Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Obama threatened to shoot down Israeli jets

Netenyahu and the POS

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is en route to Washington to an address to Congress on Tuesday aimed at derailing Obama’s bid for a diplomatic deal with Tehran, a Kuwaiti newspaper claims that last year President Barack Obama threatened to shoot down Israeli jets.

Congressional Republicans, specifically House Speaker John Boehner had invited Netanyahu, whose visit was coordinated without the Obama administration’s knowledge.

Mark Langfan reports for Israel National News, March 1, 2015 that Ma’an, a Bethlehem-based news agency, has cited a report by Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida yesterday that Obama thwarted an Israeli military attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2014 by threatening to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran. Reportedly, Obama’s threat forced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to abort the attack.

According to Al-Jarida, the Netanyahu government took the decision to strike Iran some time in 2014 soon after Israel had discovered the United States and Iran had been involved in secret talks over Iran’s nuclear program and were about to sign an agreement in that regard behind Israel’s back.

The report claimed that an unnamed Israeli minister who has good ties with the US administration revealed the attack plan to Secretary of State John Kerry, and that Obama then threatened to shoot down the Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran.

Al-Jarida quoted “well-placed” sources as saying that Netanyahu, along with Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon, and then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, had decided to carry out airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear program after consultations with top security commanders. “Netanyahu and his commanders agreed after four nights of deliberations to task the Israeli army’s chief of staff, Benny Gantz, to prepare a qualitative operation against Iran’s nuclear program. In addition, Netanyahu and his ministers decided to do whatever they could do to thwart a possible agreement between Iran and the White House because such an agreement is, allegedly, a threat to Israel’s security.”

The sources added that Gantz and his commanders prepared the requested plan and that Israeli fighter jets trained for several weeks in order to make sure the plans would work successfully. Israeli fighter jets reportedly even carried out experimental flights in Iran’s airspace after they managed to break through radars.

Reportedly, former Carter Administration national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who enthusiastically campaigned for Obama in 2008, called on him to shoot down Israeli planes if they attack Iran. “They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?,” Brzezinski said in an interview with the Daily Beast. “We have to be serious about denying them that right. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a ‘Liberty’ in reverse.’”

By “Liberty,” Brzezinski was referring to Israel’s mistaken attack on the American Liberty ship during the Six-Day War in 1967.

Reportedly, Brzezinski was a top candidate to become an official advisor to a President Obama, but he was downgraded for fears that Brzezinski’s anti-Israel attitude would damage Obama at the polls.

According to the AP, during the entire 6 plus years of the Obama presidency, he and Netanyahu have been on a collision course over how to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Netanyahu’s visit and the coming weeks will put the relationship between the two countries to one of its toughest tests.

~StMA

France submits to Islam: 70% expect country to become Islamic

ISISJack Moore reports for International Business Times, Aug. 26, 2014, that a new poll by ICM Research found that almost a sixth (16%) of the French population have a favorable disposition towards the jihadist group ISIS or ISIL (now known as the Islamic State).

The younger the respondent, the more likely they were to have a favorable view of IS, with the youngest age group, the 18-24 year-olds being most favorable.

Worse still, France has witnessed a growing threat of terrorism in recent years as hundreds of young French Muslims are believed to have flocked abroad to fight for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, with the potential to return home as radicalized members of society.

ISIL’s territorial ambitions are evident in its name — Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Levant today consists of the island of Cyprus, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey. (See “ISIS: the savage jihadists laying waste to Iraq”)

New LevantOn June 29, 2014, ISIS/ISIL declared the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate or State (thus, IS or Islamic State) straddling the Syrian-Iraqi border. The caliphate is a political institution that the Islamic State claims will govern the global Muslim community. (See “A sober look at ISIS’s declaration of a pan-Islamic state or caliphate”)

Since then, IS has declared it intends to take the Caliphate to the United States. Senior Pentagon officials describe the IS as an “apocalyptic” organization that poses an “imminent threat.” But Army general Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, believes the IS is more a regional threat and is not plotting or planning attacks against either the U.S. or Europe.

Meanwhile, yesterday in a press conference, Obama admitted he doesn’t have a “strategy” for dealing with the IS.

Below are excerpts from an essay by Professor Guy Millière’s*France Submits to Islam” of May 13, 2014 for The Gallstone Institute, which paints an even more alarming picture of France than the ICM Research poll results.

More than 8,000,000 Muslims live in France, most of whom are French citizens, and the Muslim population in France continues to grow. France is now the main Muslim country in Europe. Successive French governments can decide to expel a Muslim preacher or a recruiter of jihadist fighters; they can deny visas, but they seem unable to do more.

Although the French government denies it, it seems clear that substantial ransoms were paid to Islamist groups for the release of French hostages: $28,000,000 to al Qaeda in Niger in October 2013 and $18,000,000 to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in Syria, on April 19.

The creation, on April 25, by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, of a counseling center, website and telephone hotline to « advise » parents whose children are in the process of radicalization seems almost ridiculous. Entire neighborhoods are controlled by Islamist preachers and Bernard Cazeneuve knows it: officially, administrative authorities call these neighborhoods « Sensitive Urban Zones, » presumably because at any time they can explode. Unofficially, the police call them « Sharia Zones », and have been ordered by the Department of the Interior to keep out.

