The parallels bode ill for the Obama administration.
Ben Stein 10.12.12 8:00am
The Obama Libya gang must go — along with Joe Biden of the unfair debate.
by Rick Moran
The larger the Benghazi story gets, the more the White House is seeking to shift responsibility to Clinton.
How did the president and his associates learn about the YouTube video in the first place?
Liz Cheney: Libya is Worst Cover-Up in the History of the Republic
Former USS Cole Commander on Benghazi: Obama only cares about power and getting reelected
Hat tip: The Right Scoop
“Lt. General Tom McInerney told Judge Jeanine tonight that the only reason the Obama administration ordered the FBI to investigate the Benghazi attack is to stall it through the election. He says this was an act of war against the United States and if this had been assigned to the military we would have known 2 days later what happened.”
Former USS Cole Commander Kirk Lippold said that the parallels between this case and the attack on the USS Cole are absolutely striking.
UNEXPECTEDLY! “Attacks in Libya become unexpected weak spot for Obama campaign,” bleats this L.A. Times headline.
Amazing how much bad news has unexpectedly become “unexpected” to the MSM since January of 2009, isn’t it?
VOLUNTARY UNDERBUSSING: State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, regarding the murder of Ambassador Stevens: “Look, I’m generally dumber than most of the rest of the government. I mean, that’s what I’m paid to be.”
Gee, that’s reassuring. On the other, it brings to mind one of Mark Steyn’s favorite riffs:
When the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan dumped some of his closest cabinet colleagues to extricate himself from a political crisis, the Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe responded: “Greater love hath no man than to lay down his friends for his life.”
Or as Steyn writes in his column today:
Liberals are always going on about the evils of “outsourcing” and “offshoring” – selfish vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney shipping jobs to cheap labor overseas just to save a few bucks. How unpatriotic can you get! So now the United States government is outsourcing embassy security to cheap Welshmen who, in turn, outsource it to cheaper Libyans. Diplomatic facilities are U.S. sovereign territory – no different de jure from Fifth Avenue or Mount Rushmore. So defending them is one of the core responsibilities of the state. But that’s the funny thing about Big Government: the bigger it gets, the more of life it swallows up, the worse it gets at those very few things it’s supposed to be doing. So, on the first anniversary of 9/11 in a post-revolutionary city in which Western diplomats had been steadily targeted over the previous six months, the government of the supposedly most powerful nation on Earth entrusted its security to Abdulaziz Majbari, 29, and his pal, who report to some bloke back in Carmarthen, Wales. In the days before the attack, Joe Biden had been peddling his Obama campaign slogan that: “Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.” The first successful terrorist attack on U.S. sovereign territory since 9/11, and on the very anniversary and by al-Qaida-linked killers, was not helpful to the Obama team. And so the nature of the event had to be “politicized”: Look, over there – an Islamophobic movie! “Greater love hath no man than this,” quoth the President at Chris Stevens’ coffin, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Smaller love hath no man than Obama’s, than to lay down his “friend” for a couple of points in Ohio.
Currently on tap: where to outsource the aftermath of the Libya debacle.
Posted at 6:59 pm by Ed Driscoll
Obama Spokesman Stephanie Cutter: Benghazi Is Only an Issue Because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (Updates)
On the vice presidential debate…
by Barry Rubin
Getting it wrong at the AP.
Kiss of Death: The Democrats were right about that wheelchair thing; they just had the wrong guy pushing it.
by Ed Driscoll
The consensus is that Biden’s cartoonish theatrics rallied his base. But if your base is that demoralized in mid-October…
There are going to be bumps in the road. Also read:Biden’s Debate Tactics Are Likely to Haunt the Obama Administration
Thursday, 11 Oct 2012 09:18 AM
by Phillip Smyth Bio October 12, 2012 – 12:00 am
Often, the deployment of drones in combat has been associated with modern Western countries. The U.S. “drone war” against al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya has become a common facet to reporting military affairs in the Middle East. However, another Middle Eastern “drone war” has been growing. This war is part of the broader conflict involving Iran, Israel, and the United States, now taking on an unmanned approach — pitting Iran and its proxies using drone aircraft against their enemies, and also against Western drones.
