by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
Congress is set to consider new legislation that would block the Obama administration from awarding Iran billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in what many describe as a ransom payment, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) will introduce on Tuesday new legislation that would prohibit the Obama administration from moving forward with all payments to Iran, according to the bill, which would also force Iran to return billions of dollars in U.S. funds that have already been delivered to Tehran by the White House.
Rubio’s bill—a version of which is also being introduced in the House by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.)—would mandate that Iran pay American victims of terrorism some $53 billion in reparations for past attacks planned and coordinated by the Islamic Republic. Continue reading
by Jack Heretik • Washington Free Beacon
The State Department announced Tuesday that it has found 30 new emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server that discuss the terror attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.
With a steady stream of new Clinton emails being publicized in recent weeks, a federal judge has ordered the review and release of Clinton’s emails to be accelerated, the Washington Examiner reported.
A judge asked the agency to speed up its review of the documents in preparation for release to Judicial Watch, the conservative-leaning group that filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Continue reading
By Aaron David Miller • Wall Street Journal
It’s not clear how much worse things will get for the Obama administration over its $400 million payment to Iran in January, but the cash-for-prisoners scandal may end up being the least of U.S. concerns in all this.
I write that knowing that Congress plans to hold hearings in September. I also know that so close to Election Day, this issue is likely to remain a highly politicized he-said/she-said among Republicans eager to take aim, an administration on the defensive, and a Democratic nominee in an increasingly difficult position because of the optics: a choreographed and sequenced transaction in which cash was delivered after U.S. prisoners were released, regardless of whether you consider it ransom.
Here’s the larger and more potentially damaging perception beyond the general embarrassment: In the Middle East, strength and negotiating acumen are prized; they demonstrate power and credibility. Continue reading
by Jed Babbin • The American Spectator
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps boats harassed U.S. Navy ships and boats again last week in what has become a commonplace in the Persian Gulf. All of these incidents have happened in international waters. The Iranians claim much of those waters as their own.
In January, the Iranians fired missiles within about fifteen hundred yards of the nuclear carrier USS Harry S. Truman. In that same month, the crews of two U.S. Navy patrol boats were captured and detained by the Iranians, the U.S. crews having failed to fire a shot in their own defense. They were released after the Iranians had made propaganda videos shaming our sailors.
In the latter incident, the commander of the surrendered boats later said he surrendered because he didn’t want to endanger Obama’s efforts to lock in his nuclear weapons deal with Iran. Continue reading
by Jed Babbin • The American Spectator
We have become wearily accustomed to the constant flow of lies in the presidential campaign. Some are important but most are not. They have become a tiresome reminder of why so many people have decided to ignore the whole mess.
Lies in a political campaign should matter but those lies that are the basis for national security decisions — lies that are a matter of policy — can create existential dangers. The lies that President Obama has been peddling surrounding his deal with Iran on nuclear weapons are just such a case.
The website PolitiFact has gotten into the habit of naming the Lie of the Year. In 2012, when it gave the shameful title to Obama’s statement on Obamacare that “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it,” the label was almost enough to rouse the Republican Party to action. Continue reading
Congress has a duty to bolster the U.S. air defense system
Both Iran and North Korea are rogue nations developing and testing new missile technologies at an alarming rate. Iran threatens U.S. forces and has missile technology to carry out those threats. North Korea has successfully tested missiles that can be fired from submarines and is threatening to use them. Years ago, their test failures gave us some sense of breathing room. But recent technological advances, make them dangerous and their threats credible. China has been building a world-class, blue-water navy to challenge the United States and power its aggression in the South China Sea. Russia is flexing its muscles, orchestrating attacks against its neighbors, working to weaken NATO, and advance its global expansion.
The importance of missile defense in this environment is clear. To protect ourselves from these growing threats, the United States must continue to invest in technological improvements to help our combatant commanders and warfighters protect against growing missile threats at home and abroad.
That is why it is critical that we continue to invest in, and modernize, proven upper-tier missile defense systems like the Patriot Missile, a highly mobile integrated air defense system; Terminal High Altitude Air Defense, which protects us from short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles; Ground-based Midcourse Defense, which protects the homeland from long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles; and the Aegis Combat and Aegis Ashore systems, which track and guide weapons to destroy enemy targets from the sea and land.