Political leaders of all parties know that most elections cannot be won if the Muslim vote is neglected, and the leaders of the National Front are no exception: Marine Le Pen has long ceased to incriminate Islam and now attacks « crime » and « immigration » without providing details. Sometimes she may denounce « calls to jihad » and « fundamentalism », but takes care not to go beyond that. Although she criticizes Qatar or Saudi Arabia, she says that France should become an « ally » of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and asks her « fellow Muslims » to join her fight against « American globalism and its Islamist allies« .

A « Collective Against Islamophobia in France » is gaining ground: it handles complaints against any critical remarks about Islam, and it can rely on the courts to punish offenders. A « League of Judicial Defense of Muslims » was also created in 2013 by Karim Achoui, a lawyer disbarred because of his links with organized crime. No anti-racist organization dares denounce Muslim anti-Semitism, and none of them criticizes speeches such as the one given by Hani Ramadan in Le Bourget.

Jewish institutions do not denounce Muslim anti-Semitism, either: they speak of an « unhealthy climate ». When, on April 28, during a tribute ceremony to the Jews deported from France to Auschwitz, Arno Klarsfeld, a member of the Council of State and son of Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, said that « some of the suburban youth are anti-Semitic, » he was immediately summoned to appear before a judge.

NGOs fighting the Islamization of France are now marginalized. Their leaders are persecuted by the justice system and severely punished. The mainstream media demonize them. The main one, Riposte Laique, organized a demonstration on March 9. About four hundred people came. Three or four years ago, Riposte Laique could gather several thousand people. […]

The number of Jews leaving France is steadily increasing. French people who have the financial means also leave the country. Most others expect the worst. Polls show that the French are now the most pessimistic people in Europe. They also show that more than 70% of the French are afraid of the rise of Islam in France: they expect that France will become a country under submission to Islam.

*Here’s a biographical sketch of Guy Millière, using Google Translate (French into English):

Guy Millière (specialization: economics, geopolitics). Holds three doctorates, he is a professor at the University Paris VIII History of cultures, philosophy of law, economics and communication lecturer at Sciences Po, and visiting professor in the United States. He contributed to many think tanks in the United States and France. Expert to the European Union in bioethics, Speaker for the Bank of France. Former visiting Professor at California State University, Long Beach. Translator and adapter for French language DanielPipes.org site. Columnist to Metula News Agency, Israel Magazine, Frontpage Magazine, upjf.org. Member of the Editorial Board Overseas Land, geopolitical magazine directed by Michel Korinman. Editor of the journal Liberalia from 1989 to 1992 he participated in the work of the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution. He has lectured for the Bank of France, he participated in the publication of books liberal contemporaries as The Constitution of freedom of Friedrich Hayek in 1994 in the Liberalia collection and collection “In the service of freedom” that it has created, published in 2007, Pathways was also editor of the journal Liberalia eponymous 1989 to 1992, and was vice-president of the Institute of the Free Europe and Chairman and member of the Scientific Council Institute of Turgot. It is part of the director of the Alliance FranceIsrael led by Gilles-William Goldnadel committee. He is the author of more than twenty books.

~StMA

Website invites bids to assassinate Obama and other world elites

The Powers That Be

The initials TPTB stand for The Powers That Be — an expression of the helplessness and alienation of some people who believe that, despite democratic political institutions, the world is controlled by a group of elites, both public and concealed in shadows.

(See “Secret Group Controls the World” for a sober and sobering view of TPTB.)

Now, populist resentment against TPTB has found disturbing expression in a website that, in the guise of a dead pool (1), invites bids to assassinate world leaders, including U.S. president Barack Obama.

Andy Greenberg reports for Forbes, Nov. 18, 2013, that he received an encrypted email from an individual using the alias Kuwabatake Sanjuro (2) about a website he’s created called Assassination Market, which enables anyone to put a bounty on the head of any elite by using bitcoins.(3) If someone on Assassination Market’s hit list is killed, the assassin collects  the accumulated bitcoins, so long as he or she can prove to Sanjuro that s/he is the perpetrator.

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Notes:

(1) A dead pool, aka death pool, is a game of prediction which involves guessing when someone will die. Sometimes, money is involved in that the person who guessed correctly collects the financial “prize.”

(2) Kuwabatake Sanjuro is the name of the rōnin (masterless samurai) played by Toshiro Mifuni in the 1961 Akira Kurosawa film Yojimbo.

(3) The Oxford Dictionary defines bitcoin as “A type of digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.” According to Wikipedia, payments are recorded in a public ledger using bitcoins as its unit of account without a central repository or single administrator, which has led the US Treasury to call bitcoin a decentralized virtual currency.

_________________

Sanjuro told Greenberg he was provoked by revelations of mass surveillance by the NSA exposed in a series of leaks by agency contractor Edward Snowden: “Being forced to alter my every happy memory during internet activity, every intimate moment over the phone with my loved ones, to also include some of the people I hate the most listening in, analysing the conversation, was the inspiration I needed to embark on this task. After about a week of muttering ‘they must all die’ under my breath every time I opened a newspaper or turned on the television, I decided something had to be done. This is my contribution to the cause.”

