Dismissing Concerns About Syrian Surge into US; Obama Doubles Down; Opens Doors Wider

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State Department reports show that 2,340 Syrian refugees arrived last month in the United States. That’s more than what occurred during the entire seven months after President Obama directed his team to prepare for 10,000 admissions from the war-torn country.

The pace of Syrian refugees entering the U.S. has surged in recent weeks, government figures show, putting the Obama administration on track to meet its target of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees before the end of September -– and reviving Republican concerns about the security implications.

State Department reports show that 2,340 Syrian refugees arrived last month in the United States.

That’s more than what occurred during the entire seven months after President Obama directed his team to prepare for 10,000 admissions from the war-torn country. Total admissions for the current budget year, which ends Sept. 30, now come to about 7,900, and the vast majority of them are Sunni Muslims, records show.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said earlier this week the U.S. is on track to meet the 10,000-refugee goal.

If the pace from June and July continues this month, the target should be reached with a couple of weeks to spare, before Obama heads to the United Nations to urge world leaders to admit more refugees and increase funding for relief organizations.

But amid new predictions from FBI Director James Comey of a “terrorist diaspora out of Syria,” some Republicans are ramping up warnings that the flow of refugees poses a threat to America and Western Europe. Read the rest of this entry »


Kurt Schlichter: ‘My Offer is This. Nothing’

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So if you are still obeying the law when you don’t absolutely have to, when there isn’t some government enforcer with a gun lurking right there to make you, aren’t you kind of a sucker?

Kurt Schlichter writes: Sometimes in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another. It is high time to declare our personal independence from any remnant of obligation to those who have spit upon the rule of law. We owe them nothing – not respect, not loyalty, not obedience.

“There used to be a social contract requiring that our government treat us all equally within the scope of the Constitution and defend us, and in return we would recognize the legitimacy of its laws and defend it when in need. But that contract has been breached. We are not all equal before the law. Our constitutional rights are not being upheld.” 

Think about it. If you are out driving at 3 a.m., do you stop at a stop sign when there’s no one coming? Of course you do. You don’t need a cop to be there to make you stop. You do it voluntarily because this is America and America is a country where obeying the law is the right thing to do because the law was justly made and is justly applied. Or it used to be.

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“We are not being defended – hell, we normals get blamed every time some Seventh Century savage goes on a kill spree. Yet we’re still supposed to keep going along as if everything is cool, obeying the law, subsidizing the elite with our taxes, taking their abuse. We’ve been evicted by the landlord but he still wants us to pay him rent.”

The law mattered. It applied equally to everyone. We demanded that it did, all of us – politicians, the media, and regular citizens. Oh, there were mistakes and miscarriages of justice but they weren’t common and they weren’t celebrated – they were universally reviled. And, more importantly, they weren’t part and parcel of the ideology of one particular party. There was once a time where you could imagine a Democrat scandal where the media actually called for the head of the Democrat instead of deploying to cover it up.

People assumed that the law mattered, that the same rules applied to everyone. That duly enacted laws would be enforced equally until repealed. That the Constitution set the foundation and that its guarantees would be honored even if we disliked the result in a particular case. But that’s not our country today.

The idea of the rule of law today is a lie. There is no law. There is no justice. There are only lies.

Hillary Clinton is manifestly guilty of multiple felonies. Her fans deny it half-heartedly, but mostly out of habit – in the end, it’s fine with them if she’s a felon. They don’t care. It’s just some law. What’s the big deal? It doesn’t matter that anyone else would be in jail right now for doing a fraction of what she did. But the law is not important. Justice is not important.

President Obama and his successors in the Oval Office are not obligated to make public the names of individuals visiting the White House, according to a decision of the federal Circuit Court for the District of Columbia made public Friday. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

“People assumed that the law mattered, that the same rules applied to everyone. That duly enacted laws would be enforced equally until repealed. That the Constitution set the foundation and that its guarantees would be honored even if we disliked the result in a particular case. But that’s not our country today.”

The attorney general secretly canoodles with the husband of the subject of criminal investigation by her own department and the president, the enforcer of our laws, shrugs. The media, the challenger of the powerful, smirks. They rub our noses in their contempt for the law. And by doing so, demonstrate their contempt for us.

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“Hillary Clinton is manifestly guilty of multiple felonies. Her fans deny it half-heartedly, but mostly out of habit – in the end, it’s fine with them if she’s a felon. They don’t care. It’s just some law. What’s the big deal? It doesn’t matter that anyone else would be in jail right now for doing a fraction of what she did. But the law is not important. Justice is not important.”

Only power matters, and Hillary stands ready to accumulate more power on their behalf so their oaths, their alleged principles, their duty to the country – all of it goes out the window. But it’s much worse than just one scandal that seems not to scandalize anyone in the elite. Just read the Declaration of Independence – it’s almost like those dead white Christian male proto-NRA members foresaw and cataloged the myriad oppressions of liberalism’s current junior varsity tyranny.

[Read the full text here, at townhall.com]

There is one law for them, and another for us. Sanctuary cities? Obama’s immigration orders? If you conservatives can play by the rules and pass your laws, then we liberals will just not enforce them. You don’t get the benefit of the laws you like. We get the benefit of the ones we do, though. Not you. Too bad, rubes.

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“There is one law for them, and another for us. Sanctuary cities? Obama’s immigration orders? If you conservatives can play by the rules and pass your laws, then we liberals will just not enforce them. You don’t get the benefit of the laws you like. We get the benefit of the ones we do, though. Not you. Too bad, rubes.”

So if you are still obeying the law when you don’t absolutely have to, when there isn’t some government enforcer with a gun lurking right there to make you, aren’t you kind of a sucker? Read the rest of this entry »


TAKE THAT, BITCHES!

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 and  report: FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday announced the agency is not recommending the Justice Department bring charges against Hillary Clinton, despite denouncing the former secretary of state and her colleagues for the way they handled classified information through private email servers.

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is information that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” Comey told reporters in Washington, D.C., noting that the probe has found that the former secretary of state used several different email servers and numerous devices during her time in office.

[ALSO SEE – FBI Rewrites Federal Law to Let Hillary Off the Hook by Andrew McCarthy]

Even so, Comey added later, “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before deciding whether to bring charges.”

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“It seems to me that this is what the FBI has done today. It has told the public that because Mrs. Clinton did not have intent to harm the United States we should not prosecute her on a felony that does not require proof of intent to harm the United States. Meanwhile, although there may have been profound harm to national security caused by her grossly negligent mishandling of classified information, we’ve decided she shouldn’t be prosecuted for grossly negligent mishandling of classified information.”

— Andrew McCarthy

Of the 30,000 emails Clinton turned over to the State Department in 2014, Comey announced that 110 emails in 52 separate chains had been determined to contain classified information “at the time they were sent or received.” Of those, he continued, eight included “Top Secret” information, while 36 chains had “Secret” information at the time it was received, while eight contained “Confidential” information, the lowest level of classification. In addition to those, another 2,000 were “up-classified” to make them “Confidential” after they had already been sent.

ORA HILLARY PREOCCUPA WALL STREET, TEME LA SVOLTA A SINISTRA

“I was especially unpersuaded by Director Comey’s claim that no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case based on the evidence uncovered by the FBI. To my mind, a reasonable prosecutor would ask: Why did Congress criminalize the mishandling of classified information through gross negligence? The answer, obviously, is to prevent harm to national security. So then the reasonable prosecutor asks: Was the statute clearly violated, and if yes, is it likely that Mrs. Clinton’s conduct caused harm to national security? If those two questions are answered in the affirmative, I believe many, if not most, reasonable prosecutors would feel obliged to bring the case.”

Andrew McCarthy

Comey peppered his remarks with an array of judgmental language directed at Clinton and State Department employees, remarking that in general and particularly with respect to its unclassified email systems, the department was “generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.” Read the rest of this entry »


Multiple Suicide Blasts Hit Saudi Arabia

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Riyadh (AFP) – Three suicide bombers struck in Saudi Arabia on Monday in a rare incidence of multiple attacks in the kingdom where the Islamic State group has previously staged deadly attacks.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility.

The latest explosion occurred at one of Islam’s three holiest sites, the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina in the kingdom’s west where Mohammed is buried, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel reported.

Other blasts occurred in the Red Sea city of Jeddah near the US consulate and in Shiite-dominated Qatif on the other side of the country.

The interior ministry said two security officers were wounded in the Jeddah bombing.

