ on Tuesday by Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas. Lawmakers have raised fresh concerns in recent days about those freed prisoners amid claims that one of them tried reaching out to the Taliban.

The White House and Pentagon last week defended the terms of that trade and insisted that all five former detainees were in Qatar and accounted for — and have not returned to the battlefield.

But lawmakers questioned what would happen after the strict monitoring in Qatar is over.

“What happens then?” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said in an interview with Fox News last week. “Never mind that they’re already attempting to re-engage and obviously making communications to do so.”

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/02/03/military-intel-boss-very-little-can-do-to-prevent-taliban-5-from-returning-to/

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Iowa 2016 Poll: Walker Surges to Early Lead, Big Names Struggling

And boy, do we mean early. With the 2016 Iowa caucuses nearly a full year away, a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll released over the weekend shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker jumping out to a small lead in the state — followed by Rand Paul, Mitt Romney (now out of the race), Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson.  Jeb Bush pulls eight percent, with Chris Christie struggling at four percent, weighed down by uniquely weak favorability ratings.  Notably, grassroots hero Ted Cruz hasn’t gained much traction in an electorate that seems fairly well-suited to his message; the same can be said of Rick Santorum, who narrowly carried Iowa in 2012.  And Marco Rubio’s backing among Iowa Republicans stands at three percent.  Details:


According to Bloomberg’s write-up, when Romney’s supporters are re-allocated among their stated second choices, “Walker’s backing grows to 16 percent, followed by 15 percent for Paul, 13 percent for Huckabee, and 10 percent for Carson. Removing Romney from his third-place spot had no effect on the ranking order of the other top potential candidates and offered the biggest boost to Huckabee. Bush’s overall number inched up just one point, to 9 percent.”  That last nugget is a departure from national Republican preferences, based on a recent Fox News poll revealing that Bush has the most to gain from Romney’s exit:

[The survey] found that Mr. Bush was the second choice of many who favored Mr. Romney, and would lead the field in his absence. Although Mr. Romney would have led the field with 21% of Republicans surveyed by Fox, the poll found that in his absence Mr. Bush rose to No. 1 spot with 15%, followed by Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky tied with 13% each.

Name recognition is the name of the game at this point, and money will become an increasing potent factor — which is why Jeb Bush’s six-figures-per-day fundraising clip is an eye-opener.  The Iowa survey suggests that voters are eager to hear from the emerging Republican field, and are open to change their opinions based on candidates’ performances.  Walker’s share of support shot up by eleven points compared to his anemic four percent showing in the same polling series just four months ago.  A much-heralded showing at a recent Hawkeye State forum, resulting in plenty of buzz, appears to have vaulted the Wisconsin governor from an afterthought to the front of the pack.  The survey was in the field a few days after that event, and concluded before Romney exited the race.  Suffice it to say, things are quite fluid at this stage (as they should be, with no formally declared candidates).  The nascent Democratic contest is, well, less competitive:


Staring at stable, dominant numbers like these, it’s little wonder that Team Hillary is privately debating running mates and mulling forgoing primary debates.  Democratic voters are clearly “ready for Hillary,” even if that enthusiasm hasn’t necessarily transferred over to the broader electorate.  Before you go, click through to a New York Times piece detailing the process behind Romney’s 2016 demurral.  It appears as though Jeb Bush scored his first major victory of the cycle by contributing heavily to Mitt’s decision via aggressive poaching of donors and staffers.  An opening for Christie?  Perhaps — if he can straighten out his aforementioned favorability problems.  I’ll leave you with Scott Walker’s table-setting web ad, in case you missed Dan’s post late last week:

UPDATE – A relevant point about this poll, via Brit Hume:

Yeah, that MOE is…high. Also, it’s early February of 2015.

Source: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2015/02/02/iowa-poll-n1951145

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