Shinzo Abe, James Mattis Reaffirm U.S. Commitment on Senkakus

abe-mattis

Visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis clearly said during talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday afternoon that the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture are within the scope of Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which obliges the United States to defend Japan, according to a senior government official who attended the meeting.

At the opening of the meeting, Abe said he hopes and is certain the two countries “can demonstrate in our country and abroad that the Japan-U.S. alliance is unshakable.” In response, Mattis said that he intended to make clear during the meeting that Article 5 of the security treaty will be important five years or 10 years from now, just as it was a year ago or five years ago.

japan-mattis

Mattis arrived in Tokyo on the day to hold talks with the prime minister, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and other members of Abe’s Cabinet to exchange views on the security environment in East Asia and to address mutual security concerns. The new U.S. defense chief’s visit to Japan marks the first by a U.S. Cabinet member under the administration of President Donald Trump. The ministerial meeting with Inada is scheduled for Saturday, after which they will hold a joint press conference.

During these talks, the two sides are also expected to confirm that the United States will firmly uphold the “nuclear umbrella” (see below) over Japan in its defense.

During his presidential election campaign last year, Trump was ambiguous about defending the Senkakus and also suggested that if Japan doesn’t contribute its due share to shouldering the burden of stationing U.S. forces in Japan, it would be acceptable for Japan to possess its own nuclear weapons to confront North Korea’s nuclear threat. These remarks caused apprehension on the Japanese side.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] OOPS: CNN Commentator Believes Hoax Story That Mother Died After Travel Ban

CNN political commentator Errol Louis repeated a false story that has been proven to be a hoax on air Wednesday, alluding to an Iraqi mother who purportedly died because she was unable to enter the United States after President Trump’s travel ban was implemented.

NewsBusters flagged the video on Thursday.

Louis appeared on “CNN Newsroom” with host Carol Costello to discuss Trump’s executive order suspending the U.S. refugee program for 120 days and halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days over terrorism concerns.

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A man from Detroit, Mike Hager, had told a local news station on Tuesday that his mother died in Iraq because she was unable to return to the U.S. for medical treatment once Trump’s travel ban was put into force. However, the leader of a nearby mosque, Imam Husham Al-Hussainy, confirmed the next day that Hager had fabricated his story.

[Read the full story here, at freebeacon.com]

Louis referenced Hager’s story as truth while criticizing Trump’s executive order on CNN. Read the rest of this entry »


The Jacksonian Revolt 

American Populism and the Liberal Order

Walter Russell Mead writes: For the first time in 70 years, the American people have elected a president who disparages the policies, ideas, and institutions at the heart of postwar U.S. foreign policy. No one knows how the foreign policy of the Trump administration will take shape, or how the new president’s priorities and preferences will shift as he encounters the torrent of events and crises ahead. But not since Franklin Roosevelt’s administration has U.S. foreign policy witnessed debates this fundamental.

Since World War II, U.S. grand strategy has been shaped by two major schools of thought, both focused on achieving a stable international system with the United States at the center. Hamiltonians believed that it was in the American interest for the United States to replace the United Kingdom as “the gyroscope of world order,” in the words of President Woodrow Wilson’s adviser Edward House during World War I, putting the financial and security architecture in place for a reviving global economy after World War II—something that would both contain the Soviet Union and advance U.S. interests. When the Soviet Union fell, Hamiltonians responded by doubling down on the creation of a global liberal order, understood primarily in economic terms.

Wilsonians, meanwhile, also believed that the creation of a global liberal order was a vital U.S. interest, but they conceived of it in terms of values rather than economics. Seeing corrupt and authoritarian regimes abroad as a leading cause of conflict and violence, Wilsonians sought peace through the promotion of human rights, democratic governance, and the rule of law. In the later stages of the Cold War, one branch of this camp, liberal institutionalists, focused on the promotion of international institutions and ever-closer global integration, while another branch, neoconservatives, believed that a liberal agenda could best be advanced through Washington’s unilateral efforts (or in voluntary conjunction with like-minded partners).

The disputes between and among these factions were intense and consequential, but they took place within a common commitment to a common project of global order. As that project came under increasing strain in recent decades, however, the unquestioned grip of the globalists on U.S. foreign policy thinking began to loosen. More nationalist, less globally minded voices began to be heard, and a public increasingly disenchanted with what it saw as the costly failures the global order-building project began to challenge what the foreign policy establishment was preaching. The Jeffersonian and Jacksonian schools of thought, prominent before World War II but out of favor during the heyday of the liberal order, have come back with a vengeance.

[Read the full story here, at Foreign Affairs]

Jeffersonians, including today’s so-called realists, argue that reducing the United States’ global profile would reduce the costs and risks of foreign policy. They seek to define U.S. interests narrowly and advance them in the safest and most economical ways. Libertarians take this proposition to its limits and find allies among many on the left who oppose interventionism, want to cut military spending, and favor redeploying the government’s efforts and resources at home. Both Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas seemed to think that they could surf the rising tide of Jeffersonian thinking during the Republican presidential primary. But Donald Trump sensed something that his political rivals failed to grasp: that the truly surging force in American politics wasn’t Jeffersonian minimalism. It was Jacksonian populist nationalism.

