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John Fund & Hans von Spakovsky: Obama’s ‘Scandal-Free Administration’ Is a Myth 

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Even a prominent Trump adviser accepts the false premise that there has been no ‘ethical shadiness.’

John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky write: You often hear that the Obama administration, whatever its other failings, has been “scandal-free.” Valerie Jarrett, the president’s closest adviser, has said he “prides himself on the fact that his administration hasn’t had a scandal and he hasn’t done something to embarrass himself.”

Even Trump adviser Peter Thiel seems to agree. When the New York Times’s Maureen Dowd observed during an interview that Mr. Obama’s administration was “without any ethical shadiness,” Mr. Thiel accepted the premise, saying: “But there’s a point where no corruption can be a bad thing. It can mean that things are too boring.”

In reality, Mr. Obama has presided over some of the worst scandals of any president in recent decades. Here’s a partial list:

• State Department email. In an effort to evade federal open-records laws, Mr. Obama’s first secretary of state set up a private server, which she used exclusively to conduct official business, including communications withobama-BW the president and the transmission of classified material. A federal criminal investigation produced no charges, but FBI Director James Comey reported that the secretary and her colleagues “were extremely careless” in handling national secrets.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

• Operation Fast and Furious. The Obama Justice Department lost track of thousands of guns it had allowed to pass into the hands of suspected smugglers, in the hope of tracing them to Mexican drug cartels. One of the guns was used in the fatal 2010 shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Congress held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt when he refused to turn over documents about the operation.

• IRS abuses. Mr. Obama’s Internal Revenue Service did something Richard Nixononly dreamed of doing: It successfully targeted political opponents. The Justice Department then refused to enforce Congress’s contempt citation against the IRS’s Lois Lerner, who refused to answer questions about her agency’s misconduct. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mark Hemingway: Scandals Aplenty

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The media just pretended they didn’t exist.

Mark Hemingway writes: As achievements go, this would be one in which a modern president could take pride. But in making the claim for himself, Obama proves he cannot even accurately describe the events of his presidency. His tenure saw an astounding number of scandals: Benghazi, Fast and Furious gunrunning, Solyndra and green energy subsidies for campaign donors, cash for Iranian hostages, IRS targeting of conservative groups, spying on journalists, Hillary Clinton’s private email server, the Veterans Administration disaster, trading deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders held in Guantánamo, droning American citizens without due process, and firing inspector general Gerald Walpin for investigating an Obama crony who was abusing federal programs. And that list isn’t exhaustive.

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The media have certainly tried their best to buttress Obama’s claim to have presided over a scandal-free administration—starting long before he even made it. In 2014, New Yorker editor and Obama biographer David Remnick told the (skeptical) host of PBS’s Charlie Rose that the president had already racked up “huge” achievements. On his list: “The fact that there’s been no scandal, major scandal, in this administration, which is a rare thing in an administration.”

[Read the full story here, at The Weekly Standard]

Remnick was hardly alone. Veteran journalist Jonathan Alter wrote a column for Bloomberg back in 2011 headlined “The Obama Miracle, a White House Free of Scandal.” More recently, Glenn Thrush, then a Politico reporter, tweeted, “As Obama talks up legacy on campaign trail important to note he’s had best/least scandal-scarred 2nd term since FDR.” Even conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks last year declared the Obama administration “remarkably scandal-free.”

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Remnick’s remark is particularly notable for how it presaged White House talking points. Obama’s chief campaign strategist David Axelrod was asked at the University of Chicago in 2015 about the administration’s broken promise to bar lobbyists from working for it. Axelrod admitted things hadn’t been “pristine” but said, “I’m proud of the fact that, basically, you’ve had an administration that’s been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal.”

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As Noah Rothman observed in Commentary, “The qualifier ‘major’ lays the burden on shoulders of the press to define what constitutes a serious scandal, and political media had thus far reliably covered the administration’s ethical lapses as merely the peculiar obsessions of addlebrained conservatives.”

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So what would constitute a “major” scandal? Would it involve, say, dead bodies? The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gave thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels; they used some of them to kill dozens of people, including American border patrol agent Brian Terry. When Congress tried to investigate why the ATF gave away so many guns and failed to track them, the Department of Justice engaged in unprecedented stonewalling.

The department withheld 92 percent of the documents requested and forbade 48 relevant employees from speaking to congressional investigators. Attorney General Eric Holder was ultimately held in contempt of Congress, with 17 Democrats supporting the measure. An explanation for why the ATF gave thousands of guns to violent criminals has yet to emerge—but we are to understand that this is not a “major” scandal. Read the rest of this entry »


BLUNT FORCE: Medical Report Reveals Putin Spokesman Mikhail Lesin’s Head Bashed In

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‘It was just a little tap on the head, nothing serious’. 

A former spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin who co-founded the Kremlin-backed news outlet RT died in a Washington hotel room of blunt force trauma to the head in November, according the office of D.C.’s medical examiner.

The Thursday revelation runs counter to previous reports that Mikhail Lesin‘s November death was due to a heart attack, reigniting accusations that foul play may have been involved.