To counter the growing risks we face, and to make upper-tier missile defense a reality, our military must have enough of the right tools for the job. Tools like the SM-3 missile, for example, deliver the effective variant that can accurately intercept a ballistic missile threat. Should our high-tech radars locate an incoming missile, our warfighters will need to have the proper arsenal of SM-3s to ensure they can take on any inbound missile. Without enough SM-3 variants, we leave ourselves open to attack and rogue nations are empowered.
In tight budget times, it has been tempting to cut procurement of missiles here and there. They aren’t sexy and they don’t generally grab headlines. But they will, if we fail to defend ourselves due to a shortage. Without at least another 35 SM-3 missiles, we are putting both the nation and our warfighters at risk.
Congress must provide funding for at least another 35 SM-3 missiles. This ends up being a modest investment of $189 million to insure that we can defend our warfighters who are often closer to rogue nations with missiles, and our homeland from missile attack.
To any normal person, $189 million is a lot of money. But in the big picture of defending this nation, it is an it is an absolute bargain. To this day, it isn’t clear to me what the Department of Labor does to justify spending almost $40 billion annually. But to put the cost of the needed SM-3 rockets into perspective, the cost is less than one-half of 1 percent of the Department of Labor’s annual budget.
Congress must provide our warfighters with the tools they need to defend our nation. The Iranian mullahs recently published a paper outlining plans to launch a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack to bring us to our knees. To ignore these dangers is insane, if not criminal. Failure to provide our military with the required tools is effectively an invitation to our enemies to attack.
More than 200 years ago, George Washington correctly said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” Congress can preserve peace, in part, by insuring that our defenders are given the necessary amount of SM-3 missiles to keep us safe. Congress must take seriously its obligation to prevent the catastrophic human and economic costs of a nuclear missile attack by consistently making the necessary commitment to missile defense. The headlines make it clear — there is no more time to wait.
George Landrith is president of Frontiers of Freedom.
On Jan. 23, 2013, Hillary Clinton asked an infamous question about the attack on the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“What difference, at this point, does it make?” Clinton said. And Republicans have been attacking her for that line ever since.
“Why didn’t you just pick up the phone and call the survivors?” was the simple question Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., asked Clinton that day. Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention, he finally answered Clinton’s question.
“It made a difference to the young Yazidi woman I met who was captured and brutalized by ISIS barbarians, the joy of life hauntingly absent in her eyes,” Johnson said. “It made a difference to the businessmen traveling through the airports in Brussels and Istanbul, who just wanted to make it home to their family and their friends.
“It made a difference to the ordinary Americans sharing holiday cheer at a Christmas party in San Bernardino. It made a difference to the young men and women dancing on a summer night at a club in Orlando. And it made a difference to the families watching fireworks at a celebration of freedom in Nice.”
Although Johnson spent most of his speech attacking Clinton, he also attacked the Democratic foe running against him in November: former Sen. Russ Feingold.
“Even after 9/11, [Feingold] was the only senator to vote against giving law enforcement the tools they need to help stop international terror. During his 18-year Senate career, he also voted against authorizing our military 11 separate times.” He said the world is too dangerous to elect either Clinton or Feingold.
After formally winning the Republican nomination, it was Donald Trump’s night. But Johnson mentioned him only once, toward the end of his speech. “Donald Trump and Mike Pence understand that these must be America’s top priorities,” Johnson said, referring to defeating the Islamic State. “They will be strong leaders, working with Republicans in the House and Senate to achieve a goal that can unite us all: a safe, prosperous and secure America.”
United Nations arbitration denounced by Beijing.
A United Nations tribunal on Tuesday ruled unanimously against China’s history-based claim to sovereignty over 90 percent of the South China Sea.
The ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague legally nullifies a multi-year effort by China to take control of the strategic Southeast Asian waterway by making historical claims and occupying disputed terrain.
The arbitration proceedings were sought by the Philippines government, which opposes China’s takeover of several of the Spratly Islands, small islands and reefs located in the southern part of the sea near the Philippines.
A key part of the tribunal’s ruling dismissed China’s so-called “nine-dash line,” an ill-defined border containing some 90 percent of the South China Sea. Beijing had asserted the zone is Chinese maritime territory.
The court said that while Chinese ships and fishermen, along with those of other regional states, used islands in the South China Sea in the past, “there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources.”
“The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line,’” the court said in a statement.
A major showdown over control of the South China Sea has been underway for the past several years between the United States, China, and several smaller states with claims in the South China Sea, notably Philippines and Vietnam.