The distinctively American populism Trump espouses is rooted in the thought and culture of the country’s first populist president, Andrew Jackson. For Jacksonians—who formed the core of Trump’s passionately supportive base—the United States is not a political entity created and defined by a set of intellectual propositions rooted in the Enlightenment and oriented toward the fulfillment of a universal mission. Rather, it is the nation-state of the American people, and its chief business lies at home. Jacksonians see American exceptionalism not as a function of the universal appeal of American ideas, or even as a function of a unique American vocation to transform the world, but rather as rooted in the country’s singular commitment to the equality and dignity of individual American citizens. The role of the U.S. government, Jacksonians believe, is to fulfill the country’s destiny by looking after the physical security and economic well-being of the American people in their national home—and to do that while interfering as little as possible with the individual freedom that makes the country unique. Read the rest of this entry »


North Korea Able to Launch Nuclear Warhead on Missile, US Military Official Warns, But Controlling it? Not So Much

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WASHINGTON — North Korea now has the capability to launch a nuclear weapon, a senior U.S. military official said Thursday, adding that while the U.S. believes Pyongyang can mount a warhead on a missile, it’s not clear that it can hit a target.

“It is the threat that keeps me awake at night, primarily because we don’t know what the dear leader in North Korea really is after. Truthfully, they have the capability, right now, to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon. They’re just not sure about re-entry and that’s why they continue to test their systems.”

The official said it appears that North Korea can mount a nuclear warhead on a missile, but may not have the re-entry capabilities for a strategic strike. That would include the ability of the weapon to get back through the atmosphere without burning up and the ability to hit the intended target. The official said North Korea continues to try and overcome those limitations.

The Pentagon continues to revise itscontingency plans regarding a North Korean strike, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity. The military routinely develops plans for all threat possibilities.

“It is the threat that keeps me awake at night,” the official said, “primarily because we don’t know what the dear leader in North Korea really is after. Truthfully, they have the capability, right now, to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon. They’re just not sure about re-entry and that’s why they continue to test their systems.”

U.S. officials have steadily expanded their assessments of Pyongyang’s nuclear abilities. Adm. William Gortney, then-head of U.S. Northern Command, said in March that Pyongyang may have figured out how to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a long-range missile. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Sen. Cruz Questions DHS Sec. Johnson on Admin’s Willful Blindness to Radical Islamic Terrorism 

Robert Eno reports:

…Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson faced roughly ten minutes of questioning from Senator Ted Cruz, R-TX. During the testimony, Johnson repeated the administration’s line that it doesn’t matter what the terrorists are called, especially if it’s the word “Islamic.” Cruz tried to get Johnson on record answering the question of whether or not DHS purposely scrubbed Islamic from documents. The most shocking part of Johnson’s testimony, however, was near the end. Johnson blatantly lied about what the administration knew regarding the Fort Hood Jihadist, and when it knew it.

Watch:

Cruz: One, is it true or false that the administration knew before the attack that Nidal Hasan was communicating with Anwar al Awlaki?

Johnson: How are you defining the “Obama administration” sir?

Cruz: The Federal Bureau of Investigation

Johnson: The entire Federal Bureau of Investigation? I can’t answer that question sitting here. [unintelligible]

Cruz: The answer is yes, and it is in public record.

Senator Cruz is absolutely correct. Not only did the Obama administration know about Hasan’s communications, they shut down an investigation field agents wanted to conduct into Hasan’s behavior.

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In The United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists, which I recently reviewed, Peter Bergen details in painstaking fashion what the Obama administration knew and when it learned that information. His information came from the public record.

[Read the full story here, at ConservativeReview.com]

They Obama administration did in fact know beforehand about the communications, as The New York Times reported shortly after the attacks.

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“Not only did the Obama administration know about Hasan’s communications, they shut down an investigation field agents wanted to conduct into Hasan’s behavior.”

Intelligence agencies intercepted communications last year and this year between the military psychiatrist accused of shooting to death 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., and a radical cleric in Yemen known for his incendiary anti-American teachings.

Jeh Johnson

But the federal authorities dropped an inquiry into the matter after deciding that the messages from the psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, did not suggest any threat of violence and concluding that no further action was warranted, government officials said Monday.

Major Hasan’s 10 to 20 messages to Anwar al-Awlaki, once a spiritual leader at a mosque in suburban Virginia where Major Hasan worshiped, indicate that the troubled military psychiatrist came to the attention of the authorities long before last Thursday’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood, but that the authorities left him in his post.

The Times report goes on to say that “authorities” thought the questions were consistent with a report Hasan was preparing on PTSD. Bergen reports that much of Hasan’s work did not deal with PTSD but with whether or not the United States armed forces should be allowed to fight in Muslim lands. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Chinese Jet Makes ‘Unsafe’ Intercept 

CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr, reports: A U.S. Air Force RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft flying Tuesday in international airspace over the East China Sea was intercepted in an “unsafe manner” by a Chinese J-10 fighter jet, several defense officials tell CNN.

The Chinese jet was never closer than 100 feet to the U.S. aircraft, but it flew with a “high rate of speed as it closed in” on the U.S. aircraft, one official said. Because of that high speed, and the fact it was flying at the same altitude as the U.S. plane, the intercept is defined as unsafe.