Sanjuro said he accepts only user-suggested targets “who have initiated force against other humans. More specifically, only people who are outside the reach of the law because it has been subverted and corrupted, and whose victims have no other way to take revenge than to do so anonymously.” On the Assassination Market website, Sanjuro wrote “This should primarily be a tool for retribution. When someone uses the law against you and/or infringes upon your negative rights to life, liberty, property, trade or the pursuit of happiness, you may now, in a safe manner from the comfort of your living room, lower their life-expectancy in return.”

Like other so-called “dark web” sites, Assassination Market runs on the anonymity network Tor, which is designed to prevent anyone from identifying the site’s users or Sanjuro himself. Sanjuro’s decision to accept only Bitcoins is also intended to protect users, Sanjuro, and any potential assassins from being identified through their financial transactions. Bitcoins, after all, can be sent and received without necessarily tying them to any real-world identity. In the site’s instructions to users, Sanjuro suggests they run their funds through a “laundry” service to make sure the coins are anonymized before contributing them to anyone’s murder fund.

As for technically proving that an assassin is responsible for a target’s death, Assassination Market asks its killers to create a text file with the date of the death ahead of time, and to use a cryptographic function known as a hash to convert it to a unique string of characters. Before the murder, the killer then embeds that data in a donation of one bitcoin or more to the victim’s bounty. When a target is successfully murdered, he or she can send Sanjuro the text file, which Sanjuro hashes to check that the results match the data sent before the target’s death. If the text file is legitimate and successfully predicted the date of the killing, the sender must have been responsible for the murder, according to Sanjuro’s logic. Sanjuro says he’ll keep one percent of the payout himself as a commission for his services.

Sanjuro believes that if Assassination Market can persist and gain enough users, it will eventually enable the assassinations of enough politicians that no one would dare to hold office. He says he intends Assassination Market to destroy “all governments, everywhere. I believe it will change the world for the better. Thanks to this system, a world without wars, dragnet panopticon-style surveillance, nuclear weapons, armies, repression, money manipulation, and limits to trade is firmly within our grasp for but a few bitcoins per person. I also believe that as soon as a few politicians gets offed and they realize they’ve lost the war on privacy, the killings can stop and we can transition to a phase of peace, privacy and laissez-faire.”

When I first read Greenberg’s Forbes article on Assassination Market (AM) about 3 months ago, using my browser’s “private window” function, I had accessed the AM website, https://assmkedzgorodn7o.tor2web.blutmagie.de/. This was what the website said:

The Assassination Market

Anonymous, safe, secure, crowdfunded assassinations.

The concept is simple:

Someone adds a name to the list along with some information.
People add money to the dead pool.
Other people predict when that person will die, but the content of the prediction stays hidden until after the fact.
Correct predictions get the pool.

The hit list at the time had seven names. Top of the list was Ben Bernanke, then chairman of the Federal Reserve System. Barack Obama was second.

Name Country Status Pool Size
Ben Shalom Bernanke United States Alive ฿124.22
Barack Hussein Obama United States Alive ฿40.26
Keith Brian Alexander United States Alive ฿10.49
James R. Clapper, Jr. United States Alive ฿1.97
Eva Carin Beatrice Ask Sweden Alive ฿1.02
François Hollande France Alive ฿1.00
Jyrki Tapani Katainen Finland Alive ฿1.00

The website had detailed instructions on how to enter the pool, submit bitcoin payment, maintenance of anonymity via encryption, and an address to transfer the funds to, etc.

Making the prediction come true is entirely optional.
The person meets his untimely demise
I confirm the death through independent news sources, or whatever else I can think of. I’ll be very thorough. I may have problems with confirmations in foreign languages, so the person should be famous enough for at least one English news-source to report his or her death. This may take a few weeks, depending on the probability of fraud and the strength of the evidence.

If the person is missing, but strongly suspected to be dead, I wait for 5 years before allowing predictions for deaths in the 5 days after the person was last seen to be claimed.

Claim the correct prediction
Send me the plain text file matching the hash in the blockchain. If this is the only prediction, the money is paid instantly. If there are multiple, allow one month for other predictors to state their claim. Payout is manual and may take a while. When a new prediction gets claimed the month restarts if there are more of them. I take 1% of the pool for my trouble.

If the person dies with no predictions, the money is refunded. Payments without a refund address are considered donations. If there are outstanding predictions, I wait for claims for one year before refunding. If there are multiple accurate predictions, the pool is split into the number of days between the first prediction and the death, and each prediction gets an equal claim on all the days it has been valid. For example, if the pool is 500 BTC after my 1%, and there is one 5 day and one 3 day old prediction, the first gets 200 for the first two days and 150 for the other three. Days of validity includes both the day it was entered on and the day of death.

To a reader’s question of whether a person can be taken off the hit list, Sanjuro replied: “No. Once you’re on the list you’re on it until you die. Allowing this would complicate the protocol a lot and corrode trust in the system.”

