So far, his story is shaping up as the now-customary list of jihadist clichés.
America just suffered our worst terrorist attack since 9/11. We need to start talking honestly about the enemy that keeps butchering Americans.
writes: Tonight we burn illusions. A terrorist attack on a popular gay club in Orlando, Florida in the middle of the night ended before the dawn with the violent deaths of at least 50 innocents and the maiming of 53 more. This was the bloodiest terrorist attack on America since 9/11. The Pulse nightclub, something of an icon in Florida LGBT circles, was transformed into a charnel house.
“While all Islamists view gays and lesbians with a distaste that veers easily into violence, ISIS kills them so routinely – pushing them off buildings before the cameras, for instance – that it scarcely attracts attention any longer. Nobody should be shocked that a murderer swearing allegiance to ISIS makes gays his target – particularly during Ramadan, when the group has exhorted its followers to make war on infidels with enhanced intensity.”
The United States had been lucky, having avoided truly mass casualty terrorist incidents since that awful day 15 years ago, through a combination of luck, inept enemies, and excellent intelligence work. But the Orlando horror demonstrates that attacks on soft targets in public places can cause huge numbers of casualties, here as well as in Europe, like last November’s assaults on Paris that killed 130 people, 89 of them at the Bataclan theater, where a hostage situation resulted in a bloodbath. Something similar has just happened in Florida.
His statement that his son was triggered by seeing two men kissing in public seems unlikely to endear the family to the American public.
“Within hours of the massacre, progressives and jihad apologists were insisting that the Orlando attack was ‘really’ about guns – and certainly not about Islamism or jihadism. The Pulse massacre was about guns the way that the 9/11 attacks were ‘really’ about box cutters and the 2013 Boston bombing was ‘really’ about pressure cookers.”
While the Paris attacks were the work of nine terrorists, plus several others providing logistical support, so far only one killer has been identified in the Orlando atrocity. While there are reports of other shooters, these remain unconfirmed, and the sole terrorist definitely involved was Omar Mateen, born in this country in 1986 to immigrant parents from Afghanistan. He was killed by police at the end of the nightmare he inflicted on Orlando.
So far, his story is shaping up as the now-customary list of jihadist clichés. The 29-year-old went from a relatively normal American life towards extremism, winding up on the radar of the FBI more than once for his aggressive beliefs. A brief marriage failed, in part because he frequently beat his wife, she claims, asserting that Mateen “was not a stable person.” A trauma like divorce leading to an embrace of jihadism is as common as can be in extremist circles.
The killer’s family has claimed that their son’s terrible act had “nothing to do with religion” – again, following the script we have come to expect whenever a young person, usually male, brutally murders strangers in the name of Islam. While Omar Mateen’s father claims to be utterly mystified by his son’s actions, that assertion should be examined closely, since Seddique Mateen has publicly praised the Taliban in his home country – the very people the American military has been fighting since late 2001. In a truly bizarre twist, Mateen Senior claims to be the real president of Afghanistan. His statement that his son was triggered by seeing two men kissing in public seems unlikely to endear the family to the American public.
Wasting no time, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Pulse nightclub. This should not surprise, since Mr. Mateen is reported to have declared allegiance to ISIS just before starting his rampage, and that group boasts of its pathological hatred of homosexuals. While all Islamists view gays and lesbians with a distaste that veers easily into violence, ISIS kills them so routinely – pushing them off buildings before the cameras, for instance – that it scarcely attracts attention any longer. Nobody should be shocked that a murderer swearing allegiance to ISIS makes gays his target – particularly during Ramadan, when the group has exhorted its followers to make war on infidels with enhanced intensity.
“There’s also a disturbing question about how Mr. Mateen managed to keep working as a security guard despite having been twice investigated by the FBI.”
Whether Mr. Mateen had any bona fide contacts with the Islamic State is another question, one that investigators will want to answer properly. Since he was known to the FBI, it seems likely that U.S. intelligence had questions about that too. Regardless, since the Islamic State has commanded jihadist wannabes worldwide to take action by themselves, without any direct orders from the group, it’s quite possible that this killer was simply doing what he thought ISIS would want him to do in their name. Read the rest of this entry »
Large-scale cyberattacks have in recent years become effective national-security weapons
WASHINGTON— Damian Paletta reports: A tremendous number of personnel records—including some quite personal records—have likely been stolen by computer hackers. The White House won’t say who did it, but a number of U.S. officials and even some lawmakers have said all signs point to China.