[Also see – Palace Intrigue: Putin’s Aide Mikhail Lesin Found Dead]

A joint statement from the Washington Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Metropolitan Police Department claimed that Lesin, 59, also suffered “blunt force injuries of the neck, torso, upper extremities and lower extremities,” which contributed to his death. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Releases Dangerous Jihadists – Then Misleads Country About It

Guantanamo rarely appears in jihadist propaganda, whether ISIS or al Qaeda, and reviews of recent propaganda materials from ISIS and al Qaeda – online videos and audio recordings, glossy magazines, etc. – found very few mentions of the facility.

Stephen F. Hayes and Thomas Jocelyn write: President Barack Obama says his administration will continue releasing terrorists from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, so long as those released are less dangerous than the jihadists currently fighting against the U.S. and its interests.

“I am absolutely persuaded, as are my top intelligence and military advisers, that Guantanamo is used as a recruitment tool for organizations like ISIS. And if we want to fight ’em, then we can’t give ’em these kinds of excuses.”

The bizarre argument comes in a new interview with Olivier Knox of Yahoo! News and is one of several comments in their discussion that reinforces the president’s stubborn nonchalance on issues related to jihad. Obama also shrugs off concerns about recidivism of former Guantanamo detainees, suggesting that only a “handful” of former detainees have returned to the fight and claiming that only “low-level” terrorists have been released from the detention facility. Both claims are demonstrably false.

“Virtually everything Obama said in his Yahoo interview about Guantanamo is false. Guantanamo is not a leading recruitment tool for jihadists. From the earliest days of the facility, many of those detained there were deemed more than the “low-level” fighters the president would have us believe. And far more than a “handful” of released detainees – nearly 200 suspected or confirmed – have returned to the fight.”

In the interview, Knox asked Obama about Ibrahim al Qosi, a Guantanamo detainee transferred by the Obama administration to Sudan in July 2012, who recently resurfaced as a leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, often described as the most dangerous al Qaeda branch.

[Read the full story here, at The Weekly Standard]

Al Qosi appeared in a propaganda video disseminated by the group last week. Knox asked Obama whether having someone return to the fight “in a big way,” like Qosi, has caused the administration to revisit its vetting procedures.

“There is no reason that Obama would need to be ‘persuaded’ of something that can be easily demonstrated. Either Guantanamo is a major recruitment tool or it’s not. Administration officials have been making this claim for years and it’s not true.”

“I am absolutely persuaded, as are my top intelligence and military advisers, that Guantanamo is used as a recruitment tool for organizations like ISIS,” Obama began. “And if we want to fight ’em, then we can’t give ’em these kinds of excuses.” Read the rest of this entry »


UPDATE: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Will Face Court-Martial for Desertion, Misbehavior Charges

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Michelle Tan reports: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been recommended for trial by general court-martial, the Army announced Monday.

Bergdahl is charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy and could face life in prison.

The case was referred to court-martial by Gen. Robert Abrams, commanding general of Forces Command and the court-martial convening authority in the case.

A date for his arraignment hearing has not been announced. The hearing is expected to take place at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where FORSCOM has its headquarters.

“The convening authority did not follow the advice of the preliminary hearing officer who heard the witnesses,” Bergdahl’s lawyer, Eugene Fidell, said in a statement.

Bergdahl’s defense team “had hoped the case would not go in this direction. We will continue to defend Sgt. Bergdahl as the case proceeds.”

The Army’s announcement comes days after “Serial,” one of the nation’s most popular podcasts, launched its series on Bergdahl. The first episode of the series features snippets of conversations between the soldier and filmmaker Mark Boal, who worked as a writer and producer on “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker.”

It’s the first time the public will hear directly from Bergdahl, at length, about his ordeal.

Bergdahl spent five years as a captive under the Taliban and was released last year in a controversial prisoner swap.

He was captured after disappearing from Combat Outpost Mest-Lalak in Paktika province, Afghanistan, on June 30, 2009. He has been accused of leaving his patrol base alone and intentionally before he was captured by Taliban insurgents. He was freed in a May 31, 2014, prisoner swap that also freed five Taliban leaders from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bergdahl was charged March 25 with one count of desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty, and one count of misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place. Read the rest of this entry »


Investigation: Barack Obama Broke Laws To Swap Five Taliban Leaders For Bowe Bergdahl

The report is titled ‘Report On The Inquiry Into: The Department of Defense’s May 2014 Transfer to Qatar of Five law-of-war Detainees In Connection With the Recovery Of A Captive U.S. Soldier.’

Mary Chasten reports: The House Armed Services Committee has concluded that President Barack Obama “misled the public” and broke several laws when he swapped five Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

“Our report finds that the Administration clearly broke the law in not notifying Congress of the transfer,” declared committee chairman 

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX)

“Leading up to the transfer, DOD officials misled Congress as to the status of negotiations. Pentagon officials best positioned to assess the national security risks were left out of the process, which increases the chances of dangerous consequences from the transfer.”

The committee presented several findings in its report.

