Obama Legacy: Endowing the Trump Administration with Broadened War Powers 

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After eight years as an autocratic president with a maximalist view of executive authority, Barack Obama is handing his successor an expansive interpretation of the commander in chief’s authority to wage war around the globe.

Josh Lederman writes:

…In his final weeks in office, Obama has broadened the legal scope of the war on extremism, the White House confirmed Monday, as it acknowledged for the first that the administration now asserts it is legally justified to take on the extremist group al-Shabab in Somalia.

The determination is based on an expanded application of a 9/11-era use of force authorization, a statute Obama has repeatedly leaned on to justify military operations. That rationale has raised concerns about how Trump might use Obama’s precedent to justify other overseas entanglements — without consulting Congress.

The White House staunchly defends Obama’s use of military power, arguing in a detailed report Monday that all operations have been firmly grounded in domestic and international law. White House counsel Neil Eggleston called the report — the first of its kind — a demonstration of how Obama has ensured “that all U.S. national security operations are conducted within a legal and policy framework that is lawful, effective and consistent with our national interests and values.”

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Yet the report, which Obama said should be updated annually, also reveals how his administration has relied overwhelmingly on the 2001 authorization, which even Obama acknowledges is outdated.

Though the law’s targets were al-Qaida and the Taliban, a clause in the bill includes “associated forces” of al-Qaida, in Afghanistan or beyond. That clause is now being used as a catch-all for military action in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Libya, the report shows, plus the basing of U.S. troops in other countries.

[Read the full story here, at ABC News]

As for al-Shabab, until recently, the U.S. determined only that its individual leaders were linked to al-Qaida, which limited targeting of those individuals. Now the broader group is included.

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Trump has promised a more muscular and militaristic approach to counterterrorism, occasionally using expletives to suggest he’d aggressively bomb ISIS militants, although he has been vague on details.

Deborah Pearlstein, a former White House official and international law professor at Yeshiva University, said it’s likely the next administration will use Obama’s framework as its starting point. “By practice and long history, those opinions tend to stand,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »


‘How was I supposed to know that cowboy George Bush would announce he wanted us ‘dead or alive’ and then invade Afghanistan to hunt us down?’

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The ISIS Trail of Death 

Since October 10, ISIS and its sympathizers around the world have killed at least 525 people in six attacks in six countries outside its so-called caliphate.

Here is the chronology and body count of the attacks, with U.S. intelligence analysis of who was behind each:

—Oct. 10: The bombing of peace demonstrations outside the main train station in Ankara, Turkey left 102 dead. Directed by ISIS.

—Oct. 31: The bombing of a Metrojet plane bound for Russia over Egypt killed 224 passengers and crew. An “announcement” attack by the ISIS in the Sinai peninsula.

—Nov. 10: Two suicide bombers detonating themselves in a marketplace in southern Beirut, Lebanon, killing 43 people. Directed by ISIS.

—Nov. 13: Attacks on multiple sites in Paris, including the Bataclan theater, left 130 dead — excluding attackers. Directed by ISIS.

—Nov. 24: The bombing of a bus carrying members of the presidential guard in the Tunisian capital city of Tunis left at least 12 dead. An “announcement” attack by the ISIS affiliate in Tunisia. Read the rest of this entry »


Aaron MacLean: Degrading and Ultimately Dishonest: Obama Changes Nothing After Paris

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 writes: Twice during his train wreck of a press conference this morning in Turkey, President Obama cited the prospect of American military casualties as a major part of his reason for not using U.S. ground troops against the Islamic State. Lecturing an openly skeptical press corps—and, by extension, critics he accused of “popping off” and trying to “sound tough” without actually proposing anything serious—he condescendingly pointed out that ground combat is a serious business. Troops “get killed, they get injured, they are away from their families.”

“From the very outset, Obama has been dishonest about his goals. The biggest take-away of his embarrassing assertion to ABC News just before the Paris attacks that the Islamic State had been contained was indicative of this, and went largely unnoticed by the press.”

As it happens, I talk to Marines I served with in Afghanistan all the time. I am sure there must be a few out there who don’t want to take time “away from their families” in order to annihilate the Islamic State, risking death to do so, but I haven’t heard from them.