Residents of Qatif said only the bomber died in that attack, blowing his body apart near a Shiite mosque.

Al-Arabiya said the Medina incident occurred during sunset prayers after which Muslims break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan, which ends Tuesday.

It showed images of fire raging in a security forces parking lot with at least one body nearby.

The Prophet’s Mosque is particularly crowded during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is supposed to be a time of charity but has seen spectacular attacks around the region.

Sunni extremists from IS claimed, or weer blamed for, a suicide bombing in Baghdad on Sunday that killed more than 200 people as well as other attacks in Bangladesh and at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.

At about the same time as the Medina blast, another bomber killed himself in Qatif, residents there said.

“Suicide bomber for sure. I can see the body” torn apart, said one witness to the attack in Qatif.

Nasima al-Sada, another resident, told AFP that “one bomber blew himself up near the mosque”, frequented by Shiites in downtown Qatif on the Gulf coast. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Clinton Tech Aide Bryan Pagliano Plans to Take the Fifth at Deposition

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“Mr. Pagliano will invoke his right under the Fifth Amendment and decline to testify at the deposition. Given the constitutional implications, the absence of any proper purpose for video recording the deposition, and the considerable risk of abuse, the Court should preclude Judicial Watch, Inc. … from creating an audiovisual recording of Mr. Pagliano’s deposition.”

Josh Gerstein reports: A former information technology adviser to Hillary Clinton plans to exercise his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination at a deposition next week and wants to prevent any video recording being made of the session. Lawyers for former State Department tech specialist Bryan Pagliano said in a court filing Wednesday that there’s no valid reason to make an audio or video recording of the session since Pagliano doesn’t plan to answer any of the questions he’s asked by the conservative group Judicial Watch, which is pursuing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit related to Clinton’s private email server. The group is scheduled to take Pagliano’s deposition on Monday.

“Judicial Watch may move to unseal the materials at any time. Furthermore, in the event of a leak or data breach at the court reporting company, Mr. Pagliano would be hard-pressed to prevent further dissemination and republication of the video.”

“Mr. Pagliano will invoke his right under the Fifth Amendment and decline to testify at the deposition,” Pagliano’s lawyers Mark MacDougall and Connor Mullin wrote. “Given the constitutional implications, the absence of any proper purpose for video recording the deposition, and the considerable risk of abuse, the Court should preclude Judicial Watch, Inc. … from creating an audiovisual recording of Mr. Pagliano’s deposition.”

“Given that there is no proper purpose for videotaping the deposition in the first place, Judicial Watch’s preference should yield to the significant constitutional interests at stake.”

[Read the full story here, at POLITICO]

Acting on a request from another former aide to Clinton, Cheryl Mills, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan already ruled that videos of the sessions should be put under seal. However, Pagliano’s lawyers say there’s still a chance the video could emerge later either with or without permission from the court. Read the rest of this entry »


BUSTED: State Dept. Admits Intentionally Altering Video of Iran Press Conference 

When it was revealed that the video had been edited to remove those comments, the State Department quickly restored the entire video, and blamed the missing video on a ‘glitch.’

Pete Kasperowicz reports: The State Department admitted Wednesday that a 2013 press briefing video was purposefully altered to remove a portion of a discussion about the Iran nuclear talks, after an unknown State Department official asked that it be edited out.

“James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that.”

— Psaki to Fox News reporter James Rosen

Spokesman John Kirby’s announcement contradicted the position held by the department for the last three weeks, during which officials said the video was missing because of a “glitch.”

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“The missing video clip was revealed more than three weeks ago, and it involves then-spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who was asked in 2013 whether officials ever lie to the public to protect national security interests.”

But Kirby said officials didn’t know who asked for the video to be edited, and said the department is unlikely to investigate further into who wanted the video to be edited.

Kirby said he asked the Office of the Legal Adviser to look into the issue, and that officials “learned that a specific request was made to excise that portion of the briefing. We do not know who made the request to edit the video, or why it was made.”

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Kirby insisted that the person who made the edit only remembers that he or she got a call from someone at the State Department, who was passing on a request from the departments’ Public Affairs Bureau. But he said the person who received the call didn’t remember who the caller was, and doesn’t know who in that bureau made the request. Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES HE DID: Judge Emmet Sullivan Seals All Video Interviews in Clinton Email Case

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Julian Hattem reports: A federal judge is preventing the distribution of videotaped depositions as part of a lawsuit connected to Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

“The public has a right to know details related to the creation, purpose and use of the clintonemail.com system.”

— Judge Emmet Sullivan

In an order on Thursday evening, Judge Emmet Sullivan granted the request oflawyers for Clinton’s ex-chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, who had worried that video clips of her interview could be used for political purposes.

And Sullivan went further, ordering all videotaped depositions to remain sealed until he ordered otherwise. The move, he said in a brief order, was to “avoid unnecessary briefing” going forward.

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Transcripts of the interviews, however, will be released.

[read the full text here, at TheHill]

“The public has a right to know details related to the creation, purpose and use of the clintonemail.com system,” Sullivan ruled. Read the rest of this entry »


THE PANTSUIT REPORT: State Dept. IG Report On Hillary Clinton’s E-Mail Server

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A new inspector general report details how Hillary Clinton broke the law by using a private email server for official correspondence during her tenure as secretary of State.pantsuit-report

[Read the full report here]

The agency’s top watchdog revealed that Clinton should have been archiving all of her correspondence, or at a minimum have turned it over before she stepped down as secretary in 2013. Her failure to do so violated not just State Department policy but also federal open records laws…(read more)

Source: thefederalist.com and scribd.com


Oddly, No Emails Found for Hillary Clinton’s Senior IT Staffer at State Department 

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton adjusts her make-up before speaking at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame dinner in Cedar Rapids

Justin Fishel reports: The State Department said today it can’t find Bryan Pagliano’s emails from the time he served as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s senior information technology staffer during her tenure there.

Pagliano would have been required to turn over any official communications from his work account before he left the government. State Department officials say he had an official email account, but that they can’t find any of those records he would have turned over and continue to search for them.

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“It’s hard to believe that an IT staffer who set up Hillary Clinton’s reckless email server never sent or received a single work-related email in the four years he worked at the State Department. Such records might shed light on his role in setting up Clinton’s server, and why he was granted immunity by the FBI. But it seems that his emails were either destroyed or never turned over, adding yet another layer to the secrecy surrounding his role.”

— Raj Shah, RNC’s Deputy Communications Director

“The Department has searched for Mr. Pagliano’s email pst file and has not located one that covers the time period of Secretary Clinton’s tenure,” State Department spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau said today, referencing a file format that holdsPANTSUIT-REPORT email.

“To be clear, the Department does have records related to Mr. Pagliano and we are working with Congress and [Freedom of Information Act] requesters to provide relevant material. The Department has located a pst from Mr. Pagliano’s recent work at the Department as a contractor, but the files are from after Secretary Clinton left the Department,” Trudeau added.

After this story was posted, Trudeau reached out to ABC News, amending her previous statement to say that despite the absence of his original pst file, some small amount of Pagliano’s email has been recovered, suggesting they were gleaned from other email accounts. Read the rest of this entry »


China Open to Sino-US Space Cooperation

China is open to space cooperation with all nations including the United States, the heavyweights of China’s space program said on Sunday, the anniversary of China’s first satellite launch 46 years ago. “China will not rule out cooperating with any country, and that includes the United States,” said Yang Liwei, China’s first astronaut.

Payload has been reserved in the Chinese space station, due to enter service around 2022, for international projects and foreign astronauts, said Yang on the occasion of the first China Space Day, an annual celebration newly designated by the government.

Upon request, China will also train astronauts for other countries, and jointly train astronauts with the European space station, Yang said. “The future of space exploration lies i international cooperation. It’s true for us, and for the United States too,” according to the senior astronaut.

His words were echoed by Zhou Jianping, chief engineer of China’s manned space program. Zhou said, “It is well understood that the United States is a global leader in space technology. But China is no less ambitious in contributing to human development.”

“Cooperation between major space players will be conducive to the development of all mankind,” Zhou added.

Citing security reasons, the U.S. Congress passed a law in 2011 to prohibit NASA from hosting Chinese visitors at its facilities and working with researchers affiliated to any Chinese government entity or enterprise.

Ban remains in effect
The U.S.-dominated International Space Station, which unsurprisingly blocks China, is scheduled to end its service in 2024. China’s space station could be the only operational one in outer space, at least for a while.