The transfer of the Taliban Five violated several laws, including the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The constitutional arguments offered to justify the Department of Defense’s failure to provide the legally-required notification to the Committee 30 days in advance are incomplete and unconvincing. The violation of law also threatens constitutional separation of powers…

The Committee was misled about the extent and scope of efforts to arrange the Taliban Five transfer before it took place. The Department of Defense’s failure to communicate complete and accurate information severely harmed its relationship with the Committee, and threatens to upend a longstanding history and tradition of cooperation and comity.

The prisoners learned about their transfer on May 29, 2014, while Congress knew nothing. The department finally alerted Congress on May 31, “less than two hours” before the terrorists departed from GTMO.

[Read the full report here]

The Committee also found that the five prisoners resumed their activities once they reached Qatar. “It is irresponsible to put these terrorists that much closer to the battlefield to settle a campaign promise and unconscionable to mislead Congress in the process,” said Thornberry.

[Read the full text of Mary Chasten‘s article here, at Breitbart.com]

During its investigation, the committee was told by the Pentagon’s serving General Counsel, Stephen Preston, that the Department of Justice “believed the president’s ‘constitutional authority’ over service members could permit the president to act notwithstanding the 30-day notification requirement.” Read the rest of this entry »


ISIS Beheads Four Peshmerga in Revenge for U.S. Raid

Bridget Johnson reports: ISIS beheaded four Peshmerga in a grisly video released today with a retribution message to President Obama — delivered by an American-sounding executioner — for last week’s raid to rescue 69 prisoners near Hawija, Iraq.

“…There is still no compelling reason to believe that anything we are currently doing will be sufficient to achieve the President’s stated goal of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL.”

— Senator John McCain

Three of the Kurds are forced to watch the fourth prisoner being beheaded before they are subjected to the same fate.

“Obama, you have learned a new lesson. Six of the soldiers of the caliphate faced 400 of your children. They killed and injured them, by Allah’s grace. You were probably surprised by this. O Crusader, it is the support of Allah you did not gain anything, you returned to your base with loss and humiliation.”

The video, viewed by PJM, includes night-vision images of a helicopter attack, though it’s unclear if it’s footage from that night. It also shows clips of Defense Secretary Ash Carter, dead bodies and a field of rubble while ripping off coalition footage of the strikes. U.S. forces said they leveled the compound after the prisoners, who were set to be killed later that day, were rescued.

“Obama, you wage war against Allah. He supports us against you; it is the promise of Allah. Allah will never fail in his promise.”

— Jihadist

A narrator speaking in Arabic walks through the decimated compound as he recounts ISIS’ version of events and includes alleged witnesses.

[Read the full text here, at PJ Tatler]

One jihadist wearing gloves and a surgical mask picks through a pile of first-aid packaging, bloody bandaging and needles they said were left by U.S. and Kurdish forces.

Then the 15-minute video cuts to the prisoners in orange jumpsuits kneeled before the rubble, and the black-clad killers wielding knives. Read the rest of this entry »


Pentagon Throws the Book at Bowe Bergdahl

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Misbehavior before the enemy violates Article 99 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and includes grotesquely dishonorable behavior, including running away, ‘shamefully’ abandoning any place that it is his ‘duty to defend,’ ‘cowardly conduct,’ or endangering the safety of his unit through his own ‘disobedience, neglect, or intentional misconduct.’

David FrenchDavid-French-NRO reports: It looks like the Obama administration may have traded five high-ranking Taliban prisoners for someone who was worse than a deserter:

Military prosecutors have reached into a section of military law seldom used since World War II in the politically fraught case against Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier held prisoner for years by the Taliban after leaving his post in Afghanistan.

[Read the full text here, at The Corner]

Observers wondered for months if Bergdahl would be charged with desertion after the deal brokered by the U.S. to bring him home. He was — but he was also charged with misbehavior before the enemy, a much rarer offense that carries a stiffer potential penalty in this case.

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“The maximum penalty is death, but it’s highly unlikely that the Army will seek to execute Bergdahl.”

Misbehavior before the enemy violates Article 99 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and includes grotesquely dishonorable behavior, including running away, “shamefully” abandoning any place that it is his “duty to defend,” “cowardly conduct,” or endangering the safety of his unit through his own “disobedience, neglect, or intentional misconduct.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Obama Defense Dept. Forced Soldiers to Sign Non-Disclosure Statements on Turncoat Bowe Bergdahl’s Behavior

General Mullins told Bowe Bergdahl’s closest comrades to sign non-disclosure statements on Bergdahl’s behavior before he deserted his platoon.

 


TIME’s Self-Answering Question

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[VIDEO] REWIND: Susan Rice: Bergdahl Served With ‘Honor and Distinction’


BREAKING: Desertion Charge for Bergdahl

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Obama wants Congress to Endorse His Hesitant Anti-ISIS Strategy

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The War Irresolution

Napoleon famously said that in warfare if you vow to take Vienna—take Vienna. President Obama ’s version of that aphorism might be—on the way to Vienna stop to summer in Salzburg, only use air power, and if the fighting isn’t over in a couple of years call the whole thing off.