“The Chinese government has denied it, but the staggering haul of records could amount to one of the biggest feats of espionage in decades.”
Right now, the White House and Congress are trying to ascertain what was stolen and how to protect people whose identifies have been compromised, not to mention their “foreign contacts” that are listed on the security clearance forms that could now be on the hard drives of the hackers.
But very soon a much different question will be asked in Washington: If the White House finds out who stole the information, what will President Barack Obama do about it?
“Even though large-scale cyberattacks have been used for more than a decade, they have only become extremely effective national-security weapons in the past few years.”
In December, the White House accused North Korea of stealing and destroying a large amount of records from Sony Pictures Entertainment. President Barack Obama called it “cyber vandalism,” angering some of his critics who wanted the U.S. government to retaliate. Read the rest of this entry »
Islamic State forces last week captured the key Iraqi city of Ramadi and also expanded their reach in Syria. Critics and even allies of the administration took to Sunday television talk shows to call for a strategy change by the administration to stem the advance of Islamic State forces.
“We have under-resourced the strategy. We need to provide more firepower support…ISIS is a threat not only to Iraq and Syria. It is a threat to us.”
— Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense from 2009 to 2012
Among the calls: More aggressively arming Sunni tribes and Peshmerga forces who oppose Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS.
“If there comes a time when we have to change the kinds of support we give we will make that recommendation.”
Mr. Carter said in an interview with CNN aired Sunday.
House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R., Texas) said on ABC’s “This Week” that the battle in Ramadi was among the many reasons why he doubted the Obama administration’s claim that U.S. efforts have succeeded in degrading the strength of ISIS.
“The Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact they vastly outnumbered the opposing force and yet they failed to fight and withdrew from the site…We can give them training, we can give them equipment. We obviously can’t give them the will to fight.”
— Defense Secretary Ash Carter
“I don’t see evidence of that,” said Mr. Thornberry. “I see ISIS gaining territory in Iraq and Syria.” What is more, he said, “their ideology, their approach, their brand is growing faster than their territory.”
The administration has scaled back its near-term ambitions by delaying plans for an offensive to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. It has agreed to expand and speed shipments of military equipment to Iraqi security forces and step up training for fighters from Sunni tribes.
Mr. Carter offered a withering critique of the will of Iraqi defense forces in the fall of Ramadi to Islamic State. Read the rest of this entry »
Bill Gertz reports: China’s military plans to produce nearly 42,000 land-based and sea-based unmanned weapons and sensor platforms as part of its continuing, large-scale military buildup, the Pentagon’s annual report on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) disclosed Friday.
“Together with the increased mobility and survivability of the new generation of missiles, these technologies and training enhancements strengthen China’s nuclear force and bolster its strategic strike capabilities.”
China currently operates several armed and unarmed drone aircraft and is developing long-range range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for both intelligence gathering and bombing attacks.
“The acquisition and development of longer-range UAVs will increase China’s ability to conduct long-range reconnaissance and strike operations,” the report said.
China’s ability to use drones is increasing and the report said China “plans to produce upwards of 41,800 land- and sea-based unmanned systems, worth about $10.5 billion, between 2014 and 2023.”
“The Lijian, which first flew on Nov. 21, 2013, is China’s first stealthy flying wing UAV.”
Four UAVs under development include the Xianglong, Yilong, Sky Saber, and Lijian, with the latter three drones configured to fire precision-strike weapons.
“The Lijian, which first flew on Nov. 21, 2013, is China’s first stealthy flying wing UAV,” the report said.
The drone buildup is part of what the Pentagon identified as a decades-long military buildup that last year produced new multi-warhead missiles and a large number of submarines and ships.
“China will likely continue to invest considerable resources to maintain a limited, but survivable, nuclear force to ensure the PLA can deliver a damaging responsive nuclear strike.”
Additionally, the Pentagon for the first time confirmed China’s development of an ultra-high speed maneuvering strike vehicle as part of its growing strategic nuclear arsenal.
“China is working on a range of technologies to attempt to counter U.S. and other countries’ ballistic missile defense systems, including maneuverable reentry vehicles (MaRV), [multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles], decoys, chaff, jamming, and thermal shielding,” the report, made public Friday, states.
“The United States and China acknowledge that the Chinese tested a hypersonic glide vehicle in 2014,” the report noted.
It was the first time the Pentagon confirmed the existence of what is known as the Wu-14 hypersonic glide vehicle, a strike weapon that travels at the edge of space at nearly 10 times the speed of sound.