As part of its takeover bid, China has been building up some 3,200 acres of island terrain in the sea and recently began deploying military facilities and forces, including missiles and aircraft, on the islands in a bid to solidify its claims.
The Pentagon, after years of restraint, in October began challenging Chinese efforts at regional hegemony by resuming naval freedom of navigation operations and reconnaissance overflights.
Several incidents of potentially dangerous Chinese aerial intercepts of U.S. aircraft have taken place, and at least one naval confrontation took place between U.S. and Chinese warships.
In Beijing, Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping rejected the ruling. According to the official Xinhua news agency, Xi said China would not accept any proposal or action by the court, and said that the islands in the South China Sea have been China’s since ancient times.
The Obama administration played down the ruling in an apparent bid to avoid upsetting Beijing. Administration comment was limited to a statement from State Department spokesman John Kirby and background comments by senior officials. The Pentagon declined to comment.
Kirby said the State Department was studying the 500-page decision but called the ruling a legally binding decision and “important contribution to the shared goal of a peaceful resolution to disputes in the South China Sea.”
The court “unanimously found that the Philippines was acting within its rights under the convention in initiating this arbitration” and that it is “final and legally binding on both China and the Philippines,” he added.
“In the aftermath of this important decision, we urge all claimants to avoid provocative statements or actions,” Kirby said.
The ruling is likely to heighten already tense relations. Chinese naval forces currently are holding large-scale naval exercises in the South China Sea. China’s military also announced the deployment of a new guided-missile warship to the area.
U.S. and Philippines armed forces on Monday launched the annual large-scale exercises known as Balikatan, or “shoulder to shoulder,” that are part of the U.S. military and diplomatic pivot to Asia.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun on Tuesday warned in response to the ruling that the military would protect the country’s national sovereignty, security, maritime rights, and interests.
The Pentagon is on alert for any Chinese military aggression in the South China Sea, a Pentagon official said. One possible action could be the establishment by China of an air defense identification zone as part of efforts to step up sea control.
A Chinese military spokesman said June 30 that the creation of such a zone would be based on “whether China is facing security threats from the air, and the level of the threat.”
Other potential action could be for China to seize a grounded Philippines freighter near Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratlys. The Philippines navy has been using the rusting ship that ran aground in 1999 as a military outpost.
The complicated legal opinion for the first time sets out under international law precisely how islands, reefs, and rocks in the sea determine the exclusive economic zones of regional states as set out in the Law of the Sea Convention. The convention set up the arbitration tribunal.
The United States has signed the convention but not ratified it over security concerns related to sovereignty issues.
The unfavorable ruling was partly the result of China’s refusal to take part in the arbitration. Beijing insisted the court did not have jurisdiction over the sea and insisted the illegal dispute should only have been resolved through bilateral China-Philippines talks.
The court rejected China’s position noting that the convention setting up the court permits a ruling on issues even when one party does not participate.
China’s activities since the arbitration process was initiated in 2013 also undermined the court’s efforts to resolve the dispute, by building on the Spratlys and damaging the ecology of the region.
“The Tribunal noted that China has (a) built a large artificial island on Mischief Reef, a low-tide elevation located in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines; (b) caused permanent, irreparable harm to the coral reef ecosystem and (c) permanently destroyed evidence of the natural condition of the features in question,” the court said.
“The Tribunal concluded that China had violated its obligations to refrain from aggravating or extending the parties’ disputes during the pendency of the settlement process.”
In Manila, Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay urged “all those concerned to exercise restraint and sobriety,” adding that the decision supported international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Taiwan, which controls an island in the Spratlys islands, also rejected the court ruling as undermining its claims.
Vietnam welcomed the court’s ruling and said it confirmed Hanoi’s control over both the Paracels and the Spratlys.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R., Texas) said the ruling should lead to more U.S. military operations in the sea.
“Today’s ruling is clear, unambiguous, and reinforces the international order,” Thornberry said in a statement. “The United States should act to give this ruling weight by continuing our free navigation of the seas with our allies and partners in the region, maintaining a robust and ready naval presence in the area, and demonstrating that we are a reliable ally to countries in the region.”
Last week, Abraham Denmark, the assistant defense secretary for East Asia, testified before a joint House hearing of Armed Services and Foreign Affairs subcommittees that the United States is opposing China’s military buildup in the sea.