In answer to another reader’s question “What if you’re found?,” Sanjuro wrote: “I take great pains to avoid discovery, but in that unfortunate event, if the system works, there are no traces that could lead back to any of my users. All the money will be confiscated by the state, and I will probably be killed or spend a considerable portion of my life in jail.”

Today, when I tried to access the Assassination Market market, I got this message:

Tor2web Error: Generic Sock Error

Sorry, we couldn’t serve the page you requested.

In his Forbes article, Greenberg wrote that he had contacted the Secret Service and the FBI to ask if they’re investigating Assassination Market, “and both declined to comment.”

Greenberg also noted that “the launch of Assassination Market may be ill-timed for Sanjuro, given law enforcement’s recent crackdown on the dark web. In August, the FBI used an exploit in Tor to take down the web hosting firm Freedom Hosting and arrest its founder Eric Eoin Marques, who is accused of offering his services to child pornography sites. And just last month, the FBI also seized the popular Bitcoin- and Tor-based black market for drugs known as Silk Road and arrested its alleged creator, Ross Ulbricht.”

It would appear that someone finally did get to Kuwabatabe Sanjuro.

In his Forbes article, Greenberg noted that there had been other crowd-funding assassination efforts before Sanjuro’s. Given that, no doubt there will be successors to Assassination Market, some of which may well be faux dark web sites deployed by TPTB to entrap wannabe political assassins. If you were TPTB, wouldn’t you do precisely that?

Caveat Emptor!

~StMA

ISIS: the savage jihadists laying waste to Iraq

Iraq is rapidly spiraling into anarchy and civil war.

In the face of rapid territorial takeovers by the Al Qaeda-affiliated ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants, Iraq’s senior Shiite Muslim cleric are taking matters into their own hands.

On Friday, June 13, 2014, the cleric issued a decree, calling on every able-bodied Shiite man to go to war against the Sunni ISIS. Thousands of Shiite Iraqis — many with militia experience from the 2006-2008 Sunni-Shiite sectarian war that killed thousands — are flooding the cities of Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala to enlist in organized battle units.

Oil industry analysts are warning the turmoil in Iraq could reduce the flow of Iraqi crude and  send gas prices soaring in the United States. Already, the price of crude oil has shot up to $107 per barrel – the highest in 10 months. Oil industry analyst Phill Flynn said if Baghdad falls to ISIS, “the price you’re paying at the pump today is gonna look like a bargain in a couple weeks.”

On Friday, June 13, as he departed for a long weekend in California of golf and political fundraising, President Obama said the U.S. will not send troops but America will “do our part” to help Iraq, whatever that means. The next day, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered an aircraft carrier moved into the Persian Gulf, readying it in case CIC Obama decides to pursue “a military option.”

Today (Sunday), June 15, USA Today reports that as deadly explosions rocked Baghdad, “some” staff from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad are being evacuated and security beefed up.

Meanwhile, the ISIS is littering the sides of roadways with the beheaded corpses of Iraqis they’ve killed. Most recently, ISIS claims it has massacred 1,700 Iraqi soldiers. Photos (see below) posted on a militant website show masked ISIS fighters loading captives onto flatbed trucks before forcing them to lie face-down in a shallow ditch with their arms tied behind their backs. The bodies of the captives are then shown, soaked in blood after being shot. The authenticity of the photos have been confirmed by Iraq’s top military spokesman, Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi.

ISIS mass murder of Iraqi troops

To further complicate matters, neighboring Iran has sent 2,000 advance troops to Iraq. Tehran even hinted that Iran is prepared to cooperate with the “Great Satan” U.S. to support the beleaguered Iraqi government.

So who are the ISIS?

ISIS

Founding

Formed in the early years of the Iraq War in 2004 as Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad or The Organization of Monotheism and Jihad (JTJ), the group went through at least four name changes before it adopted its present name on April 9, 2013, after it had expanded into Syria.

Name

Today, the group is known variously as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The word “Sham” means Levant; Levant today consists of the island of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey. All of which speaks to the territorial ambitions and objectives of ISIS.

For the sake of convenience, in this post, the group will be referred to as ISIS, even its pre-2013 versions.

Association with al-Qaeda

When it was first founded in 2004, ISIS had pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda when the group’s then leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi swore loyalty to Osama bin Laden. In February 2014, however, after an 8-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties with ISIS.

IDEOLOGY AND GOALS

ISIS is animated by the beliefs of Wahhabism, the same radical offshoot branch of Sunni Islam as al-Qaeda’s. Wahhabism aims to return to what adherents believe to be the earliest fundamental Islamic sources of the Quran and Hadith (Muhammad’s teachings and deeds), with inspiration from the teachings of Medieval theologian Ibn Taymiyyah and early jurist Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

In 2004, the U.S. State Department classified ISIS – under its former name of Al Qaeda in Iraq — as a terrorist organization. In July, 2013, the European Parliament identified the Wahhabi movement as the source of global terrorism and a threat to Muslim cultures across the whole world.

The goal of ISIS is to install a “pure” (i.e., Wahhabi) caliphate or pan-Islamic state, led by a supreme religious and political leader, the caliph. In other words, ISIS aims to create an Islamic theocracy, ruled by Sharia law, over a wide swath of land in the Middle East, including Cyprus, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey.