The Wu-14, designed to deliver nuclear weapons through U.S. missile defenses, was first disclosed by the Washington Free Beacon, which reported on three tests conducted in 2014.
“Together with the increased mobility and survivability of the new generation of missiles, these technologies and training enhancements strengthen China’s nuclear force and bolster its strategic strike capabilities,” the report said. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON — Some of President Obama’s email correspondence was swept up by Russian hackers last year in a breach of the White House’s unclassified computer system that was far more intrusive and worrisome than has been publicly acknowledged, according to senior American officials briefed on the investigation.
The hackers, who also got deeply into the State Department’s unclassified system, do not appear to have penetrated closely guarded servers that control the message traffic from Mr. Obama’s BlackBerry, which he or an aide carries constantly.
But they obtained access to the email archives of people inside the White House, and perhaps some outside, with whom Mr. Obama regularly communicated. From those accounts, they reached emails that the president had sent and received, according to officials briefed on the investigation.
White House officials said that no classified networks had been compromised, and that the hackers had collected no classified information. Many senior officials have two computers in their offices, one operating on a highly secure classified network and another connected to the outside world for unclassified communications.
But officials have conceded that the unclassified system routinely contains much information that is considered highly sensitive: schedules, email exchanges with ambassadors and diplomats, discussions of pending personnel moves and legislation, and, inevitably, some debate about policy.
Officials did not disclose the number of Mr. Obama’s emails that were harvested by hackers, nor the sensitivity of their content. The president’s email account itself does not appear to have been hacked. Aides say that most of Mr. Obama’s classified briefings — such as the morning Presidential Daily Brief — are delivered orally or on paper (sometimes supplemented by an iPad system connected to classified networks) and that they are usually confined to the Oval Office or the Situation Room.
Still, the fact that Mr. Obama’s communications were among those hit by the hackers — who are presumed to be linked to the Russian government, if not working for it — has been one of the most closely held findings of the inquiry. Senior White House officials have known for months about the depth of the intrusion.
“This has been one of the most sophisticated actors we’ve seen,” said one senior American official briefed on the investigation.
Others confirmed that the White House intrusion was viewed as so serious that officials met on a nearly daily basis for several weeks after it was discovered. “It’s the Russian angle to this that’s particularly worrisome,” another senior official said. Read the rest of this entry »
Andrew Ferguson’s Ted Cruz Profile September 23,2013
From yesterday’s New York Times, this:
In 2013, a Ferguson profile of Ted Cruz included a devastating section in which the journalist, trapped in cars and green rooms with his subject, realizes that Cruz only speaks in stump speeches, and won’t … stop … giving … them.
I remember reading the Cruz profile, “Washington Builds a Bugaboo” in in The Weekly Standard back in 2013, and the impression it left was permanent. Even now, it’s hard to look at Cruz without recalling the unflattering depictions of Cruz’s unyielding conversational style and tone-deaf careerism. It’s a good cautionary tale. Read the whole thing here.
September 23, 2013, Andrew Ferguson writes:
Several times a day, especially if he’s out travelin’ and talkin’ to folks, as he always is when the U.S. Senate isn’t in session, Ted Cruz will stand before an audience and reflect, seemingly for the first time, about the generational shift taking place in the Republican party.
“Ted really worked at it. He’d practice at home in front of the mirror to get everything just right.”
— Paige Moore, a friend of the Cruz family
“I call them the Children of Reagan,” he says. He means the rising group of Republican officeholders who came to political consciousness during President Reagan’s two terms. He rattles off their names: “young leaders” like Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Nikki Haley, Mike Lee, Scott Walker . . . and then sometimes he’ll pause, letting you wonder if he’s leaving out any of the Children’s names. Sometimes a helpful fan in the audience will volunteer it, to general appreciation from the crowd.
Among that tiny fraction of Americans who are paying attention to such things, Cruz seems to be the only person who is forgetting Ted Cruz’s name.
“Americans who worry about democracy need to keep on this guy,” warned a reporter for the New Republic back in February. And no wonder! Skim the tweets or scan the blogs or, if you’re older than one of Reagan’s Children, read the actual newspapers, and you’ll soon discover that Ted Cruz is far more than the freshman senator from Texas, only eight months in office. He is also the “scary” “McCarthyite” “Taliban” “bully” and “bomb-thrower” known for his “extremism” and his “arrogant” and “nihilistic” “disregard of facts.”