The officials did not know if the U.S. plane took any evasive action to avoid the Chinese aircraft or at what point the J-10 broke away. It is also not yet clear if the U.S. will diplomatically protest the incident.

Officials said the RC-135 was on a routine mission.

Chinese jet makes 'unsafe' intercept

Chinese jet makes ‘unsafe’ intercept 01:24

The Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
>News of the intercept comes as Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew are in Beijing for the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Lew is pressing China to lower barriers to foreign business and cut excess steel production, with limited success.

The intercept also occurred just days after Defense Secretary Ash Carter and top military officials returned from a regional security meeting in Singapore. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Band of Brothers: German General’s Surrender Speech

This is the speech that is given by a German General to his men after surrendering to the Americans. This is directly cut from the episode, nothing added nothing taken. We feel its a great speech that can relate to all military branches foreign and domestic and should be shared.

Band of Brothers” is one of the most famous television series ever created, and one of the most famous scenes is a German general’s speech after surrendering to American forces.

The general explains the horror of war as several American soldiers watch in what almost certainly appears to be complete agreement…(read more)

Read more: dailycaller.com


[VIDEO] BABY WHAT I WANT: Everybody Thinks They Know What ISIS Wants

The Islamic State Wants Us to Destroy It

 reports: The Islamic State terrorist group wants nothing more than for the U.S. Armed Forces to destroy it, politicians and pundits say.

“They are begging for U.S. troops on the ground. That’s what they want.”

— former Obama administration official Van Jones

Dozens of thought leaders familiar with the terrorist group say that its members yearn for the day that close air support from an A-10 Warthog cuts them in half while coalition soldiers storm Raqqa.

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“The one thing ISIS wants the most: American boots on the ground.”

— CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria

“They are begging for U.S. troops on the ground,” former Obama administration official Van Jones said. “That’s what they want.”

“The one thing ISIS wants the most: American boots on the ground,” CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria said.

“As long as we’re relying on military force, this is the kind of terms [sic] that ISIS wants. This is what strengthens them,” Institute for Policy Studies scholar Phyllis Bennis said….(read more)

Source: Washington Free Beacon


Obama Blocks Navy from Sailing Near Disputed Chinese islands 

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

 reports: The Obama administration has restricted the U.S. Pacific Command from sending ships and aircraft within 12 miles of disputed Chinese-built islands in the South China Sea, bolstering Beijing’s illegal claims over the vital seaway, Pentagon leaders revealed to Congress on Thursday.

“The administration has continued to restrict our Navy ships from operating within 12 nautical miles of China’s reclaimed islands,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) said in opening remarks criticizing the failure to guarantee safe passage for international commercial ships in Asia.

In this Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 photo, a crew member of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy monitors on the deck of the China's aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailing on the East China Sea for sea trials. The Liaoning departed for its first-ever sea trials in the South China Sea, a mission likely to draw scrutiny amid Beijing's drive to assert its claims to those waters and their island groups. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

“This is a dangerous mistake that grants de facto recognition of China’s man-made sovereignty claims,” he said.

The South China Sea is a strategic waterway used to transport $5 trillion annually in goods, including $1.2 trillion in trade to the United States.

David Shear, assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific affairs, sought to play down the restrictions on Navy ship transits close to the islands. According to Shear, a regional freedom of navigation exercise took place in April and the tactic is “one tool in a larger tool box … and we’re in the process of putting together that tool box.”

Shear acknowledged that “we have not recently gone within 12 miles of a reclaimed area,” noting the last time a Navy ship sailed that close to a Chinese-built island was 2012.

Credit: Reuters/US Navy/Seaman Apprentice Carla Ocampo/Handout

The disclosure undermines statements made Wednesday by Defense Secretary Ash Carter who said the United States would not be coerced by China into not operating ships or aircraft in Asia. Carter said the United States “will continue to protect freedom of navigation and overflight.”

Shear insisted that in recent years the U.S. military has challenged “every category of Chinese claim in the South China Sea, as recently as this year.”

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

Blocking China from militarizing the new islands could include a range of options, including freedom of navigation operations, he said.

McCain, however, noted that the U.S. restrictions on close-in island military flights and ship visits were continuing despite the provocative dispatch of five Chinese warships in an unprecedented deployment to waters within 12 miles of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands—at the same time President Obama was concluding a recent visit to the state earlier this month.

A visibly angered McCain told Shear the best way to assert that international waters around the islands do not belong to China would be for American ships to make 12-mile passages by the disputed islands. “And we haven’t done that since 2012. I don’t find that acceptable, Mr. Secretary,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


Michael Gerson: How the Nuclear Deal will Fund Iran’s Imperialism

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In the administration’s attempt to secure support from a third of the Congress, the truth is likely to get its hair mussed. But it is rare for an argument to be this comprehensively wrong.

Michael Gerson writes: The realist’s argument for the Iran nuclear agreement is that it is the least bad deal that a conflict-weary United States could secure. Now, with the nuclear issue parked (at least for a decade), we can get down to the business of strengthening friends in the Middle East and pushing back against Iran’s regional ambitions.

“Over the past few decades — without a nuclear umbrella and without a world-class military — Iran has pursued a highly effective, asymmetrical campaign to spread its influence and destabilize its enemies. Early on, the Iranians noted that many Middle Eastern militaries are relatively weak.”