This front of the Iran vs. Western powers conflict received new attention following the October 6 intrusion of a UAV into Israeli airspace. Coinciding with the 39th anniversary of the start of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the UAV emerged from somewhere over the Mediterranean (near the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip) and was eventually shot down by the Israel Air Force. While multiple reports stated the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) had “mysterious origins,” most analysts concluded it was an Iranian or Lebanese Hezbollah-run operation. One Israeli analyst told CNN, “We know it originated in Lebanon.” Later, the deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) confirmed his country’s involvement, saying the drone proved Israel’s Iron Dome air-defense system “does not work.” On October 11, Lebanese Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah claimed full-responsibility, noting in a speech, “The drone managed to arrive in an area close to the Dimona [nuclear] plant”.
This would not be the first time Iran or its proxies have utilized UAV technology against Israel. In 2004 — with Iranian assistance — Lebanese Hezbollah launched the relatively simple Mirsad I drone into Israel. Flying around Israeli airspace for only a few minutes, the flight was described by regional security analyst Ze’ev Schiff as a “clear-cut case of aggression.” In November 2005, Lebanese Hezbollah launched another UAV into Israel. Due to the small size of Mirsad I UAVs, the Israelis had trouble detecting them. Demonstrating the 2005 UAV flight’s propaganda value, one Hezbollah parliamentarian noted:
The Israeli military missed it. This is a victory not only for Hezbollah, but also for Lebanon as a whole. From weakness, we are creating strength.
Hinting at the drone’s other potential uses, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said, “You can load the Mirsad plane with a quantity of explosive ranging from 40 to 50 kilos and send it to its target.” That is almost exactly what Hezbollah did in 2006. During the 2006 Hezbollah-Israel War, Lebanese Hezbollah launched a mixture of armed and unarmed drones. In total, four Iranian-supplied UAVs were destroyed by the Israelis.
Six years later, sources told the Lebanese Daily Star that Hezbollah attempted to launch another drone in the Bekaa Valley, only to have the craft burst into flames and crash.
Israel was not alone in dealing with Iranian drone penetration. In February 2009, American fighter jets shot down an Iranian drone which had flown around 80 miles inside Iraqi territory.
Iran has also publicized UAVs they have built. In 2009, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-run Fars News reported that Farnas Aerospace Company was planning on opening a UAV mass-production plant. According to Reuters, Iran has also exported its UAV technology to Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.
By 2010 Iran had produced its first native drone, the Karrar. The Iranians claimed the Karrar could fly 600 miles and drop around 500 pounds of bombs. On September 25, Iran revealed the domestically produced medium altitude Shahed-129 UAV. The aircraft appeared to share many outward characteristics with the U.S. Predator drone, but was most likely based on a captured Israeli design. The Iranians reported the Shahed-129 has the ability to fly for 24 hours straight and has a range of 1,250 miles — potentially putting Israel in its range.
Since technologically advanced drones give Western powers a tactical and strategic intelligence advantage, the Iranians have also started their own counter-drone campaign. In 2009, Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH), the Iraqi version of Lebanese Hezbollah and an Iranian proxy, hacked into U.S. drones and watched the UAV’s video feeds. Earlier in 2008, the group organized a plan to assassinate President Obama when he toured Baghdad. The footage KH took of Obama’s convoy appeared to look down from the air, possibly indicating the group had hacked into a U.S. drone.
Lebanese Hezbollah claims they have the ability to tap into Israeli UAV feeds going back to the late 1990s. According to the Hezbollah leaders, their best success in hacking an Israeli UAV came in 1997 during an ambush which became known as the “Shayetet catastrophe.” During the fighting, 11 Israeli naval commandos were killed by Hezbollah. Later in 2010, the IDF confirmed Lebanese Hezbollah had hacked into their drones during the ambush. This subsequently led the IDF to encrypt their UAVs.
Nevertheless, by the fall of 2011 there were still reports that Hezbollah could electronically counter Israeli drones. In one case, UNIFIL had charted an Israeli drone flying near the Hezbollah-controlled southern-Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil, only to have the aircraft disappear from their radar. No wreckage was found and it was reported the Israeli UAV may have been carted away by Hezbollah personnel.