Commenting on Sino-U.S. space relations earlier this week, Xu Dazhe, the head of China’s National Space Administration, cites Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster “The Martian,” in which a U.S. astronaut gets stranded on Mars and is eventually brought back to Earth by NASA, with help from China. Read the rest of this entry »


State Department Office Removed Benghazi Files After Congressional Subpoena

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 reports: State Department officials removed files from the secretary’s office related to the Benghazi attack in Libya and transferred them to another department after receiving a congressional subpoena last spring, delaying the release of the records to Congress for over a year.

Attorneys for the State Department said the electronic folders, which contain hundreds of documents related to the Benghazi attack and Libya, were belatedly rediscovered at the end of last year.

They said the files had been overlooked by State Department officials because the executive secretary’s office transferred them to another department and flagged them for archiving last April, shortly after receiving a subpoena from the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

The new source of documents includes electronic folders used by senior officials under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They were originally kept in the executive secretary’s office, which handles communication

and coordination between the secretary of state’s office and other department bureaus.

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The House Benghazi Committee requested documents from the secretary’s office in a subpoena filed in March 2015. Congressional investigators met with the head of the executive secretary’s office staff to discuss its records maintenance system and the scope of the subpoena last April. That same month, State Department officials sent the electronic folders to another bureau for archiving, and they were not searched in response to the request.

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

The blunder could raise new questions about the State Department’s records process, which has come under scrutiny from members of Congress and government watchdogs. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, blasted the State Department’s Freedom of Information Act process as “broken” in January, citing “systematic failures at the agency.”

The inspector general for the State Department also released a report criticizing the agency’s public records process in January. The report highlighted failures in the executive secretary’s office, which responds to records requests for the Office of the Secretary.

Since last fall, the State Department has taken additional steps to increase transparency, recently hiring a transparency coordinator.

But the late discovery of the electronic folders has set back the release of information in a number of public records lawsuits filed against the State Department by watchdog groups.

The State Department first disclosed that staffers had discovered the unsearched folders in a January court filing. Attorneys for the department asked the court for additional time to process and release the documents in response to a 2014 lawsuit filed by the government ethics group Judicial Watch.

Around the same time, the State Department alerted the House Select Committee on Benghazi to the discovery. On April 8, the department turned over 1,100 pages of documents from the electronic folders to the House Benghazi Committee, over a year after the committee’s subpoena. The committee had received other documents from the production in February. Read the rest of this entry »


So What? Assign the Blame, Take the Dump

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Saudi Arabia Warns of Economic Fallout if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill

Mark Mazzetti reports: Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“Suspicions have lingered, partly because of the conclusions of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the attacks that cited some evidence that Saudi officials living in the United States at the time had a hand in the plot. Those conclusions, contained in 28 pages of the report, still have not been released publicly.”

The Obama administration has lobbied Congress to block the bill’s passage, according to administration officials and congressional aides from both parties, and the Saudi threats have been the subject of intense discussions in recent weeks between lawmakers and officials from the State Department and the Pentagon. The officials have warned senators of diplomatic and economic fallout from the legislation.

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“It’s stunning to think that our government would back the Saudis over its own citizens.”

— Mindy Kleinberg, whose husband died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11

Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, delivered the kingdom’s message personally last month during a trip to Washington, telling lawmakers that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.

Several outside economists are skeptical that the Saudis will follow through, saying that such a sell-off would be difficult to execute and would end up crippling the kingdom’s economy. But the threat is another sign of the escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

[Read the full story here at The New York Times]

The administration, which argues that the legislation would put Americans at legal risk overseas, has been lobbying so intently against the bill that some lawmakers and families of Sept. 11 victims are infuriated. In their view, the Obama administration has consistently sided with the kingdom and has thwarted their efforts to learn what they believe to be the truth about the role some Saudi officials played in the terrorist plot.

Rows of same flags are placed on the Memorial section of the South Tower at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2013 UPI/Chris Pedota /POOL

“It’s stunning to think that our government would back the Saudis over its own citizens,” said Mindy Kleinberg, whose husband died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 and who is part of a group of victims’ family members pushing for the legislation.

President Obama will arrive in Riyadh on Wednesday for meetings with King Salman and other Saudi officials. It is unclear whether the dispute over the Sept. 11 legislation will be on the agenda for the talks.

A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy did not respond to a message seeking comment.Saudi officials have long denied that the kingdom had any role in the Sept. 11 plot, and the 9/11 Commission found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.” But critics have noted that the commission’s narrow wording left open the possibility that less senior officials or parts of the Saudi government could have played a role. Suspicions have lingered, partly because of the conclusions of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the attacks that cited some evidence that Saudi officials living in the United States at the time had a hand in the plot. Those conclusions, contained in 28 pages of the report, still have not been released publicly. Read the rest of this entry »


IRS Sued for Refusing to Release Secret ‘Church Investigations’ Procedures

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Nobody knows what the ‘procedures’ are for conducting ‘church investigations’.

Bradford Richardson reports: Government watchdog groups have filed a motion in federal court to compel the IRS to reveal how it determines when to initiate “church investigations” after accusing the tax-collecting agency of “stonewalling” efforts to bring to light its procedures.

“Our country has a long history of religious leaders speaking freely on matters of public discourse. Whether it is Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. leading the charge against segregation, or preachers opposed to the Vietnam War, Americans expect their religious leaders to be able to speak freely to their flock without government oversight.”

— From a 2014 letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, signed by nine members of Congress

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The motion, filed jointly Friday by the Alliance Defending Freedom and Judicial Watch, came in response to a legal settlement struck in 2014 with an atheist organization, which said the IRS had “resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations.”

“The IRS is not above the law, and Americans deserve to know the truth about the agency’s secret deals with activists.”

— ADF Legal Counsel Christina Holcomb

“The IRS also has adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations,” the Freedom From Religion Foundation said in a press release.

But nobody knows what those “procedures” are for conducting “church investigations,” the watchdog groups said.

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The Obama IRS first ignored the ADF FOIA request and is now stonewalling in federal court. The public has a right to know about any new IRS guidelines for investigating the practice of our basic First Amendment freedoms.”

— Judicial Watch President Tom Litton, in a press release

“The IRS is not above the law, and Americans deserve to know the truth about the agency’s secret deals with activists,” ADF Legal Counsel Christina Holcomb said in a press release. “The IRS has a legal obligation to explain why it is hiding things or else produce documents. Its ongoing refusal to follow the law is absurd, particularly since much of [what] we are asking for is information that the IRS has already provided voluntarily to Freedom From Religion Foundation.”

Shulman, Lerner and Wolin take their seats to testify before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on targeting of political groups seeking tax-exempt status from by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington

The IRS began producing documents in July, months after the ADF and Judicial Watch had sued the agency for failing to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request. But even then the agency withheld more than 10,000 of the 16,000 requested documents, and thousands of the released documents were completely redacted, according to the ADF.

[Read the full story here, at Washington Times]

“The Obama IRS first ignored the ADF FOIA request and is now stonewalling in federal court,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a press release. “The public has a right to know about any new IRS guidelines for investigating the practice of our basic First Amendment freedoms.”

The IRS could not be reached for comment by press time. Read the rest of this entry »


‘You Could Cause Some Panic With This’

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Iraq is searching for ‘highly dangerous’ radioactive material stolen last year, according to an environment ministry document and seven security, environmental and provincial officials who fear it could be used as a weapon if acquired by Islamic State.

The material, stored in a protective case the size of a laptop computer, went missing in November from a storage facility near the southern city of Basra belonging to U.S. oilfield services company Weatherford WFT.N, the document seen by Reuters showed and officials confirmed.

A spokesman for Iraq’s environment ministry said he could not discuss the issue, citing national security concerns.

“They’ve been looking for it ever since. Whether it was just misplaced, or actually stolen, isn’t clear.”

— Official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter

Weatherford said in a statement that it was not responsible or liable for the theft. “We do not own, operate or control sources or the bunker where the sources are stored,” it said.

The material, which uses gamma rays to test flaws in materials used for oil and gas pipelines in a process called industrial gamma radiography, is owned by Istanbul-based SGS Turkey, according to the document and officials.

An SGS official in Iraq declined to comment and referred Reuters to its Turkish headquarters, which did not respond to phone calls and emails.

The U.S. State Department said it was aware of the reports but has seen no sign that Islamic State or other militant groups have acquired it.

A U.S. official said separately that Iraq had reported a missing specialized camera containing highly radioactive Iridium-192 to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog, in November.