[Read the full text here, at Washington Free Beacon]

Marines have a word for this kind of thing. They call it their “job.” (In fact, I know more than a few who have left the Corps because they concluded they weren’t going to deploy to fight while Obama was still in office.)

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” He has a vision for the future, of a United States that is no longer the primary enforcer of world order, but a responsible partner among other nations combating a wide array of challenges, most critically climate change. He has accepted as a risk that the citizens of Paris, or of Washington, might be murdered in large numbers as he sees his strategy through.”

In the press conference, Obama also said his top military advisers oppose ground action against the Islamic State. This might even be true: Obama fires military commanders who are too hawkish for him. It stands to reason that he appoints those who are going to be sympathetic to his views—officers who in some cases then suppress intelligence showing that the fight against the terrorists is failing.

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“But as the Islamic State continues to metastasize, and Americans begin to reject Obama’s rhetoric, the president will find himself in a political dilemma.”

Regardless, after a performance like today’s, who would tell the president that ground action is needed? The man clearly doesn’t want to hear it, just as he clearly doesn’t want to entertain the possibility that there might be a middle course between his own demonstrably ineffective word-salad of a strategy and a re-enactment of the counterinsurgency campaigns of the last decade.

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“Even if Hillary tacks to the right on national security after her primary challenge is concluded, Obama’s fecklessness could empower Republicans in 2016, thus risking his entire legacy. That, for Obama, would be a disaster.”

How embarrassing for editors who headlined stories over the weekend saying that Obama faces a “crossroads” or a “dilemma” after the Paris attacks. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] OH YES SHE DID: Clinton Knew ‘Attack Had Nothing to Do with the Film’  

“Your experts knew the truth, your spokesperson knew the truth, Greg Hicks knew the truth,” Jordan said during a House Benghazi Committee hearing. “But what troubles me more is I think you knew the truth.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) relentlessly questioned former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday over why she and other administration officials initially blamed a YouTube video for the Benghazi terror attacks, a claim contrary to available intelligence at the time.

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“The American people want to know why. If you look at the statement that I made, I clearly said it was an attack. Calling it an attack is like saying the sky is blue — of course it was an attack.”

“Your experts knew the truth, your spokesperson knew the truth, Greg Hicks knew the truth,” Jordan said during a House Benghazi Committee hearing. “But what troubles me more is I think you knew the truth.” Jordan accused Clinton of telling the president of Libya, Egyptian prime minister and even family members that terrorists were behind the attack, but later suggested an anti-Muslim video sparked the attack.

[Read more here, at The Corner, National Review Online]

“The American people want to know why,” Jordan added. “If you look at the statement that I made, I clearly said it was an attack,” Clinton replied. “Calling it an attack is like saying the sky is blue — of course it was an attack,” Jordan shot back.

At one point, Clinton looked visibly annoyed by Jordan’s line of questioning….


[VIDEO] First Public Benghazi Hearings Begin: In Opening Statement Gowdy Addresses Critics

 “I remain convinced our fellow citizens deserve all of the facts of what happened before, during, and after the attacks in Benghazi and they deserve an investigative process worthy of the memory of those who died and worthy of the trust of our fellow citizens.”

WASHINGTON — The Daily Caller reports: The Republican chairman of the new Benghazi select committee pledged Wednesday during the first public hearing to conduct an investigation “worthy of the memory of those who died and worthy of the trust of our fellow citizens.”

“Benghazi was not the first time our diplomatic facilities and people have been attacked,” Gowdy said. “The barracks in Beirut, our facilities in Tanzania and Kenya are a few that come to mind amid too many others.”

“I remain hopeful there are still things left in our country that can transcend politics,” South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the committee, said in his opening statement in a Capitol Hill hearing room. “I remain convinced our fellow citizens deserve all of the facts of what happened before, during, and after the attacks in Benghazi and they deserve an investigative process worthy of the memory of those who died and worthy of the trust of our fellow citizens.”

“So to those who believe it is time to move on, that there is nothing left to discover, that all questions have been asked and answered, that we have learned the lessons to be learned — we have heard that before. And yet the attacks and the tragedies keep coming.”