“Although the United States has noted these developments and expressed our objections to China’s unilateral changing of the strategic landscape of the South China Sea, our primary concern revolves around risk of unintended escalation or conflict among claimants,” Denmark said. “Once completed and outfitted, these facilities will greatly improve China’s capabilities to enforce its maritime and territorial claims, and project power further from China’s shores.”
Denmark said Chinese deployments of radar, anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and fighter jets on the newly created islands is a concern.
“Furthermore, the construction of hangars, anti-aircraft guns, and fuel and water underground storage facilities would support extended deployments of multiple aircraft and ships,” he said.
Former State Department official John Tkacik, a specialist on China affairs, said the ruling is a major setback for Chinese hegemony over the southern areas of the sea but may not affect Chinese claims to the Paracels, in the northern part, where China has faced off against Vietnam.
“The tribunal went out of its way to nullify all China’s (and Taiwan’s) claims to large, 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zones saying that none of China’s landforms even qualify as ‘islands,’ so China cannot make any maritime claims in the southern South China Sea whatsoever,” Tkacik said.
Additionally, the court dismissed China’s assertion of a historical claim to the Spratlys.
“It’s a total loss for China,” Tkacik said. “And it should teach them that if they want to prevail in international legal actions, they should darn well put together a legal team and make their case to the judges.”
Retired Navy Capt. Jim Fanell, a former Pacific Fleet intelligence chief, said the ruling is a set back for China that illegally seized Scarborough Shoal in April 2012.
Fanell said as a career intelligence officer he is worried about the risk to U.S. and allied forces from some type of Chinese military response.
“Given Beijing’s response to the [court] ruling, we should expected the PLA navy and their maritime militia to respond aggressively at sea, to include events such as ramming incidents in the Spratly Islands and even a blockade of Second Thomas Shoal,” he said.
China also could begin building fortifications on Scarborough Shoal, he said, adding that Beijing could also step up military provocations in the East China Sea against Japan or take economic actions.
The tribunal was made up of five legal experts. They included Judge Thomas A. Mensah of Ghana, Judge Jean-Pierre Cot of France, Judge Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland, Prof. Alfred H.A. Soons of the Netherlands, and Judge Rüdiger Wolfrum of Germany. Judge Mensah was president of panel.
Two days before the anniversary of the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, the Islamic Republic attempted to launch a new type of ballistic missile using North Korean technology, multiple intelligence officials tell Fox News.
The test, in violation of a UN resolution, failed shortly after liftoff when the missile exploded, sources said. The effort occurred on the evening of July 11-12 near the Iranian city of Saman, an hour west of Isfahan, where Iran has conducted similar ballistic missile tests in the past.
It would be at least the fourth time Iran has launched or attempted to launch a ballistic missile since the nuclear accord was signed on July 14, 2015.
Iran is barred from conducting ballistic missile tests for eight years under UN Resolution 2231, which went effect July 20, 2015, days after the nuclear accord was signed.
Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology,” according to the text of the resolution.
The landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers does not include provisions preventing Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests.
Iran claims its ballistic missile tests are legitimate because they are not designed to carry a nuclear warhead.
The most recent test was the first time Iran attempted to launch a version of the North Korean BM-25 Musudan ballistic missile, which has a maximum range of nearly 2,500 miles, putting U.S. forces in the Middle East and Israel within reach.
The extent of North Korea’s involvement in the failed launch is not immediately clear, apart from North Korea sharing their technology, according to officials.
North Korea has had its own difficulties launching the Musudan missile of late.
Since April, North Korea has failed five consecutive times in launching one. But late last month, North Korea succeeded in putting into space a Musudan, which later splashed down 250 miles from North Korea into the Sea of Japan.
The U.S. military recently announced, over Chinese objections, that it would deploy an advanced anti-ballistic missile system known as THAAD into South Korea as a result of the gains in North Korean missile technology.
There was no immediate reaction from U.S. Central Command when asked for comment about the failed Iranian missile launch.
In an interview with Fox News in Baghdad Thursday, the head of Central Command, responsible for military operations in the Middle East, said Iran continues to cause trouble in the region.
“Iran’s behavior hasn’t significantly changed as a result of the nuclear agreement,” said Gen. Joseph Votel. “They continue to pursue malign activities, and they continue to foment instability in areas where we need stability so I remain concerned about that continued behavior.”