[Also see – ]

How else to interpret the amazing draft of a resolution that Mr. Obama sent to Congress Wednesday requesting an authorization to use military force against Islamic State? The language would so restrict the President’s war-fighting discretion that it deserves to be called the President Gulliver resolution. Tie me down, Congress, please. Instead of inviting broad obama-exec-opolitical support for defeating ISIS, the language would codify the President’s war-fighting ambivalence.

“Mr. Obama’s draft language fairly describes his current war strategy. But a flawed military strategy that is ambiguous is better than a flawed strategy written into law. Mr. Obama’s strategy can be changed by the next President—unless it is codified by a flawed authorization.”

The draft is especially notable for its disconnect between military ends and means. The preamble contains a long and accurate parade of horribles about the “grave threat” posed by Islamic State. These include “horrific acts of violence” against women and girls, the murder “of innocent United States citizens,” and its intention “to conduct terrorist attacks internationally, including against the United States, its citizens, and interests.” Really bad guys.

“The time limit alone is reason to oppose the resolution, as we’ve seen in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama’s deadline on U.S. operations there has given the Taliban confidence to wait us out. A time limit also tells our coalition allies that the U.S. commitment against ISIS could end no matter the state of war at the time. “

But then the resolution proceeds to inform these killers about the limits of what the U.S. will do to defeat them. Mr. Obama wants Congress to put into statutory language that it “does not authorize the use of the economist-mission-relaunched-obamaUnited States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations”; and that “the use of military force shall terminate” in three years “unless reauthorized.”

“Rather than put shackles on his generals, Mr. Obama should be urging them to mount a campaign to roll back ISIS as rapidly as possible from the territory it holds.”

The time limit alone is reason to oppose the resolution, as we’ve seen in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama’s deadline on U.S. operations there has given the Taliban confidence to wait us out. A time limit also tells our coalition allies that the U.S. commitment against ISIS could end no matter the state of war at the time. Mr. Obama has said himself that degrading and destroying ISIS may take years, yet his draft would force the next President to seek a new authorization in 2018.

“That would be a genuine defeat—and the world would see it as one. It would also be a demonstration to potential ISIS recruits that if you join the jihad, you are likely to die, and soon.”

As for ground troops, Mr. Obama is asking Congress to endorse a military strategy that his own generals have said may be deficient. In a letter to Congress elaborating on the draft authorization, Mr. Obama says his draft “would provide the flexibility to conduct ground operations” in “limited circumstances, such as rescue operations” or “the use of special operations forces to take military action against ISIL leadership.” He says the resolution would only bar “long-term, large-scale ground combat operations” as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Read the rest of this entry »


November Surprise: Decisions on Immigration, Iran and Other Hot Issues that were Delayed for Political Reasons will be Coming Soon

APTOPIX White House Sunrise

The problem, as the Founders saw it, is to prevent the president or Congress from acquiring unchecked power, as they will inevitably try to do. The solution was to divide powers between the executive and the legislature and hope that they would be constrained by countervailing institutional interests. But Harry Reid is a “party man,” not a “Senate man.”

Mr. Lipson is a professor of political science and director of the Program on International Politics, Economics, and Security at the University of Chicago.

Charles Lipson writes: With the midterm elections looming, the White House has delayed controversial decisions and appointments. That makes sense politically. The administration doesn’t want to force Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Michelle Nunn, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, or other embattled Democrats to defend presidential actions right now, or worse, to oppose them publicly. But as soon as the voting is done (perhaps after runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia), several big shoes will drop. Here are the most likely ones.

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Obama’s Post-Election Policy Blowout

1) Immigration. How many millions will the president let in? On what terms? One hint: The Department of Homeland Security recently ordered more than four million green cards and visas for next year and says it might order another 29 million for future years.HarryReidClock

“All of these matters have been high-profile and potentially deeply divisive. That is precisely why the White House is postponing any announcements. When the administration finally does speak, it will unleash a political storm, even if Democrats hold the Senate.”

The cards would give immigrants who are here illegally the right to continue living and working in the U.S. legally—and perhaps receive a variety of federal and state benefits. Should the president unilaterally issue these cards, there will be a brutal debate over the wisdom of this policy, whether it extends to welfare benefits, and whether the president has the constitutional authority to issue so many cards without specific congressional approval.

 “If Republicans win, those winds will reach hurricane force, since the president will likely try to ram everything through a lame-duck Congress. If that happens, consider boarding up the windows.”

2) The next U.S. attorney general. The president wants a crusader on progressive causes and a reliable firewall to protect him, just as Eric Holder has done. Rumor has it that he wants Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who has been the point man on racial preferences. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Woodward: ISIS Strategy a Hot Mess

President Obama laid out “a mighty ambitious goal” when he said he would destroy the Islamic State, and thus far his strategy has been ineffective, says the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward on Fox News Sunday.

“This is a mess. Obama’s clearly gone through a wake-up call — he’s got to come up with something to do here.”