LEADER

ISIS is led by an ambitious Iraqi militant known by his nom de guerre of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head. Incredibly, the United States once had him in custody at a detention facility in Iraq, but Barack Hussein Obama let him go. In 2009, Al Baghdadi was among the prisoners released from the now-closed Camp Bucca near Umm Qasr in Iraq.

Abu Bakr al-BaghdadiThese are the only two known photos of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Left photo was taken 5 years ago; right photo is more recent.

MembersHIP AND TERRITORIES

On 13 October 2006, ISIS announced the establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq, which claimed authority over Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din, Ninawa and parts of Babel. In 2012, ISIS in Iraq more than doubled the number of its members to about 2,500. Fox News says ISIS commands as many as 10,000 fighters.

Following the 2013 expansion of the group into Syria and the announcement of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the number of provinces it claimed increased to 16. ISIS in Northern Syria is described by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as “the strongest group” in that region. In early June 2014, ISIS began large-scale offensives in Iraq. It has seized control of Tikrit, most of Mosul — the second most populous city in Iraq — and the surrounding Nineveh province, and is advancing on Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.

ISIS territories

FUNDING

The funding of ISIS comes from several sources, including:

  • Extortion: demanding money from truck drivers and threatening to blow up businesses.
  • Robbery: robbing banks and gold shops.
  • Looting: During the battle of Mosul in June 2014, ISIS allegedly became the richest terror group in the world after looting US$429 million and a large quantity of gold bullion from Mosul’s central bank. That would explain why jihadists from around the world, including the UK and US, are flocking to Iraq. Analyst Brown Moses wrote on Twitter, “With $429 million, ISIS could [recruit and] pay 60,000 fighters around $600 a month for a year.” The group has recently started paying $200 a month to each of its fighters to boost recruitment, according to the U.S. Army War College.
  • Private donations: French television channel France 24 reported that ISIS “receives funding via private donations from the Gulf states.” In an interview with France 24, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of openly funding the ISIS. (Note that the Obama administration, in exchange for Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, had released five senior Taliban terrorists from Gitmo to precisely Qatar. See “The law that Obama violated in releasing 5 terrorists from Gitmo in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl” and “Obama ignored advice of military & CIA against Bergdahl prisoner swap“.)

Sources: Wikipedia, Fox News, Daily Mail.

~StMA

The law that Obama violated in releasing 5 terrorists from Gitmo in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl

Note: This post has been significantly revised and updated on June 9, 2014.

kingOn Jan. 15, 2014, Obama told Senate Democrats that when Congress stands in his way, “I’ll act with or without Congress.” (AP)

On June 30, 2009, U.S. Army Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl of the 1st Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, went missing from a remote military outpost in Paktika Province on Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan.

He was captured by the Taliban and imprisoned for 5 years — the only U.S. prisoner of war in the Afghan war.

On May 31, 2014, without consulting Congress as required by federal law, in exchange for Bergdahl, the Obama administration released five prisoners from the U.S. detention camp for terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The five men were the most senior Afghans held at Gitmo: Mohammad Fazl, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mohammed Nabi, and Abdul Haq Wasiq. They were released to Qatar, where they received a hero’s welcome from the Taliban.

House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Buck McKeon of California and Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma said Obama had “clearly violated laws which require him to notify Congress thirty days before any transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay, and to explain how the threat posed by such terrorists has been substantially mitigated.” (Source: Daily Mail)

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin also said Obama “clearly broke the law. The law says 30-days’ notice. He didn’t give 30-days’ notice.” Obama’s opinion expressed in a signing statement “is not law. The law is on the books, and he didn’t follow it.” (Source: Mediaite)

So which federal law had Obama violated?

Writing in The Washington Times, Florida International University constitutional law professor Elizabeth Price Foley claims that the law is Section 1028 of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which prohibits any funds to be used “to transfer any individual detained at Guantanamo to the custody or control of any other foreign country” unless the secretary of defense certifies to Congress, “not later than 30 days before the transfer.” Sec. 1028 also states that the receiving country will detain the individual appropriately and “has taken or agreed to take such actions as the Secretary of Defense determines are necessary to ensure that the individual cannot engage or re-engage in any terrorist activity.”

But Professor Foley is mistaken. Thanks to alert CODA reader Rich Fueyo, the law in question is actually Section 1035 of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) or H.R. 3304 (read it in PDF here), which was signed into law by Obama on Dec. 26, 2013.

Specifically, Obama’s prisoner swap violated the following:

1. 2014 NDAA, Sec. 1035(a)(1): “The Secretary of Defense is authorized to transfer or release any individual detained at Guantanamo…if the Secretary determines…the individual is no longer a threat to the national security of the United States.”

But Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel did not determine that Mohammad Fazl, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mohammed Nabi, and Abdul Haq Wasiq are “no longer a threat to the national security of the United States.” In fact, Qatar is allowing the five men to freely roam about and expect to return them to Afghanistan in a month.

FOX News reports that while he was in Poland on June 3, 2014, Obama himself acknowledged there’s “absolutely” a risk that the former Guantanamo inmates will try to return to the battlefield.  On June 6, NBC reports that Noorullah Noori, one of the freed prisoners, already pledged to return and fight Americans in Afghanistan.