Earlier this year, lawmakers in the House passed a bill to establish the new committee to investigate the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya. Read the rest of this entry »


Who Celebrated the Sept. 11 Attacks?

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The politically correct version of the September 11 attacks holds that the Muslim world rejected such violence as un-Islamic and condemned the attacks.  This is not true.  The Muslim world celebrated the attacks.

Palestinians dance in the street at the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp near the southern port city of Sidon, Sept. 11, 2001. Palestinians in Lebanon's refugee camps celebrated the attacks in the United States by firing into the air. (AP Photo/Mohamed Zatari) Copyright 2001 The Herald-Dispatch

Palestinians dance in the street at the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp near the southern port city of Sidon, Sept. 11, 2001. Palestinians in Lebanon’s refugee camps celebrated the attacks in the United States by firing into the air. (AP Photo/Mohamed Zatari)  Copyright 2001 The Herald-Dispatch

I took a trip to Egypt a few years ago to do the usual tourist lap around the pyramids and up the Nile.  Our guide was a Copticpali2 Christian.  During a quiet moment in Cairo, I asked him what the Egyptian reaction was to Sep 11.  He said they celebrated.  They marvelled at the cleverness of the attackers and considered it quite a victory.  After a month, the government decided that such public celebrations of American deaths were not in its best interests and prohibited them.  That stopped them cold, though they continued behind closed doors.

Here are some anecdotes of those celebrations, anecdotes that never seemed to have been picked up by the liberal media.

“In Germany, Muslims grow apart”; Peter Schneider; New York Times; December 4, 2005 …(read more)

In Germany, Muslims celebrated with rockets… 

But tolerance of Muslim immigrants began to change in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. Parallel to the declarations of “unconditional solidarity” with Americans by the German majority, rallies of another sort were taking place in Neukölln and Kreuzberg. Bottle rockets were set off from building courtyards, a poor man’s fireworks: two rockets here, three rockets there. Altogether, hundreds of rockets were shooting skyward in celebration, just as most Berliners were searching for words to express their horror. For many German residents in Neukölln and Kreuzberg, Vogelsang recalls, that was the first time they stopped to wonder who their neighbors really were…(more)

Whooping It Up: In Beirut, even Christians celebrated the atrocity

Wall Street Journal; Saturday, September 22, 2001 12:01 a.m. EDTBEIRUT–Where were you on Sept. 11, when terrorists changed the world? I was at the National Museum here, enjoying the wonders of the ancient Phoenicians with my husband. This tour of past splendor only magnified the shock I received later when I heard the news and saw the reactions all around me. Read the rest of this entry »


Hizballah Says Commander Killed Outside Home

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(BEIRUT) — Hizballah says that one of its commanders has been “assassinated” outside of his home in Lebanon’s capital of Beirut.

A statement issued by the group Wednesday said Hussein al-Laqis was killed as he returned home from work around midnight. It did not say how he died.

The statement accused Israel of being responsible for the killing. It said Israel had tried to kill him several times, but had failed.

Hizballah also has been fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in that country’s civil war. That’s sparked attacks across neighboring Lebanon.

TIME.com


Syria: Are Amphetamines Funding the War?

Captagon pills are displayed along with a cup of cocaine at an office of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces. JOSEPH EID / AFP / Getty Images

Captagon pills are displayed along with a cup of cocaine at an office of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces. JOSEPH EID / AFP / Getty Images

 reports:  Fifteen days into his job as Lebanon’s top drug-enforcement official, Colonel Ghassan Chams Eddine got a tip-off that something big was going down at the Beirut shipping port this summer.

How big? Nearly 5.5 million tablets of a locally produced amphetamine expertly hidden inside an industrial water heater destined for Dubai. His men had to use acetylene torches to remove the white tablets, each embossed with an off-kilter yin-yang symbol and packed into 1,000-piece units in heat-sealed plastic bags. “The boiler was made in Syria, and the way the tablets were hidden, it was clear that they hadn’t been just stuffed inside,” says Chams Eddine. “That unit was formed around the drugs, at the factory.” Read the rest of this entry »