Reuters reported last week that a confidential report by UN chief Ban Ki-moon called Iran’s ballistic missile program “not consistent with the constructive spirit” of the nuclear deal, but left it up to the UN Security Council to decide if Iran is in violation of UN resolution 2231. Russia and China are permanent members of the five-nation UN Security Council, and both have expressed reservations in the past about punishing Iran about its missile tests.
The Security Council is due to discuss the UN chief’s report on July 18.
Russia shipped components of an advanced third-generation air defense system to Iran earlier this year, drawing outrage from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. While the State Department is “opposed” to the deal, it does not violate either the nuclear agreement nor UN resolution 2231, according to a spokesperson.
In March, Iran sparked international condemnation when it test-fired two ballistic missiles, one emblazoned with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” in Hebrew.
Iran conducted separate ballistic missile tests in October and November.
In March, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Votel was asked about Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities. He testified that Iran “may in fact be more aggressive in the days since the [nuclear] agreement.”
Votel told lawmakers the United States should continue to “expose” Iran for the role they play in the region, including its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, responsible for dropping barrel bombs on his own people, according to Votel.
He told Fox News aboard USS New Orleans, a 684-foot warship loaded with 650 Marines transiting the Strait of Hormuz this week that Iran should be “held accountable” for capturing 10 US Navy sailors in January at gunpoint and holding them for a day.
An Iranian missile boat and four other armed small boats shadowed New Orleans just miles from Iranian shores as she made her way though the strait, coming within 500 yards of the U.S. Navy warship. Such action by Iran has become routine, according to Navy officials.
Since December, Iran has shipped out its low-enriched uranium, disabled its heavy water reactor in Arak, and sold more than $8 million worth of heavy water to the U.S. government in compliance with the nuclear deal.
In January, the UN’s nuclear watchdog declared that Iran had met its provisions in the nuclear deal, which ended many Western economic sanctions unlocking billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
In recent days, Iranian officials have voiced plans to conduct more tests.
“Iran will strongly continue its missile program based on its own defense and national security calculations,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on the ministry’s website.
Obama trumpets an agreement that Tehran violates at every turn.
What diplomats call the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—known to the rest of us as the Disastrous Iran Deal—was agreed in Vienna a year ago this week. Now comes a status update, courtesy of our friends at the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, or BfV.
In its fascinating 2015 annual report, published late last month, the German domestic intelligence service reports a “particularly strong increase” in the number of Salafists, describes the reach of Russian and Chinese espionage efforts in Germany, and notes a growing number of right-wing extremists.
Then there’s this:
“The illegal proliferation-sensitive procurement activities [by Iran] in Germany registered by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution persisted in 2015 at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level. This holds true in particular with regard to items which can be used in the field of nuclear technology.”
The report also notes “a further increase in the already considerable procurement efforts in connection with Iran’s ambitious missile technology program which could among other things potentially serve to deliver nuclear weapons. Against this backdrop it is safe to expect that Iran will continue its intensive procurement activities in Germany using clandestine methods to achieve its objectives.”
The BfV report arrived days before Germany arrested a Pakistani national, identified as Syed Mustufa H., accused of spying for Iran. It also corroborates another German report, this one from the intelligence service of North Rhine-Westphalia, that Iran’s nuclear procurement efforts have increased dramatically in recent years, from 48 known attempts in 2010 to 141 in 2015. Seven other German states have reported similar Iranian procurement efforts. This violates Iran’s explicit commitment to go through an official “procurement channel” to purchase nuclear- and missile-related materials.
All this was enough to prompt Angela Merkel to warn the Bundestag last week that Iran “continued to develop its rocket program in conflict with relevant provisions of the U.N. Security Council.” Don’t expect German sanctions, but at least the chancellor is living in the reality zone.
As for the Obama administration, not so much. For the past year it has developed a narrative—spoon-fed to the reporters and editorial writers Ben Rhodes publicly mocks as dopes and dupes—that Iran has met all its obligations under the deal, and now deserves extra cookies in the form of access to U.S. dollars, Boeing jets, U.S. purchases of Iranian heavy water (thereby subsidizing its nuclear program), and other concessions the administration last year promised Congress it would never grant.
“We still have sanctions on Iran for its violations of human rights, for its support for terrorism, and for its ballistic-missile program, and we will continue to enforce those sanctions vigorously,” Mr. Obama said in January. Whatever.