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“They’ve been looking for it ever since. Whether it was just misplaced, or actually stolen, isn’t clear,” said the official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The environment ministry document, dated Nov. 30 and addressed to the ministry’s Centre for Prevention of Radiation, describes “the theft of a highly dangerous radioactive source of Ir-192 with highly radioactive activity belonging to SGS from a depot belonging to Weatherford in the Rafidhia area of Basra province”.

A senior environment ministry official based in Basra, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to speak publicly, told Reuters the device contained up to 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of Ir-192 “capsules”, a radioactive isotope of iridium also used to treat cancer.

The material is classed as a Category 2 radioactive source by the IAEA, meaning that if not managed properly it could cause permanent injury to a person in close proximity to it for minutes or hours, and could be fatal to someone exposed for a period of hours to days. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] DENIED: Clinton Aide Huma Abedin Rejects Hug in Awkward Moment

 

Source: TheHill


DHS: More than Half a Million Aliens Overstayed Visas in 2015

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson speaks at a Defense One "leadership briefing" in Washington, Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, on the agency's efforts to tackle growing terrorism threats in the U.S. and abroad. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

 reports: More than half a million aliens overstayed their temporary visas in the United States in 2015, with more than 482,000 of those individuals believed to be still residing illegally in the United States, according to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security.

“By not enforcing visa overstays, the administration has flung the border open—millions get temp visas and then freely violate their entry contracts and shred their eviction notices. Further, DHS has refused to complete the legally required biometric tracking system.”

Around 527,127 aliens temporally granted U.S. business and tourist visas were found to have stayed in the United States longer than legally permitted, according to DHS’s 2015 entry and exit overstay report.

Of those who did not leave the United States on time, around 482,781 are believed to still be illegally residing in the United States, according to the report, which was issued by DHS amid debate in Congress over an Obama administration initiative to permit around 170,000 new immigrants from Muslim-majority nations in 2016.

Senior Obama administration officials had trouble in the past year informing Congress about the number of individuals who had overstayed their visas. The administration also could not provide Congress with statistics about the number of Syrian refugees who had been granted residency in the United States in 2015.

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

Concerns about visa overstays come as Congress is investigating a sharp uptick in the number of terror plots hatched by foreign-born individuals legally granted entrance to the United States. Lawmakers estimate that at least 113 foreign-born individuals have been implicated in domestic terror plots since 2014.

Last year there were 219 illegal overstays from Afghanistan, 681 from Iraq, 564 from Iran, 56 from Libya, 1,435 from Pakistan, 440 from Syria, and 219 from Yemen, according to the report. Many are still in the United States illegally. Read the rest of this entry »


THE PANTSUIT REPORT: EmailGate Update

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John R. Schindler writes: Back in October I told you that Hillary Clinton’s email troubles were anything but over, and that the scandal over her misuse of communications while she was Secretary of State was sure to PANTSUIT-REPORTget worse. Sure enough, EmailGate continues to be a thorn in the side of Hillary’s presidential campaign and may have just entered a new, potentially explosive phase with grave ramifications, both political and legal.

The latest court-ordered dump of her email, just placed online by the State Department, brings more troubles for Team Hillary. This release of over 3,000 pages includes 66 “Unclassified” messages that the State Department subsequently determined actually were classified; however, all but one of those 66 were deemed Confidential, the lowest classification level, while one was found to be Secret, bringing the total of Secret messages discovered so far to seven. In all, 1,340 Hillary emails at State have been reassessed as classified.

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There are gems here. It’s hard to miss the irony of Hillary expressing surprise about a State Department staffer using personal email for work, which the Secretary of State noted in her own personal email. More consequential was Hillary’s ordering a staffer to send classified talking points for a coming meeting via a non-secure fax machine, stripped of their classification markings.

[Read the full text here, at the Observer]

This appears to be a clear violation of Federal law and the sort of thing that is a career-ender, or worse, for normals. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee termed that July 2011 incident “disturbing,” and so it is to anyone acquainted with U.S. Government laws and regulations regarding the handling of classified material.

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Part 1

But the biggest problem may be in a just-released email that has gotten little attention here, but plenty on the other side of the world. Read the rest of this entry »


‘We Caved’: How Barack Obama’s Idealistic Rhetoric Collided With the Cold Realities of War and Dictatorship in the Middle East

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The persistent problem of how to deal with American-allied strongmen has long tripped up an inflexible president who boasts of his preference for ‘pragmatic solutions’ over moral purity but has been unable to find much of either in the Middle East.

Michael Crowley writes: On a late July day this past summer, a roar filled the sky over Cairo. It was the sound of Barack Obama’s capitulation to a dictator.

Eight new American fighter jets, freshly delivered from Washington, swooped low over the city, F-16s flying in formation. As they banked hard over the city’s center, they trailed plumes of red, white and black smoke—the colors of the Egyptian flag.

“The rhetoric got way ahead of the policymaking. It … raised expectations that everything was going to change.”

— Michael Posner, who served as Obama’s top State Department official for human rights and democracy in his first term

For Egypt’s brutally repressive president, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the spectacle was a triumph, symbolizing not only his militaristic power at home, but also his victory over an American president who had tried to punish him before surrendering to the cold realities of geopolitics.

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“He’s never quite melded his rhetoric with his policies.”

— Dennis Ross, who served as Obama’s top Middle East aide in his first term

Just two years earlier, Sisi had seized power in a military coup, toppling Mohamed Morsi, the democratically elected successor to Hosni Mubarak, himself a strongman of 30 years pushed out in early 2011 by mass protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. In the summer of 2013, Sisi followed his coup with a brutal crackdown that would have done Saddam Hussein proud. His security forces arrested thousands of people, including much of his political opposition, and in one bloody day that summer, they gunned down some 1,000 pro-Morsi protesters (or more) who were staging peaceful sit-ins. The massacre was shocking even by the standards of Egypt’s long-dismal human rights record.

“It seems like we are swinging back to the idea that we must make a choice between supporting dictators or being safe.”

— Robert Ford, who was Obama’s ambassador to Syria before resigning in frustration over the president’s policy there

Obama was appalled. “We can’t return to business as usual,” he declared after the slaughter. “We have to be very careful about being seen as aiding and abetting actions that we think run contrary to our values and ideals.”

[Read the full text here, at POLITICO Magazine]

Several weeks later, Obama halted the planned delivery of U.S. military hardware to Cairo, including attack helicopters, Harpoon missiles and several F-16 fighter jets, as well as $260 million in cash transfers. He also cast doubt on the future of America’s $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt—a subsidy on which Cairo depends heavily, and much more than the United States sends to any country in the world aside from Israel.

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But a fierce internal debate soon broke out over whether and how to sanction Egypt further, a fight that many officials told me was one of the most agonizing of the Obama administration’s seven years, as the president’s most powerful advisers spent months engaged in what one called “trench warfare” against each other. It was an excruciating test of how to balance American values with its cold-blooded security interests in an age of terrorism. Some of Obama’s top White House aides, including his deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, and the celebrated human rights champion Samantha Power, now U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, urged the president to link further military aid to clear progress by Sisi on human rights and democracy. But Secretary of State John Kerry, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Hagel’s successor, Ash Carter, argued for restoring the aid. Trying to punish Sisi would have little effect on his behavior, they said, while alienating a bulwark against Islamic radicalism in an imploding Middle East. “Egypt was one of the most significant policy divides between the White House and the State Department and the Department of Defense,” says Matthew Spence, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy. Read the rest of this entry »


Hillary Clinton’s Nightmare: Hollywood Feature Brings Benghazi Reality Back to Life

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Owen Boss writes: The release next week of “13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” — which tells the true story of the security contractors who responded to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya — may force Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton to wade back into a debate she hoped would be behind her, political watchdogs said.

“This takes an issue that is not good for her out of her control and pushes it out into popular culture, which is much worse for her than having it discussed on cable news.”

— Cornell University law professor William Jacobson

“Anything that keeps the Benghazi issue alive is a negative for Hillary Clinton. Period,” said Cornell University law professor William Jacobson. “Whether it’s a movie, or an event, or a hearing — anything that keeps this alive is not good for her. That’s not what she wants to be talking about.”

The big-budget action-drama,
 directed by Michael Bay, is 
focused on the American contractors who valiantly battled the terrorists who overran the compound on Sept. 11, 2012, and killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, U.S. State Department communications expert Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, a Winchester native.

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“Anything that keeps the Benghazi issue alive is a negative for Hillary Clinton. Period. Whether it’s a movie, or an event, or a hearing — anything that keeps this alive is not good for her. That’s not what she wants to be talking about.”