During another drone-related incident, a top-secret and stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel UAV was brought down over Iran. The Iranian government stated it had forced the American drone to the ground via hacking its GPS-based control systems. The U.S. military rejected Iran’s claims as “ridiculous,” stating the ground-based pilots simply lost control of the plane. According to The Daily Beast, it is possible Tehran could have used the captured drone to hack into other American UAV systems. The Sentinel is still in the hands of the Iranians.
It appears likely that Iranian forces and their allies will continue to use drones as examples of their own technological prowess vis a vis the West. Thus far, they have served Tehran’s propaganda purposes and act as cheap force multipliers to keep technologically advanced states on edge. Just as Lebanese Hezbollah utilized asymmetric tactics against the sophisticated IDF, a low-cost drone loaded with 30 kilograms of explosives acts in the same way. The reaction to a penetration by an Iranian drone also serves a strategic interest by forcing Tehran’s foes to spend more money on defenses.
Since unmanned aircraft serve as a mainstay for Western militaries, Iran’s efforts to counter the advanced Western UAV technology will also continue. Iran’s ability or alleged ability to hack into and to bring down American and Israeli UAVs also assists in their struggle to brand themselves as just as technologically proficient as any Western power.
It remains clear that Iran’s drone tactics will be a continuing presence in the Middle East and will continue to be a medium used to spark crises.
Congressional investigators of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs are pressing ahead with their inquiry into one of the flashier United Nations scandals of recent times — call it Tech for Tyrants — involving the quiet transfer of computers and related technology to Iran and North Korea by the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), headquartered in Geneva. In a letter today to WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, HCFA Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-Calif.) detailed their expectation that key witnesses from the WIPO staff will at last be allowed to testify, and that “we will soon be sending our investigative staff to Geneva to review documents and interview witnesses as the next step in our investigation.”
In their letter, the two lawmakers further detailed that while they acknowledge that the UN Sanctions Committee on Iran found these transfers did not violate sanctions of the UN itself, they remain concerned “that a UN agency was used as a conduit to possibly circumvent U.S. sanctions designed to prevent the transfer of U.S. technology to North Korea and Iran.”
These transfers of sensitive technology by WIPO have been the object of considerable wrangling between congressional investigators and WIPO’s Australian chief, Francis Gurry, since George Russell of Fox News broke the story this past April. When the committee invited three WIPO senior staffers to testify at a briefing in July, Gurry refused permission to two of them: his senior adviser Miranda Brown; and WIPO Deputy Director General James Pooley, an American lawyer specializing in intellectual property law, and the highest-ranking American currently employed at WIPO. The third potential witness, Moncef Kateb, head of the WIPO Staff Association, received Gurry’s permission to testify, but declined, with his attorney citing fear of retaliation by WIPO.
As Ros-Lehtinen and Berman note in their Oct. 12 letter , WIPO commissioned its own “external review” of these transfers, which despite “a limited mandate and 30 day deadline” produced a “scathing report that corroborates this Committee’s concerns.” Following a meeting on Sept. 25 between the HCFA investigative staff and Gurry, then visiting Washington, the two lawmakers are requesting written assurances from Gurry that witnesses from the WIPO staff will be able to testify “without fear of reprisal of any kind.” The committee is also asking Gurry to provide by Oct. 22, subject to any reasonable restrictions, “all documents detailing the scope, history, and justification for WIPO’s technology transfers to North Korea and Iran.”
Stay tuned. The WIPO dual-use transfers to Iran and North Korea follow the 2007-2008 Cash for Kim scandal, in which the UN Development Program was caught transferring cash and dual use technology to the government of North Korea. That followed the Oil-for-Food scandal, in which the UN, in that case on a scale of billions of dollars, became a de facto collaborator and partner with Iraq’s late Saddam Hussein in violating the UN’s own sanctions. As far as the UN’s privileges and immunities providing cover for aiding and abetting rogue regimes, whether in violation of U.S. sanctions, or on occasion the sanctions of the UN itself, we have a pattern here that just doesn’t quit.
“SMART DIPLOMACY:” Russia Withdrawal From Arms Deal Shows Failure Of Obama Reset.