2. Sec. 1035(b)(1): “Except as provided in subsection (a), the Secretary of Defense may transfer an individual detained at Guantanamo to the custody or control of the individual’s country of origin, or any other foreign country, only if the Secretary determines that actions that have been or are planned to be taken will substantially mitigate the risk of such individual engaging or reengaging in any terrorist or other hostile activity that threatens the United States or United States persons or interests; and (2) the transfer is in the national security interest of the United States.”

But the American people are not told how the release of the five terrorists “is in the national security interest of the United States.” Instead, Hagel said the prisoner exchange was negotiated for humanitarian reasons, “essentially to save his [Bergdahl’s] life.”

3. Sec. 1035(c)(2) states: “the Secretary of Defense shall specifically evaluate and take into consideration the following factors…The security situation in the foreign country to which the individual is to be transferred, including whether or not the country is a state sponsor of terrorism….”

But on March 4, 2014, Treasury undersecretary David Cohen cited Qatar while speaking about state sponsors of terrorism during remarks to the Center for a New American Security. Cohen said, “Iran is not the only state that provides financial support for terrorist organizations. Most notably, Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability. Press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also supporting extremist groups operating in Syria.”

4. Sec. 1035(d): “The Secretary of Defense shall notify the appropriate committees of Congress of a determination of the Secretary under subsection (a) or (b) not later than 30 days before the transfer or release of the individual under such subsection.”

Hagel did not comply with the 30 days requirement.

Professor Foley claims that the Obama administration justifies its noncompliance with the 2013 NDAA in two ways:

  1. It cites Subsection (d) of Section 1028, which permits Congress to be bypassed if transfer out of Gitmo “is in the national security interests of the United States.” However, as explained above with regards to Section 1035 (b)(1) of the 2014 NDAA, the Obama administration has not articulated how, exactly, national security interests demanded the release of these five Taliban leaders.
  2. The Obama administration suggests that Section 1028 is itself unconstitutional. For that matter, when Obama signed the NDAA into law, he issued a statement opposing Section 1028 because he believed it infringed on his power as commander in chief. That being said, it is not up to Obama to decide whether a law is unconstitutional. That is the purview of the Supreme Court. Nor can a President simply ignore a law because he thinks it to be unconstitutional.

The fact of the matter is that while the Constitution does give the president broad power over the military as commander in chief, that power is shared by Congress through various provisions in Article I of the U.S. Constitution, including the power to:

  • “make Rules for the land and naval Forces”;
  • “raise and support Armies”; and
  • “define and punish Offenses against the Law of Nations.”

In 1952, in the case of Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer in which the Supreme Court ruled against President Harry Truman’s seizing of domestic steel mills for the Korean War, Justice Robert Jackson said if a president acts in defiance of Congress, his power “is at its lowest ebb” and courts must scrutinize the president’s claim of power “with caution, for what is at stake is the equilibrium established by our constitutional system.”

In the case of the Bergdahl prisoner exchange, what has inflamed public opinion goes beyond Obama’s violation of federal law to include:

1. Bowe Bergdahl’s character:

  • He was a deserter: The soldiers who had served with Bergdahl say so, as reported by CNN. He had left behind a note in his tent saying he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life, as reported by the New York Times. An official Pentagon report concluded in 2010 that Bergdahl was a deserter, as reported by the Daily Mail.
  • The Taliban claimed in 2010 that Bergdahl had converted to Islam and was teaching bomb-making to its jihadists. (Source: Jihad Watch)
  • Bergdahl was anti-American and had complained about fellow soldiers, as reported for the Rolling Stone by the late Michael Hastings who died in a suspicious single-car accident on June 18, 2013.
  • According to Fox News (via The Blaze), Bergdahl had written a note expressing a desire to renounce his American citizenship.

2. Bowe Bergdahl’s father, Robert, in a White House appearance with Obama at his side, praised Allah and Islam in Arabic: “Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim (In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Compassionate).”

3. At least 7 U.S. soldiers were killed while looking for Bowe Bergdahl (source:  The Daily Beast):

  1. Pfc Aaron Fairbairn
  2. Pfc Justin Casillas
  3. Pfc Morris Walker
  4. Staff Sergeant Clayton Bowen
  5. Staff Sergeant Kurt Curtiss
  6. Second Lieutenant Darryn Andrews
  7. Staff Sergeant Michael Murphrey

~StMA

U.S. not ready for cold or hot war with Russia over Ukraine

Russian bear

Jacob Siegel writes for The Daily Beast, March 20, 2014:

(Note: The pics, note commentaries, and video are not Daily Beast’s, but inserted by this poster, StMA.)

After more than two decades of post Cold War re-alignment, the [U.S.] military is less prepared than it has been in generations for a confrontation with Russia.

No one in Washington is calling for the U.S. to go to war over Crimea and there are plenty of reasons why, at this point, military intervention could be a dangerous and foolhardy course. But if circumstances change and political leaders start looking to the military or the bargaining power that comes from a credible threat of force, they will find their options severely limited.