— Cornell University law professor William Jacobson

Clinton, who was U.S. secretary of state at the time of the 
attack, has been roundly criticized for not doing enough to secure the consulate, and was forced to defend herself against the allegations during a grueling, daylong appearance before the Republican-led Select Committee on Benghazi in October.

The movie, starring Newton native John Krasinski and Toby Stephens, will be released by Paramount Pictures on Jan. 15,
less than a month before the Iowa caucus, an inopportune time for Clinton’s campaign, 
Jacobson said. Read the rest of this entry »


Jury Convicts Raymond ‘Shrimp Boy’ Chow in Chinatown Racketeering, Murder Case

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Prosecutors said Chow ordered the slaying of the head of a Chinese fraternal organization with criminal ties that Chow then took over. They also charged him with conspiracy to murder another rival.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) —  Sudhin Thanawala reports: A jury convicted a key defendant Friday of racketeering, murder and scores of other counts after a years-long federal undercover investigation centered in the Chinatown district of San Francisco that also ensnared a California state senator.

“Investigators say Chow used the organization as a front for drug trafficking, money laundering and the sale of stolen cigarettes and alcohol. He was convicted of all 162 counts against him, most of which involved money laundering and theft.”

Defendant Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, in a black sports coat and tie, stared straight ahead and showed no reaction as the verdicts were announced. He could face life in prison during his March 23 sentencing.

Defense attorneys said they plan an appeal, claiming Senior District Judge Charles Breyer unfairly limited their case by refusing to let a number of witnesses testify and did not appear to be paying attention during the trial. Breyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Defense attorney J. Tony Serra said Chow was “noble in his acceptance of defeat” and told his attorneys they would prevail in the next round.

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“The agent, who testified under a false name, said he wined and dined Chow and his associates for years. Chow willingly accepted envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash for setting up various crimes, including illegal liquor and tobacco sales.”

Prosecutors said Chow ordered the slaying of the head of a Chinese fraternal organization with criminal ties that Chow then took over. They also charged him with conspiracy to murder another rival.

Investigators say Chow used the organization as a front for drug trafficking, money laundering and the sale of stolen cigarettes and alcohol. He was convicted of all 162 counts against him, most of which involved money laundering and theft.

[Read the full story here, at The Seattle Times]

The prosecution’s main witness against Chow was an undercover FBI agent who posed as a foul-mouthed East Coast businessman with mafia ties while infiltrating Chow’s organization.

shrimpboy

The agent, who testified under a false name, said he wined and dined Chow and his associates for years. Chow willingly accepted envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash for setting up various crimes, including illegal liquor and tobacco sales, the agent said. Read the rest of this entry »


Review Affirms Clinton Server Emails Were ‘Top Secret,’ Despite Department Challenge 

EXCLUSIVE:  and  report: An intelligence community review has re-affirmed that two classified emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Hillary Clinton’s unsecured personal server despite a challenge to that designation by the State Department, according to two sources familiar with the review.

“The sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, told Fox News that while the emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Clinton’s server, one of them remains “top secret” to this day — and must be handled at the highest security level.”

The sources described the dispute over whether the two emails were classified at the highest level as a “settled matter.”

“The findings have been transmitted to the State Department, which continues to challenge the intelligence community’s conclusions about the classification of all the emails. But the department has no authority to change the classification since it did not originate the information.”

The agencies that owned and originated that intelligence – the CIA and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency or NGA – reviewed the emails to determine how they should be properly stored, as the State Department took issue with their highly classified nature. The subject matter of the messages is widely reported to be the movement of North Korean missiles and a drone strike. A top secret designation requires the highest level of security, and can include the use of an approved safe.

The sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, told Fox News that while the emails were indeed “top secret” when they hit Clinton’s server, one of them remains “top secret” to this day — and must be handled at the highest security level. The second email is still considered classified but at the lower “secret” level because more information is publicly available about the event.

[Read the full report here, at Fox News]

The findings have been transmitted to the State Department, which continues to challenge the intelligence community’s conclusions about the classification of all the emails. But the department has no authority to change the classification since it did not originate the information. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Jihadist Gunmen Take 170 Hostages at Radisson Hotel in Mali

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UPDATE: Gunmen have taken 170 hostages, killing three so far at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako. The gunmen are reported to be releasing people that can recite verses from the Quran.

Map of Mali locating shooting, hostage-taking at Radisson hotel in Bamako. 45 x 45 mmAutomatic weapon fire was heard from outside the 190-room hotel in the city-centre where security forces have set up a security cordon, according to Agence France Presse. Security sources told AFP the gunmen were “jihadists” who had entered the hotel compound in a car that had diplomatic plates.

“It’s all happening on the seventh floor, jihadists are firing in the corridor,” one security source said.

Malian soldiers, police and special forces were on the scene as a security perimeter was set up, along with members of the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping force in Mali and the French troops fighting jihadists in west Africa under Operation Barkhane.

French troops are believed to have been stationed at the hotel….

BAMAKO, Mali — Gunmen attacked a popular hotel in Mali’s capital on Friday with guns and grenades, authorities and a witness said.

A staffer at the Radisson Blu hotel who gave his name as Tamba Diarra said over the phone that the attackers used grenades in the assault. He did not have information on casualties or the number of assailants involved, but said he was not aware of hostages having been taken at the hotel.

The U.S. Embassy in Mali asked citizens to shelter in place amid reports of an “ongoing active shooter operation” at the hotel, raising fears of an attack by extremists.

Reports of gunfire surfaced Friday morning on social media, though Lt. Col. Diarran Kone, an adviser with Mali’s defense ministry, says it is not yet clear what has happened….(read more)

Developing…

Source: AP/Breitbart


Huma Abedin Warned State Department Staffer: Hillary Clinton Is ‘Often Confused’

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(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today released more than 35 pages of emails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin revealing that Abedin advised Clinton aide and frequent companion Monica Hanley that it was “very important” to go over phone calls with Clinton because the former Secretary of State was “often confused.”

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The emails, from Abedin’s “Huma@clintonemail.com” address, also reveal repeated security breaches, with the Secretary’s schedule and movements being sent and received through Abedin’s non-governmental and unsecured Clinton server account.  The emails document requests for special State Department treatment for a Clinton Foundation associate and Abedin’s mother, a controversial Islamist leader.

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The Abedin email material contains a January 26, 2013, email exchange with Clinton aide Monica Hanley regarding Clinton’s schedule in which Abedin says Clinton is “often confused:”

  • Abedin: Have you been going over her calls with her? So she knows singh is at 8? [India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh]
  • Hanley: She was in bed for a nap by the time I heard that she had an 8am call. Will go over with her
  • Abedin: Very imp to do that. She’s often confused.

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[Read the full text here, at Judicial Watch]

The newly released Abedin emails included a lengthy exchange giving precise details of the Clinton schedule on the Secretary’s final full day in office, Wednesday, January 31, 2013. The email from Lona J. Valmoro, former Special Assistant to Secretary of State Clinton, to Abedin, other top State Department staff, and Clinton associates, reveals exact times (including driving times) and locations of all appointments throughout the day:

8:25 am           DEPART Private Residence

En route to State Department

[drive time: 10 minutes]

***

1:40 pm           DEPART State Department

En route to Council on Foreign Relations

[drive time: 15 minutes]

***

3:05 pm           DEPART Council on Foreign Relations

En route to State Department

[drive time: 15 minutes]

***

6:00 pm           DEPART State Department

En route to Private Residence

[drive time: 5 minutes]

The detailed schedule provided in the Abedin email contains an annotation reading: “The information contained in this email is not to be shared, forwarded or duplicated.”

Another Abedin email provides details about a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s leadership. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Administration Promotes Fast Lanes to Accelerate Processing of Incoming Syrians

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Screening outposts to be set up in Iraq, Lebanon as U.S. urges Arab nations to do more.

The Obama administration is moving to increase and accelerate the number of Syrian refugees who might be admitted into the United States by opening new screening outposts in Iraq and Lebanon, administration officials told Reuters on Friday.

The move comes after President Barack Obama pledged in September to admit an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, torn by four years of civil war and disorder.

The U.S. State Department confirmed the plans to open a refugee settlement processing centre in Erbil, Iraq, before the end of 2015, and to resume refugee processing in Lebanon in early 2016, said spokeswoman Danna Van Brandt.