A variant of this position claims that the nuclear deal would actually weaken Iran’s strategic position. In this view, the regime, faced with sanction-caused economic ruin, was forced to give up the nuclear umbrella that would have acted as cover for its export of subversion. An Iran thus defanged is a fundamentally weak country, with little conventional military capacity. The $60 billion windfall Iran would net from the lifting of sanctions is paltry (the argument goes) compared with the strategic blow of giving up its nuclear ambitions. A “yes” vote on the agreement is therefore a contribution to containment.

“Iranian operatives — often through the Quds Force, created for this purpose — have set out to exploit local grievances, encourage sectarian solidarity and export their version of anti-American, anti-Semitic, revolutionary Islamism.”

In the administration’s attempt to secure support from a third of the Congress, the truth is likely to get its hair mussed. But it is rare for an argument to be this comprehensively wrong.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

Over the past few decades — without a nuclear umbrella and without a world-class military — Iran has pursued a highly effective, asymmetrical campaign to spread its influence and destabilize its enemies. Early on, the Iranians noted that many Middle Eastern militaries are relatively weak. In some conflicts, the addition of several thousand well-trained, well-led militia members could have a disproportionate, even decisive, influence. So Iranian operatives — often through the Quds Force, created for this purpose — have set out to exploit local grievances, encourage sectarian solidarity and export their version of anti-American, anti-Semitic, revolutionary Islamism. Read the rest of this entry »


Will Slain Marines Mean an End to the Department of Defense’s Gun Ban?

Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Most military personnel, except for those on field maneuvers or MPs, are not allowed to be armed on base.

Mike Glenn writes: On Friday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter approved what the Pentagon referred to as “immediate force protection steps” in the wake of Thursday’s mass shootings in Chattanooga, Tenn. that left four U.S. Marines dead and a Navy Sailor wounded. A press release from the Defense Department did not elaborate on the measures.

One of the shootings was at a local recruiting station. I’ve heard some people say these offices – where young people usually get their first notion of what military life is all about – should have security barriers to prevent such tragedies. Beyond the fact that the accused Chattanooga shooter never went inside the office, I think that’s going to be a non-starter for an obvious reason.

Military recruiters rely on casual walk-in traffic to help make their quota. That’s why the offices can often be found in strip shopping centers or malls. If you start forcing potential Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen to pass through x-ray machines and take off their shoes like they are going through a TSA line at the airport before they ever step foot in the office, many of them are simply going to take a pass on a hitch in the military

Carter also asked the military services to give him suggestions for ensuring the safety of service members at military installations. But will he allow service members to defend themselves?

Most military personnel, except for those on field maneuvers or MPs, are not allowed to be armed on base. Read the rest of this entry »


THE SLIMY HAND: Zombie Patriot Act Will Keep U.S. Spying—Even if the Original Dies

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Forget the White House’s doomsday talk about American intelligence going blind. Thanks to backdoor provisions and alternate collection schemes, U.S. spies will keep on snooping.

Shane Harris writes: President Obama and his top national-security officials spent the past few days warning that once intelligence-gathering authorities in the Patriot Act expired just after midnight Sunday, the United States would face a greater risk of a terrorist attack.

“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we’re dark, and heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could’ve prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity.”

— President Obama, to reporters on Friday

That argument is highly debatable—at least, in the short term. Not only does the U.S. government have all sorts of other ways to collect the same kind of intelligence outlined in the Patriot Act, but there’s also a little-noticed back door in the act that allows U.S. spy agencies to gather information in pretty much the same ways they did before.

Zombie-Killing

“It does seem to me at least reckless to not allow at least a temporary continuation of the bill while we have this debate. But that’s not the way it’s working, and unfortunately I think it’s part of the presidential campaign, and I think people have to judge it for themselves.”

— Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

In other words, there’s a zombie Patriot Act—one that lives on, though the existing version is dead.

On Sunday night, senators voted overwhelmingly to end debate on a measure passed in the House, the USA Freedom Act, which will leave most surveillance authorities in the Patriot Act intact. But some of those powers zombiehandwon’t expire at least until Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. Administration officials had warned that even a momentary interruption posed a grave risk.

“I don’t want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away and suddenly we’re dark, and heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could’ve prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity,” Obama told reporters at the White House on Friday. On Sunday, CIA Director John Brennan said on CBS’s Face the Nation that there’d “been a little too much political grandstanding and crusading for ideological causes that have skewed the debate on this issue,” an apparent reference to Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate, and his promise to force the law to expire, “but these tools are important to American lives.”

[Read the full text here, at The Daily Beast]

They may be. But they are far from the only tools in the counterterrorism arsenal, and though they are no longer law as of Monday, the United States still has plenty of authority to collect intelligence on jihadis and foreign spies.

For starters, there will be what’s left of the Patriot Act itself. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama’s Passive ISIS Plan: Run Out the Clock

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“Although the Obama administration’s public messaging is that it still wants to ‘degrade and ultimately defeat’ ISIS, in reality, many in the Pentagon view the real objective as just running out the clock.”

Read more….

The Daily Beast


[VIDEO] 5 Rifles that won World War II

Thank you to all who have served and those currently serving in the Armed Forces. In honor of Memorial Day, Jim discusses 5 iconic rifles used in battle by the United States Military.