The administration is now weighing whether to support Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization. That would neutralize a future president’s ability to impose sanctions on Iran, since WTO rules would allow Tehran to sue Washington for interfering with trade. The administration has also pushed the Financial Action Task Force, an international body that enforces anti-money-laundering standards, to ease pressure on Iran, which FATF did last month by suspending some restrictions for the next year.
And then there’s the Boeing deal to sell $17.6 billion worth of jets to Iran, which congressional Republicans led by Illinois’s Pete Roskam are trying to stop. Iran uses its civilian fleet to ferry weapons and fighters to its terrorist clients in Syria and Lebanon.
“The administration is trying to lock in the Iran deal and prevent a future president from doing anything, including pushing back on Iran’s malign behavior,” says the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Mark Dubowitz, who knows more about Iran sanctions than anyone in Washington. “Instead of curbing Iran’s worst behavior, the administration effectively facilitates it.”
One last detail: In June, the Journal’s Jay Solomon reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency had discovered “traces of man-made uranium” at Iran’s military facility at Parchin. The agency reported this finding in a footnote to a report in December, but the administration made no comment then and now dismisses it as old news. The IAEA is no longer allowed to inspect Parchin, or any other military installation, under the deal.
So let’s recap. Mr. Obama says Iran is honoring the nuclear deal, but German intelligence tells us Tehran is violating it more aggressively than ever. He promised “snapback” sanctions in the event of such violations, but the U.S. is operating as Iran’s trade-promotion agent. He promised “unprecedented” inspections, but we’re not permitted to inspect sites where uranium was found. He promised an eight-year ban on Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles, but Tehran violated that ban immediately and repeatedly with only mild pushback from the West. He promised that the nuclear deal was not about “normalizing” relations with a rogue regime. But he wants it in the WTO.
Is Mr. Obama rationalizing a failed agreement or did he mean to mislead the American public? Either way, truth is catching up with the Iran deal.
A rise in terrorist attacks is further evidence that the global appeal of ISIS-inspired jihad is not dwindling.
By M.G. Oprea • The Federalist
It seems every couple of days we hear about another ISIS-linked terrorist attack. The global appeal of the radical Islamist group is on the ascendant as it is continually able to inspire young Muslim men to wreak havoc in its name, from Orlando to Istanbul. Rather than a sign of the success of the U.S.-led assault on ISIS’ territorial claims, the growing frequency of terrorist attacks are, in part, a product of our own negligence.
Last Tuesday, three gunmen wearing suicide vests attacked the international terminal at Turkey’s Atatürk airport in Istanbul, killing 45 and injuring more than 200. Although ISIS hasn’t yet claimed responsibility, Turkish officials told the United States the organizer of the attack was a former commander of an Islamic State battalion in Syria.
On Sunday, Iraq suffered its deadliest attack since 2003, when ISIS attacked a busy neighborhood of Baghdad with a truck bomb that caused a massive fire, killing more than 215 people. On Friday, five gunmen killed 22 hostages in an attack on a café in an affluent neighborhood in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for which ISIS claimed responsibility. Continue reading
Since the proclamation of the Republic (Cumhuriyet) on October 29, 1923, Turkey had been a deeply divided country, and what had been even more problematic, either ruled by quasilegitimate governments or the military. Oscillating between Western secularism and Oriental despotism both had existed under insoluble contradictions. While, officially they had declared allegiance to constitutional freedoms and to Ataturk’s six principles, statism, reformism, nationalism, secularism, republicanism and populism, in reality they had ruled by attempting to fully control all the instrument of national sovereignty. Theoretically, Turkey had been governed by the principles of British parliamentarianism, but actually the people had had no say in politics. Thus having been deprived of real opposition, political modernization in a quintessentially Muslim state had been doomed to failure. Clearly, the governing elites and the people had been existing for almost a century within the narrow confines of their desire to be seen as Europeanized and their deep seated Islamic traditions. The political and cultural schizophrenia had poisoned Turkish society with lies and had resulted in regularly recurring crises. Continue reading
Claims Obama admin misled Congress about purchase of Iranian nuclear material
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
Congress is seeking legal remedies to block further concessions by the Obama administration to Iran, according to a leading member of the House Intelligence Committee, who told the Free Beacon that the administration has been systemically misleading Congress about the nature and scope of its giveaways to Iran.