The White House would not say how many additional refugees it may take in beyond the 10,000, but two senior administration officials said they are seeking ways to increase the number.

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Refugees and migrants arrive from the island of Lesbos to the port of Piraeus on Friday. About 25,000 refugees and other migrants are heading to the Greek mainland from the eastern Aegean islands after the country’s seamen’s union called off ferry strikes. (Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press)

“We want to be in a place where we can push out really ambitious goals,” said one of the officials, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

The State Department runs nine screening centres worldwide that serve as meeting points for refugees and U.S. Department of Homeland Security employees who have to decide who is suitable for resettlement in the United States.

The additional centres will double the number available to refugees in the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


John Bolton: Why Benghazi Still Makes a Difference

Hillary Clinton may not see the point, but her testimony may tell us much about her ability to lead.

boltonJohn Bolton writes: Only in Perry Mason stories does the real culprit break down in open court. After Hillary Clinton’s now-immortal Capitol Hill outburst about investigations into the deadly 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya—“What difference, at this point, does it make?”—the former secretary of state and Democratic candidate for president is unlikely to offer any such spontaneity when she testifies Thursday before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

“As the crisis unfolded that day in Benghazi, with violence also erupting in Tunis, Cairo and potentially elsewhere, Mrs. Clinton disappeared. Instead of staying at her desk, ‘on the bridge’ of the State Department’s seventh floor, Mrs. Clinton literally left the building. Why?”

Nonetheless, the committee’s work is utterly serious, its preparations extensive (and extensively stonewalled by Mrs. Clinton’s team) and its mission vital to our fight against still-metastasizing Islamist terrorism. Much is at stake. The hearing’s focus must be on the key policy and leadership implications of the mistakes made before, during and after the murders of Amb. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11 three years ago.

“Imagine the effect on morale when, with colleagues in Libya in mortal peril, State Department personnel learned that their leader had gone home for the evening. There is no evidence that Mrs. Clinton or President Obama did anything other than passively monitor events.”

Before the attack, there was ample warning that the U.S. consulate in Benghazi wasn’t secure, with terrorist threats in the area multiplying. Even the International Red Cross had pulled out of Benghazi. After a string of requests from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli for more security, in mid-August came a joint Embassy-CIA recommendation to move the State Department’s people into the CIA’s Benghazi compound. The State Department in Washington was invariably unresponsive, even though, as Joint 51+ElROmDmL._SL250_Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey later testified, the rising terrorist threat in Libya was well known.

[Order John Bolton’s book “Surrender is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad” from Amazon.com]

Given her self-proclaimed central role in deposing dictator Moammar Gadhafi, why was Mrs. Clinton so detached from the deteriorating situation in Libya? She has so far dodged the issue, pawning off such “technical” matters on her subordinates. Working in the State Department in 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, I saw firsthand how Secretary of State James Baker dived into every detail of safeguarding U.S. diplomats stranded in Kuwait City. If earlier secretaries of state have been perfectly prepared to get their fingernails dirty in operational details when those under their responsibility were threatened, why wasn’t Mrs. Clinton?

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Libya was no backwater for Mrs. Clinton. It was one of President Obama’s highest foreign-policy priorities, touted by the administration as evidence of successfully “leading from behind,” averting a Gadhafi bloodbath through “humanitarian intervention,” and with democracy and stability to follow. So acknowledging that precisely the opposite was happening, and appropriately increasing security in Libya, would demonstrate failure. That was politically unacceptable.

As the crisis unfolded that day in Benghazi, with violence also erupting in Tunis, Cairo and potentially elsewhere, Mrs. Clinton disappeared. Instead of staying at her desk, “on the bridge” of the State Department’s seventh floor, Mrs. Clinton literally left the building. Why? Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Benghazi Hearing Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy on Hillary Clinton’s ‘Unusual Email Arrangement’

Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, said Hillary Clinton’s “unusual email arrangement” complicated the investigation into the attack in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.

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[VIDEO] Mother of Benghazi Victim Erupts at Hillary Clinton: ‘She’s Lying!’

The mother of Sean Smith, one of the four Americans killed at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya in 2012, exploded in response to a clip of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s prior testimony on the matter.

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CNN Newsroom host Carol Costello was taken aback when Patricia Smith revealed in conversation that she actually didn’t know much about what happened to her son — despite the fact that the Benghazi attack occurred three years ago.

Smith responded in kind, claiming that although Clinton promised to “get back to” her following her son’s funeral ceremony in Washington, D.C., no one had since contacted her on the matter.


Comedy: Benghazi Committee ‘Whistleblower’ is a Professional Storyteller

 reports: The fired House staffer who is accusing the Benghazi select committee of running an anti-Clinton witch-hunt also moonlights as a professional storyteller around the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Maj. Bradley Podliska, who is suing the committee after getting axed in June, claims the panel is running a “partisan” probe against Clinton. The committee’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.), called Podliska’s allegations “sensationalist and fabulist” on Sunday. The committee said that Podliska was fired after mishandling classified information and using resources for an unrelated PowerPoint project.

The former staffer has some experience with storytelling. Podliska performed last year with the live Virginia-based storytelling group “Better Said Than Done,” where he recounted a terrible blind date he went on as part of the Washington Post’s “DateLab” feature in 2011.

His story started out mild and self-deprecating, but he soon launched into a tirade of insults against the woman.

According to Podliska, his date was a drunken disaster who “liked to drink like a fish” and told him to “quit the chit-chat, I’m here to drink on the Washington Post’s dime” when he attempted polite conversation.

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

By the end of the night, Podliska said, the woman “was looking as if she had run 300 miles in a tornado, while jumping on a trampoline, all while upside down, underwater. In other words, she was two sheets to the wind.”

He also claimed the “blindly drunk female” bad-mouthed him in the Washington Post article after their date, calling him a “Neanderthal” for attempting to walk her to the train. Read the rest of this entry »


No Biggie For Bambi: Key Sanctions Relief Provision of Iran Deal Violates Federal Law

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Inconveniently, Sanctions Relief Provision Conflicts with Federal Statutes that were Signed into Law by President Obama.

Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws, Fox News has learned.

“What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction.”

At issue is a passage tucked away in ancillary paperwork attached to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known. Specifically, Section 5.1.2 of Annex II provides that in exchange for Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, the U.S. “shall…license non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran that are consistent with this JCPOA.”

iran-illegal

In short, this means that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies will, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole.

“Additional executive orders and statutes signed by President Obama, such as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, have reaffirmed that all prior federal statutes relating to sanctions on Iran shall remain in full effect.”

Indeed, ITRA also stipulated, in Section 218, that when it comes to doing business with Iran, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent firms shall in all cases be treated exactly the same as U.S. firms: namely, what is prohibited for U.S. parent firms has to be prohibited for foreign subsidiaries, and what is allowed for foreign subsidiaries has to be allowed for U.S. parent firms.

What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction. Read the rest of this entry »


Connecticut Firm Backed Up Hillary’s Server, Might Still Have Personal Emails in Cloud 

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Cloudy With a Chance of Thunderstorms.

Greg Gordon reports: Hillary Clinton hired a Connecticut company to back up her emails, and due to a technical glitch some may still reside on one of the firm’s “cloud” storage sites, a Republican Senate committee chairman revealed.

The disclosures, in a letter Monday from Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, heighten the possibility that some of Clinton’s more than 31,000 personal emails may still be PANTSUIT-REPORTrecovered. She said last March that she deleted them all upon turning over her official emails to the State Department in December 2014.

Congressional committees have voiced skepticism as to whether the 30,940 emails that the Democratic presidential candidate handed over represented all of her official emails. The FBI is separately investigating whether Clinton’s arrangement put classified information at risk.

His letter to the chief executive of Datto Inc. of Norwalk, Conn., offers the first public confirmation that Clinton or her aides arranged for a backup of her email server after leaving office.

The letter also recounts a series of events that led an employee of Colorado-based Platte River Networks to air suspicions in an email as to whether “this whole thing really is covering up some shaddy shit,” according to an excerpt of an email cited by Johnson, who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

[Read the full story here, at McClatchy DC]

On May 31, 2013, four months after Clinton left office, the Clinton Executive Service Corp., which oversaw her email server contracts, hired Platte River to maintain her account. Its New Jersey-based server replaced the server in the basement of her New York home that handled her emails as secretary of state.

At the same time, Platte River retained Datto to set up a virtual backup server that could provide immediate recovery if the primary server failed, Johnson said in his letter. Datto says it offers two kinds of backup storage: a private cloud virtual server that takes data from a server and converts it into “virtual machines that can be booted instantly,” and an off-site “secure cloud.”