 


U.S. Forces Seize Digital Trove in Syria Raid

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WASHINGTON—  Gordon Lubold and Adam Entous report: The U.S. special-operations force that carried out a first-of-its-kind mission in Syria to capture the Islamic State finance chief and his wife over the weekend came away with a treasure trove of materials that could help in the attempt to pressure the extremist group.

“There are a lot of things that have to align to be able to execute some of these things. For a variety of reasons, we were not able to execute the operation.”

U.S. officials said that the Army Delta Force team that swooped down onto the site in eastern Syria in helicopters killed the Islamic State operative after a brief firefight and left with laptops, phones, documents and, likely, hard drives, DVDs, CDs and SIM cards.

“What our team gathered was substantial, but we won’t know until it’s exploited just how valuable it is.It could be very substantial.”

— Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the senior Democratic member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

The material could prove valuable in efforts to disrupt Islamic State’s ability to raise funds and may show why the Obama administration set aside its aversion to such operations to authorize the risky mission.

Syrians shelled Islamic State positions near Palmyra, where the militants were retreating from the historic city they seized Saturday. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Syrians shelled Islamic State positions near Palmyra, where the militants were retreating from the historic city they seized Saturday. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

“What our team gathered was substantial, but we won’t know until it’s exploited just how valuable it is,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the senior Democratic member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who has been briefed on the operation. “It could be very substantial.”

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

The raid also sent a signal to extremists that they aren’t safe in Syria and to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that the U.S. can operate in his country, said John McLaughlin, a former acting Central Intelligence Agency director.

“We’re going to conduct these types of operations whenever we can. This isn’t opening the door any more; the door is open, it has been open, and it will remain open if we have the opportunity.”

The group of about two dozen of the Army’s Delta Force commandos flew in late Friday in UH-60 Black Hawks and V-22 Ospreys to a residential compound in Al-Amr in eastern Syria intending to capture the Islamic State operative, Abu Sayyaf, and his wife, Umm Sayyaf, who is also thought to be a member of Islamic State. The couple apparently was holding a young Yazidi woman as a slave. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Islamic State Senior Military Commander & Head of Oil Operations Killed, Wife Captured, in U.S. Raid in Syria

A senior Islamic State (IS) member has been killed and his wife captured in a raid in eastern Syria by US special forces.
Abu Sayyaf, who helped direct oil, gas and financial operations for IS, as well as holding a military role, was killed when he engaged US forces, according to a Pentagon statement.

The operation in al-Amr was authorised by President Barack Obama and was carried out by forces based in Iraq.
The BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan says Abu Sayyaf oversaw IS’s “illicit oil and gas operations” – a key source of the group’s funding.


OH YES THEY DID: U.S. Military Develops Self-Guided ‘Smart Bullet’

Videos supplied by DARPA show the bullets making sharp turns in midair as they pursue their targets

(CNN) Don Melvin writes: You know the phrase “dodging a bullet”? Forget about it. Probably not going to happen anymore.

The U.S. military said this week it has made great progress in its effort to develop a self-steering bullet.

DARPA-smart-bullet

“True to DARPA’s mission, EXACTO has demonstrated what was once thought impossible: the continuous guidance of a small-caliber bullet to target.”

— Jerome Dunn, DARPA program manager

In February, the “smart bullets” — .50-caliber projectiles equipped with optical sensors — passed their most successful round of live-fire tests to date, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

In the tests, an experienced marksman “repeatedly hit moving and evading targets,” a DARPA statement said.

smart-bullet-graph

“This live-fire demonstration from a standard rifle showed that EXACTO is able to hit moving and evading targets with extreme accuracy at sniper ranges unachievable with traditional rounds.”

“Additionally,” the statement said, “a novice shooter using the system for the first time hit a moving target.” In other words, now you don’t even have to be a good shot to hit the mark.

The system has been developed by DARPA’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance program, known as EXACTO.

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“Fitting EXACTO’s guidance capabilities into a small .50-caliber size is a major breakthrough and opens the door to what could be possible in future guided projectiles across all calibers.”

“True to DARPA’s mission, EXACTO has demonstrated what was once thought impossible: the continuous guidance of a small-caliber bullet to target,” said Jerome Dunn, DARPA program manager. Read the rest of this entry »


With Extra Cheese: Indiana Pizzeria Owners Go Underground as Donations Near $1 Million

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The owners of a pizza shop at the center of the debate over Indiana’s religious freedom law have gone into hiding.

The Associated Press reported Crystal O’Connor and her family have taken refuge in an undisclosed location after saying earlier this week that Memories Pizza would not cater gay weddings.
Gofundme account launched for the Walkerton, Ind., restaurant has brought in more than $750,000. The flood of support comes as the O’Connors vow to reopen Memories despite backlash over their business practices.
At issue is Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Gov. Mike Pence (R) on Thursday signed a fix he feels corrects the perception that it lets businesses discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The law’s latest version now prohibits business discrimination against protected groups like the gay community. It also forbids using the law as a legal defense in situations where such discrimination may have occurred. Read the rest of this entry »


Kenya’s Garissa University College Attacked by Masked Gunman, CEC Health Reports 30 Casualties Taken to Hospital, 4 ‘Very Serious’

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Alexander Smith reports: At least two people were killed and 30 others injured after armed attackers stormed a college in Kenya on Thursday, officials said.