Russia announces it will withdraw from a post-Cold War deal to dismantle nuclear and chemical weapons when it expires next year. Is this what President Obama meant by a “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations?
The so-called Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which had been renewed twice by the U.S. and Russia, was a major post-Cold War success.
It led to the deactivation of more than 7,650 strategic warheads from the old Soviet Union, and seemed to put the former USSR onto a far more peaceful path. It helped seal President Reagan’s hard-won U.S. victory in the Cold War against its former foe.
But after four years of Obama’s weak stewardship of our nation’s national security, the Russians are saying “nyet” to renewing the deal in 2013. It’s easy to see why.
Everywhere they look, they see U.S. weakness and a failure to respond to overt provocations by others.
They see world affairs as the U.S. retreats from previous strong alliances, such as those with Britain and Israel, and ignores or downplays others, including our ties with Japan.
Why continue to disarm after losing a cold war if your enemy is already busy disarming itself?
by Marc J. Fink Bio September 30, 2012 – 8:20 am
Recently, Native American Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK, member of the Chickasaw Nation) introduced H.R. 2362, the Indian Trade and Investment Demonstration Project. The bill singles out Turkish-owned companies for exclusive investment preferences and special rights in Native American tribal area projects.
Congressman Cole freely admitted the following on the House floor:
There’s no question that I was approached by the Turkish American Coalition (properly the Turkish Coalition of America), who have a deep interest in Turkey and American Indians.
“Deep interest” indeed. The bill was the culmination of a multi-year effort by Turkey to ingratiate itself with Native American tribes: tribal students now study in Turkey with full scholarships; Turkish officials regularly appear at Native American economic summits; and dozens of tribal leaders have gone to Turkey on lavish all-expense-paid trips.
Why the intense interest in business and cultural ties with Native American tribes now, when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development party (AKP) have taken Turkey down a path of aggressive and dangerous Islamism?
Evidence from Uzbekistan points to a possible motive: infiltration and Islamization. The government of Uzbekistan is claiming that private Turkish business interests in the Central Asian country have been acting as a front for banned Islamist extremists. According to Agence France-Presse:
[The Uzbek government has accused] Turkish companies of creating a shadow economy, using double accounting and propagating nationalistic and extremist ideology. … Long wary of the influence of Islamic fundamentalism … secular authorities appear to be linking Turkish private business to the activities of the Nurcus, an Islamic group that is banned in the country.
Nurcus is also banned in Russia.
Is it in America’s national security interests to have Turkish contractors and their families flooding into America’s heartland and settling in semi-autonomous zones out of the reach of American authorities? Especially if their intent is to form intimate business and social ties with a long-aggrieved minority group?
H.R. 2362 was narrowly defeated on July 23, when a “suspension of the rules” vote (usually reserved for non-controversial votes with limited debate) failed to attain the required two-thirds majority. But troublingly, 220 representatives voted in favor — representing both parties and all ideological strains — with 160 opposed and 49 abstaining.
The bill could come up for a vote again at any time.
In the original version of H.R. 2362, the stated purpose was:
[To] encourage increased levels of commerce and economic investment [with Native American tribes] by private entities incorporated in or emanating from the Republic of Turkey.
It allowed for select Native American tribes to lease land held in trust by the United States:
… [for] a project or activity … in furtherance of a commercial partnership involving one or more private entities incorporated in or emanating from the Republic of Turkey.
When the bill came up for a vote, its backers were forced to offer an amended version. The phrase “or other World Trade Organization (WTO) member nations” was placed after “Republic of Turkey” in the passages above. The amended version still maintains:
[Congress] finds that the public and private sectors in the Republic of Turkey have demonstrated a unique interest in bolstering cultural, political, and economic relationships with Indian tribes and tribal members.
Also: removing “barriers” and encouraging a “more robust relationship” between “Turkish and Indian tribal communities” is “in the interest” of “the United States-Turkey relationship.” The “interest” is not defined.
The bill, in both its forms, severely limits federal oversight of the investment projects, and does not even require the Department of the Interior to approve the leases. The term of the leases could stretch 75 years, effectively tying the hands of future administrations: presidents would come and go, but Turkey would have a semi-permanent foothold in America’s heartland.