Over the course of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq soldiers and marines have trained for maneuvering and fighting in small units over the landscape of the Middle East. Counter-insurgency (“COIN”) doctrine, which stresses engagement with local civilian populations and tactics for fighting loosely organized forces employing light weapons, has become the military’s new bible. It’s about as far away as you can get from the principles used in the Cold War.

According to retired General David Deptula, who served as the Air Force’s top intelligence officer, “we’ve been focused on the far left end of the spectrum of operations,” by which he means the protracted, low-intensity conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, he says, “if we want to maintain superpower status we need to be prepared to succeed across the full range of operations, not just the left end of it.”

USAF Lt. Gen. David Deptula (ret.)

USAF Lt. Gen. David Deptula (ret.)

Even the few strategists that weren’t pre-occupied by Iraq and Afghanistan were planning for the much-touted Asia pivot, envisioning a future, one they’d argue is still looming, defined by Chinese hegemony. Russia, meanwhile, was considered by many to be an historical relic; still big enough to wield real power but no longer capable of threatening U.S. vital interests and a second or third order afterthought when evaluating threats the military needed to plan for.

______________

Note: There is no Asia pivot either. See “Pentagon official: U.S. budget will not allow an Asia pivot.

______________

For years there have been only a handful of people consistently talking about Russia and China building highly advanced systems for use against our ‘Cold-War era’ aircraft, missiles and ships,” Deptula says.

Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff of the USAF

Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff of the USAF

He’s talking about himself and some of his closest confidants at the Air Force, who pushed for continued production of high-end weaponry like the F-22 stealth fighter—right when the Iraq insurgency was at its peak. It made Deptula and his gang seem like Mach 2 dinosaurs, pining for a conflict with an imaginary enemy while the real bad guys were blowing up Marines in Fallujah. Understandably, Robert Gates, the Defense Secretary of the time, wanted the military to focus on the wars America was actually fighting at the moment. And so eventually, many of Deptula’s colleagues—including Gen. Michael “Buzz” Moseley, the Air Force’s top officer—were shown the door when they opposed Gates once too often. According to Deptula, “those people were ignored by [former Defense Secretary] Gates, and some were fired because they had the courage to speak truth to power.

______________

Note: Ironically, the now retired former Defense Secretary Robert Gates is singing a very different tune. See “Former U.S. defense secretary: Obama incompetent; suspicious of military.” 

______________

As the White House and Pentagon planners consider what to do if Russia invades Eastern Ukraine or deploys its forces elsewhere in the region, the limited choices available reveal just how profoundly the military has changed since the Cold War.

For half a century, Cold War military strategy focused on containing Russia and winning in clashes between large conventional forces. On the ground, that strategy called for mass formations organized around tanks and heavy weaponry. In the skies it relied on dominance in Top Gun style style air-to-air fighting prowess, radar evading stealth technology, and powerful bombers that could drop massive munitions to destroy enemy armor and fortified installations.

Since the end of the Cold War, that strategy has been completely overhauled. Training and doctrine have focused on small unit tactics while new weapons and vehicles have been designed with squads in mind rather than divisions. Super-sophisticated dogfighters, like the $187 million-a-pop F-22, suddenly seemed too fancy to actually use. Who would fit the bill if one actually went down? Instead, drones costing less than a tenth the price littered the skies over Afghanistan and Iraq.

But those drones are useless against any military with a half-decent system for shooting down enemy aircraft. And Russia has one of the best air defenses on the planet. Suddenly, it’s those iconic Predator drones that seem obsolete.

“Hopefully the situation with Russia and Ukraine will be a bucket of cold water on those who believe all we need to be able to do is counter-insurgency operations,” Deptula told The Daily Beast.

And now, there are signs that the U.S. Air Force’s long-held technological advantage may be eroding.

The new generation of Russian fighter plane, the T-50, isn’t yet fully operational but it “will be produced much sooner that Gates and his crowd predicted,” Deptula says. He adds that “once the T-50s are produced in sufficient numbers there won’t be anything in the NATO fleet that can deal with them except the F-22s and F-35s.

David Axe, the long-time military tech writer notes that the T-50, which can fire long-range missiles while flying both high and fast, may be able to “exploit critical vulnerabilities in U.S. and allied forces and level the air power playing field for the first time in a generation.”

An independent Australian think tank, Air Power Australia, drew a more severe conclusion.  “If the United States does not fundamentally change its planning for the future of tactical air power, the advantage held for decades will be soon lost and American air power will become an artifact of history.”

While Russian aircraft rely on speed and long flight times, the U.S. fleet is largely built for stealth so it can evade detection and anti-air weapons to engage targets at closer ranges. But the stealth capability, is now being challenged by advances in Russia’s radar detection platforms and anti-aircraft weapons.

Today,” Deptula said, “the Russians have an extant significant advantage in their surface to air capabilities.” And that with the exception of the U.S.’s small number of highly advanced 5th generation aircraft, “the Russians can conduct area denial of any airspace within range of their defenses if they want to deny access to aircraft.”

Since 2001, the Pentagon has had good reasons for prioritizing spending for troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan over speculative needs for future wars, but a consequence has been that we now have what Deptula calls “a geriatric Air Force and Navy fleet.