The attackers “shot indiscriminately” inside the compound of Garissa University College, prompting an hours-long gun battle with security forces, Kenya’s National Police Service said in a statement.

The attack comes three days after President Barack Obama announced he would visit the East African country in July.

The country’s National Disaster Operation Center said two people had been killed in the incident, according to Reuters. The Kenya Red Cross said 30 people had been injured, four of which were “very serious.” Read the rest of this entry »


Pentagon Official: ‘Even in the Best-Case Scenario in an Unstable Country We Never Have 100 Percent Accountability’

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Pentagon Loses Track of $500 Million in Weapons, Equipment Given to Yemen

Craig Whitlock reports: The Pentagon is unable to account for more than $500 million in U.S. military aid given to Yemen, amid fears that the weaponry, aircraft and equipment is at risk of being seized by Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda, according to U.S. officials.

With Yemen in turmoil and its government splintering, the Defense Department has lost its ability to monitor the whereabouts of small arms, ammunition, night-vision goggles, patrol boats, vehicles and other supplies donated by the United States. The situation has grown worse since the United States closed its embassy in Sanaa, the capital, last month and withdrew many of its military advisers.

In recent weeks, members of Congress have held closed-door meetings with U.S. military officials to press for an accounting of the arms and equipment. Pentagon officials have said that they have little information to go on and that there is little they can do at this point to prevent the weapons and gear from falling into the wrong hands.

“We have to assume it’s completely compromised and gone,” said a legislative aide on Capitol Hill who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

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[Yemen Arms View Graphic] 

U.S. military officials declined to comment for the record. A defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the Pentagon, said there was no hard evidence that U.S. arms or equipment had been looted or confiscated. But the official acknowledged that the Pentagon had lost track of the items.

“Even in the best-case scenario in an unstable country, we never have 100 percent accountability,” the defense official said.

Yemen’s government was toppled in January by Shiite Houthi rebels who receive support from Iran and have strongly criticized U.S. drone strikes in Yemen. The Houthis have taken over many Yemeni military bases in the northern part of the country, including some in Sanaa that were home to U.S.-trained counterterrorism units. Other bases have been overrun by fighters from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Auditors with the Government Accountability Office found that Humvees donated to the Yemeni Interior Ministry sat idle or broken because the Defense Ministry refused to share spare parts. (Government Accountability Office)

Auditors with the Government Accountability Office found that Humvees donated to the Yemeni Interior Ministry sat idle or broken because the Defense Ministry refused to share spare parts. (Government Accountability Office)

As a result, the Defense Department has halted shipments to Yemen of about $125 million in military hardware that were scheduled for delivery this year, including unarmed ScanEagle drones, other types of aircraft and Jeeps. That equipment will be donated instead to other countries in the Middle East and Africa, the defense official said. Read the rest of this entry »


Sources: U.S. Pulling Last of its Special Operations Forces Out of Yemen Due to Deteriorating Security

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U.S. evacuating Special Operations forces from Yemen

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN)The U.S. military is in the process of evacuating about 100 Special Operations forces members from the Al Anad airbase in Yemen due to that country’s deteriorating security situation, sources in the region familiar with the situation told CNN.

Those being evacuated are the last American troops stationed in the Arab nation, which is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group also known as AQAP. The United States closed its embassy in Sanaa last month, after Houthi rebels took over the Yemeni capital.

For years, the U.S. military has worked closely with Yemen’s government to go after AQAP, together carrying out numerous attacks like the 2011 drone strike that killed prominent al Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki. And U.S. President Barack Obama has hailed this cooperation as a pillar in his anti-terrorism campaign.

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“Yemen has never been a perfect democracy or a island of stability,” Obama said in January, promoting the policy of “partnering and intelligence-sharing with that local government” as the best approach in a bad situation.

“The alternative would be for us to play whack-a-mole every time there is a terrorist actor inside of any given country,” the President said.

But while there have been drone strikes as recently as last month, these cooperative efforts have been hampered by Yemen’s growing difficulty in maintaining unity and peace. These include the rise of the Houthis, their battles with forces loyal to ousted President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and the presence of not only al Qaeda fighters but other militants. Read the rest of this entry »


Random Violence, Legitimate Grievances, and High Horses: ISIS Burned Up To 40 People Alive, Says Iraqi Official

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(CNN)Reports that ISIS burned alive up to 40 people near the town of al-Baghdadi in Iraq’s Anbar province are true, an Iraqi official told CNN on Wednesday.

Anbar provincial council chairman Sabah Karkhout said he was advised by his field commanders near the al-Baghdadi front line that ISIS militants killed at least 40 police officers and tribesman, and that most of the victims were “burned to death.”

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ISIS seized control of most of the town last week. It’s just nine miles north of the Ayn al-Asad airbase, where some 400 U.S. military personnel are stationed to train Iraqi pilots in the fight against ISIS.

CNN cannot independently confirm that the people were burned to death.

Iraqi Security Forces have given accounts in situation reports obtained by CNN that speak of Iraqi forces and tribesmen killed by ISIS, but it was not clear whether their bodies burned before or after their deaths.