The amended version of H.R. 2362 continues to single out Turkey for special treatment, and if passed would serve as an official U.S. government endorsement of Ankara.
In the past, special considerations by the U.S. for Turkey were well-deserved. Hill staffers grew accustomed to doing favors for a secular, pro-Western Ankara that was a key strategic ally to Washington and its allies in the region. But all that changed with the ascension of Erdogan’s AKP party in 2002. A small sampling of recent events:
- Turkey refused to allow U.S. troops to reach Iraq via Turkish territory in 2003.
- Turkey refused to back UN sanctions on Iran, meant to halt its nuclear weapons program.
- Prime Minister Erdogan has said “Iran is our friend,” and “I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization.”
- Erdogan invited the Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite warload Muqtada al-Sadr to Turkey for “political discussions.” Sadr, whose militia is believed to be responsible for the deaths of countless American soldiers in Iraq, stopped in Iran on his way to Turkey.
- The Turkish government supported a flotilla of ships that violently attempted to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, ruled by the terrorist group Hamas. Israel’s blockade was declared legal by the United Nations.
- Erdogan halted trade with Israel and threatened to invade Cyprus after an American-based company partnered with Israel to begin gas exploration in Cypriot territorial waters, which is adjacent to Israeli gas fields. Turkey then initiated military exercises aimed at threatening both Israel and Cyprus.
- Erdogan defended Sudanese President Bashir, who faced worldwide condemnation for the genocide in Darfur. Erdogan’s rationale: “A Muslim can never commit genocide. It’s not possible.”
- According to Middle East expert Barry Rubin, the “AKP has repressed opposition in Turkey, arrested hundreds of critics, bought up 40 percent of the media, and installed its people in the bureaucracy.” Very recently, 326 military officers were convicted of conspiracy to overthrow Erdogan’s Islamist government.
Perhaps most troubling — even if other WTO member nations have the same rights in the amended version of H.R. 2362 — Turkey is poised to infiltrate Native American tribal areas immediately upon passage due to the Islamist country’s intense cultivation of ties with Native American tribes through the Turkish Coalition of America. John Berrey, chairman of the Quapaw Tribe (Oklahoma), claims:
The Turkish and Native American peoples are beginning to come together under their own momentum to develop broader and deeper economic and cultural ties.
But the “momentum” is coming from only one direction: Turkey, through the TCA. Indeed, according to the Indian Country Today Media Network:
- In November 2010, the TCA organized and led the first Native American Business Cooperation Trip to Turkey, attracting 20 leaders from 17 Native American tribes. The tribal leaders met with Turkish high officials, including Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. “The meeting in Turkey marked the tribal leaders’ first significant overseas trade meeting,” reported the Associated Press.
- In March 2011, the TCA engineered the appearance of the Turkish deputy minister for foreign trade at the Reservation Economic Summit (RES) and American Indian Business Trade Fair in Las Vegas. The Turkish minister was the “first foreign government official to ever deliver remarks” in the event’s history.
- In February 2012, the Turkish deputy economy minister and the Turkish ambassador to Washington joined the TCA at the RES.
- Since 2008, the TCA has offered scholarships to Native American students interested in studying abroad in Turkey. The TCA also co-sponsored two Native American conferences at a Turkish university.
The TCA, whose vice president allegedly lives in Istanbul, stated in a press release that H.R. 2362 is “the first time the Turkish American community took the initiative to create positive change through substantive legislation in Congress.”
But the TCA has already invested millions in cultivating ties with Native American tribes. According to its 2010 IRS Form 990, the TCA incurred $1,037,496 of “expenses” for “sponsorship of educational travel for congressional members and staff as well as Native American leaders.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
As Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) said on the House floor, H.R. 2362, even as amended, is “an unusual, unprecedented, and unnecessary endorsement of a state that, though an ally, continues to pursue problematic policies.”
The next time this bill comes up for a vote — or any other bill that gives Turkey special investment considerations — Congress should be aware that Ankara is no longer the pro-Western state of yesterday. And Congress should be alert to possible nefarious motives of the Islamists cementing their power in Turkey.