When you follow him around, however—for he is in constant motion, from Iowa to New Hampshire to every corner of Texas—this nasty fellow you’ve been reading about, the caricature Cruz, never appears. If “Ted Cruz” didn’t exist, professional Democrats and the mainstreamers in the Washington press corps would have to invent him.
And, in a way, he doesn’t, and they have: Indeed, the invention of Ted Cruz as Republican bugaboo makes an excellent case study in how partisan journalism and politics commingle these days, as jittery Washington prepares for the post-Obama era.
Already the litany of Cruz’s extremism has become an item in the progressive catechism. Most of it involves alleged violations of Senate etiquette, and it’s useful to glance over a few of them, to see how the legend grows.
The unnerved New Republic reporter mentioned above was alarmed in particular by Cruz’s questioning of soon-to-be defense secretary Chuck Hagel during Hagel’s confirmation hearings.
Cruz opposed Hagel’s nomination. The reasons seemed straightforward—Cruz disagreed with the nominee on questions of national defense and foreign policy, including Hagel’s well-attested aversion, or “antagonism,” as Cruz put it, toward Israel’s behavior in the Middle East. Cruz grilled Hagel (the verb is required when writing about congressional hearings) about his association with a ferociously anti-Israel U.S. diplomat called Chas Freeman. In 2009 Freeman resigned from the president’s National Intelligence Council after pro-Israel senators like Charles Schumer said his “statements against Israel were way over the top.”
At the hearing, Cruz asked Hagel whether he and Freeman had ever worked or junketed together, as press reports suggested. Hagel said no. Cruz moved on.
“Those old enough to remember, or who are familiar with, the history, will recognize Cruz’s line of attack as classic McCarthy tactics,” wrote TNR’s reporter. The mention of McCarthy is catnip for a good mainstreamer. “The Reincarnation of Joe McCarthy?” wondered a columnist for Forbes. The mere scent jogged the memory of a left-wing reporter for the New Yorker,who, Pavlov-style, wrote a story headlined: “Is Senator Ted Cruz Our New McCarthy?” She dug out old notes she had taken at a speech Cruz gave to a group of right-wingers a couple years before.
The New Yorker’s reporter didn’t mention it, but other people who were there say Cruz’s informal speech was boisterous and funny, tailored to an audience of like-minded ideologues. Just as a mention of Joe McCarthy thrills people on the left, so the right delights in mockery of Harvard, especially its law school—and especially if the speaker, like Cruz, is a graduate in good standing.
According to the New Yorker reporter, Cruz said this two years ago:
“There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were 12 who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”
Having been found guilty as a McCarthyite, Cruz is of course granted no license for hyperbole, even among friends (and donors!). When Cruz attended Harvard Law, in the mid-90s, it was still the intellectual locus of a dying movement called Critical Legal Studies that was explicitly inspired by Marx, whose other followers, history shows, seldom reconciled themselves to the U.S. government. Earnestly, with that mock disinterestedness that characterizes the most dutiful of the mainstreamers, the reporter got an “equal-time” comment from a spokesman for the law school. The spokesman confessed to being “puzzled by the senator’s assertions.” For the record.
There is a professor at Harvard Law famous for, among other things, being a Republican. The New Yorker sleuth tracked him down. He told her that in fact, during Cruz’s Harvard years, 4 professors had publicly confessed to Republicanism. There were over 200 faculty at the law school at the time, but none, according to the New Yorker’s investigation, called for the Communists to overthrow the government. The question in the New Yorker headline answered itself. Read the rest of this entry »
The move comes as the President’s short list for the potential nominees got even shorter in recent days—top candidates including Michelle Flournoy, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), and current Homeland Security Jeh Johnson all removed themselves from consideration
David Bastawrous—Special Report: Senior White House officials say President Obama has decided to nominate Ashton Carter as the next Secretary of Defense, a number of news outlets are reporting. The New York Times reports that the administration will hold off on making the official announcement until at least the end of the week, as the vetting process is still
“Though a Yale and Oxford trained physicist by trade, Carter has previously worked the number 2 and 3 positions in the Pentagon after being unanimously confirmed by the Senate.”
Before serving as both Leon Panetta’s and Chuck Hagel’s deputy, he was the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. The role placed Carter at the helm of, among other things, managing the DOD’s stock of weaponry.
Carter also has significant fiscal management experience within the DOD, as he was tasked with carrying out the 2012 $500 billion sequester cuts within the department.
Republican Senator Jim Inhoffe, a member of the Committee on Armed Services, today spoke of his support for Carter as the nominee. Read the rest of this entry »