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ISIS has not published any images of the reported killings as they have frequently done in the past.

At a news briefing Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said he’d heard about the reported killings, adding that the United States had purported images of the incident that were being analyzed. Read the rest of this entry »


[REWIND] Report: C.I.A. Bought and Destroyed Iraqi Chemical Weapons in 2005-6

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 and  report: The Central Intelligence Agency, working with American troops during the occupation of Iraq, repeatedly purchased nerve-agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller, part of a previously undisclosed effort to ensure that old chemical weapons remaining in Iraq did not fall into the hands of terrorists or militant groups, according to current and former American officials.

[Also see – Laurence H. Silberman: The Dangerous Lie That ‘Bush Lied’: ‘Some Journalists Still Peddle This Canard As If It Were Fact’ – punditfromanotherplanet.com]

The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success. It led to the United States’ acquiring and destroying at least 400 Borak rockets, one of the internationally condemned chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government manufactured in the 1980s but that were not accounted for by United Nations inspections mandated after the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

“Without speaking to any specific programs, it is fair to say that together with our coalition partners in Iraq, the U.S. military worked diligently to find and remove weapons that could be used against our troops and the Iraqi people.”

— Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, in a written statement.

The effort was run out of the C.I.A. station in Baghdad in collaboration with the Army’s 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion and teams of chemical-defense and explosive ordnance disposal troops, officials and veterans of the units said. Many rockets were in poor condition and some were empty or held a nonlethal liquid, the officials said. But others contained the nerve agent sarin, which analysis showed to be purer than the intelligence community had expected given the age of the stock.

An image from the 1990s showing the destruction of Iraqi nerve-agent weapons. Credit UNSCOM

An image from the 1990s showing the destruction of Iraqi nerve-agent weapons. Credit UNSCOM

A New York Times investigation published in October found that the military had recovered thousands of old chemical warheads and shells in Iraq and that Americans and Iraqis had been wounded by them, but the government kept much of this information secret, from the public and troops alike.

These munitions were remnants of an Iraqi special weapons program that was abandoned long before the 2003 invasion, and they turned up sporadically during the American occupation in buried caches, as part of improvised bombs or on black markets.

“If we were aware of these compounds, and as it became clear over the course of the war that our troops had been exposed to them, why wasn’t more done to protect the guys on the ground? It speaks to the broader failure.”

— Aaron Stein, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute

The potency of sarin samples from the purchases, as well as tightly held assessments about risks the munitions posed, buttresses veterans’ claims that during the war the military did not share important intelligence about battlefield perils with those at risk or maintain an adequate medical system for treating victims of chemical exposure.

The purchases were made from a sole Iraqi source who was eager to sell his stock, officials said. The amount of money that the United States paid for the rockets is not publicly known, and neither are the affiliations of the seller.

The C.I.A. is said to have bought and destroyed at least 400 Iraqi nerve-agent weapons like these Borak rockets, which were discovered separately. Credit U.S. Army

The C.I.A. is said to have bought and destroyed at least 400 Iraqi nerve-agent weapons like these Borak rockets, which were discovered separately. Credit U.S. Army

Most of the officials and veterans who spoke about the program did so anonymously because, they said, the details remain classified. The C.I.A. declined to comment. The Pentagon, citing continuing secrecy about the effort, did not answer written questions and acknowledged its role only obliquely.

“This was a timely and effective initiative by our national intelligence partners that negated the use of these unique munitions.”

— Retired Army Lt. Gen. Richard P. Zahner

“Without speaking to any specific programs, it is fair to say that together with our coalition partners in Iraq, the U.S. military worked diligently to find and remove weapons that could be used against our troops and the Iraqi people,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a written statement.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Richard P. Zahner, the top American military intelligence officer in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, said he did not know of any other intelligence program as successful in reducing the chemical weapons that remained in Iraq after the American-led invasion. Read the rest of this entry »


Yemen: ‘When President Obama Declares Something a ‘Success Story,’ You Know It Has ‘TOTAL FAILURE’ Embedded in its DNA’

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U.S. Halts Some Counterterror Efforts in Yemen

Greg Miller and Craig Whitlock reporting for The Washington Post  — The Obama administration has been forced to suspend certain counterterrorism operations with Yemen in the aftermath of the collapse of its government, according to U.S. officials, a move that eases pressure on al-Qaida‘s most dangerous franchise.

Michelle Malkin writes:

Four months ago, America’s King Midas in Reverse crowed about the fruits of his triumphant foreign policy in jihad-infested Yemen. A “light footprint” approach to counterterrorism operations, he claimed, was the most effective path to stability. In addition, Obama has shoveled nearly $1 billion in American tax-subsidized foreign aid to Yemen.

Four months later, Iran-backed Shia rebels seized a Yemeni presidential palace. The president and his entire cabinet tendered their resignations on Thursday, creating a vacuum that al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is ready and eager to fill. ISIS is gaining its own Sunni foothold in the Muslim terror-breeding ground. And while the JV team at the State Department dithers with hashtag games and selfies, adults at the Pentagon want to evacuate U.S. embassy personnel and other Americans before it’s too late…(read more)

Armed drones operated by the CIA and the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command remain deployed for now over southern Yemen, where al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is based. But some U.S. officials said that the Yemeni security services that provided much of the intelligence that sustained that U.S. air campaign are now controlled by Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who have seized control of much of the capital.