Woodward – YouTube – National Review Online


Victor Davis Hanson: World at War

logoFor Defining IdeasVictor Davis Hanson writes: Will the United States in its near future be hit again in the manner of the 9/11 attacks of thirteen years ago? The destruction of the World Trade Center, the suicide implosions of four passenger airliners, and the attack on the Pentagon unfortunately have become far-off memories. They are now more distant from us than was the Vietnam War was from the Korean War.  islamic extremism threat chart

“Drone strikes continue at a vastly accelerated pace under President Obama, but they also raise existential hypocrisies about our approach to terrorism.”

Two questions will determine whether radical Islamic terrorists will attack us once more: one, are the post-9/11 anti-terrorism protocols that have so far stopped major terrorist attacks still viable and effective, and, two, is Al-Qaeda or an analogous Islamic terrorist organization now still as capable as were Osama bin Laden’s henchmen in 2001?

Unfortunately, the answers to those two questions should raise great concern. Take the current status of the so-called war on terror in all of its manifestations. The southern border of the United States is less guarded than at anytime since 9/11.

For all practical purposes, enforceable immigration laws simply no longer exist. The result is that we have no idea who is crossing into the United States or for what purposes.

“The President’s six years of concentrated Islamic outreach has not won over the Muslim Middle East.”

Some of the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols are still in operation—renditions, preventative detention, the Guantanamo detention center, and the Patriot Act. However, the NSA, IRS, and VA scandals, along with the Edward Snowden and Wikileaks revelations, have created an understandably strong public backlash against government surveillance, which will lead to new protocols limiting our ability to monitor terrorist suspects. Read the rest of this entry »


Analysis: Restoring Balance Among the Branches of Government in Washington

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“The framers believed that members of each branch of government would transcend individual political ambitions to vigorously defend the power of their institutions.”

For the The Washington PostRon Johnson and Jonathan Turley write:
The controversy over President Obama’s decision to exchange five high-ranking Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl last month focused largely on the price paid. There was less focus on Obama ignoring a federal law that required him to notify Congress 30 days in advance of releasing detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Laws such as this have been enacted to allow vital oversight of actions of such consequence. If this were an isolated instance, it could be dismissed. It is not.

Ron_Johnson_CongressRon Johnsonturley_jonathan, a Republican, represents Wisconsin in the Senate. Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.

After announcing that he intended to act unilaterally in the face of congressional opposition, Obama ordered the non-enforcement of various laws — including numerous changes to the Affordable Care Act — moved hundreds of millions of dollars away from the purposes for which Congress approved the spending and claimed sweeping authority to act without judicial or legislative controls.

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 15: Ethan Kasnett, an 8th grade student at the Lab School in Washington, DC, views the original constitution. (Brendan Smialowski/GETTY IMAGES)

WASHINGTON – DECEMBER 15: Ethan Kasnett, an 8th grade student at the Lab School in Washington, DC, views the original constitution. (Brendan Smialowski/GETTY IMAGES)

A growing crisis in our constitutional system threatens to fundamentally alter the balance of powers — and accountability — within our government. This crisis did not begin with Obama, but it has reached a constitutional tipping point during his presidency. Indeed, it is enough to bring the two of us — a liberal academic and a conservative U.S. senator — together in shared concern over the future of our 225-year-old constitutional system of self­governance.

We believe that people of good faith can likewise transcend politics and forge a bipartisan coalition to examine these changes. In our view, the gridlock in Washington is not simply the result of toxic divisions. The dysfunctional politics we are experiencing may in part be the result of a deeper corrosion — a dangerous instability that is growing within our Madisonian system. Read the rest of this entry »


Poll: Obama’s Choice in Neckties Hits Record Highs, Leadership, Foreign Policy, Economy, Health Care, Competence, Not So Good

s-OBAMA-TIES-largeThough the President’s taste in fine’s menswear is enjoying its highest approval rating since 2012, especially his ties, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reveals that President Obama’s disapproval ratings on leadership, foreign policy, and competence, are among his worst ever.

For Breitbart.com, John Nolte reports:

After a slight rebound last month in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, President Obama is back to his previous overall job approval low of 41% (a drop of 3%) and hit record lows on his handling of foreign policy and overall competence…

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“It all comes back to one word: leadership.”

— Democratic pollster Peter Hart

…A full 57% (a record high for this poll) disapprove of the way Obama is handling foreign policy. Only 37% approve. Read the rest of this entry »


Officals Say Bergdahl Is Physically Sound, ‘Better Than Expected’

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For The Daily Caller, Chuck Ross reports: One of the main claims that the Obama administration made to justify giving up five Taliban commanders in exchange for Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been undermined, according to U.S. officials who say he is “physically sound.”

Obama administration officials have said that Bergdahl’s health was deteriorating rapidly and that he was in imminent danger after being held captive by the Haqqani network for nearly five years.

Because of his condition, a deal to free him from captivity was fast-tracked, the administration has maintained.

But U.S. officials who have been briefed on Bergdahl’s condition since his return into U.S. hands told The New York Times that he is healthier than expected.