The Clinton firm chose the private cloud virtual server for Platte River to manage, Johnson wrote. Read the rest of this entry »


[INFOGRAPHIC] How to File a Freedom of Information Act Request

Though it has been in place since 1967, some of us don’t fully understand—or take advantage of—the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The act, often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government, requires federal agencies to disclose requested information. While there are nine specific exemptions, the FOIA grants citizens a wide range of information controlled by the U.S. government.

As election season nears, and in light of an outbreak of high profile investigations into government dealings, FOIA requests have gained currency as an indispensable tool to shed light on the inner workings of public affairs.

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen testifies under subpoena before the House Oversight Committee as lawmakers continue their probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Especially in the internet age, citizens should have free and unrestricted access to government information. As an essential tool to gain access to the troves of electronic information at the heart of the biggest, most important government disputes, FOIA requests are crucial for a transparent democracy. But to tap into the heaps of information, electronic and otherwise, you need to know how to file a request and identify the nine exemptions. This infographic clearly details the process of filing a request under the act as well as what happens once a request is made.

Source: logikcull.com


Angry Hillary Clinton Casts a Spell on Republicans for Benghazi Investigation

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 reports: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unloaded on Congress’ Benghazi investigation during a Monday morning interview on the “Today” show.

A visibly angry Clinton tore into the Republican-led Select Committee on Benghazi when she was asked how she would react to hypothetical GOP leaders facing scrutiny over their own government email use.

“Look at the situation they chose to exploit, to go after me for political reasons: the death of four Americans in Benghazi,” Clinton said. “I knew the ambassador. I identified him. I asked him to go there. I asked the president to nominate him.”

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Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, has struggled to answer questions over her own email use in recent months. Clinton exclusively used a private email server while at the State Department, and the FBI is investigating whether any information was mishandled in connection to the account.

She long dismissed the scrutiny but, after she tumbled a bit in polls, recently started apologizing and opening up her campaign to the media. Read the rest of this entry »


Kerry Downs Another Vodka Shot As The Last Of Putin’s Security Detail Passes Out

NOVOSINKOVO, RUSSIA—Staring directly into the drooping eyes of the woozy, flushed henchman sitting across from him in the back room of a dimly lit tavern, Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly downed another vodka shot Sunday night as the last of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s security detail passed out beside him. “Nostrovia!” said Kerry as he slammed down the upturned shot glass next to dozens of others…(read more)

 


Lee Smith: The End of Pax Americana: Obama’s ‘Accomplishment’

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Lee Smith writes: The United States, President Obama said at the U.N. General Assembly last week, “worked with many nations in this assembly to prevent a third world war—by forging alliances with old adversaries.” Presumably, the president was not referring to his deeply flawed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the recent agreement that the White House has marketed as the only alternative to war with a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran.

“Once you seize a position by force, as the Russians have. you are in the diplomatic driver’s seat. Putin is schooling the U.S. foreign policy establishment in foreign affairs. He has put his armed forces not at the service of Bashar al-Assad, but at the service of Russian interests.”

— Angelo Codevilla, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University

Rather, it seems he was referring to the post-World War II period, when the United States created and presided over an international order that prevented an even larger, potentially nuclear, conflict with the Soviet Union. Now, that Pax Americana may be ending.

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Not with a bang, but with Obama

Indeed, Russia’s airstrikes against CIA-vetted Syrian rebels last week looked like a punctuation mark. When the secretary of state holds a joint press conference with Moscow’s foreign minister after Russia has decimated American proxies bearing American arms, we are not witnessing anything like a return to the Cold War. Rather, we’re witnessing a new order being born. It is an order that is being designed by others, without any concern for American interests.

Syrian refugees wait to cross into Turkey at the border on Monday near the town of Suruc, Turkey, which has been overwhelmed as thousands flee to escape a militant advance.G Getty Images

Syrian refugees wait to cross into Turkey at the border on Monday near the town of Suruc, Turkey, which has been overwhelmed as thousands flee to escape a militant advance.G Getty Images

“At what point does the Syrian conflict create political instability in places like Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing states in the Persian Gulf? As long as nothing is happening to block the oil flow, it’s the refugee flow that makes Syria an international issue.”

— Walter Russell Mead, professor of foreign policy and humanities at Bard College

Its cradle is not the conference rooms of the U.N., but the killing fields of Syria. After four and a half years, the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis it has spawned threaten to disrupt two zones of American vital interest, the Persian Gulf and Europe.

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

America’s Cold War prosperity depended on our ability to trade with the rest of the world across both oceans. The United States built a powerful blue-water navy and far-flung bases as tokens of our willingness to protect our allies and stand up to their, and our, adversaries. What facilitates both trade and the movement of a military as large as America’s is access to affordable sources of energy, which is why the security of the Persian Gulf has been a vital American interest for 70 years.

“There already is a third world war underway. It’s the war between Sunnis and Shiites. It’s a world war because it engages people all around the world who happen to be Muslims.”

— Angelo Codevilla

The nuclear agreement with Iran signals that Obama doesn’t see things this way. From his perspective, no core American interest would be threatened by either the domination of the Gulf by revolutionary Iran or the likelihood that other regional powers will go nuclear. The JCPOA told American partners in the Middle East that the old alliance system was finished. Israel and Saudi Arabia would get stiff-armed, and Iran would get to call plays in the huddle. What Obama sought, as he said in a New Yorker interview, was a “new geopolitical equilibrium.”
Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES THEY DID: Russia-Linked Hackers Tried to Access Clinton Server, Emails Show

WASHINGTON (Associated Press) — Russia-linked hackers tried at least five times to pry into Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email account while she was US secretary of state, emails released Wednesday show.

It is unclear, however, if she clicked on any attachment and exposed her account.

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Clinton received the infected emails, disguised as speeding tickets, over four hours early on the morning of August 3, 2011.

The emails instructed recipients to print the attached tickets, which would have allowed hackers to take control of their computers.

Security researchers who analyzed the malicious software in September 2011 said that infected computers would transmit information from victims to at least three server computers overseas, including one in Russia.

Hillary Clinton

But that doesn’t necessarily mean Russian intelligence or citizens were responsible.

Clinton has said repeatedly that the unusual homebrew server she used was secure.

But the phishing attempts highlight the risk of Clinton’s unsecure email being pried open by foreign intelligence agencies, even if others also PANTSUIT-REPORTreceived the virus concealed as a speeding ticket from Chatham, New York. The email misspelled the name of the city, came from a supposed New York City government account and contained a “Ticket.zip” file that would have been a red flag.

Most commercial antivirus software at the time would have detected the software, identified it as dangerous and prevented users from infecting themselves. It was unclear if the State Department’s network security would have flagged the infected message, or what precautions were in place protecting Clinton’s server in the basement of her home in Chappaqua.

Hillary email phish

State Department: One of the emails.

The US State Department and other government agencies, during Clinton’s tenure and after, suffered its own series of hacking attacks. US counterterrorism officials have linked them to China and Russia. Read the rest of this entry »


Clinton Aide Cheryl Mills Shared Classified Information With Foundation

The Clinton Foundation and the State Department did not respond to request for comment about the email.

 reports: A member of Hillary Clinton’s staff at the Department of State emailed classified information about the PANTSUIT-REPORTgovernment in Congo to a staffer at the Clinton Foundation in 2012, according to a copy of the correspondence obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, sent the email to the Clinton Foundation’s foreign policy director, Amitabh Desai, on July 12, 2012.

The message, which was originally obtained by the group Citizens United through a public records request, is partially redacted because it includes “foreign government information” that has been classified as “Confidential” by the State Department.

Although the information was not marked classified by the State Department until this past summer, intelligence sources tell the Free Beacon that it would have been classified at the time Mills sent it because “foreign government information” is considered classified from inception.

The message could add to concerns from congressional and FBI investigators about whether former Secretary Clinton and her aides mishandled classified information while at the State Department.

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

The email, which discussed the relationship between the governments in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, was originally drafted by Johnnie Carson, the State Department’s assistant secretary for African affairs, who sent it to Mills’ State Department email address.

Mills later forwarded the full message to Desai along with “talking points for Presient [sic] Clinton” shortly before Bill Clinton was scheduled to visit the region. Read the rest of this entry »


Repent! Pope Francis Lectures America on Immigration, Abortion, Gay Marriage and the Syrian Refugee Crisis

J. Taylor Rushing, Us Political Reporter In Washington and David Martosko, Us Political Editor For Dailymail.com report: Pope Francis delivered a stinging blow to nativist conservatives bent on keeping illegal immigrants and Middle Eastern refugees out of the United States, saying Thursday in a landmark address to Congress that Americans should show compassion to immigrants of all stripes.