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“The agencies we worked with… are really under the thumb of the Houthis. Our ability to work with them is not there.”

— Senior U.S. official

Even before the disintegration of the government, officials say, the growing chaos in Yemen had resulted in a steady erosion in intelligence-gathering efforts against AQAP and a de facto suspension in raids by Yemeni units trained, equipped and often flown to targeted al-Qaida compounds by U.S. forces.

Michelle Malkin continues…

The Yemen chaos didn’t happen overnight. The White House has allowed jihad to fester there from Day One. Reminder: In late January 2009, the U.S. Embassy in Yemen came under gunfire. American diplomatic staff had been warned of a pending attack. That same month, two former Yemeni Gitmo detainees, Said Ali al-Shihri and Abu Hareth Muhammad al-Awfi, released a video publicly recommitting to “aid the religion,” “establish the rightly guided caliphate” and “fight against our enemies” after undergoing terrorism “rehab” in Saudi Arabia.

Why has Obama so wantonly aided and abetted our enemies? Appeasement of the international human rights crowd and agreement with the soft-on-jihad lawyers infesting his own Justice Department. As I’ve reported previously, Attorney General Eric Holder’s law firm, Covington and Burling, provided dozens of dangerous Yemeni Gitmo detainees pro bono legal representation and sob-story media relations campaigns. At least nine Obama DOJ appointees represented or advocated for Gitmo denizens before taking positions in our government….(more)

[Read more – Obama’s bloody Yemen disaster – Michelle Malkin]

“The agencies we worked with . . . are really under the thumb of the Houthis. Our ability to work with them is not there,” said a senior U.S. official closely involved in monitoring the situation. In a measure of U.S. concern over the crisis, officials also signaled for the first time a willingness to open talks with Houthi leaders, despite their suspected ties to Iran and antipathy toward the United States.

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The developments have unraveled a campaign that President Barack Obama described last year as a model for how the United States should fight terrorist groups, and avoid being drawn more directly into overseas conflicts. The turmoil in Yemen has exposed the risks of that strategy, with U.S. officials now voicing concern that the suspension in operations in Yemen could enable AQAP — which has launched a series of plots against the United States and claimed credit for the attacks in Paris this month — to regroup. Read the rest of this entry »


Animated: How a Handgun Works

The model 1911 handgun is named for the year it was formally adopted by the U.S. Army – and while it was replaced as an official service weapon in 1985, it’s still massively popular. Various manufacturers have created their own take on the 1911, but its basic function and operation remains in place over 100 years after its inception.

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(more)

animagraffs.com

 


UPDATE: Fort Lee Soldier Takes Her Own Life at Army Post

2014-08-25_0959A soldier took her own life at Fort Lee Monday morning, prompting a lockdown for a portion of the morning, U.S. military and law enforcement officials told NBC News.

Fort Lee officials say the incident was reported at Combined Arms Support Command Headquarters, building 5020. The woman entered the building “brandishing a gun,” which she reportedly turned on herself.

Military officials say the woman was an active-duty soldier.

No other information has been released.

According to WWBT, the incident comes as the post was preparing to release a new emergency notification system.

The last shooting on a military installation was reported in April, when an Iraq War veteran killed three people and injured 16 others at Fort Hood, Texas, before shooting himself. The shooter was identified was Ivan A. Lopez, 34. Read the rest of this entry »


Iraq: Why is Everyone So Damn Surprised?

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For Foreign PolicyThomas E. Ricks writes:

One of the editors at Foreign Policy was pushing me yesterday to say more about Iraq, despite my feeling of numb wordlessness.

OK, here goes. My question is, Why the hell is everyone so surprised ? Was this not inevitable? Perhaps it was foretold on the day we removed Sunni power from Baghdad, and so took down the bulwark that prevented the westward expansion of Persian power. Certainly it looked likely from the time Maliki decided to attack the Sunni towns to the west of Baghdad. Read the rest of this entry »


US military Begins Purchasing and Testing Smart Rifles

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Reports coming out of the Las Vegas SHOT gun show this week indicate the U.S. military has purchased and is testing smart rifles for use in the field.

According to a Military.com interview with TrackingPoint, Inc., the Army bought six different smart rifles from the company for a price of $10,000 to $27,000, each of which includes a built-in Linux-based computer that uses sensors and scopes to maximize accuracy amidst a variety of conditions like terrain, weather and even the Earth’s rotation.

Read the rest of this entry »


Biden Claims He Voted Against Afghanistan, Iraq Wars

Vice President Joe Biden accused Rep. Paul Ryan of putting two wars on the “credit card,” and then suggested he voted against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“By the way, they talk about this great recession like it fell out of the sky–like, ‘Oh my goodness, where did it come from?’” Biden said. “It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, at the same time, put a prescription drug plan on the credit card, a trillion dollar tax cut for the very wealthy.”

“I was there, I voted against them,” Biden continued. “I said, no, we can’t afford that.”

Then Sen. Biden voted for the Afghanistan resolution on Sept. 14, 2001 which authorized “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”

And on Oct. 11, 2002, Biden voted for a resolution authorizing unilateral military action in Iraq, according to the Washington Post.

 

via Washington Free Beacon