According to the report, the officials said that Bergahl is not malnourished. He weighs 160 pounds, a healthy weight for his 5-foot-9 frame. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] The Cool Whip Presidency: For a Supposedly ‘Whipped-Up’ Controversy, Bergdahl Concerns Remarkably Bipartisan

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[UPDATE: See Jonah Goldberg’s commentary: This is more than a “whipped-up controversy.”]

George Will on Thursday’s Special Report.

“…a recurring theme in his presidency, which is there’s no such thing as honest, intelligent disagreement with him…”

Will couldn’t help but note that it isn’t solely Republican lawmakers taking issue with the conditions of the trade.

“If this is ‘whipped up,’ the project of whipping it up is remarkably bipartisan.”

Will said, pointing to concerns raised by West Virginia’s two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller. Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, has also spoken out about the White House’s handling of the situation…(read more)

Read the rest of this entry »


Secret Documents Reveal ‘Warrior for Islam’: Bergdahl Declared Jihad in Captivity

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“…he became much more of an accepted fellow’ than is popularly understood. He even reportedly was allowed to carry a gun at times…”

For Fox News reports: U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl at one point during his captivity converted to Islam, fraternized openly with his captors and declared himself a “mujahid,” or warrior for Islam, according to secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account and obtained by Fox News.

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“…a member of the Haqqani network, said to be close to Bergdahl’s captors, reported that the American prisoner had declared himself a ‘mujahid’…”

The reports indicate that Bergdahl’s relations with his Haqqani captors morphed over time, from periods of hostility, where he was treated very much like a hostage, to periods where, as one source told Fox News, “he became much more of an accepted fellow” than is popularly understood. He even reportedly was allowed to carry a gun at times.

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The documents show that Bergdahl at one point escaped his captors for five days and was kept, upon his re-capture, in a metal cage, like an animal. In addition, the reports detail discussions of prisoner swaps and other attempts at a negotiated resolution to the case that appear to have commenced as early as the fall of 2009.

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The reports are rich in on-the-ground detail — including the names and locations of the Haqqani commanders who ran the 200-man rotation used to guard the Idaho native — and present the most detailed view yet of what Bergdahl’s life over the past five years has been like. These real-time dispatches were generated by the Eclipse Group, a shadowy private firm of former intelligence officers and operatives that has subcontracted with the Defense Department and prominent corporations to deliver granular intelligence on terrorist activities and other security-related topics, often from challenging environments in far-flung corners of the globe. Read the rest of this entry »


Analysis: Could Bowe Bergdahl Really Forget How to Speak English?

Monika Schmid is a professor of linguistics at University of Essex.

For The ConversationMonika Schmid writes: When U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl was released after being held captive by the Afghan Taliban for five years, his father said his son was “having trouble speaking English.” Many will find this statement incredible: Is it really possible to forget your native language?

English-amnesia

The answer depends on many factors. The first is what we mean by “forgetting.” Would it, for example, be possible for a mother tongue to be completely forgotten, so that a person cannot understand, or even recognize it anymore? The answer is yes, but only if she or he lost contact with that language before puberty.

Studies of international adoptees show that they very rapidly and completely forget their mother tongue, even if they are as old as 8 at the time that they are adopted. As adults, they may no longer be able to recognize the simplest words of the language they had first learned, and if they try to learn it again, they have few, if any, advantages over novice learners. Read the rest of this entry »


EXCLUSIVE: First News Photo of Hometown Celebration Parade For Bowe Bergdahl

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Laura Zuckerman reports:  U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl‘s hometown, feeling a backlash over allegations that he was a deserter, has canceled a rally planned for later this month celebrating his release from five years of Taliban captivity, city officials said on Wednesday.

“The family needs time to heal.”

In calling off the June 28 event, the officials cited concerns that they lacked the resources to safely manage the thousands of supporters and protesters who were expected to converge on the small mountain community of 8,000 residents.

“I’m not unhappy it’s been canceled.”

The decision came as pressure mounted to cancel the rally in the face of rising hostility, expressed in a torrent of emails and phone calls directed at city officials and businesses, over claims by Bergdahl’s onetime Army comrades that he deliberately abandoned his post in Afghanistan…(read moreReuters


[VIDEO] Former Navy SEAL: Bergdahl Swap Latest Example of Amateur Hour in the Obama Administration

“We’re measuring them by the size of their mistakes, and that is amateur hour.”

From NROs Molly Wharton: Former Navy SEAL and FBI special agent Jonathan Gilliam thinks that the Obama administration has shown it’s not up for the task of effectively and safely overseeing America’s wars, and the recent prisoner exchange of five high-level Taliban generals for American Bowe Bergdahl is just the latest example…

“I just don’t know where their politics end and their legality and their war-fighting start.”

(read more)

National Review Online


[VIDEO] ‘Honor & Distinction’: Susan Rice on ABC’s ‘This Week’ – with Laugh Track

Pundit Planet Media


Republicans Scrub Early Digital Praise of Bergdahl Release, Senate Democrats Go Silent

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Republicans Delete Digital Praise of Bowe Bergdahl Release

For MashableBrian Ries writes: 

At least three prominent Republicans appeared to offer praise on Twitter for the rescue of American POW Bowe Bergdahl — only to later backtrack, scrubbing their tweets or websites of any mention of the soldier after questions arose over the prisoner swap that freed him.