No one, not even Deptula, is suggesting that there’s about to be some all-out showdown between Moscow’s military and Washington. But it’s not at all unlikely, given the new and chilly climate, that American forces and allies could wind up in skirmishes with proxies equipped and trained by Russia. The U.S. used to be able to count on an overwhelming technological advantage. Tomorrow, maybe not.

Foreshadows of this are already being cast. Already, Russia is outfitting the Assad regime in Syria while America runs guns to the rebels there. It’s the Russian side that’s winning.

The change isn’t just about equipment or tactics, though, American forces trained in counter-insurgency who are stationed in Europe could still be deployed to hold the line against Russian advances. But there are drastically fewer forces left in Europe available to be called upon in such an event.

An analysis of Defense cuts published by the conservative American Enterprise Institute in 2013 reported that “the Army alone has closed 100 installations in Europe since 2003 and plans on returning an additional 47 installations to host nations by 2015.” The same report notes, “the Navy has also been consolidating and decreasing its European bases” and “since 1990, the Air Force has reduced aircraft and forces stationed in Europe by 75 percent.” Addressing the future of America’s military footprint in Europe, the paper concludes that the Pentagon is “planning to continue reducing the US presence in Europe by approximately 15 percent over the coming decade.”

The military can’t be equally prepared for every threat and if its focus has been on counter-insurgency, that’s because those are the wars we’ve been fighting for the past twelve years.

Generations of veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan have been raised and bled on COIN doctrine but, as combat demands, they have also learned how to be agile. Individual leaders on the battlefield are able to adapt quickly; it’s the military bureaucracy that’s like a tank: a slow, immensely powerful machine that’s only capable of plotting one course at a time. Quick turns are not an option.

Without many viable military options to counter Russian aggression what’s left for U.S. leaders seeking to punish Russia and assure our NATO allies that we’ll protect them? Cunning diplomacy, maybe.

Crimea is Russian now; that’s not changing any time soon. Condemning the invasion and the fixed terms of the referendum have no more bearing on the current situation than the reasons Russia gave for annexing Crimea—some of them legitimate—ultimately had to do with the duplicity and force they used to take it.

The real question, and the subtext in much of the current talk about Crimea, is whether Russia will stop there or proceed to further conquests. 

Despite it’s show of force in Crimea, Moscow has a lot to lose if the conflict broadens and draws in the U.S. and NATO. Russia has gas to sell to Europe, oligarchs counting on feeling comfortable in their London townhouses, a new middle class looking for normalcy that’s already taken to the streets in protest, and the memory of Chechnya, a brutal war that took thousands of lives, fresh in the national memory.

If U.S. officials can present a deal that satisfies American aims while appealing to Russia’s self-interest, they may be able to prevent a larger conflict. But a new age of competition with Russia? That may be even harder to head off.

[End of Daily Beast article]

New-Russian-bear

All of which, of course, raises the question of why Obama is talking so tough, calling the Crimea crisis an “extraordinary threat” to U.S. national security, threatening and instituting sanctions at Russia — against which Russia has retaliated by pulling $billions from western banks and the U.S. treasury.

H/t CODA commenter Anonymous

~StMA

Russian parliament simplifies annexation of new territories in move to take over Crimea

Russian Invasion of Crimea

On Feb. 28, 2014, as Russian troops reportedly crossed over the Russian border into Ukraine’s Crimea, a bill was introduced in the Russian parliament to simplify the annexation of new territories in what will be widely interpreted as a signal that Moscow may be planning to gain control over Ukraine’s mainly ethnic Russian-populated region of Crimea.

RIA Novosti, reports that the legislation comes as Russian troops reportedly blockaded an airport in the Crimean city of Sevastopol in what Ukraine’s acting interior minister, Arsen Avakov, has described as an armed invasion.

Under the bill, authored by the Kremlin-loyal opposition party A Just Russia, the decision on the accession of a part of a foreign state to Russia should be taken through a referendum.

“There have been cases in international practice when a part of a state joined another state without an international treaty being signed. Moreover, international law does not require the conclusion of such a treaty with a foreign state,” the lawmakers said.

Its authors said the legislation, which comes amid political turmoil in Ukraine, stems from Russia’s obligations under a friendship agreement signed in 1997, under which Russia and Ukraine had agreed to take measures aimed at preventing actions inciting violence against groups of citizens over national, ethnic or religious intolerance.

The A Just Russia party also introduced another bill Friday easing the procedure for granting Russian citizenship to Ukrainians. Russia’s lower house of parliament will consider the legislation on March 11, said Vladimir Pligin, chairman of the parliament’s constitution and state affairs committee.

In recent days, a series of pro-Russia demonstrations have taken place across Crimea. Protesters have said at those gatherings that they do not recognize the current government in Kiev and have called for Russian intervention.

Crimea was part of Russia until 1954, when it was transferred to the Ukrainian republic within the Soviet Union. Russia has a large naval base on the peninsula for which it recently extended a lease until 2042.

Meanwhile, Time magazine reporter Zeke Miller tweeted today that Obama skipped a meeting of the White House national security team to receive an update on the situation in Ukraine and discuss potential policy options.

~StMA