“I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without.”

‘When the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past,’ the Roman Catholic pontiff said. ‘We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us.’

“Francis told lawmakers that the ‘Golden Rule … reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.'”

Speaking in English – a language he has learned only recently – Francis also dropped coded messages to conservatives about gay marriage and abortion, and made an impassioned plea for a left-leaning approach to capital punishment in an unprecedented visit to Capitol Hill by a sitting Pope.

[Read the full text here, at Daily Mail Online]

‘I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without,’ Francis told a packed House chamber filled with legislators, Supreme Court justices and multiple presidential candidates.

Pope Francis on Thursday morning became the first-ever pontiff to address the US Congress

Pope Francis on Thursday morning became the first-ever pontiff to address the US Congress

Francis took the opportunity to lecture lawmakers on a variety of topics ranging from social to environmental issues. Known as a forceful advocate, he did not disappoint

Francis took the opportunity to lecture lawmakers on a variety of topics ranging from social to environmental issues. Known as a forceful advocate, he did not disappoint

Francis about to be introduced at the door to the House chamber

Francis about to be introduced at the door to the House chamber

Francis's address was heard by an audience of several hundred, including lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and presidential candidates

Francis’s address was heard by an audience of several hundred, including lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and presidential candidates

“Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.”

And without mentioning abortion by name – or the name of the embattled domestic Planned Parenthood organization – Francis told lawmakers that the ‘Golden Rule … reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.’

Francis spoke calmly but emphatically, never raising his voice as presidents often do in their State of the Union addresses to joint congressional sessions.

[Read the full text here, at Daily Mail Online]

In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.

He was greeted by polite applause at certain points – particularly when he began reciting the Golden Rule but was interrupted before he could finish – ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you.’

Also, notably, applause broke out after these words: ‘The Golden Rule reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of development.’

Voila_Capture 2015-9-24_10-55-55_am

But the applause was never raucous, a sign that members heeded party leaders’ directive not to applaud effusively or ‘glad-handle’ Francis if they got close to him.

Behind him on the raised speaker’s dais, close watchers got a different show during the speech, as both Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner – both well-known emotional men – proved to be almost as watchable.

“Francis’s speech was sprinkled with references to American history, as the pontiff repeatedly referenced and occasionally quoted from President Abraham Lincoln, civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., Catholic Worker Movement founder Dorothy Day and Cistercerian monk Thomas Merton.”

Throughout the speech, Biden gravely nodded his head and looked down as if in serious thought. But Boehner appeared to tear up at several points, and was openly crying later on the Speaker’s Balcony after the address.

Francis’s speech was sprinkled with references to American history, as the pontiff repeatedly referenced and occasionally quoted from President Abraham Lincoln, civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., Catholic Worker Movement founder Dorothy Day and Cistercerian monk Thomas Merton.

The pontiff made clear his firmness on the sanctity of human life, not only the veiled reference to abortion but also his opposition to the death penalty.

Francis and House Speaker John Boehner meet for the first time near the House of Representatives chamber

Francis and House Speaker John Boehner meet for the first time near the House of Representatives chamber

Biden, a Roman Catholic who co-presided over the Joint Session of Congress as the constitutionally appointed president of the U.S. Senate, caused a stir this week by declaring that he believes life begins at conception.

[Read the full story here, at Daily Mail Online]

But it’s Francis’ comments about immigrants that will be most sharply felt as the U.S. deals with the twin crises of Syrian refugees and an immigrant invasion from Mexico and Central America, both of which the Obama administration has taken steps to pacify by loosening America’s borders as a show of compassion. Read the rest of this entry »


FBI Refuses to Cooperate in Server Probe 

fbi_getty
The FBI refused to cooperate Monday with a court-ordered inquiry into former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s email server, telling the State Department that they won’t even confirm they are investigating the matter themselves, much less willing to tell the rest of the government what’s going on.

“We still do not know whether the FBI — or any other government agency for that matter — has possession of the email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business during their four years of employment at the State Department.”

— Judicial Watch

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan had ordered the State Department to talk with the FBI and see what sort of information could be recovered from Mrs. Clinton’s email server, which her lawyer has said she turned over to the Justice Department over the summer.

Masked_FBI_Agent_Wide

The FBI’s refusal, however, leaves things muddled.

“At this time, consistent with long-standing Department of Justice and FBI policy, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any ongoing investigation, nor are we in a position to provide additional information at this time,” FBI General Counsel James A. Baker wrote in a letter dated Monday — a week after the deadline the Justice Department had set for the FBI to reply.

Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that is pursuing at least 16 open records cases seeking emails from Mrs. Clinton and her top aides, said at this point it’s not even clear what Mrs. Clinton provided, since all that’s been made public at this point are the former secretary of state’s public comments and some assertions, made through her lawyer, to the State Department.

“We also do not know whether the server purportedly in the possession of the FBI — an assumption based on unsworn statements by third parties — is the actual email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business during their four years of employment at the State Department or whether it is a copy of such an email server. Nor do we know whether any copies of the email server or copies of the records from the email server exist.”

Judicial Watch is prodding the courts to try to delve more deeply into Mrs. Clinton’s emails, and the group said a number of questions persevere about both Mrs. Clinton and top aides such as Huma Abedin, who did public business on an account tied to the server Mrs. Clinton maintained.

“These emails Judicial Watch forced out through a federal lawsuit show that Huma Abedin used her separate clintonemail.com account to conduct the most sensitive government business, endangering not only her safety but the safety of Hillary Clinton and countless others.”

— Judicial Watch

“We still do not know whether the FBI — or any other government agency for that matter — has possession of the email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business during their four years of employment at the State Department,” Judicial Watch said.

[Read the full text here, at Washington Times]

“We also do not know whether the server purportedly in the possession of the FBI — an assumption based on unsworn statements by third parties — is the actual email server that was used by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Abedin to conduct official government business during their four years of employment at the State Department or whether it is a copy of such an email server. Nor do we know whether any copies of the email server or copies of the records from the email server exist,” the group said in its own court filing Monday afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »


Russian Flights Over Iraq and Iran Escalate Tension With U.S.

Flights-superJumbo

WASHINGTON —  Russia is using an air corridor over Iraq and Iran to fly military equipment and personnel to a new air hub in Syria, openly defying American efforts to block the shipments and significantly increasing tensions with Washington.

“Since Maliki relinquished the premiership, power and authority in Iraq have become increasingly diffused with various players now exercising unilateral power over the use of force.”

American officials disclosed Sunday that at least seven giant Russian Condor transport planes had taken off from a base in southern Russia during the past week to ferry equipment to Syria, all passing through Iranian and Iraqi airspace.

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“Neutrality is the best Washington can hope for in Baghdad. Iraq is not a dictatorial state like many of the U.S. allies in the Middle East. Iraq is still a fragile state whose leaders are exposed to politics.”

Their destination was an airfield south of Latakia, Syria, which could become the most significant new Russian military foothold in the Middle East in decades, American officials said.

Mardini

“In the discourse of Iraqi politics, forcing Abadi to side with the U.S. against Assad is like realigning him with the Sunni axis against the Shia one.”

— Ramzy Mardini, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, a research group in Washington

The Obama administration initially hoped it had hampered the Russian effort to move military equipment and personnel into Syria when Bulgaria, a NATO member, announced it would close its airspace to the flights. But Russia quickly began channeling its flights over Iraq and Iran, which Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, said on Sunday would continue despite American objections.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

“There were military supplies, they are ongoing, and they will continue,” Mr. Lavrov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. “They are inevitably accompanied by Russian specialists, who help to adjust the equipment, to train Syrian personnel how to use this weaponry.”

Sergey-Lavrov

“There were military supplies, they are ongoing, and they will continue. They are inevitably accompanied by Russian specialists, who help to adjust the equipment, to train Syrian personnel how to use this weaponry.”

— Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister

Moscow’s military buildup in Syria, where the Kremlin has been supporting President Bashar al-Assad in a four-and-a-half-year civil war, adds a new friction point in its relations with the United States. The actions also lay bare another major policy challenge for the United States: how to encourage Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq, who came to power with the blessing of the United States but is still trying to establish his authority, to block the Russian flights. Read the rest of this entry »