Republicans have widely criticized the Obama administration for swapping five high-level Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl, who many believe defected from his base because he was unhappy with the U.S. military’s actions in Afghanistan.

But before those criticisms mounted, some members of the GOP didn’t hesitate to welcome Bergdahl’s release with open arms…(read more)

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Senate Democrats Go AWOL

They had Obama’s back on the Bergdahl/Taliban trade. Now they’re walking away.

For The Weekly StandardJohn McCormack and Michael Warren write:

On Sunday, Senator Claire McCaskill gave a full-throated defense of the president’s decision to release five Taliban commanders from the Guantanamo prison in exchange for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. “We saved this man’s life. The commander-in-chief acted within his constitutional authority, which he should have done,” McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, told Fox News host Chris Wallace. “I’m very proud that we have no POWs left in Afghanistan and the president should be proud of it also.”Claire_McCaskill-zipper

But following multiple reports that Bergdahl deserted his post and soldiers died searching for him, McCaskill will no longer say she still supports the deal she was “very proud” of just 48 hours ago….

“It depends on all the facts and circumstances of the case,” Levin added. “I’m not going to give you a conclusion in the case because I don’t know all the circumstances.”

Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York declined to comment when asked if it was a good deal. In addition, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Chris Coons of Delaware, and Mark Begich of Alaska said they’re reserving judgment.

The only senator who explicitly supported the deal on Tuesday was Majority Leader Harry Reid(read more)

 


Taliban Video Shows Handover of U.S. Soldier

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban have released a video showing the handover of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan.

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A screen grab from footage released by the Taliban purportedly shows the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl, 28, was handed off to U.S. special forces in southeastern Afghanistan after being held for five years. Five Afghan detainees were released from Guantanamo Bay as part of the prisoner exchange. (Al Emara/Al Emara)

The video, e-mailed to media on Wednesday, shows Bergdahl in traditional Afghan clothing sitting in a pickup truck parked on a hillside. More than a dozen Taliban fighters with machineguns stand around the truck and on the hillside…(read more)

The Washington Post


[VIDEO] Mainstream Media: From Puffery to Savagery on Bergdahl

From the other Hammer M.K.Ham – Hot Air


[POSTER] Oh Yes They Did: MAD MAGAZINE ‘Barack Obama’s Unfortunate New Movie’

Recently, President Obama exchanged five Taliban leaders for an American POW, Bowe Bergdahl. One prisoner for five is an iffy trade to begin with — but even moreso when it was revealed that Bergdahl had deserted his post. So, Obama got his man, but there was a lot of collateral damage — it kind of reminds us of a movie we once saw…

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Mad Magazine


[VIDEO] REWIND: White House Expected…’Euphoria’ Over Bergdahl Release?

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Hot Air’s ALLAHPUNDIT comments:

“…As for Todd’s point about the White House expecting “euphoria,” there are only two possibilities. One: Despite a Pentagon investigation in 2010 into Bergdahl’s disappearance, despite Michael Hastings’s article two years ago in Rolling Stone, despite the fact that Bergdahl apparently left a note confirming his desertion, somehow everyone in the administration who had input into this prisoner swap missed the longstanding accusations against him. They thought they were bringing home a guy who was captured heroically in combat and have now been caught completely by surprise. I don’t buy that, although I’ve had a few dozen conservative pals warn me on Twitter over the past 24 hours to never underestimate Hopenchange’s ignorance and incompetence. Point taken, and if this were purely a policy matter, I might go along. It isn’t. It’s a political landmine too and O’s usually careful to protect his own political capital. Someone surely looked into Bergdahl’s disappearance and signed off on this knowing the allegations against him.

Which brings us to the other possibility. Namely, Obama expected “euphoria” over Bergdahl’s release not because he didn’t know about the desertion claims but because he assumed that most of the public would never find out. I think he expected the media to go face-first into the tank in ignoring the desertion angle in the interest of (a) protecting the White House and (b) playing up the gauzy “POW reunited with parents” human-interest stuff. And you know what? That was a reasonable expectation. They Obama-AP-hankyprobably thought that any desertion claims against Bergdahl would be confined to Fox and a few problematic segments on Jake Tapper’s show, all of which could be ignored and ghettoized as some new right-wing bugaboo (sorry, Jake) that no one else need take seriously. Michael Tomasky was way out in front of that yesterday morning. But then all sorts of big-media outlets dug in — the Times, WaPo, NBC, ABC, and on and on — and that made the “politicization” defense too difficult (although the left, God love ‘em, is still trying). I’m shocked by how eagerly the media went after it, frankly, although not as shocked as the White House. The X factor they didn’t anticipate, I’ll bet, is that soldiers like Cody Full would come forward and risk retaliation for putting his name to the “deserter” theory. It’s one thing to call a Republican a hack, it’s another to call a veteran who was there and who lost friends in the hunt for Bergdahl one. They’ve been left with no counter.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Hammer: Very Important the Army Pursue Trying Bergdahl for Possible Desertion

“I think that it’s very important that the Army pursue this.”