Obama administration officials confirmed overnight that an $8.6 million deal to purchase nuclear material from Iran was functionally finalized in late April. The administration had in recent months refused to answer questions about the payment from lawmakers and journalists, claiming that the deal had not yet been finalized.
The revelation triggered condemnation from leading members of Congress as well as top nuclear experts, who linked the administration’s contradictory statements to efforts by U.S. officials to quietly promote Iran as a legitimate nuclear industry player and economic power. Continue reading
Report: The Obama administration misled the public and obstructed investigations into Benghazi.
By Mollie Hemingway • The Federalist
Here are the five big takeaways from the U.S. House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, Libya, gleaned from a summary report by Reps. Jim Jordan, R-OH, and Mike Pompeo, R-KS.
1. Administration Misled Public Immediately and Continually
Even though U.S. officials — including Hillary Clinton — knew immediately that the siege in Benghazi was a highly coordinated terror attack, they chose to mislead the public with statements about spontaneous protests caused by a YouTube video. Continue reading
Arizona Republican Senator John McCain has over his decades in government built a reputation based largely on a few key tenets. As a genuine Vietnam War hero, and as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, he is one of the lead defenders and proponents of all things military. He relentlessly champions “good government” – i.e. spending government money more wisely and well. And he has engaged in a relentless pursuit of “campaign finance reform” so as to allegedly remove the undue influence of political donors on policy decisions.
What the Senator is currently doing calls all of these reputational tenets into serious question.
McCain, McCarthy Team Up to Ban Russian Rocket Engines: “Two Republican powerhouses (Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain [Ariz.] and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy [Calif.]) teamed up Wednesday to introduce a bill that would stop U.S. military reliance on Russian-made rocket engines (RD-180) for its national security space launches.”
Except you can’t actually end our reliance on Russian rockets – unless you have a viable alternative ready to go. The United States does not. As McCain’s Senate colleague Richard Shelby (R-AL) points out: “Given the current volatility of our relationship with Russia, our nation needs to develop a reliable, American alternative to the RD-180 as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that may not be for another four to five years at best.”
How important to what we do is the RD-180? “Today, approximately two-thirds of our military, intelligence community, scientific and weather satellites are launched into orbit on the Atlas 5, which uses the Russian RD-180 rocket engine.”
So Senator McCain wanting to immediately ban this vital rocket component is terrible for the military. And it isn’t just me saying it – again, Senator Shelby: “(R)ecklessly restricting the use of the RD-180 in the near-term will undermine both national security and the prospects for real competition in the military launch business.”
What does Senator McCain propose we purchase instead? “Sen. McCain pushed these restrictions in close coordination with SpaceX, which stands much to gain by eliminating competition. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was recently certified for some of these launches by the Air Force, albeit under intense political pressure from the Obama administration….SpaceX has…suffered numerous delays and anomalies. Shortly after the Air Force’s certification of the Falcon 9, a catastrophic failure in June led to the complete loss of both the vehicle and all of its taxpayer-funded cargo, thus grounding the vehicle. The company was already over two years late developing the Falcon 9 and now has a substantial backlog of its current launch schedule, which raises the question of what the launch priorities will be if it does resume flights.”
SpaceX doesn’t sound anywhere near ready for prime time. In fact, it’s actually worse than that: “SpaceX has yet to undertake any form of national security launch. Yet without changes to the restrictions pushed by Senator McCain, virtually all of America’s military space missions will depend on SpaceX’s grounded rocket and its problematic launch history.”
Why on Earth (and beyond) is Senator McCain joining with the Obama Administration in pushing completely inadequate SpaceX as the next thing – when it clearly yet isn’t?
John McCain Bought and Paid For by Elon Musk: “Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and businessman Elon Musk, creator of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and SolarCity, have enjoyed a long and close business and political relationship that have helped support the senator while enriching Musk at taxpayer expense. Musk and his companies have support McCain and his McCain Institute while the senator has consistently supported and advanced the legislative interests of Musk’s companies in the Senate.”
So Senator McCain is pushing an amendment that is terrible for the military and our national security. That will almost certainly cost us untold additional billions of dollars in failed launches and lost materials – because of unready rockets. All to reward with even more government coin – a man who has given McCain lots and LOTS of political coin.
All of which contradicts every tenet for which Senator McCain claims to stand. The biggest opponent of McCain’s amendment – should be McCain.
Here’s hoping everyone else in Congress will do the wise, prudent and fact-based thing – and oppose what McCain is proposing.