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“If you’re going to do the swap that we did for this kind of guy, where there is a question whether he left on his own or not or what the motives were, you absolutely have to bring military justice to bear.”

— Charles Krauthammer on Tuesday’s Special Report

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Jeffrey Toobin: Obama Clearly Broke the Law with Bergdahl Exchange

“…the president is taking power for himself that the law didn’t give him — he’s explicitly contradicting it.”

— CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

For NROAndrew Johnson: The Obama administration’s failure to notify Congress of the release of five Guantanamo Bay detainees ahead of his exchanging them for American soldier Bowe Bergdahl is a direct violation of the law, according to CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

“It matters whether people follow the law or not…I think he clearly broke the law.”

“I think he clearly broke the law,” Toobin said on Monday, adding that the president’s signing statement in which he called the law unconstitutional does not automatically make it so…(read more)

National Review Online


White House Story Unraveling: US Knew Bowe Bergdahl Had Deserted, Investigated Him

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For The Daily CallerChristopher Bedford reports: As early as 2010, the Pentagon had confirmed that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had deserted his post in 2009, and even before he deserted he had been the subject of “a major classified file” by U.S. intelligence.

[Also see: The soldiers in Bowe Bergdahl’s platoon speak up: We Swore to an Oath and We Upheld Ours. He Did Not.’– The Weekly Standard]

A 2010 investigation by the Pentagon found there was solid evidence that Bergdahl hadn’t lagged behind on patrol, as first reported, and had indeed walked from his post, AP reports. The Pentagon decided at that point to draw down search-and-rescue operations. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Jake Tapper: Fellow Soldiers Call Bowe Bergdahl a Deserter and Not a Hero

“Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”

—  Matt Vierkant

“I was pissed off then and I am even more so now with everything going on,” said former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009. “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”

Vierkant said Bergdahl needs to not only acknowledge his actions publicly but face a military trial for desertion under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: 168 Times Released Gitmo Detainees Returned to Active Terror

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For Breitbart.comBen Shapiro writes: Over the weekend, the Obama White House announced that it had made the worst trade since Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock: five senior Taliban commanders for apparent deserter Bowe Bergdahl.

“what did we give up in exchange for the tarnished soldier?”

President Obama announced, “On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal.” Bergdahl, however, went AWOL according to those who served with him – in emails, he stated that “the horror that is America is disgusting.”

So, what did we give up in exchange for the tarnished soldier? Five “high-risk” Taliban commanders. Two of the five are wanted by the UN and would be tried for war crimes. Read the rest of this entry »


Meet Five of the Most Dangerous Taliban Commanders in U.S. Custody Exchanged for American Captive

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(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

The Weekly Standard has profiled these jihadists previously on multiple occasions, and what follows below is culled from these accounts. Here are short bios for each of the five Taliban commanders. All quotes are drawn from declassified and leaked documents prepared at Guantanamo.

Mullah Mohammad Fazl (Taliban army chief of staff): Fazl is “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes Mohammad_A_Fazlincluding the murder of thousands of Shiites.” Fazl “was associated with terrorist groups currently opposing U.S. and Coalition forces including al Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), and an Anti-Coalition Militia group known as Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami.” In addition to being one of the Taliban’s most experienced military commanders, Fazl worked closely with a top al Qaeda commander named Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, who headed al Qaeda’s main fighting unit in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 and is currently detained at Guantanamo.

Mullah Norullah NooriNorullah_Nori (senior Taliban military commander): Like Fazl, Noori is “wanted by the United Nations (UN) for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims.” Beginning in the mid-1990s, Noori “fought alongside al Qaeda as a Taliban military general, against the Northern alliance.” He continued to work closely with al Qaeda in the years that followed.

Abdul Haq Wasiq (Taliban deputy minister of intelligence): Wasiq arranged for al Qaeda members to provide Unknowncrucial intelligence training prior to 9/11. The training was headed by Hamza Zubayr, an al Qaeda instructor who was killed during the same September 2002 raid that netted Ramzi Binalshibh, the point man for the 9/11 operation. Wasiq “was central to the Taliban’s efforts to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight alongside the Taliban against U.S. and Coalition forces after the 11 September 2001 attacks,” according to a leaked JTF-GTMO threat assessment.

Khairullah KhairkhwaKhirullah_Khairkhwa (Taliban governor of the Herat province and former interior minister): Khairkhwa was the governor of Afghanistan’s westernmost province prior to 9/11. In that capacity, he executed sensitive missions for Mullah Omar, including helping to broker a secret deal with the Iranians. For much of the pre-9/11 period, Iran and the Taliban were bitter foes. But a Taliban delegation that included Kharikhwa helped secure Iran’s support for the Taliban’s efforts against the American-led coalition in late 2001. JTF-GTMO found that Khairkhwa was likely a major drug trafficker and deeply in bed with al Qaeda. He allegedly oversaw one of Osama bin Laden’s training facilities in Herat. Read the rest of this entry »